DETOUR TO STONE ARABIA CHURCHES.
The tourist going west, can take a detour 4 miles north from Palatine
Bridge to the historic Stone Arabia churches. He can return to the Mohawk
Turnpike at Nelliston, 4 miles west from the churches.
On clear days the Cherry Valley mountains, 12 to 15 miles southward,
may be seen rising over a fertile farming plateau. The Stone Arabia
section. with its two interesting old churches, is historically most
important. As previously mentioned it was one of the first (1711)
locations of Palatine German settlement in America and it was an important
The outcrop of the surface rock is the Trenton limestone in the river
sections of the Palatine township of Montgomery county, which covers the
old Stone Arabia section. The upland rock is Hudson river shale. The
Palatine township stone fences are noticeable features of the landscape
all through this section.
In the detour north, the tourist rises from a Mohawk Turnpike sea
elevation of 340 feet, to a sea elevation of 820 feet at the Stone Arabia
Reformed church, close to which Nelliston creek has its source.
STONE ARABIA CHURCHES.
(Sea elevation, 820 feet)
Stone Arabia Churches Mileage Distances: Mohawk Turnpike, New
Southward: Palatine Bridge 4 m.
Eastward: (via Palatine Bridge over the Mohawk Turnpike) Yosts (the Noses) 10 m.,
Fonda-Fultonville 16 m., (by detour to south side at Fultonville) Auriesville 20 m., Tribes Hill-Fort Hunter
22 m., Fort Johnson 25 m., Amsterdam 27 m., Schenectady 43 m., Albany 58 m., NewYork 207 m.
Eastward: (by upland cross-country road) Johnstown (about) 12 m., Gloversville (about) 16 m.
Westward: (by upland cross-country road) Fort Plain-Nelliston 4 m., Palatine Church 7 m., St. Johnsville 10 m.,
East Creek 13 m., Fink's Bridge (Fall Hill) 19 m., Gen. Herkimer Homestead (by detour to south side) 20 m., Little
Falls 20 m., Herkimer 27 m., Mohawk 28 m., (By detour south from Mohawk) Fort Herkimer church 30 m., Ilion 30 m.,
Frankfort 32 m., Utica 42 m., Whitesboro 46 m., Oriskany 49 m., Oriskany Battlefield Monument 51 m., Rome 57 m.,
Syracuse 92 m., Buffalo 246m.
The Stone Arabia churches section receives its mail from the Fort Plain postoffice by rural
The Stone Arabia road runs north four miles to Ephratah, from which a good road runs to Johnstown
and Gloversville, Garoga and Canada lakes and the Adirondacks.
The name Stone Arabia comes from the Arabia Petrae (Stony Arabia) of the Bible. Early settlers of
America gave several places the name of Stone Arabia., one having been near present Troy. While the Stone Arabia section
is very fertile it was, at the time of its settlement, covered with much surface stone now lodged, after great labor, in
its stone fences.
Palatine-German Stone Arabia Settlement, 1711-1723.
Palatine Germans located in the Stone Arabia neighborhood, immediately north of Palatine Bridge,
about 1711, or soon thereafter. In 1711 Palatines settled the Schoharie valley and some of their families are then
supposed to have moved north up the Schoharie and west up the Mohawk to the Stone Arabia section. They soon were followed
by other German families and the river westward to Frankfort (32 m.) was (at least sparsely) settled by Palatines by the
year 1725. Stone Arabia is one of the earliest permanent German settlements in the United States. The valley pioneers
came from the war-stricken Palatine on the Rhine. They were originally located on the Hudson at Germantown and vicinity.
They were dissatisfied there with their treatment by the Government and a great part of them moved over into the Schoharie
valley. Others migrated to Pennsylvania and became the first "Pennsylvania Dutch." Among these were some who were
already then located on the Schoharie and the Mohawk. A small proportion remained in their original locations on the
Hudson, where they settled in 1709, 1710, 1711 and later.
It is from these Palatine German settlers that the village of Palatine Bridge and township take their
Stone Arabia Patent, 1723.
Although the first German Palatine settlers along the Mohawk purchased their lands from the
Mohawks, yet they were virtually squatters in the eyes of the British provincial authorities. As a protection against
French-Canadian aggression, the Crown made two important patents of land for their benefit - the first that of Stone
Arabia in 1723 and the second that of Burnetsfield in 1725. (See Herkimer.) The Schenectady (1684), Stone Arabia
(1723) and Burnetsfield (1725) are the most famous patents or grants of land along the Mohawk. The Stone Arabia patent
was granted Oct. 19, 1723, to 27 Palatines (and others), who with their families numbered 127 persons. The names of
these pioneer families are as follows on the original patent: Digert, Schell, Cremse, Garlack, Dillinbeck, Emiger,
Vocks, Lawyer, Feink, Frey, Diegert, Coppernoll, Peiper, Seibert, Casselman, Fink, Ingolt, Erchart, Nelse.
The foregoing names are Palatine-German with the exceptions of Frey (Swiss) and Coppernoll (Holland
First Meeting Tryon County Revolutionary Committee of Safety, 1774.
From its settlement by Palatine Germans about 1711 until the outbreak of the Revolution in 1775,
Stone Arabia grew into a rich and populous farming section and became a strong Revolutionary Whig or "rebel" center.
August 27, 1774, a few weeks after Sir William Johnson's death, local patriots held a meeting at the
Adam Loucks tavern, Stone Arabia, which led to the formation of the first or Palatine district committee of the Tryon
County Committee of Safety, which largely directed valley military and civil affairs, west of the Schenectady district,
during the Revolution, especially in its earlier years.
Fort Paris, 1777.
Fort Paris was built here in the fall, winter and spring of 1776-1777, one-half mile north of the
Stone Arabia churches (at the present "Red Corners"), by the order of the American Revolutionary army, and was so named
in honor of Isaac Paris, a leading local merchant and patriot, who was captured at the battle of Oriskany (in 1777) and
murdered by the Indians. Fort Paris was an important post and middle valley Revolutionary headquarters, 1776-1783. Its
timbers and palisades were used in rebuilding structures destroyed hereabouts in Johnson's great raid of Oct. 19, 1780.
Battle of Stone Arabia, Oct. 19, 1780.
Col. John Brown was in command of Fort Paris in 1780. On the approach of Sir John Johnson's raiding
party, the incompetent and traitorous American, Gen. Van Rensselaer, ordered Col. Brown to attack the British force in
front while Van Rensselaer's army struck in the rear.
Brown marched his little battalion of 136 men to a field about one mile northeast of Palatine Bridge
on the Fuller farm. In this open field the Americans boldly attacked the British advance guard, but were totally defeated
with the loss of 40 killed, including the gallant Brown. The cowardly Van Rensselaer failed to attack here as promised
(See Fort Plain).
Stone Arabia was virtually destroyed in the brutal, murderous raid which followed. The fort was
not attacked. In the afternoon the enemy raiders passed over to the road to Palatine Church and thence west to Fort
Klock (6 miles), where they were defeated in a sharp skirmish by Van
Rensselaer's pursuing Americans in the battle of Klock's Field.
Col. John Brown, 1744 - 1780.
Col. John Brown lies buried in the graveyard of the Stone Arabia Reformed church. He was a
lawyer by profession and a famous Revolutionary soldier. Brown was a bitter enemy of Benedict Arnold and in 1777
published a bitter attack on the greatest of American traitors. On Oct. 19, 1736, the monument over his grave here
was unveiled at a memorable celebration of the fifty-sixth anniversary of the Stone Arabia fight, at which a few
survivors of this heroic little battle were present. In 1888 an inscribed boulder was placed on the site of the Stone
Stone Arabia Reformed Church, 1788.
Frame church, on this site, was burned in Johnson's great raid
1780 through the Schoharie and Mohawk Valleys. Canajoharie
D. A. R. monument, in front of the church, commemorates fifty
Revolutionary soldiers buried in the church graveyard.
Stone Arabia Reformed Church, 1788 -- Lutheran Church, 1792.
These churches are two of the oldest religious societies existing in the Mohawk valley west
of Schenectady. The first Palatine German pioneers are reported to have come here about 1711 and, as was their
custom, probably soon thereafter held church services in one of the settlers' log cabins. Rev. Johannes Jacobus
Ehle (pronounced "ale") was the first pastor coming to this section about 1725 and settling four miles from here
at Nelliston, where he built in 1727, a small stone house, which served as an Indian mission house for the Mohawks
of Tarajorees castle at present Fort Plain . (See Fort Plain.) Dominie Ehle was a missionary preacher to both the
white and red inhabitants of the Mohawk and Schoharie valleys for over 50 years, until his death in 1777. The church
lot of 50 acres formed part of the original Stone Arabia patent of 1723, and was bought, in 1729, of William Coppernoll
of Schenectady, one of the patentees, for 100 pounds ($250), by Andrew Fink, Warner Diegert, Johannes Schell and "all
the rest of the proprietors and owners of the Stone Raby patent." The first log church was built in 1729 on the
site of the present Lutheran church. In 1733 the erection of a frame church was begun on the site of the present stone
Reformed church. A dispute arose as to whether the new frame church should be Reformed or Lutheran. The Reformed Dutch
element prevailed and the Lutherans withdrew to the first log church and the church lot was divided between the two
societies. In the terrible Revolutionary Tory-Indian raid of Oct. 19, 1780, under Sir John Johnson (son of Sir William)
both churches were burned as well as all other buildings in Stone Arabia.
The present Reformed church of stone was built on 1788 at a cost of $3,378, at which time it was
considered the finest church edifice in the state west of Schenectady. In 1820 the church entrance was changed from
the east side to the south end of the building. The parsonage adjoining was built in 1795.
In 1799 sermons were preached here in the following order, as
the church records read: "Two sermons in the German language, then one in English, then two in German, then one in
Low Dutch," which arrangement gives an idea of the national ancestry and languages then prevailing here. In the next
generation English became the popular speech, and the language of church service, here and throughout the Mohawk valley.
Many Revolutionary soldiers lie buried in the nearby churchyard and a monument in front of the
church memorializes this fact. It was erected by the Canajoharie chapter, D. A. R.
In 1792 the Lutheran society erected its present frame church, a short distance south of the
Reformed church. The Reformed church celebrated its centennial in 1888, and the Lutheran church in 1892. The
Lutheran church dates its organization from 1711.
In 1922 the two hundredth anniversary of the settlement of Stone Arabia by the Palatines was
celebrated at the Stone Arabia Reformed church.
RETURN TO THE MOHAWK TURNPIKE.
From the Stone Arabia churches, the tourist can return to the Mohawk Turnpike at Nelliston, 4
miles west, closely following Nelliston creek gully, with attractive upland views of the rich farming country of
By going one-half mile north to the upper Stone Arabia corners, the tourist can run westward
to Palatine Church, 7 miles, reaching the Turnpike at the junction of the Wagners Hollow road.