Border Warfare-Annals of Tryon County - Appendix Note O - CENTENNIAL ADDRESS DELIVERED AT CHERRY VALLEY, JULY 4TH, 1840











Delivered at Cherry Valley, Otsego County, N.Y., July 4th, 1840, by William W. Campbell


The announcement that the great poet, novelist, and historian of Scotland was no more, produced a thrilling emotion throughout the civilized world. Gifted pens in both hemispheres paid noble tributes to his memory, and the beautiful idea was conceived of grouping together and presenting at a single glance the most prominent characters, both fictitious and historical, which had been created and adorned by the genius of the immortal SCOTT. While he lay in state in the proud halls of Abbotsford, there passed in long procession the monarch with his retinue, displaying the pomp and pageantry of the Middle Ages – the belted knight clad in steel, marching with a warrior’s step, and accompanied by his lady love – old men and maidens – noble and ignoble, the Jew, the Christian, and the Pagan – each in their turn, as they moved past, casting a last look upon the mortal remains of him whose name, as long as letters endure, can never perish from the earth. But as they come up in review before our own minds, do we not intuitively select some of the most humble and lowly as objects of imitation and love. Forgetting the proud array of titles and of names, we call up with earnest and admiring feelings the artless simplicity and heroic fortitude of that noble specimen of female character, the Jeanie Deans in the Heart of Mid-Lothian.

My fellow citizens, we are assembled this day at the close of the first century since the settlement of Cherry Valley. We are here on the anniversary of our nation’s birthday to mark down the closing hours of that century, and, ere they are all numbered, to sketch out and place on record the scenes, and actions, and events, and characters to which it has given birth in our little valley. It has become my duty, as it is my pleasure, to make up that record which may aid in fixing this day as a landmark for the guidance and direction of those who may come after us. If in the brief review of the century which is just passing away I shall present no gorgeous spectacle – no long train of titled lords and warrior knights, I may be able to sketch characters which shall commend themselves by their intelligence, their morals, their courage, and their undying patriotism. Plain and humble though they may have been, and confined within a narrow sphere of action, they were eminent in their respective stations – they discharged with ability the duties which devolved upon them, and have passed away and left their impress upon this the place of their and your habitation.

Most of the first settlers of this valley, though originally from Scotland, emigrated to North America from Ireland. Some of them came in what was called the Londonderry emigration. A portion of this body of emigrants landed in the spring of 1719, at Casco Bay, near the present city of Portland, {original text has "Porland".} in Maine. Like most of the New England colonists, they sought a home and a place to worship God. Immediately upon landing from their vessel, under the open heaven, and upon the sea-shore, they commenced the worship of their Creator. The sands of a new continent were beneath their feet. The waves of the Atlantic were dashing around them. The sky of the new world was over them.


"The perfect world by Adam trod,

Was the first temple built by God;

His fiat laid the corner-stone,

And heaved its pillars one by one."


In this temple our fathers worshipped God in this western land. Standing on the shore of the ocean, with their little bark riding near them, they raised their voices and sung the 137th psalm of the sweet singer of Israel. As they looked back upon the homes of their youth – upon the friends and kindred left behind – upon the blessings and comforts of civilization, well might they sing: "By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof."

But they looked forward with hope and constancy, and as they remembered their covenant vows, and their determination to observe and maintain their religious duties, they also united and sung, in the sublime language of the Psalmist: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy."

On application made by this colony to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, a tract of land was granted to them, to which they removed in the summer of the same year. The settlement was named after the place from whence they sailed, and still retains the name of Londonderry, now in the southern part of New Hampshire. The colonists immediately organized a society, settled a minister, and commenced laying broad and deep the foundations of religion and of civil order. Many of the early settlers of Cherry Valley removed from this Londonderry colony in 1741-42; the first actual settlement having been made by Mr. Lindesay, one of the patentees, in 1740.

The patent of Cherry Valley was granted in 1738, by George Clark, then lieutenant governor of the province of New York, with consent of the council, to John Lindesay, Jacob Roseboom, and others. The patentees probably re-leased a portion of the land to Governor Clark, as we find tiers of lots still owned by his lineal descendants in this county.

It has been cause of speculation and inquiry, why the patentees sought a patent of land so remote as this place then was, lying, as it did, beyond unoccupied lands more eligibly situated and of greater value. It has been said that Mr. Lindesay, the principal patentee, was pleased with the wild and romantic features of the country, which were not unlike his native Scotland. We can easily imagine that at that early day, ere the woodman’s axe had broken into the forest, the scene which our little valley presented was one of quiet and picturesque beauty. Here was the purling brook, the cascade, the rock and dell, the beautiful forest tree, the blossoming cherry, and the wild mountain flower. The tall and graceful elm rose conspicuous in the valley, while the dark foliage of the rock maple and the evergreen marked the elevation of the surrounding hills. From the summit of those hills the eye took in at a glance a large part of the valley of the Mohawk, but on leaving that river the emigrant or settler found himself at once in the midst of the virgin forest. The whole country called by us the great west, the vast valley of the Mississippi, was almost a terra incognita, an unknown land. An occasional adventurer had made his way into the interior, and had engaged in traffick with the aboriginal inhabitants, who claimed as owners, and roamed over the wide valleys and prairies. A few others, less hardy and enterprising, had passed along the shores of the great lakes, and, like Moses upon Mount Pisgah, caught a distant view of the promised land. A few French from Canada had intermarried with the native population, and introduced some slight features of civilization among the red men of the forest. With these exceptions, the whole country west of Cherry Valley, reaching on to the Pacific Ocean, was one unbroken wilderness.

About the time of his first settlement, Mr. Lindesay conferred with the Rev. Samuel Dunlop, a native of Ireland, and a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, upon the subject of adding to the settlement through his influence with his countrymen at home and in this country. Mr. Dunlop went to Ireland and returned in 1742. He was married in Ireland, and his young wife came with him to pitch their tents in the wilderness. At the same time Mr. Dickson and Mr. Galt, and families, arrived in company with Mr. Dunlop from Ireland, and Mr. Ramsey and James Campbell with their families, in the same year, arrived from Londonderry in New Hampshire. Mr. Dickson and Mr. Galt purchased farms in the south part of the patent; Mr. Ramsey in the western part, and James Campbell purchased a farm north of the village, now owned by his grandson James S. Campbell, Esq. Mr. Dunlop purchased the farm formerly owned and occupied by Dr. Joseph White, and now owned and occupied by his son-in-law, Jacob Livingston, Esq.

It may here be observed, that one of the first movements of this little colony was the organization of a church, under the pastoral charge of Mr. Dunlop, and the erection of a rude edifice of logs, in which they assembled to worship the God of their fathers. In his own house Mr. Dunlop opened a classical school, and there educated some young men from the German families on the Mohawk, who afterward, and especially during the Revolution, acted conspicuous parts. Among the number were Col. Henry and Major John Frey. It is worth of especial remembrance that in this valley the first regular society was organized for religious worship in the English language, and the first classical school established in central or western New York. I have not been able to find an account of any other church or school at that early day, between this place and the immediate vicinity of the Hudson River, though there may have been classical schools at Schenectady. The church organized under the patronage of Sir William Johnson, at Johnstown, was not founded until about 1765.

Settlements were not then, as now, thrown forward almost with the rapidity of the earth’s own motion, so that a frontier hamlet of to-day becomes a city with a densely peopled country around it to-morrow. On the contrary, the encroachments upon the wilderness, and upon the home of the red man, previous to the Revolution, were made slowly and with great caution. The white population advanced along the banks of the rivers and the margins of the tributary streams. Occasionally, as was the case with this settlement, a few families, more adventurous, might plunge further into what was then termed the desert, and relying for protection on the God of hosts and their own right arm, plant there the foundations of the white man’s home. But the increase of these frontier settlements was very slow. In 1752, twelve years after the first settlement of Cherry Valley, there were but eight families in the place. In 1765, they had increased to forty families. The number in 1775, and at the commencement of the war, I do not know, but probably it did not exceed sixty families.

In 1744, Mr. John Wells removed to Cherry Valley. He purchased of Mr. Lindesay the farm occupied by him, and called Lindesay’s Bush, being the same farm now owned and occupied by Mr. Joseph Phelon. Mr. Wells was a man of fine character, and was highly respected in the settlement. He was appointed the first justice of the peace. His son Robert intermarried with a daughter of the Rev. Mr. Dunlop, and of this marriage, among other children, was John Wells, one of the most distinguished and able lawyers whom the State of New York has produced. His history, I trust, is familiar to all who hear me. You have heard of the destruction of his whole family, of his subsequent labors, his comparative obscurity in his profession, until an opportunity was afforded for a display of his talents and genius, in his defense of the celebrated James Cheatham, editor of the American Citizen; when, as it were, with a single bound, he rose from that comparative obscurity to professional eminence. That distinguished lawyer always cherished a warm affection for the place of his birth, and it was his intention, had his life been spared for a few years longer, to have purchased the property of his ancestors, and to have retired from his profession, and spent here the closing years of his life amid the scenes of his boyhood.

From 1740 down to 1775, (as has already been stated,) the population of Cherry Valley increased slowly. That period had been one of considerable excitement, alarm and trial.

The long and bloody wars between England and France had been carried forward. The battle-field was transferred from Europe to America, and the contest for national supremacy was maintained with renewed vigor amid the forest homes of our fathers, and upon their inland seas. Most of the Indian tribes at the north, allured away by the French Jesuits, and by the liberal presents of the so-styled Grand Monarch of France, took up the hatchet against the English and Americans. The frontier inhabitants were kept under almost constant apprehension, and though the settlement of Cherry Valley escaped destruction, yet the inhabitants were called into service, and exchanged the peaceable pursuits of agriculture for the excitements and dangers of the camp, and were engaged in distant and hazardous expeditions. When the war of the Revolution commenced, Cherry Valley was still a frontier settlement. A few inhabitants were settled in the present town of Springfield; a few in Middlefield, then called Newtown Martin. Along the banks of the Susquehanna, and in the valley of Unadilla and Otego creeks, a few settlers were found, and the brave and hardy family of Harpers had gone out from Cherry Valley and planted a little colony at Harpersfield; but Cherry Valley was considered the centre and gathering-place of all these settlers.

When the period arrived that the united colonies of North America were compelled to take up arms to maintain their rights, the announcement produced necessarily a deep emotion through the frontier settlements.

War at all times is to be deprecated, and, if possible, avoided. In the case of our Revolution, war became justifiable on our part. The great principles of civil and religious liberty, for which our ancestors contended in the old world, and which they sought to plant here in the new, were invaded. The crisis had arrived when their rights must be surrendered, or the question must be tried by a long and bloody civil war. The minds of men were early made up for the contest. In this section of the country, the perils and trials of the inhabitants were probably greater than in any other section of the Union. The Six Nations of Indians, who early joined the English, were the most powerful and warlike of the aboriginal inhabitants. Yet, in defiance of danger, and undismayed by threats of vengeance, the inhabitants of Tryon County rallied together when the indications of the gathering storm were seen only in the distance.

If you will consider what was then the situation of that county, sparsely populated, and separated from the Hudson River and the Eastern States by a powerful tribe of Indians, and a large body of men attached to the English cause, organized and commanded by influential and experienced men, and will then look at the early proceedings of their committee of safety, you will find exhibited a fearlessness and determination of spirit almost unparalleled even in that day of self-sacrificing and heroic devotion to country. Read the proceedings of the Palatine committee, as early as 27th August, 1774, two years before the Declaration of Independence, when they asserted fearlessly their rights, and bound themselves together to abide by all the regulations of the first Continental Congress. Read the resolutions of the same committee, passed May 21st, 1775, when, in answer to the threats of Guy Johnson, then Indian superintendent, they resolved, "that as we abhor a state of slavery, we do join and unite together under all the ties of religion, honor, justice, and a love of freedom, never to become slaves, and to defend our freedom with our lives and fortunes."

When the time, the place, and the circumstances are considered under which that committee met and passed the resolutions referred to, I think you will conclude with me that they are unparalleled. In their tone and sentiment they would have done credit to any provincial assembly, or even to the Continental Congress itself. The original draft of these resolutions I found many years since in a neglected spot in the garret of the house of Major John Frey, and I have deposited the manuscript among the archives of the New York Historical Society, that it may remain as a memorial of the noble spirit of Tryon County. It is in the handwriting of Christopher P. Yates, who was an eminent and able patriot. But if he had done nothing besides being the author and advocate of these resolutions, his name and his memory should be warmly cherished in this section of country where you dwell.

Here, in Cherry Valley, the leading citizens early embraced the colonial cause. In May, 1775, the common article of association was circulated, in which the signers pledged themselves to support the Continental Congress. It is unnecessary here, and indeed I have not time to detail the progress of the war, during the first years of its continuance. A fort was erected which occupied a portion of the present burial ground, and which was garrisoned by a regiment of continental troops under the command of Col. Alden. Alarms and rumors were the order of the day. This region of country seems early to have been marked out for destruction, and the settlement of Cherry Valley, after repeated alarms, was destined to share the common fate of the frontier hamlets of New York.

The 11th day of November, 1778, has been rendered memorable by the sacrifices and sufferings, and death of many of the early settlers of this valley. On the morning of that day no bright sun gilded the mountain tops with his beams, nor was the eye gladdened with the view of the rich tints of autumn. Clouds and mists were round about the homes of our fathers, as if veiling the horrid scenes which on that day were to be enacted. The gun from the fort early in the morning announced that the enemy was near. The scouts had been surprised and taken, and the yell of the Indian, and the report of his rifle, heralded his approach to the garrison. The scattered inhabitants, most of them, unarmed, strove to gain places of actual or fancied security, but generally in vain. Some reached the fort and were saved, others were pursued and slain by the wayside, and the tomahawk and scalping-knife drank the blood of others at their own fireside, and even while kneeling in prayer before their Maker. Others were retained as hostages or prisoners, to be borne away through the wilderness to take up their abode with savages, and to suffer a tedious and dreadful captivity. I have endeavored, in the history which I have heretofore presented to my fellow citizens, of the border wars of this State, to give a picture of this valley on the night succeeding the day of the massacre. The place chosen for encampment of the enemy was about two miles south of the village, and near the site of the dwelling-house of James Dickson. The prisoners were gathered around the watch-fires, drenched with rain and sleet, and shivering with cold, with no protection from the storm. Thick darkness covered the valley, except when some gust of wind kindled a flame for a moment amid the dying embers, and thus marked the spots where once had been their homes. The mangled corpses of relatives and neighbors lay unburied around the ashes of their dwellings. Their own fate was hid from them. They knew not whether a long captivity awaited them, or whether on the morrow they should be offered up as sacrifices to appease the wrath or gratify the passions of their enemies. I can imagine no state of suspense more awful. Mercy, however, in a measure, triumphed, and a portion of the prisoners were released, and the rest were carried into captivity, and enabled to return after the lapse of many years. Between thirty and forty of the inhabitants were killed on the 11th of November. It is unnecessary at this time to give their names.

On the following day their corpses were gathered together, and under the protection of the garrison were deposited in a common grave. It would have been very gratifying if, on this occasion, we could have laid the corner-stone of a monument to mark the place of their burial, and which, while it commemorated the death of those who perished on the 11th of November, 1778, might have endured also as a memorial of the anniversary which we this day celebrate.

This destruction of the settlement closed the Revolutionary drama at Cherry Valley. The small fort was abandoned in the following summer, and the troops joined General James Clinton’s detachment, when on his way to join Gen. Sullivan, in the famous expedition against the Six Nations in 1779. This whole region of country was swept over by an ever active and vindictive enemy. At the close of the Revolution, and when peace was once more restored, the remnant of the inhabitants returned to their former homes, but war, and disease, and poverty had done their fearful work, and many a once familiar face was never seen again around the domestic hearth. In 1784 a few log houses were built by the inhabitants who had returned, and in the same year the immortal Washington honored our little valley with a visit. He came up from the Mohawk River for the purpose of visiting this place, and also examining the outlet of Lake Otsego, where, in 1779, Gen. James Clinton threw a dam across the Susquehanna, preparatory to his descent of that river.

It has already been stated that the first inhabitants of Cherry Valley were mostly religious people. Like the Puritans of New England they were watchful and jealous of any infraction of Christian duties. Many of my hearers will have read the letter addressed by the committee of safety of Cherry Valley to the general committee of Tryon County. It was as follows:


"Cherry Valley, June 9th, 1775.


"We received yours of yesterday, relative to the meeting of the committee on Sunday, which surprised us not a little, inasmuch as it seems not to be on any alarming circumstance, which, if it was, we should readily attend. But as that does not appear to us to be the case, we think it very improper; for unless the necessity of the committee sitting superexceed the duties to be performed in attending the worship of God, we think it ought to be put off till another day; and therefore we conclude not to give our attendance at this time, unless you adjourn the sitting of the committee till Monday Morning, and in that case we will give our attendance as early as you please. But otherwise we cannot allow ourselves to be cut short of attending on the public worship; except the case be so necessitous as to exceed sacrifice. We conclude with wishing success to the common cause, and subscribe ourselves to the free-born sons of liberty.




I have introduced this letter for the purpose of calling attention more particularly to a meeting of the inhabitants in 1785, after the storm of war had passed over, and when quiet and peace once more rested upon the borders. Neither war, nor exile, nor poverty had caused them to forget their Christian duties, or the importance of religious societies.

On the 5th of April, 1785, a public meeting of the citizens was held, the objects of which will be best explained by the record made at the time. It is as follows:

"We, the ancient inhabitants of Cherry Valley, in the county of Montgomery, and State of New York, having returned from exile, find ourselves destitute of our church officers, viz: deacons and elders. In consequence of our difficulties, and other congregations in similar circumstances, our Legislature thought proper to pass a law for the relief of these, viz: ‘An act to incorporate all religious societies,’ passed April 6th, 1784. In compliance of said act we proceeded as follows:


"At a meeting of a respectable number of the old inhabitants of Cherry Valley, it was agreed upon that an advertisement should be set up, to give notice to all the former inhabitants that are returned to their respective habitations, to meet at the meeting-house yard on Tuesday, the fifth day of April next, at ten o’clock, before noon, then and there to choose trustees, who shall be a body corporate for the purpose of taking care of the temporalities of their respective Presbyterian congregation, agreeable to an act of the Legislature of the State of New York, passed April sixth, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-four.


Justice of the Peace.

Cherry Valley, March 19th, 1785."

"Cherry Valley, April 5th, 1785.

"1st. The congregation being met agreeable to the above advertisement, proceeded as follows, viz: The congregation having no minister, nor elders, or deacons, at present, by reason of death and removal of such in the late war, we, the people at large, did nominate and elect the following two members of the congregation to be the returning officers and judges of the qualification of the electors of said meeting:



"2d. Proceeded as follows at the said meeting, and have nominated Col. Samuel Clyde, John Campbell, Jr., and James Wilson, to be the trustees for said congregation. The trustees appointed James Cannon as clerk for said board."

"Cherry Valley, April 5th, 1785.

"At a meeting of the inhabitants of Cherry Valley this day, the undermentioned were elected trustees for the Presbyterian congregation:




"Electors’ Names. – Robert Shankland, William Thompson, Samuel Ferguson, James Moore, Jr., John Campbell, Jr., Hugh Mitchell, William Gault, James Cannon, Samuel Campbell, Jr., Samuel Clyde, Esq., Samuel Campbell, William Dickson, James Dickson, Daniel McCollum, John McKillip, Israel Wilson, Luther Rich, James Wilson, Thomas Whitaker, Benjamin Dickson, John Dunlop."

"Cherry Valley, April 5th, 1785.

"To all whom it doth or may concern, Greeting: We, Samuel Campbell and William Dickson, returning officers, by virtue of the law of this State, entitled an act to enable all the religious denominations in this State to appoint trustees, who shall be a body corporate for the purpose of taking care of the temporalities of their respective congregations, and for other purposes therein mentioned; passed the sixth day of April, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-four, of the Presbyterian congregation of Cherry Valley, in the county of Montgomery, do hereby certify that Samuel Clyde, John Campbell, Jr., and James Wilson, were duly and legally elected trustees of said congregation, and that the said trustees and their successors shall forever hereafter be a body corporate, and be called, distinguished, and known by the name and title of Trustees of the Presbyterian Church in Cherry Valley, in the County of Montgomery.

"Given under our hands and seals this fifth day of April, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-five.



Measures were soon after taken for building a church edifice, but it was not completed until some years after. The plan adopted seems to have been to sell pew ground, and with the proceeds to erect the building, each purchaser of pew ground stipulating to construct his own pew thereon, according to a uniform plan, after the building should be enclosed. The purchaser of pew ground was to pay partly in money, and partly in produce at the market price. Many of my hearers will recollect the old church, with its square, high-back pews, which occupied a part of the burying-ground, or meeting-house yard, as it is styled in the foregoing proceedings, and which was taken down about twelve or thirteen years ago, when the present Presbyterian church edifice was erected.

The meeting of the inhabitants of Cherry Valley on the 5th of April, 1785, is deserving of particular attention. The remnant of the ancient inhabitants, as they styled themselves, had returned to their former homes. They had returned, they say, from exile. The long and bloody war through which they had passed, had thinned their ranks and whitened the heads, and furrowed the cheeks of the survivors. They had once more a home, but it was again a forest home.

The wild beast had made its lair amid the ruins of their former dwellings. The briar, the thistle and the sapling grew rank upon their garden spots. In the autumn of 1784 a few log huts had been built, but in the spring of 1785, when this meeting was called, there was no building in the settlement where the inhabitants could assemble together. They men, therefore, like their fathers, under the open heavens.

The place where they gathered together was hallowed ground. It had been set apart for the burial of their dead. The graves of their kindred and friends were round about them. It was the place which had been consecrated by their patriotism, for there stood their little fort.

On that same spot the inhabitants assembled together and organized anew, on the 5th day of April, 1785, that Presbyterian society which has continued to this day.

The first regular pastor was settled in 1796, and he was our reverend and distinguished guest, {Rev. Dr. Nott, President of Union College.} who has this day honored our little valley with his presence, and who, nearly half a century ago, commenced here his sacred ministrations, and preached here the gospel to our fathers. Long may his valuable life be spared to the church, and to the literary institution over which he has long presided with so much ability and success.

From 1785 down to the present time, our valley has not been signalized by any remarkable changes. The increase of population has been gradual though constant. It has not increased in this town and county as in that vast country west, which has since that period sprung into being, and is now teeming with millions of people. Our own little valley has contributed to swell that western tide, and she numbers there many engaged in the various pursuits of life, and among the learned professions many who received here their academical or professional education.

Of the first settlers, the late Col. Samuel Campbell was the last survivor. Of his character I shall not speak at length, but I may be permitted to say that he was a true patriot and an excellent citizen. He served in the French war, and was with Sir William Johnson at Fort Edward in 1757, at the time of the massacre at Fort William Henry. During the stormy period of the Revolution he was an active and efficient friend of his country, and at its close found himself stripped of most of his property. Again he commenced his laborious life, and lived to see a large and prosperous family around him. He was but three years old when he came with his father to this town in 1741. He closed his eventful life in September, 1824, at the age of 86.

While he was the last of the first settlers, his aged consort, who died a few years since, at the age of 92, may be said to have been the last survivor of the female actors in the Revolutionary drama of our valley.

She was born near the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland, and when about ten years of age she removed with her father, Matthew Cannon, to this country. Her settlement, her marriage, her heroic fortitude and attachment to her country, her long and severe Indian captivity, are circumstances upon which I need not dwell; her friends and descendants cherish her memory with ardent affection.

Col. Samuel Clyde was an able and efficient co-worker in the Revolutionary struggle. He was a stern and inflexible patriot, and exerted a large influence in this district of country. He was appointed the first justice of the peace after the war. He, too, in his Revolutionary toils, was aided and supported by his courageous and patriotic wife.

John Moore was another sterling man. While nature had been sparing in her physical gifts, she had endowed him with a strong and vigorous intellect, which had been well cultivated, considering the circumstances in which he was placed.

Of the Rev. Samuel Dunlop I have already spoken. He was an educated man, and for nearly forty years ministered to the early settlers.

At the time of the massacre his family were slain. He alone with one daughter escaped. Under the protection of an Indian chief he stood and beheld the destruction of his earthly hopes, his home, and the homes of his friends, melt away with the flames.


"Calm, opposite, the Christian father rose;

Pale on his venerable brow its rays

Of martyr light the conflagration throws;

One had upon his lovely child he lays.


He for his bleeding country prays to Heaven –

Prays that the men of blood themselves may be forgiven."


He survived the massacre but a short time. The misfortunes of that day carried down his grey hairs with sorrow to the grave.

Of the brave and determined Captain Robert M‘Kean, what shall we say; of him who knew no danger and feared no man; who challenged to the combat the great chieftain and captain of the Six Nations, Joseph Brant Thayendanagea? What shall we say of the eccentric though fearless Robert Shankland, who defended his house single-handed, with the exception of his son, {The late Thomas Shankland, of Cooperstown.} a lad of 14, against a considerable body of Indians, and who abandoned it only when it was about to be consumed over him by the flames? Where are they all, with the Gaults and the Dicksons, and the Ramseys and the Wilsons, who first planted here the seeds of civilization? These are questions of a solemn nature, which crown themselves upon our minds upon occasions like the present. The century has rolled away and left its impress for good or for evil. Of the early settlers not one survives. Their children and their children’s children occupy the places of some, and the voices of strangers are heard in the dwellings of others. They have all been gathered to their resting-places, and the ashes of most of them sleep quietly in yonder grave-yard. The clods of the valley are upon them, to be removed only at the general resurrection.


"The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,

The swallow twittering from her straw-built shed,

The cock’s shrill clarion and the echoing horn,

No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed."


In the last ten years, what ravages has death made in our little valley! I miss, amid the scenes of my childhood, many of the familiar faces of those who once greeted my return to the home of my fathers. They are also numbered with the great host of the departed, and their places are fast filling with those who knew them not. Among the leading men we might mention the elder and younger Drs. White, both eminent physicians; Col. James Cannon; Isaac Seelye, Esq., and James O. Morse, Esq., both able lawyers; Jesse Johnson, Erastus Johnson, William C. Dickson, William Story, Alfred Crafts, with many others who but a day since were living, and whose faces it seems as if I ought now to see before me.

James O. Morse, Esq. always took a deep interest in the history of this place, and in the character of its early inhabitants. He was born in Marlboro’, in the county of Middlesex, Massachusetts, in 1788, and removed with his parents, when five years of age, to the county of Oneida, in this State, and when that county was almost a wilderness. Familiar as he was with the biographies of most of the frontier inhabitants who had in any way distinguished themselves, his conversation in relation to such subjects was peculiarly interesting and instructive. Many years ago he spoke to me of this anniversary, and had his life been spared he would have taken a deep interest in the proceedings of this day.

Allow me to mention another name connected directly with the first settlement of Cherry Valley; I mean Deacon John Gault. Humble was his sphere of life. Poverty, and many of the ills which flesh is heir to, sickness and decrepitude, were his portion on the earth. But with a Christian spirit which rose above them all, he drank with cheerfulness the cup given him to drink in life, and looked forward with peace and joy to that better world where sorrow and sighing are no more; where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest. Who has not observed his cheerful and contented countenance, as he entered the sanctuary on a Sabbath morn, leaning on his staff, his only aid while plodding along over the tedious miles which intervened between his residence and that sanctuary? Who has not listened to his truly eloquent and appropriate prayers? If he was a Christian, he was also a patriot. This day he would have delighted to honor. But he, too, our old and familiar friend, has been gathered to his fathers in peace. His virtues should be imitated, for they were great, and it is but fitting that on this occasion this passing tribute should be paid to his memory.

We miss also many others who commenced with us the race of life. A part of them still live, and are pursuing their various occupations either in our own wide-spread country, or in distant lands. Many of them also have gone the way of all the living. Some died at home in the presence of their friends, and sleep now quietly beside those who gave them being. Others have been cut off in the prime of life, and have fallen far away from their kindred; and one {Mrs. Grant, adopted daughter of Dr. William Campbell, of Cherry Valley, and late missionary at Oroomiah, Persia.} endeared to many of us by her talents, her piety, and her moral courage, has recently departed, and her remains repose in the cemetery of the Nestorian Christians, within the sacred precincts of the first Christian Church planted by the Magi of Persia, and within the confines of that city in Central Asia, where the far-famed Zoroaster, in ages gone by, first lit up the fires of philosophy.

We might add many other names to the list. As we run over the catalogue of departed relatives and friends, we are forcibly reminded how frail and brittle is the cord which binds us to life. In the morning we see our friends around us, and in health, and ere the sun goes down, the golden bowl is broken at the cistern, the dust returns to the dust from whence it was taken, and the spirit unto God who gave it.

Of this large assembly now before me, in all human probability not one will open his eyes upon the morning of the 4th of July, 1940. Long ere that, even the inscriptions upon our tombstones may be obliterated, and our descendants may look in vain for the green hillocks which mark our resting-places.

But as those who gave us being, labored and toiled for our best interests, so our duty is to transmit to those who shall come after us, the inheritance which we have received, of a free government, religious liberty, and all the blessings of civilization. To discharge that duty successfully, we should, as far as it is in our power, labor to advance the cause of virtue and education, and in this respect to follow in the footsteps of our fathers.

The age in which we live, is an age of bustle, toil and enterprise. But it is by no means a merely useful or a superficial age. The great principles of civil liberty, of the rights of conscience, and of freedom of opinion, were never better understood, or more practically enforced.

It is an age, too, when much is required of us all. Yes, of us, a part and parcel of that great Anglo-Saxon race, which now bids fair to carry our own native language and its literature over a great part of the world. Over all the North American continent – along the shores of the Pacific, in the West Indies, in Great Britain, over the eastern coast of Africa, at the Cape of Good Hope, throughout many of the islands of the Pacific, and along the southern part of Asia, the language which we speak is fast spreading itself, and bids fair to become in these regions the only language. Like Aaron’s rod it is swallowing up the rest.

What changes have been produced during the last hundred years! Society has been revolutionized throughout the greater part of the civilized world. The political elements of all Europe have been violently agitated, and though the forms of government have not been materially altered, the freedom of the citizen has been in many instances greatly enlarged. In our own country, the changes, as we run over them with a rapid glance, appear to have been magical. Our own Empire State, which in 1740 was an English colony, and numbering little more than one hundred thousand souls, now tells her children by millions. The scattered English colonies of North America, then feeble, and with some million and a half of people, stretching for thousands of miles along the sea-board, and looking up to England for support and protection, as infant children to a mother, now present the proud spectacle of a united nation, standing in the front rank, with her canvass whitening every sea, with vast resources, with gigantic internal improvements in the separate States, and with nearly twenty millions of freemen reposing in security beneath the folds of her star-spangled banner.

Could we be permitted to draw aside the curtain which veils futurity and look into coming years – could we cause to pass before us, as a moving panorama, our country as it will present itself a hundred years hence, what an interesting view should we behold! For myself, I can but believe that we shall continue a united people, that the strong ties of interest which have hitherto bound us together, will continue unbroken, and be strengthened by the continually increasing facilities of communication between the distant parts of our widely extended country. In that event this nation, judging from the past, will in all probability occupy the greater part of all North America; will number at least fifty millions of inhabitants, and stand in the van of the civilized nations of the earth.

We are here a small community, and our influence and our efforts may not be widely felt; but while we live, we can labor in our various circles to promote peace and harmony among the different States of our Union, and, dying, we can leave the injunction to our children. We can urge upon them to look back upon their common descent, to consider their common inheritance, and to look forward to a common destiny.

And standing here, and looking back upon the century which has just ended, and upon its history, which is certain; and looking forward to the century before us, whose history is uncertain; may I not in the name of this assembly invoke and enjoin the rising generation, our children, and our children’s children, to preserve unimpaired the institutions which we commit to them, and to maintain unbroken our glorious Union?

To them I would say, as you enter into possession of this goodly land; as you walk forth and look upon the hill and upon the valley, upon the river rolling in power, and upon the brook that sparkles at your feet; as you listen to the sighing of the breeze as it moves gently through the forest, and to the music of the feathered songsters, as they warble forth their notes of praise – when the breath of the morning fans you, and you inhale the scented air as it comes to you over the green meadow and the opening flower – remember that these blessings, though in some degree common to all mankind, are no less the special gift to you from your Creator, and that for the same blessings your fathers returned thanks to the great Giver of them all.

As you enter upon the glorious inheritance of civil and religious liberty, upon the blessings and enjoyments of Christianity and civilization, and behold the proud monuments of your country’s greatness, may you remember that in by-gone times your ancestors toiled and sacrificed their property and their lives in the purchase of that inheritance, and that they thus consecrated it by their tears, their prayers, and their blood!

We commit then that inheritance to your keeping. It is your as well as our birthright. And may he who at the close of another hundred years shall be permitted to stand up and deliver over to his fellow-citizens the record of that century, be enabled to say, as we can this day, Blessed be the land of our birth, and blessed be the memory, and honored be the names of those who have entrusted that inheritance to us!



Transcribed from the original text and html prepared by Bill Carr, last updated 8/29/99.

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