A patent issued by King George II of England, bestowed to John Jost Schnell and Jacob Zimmerman 3,600 acres of land north of the Mohawk River across from the General Herkimer home.
Much of the land today is still being farmed by descendants of the patentees.
May 30, 1755, Cooney Archives
A PLACE TO CALL HOME – THE MOHAWK VALLEY
JOHANN JACOB ZIMMERMAN I
Johann Jacob II was born at Dunzweiler, Rhineland-Pfalz, Germany, the son of Johann Jacob I and his wife Anna Margaretha Jung Zimmerman, whom Johann Jacob I had married in 1685. Johann Jacob II’s birth year is estimated to be 1690, making him a young man of nineteen years of age in 1709, during the “Great Migration of the Palatine Germans.”
Johann Jacob I had most likely read a published pamphlet that contained enticing advertisements stating the that England was helping refugees relocate to the colonies in America, where fertile land was plentiful and free. Johann Jacob I and his family fled their homeland, the lower Rhine Valley, known as the Palatinate of southwestern Germany, from religious persecution, high taxes, poverty and war that was induced by the invasions of the French. The Zimmerman’s arrived in England in July of 1709.
The Zimmerman’s were living in a tent refugee camp in London, when in October of that year, visiting Indigenous Indian Chiefs, known as the “Four Kings of the New World,” who were seeking military assistance from Queen Anne to conquer Canada, had offered to help the plight of the Palatine Germans. They gifted a 16,000-acre tract of land to house the Palatine Germans, which was located along the Hudson River in the state of New York, to England’s Queen Anne. Two of the visiting Indigenous Mohawk Chiefs of the Haudenosaunee alliance were Thoyanoquen, known as King Hendrick of the Bear Clan and Sa Ga Yeath Qua Pieth Tow, called King of Maquas of the Bear Clan, known as Peter Brant, grandfather of Chief Joseph Brant and his sister Molly. By November of 1709, as many as 13,000 Palatines had migrated to England.
In 1709, Queen Anne arranged for three large groups of Palatine refugees to leave England, since she could no longer support them. The first group sailed to Ireland and the second group sailed to Carolina. On the 25th of December in 1709, the third group that consisted of nearly 3,000 Palatines boarded ten awaiting ships at Plymouth, England, being forced to wait below deck until they set sail at the end of January in 1710. Johann Jacob I, Anna Margaretha, Johann Jacob II, and a Zimmerman child under the age of 10, were amongst the mass of the migrating Palatine Germans of the third group sailing aboard the ship “Fame.” Their Captain Walter Huxton, along with the listmaster Johann Adolph Arthopoeus, arrived with the Zimmerman family in New York City on the 14th of June of 1710. The Zimmerman’s were #848 on Governor Hunter’s list.
Robert Hunter, who oversaw the enterprise of the British’s Naval Stores, had recently become the new colonial governor to the state of New York. Gov. Hunter sailed with the third group of immigrants and upon landing at New York City, felt the forested land of Robert Livingston would suit the enterprise of the British’s Naval Stores better than the original tract of fertile land given by the Indigenous Mohawk Indians. He purchased 6,000 acres from Robert Livingston for the sum of 400 British pounds to house the German Palatines, with the tract of land becoming known as Livingston’s Manor.
The Palatine Germans spent a six months at sea and another few months in quarantine at Nutten Island (present-day Governor’s Island) The hardship of the journey claimed an estimated 500 lives. The remaining Palatines were relocated to servitude camps along the Hudson River, being known as East Camp and West Camp. The Zimmerman’s were relocated to the East Camp on Livingston’s Manor in the fall of 1710. The Palatines were required to spend seven years working in these camps to pay off their debt for their care of the previous two years, and the additional debt of their passage to America. Their debt to the British Crown was to be paid by filling the British Naval stores with lumber, hemp, and tar products. After seven years of labor, the Palatines were to receive forty acres of land. Johann Jacob I, father of Johann Jacob II, had passed away by the end of the year.
JOHANN JACOB ZIMMERMAN II
Johann Jacob II had married Anna Margaretha Shutz in 1710/11. His Mother, also named Anna Margaretha, had remarried to Conrad Shutz, a weaver, by 1711. Conrad’s daughter, Anna Magaretha Shutz, was the wife of his stepson, Johann Jacob II.
The project of the British Naval Stores failed by the fall of 1712, leaving the German Palatines to secure a living for themselves. The Indigenous Mohawk Indians provided help throughout the Palatines struggle for survival, with Anna becoming an endeared friend to the tribe and Johann Jacob II serving as a trader amongst them. A group of Palatine refugees moved a bit farther north to the flatlands in the Schoharie Valley, working on tenant farms of wealthy British landowners, known as the “Seven Partners”, on the land that was originally promised to them by Queen Anne.
The Palatines formed villages, known as “dorps” or “dorfs”, being: the most southerly large village was Weiser’s dorp, which was at present-day Middleburgh, which was named after Conrad Weiser, who was the so called leader of the Palatine community. This village had about forty crude, small hut like dwellings made from logs, earth, and bark. The huts had stone fireplaces built from stones brought in from the fields; the largest and middle village was Hartman’s dorp, named after Hartman Wintecker and had 65 dwellings; and the third and most northerly village was Brunnen dorp on the site of present-day Schoharie village of the Schoharie Court House as it was formerly called in the 1700s. Brunnen meant “village of springs” and when the English language began to be used it was known as Fountain Town.
Besides the three main dorps, there were four smaller ones, all were within a ten mile stretch, being Garlock’s Dorp, Fuch’s Dorp, which was also known as Fox’s dorp after William Fox; Smith’s dorp, being named after Johannes Georg Smidt; and the last one being Kniskern’s dorp, being named after Peter John Kniskern. There were between 500 to 700 German Palatines living within these villages, with Johann Jacob II and his family having reached Fuch’s dorp (Fox dorf) in March of 1713.
The Palatine Germans were strong, family dedicated farmers. They toiled the land, which should have been theirs, for the next ten years, saving to purchase land of their own. After having received permission from the British Crown to purchase land from the Indigenous Mohawk Indians, a group of German Palatines migrated farther north in the early 1720s, to a place they could call home, the Mohawk Valley.
Johann Jacob II and his family arrived in the Mohawk Valley in 1722, purchasing lots #14, #15 and #18 from Francis Harrison for 200 British pounds, in the area known to the Indigenous Mohawk Indians as Tyenindoke. Harrison had purchased 12,000 acres from the Indigenous Mohawk Indians in 1722, which became known as the Harrison Patent for 700 beaver pelts. Beaver pelts carried a monetary value in the 1700s of $3 apiece.
Johann Jacob II cleared his land and built a farm, which became very prosperous. In 1729, Johan Jacob II was given the prestigious position of Commissioner of Highways. In 1730, Johan Jacob II built his family a colonial farmhouse, at the present-day location of 7 East Main Street. Johan Jacob II is considered the first European pioneer settler to present-day St Johnsville, New York.
The Palatine Germans were an integral part of the growth of the state of New York, with the Palatines being the farthest outpost of European settlers, the British Crown acknowledged to have them as buffers between the British and the aggressions of the French and the Indigenous Indians on the unsettled frontier.
Johann Jacob II and Anna Margaretha had fifteen children. The children’s births are estimated and namely they are: a child that died in infancy in 1712; Adam in 1714; Conrad, born at Foxedorf in 1717; Hans Frederick in 1719; Lawrence in 1720; Jacob III in 1722; David (Dewalt, Debold) in 1724; Anneh (Anna) in 1725: Thomas in 1727; Johannes in 1728; Dorothy (Derode) in 1730; Harriet in 1731; Jeremiah in 1732; Georger (Johan Jurriaan) in 1734; Hendrick (Lieutenant Henry Timmerman who fought in the Revolutionary War at the Battle of Oriskany in 1777) in 1737.
ST JOHN’S CHURCH
During this time period, a neighbor of the Zimmerman’s, Henderick Klock, built a log church called St. John’s, about a mile east of the village and being a mile west from the present-day site of Fort Klock, being the first church built on the north side of the Mohawk River. Presently, there is a historic marker on Route 5, near Old Route 5, in the median which reads “500 feet north on hill. 1750 St John’s Reformed Church, School and Cemetery. Site of Mohawk Valley pioneers & Revolutionary War soldiers.” The marker was put in place by the Heritage & Genealogical Society of Montgomery County.
INDIAN DEED OF ANNA MARGARETHA
On March 12, 1733/34, Johann Jacob II’s wife Anna Margarehta, received an Indian Deed granting her title to a tract of land. Her name was written in Dutch in the deed as Anna Marragrieta Timmerman of Tyenindoke, with the Indian Deed stating:
“ We, the undersigned, sachems of Kannajoharie, in the county of Albany, in the province of New York, in the seventh year of the reign of his Majesty King George the Second, acknowledge that out of pure love and affection with the consent of the entire Castle of Kannajoharie, both Indian men and women, we give and make over, in the name and on behalf of his majesty King George of Great Britain, to our friend Anna Marragrieta Timmerman of Tyenindoke, spinster in the county of Albany, for her and her heirs, executors, administrators and assigns forever, a parcel of flat land and the woods belonging thereto; the land being situated on the north side of the Maquasse River (Mohawk River), in the county of Albany, commencing at a kill called Athedaghque (Zimmerman Creek), and a farm on the south side of the said kill, and thence upwards along the river to a tree marked with the bear, wolf and turtle, thence northwards from the river into the woods about three English miles, and then eastward, keeping the same distance from the river, to another marked tree, and thence toward the river to the cast and of the farm which formed the point of beginning, which land we acknowledge has been given by us to our beloved friend Anna Marragrieta Timmaremans for herself, her heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, forever. In witness whereof we have signed these with our hand and fixed our seals this twelfth of March in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and thirty-three, thirty-four.”
It was signed and sealed in the presence of:
Henderick Pieterse: totem sign of the Bear Clan
Seth: totem sign of the Wolf Clan
Marragriet: totem sign of the Turtle Clan
This gift of land to Anna Margaretha was the catalyst for the Zimmerman – Timmerman family legend that she was an Indian Princess, daughter of Hendrick Pieterse of the Bear Clan, Chief to the Indigenous Mohawk tribe, known as King Hendrick. King Hendrick believed in friendship over war for settling tensions between the European settlers and his people.
Johann Jacob II’s death came in 1739.
SNELL (SCHNELL) – ZIMMERMAN PATENT
In 1752, Jacob III learned that the original 1733 Indian Deed that was granted to his mother, Anna Margaretha Zimmerman, was invalid. He joined forces with Johan Jost Schnell (Snell / both families sailed on the same ship to NYC) and they applied to King George to repurchase the tract of land of the 1733 Indian Deed. On the 30th of May in 1755, they received a land deed for 3,600 acres, which included the original tract of land granted to Anna Margaretha Zimmerman in 1733/34. The 1755 land deed is written on sheep’s skin and was hidden in a hollowed tree during the American Revolution. The 3,600-acre tract of land was to be divided between them, with Zimmerman’s (Timmerman’s) taking the lowlands along the Mohawk River, while the Snell’s (Schnell’s) took the land that was covered by forest. This land deed became known as the Snell- Zimmerman Patent, with the land being on the north side of the Mohawk River, stretching from the East Canada Creek to opposite the home of General Nicholas Herkimer. The document contains the wax seal of King George II of England and was signed by the Bear, Wolf, and Turtle Clans of the Mohawk tribe of the Iroquois Confederacy. The Bear totem sign signifies King Hendrick’s signature, with his death taking place at the Battle of Lake George on the 8th of September in 1755. The original 1755 document can be viewed at the Dolgeville – Manheim Museum at 74 South Main Street, Dolgeville, NY.
THE BUILDING OF THE SNELLS BUSH CHURCH
In 1752, four of Johan Jost Schnell’s sons donated seven acres of land in Snells Bush to build a log church and a school, with the church becoming known as the Snells Bush Church. The four sons of Johan Jost Schnell’s (Snell) that donated the land were: Suffernus; Peter; Joseph; and Jacob. The church was built high up on a hill, overlooking the Mohawk Valley. The church was known to the Zimmerman – Timmerman family as “God’s Acres” because of its surroundings. For those of you that are interested in exploring the Snells Bush Church and viewing the 1755 Johan Jost Snell (Schnell) – Zimmerman (Timmerman) Land Patent, the Snell- Zimmerman-Timmerman family will be holding their annual ice cream social on the 26th of August, on the grounds of the Snells Bush Church.
ZIMMERMAN’S MILL – JACOB ZIMMERMAN III
In the mid-1750s, Jacob III built a grist mill, being the first industry in the area, on the bank of a tributary creek to the Mohawk River, with the creek becoming known as Zimmerman Creek. Zimmerman’s Creek was known to the Indigenous Mohawk Indians as At-he dagh-que.
Milling corn and grains in the mid-1700s, was a profitable business. Most farmers had no access to currency, with the farmers paying for the grinding of their corn and grain by the barter system. Most millers of this period charged 1/8 th of the crop for milling corn and 1/6 th of the crop for milling grains, with the miller being paid in corn and grain for his service. This type of payment was known as a “toll.”
Jacob IV was born on 1st of September of 1757, with Jacob III’s death taking place in 1760.
SNELLS BUSH CHURCH DURING THE REVOLUTION
The Snells Bush Church was used during the Revolutionary War to send signals to Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer, on the south side of the Mohawk River. Molly Brandt, the common-law-wife of Sir William Johnson, became aware of General Herkimer preparing his troops for leave, as relief for the besieged Fort Schuyler. Molly sent word to her brother, Chief Joseph Brandt, which led to the ambush of General Herkimer’s troops and the Battle of Oriskany. The Snells Bush Church was burned during the raids of the Mohawk Valley, led by Joseph Brant and the Loyalist John Butler and his raiders.
THE ZIMMERMAN’S (TIMMERMAN’S) DURING THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR
During the American Revolution, the Zimmerman grist mill was used for grinding corn and wheat and the Mohawk Valley became known as the breadbasket of the colonies that fed the Continental Army, mainly due to the farming abilities of the German Palatines. Zimmerman’s home was fortified into a fort during the Revolution, being known as Fort Zimmerman.
Henry Timmerman, born Hendrick Zimmerman in 1737, being the last child born to Jacob II, was granted a 300-acre tract of land of the Zimmerman’s portion of the Snell – Zimmerman Patent on the 9th of June in 1758. Henry was employed as an overseer of roads, a pathmaster, when he was called to arms during the American Revolution, along with Jacob IV, his nephew. With Henry making rank as a lieutenant, he fought in Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer’s brigade of the Tyron County Militia, in the 2nd Regiment NY, commanded by Colonel Jacob Klock at the battle of Oriskany on the 6th of August in 1777. Lt. Henry Timmerman received a severe wound to his left side during the battle. He was found wounded on the battlefield and was taken to the Indigenous Oneida Indian village at Oriskany, known as Oriska. From there, General Herkimer directed for him to be brought to his homestead so that he could be seen by his personal physician, Dr Robert Johnston. Dr Johnston also performed the leg amputation of General Herkimer, with the arteries not being properly cauterized, leading General Herkimer to bleed to death ten days later. Lt. Timmerman spent the next few months convalescing at the homestead of General Herkimer, until he was well enough to travel home.
Jacob IV fought during the battle, without receiving injury, as a private in Captain House’s Company of the Palatine District Regiment of the Tyron County Militia. He received a wound to his neck while marching from Fort Zimmerman to Fort Walrath on the 9/10 of August in 1781. Jacob was captured and held as a prisoner by the Loyalists until the 1st of December 1782.
SNELL’S (SCHNELL’S) DURING THE REVOLUTION
Peter Jost Snell (Schnell), son of Johan Jost Schnell (Snell), also fought at the Battle of Oriskany. Snell was a private in Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer’s brigade of the Tyron County Militia under Captain Christian House, in the 2nd Regiment NY, that was commanded by Colonel Jacob Klock and Lieutenant Peter Waggoner. Peter’s brothers: Johannes; Frederick; Suffernus; Joseph Frederick; and Jacob, all gave their lives for our freedom from British rule during the American War of Independence. Peter was wounded during this battle but survived the war.
THE SNELLS & ZIMMERMAN’S COME TOGETHER AGAIN
After the war, Lt. Henry Timmerman (Zimmerman) helped rebuild the Snells Bush Church, along with Peter Jost Snell (Schnell) and their families. Snells Bush Church had become known as St Paul’s, Dutch Reformed Church, because the Dutch had taken over the ministry duties since the church couldn’t attain a permanent German minister. The present-day Snells Bush church was built in 1852, reusing the timbers from the 1780s church.
Peter Jost Snell’s (Schnell’s) death came at sixty-four years of age in 1804. Lt Henry Timmerman’s (Zimmerman’s) death came at age seventy in 1807. Snell (Schnell) and Timmerman (Zimmerman) were both laid to rest in the Snells Bush Cemetery.
HAMLET OF ZIMMERMAN’S CREEK
By 1800, a small settlement had begun to form around Zimmerman’s grist mill. The first Merchant’s store had been built in 1800. The newly formed pioneer hamlet became known by a few different names, being Zimmerman’s Creek, Zimmerman’s Corner and was also known as Timmerman’s Mill, which was part of the Palatine District. In 1808, Zimmerman’s Creek became part of the newly formed township of Oppenheim, being part of Montgomery County.
JACOB ZIMMERMAN IV
Jacob IV built a house in 1790, on the corner of West Main and John Streets, being present-day 78 West Main Street. Milford Decker, past president of the St. Johnsville Historical Society, had resided in this historic home in the 1980s, being the first president of the “Palatine Settlement Society”, whose group purchased the Nellis Tavern and began its restoration in 1983. The house at 78 West Main Street has since been removed.
The Klock’s circa 1725 log church of St John’s, had been replaced on land designated by Jacob IV in 1804. The land, known as a “glebe”, was included within the bounds of what is presently John St., West St., Saltsman St., Cottage St., and William St. The parcel was bond on the east by Church St., on the south by West Main St., on the west by Zimmerman Creek, and on the north by the hills. On the 5th of March in 1792, Jacob IV was given a receipt for $49.52, with the majority of the land value being gifted to the church by the Zimmerman’s. John L. Bellinger purchased the receipt and used it as his contribution towards funding the build of the new church. The second church of St John, built in 1804, was adjacent to the Zimmerman’s grist mill. The white pillared church was supported by the rental of pews, which was paid for in currency, wood, and grain.
In the early 1800s, the home built by Jacob II in 1730 was used as a tavern by Jacob IV, providing a place to rest for weary travelers along the newly built toll-road, the Mohawk Turnpike, which replaced the “King’s Highway” of the early 1700s. The Mohawk Turnpike was the main avenue running through the hamlet of Zimmerman’s Creek, being 80 miles long, running from Schenectady to Utica and was chartered on the 4th of April in 1800. Presently, at 7 East Main Street, there is a Historic Marker that was put in place by the Heritage & Genealogical Society of Montgomery County, stating “Johan Jacob Zimmerman Home. Founder of village in 1725. 1757 Zimmerman’s Mill. Revolutionary War Fort. Turnpike Tavern Site 1800.”
In 1834, the Zimmerman circa 1730s home was divided by Jacob IV into two separate houses, which were moved 300 feet east from the original 1730s site and are located at present-day 11 Washington Street and 13 Washington Street, with the houses still standing proudly today. Jacob IV, husband of Magdalena (Lena) Failing, whom he married in 1784, died on the 18th of January in 1835.
ALEXANDER ST. JOHN
Alexander St. John, a well-known pioneer engineer, had spent a stretch of time at Zimmerman’s Creek, for he helped to survey the local area in 1811. He was also the commissioner to oversee the building of the 21 mile long “Johnstown Turnpike Road” from Tribes Hill, Johnstown to Oppenheim, chartered on 18th of April 1815.
VILLAGE OF ST. JOHNSVILLE
Zimmerman’s Creek became known as the township of St. Johnsville, Montgomery County, on the 18th of April in 1838, being separated from Oppenheim. Oppenheim had become part of the newly formed county of Fulton. St Johnsville was incorporated into a village in 1857.
The namesake of St. Johnsville is in question, with it being either Alexander St. John or St. John’s Church.
The circa 1804 white wooden structure of St. John’s Church was replaced in 1881 with brick, which presently stands at 68 West Main Street, St. Johnsville, NY, and is known today as St John’s Reformed Church.
THE HOUGH – HORN MILL
Zimmerman’s grist mill was purchased by Azel Hough in 1838. Hough hired a local carpenter, John P. Kneeskern in 1850, to make the needed repairs to the mill, with the wooden water wheel being replaced with a newly crafted cast iron radial flow turbine.
In 1864, the Zimmerman grist mill was purchased by a German immigrant, Adam Horn, who had been a previous employee. The mill was operated for the next ninety-seven years by three generations of Horns. In the early 1900s, the mill was electrified, with the electricity being provided by Guy Beardslee’s hydro-electric plant on the East Canada Creek, with St. Johnsville being the first Mohawk River village to receive electricity. Adam’s grandsons retired in 1961, with the grist mill being sold, and becoming the property of the Fort Plain Agway.
*Digitizing of Historical Photo by Gail & Mike Potter, FROM THE COONEY ARCHIVES: THIS DAY IN HISTORY by Louis Baum, JR, Article written by Darlene Smith
WRITING SERIES: The article “THE PALATINE GERMANS IN SEARCH OF A LAND TO CALL HOME by Ginny Rogers, can be found at: https://littlefallshistoricalsociety.org/…/palatine…/
Please plan a visit to the Little Falls Historical Society Museum to view the the “Native American Exhibit.” If you can’t make it into the museum, the virtual “Native American Exhibit” can be found at:
The Little Falls Historical Society Museum is OPEN FOR THE 2023 SEASON. The LFHS Museum will be open for FREE TOURS Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1pm-4pm. Saturdays will be added in June. To make an After Hours Appointment, please contact Louis Baum at 315-867-3527. Hope to see you soon!