De Kalb's Namesake: Baron Jean De Kalb
by Bryan Thompson
The town was named for Baron Jean De Kalb, a native of Alsace, who received a military education in the French army, and visited this country near the close of the Seven Years War as a secret agent of the government. While engaged in that service, he was once arrested on suspicion, but as nothing was found to confirm the suspicion, he was released, and soon after returned to Europe.
In the spring of 1777 he again visited this country, in the company of LaFayette, and espoused the cause of the struggling colonists. Holding the rank of Brigadier in the French army, and coming highly recommended, he was commissioned a Major General by Congress, September 15,1777, and immediately joined the main army under Washington.
He was active in the events, which preceded the encampment of the army at Valley Forge, and his experience acquired in the French army rendered his services valuable to the Americans. He served with distinguished ability and heroism. He fell at the battle near Camden, S.C., in the summer of 1780, pierced with eleven wounds, while rallying the scattered American forces, and died three days afterwards. His remains were interred at Camden, whose citizens, in 1845, erected an elegant marble monument, fifteen feet in height, the cornerstone of which was laid by LaFayette. (St. Lawrence County Advertiser 1872 p.105-106)
The name De Kalb was assigned to the township by the New York Surveyor general in 1787.