The Story of Old Fort Johnson

W. Max Reid

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CHAPTER XII

WILL OF SIR WILLIAM JOHNSON

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In the name of God, amen - I, Sir William Johnson, of Johnson Hall, in the county of Tryon and Province of New York, Bart., being of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding, do make, publish and declare, this to be my last will and testament, in manner and form following:

First and principally, I resign my soul to the great and merciful God who made it, in hopes, through the merits alone of my blessed Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, to have a joyful resurrection to life eternal; and my body I direct to be decently interred in the place which I intend for it; and I would willingly have the remains of my beloved wife, Catharine, deposited there, if not done before my decease; and I direct and desire my hereinafter mentioned executors to provide mourning for my housekeeper, Mary Brant, and for all her children; also for young Brant and William, both half-breed Mohawks, likewise my servants and slaves; it is also my desire that the sachems of both Mohawk villages be invited to my funeral, and there to receive each a black shroud blanket, crape and gloves, which they are to wear, and follow as mourners, next after my own family and friends. I leave it to the discretion of my executors, to get such of my friends and acquaintances for bearers as they shall judge most proper, who are to have white scarves, crapes and gloves, the whole expense not to exceed three hundred pounds currency. And as to the worldly and temporal estate, which God was pleased to endow me with, I devise, bequeath and dispose of in the following manner: Imprimis. I will, order and direct, that all such debts as I may owe, at the time of my decease, together with my funeral expenses of every kind, to be paid by my son, Sir John Johnson, Bart. Item. I give and bequeath to the following persons the sums of money hereafter mentioned, which several sums of money are to be paid to them, by my executors, out of the money I may have in the three per cent. consolidated annuities, of which the heir of the late William Baker has the management, and that in six months after my decease. And first, to the children of my present housekeeper, Mary Brant, the sum of one thousand pounds sterling, to wit: To Peter, my natural son by said Mary Brant, the sum of three hundred pounds sterling, and to each of the rest, being seven in number, one hundred pounds each; the interest thereof to be duly received and laid out to the best advantage by their guardians or trustees, and also the income of whatever other legacies, &c., as are hereafter to be mentioned, until they come of age or marry, except what is necessary for their maintenance and education. Item. To young Brant, alias Keghneghtaga, and William, alias Tegcheunto, two Mohawk lads, the sum of one hundred pounds York currency to each or the survivor of them.

The Doorway, Old Fort Johnson

After paying the before mentioned sums of money, I bequeath to my dearly beloved son, Sir John Johnson, the remaining part of what money I may then have left in the before mentioned, and the other half to be equally divided between my two sons-in-law, Daniel Claus and Guy Johnson, for the use of their heirs. Item. I bequeath to my son, Sir John Johnson, my library and household furniture at the Hall, except what is in my bedroom and in the children's rooms or nursery, which is to be equally divided among them; I also bequeath to him all my plate, except a few articles which I gave to the children of my housekeeper, Mary Brant; he is also to have one-fourth part of all my slaves, and the same of my stock of cattle of every kind. To my two daughters, Ann Claus and Mary Johnson, two-fourths of my slaves and stock of cattle; the other fourth of my slaves and stock of cattle of every kind, I give and bequeath to the children of Mary Brant, my housekeeper, or to the survivors of them, to be equally divided amongst them, except two horses, two cows, two breeding cows, and four sheep, which I would have given before any division is made to young Brant and William of Canajoharie, and that within three months after my decease. I also give and devise all my own wearing apparel, woolen and linen, &c., to be equally divided among the children of my said housekeeper, Mary Brant, share and share alike.

In the next place, I dispose of my real estate, all of my own acquiring, in the following manner, and as I maturely weighed the affair, and made the most equitable division which my conscience directed, I expect all who share of it will be satisfied, and wish they may make a proper use of it. And first, to my son, Sir John Johnson, Bart., I devise and bequeath all my estate at and about Fort Johnson, with all the buildings, improvements, &c., thereunto belonging, to be, by him and his heirs, forever peaceably possessed and enjoyed. Also a small tract of land on the south side of the river, opposite Fort Johnson; fifty thousand acres of Kingsland or Royal Grant, all in one body, except the few lots which I have otherwise disposed of; also my share in a patent called Klock & Nellis, jr., on the north side of the Mohawk River. I also devise and bequeath to my son, Sir John Johnson, all my right and title to the Salt Lake, Onondaga, and the lands around it, two miles in depth, for which I have a firm deed, and it is also recorded in the minutes of council at New York; I likewise devise and bequeath to my said son lot No. 10 in said meadow or patent Sacandaga, containing two hundred and sixty-three acres, to be by him and his heirs, of his body lawfully begotten, forever quietly and peaceably possessed and enjoyed; lastly, I do most earnestly recommend it to my son to show lenity to such of the tenants as are poor and be of upright conduct in all his dealings with mankind, which will, upon reflection, afford more satisfaction and heart-feeling pleasure, to a noble and generous mind, than the greatest opulency.

In the next place, I devise and bequeath to my son-in-law, Colonel Daniel Claus, and to his heirs, the tract of land whereon he lives, to wit: from Dove kill to the creek which lies about four hundred yards to the northward of the new dwelling house of Colonel Guy Johnson, together with all the islands thereunto belonging; also the house and lots in Albany which I purchased of Henry Holland, together with the water lot adjoining thereto, which I purchased of the corporation of Albany, together with all the buildings and other improvements thereon.

A Door at Old Fort Johnson.

I further devise and bequeath unto the said Daniel Claus and the heirs of his body, all my right in the patent adjoining the German Flats, on the south side of the Mohawk River, containing about sixteen hundred acres; also three lots in the patent of Kingsborough, to wit: No. thirteen, fourteen and fifty-seven; in the western allotment of three lots in Sacandaga patent, to wit: No. twenty-nine, sixty-six, and twenty-seven, containing each two hundred and fifty acres; a third part of a lot in Schenectady, which exchanged with Daniel Campbell, Esq.; also ten thousand acres of land in the Royal Grant, next to that of Sir John Johnson, which is never to be sold or alienated. And lastly, I devise and bequeath unto the said Daniel Claus and the heirs of his body, nine hundred acres, the half of that land that was Gilbert Tice's, in the nine partners patent, between Schoharie and the Mohawk; the whole of several tracts, lots and houses and before mentioned, to be by him and his heirs, of his body lawfully begotten, forever quietly and peaceably possessed and enjoyed. Item. I devise and bequeath to my son-in-law, Colonel Guy Johnson, and the heirs of his body lawfully begotten, the farm and tract of land whereon he now lives, together with all the islands, buildings, and other improvements thereon; also the house and lot of land in Schenectady, purchased by me of Paul Cowes, and now in the possession of the said Guy Johnson; all my right in the Northampton patent, which I purchased of one Dewey; two lots in Sacandaga patent containing one thousand acres, to wit: lot No. one and two, near to the river and on both sides of Sacandaga Creek; three lots of land in Kingsborough, No. eighty-seven, eighty-eight and eighty-nine, containing each one hundred acres of land, and one in the eastern allotment; ten thousand acres of land in the Royal Grant, now called Kingsland, adjoining to the ten thousand acres given to Colonel Daniel Claus, which is never to be sold or alienated on any account; and lastly, nine hundred acres in the half of that land which was Gilbert Tice's in the nine partners patent between Schoharie and the Mohawk village; all the above-mentioned farms, tracts of land and houses with their appurtenances, to be by him and his heirs, of his body lawfully begotten, forever peaceably and quietly possessed and enjoyed. I devise and bequeath unto Peter Jackson, my natural son by Mary Brant, my present housekeeper, the farm and lot of land which I purchased from the Snells in the Stonearaby patent, with all the buildings, mill and other improvements thereon; also two hundred acres of land adjoining thereto, being part of Kingsborough patent, to be laid out in a compact body, between the Garoge and Caniadutta Creeks; also four thousand acres in the Royal Grant, now called Kingsland, next to the Mohawk River, and another strip or piece of land in the Royal Grant, from the Little Falls or carrying place to lot No. one, almost opposite the house of Hannicol Herkimer, and includes two lots, No. three and No. two, along the river side, and which are now occupied by Ury House &c. I devise and bequeath unto Elizabeth sister of the aforesaid Peter, and daughter of Mary Brant, all that farm and lot of land in Harrison's patent, on the north side of the Mohawk River, at No. nineteen, containing near seven hundred acres, bought by me several years ago of Mr. Brown, of Salem, with all the buildings and appurtenances thereunto belonging; also two thousand acres of land in the Royal Grant, now called Kingsland, and that to be laid out joining to that of her brother Peter, both which she and the heirs of her body, lawfully begotten, are to enjoy peaceably forever.

To Magdalene, sister of the two former, and daughter of Mary Brant, I devise and bequeath that farm near to Anthony's Nose, No. eight, containing about nine hundred acres of land, and on which Mr. Broat now lives, with all the buildings and improvements and other appurtenances thereunto belonging; also two thousand acres of land in the Royal Grant, now called Kingsland, adjoining to that tract of her sister Elizabeth.

The Hall, Old Fort Johnson.

To Margaret, sister of the above named Magdalene, and daughter of Mary Brant, I devise and bequeath two lots of land, part of Stonearaby patent, the one to wit: No. twenty-five, which I bought of William Marshall, contains one hundred acres, the other, No. twelve, contains one hundred thirty-one acres and a half, or thereabouts, which I purchased of Peter Weaver; also two thousand acres in the Royal Grant, now called Kingsland, to be laid out next to her sister Magdalene.

To George, my natural son by Mary Brant, and brother to the four before-mentioned children, I devise and bequeath two lots of land, part of Sacandaga patent, known by Nos. forty-three and forty-four, and called New Philadelphia, containing two hundred and fifty acres each; also a small patent or tract of land called John Braekans, lying on the north side of the Mohawk River, almost opposite to the Canajoharie castle, and contains two hundred and eighty acres or thereabouts; and lastly, three thousand acres in the Royal Grant, now called Kingsland, next to the two thousand acres given to his sister Margaret. The said farms or tracts of land with all the buildings and other appurtenances belonging them, are to be by him, and the heirs of his body lawfully begotten, forever quietly and peaceably possessed and enjoyed.

To Mary, daughter of Mary Brant, and sister of the before-mentioned five children, I devise and bequeath two thousand acres in the Royal Grant, now called Kingsland, adjoining those of her brother George; also two lots in Stonearaby patent, No. thirty-six and thirty-eight, containing about one hundred and fifty acres, which I bought of Peter Davis and Hannes Kilts.

To Susannah, daughter of Mary Brant and sister of the foregoing six children, I devise and bequeath three thousand acres of the Royal Grant, now called Kingsland, laid out adjoining to them of her sister Mary.

To Anne, sister of the foregoing seven children by Mary Brant, I devise and bequeath three thousand acres of the Royal Grant, now called Kingsland, to be laid out next to that of her sister Susannah, and to be by her, and the heirs of her body lawfully begotten, forever quietly and peaceably possessed and enjoyed.

To young Brant alias Keghneghtaga of Canajoharie, I give and bequeath one thousand acres of land in the Royal Grant, now called Kingsland, to be laid out next to and adjoining the before-mentioned land of Anne, daughter of Mary Brant. Also to William, alias Tagawirunte, of Canajoharie, one thousand acres of land in the said Royal Grant, alias Kingsland, adjoining that of Brant, to be by them and the heirs of their body, lawfully begotten, forever quietly and peaceably possessed and enjoyed.

It is also my will and decree, that in case any of the before-mentioned eight children of mine by Mary Brant should die without issue, their share or shares, as well of my personal as real estate, be equally divided amongst the survivors of them by their guardians.

To my prudent and faithful housekeeper, Mary Brant, mother of the before-mentioned eight children, I will and bequeath the lot No. one, being part of the Royal Grant now called Kingsland, and is opposite to the land whereon Honnicol Herkimer now lives, which she is to enjoy peaceably during her natural life; after which it is to be possessed by her son Peter, and his heirs forever; I also give and bequeath to my said housekeeper one negro wench named Jenny, the sister of Juba; also the sum of two hundred pounds, current money of New York, to be paid to her by my executors within three months after my decease; I also devise and bequeath to Mary McGrah, daughter of Christopher McGrah, of the Mohawk country, two hundred acres of land in the patent of Adageghteinge, now called Charlotte River, to be by her and her heirs forever peaceably possessed and enjoyed.

I give and bequeath to my brothers, John and Warren Johnson, to my sisters Dease, Sterling, Plunkent, and Fitzsimons, the following tracts of land, which I would have sold by my executors to the best advantage, and moneys arising therefrom to be equally divided among them and their heirs, to wit: whatever part of the patent called Byrne's at Schoharie, may remain unsold at my decease; also my fourth part of another patent at Schoharie called Lawyer and Zimmer's patent; also that of Adageghteinge or Charlotte River; and lastly, the five thousand acres which I have in Glen and Vrooman's patent; also the thirteen thousand acres which I have in the patent called Peter Servis near General Gage's or whatever part of the aforesaid tracts may be unsold at the time of my decease; this, (from the many losses which I have sustained, and the several sums expended by me during the war which were never paid), is all I can possibly do for them without injuring others, which my honor and conscience will not admit of. As his present Majesty, George the third, was graciously pleased as a mark of his favor and regard, to give me a patent under the great seal for the tract of land now called Kingsland, and that without quit rent, except a trifling acknowledgement to be paid yearly, it is my will and desire that no part of it ever be sold by those to whom I have devised it, as that would be acting contrary to my intentions and determined resolution.

Old Fireplace, Guy Park.

I devise and bequeath to my much esteemed nephew Doctor John Dease the sum of five hundred pounds current money of New York, to be paid to him within six months after my decease by my executors out of such moneys as I may have in this country at that time, or by my son, Sir John, for which he, my said son Sir John Johnson, shall have and forever enjoy that lot of land in Sacandaga patent whereon Martin Laffler and two more tenants now live, viz: No. eighty-four, containing two hundred and fifty acres. I also devise and bequeath unto my said nephew, John Dease, Esq., two thousand acres of land lying near to South Bay, or Lake Champlain, which tract was purchased by me of Lt. Augustine Prevost, and which was formerly the location of Ensign or Lt. Gorvel, with all the advantages thereunto belonging; or should he, my said nephew, prefer or rather choose to have the value of it in money, in that case it is my will and desire that my executors dispose of said land to the best advantage and pay the amount of it to my said nephew.

To my faithful friend, Robert Adams, Esq., of Johnstown, the dwelling house, other buildings, and the lot and one acre whereon he now lives, the Potash laboratory, and one acre of land with it; also the farm which he holds by deed from me, all free from rent during his natural life, except the quit rent.

To Mr. William Byrne, of Kingsborough, I give the lot of land whereon he now lives and improvements; also that part of the stock of cattle which was mine, free of rent or demand, as long as he lives, the quit rent excepted.

I also will and bequeath to Mr. Patrick Daly, now living with me, for whom I have a particular regard, the sum of one hundred pounds current money of New York, to be paid unto him within three months of my decease, by my executors. It is also my will and desire that all the white servants I may have at the time of my death be made free and receive from my son ten pounds.

I also devise and bequeath unto my much esteemed friend and old acquaintance, Joseph Chew, Esq., now of Kingsborough, in the county of Tryon, during his natural life, fifty acres of land, which I purchased from Matthias Link, with all the buildings and other improvements thereon belonging; and after his decease, to his son William, my god-child, and to his heirs forever. In case of the death of my god-son William without issue, then to be possessed and enjoyed by Joseph Chew, junr., elder brother of my said god-son William, and his heirs forever. I also devise and bequeath to the said Joseph Chew, Esq., two hundred acres of land in the patent called Preston's, now Mayfield, to be laid out in one piece next to the lots already laid out by John Collins, Esq., for the township; the same two hundred acres with all the appurtenances thereto belonging, to be by him, the said Joseph Chew and his heirs, forever peaceably and quietly possessed and enjoyed.

It is also my will and desire, that in case my Son Sir John Johnson should (which God avert) die without issue, the following disposition be made of the personal and real estate, which is by the foregoing part of this will bequeathed to him, to wit: all the lands of Kingsborough, containing about fifty thousand acres, the few lots excepted which I have otherwise disposed of, to be by my grandson William Claus, and the heirs of his body, quietly and peaceably possessed and enjoyed; also twenty thousand acres of the Royal Grant, now called Kingsland, which is never to be sold or alienated from my family.

West Room, Old Fort Johnson.

It is likewise my will and desire, that in the above case, viz., of my son's death without issue, that the lands, house, &c., at Fort Johnson, and a small tract on the opposite side of the Mohawk River, called Babington's, together with twenty thousand acres of the Royal Grant, now called Kingsland, be possessed and enjoyed by the first male heir which my daughter Mary may have by Guy Johnson, and by his heirs lawfully begotten forever; and in case of her having no male heir to possess it, then it is my will that the before-mentioned lands be equally divided between her daughters and their heirs, in consideration of which my two sons-in-law, Daniel Claus and Guy Johnson, shall (within a year) pay unto my executors and trustees for the use of my children by Mary Brant, my housekeeper, the sum of eight hundred pounds current money of New York: that is to say, Colonel Daniel Claus shall pay the sum of five hundred pounds, and Colonel Guy Johnson the sum of three hundred pounds, which sums are to be (as well as the rest devised and bequeathed to them), put out to interest for their support and emolument until they come of age or marry, when equal division is to be made by their guardians or trustees. All the remainder of my son's estate, except what remains of his share in the Royal Grant alias Kingsland to be equally divided between his two sisters' children, who are never to dispose of it.

Lastly, I do hereby make, constitute and appoint by beloved son Sir John Johnson, Kt., my two sons-in-law, Daniel Claus and Guy Johnson, Esqs., by two brothers John and Warren Johnson, Esqs., Daniel Campbell of Schenectady, John Butler, Nelles Fonda, Captain James Stevenson, of Albany, Robert Adams, Samuel Stringer of Albany, Doctor John Dease, Henry Frey and Joseph Chew, Esqs., or any six of them, executors of this, my last Will and testament. And it also my will and desire that John Dease, Nelles Fonda, John Butler, James Stevenson, Henry Frey and Joseph Chew, Esqs., be and act as guardians and trustees of by before-mentioned eight children by Mary Brant, my present housekeeper, in full confidence that from the close connection of the former, and the long uninterrupted friendship subsisting between me and the latter, they will strictly act as brothers, and inviolably observe and execute this my last charge to them; the strong dependence on, and expectation of which unburthens my mind, allays my cares, and makes a change the less alarming. And as I would willingly, in some measure, (although trifling); testify my regard and friendship for the above mentioned gentlemen, I must request their acceptance of three hundred pounds currency to purchase rings as a memento for their once sincere friend, which sum is to be immediately paid to them by my son, Sir John Johnson. And I do hereby revoke, disannul and make void all former wills, bequests and legacies by me heretofore at any time made, bequeathed or given; and I do hereby make and declare this only to be my last will and testament. In witness whereof I have (with a perfect mind and memory), hereunto set my hand and seal this 27th day of January, 1774, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-four, and my name at the bottom of each page, being thirteen.

W. JOHNSON, (L.S.)

Signed, sealed, published, and declared by the testator as and for his last will and testament, in the presence of us, who, by the desire and in the presence of the said testator and of each other, have hereunto subscribed our names.

WILLIAM ADAMS,

GILBERT TICE,

MOSES IBBIT,

SAMUEL SUTTON.

Tryon Co., ss.

Be it remembered that on the twenty-fifty day of July, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-four, personally came and appeared before me, Bryan Lefferty, Surrogate of the said county, Sir John Johnson, Bart., Guy Johnson, Daniel Claus, John Dease, John Butler, Robert Adams and Joseph Chew, executors of the written will of Sir William Johnson, Bart., and were duly sworn to the true execution of the said will, by severally taking the oath of an executor as by law appointed before me.

BRIAN LEFFERTY,

Surrogate.

A Corner of Old Guy Park.

Tryon Co., ss.

Be it also remembered that on the twenty-fifth day of July, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-four, William Adams, Gilbert Tice, Moses Ibbit, and Samuel Sutton, all of Johnstown and county aforesaid, being duly sworn on their oaths, declared: That they and each of them did see Sir William Johnson, Bart., sign and seal the within written instrument, purporting to be the will of the said Sir William Johnson, bearing date the twenty-seventh day of January, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-four, and heard him publish and declare the same as and for his last will and testament. That at the time thereof he, the said Sir William Johnson, was of sound disposing mind and memory, to the best of knowledge and belief of them the deponents. And that their names, subscribed to the said will, are of their respective proper hand-writing, which they subscribed as witnesses to the said will in the testator's presence.

BRIAN LEFFERTY,

Surrogate.

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