Sep 27, 2018 - Sale 2486

Sale 2486 - Lot 337

Price Realized: $ 7,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 8,000 - $ 12,000
(NEW YORK.) Large collection of Kniskern family papers documenting the early Palatine German settlers of Schoharie County. Approximately 320 items in one large flat box; various sizes and conditions, a few quite worn but condition generally strong. Vp, 1729-1913, bulk 1729-circa 1830

Additional Details

The dramatic immigration saga of New York's Palatine Germans began with the distribution of misleading tracts in the war-torn principalities of southwestern Germany in 1709, promising that Queen Anne of England was offering free land in America. Thousands of desperate peasants bought tickets to London, only to learn that the Queen had offered no such thing. The Germans were moved through a succession of squalid camps in London, many were sent on to Manhattan, and most of those went up the Hudson River, where they were set to work making tar for the Queen's Navy. In the 1710s, a few hundred of them made their way west into the wilderness of Schoharie County, where they negotiated directly with Mohawk Indians and created a string of settlements which began outside British control. One of their leaders was Johann Peter Kniskern (1685-1759). Offered here are the papers of Kniskern and his descendants.
This lot includes the 1729 founding documents of the Kniskerndorf settlement on Schoharie Creek. By this point, the Palatines had realized the futility of possessing land without recognition by the British authorities. Included is the 4 March 1729 deed from Myndert Schuyler as attorney for New York to Johann Peter Kniskern. The resulting survey of this land, dated 28 April 1729 (illustrated), describes land at "Huntersfield on both sides of the Schoharie River and known by the name of Kniskern's Dorp." It includes a plat map and detailed description on conjoined sheets of paper, 36 x 18 1/2 inches. A 24 June 1755 agreement between 8 of the settlers (including 3 of Kniskern's sons) divided the communally owned land by drawing lots: "Have made a divission of the most part of said then undivided land into thirty three lots and have drawn for the same lots." Another highlight is Johann Peter Kniskern's 1746 will.
The remainder of the collection relates to a variety of Kniskern descendants, as well as the related Houck family. It includes 14 other deeds and bonds dating from 1729 to 1768 A plat map of Kniskerndorf from 1785, 13 1/2 x 32 inches, including 4 small sketches of houses A series of 3 hand-colored plats of Kniskern-Houck land from 1805 Bill of sale for a "negro man named Prince aged about 36 years" from Johannes Rickert to George Kniskern, 17 November 1804 and numerous other deeds, receipts and correspondence of 6 generations of descendants.
Provenance: the immigrant Johann Peter Kniskern (1685-1759), by descent through Johan Gottfried Kniskern (1717-1811); Johann Jost Kniskern (1741-1813); and the founder's great-grandson John George Kniskern (1777-1861), who left no issue. The papers then went to his nephew William Shout (1818-1899). Roscoe's 1882 History of Schoharie County reports that William Shout settled on the original Kniskern homestead, and that "the ancient papers relating to the settlement are in his possession in perfect order" (page 332). Shout married Christina Margaret Houck Shout (1833-1891), also a Kniskern descendant who added Houck family papers to the collection. The Shouts died without issue, with the papers then descending through Christina's brother Jacob Henry Houck (1828-1906); Minnie Katherine Houck Freemyer (1858-1932); and Emma Freemyer Lawrence (1885-1960); they are consigned by a family member. Bibliography: Some of the Descendants of Johann Peter Kniskern, pages 9, 13, 17, 109; Otterness, Becoming German: The 1709 Palatine Migration to New York.