To Be Free or Die: A True Patriot’s Story

With the insurrection in the USA, I find myself reflecting on what it was like to be a settler fighting for independence. It was while reflecting that I decided to share this story. The people and events in this story are true. I wonder what they would think of America today.

The Battle of Oriskany, August 6th 1777

Conrad Clock born Abt. 1722 in Palatine, Montgomery, New York was the son of Hendrick Klock, a German immigrant. Conrad was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and fought under his uncle, Col Jacob Klock’s regiment, 2nd Tryon Company, Palatine Division. He survived the Battle of Oriskany, one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolution.

Conrad is described as a man of powerful physique who when his ammunition gave out, wielded a huge club over the craniums of several of the enemy.

Conrad and his sons, Jacob and Joseph were captured in Fairfield during one of the British raids and were taken to Canada. Their they enlisted into the British Army. They were ordered to the Mohawk Valley to fight. Instead, they deserted the British Army and returned home to the Mohawk Valley.

The settlers of the Mohawk Valley were so determined to be independent that they set up the Palatine Committee of Correspondence and created the following declaration.

As we abhor a state of slavery we do join and unite together under all the ties of religion, honor, justice and love of our country, never to become slaves and to defend our freedom with our lives and fortunes.

This declaration was signed May 21, 1775, a year before the final Declaration of Independence was signed July 4th, 1776 in Philadelphia. The Declaration was signed by Conrad’s uncle Col. Jacob Klock for whom Conrad served in the Militia. The firm resolution of all those who signed was, ‘to be free or die.’

In their quest to be free or die, the soldiers were not the only ones to pay for their independence. Appolonia Klock nee Keeler had a crippled hand after being attacked with a tomahawk. Another Klock woman was scalped and survived. She went on to live a long life, dying at 97.

There is also the story of a heavily pregnant woman whose village was under attack by natives. She grabbed her 3-year-old child and fled to the woods headed in the direction of the nearest fort. While in the forest she gave birth and then continued on her way. She made it safely to her destination.

All of these stories and many more reveal a gritty determination to birth a new country. These settlers fought, bled, and died for their place in a new world. They were true American heroes.

In contrast, the insurrectionists who took a day off work to storm the capital, are not heroes. They played at being patriots. They stormed the Capitol with their Trump flags, yelling to hang Pence, destroying property, and snapping photos of themselves pretending to be badasses.

I can’t help but think that America’s forefathers would weep for a country that is nothing like the one they envisioned. It’s a good thing they couldn’t see the future. They would have been heartbroken.

Conrad Clock was my 6th great grandfather.

Info taken from: Klock Connections: Issue # 22 May 2003