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Oppenheim Area History

Along the Rhine river in Europe, was a district known as the Palatinate. Being a border region, over it swept the bloody disputes of the two adjoining rulers. In just such a time having tired of their homes being burned and innocent friends and neighbors dying, a group of "Palatines" left their homeland and reached the city of Rotterdam in Holland, in the spring of 1709. As they arrived there they were sent across the North Sea to London.  By autumn there were thirteen thousand of Palatines in England. Many found homes there, four thousand others were sent to Ireland. The rest were given passage to various places in America.
A new governor, Governor Hunter, was at that time being sent to the colony of New York. He proposed that three thousand Palatines should be sent to New York with him to be employed in making pitch and tar for English ships.  This group was settled north of Esopus Creek, one group on the west side of the Hudson where Saugerties stands today, and the other group on the east side of the Hudson where there were about twelve hundred who were to begin tarmaking early in the spring.
The Germans did not like the prospect. True, they were being fed and provided for by Governor Hunter, but they had intended to be farmers in the New World, not tarmakers. As honest people, they expected to labor for a while in order to repay the favors which they had received but around the evening fire they never ceased to talk among themselves of the promised land of "Schorie."
Governor Hunter had expected great things from his Palatine experiment. After his first grant of money from the English government he had used his own private fortune, hoping to be repaid some day. If he had really known trees, however, he would have been saved money and disappointment, for the so-called "pitch-pine" of our Northern States, while its sap is sticky enough, produces little pitch. It is the "Georgia pine" of the Southern States which is valuable for that purpose.
Two winters on the Hudson served to exhaust the Governor's purse and the Germans' patience. At last Hunter had to tell the Palatines that they must shift for themselves. Now they felt free to set out for their land of Canaan. Seven of their leading men traveled to get permission from the Indians. From Albany, guided by an Indian, they crossed the Helderberg heights until Fox Creek led them down into the deep, broad, and beautiful valley which they had longed to see. The Indians received them and gave consent. In the autumn of the year of 1712 fifty familes set out, and though a road had to be cut into the valley, they built cabins before winter began. The redmen gave them corn from their own scanty stock, but inside the cabins there was much hunger. The following March a hundred more families arrived, driving their sledges on a two weeks' journey through snow which lay on the highlands a yard deep.
The Palatines then left behind never removed to Schoharie. They left the manor of Patroon Livingston, where the settlement of "Germantown" is their memorial, and took up land a little south. Today we find their traces in the names of Rhinecliff and Rhinebeck. The Schoharie emigrants settled in seven villages along the Schoharie, each one kindly named after one of the leaders who had explored the road.
Times continued to be hard with the Palatines. Until their first crop of corn ripened, their hunger "was scarcely to be endured,'' and a few of the boys went to live in the wigwams of their red friends. When the corn at last was harvested, there was no mill in the valley to grind it. The strongest of the women would carry on their backs heavy sacks of corn all the way to Schenectady, have it ground, and bear the meal back again, all in the same day.
Though the Germans had settled and cultivated the valley, they had no title to the land, and Governor Hunter, indignant that the Government would not pay him back for his heavy expenses, would not grant the runaways any title. Troubles with those who did receive grants bothered the Palatines for nearly ten years. At last, out of the eight hundred Schoharie settlers, about three hundred decided to pay rent to the legal owners, unjust as they thought it was. Many others turned their steps to Pennsylvania, where one of them, Conrad Weiser, became a prominent man. About sixty families received leave to settle along the Mohawk, west of Fort Hunter, which stood at the mouth of the Schoharie, where was located the Mohawk castle which saw the martyrdom of Father Jogues. The governor who succeeded Hunter said, "These will be a barrier against sudden incursions (attacks) of the French, who made the Mohawk their road when they last attacked and burned the frontier town called Schenectady."
These Mohawk pioneers thus continued settlement to the westward. They were supposed to take up land for twenty-four miles west of Little Falls (the big falls were those called Cohoes), but today the region east and west of Little Falls, for about thirty miles, is rich with German names. There are Palatine church and Palatine Bridge, Newkirk (originally Neukirch), Mannheim, and Oppenheim. The town of Herkimer is named after a Palatine family which came to America a dozen years after the original band, while at Herkimer the fertile meadows came to be called "the German Flatts."

OPPENHEIM, a township of Montgomery County, 15 miles West of Johnstown, 56 from Albany; bounded North by Stratford, East by Palatine, South by the Mohawk River, West by Manheim or East Canada Creek. It was erected from the East part of Palatine in 1808, and first settled in 1724.
The early inhabitants were principally farmers, of German orgin.  Those of this town with other inhabitants of the region suffered much, during the Revolutionary war. Oppenheim was named after a town in Germany.

A destruction of almost all of the early historical manuscripts concerning this locality, in the fire at the State Capitol, has made it difficult to know alot about the early history of the people who settled this area.
There have been numerous changes in the names of the settlements. Tryon County was formed from Albany County, on March 12, 1772; the name was changed to Montgomery County, on April 2, 1784. Herkimer and Otsego Counties were set off from Montgomery County, on April 2, 1784. Fulton County was formed from Montgomery County, on April 18, 1838. Tryon County was divided into six districts: Mohawk, adjoining Albany County; Canajoharie on the south side of the Mohawk and Palatine on the north, extending up the river to Little Falls; German Flats and Kingsland, still farther up the river; and Old England District, west of the Susquehanna. The first 5 of these districts were formed March 24, 1772. On the 8th of March 1773, the original name Stone Arabia was changed to Palatine. Within a few years, the names of German Flats and Kingsland Districts, were exchanged through the misunderstanding of a map-maker.
The town of Palatine was formed on March 7, 1770 and embraced the territory on the north side of the Mohawk, extending from Anthony's Nose to Little Falls, and reaching northward to Canada. The town of Manheim was set off from Palatine, on March 3, 1797 and on April 7, 1817, was annexed to Herkimer County. The western part of what remained of Palatine, usually spoken of as the "Upper" part, was formed into the town of Oppenheim, on March 18, 1808. When Fulton County was formed in 1838, the new county line, bisected the town of Oppenheim; the most northerly two thirds of the town retained the name of Oppenheim and became a part of the new county. The remainding part, on April 18, 1838, was formed into the town of St. Johnsvilletanking its name from the Postal Village of St. Johnsville, the principal settlement within the town.

On Jan. 22, 1722 license granted to Francis Harrison and others, to purchase 12,000 acres of vacant land in the Mohawk country.
12 Indians on Sept. 3, 1722, deeded to Francis Harrison Esquire, Lewis Morris Esquire, John Spratt, John Schuyler, Abraham Wendell and John Haskoll, for the consideration of 700 Beavers.
On Oct. 3, 1722, a etition of Francis Harrison, Lewis Morris Junioir and others, praying for a patent for 12,000 acres, purchased by them under a license, on the north side of the Mohawks river, beginning at the northwest bounds of the land belonging to Abraham De Peyster and Harmen Van Slyck, running thence along the river to a place where the river makes a turn eastward, at which place there are two or three islands, which is little above the castle called Dekagjoharone, and back into the woods five miles.
On Jan. 11, 1723, a petition of Francis Harrison and others, praying that the 12,000 acres may be taken up in three patents.
On Mar. 16, 1723, completion of a survey of six tracts of land within the bounds of a tract, on the Mohawks river, purchased by Francis Harrison and others, of the Indians, containing in all, 12,000 acres, surveyed for the purchasers, by Cadwellader Colden, Surveyor General.
Mar. 16 and 17, 1723, a certificate and Warrent for a patent for six tracts of land, of 2,000 acres each.
Mar. 18, 1722/23, a patent is granted to Francis Harrison, Lewis Morris Junior Esquires, John Spratt, John Schuyler, Abraham Wendell, and John Haskoll, Gentlemen, consisting of 12,000 acres; patent divided into six tracts of 2,000 acres each. This division and survey was never effective and a partition of the entire tract was made, a new survey having been made in the interval. The purpose of this new partition appears to have been, to divide the land in such a way that three nineteenths of it could be awarded to the Patentee who represented Governor William Burnet.
The southerly part of this patent was granted to George Klock, William Nellis and others, on Dec. 21, 1754.

 Names of some of the lot holders in the Harrison Patent;
 P. Warenmoth & Waggoner
 George G. Klock & Jacob Klock
 P. Waggner Timmerman & Veeling
 Fox & George Fox
 L. Helmer & H. W. Nellis
 J. G. Klock
 Hess & Bellinger
 Adam Woolradt & George Klock
 Phi. Nellis & Johannes Hess
 Johannes Klock
 Elizebeth Johnson
 Christopher Nellis

Other who were involved in Harrison's patent but not original patentees included;
Severenius Dygart; Henry Klock; Leonard Helmer; Konradt Klock; Godfried Helmer; Casper Koch; George Windecker; Johannis Shauman; Henry G. Klock; Warner Digart; Frederick Bellinge; Adam Klock; Johannis Dygart; Teobald Nellis; Leonard Helmer, Jur.; Adolph Walrath; Johannis Windecker; Henry Walrath; Joseph Klock; William Fox; Philip Pier; Philip Garlag; Carl Garlag; Johannis Nellis; John Hadcok &
Adam Gray; Johannis Bellinger; James Wallace; Henry Nellis.

The first church of the St. Johnsville Congregation was located upon Lot No. 13 of the Harrison Patent, the land originally purchased by Hendrick Klock and his son George.  Hendrick Klock appears to have had at least three sons, George, Johannes and Jacob. Johannes settled upon Lot No. 11 of the Harrison Patent and had a son named John, whose will dated Dec. 27, 1810, bequeathed his land and homestead to his son Adam J. Klock. The old stone house known as Fort Klock, was his homestead; this lot of land has often been confused with the original Klock lot, which descended from the father Hendrick Klock, to his sons George and Jacob. Jacob was probably the youngest son of Hendrick Klock; he was the Col. Jacob Klock of the Revolutionary war.

The date of the erection of Klock's church was probably about 1786. It is possible that George Klock, the elder, may have had something to do with its erection, but it is more likely his son George Klock, the younger, and Colonel Jacob Klock that were involved. The record of the incorporation of the church; "We the subscribers, returning Officers in pursuance of an Act of the Legislature of this State passed the 6th day
of April 1784 entitle "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", of the reformed Calvinist Congregation in the upper part of Palatine District do herby certify that Jacob Klock, Jacob G. Klock, Jacob Fehling, Peter Schuyler and Christopher Fox were in pursuance of the said Law, duly and legally elected to serve as Trustees of the said Congregation; And that the said Trustees and their Successors shall for ever herafter be called distinguished and known, by the Stile Name and Title of the Trustees of the reformed Calvinist Church of the upper part of Palatine in the County of Montgomery. Given under our Hands and Seals the 20th day of March 1787. Johan A. Walrath (Seal) George Fox (Seal)
Acknowledged before Jacob G. Klock, Esq., March 27, 1787. Recorded, August 3, 1787.  In the Klock's Church Burying Ground  are interred the remains of many of the Klocks and related families.

The site of this church is in the village of St. Johnsville, about one mile west of the site of Klock's Church. The burial grounds of church stood nearby and extended on both sides of Zimmerman's Creek (In 1914 the bodies in this cemetery were removed to the village cemetery; and now nothing remains to indicate the spot where it was). All the land in question, was within the bounds of Lot No. 15, of the Harrison Patent. According to tradition, this lot was owned by Jacob Timmerman (or Zimmerman), a Revolutionary soldier who wished to have the church near his homestead, and accordingly gave the land with the understanding that a new church should be erected upon it, to supersede Klock's Church.
A meeting of the Congregation was held, "in the New Church" on January 2nd 1804, when Trustees were elected. The seats and pews in the church were sold, on June 15th and 23rd 1804.  A new salary list was made out for the Rev. John Henry Dysslin, presumably to cover his services in the new church with his salary commencing on June 1, 1804.
After the town of St. Johnsville was formed in 1838, the name of the church was changed to the Dutch Reformed Saint John's Church in the town of St. Johnsville. The northern part of the Congregation of the St. Johnsville church, worshipped for many years in the church at Youker's Bush.
The present church edifice, also built of brick, was erected in the year 1881.

July 6, 1816. The Dutch Reformed Saint Johns Church in Oppenheim election of officers. Joseph G. Klock, Conrad Helligas, and John F. Bellinger, Elders; Joseph J. Klock, Jacob A. Walrath, Junr, and George G. Klock, Deacons.

Mr. Devoe's call was approved on July 9, 1816, at an extra session of the Classis of Montgomery, held at the house of Jacob Heese in Palatine.

Jan. 7, 1817. Present at a meeting were, Rev. David Devoe and Joseph G. Klock, Elder, from St. Johns and St. Pauls churches in Oppenheim & Manheim.

Jan. 29, 1820. The Dutch Reformed Church in the town of Oppenheim. Election of officers. Christian Klock, Henry Failing, Junr., Jacob J. Failing, John C. House, Elders; Henry Walrath, John J. H. Failing, Henry H. Hose, Frederick Shaver, Deacons. Signed by George C. Klock and
Abraham Shafer. Certificate that the officers were ordained on Jan. 30, 1820, signed by David Devoe, V. D. M. Acknowledged, Jan. 31, 1820;
recorded, Feb. 3, 1820.

Nov. 28, 1821, at the house of Peter Kline, in Oppenheim. The Second Reformed Dutch Church at Oppenheim, organized (a church in the north part of the town of Oppenheim, in the county of Montgomery, distinguished as the Second Reformed Dutch Church in Oppenheim). Officers elected, David H. Phipps and Frederick J. Bellinger, Elders; Henry P. Cline and Philip Craymer, Deacons.  Signed by Peter Cline and Thomas Wilbur. Officers ordained at the house of Peter Kline, on Jan. 4, 1822, by David Devoe, V. D. M. Acknowledged, Jan. 5, 1822; recorded, Jan. 29, 1822.

Sept. 25, 1830. Meeting held at the new Meeting house, situated on the land of John F. Bellinger near Nicholas Smith and John House. Organized, the Lutheran Congregation of Euquersbush (Eukers) in the town of Oppenheim. Trustees elected. Nicholas J. Smith, Warner Nellis and Joseph Diesler. Signed by Peter Smith and Adam Thumb. Acknowledged, Mar. 4, 1831; recorded, Mar. 14, 1831.

"We, the undersigned, two of the Members of the Church hereafter named, do certify that on the 15th day of May, 1855, the Male members of full age belonging to a Church in which divine worship is celebrated according to the rites of the Reformed Dutch & Lutheran Churches & not already incorporated, met at the place of public worship heretofore occupied by said religious association, in the town of Oppenheim, Fulton County, N. Y., for the purpose of incorporating themselves & did then and there elect by plurality of votes, Christian House, Christopher Bellinger & Benjamin Groff as Trustees of said Church; and the said persons did then & there also determine by a like plurality of voices, that the said Trustees & their Successors in office should forever be called & known by the title of the Trustees of the Reformed Dutch & Lutheran Church. And it is & was further agreed that the denomination subscribing the greater sums shall have the right to select the hour of the day when they will respectively worship, to be determined at each & every Annual Meeting for the purpose of electing Trustees. And the property of said church shall belong to each denomination, in proportion to the amount of Stock each denomination shall own at the time of the dedication of said church. Signed, sealed and witnessed, this 15 day of Dec. 1856. Joseph Kneiskern ( L S) Christopher Flander (L S). Witnesses acknowledged, Oct. 3, 1857; recorded, Oct. 6, 1857.

From 1830 to 1887, this church was a Collegiate church, in connection with the St. Johnsville Church, and was under the control of the St. Johnsville Consistory. The organization of this church was accomplished by the Rev. David Devoe, when he organized the Second Reformed Dutch Church of Oppenheim, in the year 1821. As the Second Church, it had a precarious existence in the central part of the old town of Oppenheim, and never had a church edifice. It is presumed that divine services were held in the homes of the members; and possible occasionally in the Free Communion Baptist Church and Society of Oppenheim, which was organized on May 27, 1820. From the Minutes of the General Synod, June 1822, page 13; under the head of report of the Committee on Missions, the following appears; "Early in October last, a letter was received from the Rev. David Devoe, requesting to be appointed to labour a part of his time in the employment of the Committee, which appointment was made.
Mr. John C. Vanderveer (a missionary), commenced a tour of churches on Sept. 21, 1822. "The church at Oppenheim he found very small in numbers, composed principally of new settlers, and those thinly scattered over a population belonging to the Methodist and Baptist denominations. Here he continued three weeks, preaching as opportunity offered, and visiting daily from house to house."
The members of the Lutheran Body united with the members of the Second Reformed Dutch Church, and together they erected a Meeting House at Youker's Bush, which in the Lutheran articles of incorporation, is referred to a being "new" in the year 1830. This church stood about a mile and a half east of Crum Creek, and half a mile north of the town and county line which separates the towns of St. Johnsville and Oppenheim. The site of the church was probably within the bounds of Lot No. 33, of Klock and Nellis' Patent. It was on the Dievendorf farm. This farm of 100 acres was purchased from the Diefendorf's by John F. Bellinger, and in 1839, it was conveyed by him to Christopher Bellinger. The burying ground was adjacent to the site of this church.
On Dec. 15, 1856, the Youker's Bush Congregation met at the church, and incorporated themselves into a new Society, for the purpose of erecting a new church edifice. The location of the new church was about a mile and a half east of the site of the first Youker's Bush Church. The church was erected on the northeast corner of the four corners, where it now stands; it is about three miles north by east of St. John's Church.
In about the year 1887, the Dutch Reformed services there ceased. At that time the Youker's Bush Church united with Grace Christian Church of St. Johnsville.

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