In the introduction to a recent study of Loyalist
Ontario, Bruce Wilson suggests that Adam Young was one of the first
"un-American Americans", a quintessential Loyalist who suffered greatly
for his loyalty to the King. Wilson
writes that Adam became a "royalist guerilla fighter" during the
Revolutionary War, and further that, "Reviled as a traitor by one nation,
Young was a founding father of another".
Adam Young was born 17 May 1717, apparently at Schoharie
N.Y., the son of Theobald Jung and Maria Catharina (--). As noted in the
biography of Theobald Jung Sr., his wife's (Anglicized) name was, according to
Catharine Ehle, Catharine Snyder (i.e., Schneider). He married Catharine Elizabeth Schremling (Catterina Lis
Schrimling), daughter of Henrich and Maria Elisabetha (--) Schremling
Adam Young was baptized as Johann Adam Jung at Schoharie
6 June 1717 by the Lutheran minister Joshua Kocherthal, the sponsors being
Johann Jost Laux, Johann Adam Kopp, and Catharina Frey. In 1716/17 his Palatine-German parents were
residing at Neu=Heesburg (Fuchsendorf - Foxtown) on the Schoharie River. Sometime prior to 1733 Theobald Jung moved
from the Schoharie Valley to the site of the present-day St. Johnsville N.Y.,
in the Mohawk Valley (Lots 15 and 18, Harrison Patent, Canajoharie District,
now Montgomery Co.), purchasing the land from John Haskoll 18 Apr. 1732.
On 14 July 1752 Theobald and his sons Adam, Frederick,
and Andries obtained a patent to 14,000 acres of land on the south side of the
Mohawk River; having petitioned for permission to purchase the land 31 May
1751, and having bought the land from the Mohawk Indians 21 May 1752. While Theobald sold his land in the Harrison
Patent 10 July 1754, he and his sons did not move to Young's Patent at this
time, but instead appear to have moved almost directly across the River to Lot
6 in the Third Allotment of the Van Horne Patent. This land is located on the south side of the Mohawk River,
fronting along the River for about three quarters of a mile. It is less than two miles from Ft. Hendrick
where the Mohawk Indians had their Castle.
Adam's name appears on the map of this Patent as of 10 October
1764. Since Adam was the first born
son, it is possible that by then he had inherited this property from his father
The tax list of 1766, however, lists Adam Young near his
brothers, and among others residing on or near the north end of the Bleecker
Patent near the Geissenburg Settlement.
Therefore about this time Adam probably settled near present-day Ft.
Plain on the south side of the Mohawk River.
Adam probably moved to land (Lot 4, Bleecker Patent) adjoining that of
his brother Frederick near the Canajoharie (Sand Hill) Reformed Church, which
he (Adam) helped found.
Brief glimpses of Adam's activities during his tenure in
the Mohawk Valley are provided by scattered documentary references. For example, he was allegedly "present
as Capt of a company at the capture of Fort Niagara from the French"
(i.e., 1759). This statement is found
in a petition written by Young's grandson William Young , given as an example
of the longstanding loyalty of the family to the Crown. Further evidence
supporting this claim has not been located.
The name of Adam Young of "Canajohary" appears
occasionally in the account books of Daniel Campbell of Schenectady between
1758 and 1761; and was listed next to his brother Frederick on a list of
freeholders of "Canajoharrie".
Reference to the tax list of January 1766 notes that Adam was assessed
at the rate of 12 pounds. Of the 65 men
on the list owning property, two others equalled this tax rate, and four
surpassed it. Therefore, the evidence
suggests that Adam was among the wealthiest residents in the area (plus he had
vast holdings elsewhere). See the biography of son John for a detailed
description of this property.
On 29 Oct. 1765 the deed of partition to Young's Patent
was composed, and soon thereafter Adam moved to Lot 19 on the south side of Young's
Lake (Youngsfield, now Warren, Herkimer Co.).
It is fortunate that a description of Adam's house survives. In a letter from Garret Abeel to his wife
Mary, dated 27 May 1772, he describes a trip he took from the Mohawk River to
Youngs Lake. Apparently after traversing
miles of deserted wilderness, on the 23rd of May, "when through the Woods
I saw as by appearance the Ocion, I knew ye journey wo'd soon be to an end but
Judge my agreeable surprise when soon After at the side of a large Lake before
me appeared a very good board house with a Peaza round it, and several
buildings about it and found one Adam Young with his family the possessor
Adam became a lieutenant in the German Flats
(Burnetsfield) militia in the mid 1760s, and a land speculator. He also farmed, and owned a potash works, a
sawmill, and an Indian trading post.
Some documents have survived which help to "flesh out" aspects
of his business interests, and in addition help to reveal facets of his
character. For example, Jelles Fonda
kept an itemized listing of the goods he sold to Adam Young (payment by the
latter in animal skins and ginseng root) between 1769 and 1771. The large quantities of beads and
"sculpting knives" suggest that they were for retail sale at Young's
Indian trading post. In a letter dated
Youngsfield 28 July 1774, Young offers to sell Jelles Fonda five "Parrels
of Bodash". This and other
expressions such as "plece to lad me now" suggest the possibility
that Young spoke English with a German accent.
It is further known that some of his other activities brought him into
contact with the courts. Although
precise details are lacking, he apparently initiated a lawsuit over a debt owed
him, was charged with assault and battery, and was involved in a variety of
It appears that Adam was one of the principal figures in
the Mohawk Valley. Among the facts
which support this statement, in addition to what has been noted above, is his
appearance in an entry in the accounts of Jelles Fonda. On 6 July 1769, English blankets were sold
to Sir William Johnson and shrouds (used for Indian burials) sold to Adam Young
and credited to the account of Colonel George Croghan. To be mentioned in the same breath as these
two members of the colonial aristocracy appears to reflect Adam's influence at
the time. Furthermore, in the court
records of Major John Frey, one of the Justices of Tryon County, Adam sued John
Weaver for "selling liquor to his servants without his licence." Whether these are white servants or black
slaves is not stated.
With the approach of the Revolution, Adam Young remained
loyal to the Crown, becoming increasingly concerned with the way events were
taking shape in the Mohawk Valley. He
was particularly perplexed by the "association" that residents were
expected to sign to show their support of the actions of the Continental
Congress. He refused to sign the
document. Neither Adam Young nor his
brother Frederick (a Justice of the Peace for Tryon Co.) could see the
necessity of using force to redress grievances against the Government. Adam wrote a petition to the Committee of
Safety to reflect these concerns, which he circulated among the residents of
Stone Arabia. Andreas Young attempted
to put the actions of his brothers in the most favourable light in his
testimony before the Committee 17 Feb. 1776, who, however, saw the actions of
Adam as being detrimental to their cause.
When Adam Young refused to appear before the Committee to answer their charges,
Capt. Henry Eckler was ordered 18 July 1777 to collect a fine of 10 pounds from
him. On 11 Aug. 1777 Lawrence Gros and
a "posse" went to Adam Young's where it was suspected that a party of
Loyalist soldiers were in hiding. While
Gros wanted to arrest Young, "Capt. Eckler & the good People prayed
with Tears in their Eyes, that we would desist from doing that, for their own
Safety." Apparently there was a
fear of the repercussions if they attempted to capture Young. The group eventually satisfied themselves
with temporarily forcing Adam and "Cattle" (i.e., Cattie) from their
On 6 Sept. 1777 Adam Young was examined by the Committee
of Safety and found guilty of supplying "a party of absconding vagabonds
who joined our Enemies at Fort Shyler".
His attitudes toward the American cause at this time is reflected in the
fact that he was known as a "rank enemy" to the "Damned
rebels" (as he termed them). He
was therefore taken into custody and sent to various jails in Connecticut,
including "Norwich Gaol".
Soon after he returned home from 11 months imprisonment, his buildings
were burned and effects taken by the Patriot supporters. The Rebels had for
some time known that Adam was an unrepentant supporter of the Loyalists. For
example, in his Revolutionary War Pension Application, Peter Fox reported that
in 1778 he was "ordered out to march out to Young's Lake where the enemy
generally would have recourse to harbour at the home of Adam Young, but not
discovering nor mett any Tories or Indians from Canada........." Adam's
buildings were destroyed on the order of Rev. Daniel Gros in retaliation for
the burning of Andrustown by Capt. Joseph Brant. He escaped "with scarce sufficient Clothes to cover
him"; he and his two youngest sons (Henry and David – the latter died
during the War) trekking to Oswego to join Butler's Rangers. Young was enrolled in the 6th Company of
this unit as of 1 Aug. 1778. It is
apparent that Adam returned to the Mohawk Valley at least once during the
Revolution to avenge the destruction of his property. On 17 September 1778, at 6 o'clock in the morning, Captains Joseph
Brant and Gilbert Tice, and William Caldwell, with 300 Rangers and 152 Indians
swooped down on the German Flatts settlement.
The populace had, however, been warned of the approach of Loyalist
forces and had taken refuge in Forts Herkimer and Dayton. The Loyalists, who had emerged at the
property of R. Shoemaker, then began the task of burning everything in their
path. They were unable to take Fort
Dayton but destroyed virtually all the houses (63), barns (57), grist mills
(3), saw mill (1), and grain on both sides of the Mohawk River. Only the church and the fort remained
standing from Adam Starings to Wydecks beyond Canada Creek on the north side;
while in a six mile stretch from Ft. Herkimer up the River to William Tygerts
there were but 2 or 3 houses unscathed.
All the cattle and horses (235) and sheep (269) in the vicinity were
rounded up and driven away. The action
was finished by noon. Among them,
according to the American Colonel Peter Bellinger, was "Adam Young &
Toward the end of the Revolution Young was given
permission to clear a farm at Niagara (on-the-Lake), becoming one of the first
settlers in the Niagara Peninsula, where he remained until about 1784, when he
joined his three sons on the Six Nations Indian Reserve along the Grand River -
this property being confirmed to them by the Six Nations 26 Feb. 1787. In Sept. of the same year Adam Young
appeared before the Commissioners for Resolving Loyalist Claims at Niagara
where he detailed his former extensive holdings in New York. A marginal note in the Library of Congress
copy of these records indicates that the interviewers considered him to be a
"very good man". Adam left
the Mohawk Valley in haste, and left various debts behind. One was to Jelles Fonda who, in November
1784 included Adam on a list of persons indebted to him who "are gone off
to the Enemy in the late Warr".
The property of Adam Young in Herkimer County and elsewhere
had been confiscated by the State of New York, probably impelling him to deed
his lands at Youngsfield to his son-in-law Joseph House (a Patriot supporter)
in order to salvage some financial remuneration from their sale. It is apparent from the wording of a clause
in the will of Adam's son Daniel, that there was still hope in 1836 of
obtaining some compensation for the confiscated lands. Specifically, Daniel gave instructions about
selling "my real Estate in the State of New York situate in the County of
Herkimer or otherwise…granted to my Father Adam Young late deceased…which I
became heir thereof by Will". In
1837 there was an attempt to recover these lands when John Woodworth, a lawyer
from Albany, filed a claim on behalf of the descendants of Adam Young. In the 1840's Peter Young and subsequently
James Young (sons of Daniel Young) were empowered by the family to take legal
steps to obtain title or payment for the New York property. In 1892 the hope was still alive as Adam's
grandson William Young noted in his will, "property as I claim through my
father the late Henry Young and being in the State of New York". The final effort of record was by a
"lawyer who was married to a Young".
It was his intention to collect a complete list of descendants of Adam
Young (visiting Philip Young (1855-1937) in Canada for this purpose), and to
lay claim to an estate that supposedly amounted to thirty-five million
dollars. Apparently the lawyer died
before he could complete his work. The
outcome of these proceedings is unknown.
On 22 January 1790 Adam Young "of the Grand River
Settlement" signed his will, being then "weak in body yet of Sound
& perfect understanding and Memory…"
He mentions his wife Elisabeth; Elisabeth Young, daughter of John Young
his son; and sons Daniel Young and Henry Young. He appointed his "trusty Friends" Major Henry Wm
Nelles, Lieut Robert Nelles, and Jacob Christian Brenneman as his
executors. The witnesses were John
Young and J. Christn Brenneman.
Evidence that Elizabeth House was a daughter is found in the proceedings
of the Commissioners for Extinguishing Claims, Sept. 1808, where Joseph House
and Elizabeth his wife applied to the Board.
Affidavits were provided by Philip F. Frey and John Hiss of Montgomery Co.
stating that Adam left "issue three sons named John, Daniel, and Henry and
one daughter Elizabeth now the wife of the said Joseph House and one of the
applicants for compensation".
Adam died at Grand River (Young Tract, Seneca Township.)
Ontario after 22 January 1790, when he signed his above will, and the time that
the survey of Augustus Jones was completed in January / March 1791. In the map relating to the survey and in the
surveyor’s notes record the owner of the home at the upper end of the Young
Tract was Henry, not his father Adam.
Adam was likely the first person to be buried in the Young Tract Burying
Ground on a knoll (that had become a cornfield which, in 2004, after 25 years
effort to stop this injustice, was registered as a Cemetery in the Province of
Ontario) on the river flats at the lower end of the Young Tract.
The tradition that Adam Young had an Indian or French
mistress, Polly Crain, by whom he had a son Jacob A. Young (b. 6 Apr. 1755), is
not supported by documentary evidence.
Published data extracted from primary source records indicates that this
Jacob Young was the son of Jacob Young Sr. (a cousin of Adam Young). What is curious about this tradition is that
Adam's son John's mother - in - law was Molly Hill, who may also have gone by
her mother's surname Crine (Anglicized to Green).
*** Each of the
above noted facts is supported with one or more documentary sources. The author has removed these coded notations
from the body of the text to enhance readability. The same procedure is used with the biographies of Adam and
Catharine’s four surviving children. At
some point all of these references will be made available to interested family