He eventually went on to settle the area now known as Selkirk in 1786.
"He saw a lot over six years and five months," Selkirk said about his ancestor's service in the militia.
Historical records of James Selkirk's first-hand accounts from fighting in the war are on file at the Bethlehem Town Hall. They paint a picture of a brave, yet kind man, who fought for his country in several intense battles despite becoming deathly ill more than once.
He saw companions die and looked into the face of the enemy both on and off the field of battle. James Selkirk wrote extensively about the Battle of Saratoga against British Gen. John Burgoyne's army.
"We came where the battle was flying thick and fast. We made a short halt in a meadow where we were wholly exposed to the fire of the enemy. We immediately marched on, jumped over a brush fence and commenced fire," James Selkirk wrote. "The smoke was very thick and the enemy was just before us. [a man] received a ball in his arm which went through his body. He turned round on his feet and fell down deadclose by where I stood."
The battles raged on from Sept. 19 until Oct. 7, 1777, as Gen. Burgoyne waited for reinforcements from New York City that never arrived. The victory was pivotal for the Colonists because it convinced France to lend solid support to the cause.
James Selkirk fought under the command of Brig. Gen. Ebenezer Learned and alongside other notable American commanders such as Col. Daniel Morgan and Gen. Benedict Arnold.
He wrote about the scene after the fighting subsided when he came upon a gravely wounded German mercenary.
"I went and spoke to a poor Hessian grenadier that was very badly wounded through the groin looking wistfully at me. [He] asked me in broken language if I had any water seeing a canteen about my neck," James Selkirk wrote. "He said he was almost faint. I told him I had some rum if he would drink some of that, I should make him welcome and he thankfully accepted my offer and drank what he pleased."