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The Journal of Adam Crysler
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewski,

The following is a record kept by Adam Crysler regarding his military activities. Adam was first cousin to my own ancestor, William Crysler (b. 1727). This information was later printed in the Loyalist Narratives From Upper Canada published by the Champlain Society in Toronto, Canada, by James J. Talman, PhD. in 1946.

Even though there were three forts at Schoharie, Joseph Brant had formed a rather ambitious plan of attacking the place. He believed there were few or no troops in the forts. The British elevated Mohawk Joseph Brant to a position in which he exerted tremendous influence in Indian councils during and after the Revolutionary War.

However, later many of his Iroquois would call him a sell-out and traitor.

German Flats had warnings about this attack and moved themselves and their property into two strongholds: Fort Dayton and Fort Herkimer.

British and American accounts do not differ much in regards to the destruction at Cherry Valley. This was an old settlement of Scot-Irish pioneers. J.H. Livingston, a Rebel par excellence, wrote to his brother describing the terrible devastation.

Joseph Brant had promised not to murder and butcher at Fort Plank. However, he burned four houses and barns and took three prisoners.

In the aftermath, refugees from German Flats and Cherry Valley made a total of 827 people that had to be fed at public expense.

  • We returned to Niagara in December 1779. In the spring we again went to Canatasago [Canadasago] with Capt. Butler. In July I went to the west branch of the Suskahannah [Susquehanna] under the command of Captain McDonald with the Rangers and the Indians. We took thirty (30) prisoners and forty (40) were killed, while we destroyed the whole settlement. Again we returned to Canatasago [Canadasago] and Col. Butler for further orders.

    Again we went to Shemung, where we faced a whole army of Rebels and were forced to retreat at Oyenyanye, where we attacked them again. Then we retreated to Niagara. In October 1799, Colonel Johnston arrived in Niagara. I was ordered to accompany Captain Brant with eighty (80) Indians to Three Rivers, by land. Here we met Sir John Johnson and sent a party to Oswego. Our scouts arrived back with word that no one was there.

In December of 1780, the Oneida were struck by smallpox. There were stories about the British supplying the sick with blankets that were not sanitary. These blankets were embedded with germs from other smallpox victims. The Oneida were loyal to the Rebel cause and were led by Samuel Kirkland.

  • On the 25th of May 1790 I received instructions from Captain Johnston to proceed to Indian Country and collect all the Indians that laid in my power. I was to join Captain McDonald with a party of Rangers to go to Schoharie. We proceeded as far as Oneida. We had a consultation with the Oneida people. Then we went as far as Canassarago. I ended up with seven (7) Indians and proceed to Turlough. In Turlough I took none (9) prisoners and returned to Niagara.

The Oneida Nation even fought in George Washington's Army. They regularly spied for the Americans and carried news to Fort Stanwix or to Samuel Kirkland and General Schuyler. Many Oneida were captured by the Loyalists, but were released by other Iroquois. As they escaped, they burned Loyalist houses at Unadilla and Butternuts and even took a few white prisoners for the Rebels. Loyalist Joseph Brant warned them a few times, but the Indians under his command refused to carry out threats against their own kind. To them this was a white man's war. Many Rebels thought the Tories more savage than the Indians.

One of the reasons for the Oneida's distrust of the British was the actions of Sir William Johnson. He "bought" 200,000 acres of Oneida land (surveyed down to 123,000 acres), slightly west of German Flats. This was only part of his holdings. He had 27,000 acres (secured in 1770) twenty miles south on Schoharie Creek and more.

These lands were stolen from the outraged Indians and Sir William rented them to his tenants for profit.

  • On the 7th of June 1781, I received Colonel Johnston's instructions to proceed with a party of Auguagas, etc. When I got to Schoharie I had a scrimmage with the Rebels and took five (5) scalps, two prisoners, eighteen horses, and burned some houses and barns. We lost one (1) Indian and had one (1) wounded before returning to Niagara.

The Rebels believed that the British bought scalps. Dr. Moses Younglove, who returned from his captivity at Oriskany, swore in an affidavit that St. Leger had offered twenty dollars apiece for Rebel scalps, and his neighbors tended to back this claim. Seneca Blacksnake declared long after this event that the British told the Indians they would pay for American scalps. Mary Jemison, an Indian captive, agreed with Blacksnake.

  • On the 28th of September, I received instructions from Colonel Johnston to proceed with a party of Aughguaga, consisting of twenty-eight (28) men, to Schoharie.

    On the 13th of November, we arrived in Schoharie and killed one man near the Fort and drove off fifty (50) head of cattle and burnt two houses and a number of horses in our retreat. The Rebels turned out with a party of thirty (30) men in pursuit of us. They followed four miles from the Fort and began to fire upon us. We returned the fire and killed one of their men. They retreated. I went on with the cattle. The next morning, the Rebels turned out for a second attack with 150 men and overtook us about twenty-three (23) miles from the Fort. Here we fought another skirmish and killed four of their men. Some were wounded and they retreated. We lost all the cattle. I then consulted with the Indians and they decided not to pursue the Rebels since we were all safe and they were too strong for us. We arrived back at Niagara on the 11th of December.

*****

To the Commissioners

appointed by an Act of Parliament
for enquiring into Losses and
Services to the American Loyalists.

The Memorial of ADAM CRYSLER late of Schoharie
in the County of Albany in the Province
of New York, but now of Niagara in the Province
of Quebec.1

Showeth.

That your Memorialist at the beginning of the late unhappy disturbance in America was settled in Schoharie in the County of Albany in the Province of New York, and was at the time possessed of one valuable and extensive farm with dwelling house, barn, and other outhouses, a Saw Mill, and Grist Mill three lots of land lying in Albany County in the Province of New York afores live stock and furniture, etc. The whole value at that time at upwards of 2,455.10 pounds New York currency that when trouble broke out he took all occasions to testify his Loyality to his Sovereign for which he was permitted to return home under the penalty of immediate Death, for the least assistance for the King's Cause, has esteemed as a suspicious person among them, and in 1777, to avoid the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, and give all the Assist in his power to his Sovereign set off with 35 in order to meet the King's Army then on their way to Fort Stanwix but falling sick by the way was left in Indian County where he remained two months and upwards then joined the King's Forces at Niagara, as Lieu in the Indian Department ---

Fort Stanwix was on the Mohawk River between Oneida (to the west) and Oriskany (to the east).

That understanding his Gracious Sovereign and by consent of the Lord's Spiritual and Temporal and Commons had taken into Consideration the Distressed State of the Loyal American Subjects and people. Granting them such relief as may appear just and reasonable in porportion to their losses.

Your Memorialist therefore prays and etc.

1 - When Adam Crysler appeared before the Loyalist Commissioners at Montreal in 1787, he produced "a sort of Journal of his Services from March 1777, under the Commands of Colonels Butler and Johnston." This journal was not filed with the commissioner's records, but was preserved by the Crysler family. J. M. Crysler was the last known owner. The document was printed by John M. Crysler's History of That Branch of the Crysler Family Who Settled in Niagara (Niagara-on-the-Lake)., pg.19-20.

Adam was the oldesr son of Jeronimus and Maria Margaret Crysler. He was thought to have been born in West Camp, in the County of Green, New York State in 1732. He moved with his parents to Schoharie County between 1740 and 1742. He married in 1760.

Following the events described in his narrative, Adam Crysler settled in the township of Niagara. He died on his farm on September 15, 1792.

*****

THE REVOLUTIONARY WARS AND ITS AFFECT ON THE IROQUOIS NATION:

Many Iroquois sided with the British, and they have (from the Declaration of Independence onward) been portrayed as allies of tyranny and enemies of liberty. Yet Indians were fighting for the same reason as American colonists. They were fighting for their freedom. They threw their lot in with whomever they thought might help them achieve this end. The British made the most promises.

After the Revolution, the Iroquois Nation was divided. New England Indians, their tribal units wiped out by the war, lived with the Oneidas. There were now two Iroquois leagues: one in New York State and the other (Loyalists) on the Grand River in Ontario Canada.

    THE DIVIDING OF THEIR NATION:

  1. Mohawks were mostly British
  2. Oneidas were pro-Rebels
  3. Tuscarora were pro-Rebels
  4. Cayugas were pro-British
  5. Senecas were nuetral, but Daniel Brodhead battered their land and crops.
  6. Onondagas were neutral until American troops burned their towns in 1779 under Colonel Goose Van Schaick.

    For the Iroquois, the Revolutionary War meant brothers against brothers.

    "At the end of the Revolution and the signing of the Peace Treaty between the United States and Great Britain, the Continental Congress appointed commissioners to make peace with the four hostile Iroquois Nations: The Mohawk, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas." The Treaty of Fort Stanwix was signed on October 22, 1784 (Graymont, 91).

    From the Loyalist Iroquois view, the British had deserted them. They soon learned that promises were to be broken. The two tribes faithful to the Rebel cause were the Oneidas and the Tuscaroras.

    The Loyalist lands in Canada were not as vast as their original territories in New York State. Neither side was that open to the concerns of the native tribes. This would be a lesson that would carry into modern times. However, the Oneida tribe is curently using their casino monies to buy up their old territorial homeland. This is the case with the Pequots and other eastern tribes, as well. This legal method is the only way this can happen in today's modern society where the past must remain the past and the future may be made bright by their own labors.

    *****

    The Iroquois Nation

    SOURCES:

    Calloway, Colin G. The American Revolution in Indian Country. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

    Flexnor, James Thomas. Mohawk Baronet: A Biography of Sir William Johnson. New York: Syracuse University Press, 1989.

    Graymount, Barbara. The Iroquois. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988.

    Lelsay, Isabel Thompson. Joseph Brant 1743-1807: Man of Two Worlds. New York: Syracuse University Press, 1984.

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