Herkimer’s gardens were undoubtedly an important part of the
colonial homestead. Adjacent to most farmhouses on the frontier, and in
addition to the fields, the “kitchen garden” supplied the home with a wide
variety of daily consumables.
The tradition of using a kitchen garden close in proximity to the house was especially strong in the German Rhineland and was in turn practiced by the settlers of the Mohawk Valley.
General Herkimer’s will written in 1777, provides evidence
that there were gardens in the yard surrounding the Herkimer Home. In his will, he
left his widow the “….use of one quarter acre in one of the gardens, four apple
trees, firewood, water…”
The location of the Herkimer garden is substantiated by the
Erie Canal survey maps of 1803, which show the house, then occupied by Nicholas
Herkimer’s sister-in-law, with a large formally-organized garden on the north-side. The present day garden, a reconstruction, is somewhat smaller
than the one shown above because of subsequent construction of the Erie Canal and the
West Shore Railroad which passed through a portion of the original location.