History of St. Johnsville, NY
FROM: Gazetteer and Business Directory
OF Montgomery County, N. Y. For 1869-70.
Compiled and Published By Hamilton Child, Syracuse, NY 1869


ST. JOHNSVILLE, named from St. John’s church, erected in the village at an early day, was formed from Oppenheim, Fulton County, April 18, 1838. It lies upon the north. bank of the Mohawk, on the west border of the County. Its surface consists of the broad river flats, and a broken upland gradually rising north of it. The principal streams are East Canada, Crux, Fox Zimmerman’s, Caldwell and Mother Creeks. Upon East Canada Creek, about one and a half miles from its mouth, are a succession of falls and rapids, descending 75 feet in a distance of 80 rods. The soil is a fine quality of gravelly loam.

St. Johnsville, (p. v.) on the Mohawk, was incorporated in 1857. It is a station on the N. Y. C. R. R. and contained in 1865, 1,004 inhabitants. For several years most of the trains on the railroad stopped here for refreshments, but within a few years the large hotel and depot have been burned and. the former has not been rebuilt.

St. Johnsville Woolens mills are located on Zimmerman Creek, in the north-west part of the village. They were erected in 1840 by Hough, Riggs & Adams, and were afterwards purchased and. run by Winegar & Yonker, of whom they were purchased by Sidfley Smith & Son, the present proprietors. New machinery has been put into the mills and the proprietors are now engaged in the manufacture of a great variety of first-class goods for the home market exclusively.

St. Johnsville Agricultural Works, owned by Mr. M. Williams, manufacture thrashers, horse powers, cleaners, straw cutters and ‘various other implements of use to the farmer.

This town was settled previous to the Revolution, but the precise date is not known. The first settlers were Germans, and among them were families named Hellebralt, Waters, Getman, Van Riepen, Wairath and Kiock. The first settlement at the village was made by Jacob Zimmerman in 1776. During the Revolution the house of Christian Klock, three-fourths of a mile west of Palatine Church, was stockaded and named Fort House, in honor of Christian House, the builder. The house of Jacob Zimmerman was also stockaded. Though these forts were attacked they were never taken. Fort Hill, situated on an eminence east of East Creek, was erected during the French War. It was subsequently repaired and used during the Revolution.

The population of the town in 1865 was 2,153, and its area 11,442 acres.

The battle between the forces of Sir John Johnson and the advanced guard of Van Rensselaer’s army, under Colonel Dubois, was fought at "Klock's Field,” near “Fort House,” Oct. 10, 1780. Had this battle been followed up, Sir John and his whole force might probably have been captured, but the General ordered his forces to fall back about three miles, intending to renew the battle in the morning. The golden opportunity had. passed. Taking advantage of’ the darkness, Sir John and his force had escaped. The next morning, while the main army was crossing the river, some of McKean’s volunteers, in stolling about, round a block house where nine of the enerny were held prisoners. On being asked how they came there, Peter Cass, one of the prisoners, who had previously lived in Johnstown, said: “Why, I am ashamed to tell. Last night, after the battle, we crossed. the river. It was dark. We heard the word, ‘lay down your arms.’ Some of us did so. We were taken, nine of us, and marched into this little fort by seven militia men. We formed the rear of three hundred of Johnson’s Greens, who were running promiscuously through and over one another. I thought General Van Rennesselaer’s whole army was upon us. Why did yoq not take us prisoners yesterday after Sir John ran off with the Indians and left us. We wanted to surrender.” Thus it appears that if there bad been a disposition to “push things,” Sir John and his whole army might have been captured. The Indians continued to prowl around the settlement during the war, occasionally shooting or capturing one of the inhabitants. In. the spring of 1780 Philip Helmer deserted to the enemy. He had previously been paying his addresses to a daughter of Philip Bellinger, and upon a plan being formed. to take the family of’ the latter prisoners, he forewarned them in time to rally a party to their assistance. An ambuscade was formed and the Indians would have been killed or captured had it not been. for the indiscretion of one of the party, who, upon their approach, yelled out at the top of his voice, “Lord. God Almighty, friends, here they are!“ Alarmed at this demonstration, the Indians fled with a kss of only one of their number.

As early as 1756 a church was erected by Christan Klock. Rev. Mr. Rosekrantz was the first preacher, and John Henry Disland was the second. A German school was taught by Henry Hayes at an early day. The first English school was taught by Lot Ryan, an Irishman, in 1792. Christopher Nellis kept an inn in 1783, and a store in 1801. Jacob Zimmerman built the first grist mill, during the Revolution, and George Klock the second, in 1801.


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