HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF MINDEN, Part 1


Several of the passages below were transcribed by volunteer April Kline from the classic "The History of Montgomery and Fulton Counties, N.Y." by F.W. Beers & Co., 1878. A reproduction of this book was made by the Heritage and Genealogy Society of Montgomery County, and published by Heart of the Lakes Publishing Company, Interlaken, N.Y. 14847 back in 1981. Copies are available for viewing at the Montgomery County Department of History and Archives, the NY State Library in Albany, and on microfilm at the New York City Public Library. Also available on microfilm or hard cover at many large libraries around the U.S. For library reference, the reprint of the book is ISBN: 0-932334-14-8 






Section "Minden's Church History" completed 12/12/99. Please scroll down.

p.126  "The Town of Minden":

This town was organized from the westernly part of Canajoharie, March 2, 1798. Tradition says it was named Minden at the suggestion of some early settlers, who came from a place of the same name in Germany. The township, which is one of remarkable fertility, is about nine miles in length on the Mohawk, with an average breadth of eight miles southernly. The early permanent settlers were Germans, the first of whom came from Schoahrie. They settled mainly in that part of town called, from their nationality, Dutchtown, and across the river in Palatine; the former community gradually extending, by accessions from Germany between the years 1723 and 1760, along the river the whole length of what in 1722 became known as the Canajoharie district, and which in 1788 became a township, bordering upon the river some twenty miles, its western border embracing the former home of Gen. Herkimer. Evidences of Indian occupancy are literally found all over the town, the rude stone implements lost in war and the chase, but the sites of their wigwams can never be known except as plow reveals evidence of their existence.

THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR

In this town since its settlement first begun, have been enacted interesting and tragic scenes sufficient, if chronicled, to fill a volume. Here, among others, transpired in what was called the old French war,--which resulted in establishing English supremacy in the Canadas--the following cruel incident: Near the commencement of this war, which began in 1755, John Markell, who married Anna Timmerman, daughter of a pioneer settler of St. Johnsville, took to his residence in the westernly part of the town. Predatory incursions were often made during this war by small parties of Canadian Indians, and especially was the case in 1757, in which year it is believed the tragedy occurred. Markell and his wife left home one day, she with an infant in her arms. They had not proceeded far when suddenly they saw a hostile party of about a dozen warriors approaching in their path, and only a few rods distant. Markell at once devined that they were Canadian foes, knew their own escape was impossible, and said excitedly to his wife, who was walking directly behind him--"Anna, unser zeitist aus!", Anna our time is up! These his last words, were truly prophetic, for in the next instant one of the party leveled his gun, a bullet from which passed through Markell's body into that of his wife. They both fell to the ground, and she, the child falling from her arms,lay upon her face and feigned death. Markell was at once tomahawked and scalped, and as an Indian was about to secure his wife's scalp, she heard one of his comrades say what she construed to be--"Better knock her on the head" "No", was the reply, "The squaw's already dead now!" He drew the knife around the crown, placed his knees against her shoulders, seized the scalp with his teeth and quick as thought it was torn from her head. One of the party snatched up the crying infant, then only a few months old, and dashed it's brains out against a tree. The enemy did not linger long nor strip the dead, and it is well they did not; as it is probable Mrs. Markell could not much longer have successfully enacted the role of death. It's hardly possible to imagine the agony of this brave woman, who was entirely conscious the whole time her foes were present, and allowed her scalp to be torn off without the apparent movement of a muscle. Is there a woman in Minden who could do it today? Mrs. Markell found friends, was cared for and recovered, but carried the bullet in her body to the grave. Not very long after her misfortunes, proboably in the next season, she married Christian Getman, of Ephratah, where she lived the remainder of a long and very useful life, and where she died in April, 1821, at the age, as believed, of 85 years; which would place her birth about the year 1736, and her terrible misfortunes when she was at the age of twenty-one years. She is now (1877) remembered by four or five of her aged descendants and relatives, from whom these facts were learned, as a remarkably industrious, interesting and exemplary old lady. The loss of her scalp was partially concealed by the manner in which she combed her hair. She had six children by her second marriage, viz: Peter, Christian, Jacob, Adam, Catharine, and Anna. Peter Getman, her oldest son, was a pensioner after the war for services rendered his country in the Revolution.


MINDEN'S CHURCH HISTORY

p. 126

The first Reformed Dutch Church of Canajoharie (now in the town of Minden) was erected in 1750, on what has long been known as Sand Hill, a little distance above the Abeel place on the Dutchtown road. Of this church, Rev. A. Rosencrantz was the pastor for the first eight years. The edifice, a wooden structure, stood in a sightly place on the westernly side of the road, and was burnt by the enemy at their invasion under Brant, in 1780. The preaching in this church was in the German language. At the time of its destruction Domine Gros was its pastor, and from that time to the close of the war he preached in a barn that stood on the William Lipe farm, in the ravine through which the road ran from the river to the military post known as Fort Plain. The old barn was torn down and a new one erected on its site in 1859. An old dwelling standing a few rods below it, which was erected more than a hundred years ago gave place in the summer of 1875 to a substantial brick edifice. Thus, one after another, are the old landmarks removed. These buildings, with several others, were so near the fort, that the enemy never ventured to molest or destroy them. One of the latter was an old house which gave place to the beautiful mansion of Mrs. Harvey Williams, about a dozen years ago.

p. 127

A new church edifice, erected at the site of the old one at the close of the war, was also constructed of wood, and was a large and well proportioned building, with a small half-round pulpit, having a short uncushioned bench for its seat, that would accommodate only one sitter; while over the minister's head was a dangerous looking sounding-board. The church had a gallery upon three sides, and was graced with a steeple without a bell. It was built by Peter March for one thousand pounds-$2,500. A lightening rod on the building having become broken, the lightening struck it and went through, doing considerable damage. Gen. Washington died December 14, 1799, and his death, a marked event, was solemnly observed at this church, as at many others throughout the land. We then had no telegraph to herald such tidings, and days were required to spread them abroad. Funeral ceremonies took place here in the latter part of December, and although the weather was cold, there was little snow on the ground, and the gathering of people was immense. The church was beautifully festooned with evergreens and crape, and was literally packed with an interested audience, as was learned twenty years ago from John Arndt, who was present as a boy at the time. Rev. Isaac Labaugh is said to have officiated on the occasion, and his discourse was afterwards published. Led in a procession was a caparisoned horse, with holsters upon the saddle, to which was attached a pair of boots indicating the loss of a soldier. Where the procession formed is unknown, probably at the public house of Nicholas Dygert, then situated just beyond the Christian Bellinger place, westward of the church. This was perhaps, the most important and imposing observance of Washington's death witnessed in the Mohawk Valley, and not a few were assembled who saw that distinguished hero visit to this locality in the summer of 1782, seventeen years before, when his excursion extended to Cherrry Valley and the foot of Ostego Lake, the site of Cooperstown.

Continuation completed 12/12/99

In the thirty-eight years succeeding Mr. Rosecrantz's ministry, the preachers included Rev. Ludwig Luppe, Rev. Mr. Kennipe and Rev. J. L. Broeffle (or Preffle). Of Mr. Kennipe it is written that "he once received a merciless flagellation from a hard man, by the name of Diel, as they rode together on horseback on the river's bank. The minister would not prosecute, but appealed to God; and, strange to say, both men died on the same night." From 1788 to 1796, Rev. A. Christian Diedrich Peck was the pastor. He is described as "a portly man, an amateur equestrian, who has left behind him the reputation of an unsurpassed orator. Great congregations thronged to hear him." He was succeeded, in 1796, by Dr. John Daniel Gros, "a man of considerable learning," who had been professor of moral philosophy in Columbia College. From 1800 to 1803, Rev. Isaac Labaugh supplied the churches of Canajoharie, Stone Arabia and Sharon. His successor was Rev. J.I. Wack, who continued pastor till 1816, and was "probably the last minister of the old Sand Hill church." He was an army chaplain in the war of 1812, and "a man of commanding personal appearance."

John Christopher Wieting, a native of Brandenburg, Germany, while a student in a university at the age of 18, was in 1777 pressed into the British service. He was made a prisoner at Saratoga, resolved to become an American citizen, and settled at Greenbush; from whence he came into the town of Minden, and established one of its earliest schools. He began to preach as a disciple of Martin Luther, about the year 1795. His labors in a few years resulted in establishing two churches, one at the "Squake" - a contraction of Otsquago - a settlement near the source of the creek of that name, and the other at Geissenberg, in that neighborhood. These churches were seven or eight miles apart, and the last mentioned was a brick edifice of fair dimensions, having a comely steeple, but no bell on it. This church had a small, high, octagonal pulpit, made to seat one person, with a sounding-board overhead, and had a gallery upon three sides. Instead of a shed, a pine-grove near by sheltered the horses from the summer's sun and the winter's storm. The Otsquago church was a wooden structure of respectable size, but without a steeple. The Geissenburg church was dedicated about the year 1806; Rev. Philip Krutz preached the sermon on the occasion. After services began in this church, people from many miles around came here to worship; and one from the vicinity of the upper Lutheran church, now in Stark, is remembered as being very constant in his attendance, making the journey on foot - an example for the modern Christian, who cannot rise early enough on Sunday morning to get ready to attend church service ten rods from his own dwelling. Rev. Mr. Wietling was a very energetic and popular preacher, and continued to officiate at these churches up to the time of his death, which occurred Feb. 17, 1817, when he was about 58 years of age. These churches seemed to prosper for a time after his decease, but finally fell into disuse, and both have long since been destroyed.

It should be stated, in connection with the Geissenburg church, that its "fore singer," as the chorister was called in those days, was a clever German named Gotlieb Krake, who also came into this country as a Hessian soldier under Gen. Burgoyne. He would read two lines of a hymn, and then sing them - in German, of course - and those who remember his singing say that he dwelt long upon his notes, trilling them as though in an ague fit. His was a very important part of the worship, for it always required considerable time.

The present hamlet of Fordsbush, in the southwest corner of the town, has two churches, Lutheran and Universalist. The latter was organized in 1838. The church was rebuilt and enlarged in 1874, and re-dedicated in December of that year, when the membership was sixty-four. The pastors have included J.D. Hicks, D.C. Tomlinson, T.L. Harris, Adolphus Skinner, J.H. Harter, A.B. Grosh, O.K. Crosby, G.W. Skinner, T.L. Hathaway, Daniel Ballou, C.C. Richardson, H.H. Baker, W.G. Anderson, A.C. Barry, Q.L. Shinn, O. Cone, R.L. Lansing, E.E. Peck, J.W. Lamoine and James H. Ballou. Mr. Lamoine's pastorate of only three months was terminated by his death. The Fordsbush cemetery, "Mount Hope," in which he was buried, is managed by an association organized in May 1862. It contains about four acres of land, and numerous fine monuments, one of which cost $1,500.

Freysbush also has two churches, Lutheran and Methodist. The Lutheran church was organized by nine members, at the house of John Dunckel, June 28, 1834, taking the name of "The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Freysbush." Daniel Ottman, Andrew Roof and Wm. Reagles were the first elders. In 1835 the church became connected with the Hartwick Synod. There were then fifty-five members, of whom only two are now living in the neighborhood. In 1837 the Franckean Synod was formed, and this church connected with it. In 1841 a house of worship was erected, 30 feet by 42, at a cost of about $1,000. It was subsequently remodeled and enlarged, at an expense of $1,100. A shed for teams, 145 feet long, was built in 1845; and a parsonage and barn, costing $2,500, in 1868. In 1872 the church property, including an acre and a half of land, was valued by the Synod at $6,580. The membership of the church is one hundred and seventeen. The Sabbath-school was organized in 1841. W. Reagles was superintendent for the first twenty years. The school has sixty scholars.

Methodist services have been held at Freysbush since 1812, but the place has only been an independent pastoral charge since 1847. Up to that time it was at different periods part of the Otsego, Litchfield, Sharon and Canajoharie circuits, large regions generally in charge of two of the "circuit-rider" preachers jointly. Among those who thus ministered at this post, both as preacher and presiding elder, was Rev. George Gary, who is spoken of in terms of the highest praise by those who remember him. The Freysbush station belonged to the Genesee Conference until 1829; to the Oneida for the next forty years; to the Central New York from 1869 to 1873, and to the Northern New York from that date to the present year. It now belongs to the Troy Conference. It has been successively in the Oneida (1812-28), Chenango (1829-35), Oneida (1836-45), Otsego (1846-68), Herkimer (1869-76), and Albany presiding elder's districts. The church building of the society is the second occupied by them, its predecessor having been the first Methodist church built in the town. Rev. L. E. Marvin is the present pastor.




Early reading of the Geisenburg/Geissenburg Cemetery




Back to Town of Minden Page

Back to Montgomery County NYGenWeb




Created: 9/1/98
Last Updated: 12/12/99
Copyright © 1998 April Kline/ M. Magill
Copyright © 1999 Martha S. Magill
All Rights Reserved.