Adam Helmer
1754-1830
Ranger, messenger

Early Years
At this point I have not performed any extensive genealogical checks on the heritage of Adam Helmer. It is highly likely that his parents were part of the initial migration of Palatines engineered by Governor Robert Hunter (Simms notes that this particular group may have been the third wave of immigration from Holland). Several Helmers are found in a list of Burnetsfield Patent holders circa 1725. Adam's father appears to be a Frederick Helmer, mother unknown 1. In any event, the Helmer name was well established in the Mohawk Valley by the time Adam was born2

Adam married Anna Woolivar in Herkimer on February 27, 1776; the Reverend Abraham Rosekrantz officiated 3

 

War Service

In 1776, Helmer was evidently a Sergeant in an independent ranging company commanded by Captain Mark Demouth. During probably a nine month term of enlistment, these rangers performed various scouting and escort duties in the valley. Helmer may have been promoted to a Lieutenantcy.4

Helmer was one of three men selected by General Nicholas Herkimer to cross enemy lines and alert the Fort Stanwix garrison of the Tryon County militia's approach5. His companions were Han Yost Fults and Captain John Demuth. He performed this dangerous mission successfuly, and was soon given a follow up mission: to report the sad news of Oriskany to the Albany Committee of Safety6. Again repassing through the forces that encircled the fort, Helmer started the chain of events that would soon see the seige lifted by the British.

 

In 1778, Adam Helmer once again apparently performed service above and beyond the call. In this case, a raiding force of Loyalists and natives led by Captain John Caldwell (of Butler's Rangers) and Joseph Brant was spotted near Shoemaker's Tavern. Helmer outraced a pursuing group of Indians, racing for his life over 17 miles. Not only did he save his own scalp, he saved the lives of the settlers at Fort Dayton by putting them on alert.

Also during 1778, he was recommended for a lieutenant's position in a company of rangers raised to build a fort for the defense of the Oneida's castle7.

Helmer is listed as a signer of a report detailing rations distributed to destitute Tryon County residents8.

He was again called to serve with an appointment as Lieutenant in the Levies raised for the defense of the Mohawk Valley, under a Captain Bradbick (given also as Breadbake) 9.

 

In 1803 Adam acquired 450 acres in the town of Brutus, Cayuga County on lot 67 10.   Adam died in the Town of Brutus on April 9, 1830; his wife Anna died Jan 25, 1841.

Some time in 1969 the headstones for Adam and his wife Anna were moved by their descendants, the Robillard family, to the Robillard plot in the Weedsport Rural Cemetary, Weedsport. This was an effort to prevent acts of vandalism against the isolated gravesite.

Notes:

1.Pension application for Adam Helmer; NARA record number W17067
2.French's Gazeeter, 1800 p. 345.
3.Pension application
4. Pension Application of Peter Flagg. Html transcription by Martha S. Magill. 5.Clinton Papers, v II, pp. 203, 212

7.Clinton Papers, v III, p. 252.
8.Clinton Papers, v IV, pp. 342-345.
9.Clinton Papers, v VI, p. 21.
10.French's Gazetteer of the State of New York,1860. Html transcription by Steve and Pat Mckay; footnote 21

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