John Tillman, Sr.


John Tillman, Sr. was born in Germany in 1725. He is said to have come to America in the ship Forest. He was naturalized in Pennsylvania in 1752. He also was known as "John Christopher Tillman."

He probably married Margaret Hertz before they sailed for America. They had a number of children - some of whom were born in Europe. They were Lutherans which may explain why their baptisms were not recorded in the other Albany churches. Their daughter, Elizabeth, was christened in the Albany Lutheran church in 1761. They were First Lutheran pewholders in the 1780s and 90s.

In 1757, his name appeared on the roster of an Albany militia company. Ten years later, he was a private in a Rensselaerswyck militia company. However, in April 1761, he joined the New York provincial militia. At that time, he stated that he was thirty-five-years-old, was born in Germany, was a cordwainer, was five feet, eight-and-a-half inches tall, had a dark face, black hair, and brown eyes.

In 1766, his name appeared on the Albany assessment roll. In that year, he was one of those who petitioned for land on the Woutenbergh on which to build a German Lutheran Church.

During the war, he served the American cause as a militia officer (ensign and lieutenant), quartermaster, and adjutant. He represented Rensselaerswyck on the Albany Committee of Correspondence.

In 1779 "Major" John Tillman's North End lot was valued on the city assessment roll.

In 1779 and on several occasions afterwards, he was identified as an innkeeper when he posted bail on behalf of a number of newcomers. Also in 1779, he was identified as a lifelong cordwainer and was the subject of a petition signed by more than a sixty Albany-area Patriots who asked Governor Clinton to reinstate him as "Deputy Commissary of Hides for the Northern Department."

During the 1780s and 90s, he was involved in a number of real estate transactions in the areas around Albany. During the 1770s, the Tillmans purchased lots across the Hudson in the area that would become Lansingburgh.

In 1790, his Watervliet household included two men and two females. He was the head of one of four Tillman-named households listed in Watervliet - a fringe area along the river road that was becoming populated with newcomers and immigrants - namely John Tillman and his kin.

Living into his late sixties, John Tillman died in July 1792. His will passed probate in August.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of John Tillman, Sr. has not been assigned a CAP biography number. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

first posted: 12/30/07; updated 1/11/11