COLONEL JAMES LIVINGSTON:
THE FORGOTTEN LIVINGSTON PATRIOT OF THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE
In Fulton County's quest to show its place in New York State's part in the ratification of the United States Constitution and pride of our Nations two hundredth Anniversary of the United States Constitution and its Bill of Rights, a historical research project was compiled in the county to find those that served an active role in this New York State ratification of the United States Constitution two hundred years ago. In compiling the names of the delegates that represented our county, which was then known as Montgomery County, with the county seat at Johnstown, we find the following delegates: William Cooper, now the site of Farmers Museum, Cooperstown, now Otsego County; Jellis Fonda, Fonda, now Montgomery County; John Frey, Frey House Palantine, now Montgomery County; Issac Paris, D. A. R. Chapter House, Fort Plain, now Montgomery County; Peter Schuyler, Danube, now Herkimer County (nephew of Philip Schuyler); Christopher Yates, Canajoharie, now Montgomery County; Abraham Arndt, Fort Plain-Canajoharie area, now Montgomery County; Josiah Crane, Palantine, now Montgomery County; William Harper, Florida, now Montgomery County; Henry Staring, German Flats, now Herkimer County; Abraham VanHorne, Canajoharie, now Montgomery County; Abraham VanVechten, Canajoharie, now Montgomery County; Volkert Veeder, Florida, now Montgomery County; John Winn, Canajoharie, now Montgomery County and Col. James Livingston, Johnstown, now Fulton County.
Research of these men concluded that the only one of these delegates listed, that actually lived in what is now our County of Fulton was Col. James Livingston of Johnstown. Like the others, Col. Livingston would have met at the old colonial court house in Johnstown where heated debates would have arouse, proposals drawn up and plans made for the ratification at the future state convention. Col. Livingston served an important position as one of these early delegates and served as our county's Assemblyman in the State Capital and he as well served at that time as one of the few federalist in upstate New York's rural districts, which also served as his down fall in his re-election as a delegate. When the towns were given or allowed to vote for their representatives, Col. James was voted out when few federalists were elected this side of the Hudson. Most of the rural farm areas being pro anti-Federalist and indeed at the Constitution Convention at Poughkeepsie in the summer of 1888, New York's acceptance of the Federal Constitution was by a narrow margin of votes. Col. James Livingston was not at the final secession of the ratification convention but he had and did play an important part in this drama. While acting as an early delegate, Assemblyman and Federalist Representative he must of had a lot to contribute to those early meetings in the county seat and court house at Johnstown. Two hundred years later we of Fulton County not only wish to recognize this man's part into he United States Constitution but as well his patriotic service to this new nation for the American cause during the American Revolutionary War.
In our research of Col. James Livingston we found him as a soldier; a patriot who served with distinction, loyalty and performed with a number of heroic acts that have never been recorded in the annuals of the county of Fulton before. He served further after the war as a statesman, an upstate political figure dedicated to this new nation's principles and settled in the village of Johnstown as a merchant and was one of the county's leading citizen of his time. When the City of Johnstown Bicentennial of the United States Constitution Community Committee was formed, one project suggested was recognition of the Johnstown native. Mr. Noel Levee, chairman of this committee, organized a research committee to collect and compile data on Col. James Livingston and to work with the county committee.
Mr. Levee, serving himself on the research committee, appointed Mrs. Pauline Wayne of the Johnstown Historical Society to head this committee, assisting her: Lewis G. Decker, Fulton County Historian; Dr. Charles Noxon, Johnstown Historical Society; Robert Bedford, City of Johnstown Historian; Mrs. Barbara Thompson of the Johnstown Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution; and Brian Haggerty, troop No. 104 Johnstown Boys Scouts of America. After finding sufficient material it was decided to compile this information and put it together into a booklet, at which time the county committee called one of its active members, James Morrison, to further research, compile, and edit the information into this booklet.
I consider James F. Morrison, a leading expert on the Revolutionary War in the Mohawk Valley. Mr. Morrison has dedicated many years to eighteenth century military life and the patriots that fought for our cause during the American Revolution. He has authored several books and numerous articles on the Revolutionary War period in the Mohawk Valley and our County of Fulton. During the Nations Bicentennial of the American Revolution, he wrote a most informative book titled, "Fulton County in the Revolution", a reference book, sought after today by historians and genealogists. Mr. Morrison continues to muster and command the reactivated third regiment of the Tyron County Militia, members of the famed Brigade of the American Revolution and with his expertise our county could find no finer historian and author for this subject.
My thanks as the Fulton County Chairman of the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution and the Fulton County Historian to all those that made this booklet possible and Col. James Livingston, one of our County's forgotten heroes.
Lewis G. Decker
Note to the reader:
Through this research some controversy has arisen as to the Colonels final resting place. I started this project through the importance of this forgotten local figure and his connection to our County of Fulton's past in the 200th Anniversary of our Nations Constitution. Different accounts arise as to his burial site but recollections of him having been buried in the Johnstown Colonial Cemetery and his wife buried there with an identical stone missing, next to her, both in one solid base, have led this historian to believe he is buried here in the Colonial Cemetery.
Another account put him in Saratoga, now Schuylerville, New York, where, according to his obituary, he died at his son Richard's home in 1832. In his son's burial plot, located in the Old Prospect Cemetery by the Battle Monument, it states, on the back of his son's family monument: "Colonel James Livingston who commanded a regiment of American soldiers near this spot at Burgoyne's surrender in 1777". This is the only reference at this site; no dates, no proof of his burial here. Although it has been found this cemetery was in existence at this time, I believe he is not buried at the Schuylerville site. We cannot at present prove his resting place in the Johnstown Colonial Cemetery, only the theory that the broken stone next to his wife is his.
With no further evidence proving different, I have taken the responsibility, as the Fulton County historian and Chairman of the County's Bicentennial Committee, to dedicate this memorial to Col. James Livingston in the Colonial Cemetery in Johnstown, New York, next to his wife, and hope some day in the future this can be authenticated or proven different.
On to the booklet: Colonel James Livingston
Copyright ©1988-2000, James F. Morrison, Lewis Decker
Copyright ©1988-2000, Fulton County Bicentennial of the United States Constitution Committee
Copyright ©2000, Jeanette Shiel
All Rights Reserved.
Last updated Tuesday, 13-May-2008 13:37:07 PDT