From his homestead in Little Falls to the beech tree that sheltered him after being fatally wounded, the 40-mile trek General Nicholas Herkimer and the Tryon County Militia took to aid Fort Stanwix 235 years ago was once again commemorated on Thursday.
The Daughters of the American Revolution organized the bus tour which stopped at the 14 markers which note significant spots in Herkimer’s journey to Oriskany over three days in August 1777.
The markers were installed a century ago on Flag Day by the DAR, and were rededicated by the Col. Marinus Willett-Mohawk Valley Chapter on Thursday, which was also Flag Day.
“The DAR is chartered by the Congress of the United States of America to promote and support historic preservation, patriotism and education,” said Mary Helen Jones, vice regent of the Col. Marinus Willet chapter, on Thursday. “So we started marking historic spots.”
Jones also said in a news release, “We do this to perpetuate the memory and spirit of those men and women who achieved American independence by sacrificing their lives and fortunes. We do this to educate the people about the Battle of Oriskany, which they will more easily remember by participating in a reenactment. We do this to show patriotism.”
The first five stops were in Herkimer County, including two at General Herkimer’s homestead, two at Fort Herkimer Church and one at the historic Herkimer County Courthouse on North Main Street in the village of Herkimer. These stops marked where Herkimer lived, where he was born and where he grew up, and also where he rallied the Tryon County Militia to march with him to Fort Stanwix.
The trek continued to Utica, including stops at the Historic Bagg’s Tavern, next to the Children’s Museum, and the Purple Heart Memorial Park, then Dunham Public Library in Whitesboro and finishing at the Oriskany Battlefield State Historic Site.
As part of the ceremony at each marker, the speech given during the original unveiling of the markers was read by a guest. Four of the original speeches, however, could not be found.
One of the speeches that was found was originally given by Judge J. L. Moore, of Fort Plain, at the second marker outside of what is now the Herkimer Home State Historic Site’s visitor center.
“The days of neglect have passed away and 14 tablets stand for many generations to come,” read Alan Sterling, from Moore’s speech.
“It’s a wonderful way to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the DAR markers’ unveiling,” said Susan Perkins, executive director of the Herkimer County Historical Society.
Some of those participating in the bus tour dressed in 1912-style clothing to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the markers.
Jones said she hoped through the event people can develop a greater appreciation for the history that is around them. “I feel like so many people are not aware or not paying attention to our local, or our American history,” she said.
Page 2 of 2 - The names of the 14 markers are The Herkimer Homestead, in Memory of The Men from the Near-by Settlements, Site of the Birthplace of General Herkimer, Site of Fort Herkimer, Site of Fort Dayton, Bivouac — First Night, Turning Point to Great Ford, Site of the Great Ford of the Mohawk, Site of Old Fort Schuyler, two for the Indian Trail Followed by Herkimer and His Men, Bivouac of Rear Guard Night Before the Battle, Bivouac of Advance Guard Night Before the Battle and Oriskany Battlefield.