History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883
Volume II, Page 140.
EVENTS OF 1778.
Much that transpired in the American Revolution of the most thrilling interest in all the frontier settlements, is now lost forever to the American reader. To adopt the language of a beautiful writer -" Many prudent counsels conceived in perplexing times - many heart-stirring words uttered when liberty was treason-many brave and heroic deeds, performed when the halter and not the laurel was the promised need of patriotic daring, are already lost and forgotten in the graves of their authors."
The capture of Burgoyne and his army not only inspired Americans with confidence of their final triumph, but the truly philanthropic all over the civilized world hailed the event as ominous of good. Fortune is a fickle goddess. Let success attend the ambitious adventurer, and a sycophantic world is ready to rend the air with shouts of praise, and strew his path with flowery garlands; but if misfortune attend him, his imagined friends are turned to foes. It is probable that few leaders under similar circumstances could have done more for his royal master than had poor Burgoyne ; and yet on his return to England, he was treated with contempt by the parasites of royalty.
Reconciliation Sought for the Last Time.-Early in l778, mortified at the result of her Canadian expeditions, England sought a reconciliation with the States. Lord Chatham, known at an early period in the House of Commons as the talented Pitt, the champion of civil liberty, attended on one occasion in the House of Lords during the session of that year. He was desirous of a compromise, but opposed to acknowledging our independence. While laboring to show how the difficulties could be settled, his emotions overcame him and he sunk nerveless into the arms of his friends. He was carried home-survived his last effort to speak but a few weeks, and his grave oratory was hushed forever. The love of country rose paramount in the last effort of this truly great man.* Parliament passed an act that session declaring that they would not in future again tax the colonies, and commissioners were sent to treat with the State authorities. The terms proposed by the mother country were rejected. An attempt was then made to bribe some of the influential American statesmen, but the proposition met with deserved scorn.
Early this season the French nation, which had looked with jealousy upon England after the loss of the Canadas, concluded a treaty "of commerce and alliance with the American commissioners. It was signed on the 6th of February. The acknowledgement of the independence of the United States by France, had a very beneficial tendency. It was greeted everywhere as a passport to independence, consequently every demonstration
There can be no doubt his hatred of France had something to do with his last
of joy was manifested. The treaties were read by the chaplains at the head of each brigade-published in the colonial papers, and made known from the sacred desk by ministers of the gospel, from Maine to Georgia. Many who were before wavering in their course, when they saw a powerful nation becoming their ally, manifested a willingness to exert themselves in their country's cause.
< Washington at Valley Forge.
Washington's Army at Valley Forge.-As the winter of 1777 and 1778 set in, Gen. Washington with his wearied and half clad troops, went into winter quarters at Valley Forge, whither and around the rude huts they tenanted, their footsteps might have been traced in, their own blood. They arrived here on the 18th of December, distant 22 miles from Philadelphia, where the enemy were comfortably quartered. The continental troops set about felling trees and building rude huts, and ere long his army was comfortably well sheltered from the weather; but from the bad management of the commissary department, they were daily suffering for the want of food and clothing. The soldier's huts were arranged so as to present the appearance of a regular town : they were an oblong square in shape, 14 by 16 feet, filled in with mortar between the logs, and intended to serve 12 privates each, or a less number of officers. The encampment was surrounded on the land side by intrenchments, with small redoubts. The place was so called because a forge was established there some time before. A temporary bridge was thrown across the Schuylkill, near the mouth of Valley creek, to facilitate communication on the east side of the river. Nothing could have kept this army together in such a condition, but the constant presence, sympathy and encouragement of the Commander-in-chief. Some of his men for the want of blankets, had to sit up all night by the fire. Think of the condition of these poor soldiers, my comfortably housed and well fed reader, and tell me whether you can with too much vigilance cherish the liberty you enjoy. It was in the midst of this season of terrible gloom-for not withstanding the success of the Provincials in Northern New York-the winter following was a most trying one for the cause of liberty, and for the heart of Washington in particular, for this was the time, too, when the Gates conspiracy was on the tapis. In the picture, Washington, who at all times was caring for his troops, is to be seen looking in upon their unenviable condition; when his liveliest sympathies were aroused.*
In the winter following the surrender of Burgoyne, Gen. Gates, vain of his Saratoga laurels, was desirous of distinguishing himself still more, and proposed an expedition on the ice up Lake Champlain, to destroy the British shipping, etc., at St. Johns, and if possible, extend his invasion of the enemy's territory to Montreal. It met with so much favor with the Gates party in Congress, that that body approved of the enterprise;
Allen, and Day's Pennsylvania His. Collections.
and with him were to be associated his friend Conway, DeKalb and Lafayette. Gen. Washington, who should first have been consulted in the matter, knew nothing of it until Gates, who could do no less, wrote to him for his opinion of the adventure. As he knew nothing of the intended purpose or plans, he could only say that if undertaken, he wished it every success, and especially of the young Marquis de Lafayette. This correspondence took place in the latter part of January, 1778. On proceeding to Albany, Lafayette found the measure an abortive one, as the needed troops with outfit could not be mustered, and the ardent young General was rather disgusted with the proceeding.*
A National Attempt to win the Indians.-Congress were desirous that another stone should be turned, to try, if possible, to win the other four of the Six Nations-at least into a state of neutrality; and early in March of 1778, a council was called at Johnstown, when a large number of Indians are said to have been assembled, consisting of Oneidas, Tuscaroras, Onondagas, a few Mohawks, but not a single Seneca, whose nation furnished the most warriors. The latter, however, sent a sarcastic message expressing surprise: "That while our tomahawks were sticking in their heads, their wounds bleeding, and their eyes streaming with tears for the loss of their friends at German Flats, (mean Oriskany), the commissioners should think of inviting them to a treaty." Who managed this affair is not shown by Col. Stone, who gives the first account of it, but he speaks of Lafayette and James Dan as having been there. The convention was a failure in winning any number of four of the Six Nations to the American cause. While Lafayette was there, being then in command of the northern army, Col. Campbell and Mr. Wilson, in the interest of the citizens of Cherry Valley, waited upon him to make known the exposed condition of that settlement, and he directed a fort to be built there.+
While Lafayette was at Johnstown, it became known that Capt. Carotene, a nephew of Gov. Carotene, of Canada, was lurking about the settlements in the character of a spy. The Canadians, especially the Tory element that had gone from Train county, were extremely anxious, on account of their own
* Stone's Banta. + Campbell's Annals.
deserted possessions-if it were possible-to devise some plan that should aid them and their cause, and hence they were willing to take great personal risk to bring about such result. Carleton's misson was to promote such a result. In the hope of compassing Carleton's capture, Lafayette offered a liberal reward for it, as is shown by the following letter:
the 9th March, 1778.
"SIR-As the taking of Col. Carleton is of the greatest importance, I wish you would use every exertion in your power to have him apprehended. I have desired Col. Livingston, who knows him, to let you have any intelligence he can give, and joined to them I have got by one other spy, about the dress and figure of Carleton. You may send as many parties as you please, and everywhere you'll think proper, and do every convenient thing for discovering him. I dare say he knows we are after him, and has nothing in view but to escape, which I beg you to prevent by all means. You may promise in my name, fifty guineas hard money, besides every money they can find about Carleton, to any party of soldiers or Indians who will bring him alive. As everyone knows now what we send for, there is no inconvenience to scatter in the country which [what] reward is promised, in order to stimulate the Indians.
" I have the honor to be, sir,
" Your most obedient servant,
" The MQS. DE LAFAYETTE.
" Col. Gansevoort, Comt. Fort Schuyler."
The Invasion of Cobelskill and the Battle.-The rich flats along the Cobelskill at the outbreak of hostilities, contained some 20 families in the distance of three miles, believed to have been all whigs. They organized a company of militia for their own defence, of which Christian Brown, a brother of the late Judge John M. Brown,was Captain, and Jacob Borst, Lieutenant: but had erected no fortifications. The first appearance of the enemy in the Schoharie settlements in 1778, was at Cobelskill. The events which transpired there, were communicated to the author by Nicholas and George Warner, brothers, Lawrence Lawyer and Judge Brown. The three former were in the battle fought in that town. In the latter part of May several straggling Indians were seen in the vicinity of that settlement, and Capt. Brown, anticipating, a hostile movement of the enemy, thought it prudent to send to the fort at Middleburgh for assistance, The lower fort was then not quite completed. Captain Patrick was dispatched with a small company of volunteers, and arrived at the residence, of Capt. Brown on the 26th of May, where they remained until the 29th, when they moved up to the dwelling of Lawrence Lawyer. Scouts were kept out constantly, but nothing worthy of notice transpired until that day, when Lieut. Jacob Borst, his brother Joseph, and one of the Freemires were on a scout some miles up the creek. The latter was several hundred yards from his companions, seated upon a pile of drift-wood, fishing, when two Schoharie Indians, Ones-Yaap and Han-Yerry (the latter a chief), with a savage yell, intended to intimidate, sprang up the bank of the creek, from a place of concealment, and approached them. After a friendly salution, they began to reprove the brothers, "for being in the woods, to shoot Indians who did them no harm." Joseph replied that they intended no harm to those who were friendly. Han-Yerry approached him, seized his gun in a playful manner, threw open the pan, and gave the gun a sudden jerk to spill out the priming, exclaiming as he did so, " Yo yenery hatste!" It is good if this be gone! Borst, seeing the abject of the Indian was to disarm him, instantly dropped his own gun and seized that of his adversary, and wrenching the flint from the lock, he replied in the Indian dialect, " Yo yenery sagat!" It is good if this is served so! The Indian then dropped his gun and clinched Borst, but the latter, giving a loud whoop closed manfully with his antagonist and soon brought him upon his knees; While they were struggling for mastery, the other Indian approached the Lieutenant and bade him surrender himself his prisoner: but instead of doing so, he stepped back and sent a bullet through his body, Han-Yerry succeeded in freeing himself from the grasp of his adversary, and seeing his comrade upon the ground, instantly fled, leaving his gun. The Lieutenant ran and caught up the gun of his brother and snapped it at the fleeing Indian, but as it was not primed the latter escaped. On the same day, George Warner and John Fester returned from Cherry Valley, where they had been the day before to carry a letter-doubtless to apprize that settlement of the proximity of the enemy.
The day after the Borsts had the encounter with the Indian scout, the Cobelskill battle was fought; which occurred on Saturday, May 30th.* On the morning of that day Captain Miller, who was sent from the Schoharie fort with part of a company to reconnoitre, arrived at Lawyer's. Several of his men, one of whom was named Humphrey, volunteered to remain
* Several writers who have published some notice of this battle, have given it an erroneous date. Brown, in his pamphlet history, says It transpired " on the first day of June or July, In the year 1776," but at a personal interview he said that date was wrong, and that it took place on Saturday before Pinkster, the year after Burgoyne's capture. As Whit Sunday came that year on May 3i81, the date of the battle was May 30th. Campbell, in the Annals of Tryon County, dates it in May, 1779. Stone has entered it in two places in the Life of Bramt, supposing from Brown's account and one he found among the papers of Col. Gansevoort as they differed in dates and material facts, that he was recording two transactions. The last notice he accredits to a letter from Col. Varick to Col. Gansevoort, dated Schenectarta, June 3, 1778, which letter stated that this Invasion of the enemy took place on the proceeding Saturday. This last date corresponds with the one given the author by the three living witnesses named, who staled that it took place on Saturday preceding Pinkster. By a reference to my table of dates at the close of 1771, It is easy to fix this date correctly, and also-others.
with Patrick, and he returned to the fort, before the enemy in force were discovered. The regulars under Capt. P. numbered between 30 and 40, and the militia volunteers under Capt. Brown were 15. After Capt. Miller left Lawyer's, the troops under Patrick marched up the creek to the residence of George Warner, who was one of the Schoharie committee, and father of a namesake before mentioned. Warner's was the southermost house in the settlement, and stood on a knoll at Cobelskill Centre. An orchard at this time covers the site.
The troops had been at Warner's but a short time, when 15 or 20 Indians discovered themselves a little distance above the house, and the whole force was marched in pursuit of them. Brown was opposed to the pursuit, and told Patrick he feared they would be ambuscaded. The latter ridiculed the idea, and was disposed to assign another motive than that of caution, to the militia captain who, stung by the imputation, then yielded to the wishes of Patrick, notwithstanding the misgiving of his own better judgment. Brown's case was like that of Gen. Herkimer the year before. The enemy, who kept up a running fight, had not been pursued a mile, before it was evident their numbers were increasing. A halt was then made by the Americans near the late residence of Lambert Lawyer, with the militia on the right towards the creek, and a sharp engagement followed. Both parties fought under the cover of trees It soon became manifest from the firing, that the number of the enemy was very great. After several of his men had fallen around him, Capt. Patrick received a shot which broke his thigh. Two of his brave soldiers, in an attempt to bear him from the field, were surrounded by a party of the enemy, and shared his unhappy fate. A Lieutenant under Capt. Patrick is said to have been spared, by giving a masonic sign to Brant. When Capt. Patrick fell, Brown ordered a retreat, which was most timely, for had it been delayed but a few minutes the enemy would have surrounded the little band of patriots, and few if any would have survived that day. The families in the settlement, hearing the firing, sought safety in the depth of the forest or by a rapid flight to Schoharie, 10 miles distant. On arriving at the house from which they had been so artfully drawn into an ambush designedly laid, three of Patrick's men and two of Brown's took refuge within it, which providentially favored the escape of their fugitive friends. Being fired on from the house, the Indians halted to dislodge its inmates, by which the rest of the party gained time to make good their retreat. The house was set on fire, and three of its inmates were burned in its ruins. Two continental soldiers, in attempting to make their escape from the burning building, were slain. One was evidently shot, but the other was supposed to have been taken alive and tortured to death. The party who first visited the scene after the battle, found this soldier not far from where the house had stood, with his body cut open and his intestines fastened around a tree several feet distant. In one hand was a roll of continental bills, placed there by the enemy in derision of our country's almost valueless "promises to pay." It was subsequently known, that the enemy fired at least fifty balls into one window of this house, at its inmates.
The names of the men under Capt. Brown in this engagement were, Lieut. Jacob Borst, Nicholas Warner, George Warner, Jr., George Freemire, John Shafer and Lawrence Lawyer, who escaped uninjured, six; John Zeh, Martinus and John Fester, Jacob and John Freemire, Jacob Shafer, killed, six; Peter and Henry Shafer, Leonard King, wounded, three. The whole number killed in the engagement, including Patrick and his men, was about 22; five or six of his men were also wounded and two were made prisoners. More than half the Americans engaged were either killed or wounded. The enemy, as was afterwards ascertained, consisting of Indians (mostly Senecas, Schoharies and Oquagos, instead of Onondagas as stated by some writers) and tories, numbered over 350, and were commanded by Joseph Brant. Service, a noted tory, who lived near the Charlotte river, and the Schoharie chief, Seth's Henry, acted a conspicuous part in the engagement. The loss the enemy sustained was never exactly known, but was supposed to equal, if it did not exceed that of the Americans. A mulatto, who was with the enemy at this time and returned, after the war, stated that 25 of their number, mostly Indians, were buried in a mud hole near David Zeh's. He also stated, that seven of the enemy who were wounded in the battle, died on their way to Canada. George Warner's was the first house burned in the Schoharie settlements in the Revolution. The enemy, after the engagement, plundered and burned all the houses in Cobelskill as far down as the churches, except an old log house, formerly occupied by George Warner, which stood near the residence of his son David. This house was left, as was supposed, with a belief that its owner might return, and occupy it, after losing his framed dwelling, which would afford an opportunity to capture a committee man. The dwellings burned at this time were those of George Warner and his son Nicholas, George Fester, Adam Shafer, William Snyder, John Freemire, Lawrence Lawyer, John Zeh, John Bouck and John Shell; (the latter owned by Lawrence Lawyer), in all, ten, with the barns and other out-houses; making, stated in the record of the Lutheran Church at Schoharie, "twenty buildings burned."
The two militia men who took shelter in the house of Warner, were Martinus Fester and John Freemire. The remains of Fester fell into a tub of soap in the cellar, and were known by his tobacco box, and those of Freemire were identified by his knee buckles and gun-barrel. Jacob Shafer was wounded in one leg early in the action, and was carried by his neighbor, George Warner, Jr., to a place of temporary safety, who agreed to get a horse and take him to the fort. As the battle terminated unfavorably, he was left to his fate-was discovered next morning by the enemy and killed. The remains of John Fester were not discovered, until a piece of wheat was harvested, into which he had fallen. James Belknap, one of Patrick's men, received a ball in his right hip and was borne out of the battle by Lawrence Lawyer, as the latter assured the author. The following additional facts respecting this soldier, who died a few years since at Gorham, Ontario county, were told the author by Ezekiel Howe, a nephew of said Belknap. After having been "carried one side," to use the words of Lawyer, Belknap discovered a hollow log into which he crept. The next day he backed out of his resting place cold and stiff, and while seated upon a fence, reflecting upon the events of the last 24 hours, he discovered two Indians laden with plunder approaching him, having two dogs. Unobserved by them, he let himself fall into a bunch of briers. The Indians halted near him, and their dogs placed their paws on the fence and growled. He supposed himself discovered, but soon one of them took out a bottle, from which both drank, and he had the satisfaction of seeing them resume their march, without noticing the irritation of their canine friends. Casting his eye along the beautiful valley, and surveying the ruins of the preceding day, he discovered the old house of Warner, on the west side of the creek, still standing, to -which he made his way. He found it unoccupied, but victuals were on the table, and after eating, he laid down, faint and sad, upon a bed which the house also afforded. In the afternoon, two men came and conveyed him to the Schoharie fort, where his wound was properly dressed and he recovered.
Henry Shafer, mentioned as being wounded in this engagement, received a ball in his thigh which brought him to the ground. The bone was not fractured, but the limb was benumbed. He regained his feet but fell the instant his weight came upon the wounded limb. Disencumbering himself of his gun and powder horn, after several unsuccessful attempts to run, action returned to the limb and he fled. He directed his steps toward Schoharie, and on the way fell in with Peter Snyder, his brother-in-law. They traveled nearly to Punchkill together, when Shafer, too weak to proceed, concealed himself and requested his comrade to inform his friends at the fort where he might be found, desiring them to come after him. His fellow traveler went to the fort, but instead of doing the errand as desired by his wounded relative, he reported him dead. Shafer tarried beneath a shelving rock until Monday morning, when, by great exertion, he arrived at the house of a friend in Kneiskern's dorf. As he was much exhausted, he was, very prudently, fed gruel until he revived, when he was taken to the fort and cured of his wound.-From Peter, son of Henry Shafer.*
The night after the Cobelskill battle it rained, and a dreary one it must have been to the surviving citizens of the Cobelskill valley, many of whom were in the forest to which they had fled from their burning dwellings, exposed to the mercy of
* Mr. Shafer lived to become a very useful citizen. He was for many years a justice of the peace-frequently represented Cobelsklll In the board of supervisors-for several years was a member of the State Legislature-and was for a great length of time a Judge of Common Pleas; which several stations, considering his early opportunities, he discharged with credit to himself and fidelity to the public He Was remarkably punctual In the performance of his official duties He died on the 15th of April, 1839 In the 82d year of his age.
wild beasts-foes less to be dreaded than those left behind. The wife of Lawrence Lawyer, with several other persons, was in the woods three days, and finally came out near the mouth of the Cobelskill. Scouts were sent out to reconnoitre and look after the wounded, and absent members of families, but it was several days before the dead were buried. Some day in the week following the engagement, Col. Vrooman with part of the Schoharie troops, and Col. Yates with a detachment of Schenectada militia, went to perform the last sad duties to those martyrs to the cause of liberty. As the weather had been wet and cool, the bodies were found to have suffered but little change. A pit was dug near where George Warner's house had stood, into which several boards were laid: the charred remains of the three soldiers taken from the cellar, and the mutilated remains of those near, were then buried within it. Pits were also dug so as to require as little moving of the bodies as possible, in which Captain Patrick and the other soldiers were deposited. None can realize at a period of 100 years after it transpired, the solemnities of that burial. Several of the deceased left wives and children to mourn their untimely fate; while all left friends who had centered on them hopes of future usefulness and aggrandizement. This blow was a most severe one for the little settlement of Cobelskill.
On the knoll where stood the house of George Warner, which was burnt in the Revolution, as before stated, the patriotic citizens of Cobelskill celebrated the anniversary of our national independence, on the 4th day of July, 1837. An appropriate oration was delivered on the occasion by Demosthenes Lawyer, Esq.
How proper, after so long a time, to assemble on that day, on ground consecrated by patriot's blood, and water it with the tear of gratitude. The following notice of this event is thus given by Dr. Thacher in his Military Journal, dating the next item to it, June 1, 1778:
"In the town of Schoharie (towns had not then been organized), about 30 miles from this city (Albany), a company of our troops, under the command of Capt. Patrick, has been for some time stationed for the purpose of guarding the inhabitants against the incursions and cruel ravages of the Indians and tories. We have just received the melancholly intelligence, that about 200 Indians and their tory allies, fell on our party by surprise, killed the Captain and all but 15 men, and most of the inhabitants shared the same miserable fate. The bodies were cut and mangled in a savage manner, and some of them were scalped." He might have said that all the killed were scalped, except the burned. The women and children all escaped.
Destruction of Wyoming. Destruction of Wyoming.-The Wyoming valley has ever been described as one of rare beauty. It was settled a short time before the war by Connecticut people, who had a world of trouble with the State authorities of Pennsylvania; which were hardly at an end when the settlements were invaded by the enemy June 30, 1778. Their forces consisted of about 400 British Provincials made up of Johnson's Greens, Butler's Rangers and other Tories, together with 600 or 700 Indians.* Col. John Butler commanded the whites, and Kayingwaurto, a Seneca chief, the Indians. Early writers supposed Brant was their leader: this his family denied, and in the absence of any positive testimony that he was there, here is good negative proof that he was not there. Among the Machin papers inserted elsewhere, is the copy of an original paper found on the person of an Indian killed in Sullivan's expedition in 1779, which showed the surrender of one of the little forts (name not given) in the Wyoming valley, commanded by Lieut. Elisha Scovell. It was dated at Westmoreland, July 5, 1778, signed by John Butler, and Kayingwaurto, a Seneca chief, and filed, Convention of Wyoming. Had Brant been there, the inference is that his name would have occupied the place of the Seneca chief. Some 20 years ago I sent tills paper by mail, directed to the Historical Society of Penn.-Philadelphia, never heard from it afterward-hope it was not lost. Mr. Miner found a credible witness in Eleazer Carey, Esq., who was assured in 1803, by Little Beard, an Indian leader there, that Brant was not at Wyoming. Some one claiming that Brant was at Wyoming, pertinently asks-" If not there where was he?" Early in July he made his appearance in the Mohawk River settlements, but just where the first blows were struck is uncertain. He made his rallying point at the Little Lakes-now Warren, and July 18, he sent a party from thence and destroyed a small settlement south of Herkimer, known then as Andreastown. The destructives at Wyoming are believed to have been surfeited with blood there, and to have returned from thence to Canada. If any further proof of Brant's absence from Wyoming were needed, it is found in a letter from Col. Guy Johnson to Lord George Germain, dated at New York, Sept. 10, 1778, in which he says of his forces assembled in May: "One division under one of my deputies, Mr. Butler, proceeded, with great success, down the Susquehanna, destroying the posts and settlements at Wyoming, etc.; whilst another division under Mr. Brant, the Indian chief, cut off 294 men near Schoharie, and destroyed the adjacent settlements, etc." This is wonderfully exaggerated.- Brod. -Papers, 8, 752.
Miner's History of Wyoming. This is an excellent book of local events, and
as its author was an old citizen of that valley, his statements are very reliable.
Evidently Johnson referred to the invasion and great success of the enemy under Brant in July, in their incursions into the Schoharie and upper Mohawk valley settlements.
There were several small forts in the Wyoming valley. Professor Silliman, who visited it in 1829,* says: "The site of Fort Wyoming is now covered by the court house, Fort Durgee (query, Durkee), was half a mile below the borough; there was another fort on the eastern bank, opposite the hotel below the village. Ogden's blockhouse was near the mouth of Mill creek, two or three miles north of Wilkesbarre, and on the western side of the river is the site of Forty Fort; and a mile or two above was Fort Wintermoot." A mile above Fort Wintermoot, says Miner, was Fort Jenkins. The massacre of the settlements began June 30, in Exeter, whither seven men and a boy had gone to work. They were surprised, four were killed three captured, and the boy, John Harding, escaped by concealing himself in the river under some willows. On July 2d, Capt. Caldwell was sent by Col. Butler to reduce Fort Jenkins. The garrison consisted of 17-mostly old men-four were slain, three captured and the remainder capitulated. This most distant stockade and that at Wintermoot's, the gates of which were thrown open to the enemy, proved quite serviceable to them.
Col. Zebulon Butler-some writers have erroneously called him a relative of the infamous Col. John Butler-then in the valley, was its senior officer and took command of its half a dozen small companies of militia. He was then a continental officer; Col. Dennison and Lieut.-Col. Dorrance were his brave compatriots.
On Friday, July 3, Col. Z. Butler allowed himself to be drawn too far from any of his defenses, to contend in the field with an unknown force. For hours his troops remained firm; for like the men at Oriskany, they were fighting for their homes and their loved ones in them. Braver men were never marshaled, but what could 400 undisciplined militia do, when met by nearly three times their number of men, who had become familiar with such scenes. They were outflanked, their ranks broken, and while retreating, many brutal and diabolical
* Day's His. Collections of Pennsylvania.
deeds were enacted by the foe almost beggaring description; not a few of which scenes the "pale faced" foeman rivaled their savage allies in performing. This brave American Butler, who exposed himself to every danger on the battlefield, repaired at nightfall to the Wilkesbarre Fort; Col. Dennison stopping at Forty Fort, on the other side of the river, this being the largest and strongest one in the settlement, which he at once set about defending. Col. Butler belonged in the continental army and a few soldiers of that character with him, knowing the next day that the enemy would give them no quarter, left the valley that night to be cared for by Col. Dennison, who, on Sunday the 5th, surrendered his little garrison to Col. John Butler, as prisoners of war. The Colonel promised every protection, and as to life it is said to have been carried out, but the Indians plundered the men and women of such articles as they coveted; and seeing one take Col. Dennison's hat, and another his hunting frock, Col. Butler confessed he could not prevent it. In a pocket of Col. D's frock was a purse containing a few dollars in specie, which the Colonel did not like to lose, and pretending a difficulty in getting off the garment, he stepped to a young woman of his own family to assist him, who took the hint, concealed the purse under her apron, and aided in removing the frock which he surrendered. -From Miners Narrative.
In the battle, Col. John Butler barely escaped death. A bullet cut the knot by which his cravat was tied about his neck, so that it fell off. This fact is mentioned by the historian Miner, as having been stated to him by a liberated prisoner named Finch. After the battle, the enemy scattered all over the settlements enacting hundreds of personal adventures, the full recital of which would curdle one's life-blood. They made scores of prisoners, whom they tortured to death. I can only give the reader a few as samples of the many. Driven to the river, some of the soldiers, as also some citizens plunged in and swam to the opposite shore and escaped. A few landed on Monochnock island, which they had reached without means of defense. One of them, a man named Pensil, saw his own brother approaching him, and throwing himself on his knees at his feet he begged his protection-promising to serve him for life. " This is mighty fine!' " exclaimed the Tory friend. "But you are a d-d rebel," and he instantly shot and killed him. This fact is mentioned by Chapman, Miner and Stone, in their histories of Wyoming.
Lieut. Elijah Shoemaker, a well-to-do and generous hearted man who was ever ready to dispense charity and do good, fled to the river, when a tory named Windecker, who had often been fed at his table, came to the waters brink and said: "Shoemaker, come out, you know I will protect you!" How could he doubt it ? The Tory reached out his hand as if to help him from the water, but the instant he seized it, he sunk a, tomahawk into the head of his benefactor, who fell back into the water and floated away. Many prisoners were lead to the shore by promise of quarters, and then cruely butchered.- Miner.
There can be little doubt but the cupidity of the Indians caused much of this cruel butchery, which their Tory allies encouraged, if they did not share in. The Indians got a reward for scalps, but captives going as prisoners of war they could hardly have expected to claim pay for-hence the advantage to them of taking scalps instead of prisoners.
On the fatal night dreadful tortures were indulged in; one of which was as follows: Capt. Bidlack was thrown alive into a fire, and there held with pitchforks until he expired. Sixteen prisoners, taken under the solemn promise of quarter, were held in a circle near the river; when Queen Esther-a fury in the form of woman, a half-breed, who dwelt among the Senecas- assumed the office of executioner, with a war club or heavy hatchet, as she wielded it with both hands. Muttering a kind of war song, she passed around the circle dealing death to the victims held for that purpose. After several had thus ignobly fallen, seeing there was no hope in their case, Lebbeus Hammond and Joseph Elliott suddenly dashing off the Indians who held them, fled for the thicket. Rifles cracked, Indians yelled and tomahawks cut the air, but the fugitives escaped; their pursuers returning soon after to their death scenes.-Miner. Nine prisoners were dispatched in a similar manner in another circle north of the first.-Stone.
Col. John Butlers Austerity.-When the enemy took possession of Forty Fort, the loyal troops headed by Butler entered at the north gate, and the Indians, led by Queen Esther-Catharine Montour-entered at the south. Kay-ing-waur-to, who followed her, gazed wildly on every side, as if suspicious of treachery because he had so foully practiced it. I have said that Butler kept his plighted faith in the surrender as regarded life, -with one exception. As he stood near the entrance he recognized Sergeant Boyd, a deserter from Canada. " Boyd," said he, addressing him sternly, " go to that tree." "I hope," said Boyd imploringly," your honor will consider me a prisoner of war." " Go to that tree, sir!" He did go, and a signal to the Indians drew a volley of balls upon him and he fell dead.-Miner.
Col. Stone estimated the loss in the Wyoming valley, in killed, wounded and missing, at about 300. Mr. Miner, although he does not name the entire loss, gives the names of 162 of the soldiery killed, supposing there were 20 or 30 whose names were not remembered. Their number approximated 200, and of them are named 26 commissioned officers. One of the latter, Lieut. Asa Stevens, was a brother of the writer's father's mother. I think it safe to say, that one-tenth of the population was annihilated; two-thirds of that number being murdered in cold blood. A great number of women and children fled into the wilderness, many of whom after enduring every manner of privation and hardship, reached their former homes indifferent parts of the State of Connecticut. Some of them again returned to Wyoming, while others whose husbands and sons had been slain never went back there. Says Miner: " The loss of the enemy was never known. Peck estimates the loss of Butlers' forces at from 50 to 80 killed. Early the next morning (the 4th), they got all the shovels and pickaxes they could, and went to a swamp and buried their dead-probably from 40 to 80. Peck says, on Canadian authority, that 60 were buried in the swamp. Doubtless many were wounded who afterwards died, and it may be safe to estimate their loss at nearly 100.
Henderson's or Andreas Town and its Destruction*-The facts here given were obtained at a personal interview in 1852, with the venerable Adam Bell, a son of Frederick Bell, Jun., named in the narrative, who was born at Andreas Town, July 22, 1773. Although then 80 years old, we found him busy- a pretty good hand-in the hay field with his son Peter, who was one of the jury in the celebrated trial of "Uncle Nat" Foster, for shooting an Indian on Brown's Tract, in 1833.
Some ten or fifteen years before the Revolution, a small settlement was begun on Henderson's patent, situated in the northern part of the present town of Warren, some eight miles southerly from Mohawk village. The names of those pioneer settlers remembered were Frederick Bell and his son Federick Bell, Jr., Frederick Hawyer, -- Bowers, John Osterhout, Adam Stauring, Jacob Wollaber, Frederick Leppard and Paul Crim. There were probably a few other settlers not distant from them, whose names were not remembered. The last two settlers named took up 1000 acres of the patentee, and upon this land these hardy yeomen broke ground, each occupying 100 acres. They went there from the German Flats, and as believed, were all Germans. They located near together, most of them on a road which they opened north and south through the settlement. At the beginning of the Revolution, they had each cleared nearly 50 acres of their lands, and had erected good framed dwellings, and were living comfortably. They had a German school which was taught in Crim's dwelling ; where their spiritual wants were occasionally supplied, by Rev. Abram Rosekrans, pastor at the old Herkimer stone church, distant some seven miles from Andreastown.
When the struggle for liberty began, this little colony was found arrayed as most of the German settlements were, against oppression. In 1777, when the Indians and tories began their midnight orgies for some victim's pyre; this handful of patriots removed to Fort Herkimer. When people were obliged
* This settlement was first called Henderson's Town after the patentee of the lands; out from some cause, after a while, It came to be called Andreas Town. It Is now known as Jordanville, In Herkimer county, N. Y. The centennial of the destruction of this place was celebrated at Jordanville, July 18,1878, when stirring addresses were given by Hon. Samuel Earl, Hon. G. M. Cleland and Hon. A. M. Mills.
thus to leave their homes, they not unfrequently stole back to look after them, and secure if possible a part, at least, of their crops. This, notwithstanding the great hazard, some were enabled to do, from time to time, and escape the murderer's rifle and tomahawk. When convenient, a party of soldiers was sent from the nearest garrison to guard such laborers; but the enemy kept an eye of espionage on abandoned settlements where growing crops were left which must be harvested to sustain life, and scores of victims were there surprised and many an acre of waving grain, was stained by the life-blood of its exposed cultivator.
In July, 1778, Stauring, Leppard, Hawyer and the two Bells, father and son, went to Andreastown to secure some hay, prepared to stay several days. At this time, Fred. Bell, Sen., was an old man and a widower, but the wife of the younger Bell, with the wives of Stauring and Hawyer joined the party to cook for them, and render such aid as they could. With the workers were two boys, one a son of Stauring, then in his teens, and Richard, a son of Fred. Bell, Jun., some eight years of age. Just after breakfast on the morning of the 18th, when the men were engaged in their pursuit, a party of Indians with several Tories, one of whom, some say Capt. Caldwell, led them, appeared suddenly in the settlement. The Bells, father and son, chanced to be near their dwelling, and as the Indians approached it, the latter, who had often said he would not be taken alive, ran into the house and was shot through a window while in the act of taking down his gun from a pair of brackets.* 'His father, who was arrested near the door, was ordered to catch a grey horse, owned by the Bells, which was in a field near and told that his life should be spared if he got it; but as he was climbing a fence into the field, he was shot down and there scalped-the enemy, no doubt, fearing to trust him any distance from them.
The firing at Bell's seasonably alarmed the three men at work some distance off, and they fled and escaped to Fort Herkimer. The enemy arrived at Stauring's dwelling too soon after the
*Almost every dwelling In the land at this period, was finished over head with the beams or sills supporting the upper floors, exposed In the room below; being planed smooth as were the floors in sight, and thus left; sometimes painted and sometimes not. Cleats were often nailed across those sills in the kitchen, and articles laid upon them, or wooden hooks were nailed to them for the same purpose. Upon a pair of such hooks in one corner of the room, Bell's gun was suspended.
firing for any of the inmates to escape, but young Stauring in attempting to do so, was shot down at a little distance from the house and killed, while the Bell boy was made a prisoner. The women were preparing to bake bread when the surprise came, and young Stauring had been providing oven-wood. No indignity was offered the women, if we except their being divested of several articles of clothing, ere they fled from this terrible scene. This war party as was subsequently learned, was sent thither by Brant, who was then in the vicinity of the Little lakes only a few miles distant, with a large force; being instructed by him before it left his camp, not to kill or capture any women at that place; and having secured what plunder they could, such as eatables, clothing, guns and three reeking scalps, the destructives reduced all the dwellings in the settlement to ashes, and with their little prisoner-who was compelled to witness the conflagaration of his birth place, in which was the body of his father, they soon after retired.
A party of soldiers from Fort Herkimer, accompanied by several citizens of that locality, went to Andreastown the day after its misfortunes and buried the remains of the elder Bell and young Stauring. The bones of Frederick Bell, Jun.) were taken from the ashes and buried some time after.
At the invasion of the enemy under Brant and several other Indian and Tory leaders in July, August and September, 1778, in and around the Mohawk valley ; many of the settlements were pillaged and destroyed, more especially those upon the south side of the river. In a letter written in September, at one of the frontier posts, by Col. Klock to Gov. Clinton, and sent by "Col. Fisher and Zep. Batchellor, Esq.," (it being without date), he thus observes:
"I beg leave to represent to your Excellency the most deplorable situation of this country. The enemy have, from time to time, desolated and destroyed the settlements of Springfield, Andreas Town, and the German Flats; by which at least one hundred and fifty families are reduced to misery and distress. People who were in flourishing circumstances are thus, by one wanton act, brought to poverty.
"Notwithstanding I have repeatedly wrote our situation down and asked relief, we have obtained none except Alden's regiment, which is stationed at Cherry Valley, where they remain in garrison. Woeful experience teaches us that the troops in Cherry Valley are by no means a defense for any other part of the country. [After speaking of the ungovernable spirit that influenced the conduct of some of the settlers, the desertion of a part of the militia to the enemy, and the necessity of immediate succor, he adds] : From the information we are able to collect from prisoners and otherwise, we learn that the enemy, when at the German Flats, were 500 or upwards strong, commanded by Capt. Caldwell-that they intended soon to make another incursion, and that a reinforcement of 500 or 600 was on its march to join the enemy."
During the invasion above noticed, nearly 1000 horses, cattle, sheep and swine were killed or driven away. The settlers at the German Flats, by receiving timely notice of danger, with few exceptions, fled into the neighboring forts and escaped the tomahawk. The loss of so many dwellings, with most of their furniture, and barns well filled with the recompense of the husbandman's toils, must have been a most serious one to this district.
In connection with the extract of Col. Klock's letter to Gov. Clinton, showing the destruction of the Herkimer county settlements, written, as believed, about the 1st of September, 1778, justice requires us to mention the fact that, but for the timely arrival of John Helmer, one of a scout who met the enemy in Otsego county, and ran much of the way to the German Flats, arriving the evening before the invasion,* scores of citizens must have been slaughtered. His herald gave them an opportunity to escape to Forts Dayton, and Herkimer, with some of their effects-they had little time to hide any, and the rest with not a few treasured keepsakes were destroyed the next day in the general conflagration, which burned all the dwellings and well filled barns of a large portion of the Herkimer county settlements. The Remembrancer says, the enemy in these incursions burned 63 dwellings, 57 barns, three grist and two saw-mills; and drove off 235 horses, 322 cattle, and 263 sheep; besides hogs and poultry not mentioned. The sight of the conflagration from the forts in the morning, is said to have been mournfully picturesque and grand beyond description.
* Stone's Brant.
Capt. Henry Eckler, his -Escape from Brant, at his own home and the Destruction of his Property.-In 1845 I published an account of Capt. Eckler's escape from Brant, not far from Fort Herkimer, as believed in 1781, which is here given, with the events of that year: In 1858 I was informed by John Eckler, a relative of the Captain, that the latter escaped from Brant at his own home at the Kyle, now a few miles from Van Hornsville. This must have been in 1778, at the time when the Springfield and Andreastown settlements were destroyed. As Brant entered his door, Eckler sprang out of one on the opposite side and fled into the forest. The chieftain pursued but a short distance, and as Capt. E. refused to stop at his bidding, he fired upon him. At the moment Brant fired, one of Eckler's kneebuckles caught in a bush and threw him down, the bullet passing over him. He then easily made his escape, as Brant seldom ever ran any distance in person to secure either a prisoner or a scalp. In the absence of testimony, it is believed the female part of Capt. Eckler's family were allowed to escape while his buildings were being plundered and destroyed. Capt. E. had been there several years and had been a very successful pioneer. It is said he had a few not distant neighbors, but of them or their fate I am not informed. Samuel Earl, Esq., of Herkimer, assures me that he has a paper written in German and signed by Capt. Eckler, which records his property destroyed by the enemy as follows:
"Three hundred skipples of oats, worth £30; 80 skipple wheat, £16; 100 skipple peas, £20; 12 loads hay, £15; 200 skipple potatoes £20; 80 pounds flax, £8; my house and barn; two barracks, £25; three milk cows, £15; household furniture and clothing, £10; and hard money, £12." If this property was destroyed before crops were secured, some of the loss must have been estimated. Here is a picture of what many individual losses on the frontier were, had they been specified.
The following events are believed to have been attendant upon the invasions of 1778:
" They fade away and 'scape what others feel,
" The pangs that pass not by-the -wounds that never heal."-J. Moir.
An unexpected visit of the enemy surprised the family of Peter Piper, residing a few miles from Fort Herkimer. Piper, his wife and several children, who chanced to be outside their dwelling, were pounced upon by a band of Indians and Tories and all killed-at least so thought their tormentors, who also sacked and burned their dwelling. After hours of unconsciousness, Mrs. Piper, who had been scalped and dreadfully mangled, revived-an object of horror even to herself. After wandering for some time wildly about the premises, finding her friends all dead, her house reduced to ashes, she resolved, in her feeble tenure upon life, to gain the dwelling of a distant neighbor.
Weighed down with grief and faint from loss of blood, she had gone but a little distance when she met Peter Remshaler, a Mohawk Indian, with whom she was acquainted. As he ran up to her, tomahawk in hand, she dropped upon her knees and begged for her life, which he agreed to spare. She had no scalplock now to tempt his cupidity, even if his sympathy had not been excited, he advised her to go directly to Fort Herkimer, accompanied her, and even carried her in his arms a part of the way; but, fearing surprise, left her to proceed alone some distance, telling her, as he departed, to "Be brave, go forward, and, if possible, reach the fort." She gained the goal and in a state of exhaustion, sank into the arms of friends. Contrary to all expectation, she survived her many wounds, gave birth to an infant a few weeks after receiving her injuries, and lived some years after the war. Who, at this day, can justly realize the perils, privations and sufferings of the pioneer settlers; when the wolf of hunger stood at one door of his rude hut, and an armed savage at the other.-Saura Munn* who well knew Mrs. Piper.
* The reader asks, who was Saura Munn ? She was rather a stout built colored woman, though not tall, living near Ilion, with whom I had an interview July 16, 1851, through the kindness of Mr. John Golden, an Innkeeper at Mohawk, who desired my opinion upon her age. At that time tradition called her 116 years old. I found her a very tidy and intelligent old woman, in remarkably good health and well cared for by the town of German Flats-to its credit be it said-which was boarding her with the widow of Selden Morgan, a very excellent white woman. To the question. "Saura, how old are you?" she replied, "Ah, that is more as I can tell," " Speaking of her age,'' said Mrs. Morgan, " Saura was an old woman 60 years ago, as I well remember." I learned from her that she was born in Freysbush, and that quite early in life she was a slave in the family of Col. Hendrick Frey, whose family, at that period, was one of the most polished in western New York-the Colonel being on intimate terms with Sir William Johnson and other officers of the government. The very appearance of Saura at our interview, gave evidence of good breeding, she could remember that she was married at about 20, and had several children before the Revolution began. 60 years before I saw her, she must have been in the neighborhood of 50, to have been
Fate of a Fort Herkimer Scout.-The enemy, in this invasion as believed, fell in with a scout from Fort Herkimer, consisting of three soldiers who were going to a small settlement (in the now town of Columbia) called Elizabethtown; after Elizabeth Shoemaker, who had been given lands there by her mother. Henry Diefendorf now (1849) lives on this Shoemaker place. The names of the scout were Conrad Olendorf, Peter Bellinger and Mattice Wormwood; the latter being on horseback. They were fired upon by the enemy in ambush, Bellinger and Wormwood both were killed, and Olendorf captured and taken to Canada. The two slain were scalped, stripped naked and laid across the road side by side, in which position they were after-wards found by friends and buried.
Surprise and fate of a Scout from Fort Dayton.-A scout, consisting of some half a dozen men, sent from Fort Dayton on & reconnoisance south of Ilion, as believed, in 1778, was fired upon by a numerous foe and all killed but two, a man named Bauder, from Stone Arabia, and one Weaver, from the German Flats. The two named began an instant retrogade flight, pursued by a dozen yelling Indians. After running several miles, not having seen their pursuers for sometime, the fugitives arrived at Rudolph Shoemaker's (where informant then resided), fatigued and hungry, and asked for food. Mrs. S. told her unwelcome guests that the enemy were all about, and they must instantly flee to Fort Herkimer. They asked her to conceal them, but placing some bread and meat in their hands she bade them fly for their lives to a swamp in the direction of the fort. Their retiring forms had hardly gained the forest, when several Indians arrived at Shoemaker's, demanding of Mrs. S. the
denominated old: supposing her to have been 50, 60 years before, she would have been 110 at our Interview. But estimating her at 30 in 1775, that would have made her 46, 50 years before, or 105 at our interview. She was no doubt in the neighborhood of 110 when I saw her. She was kindly spoken of and much respected by her white neighbors; whom she often Interested by recounting customs in her early life, and scenes of the Revolution, of which period she had a vivid recollection. Before that period she had been transferred to the family of Rudolph Shoemaker, a well to do farmer, who was a go-between in politics, residing in the war at the upper end of Mohawk village Here she had an opportunity of witnessing many " neutral ground," scenes, and among them the capture of Walter Butler and Han Jost Schuyler. Her great age (she was the oldest person in the Mohawk valley) made her an object of much interest. She began seriously to express her opinion that " God had forgotten to take poor Saur." As this genus of servile laborers has nearly disappeared, I thought it best to make mention of this one of the faithful and better class. "
whereabouts of the fugitives they had traced to her door. She replied that they had been there but had gone on to the fort. They were loth to credit her story, when she told them they could search it and be satisfied; and they soon after withdrew. Leaving the swamp at a favorable moment, the two friends gained the fort in safety.
An Indian named Nickus, either of this or some other hostile war party, told the slaves in the Herkimer settlements, that they were so poor they had nothing to be killed for-their scalps would not bring a bounty-and therefore they were not in any danger of being harmed, unless they took up arms for their master?.-Facts from Saura Munn.
A fortunate Escape from Death or Captivity.-Here is an incident also believed to have transpired in the Summer of 1718. Some 40 or 50 persons were harvesting wheat on " Campbell's Flats" (as formerly known), on the south side of the Mohawk, distant a mile or more from Fort Dayton. The party consisted of citizens, soldiers, and quite a number of women and children; the latter being engaged in raking and binding. When all were busily occupied, sixteen Indians, including painted tories, were discovered on the opposite side of the river, between the laborers and the fort; after whom the armed Americans made pursuit, easily fording the river at that point. The enemy were fired upon and returned the fire, wounding Peter Foltz in his thigh. All the laborers also followed the soldiers across the river, thinking they would be safer, and the whole party reached Fort Dayton in safety; the wounded man being borne hither by his friends.
It was afterwards supposed that the circumstance of the women and children being present, saved the unarmed men from falling into the hands of the enemy; as but for them they would have remained on the south side of the river. It became known subsequently that 80 of the foemen were concealed against the hill above the laborers, and 70 below; the latter being at a place known as the dug-way, to the eastward of Mohawk village. Had the soldiery pursued the Indians and the laborers remained in the field, they would doubtless have fallen an easy prey. It was evidently the design of the retreating party to expose their pursuers to the fire of the enemy on the west, and bring the laborers between a cross fire. Two-soldiers going from the harvest field before the enemy appeared on the north side of the river, passed their concealed foes at the dug-way unmolested. Facts obtained June 23, 1845, from Adam Rasback, then 67 years old.
Fort Dayton.-Although I have elsewhere spoken of the erection and location of this fort, let me here say a few words about it. It was the most important military post in the Herkimer county settlements, and was located to protect the citizens upon and around the German Flats ; a term given to the broad intervale lands between the present village of Herkimer and the river. In the organization of the towns-as I have elsewhere shown-the error was made in the Legislature, of transposing the names of German Flats and Herkimer. After the destruction of Fort Stanwix early in the summer of 1781 (burnt not by the enemy or an incendiary, but by accident), Fort Dayton was more strongly garrisoned than before, as it became the extreme military out-post of Western New York.
Death of John Bellinger and Escape of his Comrades.-On some occasion during the war and believed to have been in 1778, John and Christopher Bellinger, brother's, and Philip Harter, were on the flats between Fort Dayton and the river getting hay. John Bellinger was some 25 years of age; his companions were several years younger. As John was engaged in pitching hay into a window with a fork, and his friends in raking at a little distance from him, a tory, named Harmanus House, and two Mohawk Indians appeared in a corn field near the laborers. The latter having taken the precaution to carry their guns to the field, had laid them upon the trunk of a windfallen tree near where they were at work. Christopher first discovered the foes approaching, and shouted the prophetic words of the times-" The Indians ! "
John Bellinger was an uncommonly strong and courageous man, and withal swift on foot. With uplifted fork he ran directly for the guns, quite as near to which was his Tory foe; his brother and Harter at the same time fleeing for the fort, pursued by the Indians. As John neared his own gun, House drew up to fire on him, but before doing so he called back his comrades by a signal whistle. He then fired, and one of freedom's boldest champions was weltering in his gore. Christopher and Philip reached the fort in safety. There were other Indians concealed near the field, as was afterwards understood, who dreaded the vengeance of John Bellinger more than that of a score of ordinary men. The enemy obtained; with his scalp and the plunder of his person, the three guns which the young men had taken to the field. The loss of this brave partisan was severely felt in the German Flats, for his was one of the master-spirits of that section, just suited to the times. But, like many noble young Americans, he was surprised and slain, either from envy or the British value to a Tory neighbor of his scalp-lock. House called back his accomplices to assist him, fearing if he fired and missed his victim, and their guns were unloaded, his fate would be sealed. He was well acquainted with Bellinger before the war. The remains of the fallen hero were taken to the fort and buried with becoming respect. Facts from Adam Rasback, corroborated by Frederick P. Bellinger, in 1845.
The Temerity of an Indian, at Fort Dayton.-I have found, in making historical gleanings, that it was extremely difficult to obtain the day, month or year when some events transpired, however well memory may have kept them in life. Here is one of many such which I have.
On some occasion during the Revolution, and probably in 1778, Peter F. Bellinger, who lived in the vicinity of Fort Dayton, was on duty at that post when an Indian made his appearance upon the declivity of the hill northwest of it. Bellinger was a sentinel upon that side of the fort, and on discovering the Indian, who was armed with a rifle and moving on a trot, he raised his piece to salute him, but ere he had a good aim, as the shot was a long one, the warrior fell behind a stump. With his piece still up, the sentinel stood watching to get another glimpse of the blanketed form, his own head and shoulders being exposed above the pickets, when he discovered the flash of the warrior's rifle beside the stump, and fell back, if possible to avoid the ball, which, however, entered his left shoulder and passed through under the collar-bone. Though so dreadfully wounded, Bellinger grated his teeth and wanted to follow his adversary, who fled and escaped with impunity. Why this Indian evinced such unusual temerity is unknown.
Possibly his object was to elicit pursuit and draw his follower? into an ambuscade. It was a long time before Bellinger's wound healed; nearly 30 pieces of the bone working out before that event, and three pieces of a metal button which the bullet struck and carried into the wound.-From Col. Fr. P. .Bellinger, a son of F. P. B., corroborated by Paul Custer.
Capture of Henry Stauring.-Old Adam Stauring, as familiarly known, was at work on his farm in New Germantown (now town of Frankfort, N. Y.), as believed, in 1778, when he was captured by a party of Indians and taken into the forest, where they encamped, made a fire and had a war dance, followed by the sharpening of their knives. They asked him, significantly, if he knew what they had sharpened their knives for, saying they would call him up at five in the morning. He was tied between two Indians when they laid down to rest, and when they were all asleep, he fortunately reached one of their knives, cut his cords, worked his way out from his foes and escaped. At a little distance he concealed himself under a fallen tree, and judged they had discovered his loss at the end of half an hour, as in about that time some of them in pursuit came and stood upon the log over him. They gave over the pursuit and returned to their camp-fire, when he left his concealment and reached "Fort Germantown, a little stockade, in safety. His brother Adam, a very tall and stout man, was afterwards captured by the Indians, who stood in no little fear of him. Said informant, "Nature had given him the faculty of 'looking sour,' and when he fixed his eye on an Indian he made him wince." Indeed, his neighbors sometimes quailed under his assumed ferocious look.-Adam Bell, of Andreastown, in 1851.
Indians Around the Dwelling of Peter Bellinger.-In the Revolution it was the usual custom of exposed settlers on the frontiers of New York, except in the winter season, to go to the nearest military post and tarry over night for security. On some occasion during the war, at a season of the year when a foe was unlocked for, part of the family of Peter Bellinger- which was accustomed to seeking nightly refuge at Fort Dayton-remained at their house west of the fort. Col. Frederick P. Bellinger, now (1850) resides on the site of the house in question. The members of the family which thus braved danger, were Mr. Bellinger and two sisters. On the night referred to, about 9 o'clock, a noise was heard at the back door, as if some one was attempting to get in sans ceremonie. The two ladies were in the kitchen at the moment, and their brother in an upper room. One of them enquired, "who is there?" and receiving no answer, conjectured the visitants were Indians. As silently as possible one of the sisters communicated her suspicions to her brother, who told her to go back and with her sister to make as much noise as she could, calling the names of certain persons as though they were in upper rooms.
That woman, licensed to make a noise in the world can do it, was satisfactorily proven at this time. The sisters at the top of their voice-and women had lungs at that period-began to shout and call for Peter, Stuffel, Nicholas, Yerry, Christian, Yacob, Adam, Hans, Conrad, Fritz, and possibly a dozen other High Dutchman to come down to their assistance. The first one called answered the summons, and as he had to represent the whole catalogue of braves, he did come down, and the manner of his coming was a caution to eavesdroppers; for a span of hoppled horses would have found themselves rivaled by the thumping in the stairway. When the broken chairs, and various adornments of the garret had ended their dance terriffc at the foot of the stairs, followed by Peter, who, in a voice of thunder, such as never rang through the walls of his old dwelling before, ordered every man to his post, a dead silence followed. The ruse succeeded to a charm; no further attempt was made to force an entrance, and although the vigilance of the inmates lasted the live-long night, nothing more was heard from without, save the whistling of the night air.
There had been a light fall of snow just at night, and the morning light discovered the moccasined tracks of four or five Indians about the house, while under the window a scalping knife was picked up, which had no doubt fallen from the trembling hand of its owner, when Peter was coming down stairs. Thus were the minions of Britain often prowling about in the frontier settlements-
by the moon, when, at the midnight hour,
Her pale rays tremble through the dusky gloom!"
From Rev. -E. O. -Dunning, who had the facts from Mrs. Myers, a daughter of Peter Bellinger. Col. C. F. Bellinger corroborated this story, and placed the event in the fall of 1777 or 1778. The enemy burnt tins dwelling subsequently.
Prisoners Made in Minden.-At the invasion of Brant in 1778, George Lighthall, John, a son of Godfrey Brookman, and John Cramer were captured, though it is believed they were not together-by a small party of Indians. On reaching Andreastown, for some unknown cause, Cramer was killed and scalped, and further on after Lighthall had made several attempts to escape, and the party were journeying with Brant, to whom he was well known, that chief happened along and saw the prisoner with a very downcast look; and in a spirit of raillery he asked him what the matter was ? "I suppose," said Lighthall, "you know that my captors are about to kill me for attempting to escape." Brant at once investigated the matter, and appeased the enraged captors by the promise of two gallons of rum on their arrival in Canada. Thus was the life of the captive saved and his countenance brightened. Arriving in Canada, he was offered his choice, to enlist into the British service, or go to Oswego and work on the fortifications. He chose the latter, but had not been there very long ere he made his escape, and this time reached his home. When first captured he said he was pursued by three Indians, who drove him to a marsh where he mired, or else he would have escaped. Brookman seemed to find more favor with his foes than did some prisoners-not suffering so much in running the gantlet. He was exchanged and returned home at the end o£ six months. -Baltus Dillenbeck, and others.
Battle of Monmouth.-The English government on being officially informed of the treaty of alliance between France and the United States, declared war against the former; and thought it prudent to concentrate its forces. On the 18th of June, the British troops under Sir Henry Clinton evacuated Philadelphia, had set out for New York. Gen. Washington hung upon his rear, watching a favorable opportunity to give him battle. On the 28th of that month, the battle of Monmouth was fought. Both armies were flattered during the day by alternate success, and encamped in the evening on the battle ground. Washington slept in his cloak after the fatigues of that day, in the camp of his brave men. In the night, Clinton silently withdrew, thus conceding the victory of the preceding day to the spangled banner. The loss of the Americans in this engagement was from 200 to 300 in killed and wounded, and that of the enemy about 1000, nearly half of whom were killed. The day on which this action was fought, was extremely hot, and the suffering of both armies was very great for the want of proper drink. Says the Journal of Col. Tallmadge: " Many died on both sides from excessive heat and fatigue, the day being oppressively warm, and the troops dwnking too freely of cold water," James Williamson, a soldier who assisted in burying the dead after the battle, assured the writer that he saw around a spring in a grove not far from the battle field, the dead bodies of 12 soldiers, supposed to have been victims of cold water.
A Heroine.-American historians have recorded few instances of female patriotism and bravery, which rival the following : In the battle of Monmouth a gunner was killed, and a call was made for another, when the wife of the fallen soldier, who had followed his fortune to the camp, advanced and took his station; expressing her willingness to discharge the duty of her deceased husband, and thus revenge his death. The gun -was well managed and did good execution, as I have been informed by an eye witness. After the engagement, Gen. "Washington was so much pleased with the gallant conduct of this heroine, that he gave her a Lieutenant's commission. She was afterwards called " Captain Molly."- Capt. Eben, Williams.
A short time after the battle of Monmouth, Lieut.-Col. William Butler, with the Fourth Pennsylvania Regiment, and three ocompanies of rifle men from Morgan's corps under Maj. Posey, commanded by Captains Long, Pear and Simpson, were ordered to Albany, and from thence to Schoharie. While there he commanded the Middle Fort. The command of the Shoharie forts devolved on Col. Peter Vrooman during the war, when no continental officer of equal rank was there.
Among the rifle men who went to Schoharie at this time, were some most daring spirits-men whose names should live forever on her fairy mountains and in her green valleys. We do not believe it necessary, although it is a fact too generally conceded, that glittering eqaulets are indispenaible in forming a hero. Of the brave soldiers sent to aid the Schoharie settlers in their defense, and guard from savage cruelties the unprotected mother and helpless orphan, all of whose names I would gladly chronicle could I collect them-were Lieut. Thomas Boyd (whose tragic end will be shown hereafter), Timothy Murphy, David Klerson,* William Leek, +William Lloyd, a sergeant, John Wilber,++ Zacharisih Tuffts, Joseph Evans,§ Felix Hoever, ||Elijah Hendricks, John Garsaway, a very large man, and Derrick Haggidorn. Nor should we forget to name several of the native citizens who encountered many dangers in the discharge of
* He was married In Schoharie during the war, and became a permanent resident of the county. He was a ranger for several years, and, as he stated to the writer, an extra price was set on his own and Murphy's scalps by the enemy. He was 95 years old at our interview in 1842.
+ He married the wife of Henry Becker, a tory who went to Canada, Becker came back alter the war, but could not get his wife again. Leek went westward and died there.
++Was Horn Reddington, Pennsylvania. He was a carpenter by trade, married, a Miss Mattice and settled on Charlotte river.
§ Evans married a daughter of Tunis Eckerson.
||Remained in Schoharie county alter the war.
their duty; of the latter were Jacob and Cornelius Van Dyck, Jacob Enders, Bartholomew O. Vrooman, Peter Van Slyck, Nicholas Sloughter, Yockam Pollack, Joackam Van Valkenberg, * Jacob Becker, Henry Hager and Thomas Eckerson.+ There were no doubt others equally meritorious, whose deeds are unknown to the writer.
Fate of a Scout, etc.-The following facts, relating to the attempted arrest and death of Christopher Service, a Tory of no little notoriety, living on the Charlotte river, were communicated by Judge Hager, Mrs. Van Slyck, and David Elerson.
The people of Schoharie had long suspected Service, who remained with his family, on the Charlotte river, entirely exposed to the enemy, of clandestinely affording them assistance. Captain Jacob Hager, who was in command of the Upper Fort, in the summer of 1778, sent Abraham Becker, Peter Swart (not the one already introduced), and Frederick Shafer, on a secret scout into the neighborhood of Service, to ascertain if there were any Indians in that vicinity, and to keep an eye of espionage on the Tory They arrived in sight of his dwelling after sundown, and concealed themselves in the woods, intending to remain over night. After dark the mosquitoes began to be very troublesome, but the party did not dare to make a fire to keep them off. Becker told his companions he was well acquainted with Service, having lived near him for some time ; said he would go and reconnoitre, and if there were none of the enemy abroad, he would inform them, in which case all agreed to go to the house and tarry over night. Becker, after a short absence, returned with the assurance that the "coast was clear," and that he had made arrangements for their accommodation; whereupon all three went to the dwelling. As they approached the door, the light was extinguished, but Becker went in, followed by his friends. They advanced to the centre of the room, at which time one of the family re-lit the candle, the light of which showed Swart and Shafer their real situation. Along the wall, upon one side of the room, were arranged a party of armed savages, who instantly sprang upon and bound them.
* Killed In battle near Lake Utsayantho, In 1781.
+ He was Interred in the old Middleburgh ground. The head stone reads: "In memory of Tunis Acker on, who died January 10, 1797, at the age of 67 years." Tunis is the Low Dutch of Thomas.
The two prisoners were kept there until morning, when they were hurried off to Canada. Becker, who had not been bound, was suffered, after giving the Indians his gun and ammunition, to depart for home. He returned to the fort, and reported that the scout, near Charlotte river, had fallen in with a party of Indians in ambush, from whom they attempted to escape by flight; that he was in advance of his comrades, who were both captured; that he came near being overtaken, when he threw away his gun and equipage, and thus relieved, made his escape. Shafer, who remained in a Canadian prison until the war was closed, returned to Schoharie and made known the above facts. Swart never returned to Schoharie. He was taken by distant Indians, as his friends afterwards learned, beyond Detroit, where he took a squaw and adopted the Indian life. The above narrative was published in the spring of 1845, and in the Cherry Valley Gazette of July 30th, following, a letter was inserted by the late Abram Becker, giving an excuse for the conduct of his namesake, as shown in the context. He stated, in substance, that the scout was captured before arriving at the house of Service.
This hardly seems as plausible an account of their capture, as the one given in the manuscript of Judge Hager, corroborated by his neighbors. The writer's excuse for the hypocritical action of the returning member of the scout to the fort was, that he had been partial for years to a daughter of Service, on which account her father had interceded to prevent his going to Canada, and that he was set at liberty by the enemy under an oath not to disclose what he had seen and heard during the scout." That he had conscientiously regarded his oath, and when denounced at the fort for his duplicity (which had by some means leaked out) "he fled to save his life," though where he fled to is not stated. According to Mr. Becker's explanation "love" was the hinge upon which this affair turned; and as Cupid alone had, and still has, the key to unravel not a few mysterious actions of the war, the reader can judge how far the little good is to be credited in this matter of making a man stultify his fealty to his country. At an interview with the venerable Judge Hager after this letter appeared, he assured the writer that Shafer, on his return from Canada, declared, in great wrath, that if ever he met Becker, he would be the death of him.
From the commencement of border difficulties, Service had greatly aided the enemies of his country, by sheltering and victualing them, in numerous instances. He was comparatively wealthy, for the times, owning a well-stocked farm and a gristmill. When the tories and Indians from Canada were on their way to destroy the settlements, they always found a home at his house, from whence, after recruiting, they sallied forth on their missions of death. Several attempts were made to take him before the Schoharie committee, previous to his joining Brant in his expedition against Cobelskill.
Death of Capt. Charles Smith.-Soon after the return of Becker with his hypocritical narrative, Col. Butler sent Capt. Long, with some twenty volunteers, in the direction of Charlotte river to reconnoitre, and if possible discover some traces of the enemy. One object of the expedition was to arrest Service and take him to the Schoharie forts, or to slay him in case of resistance. Arriving near the head waters of the Schoharie, Capt. Long unexpectedly took a prisoner. On his person he found a letter directed to Service, and by it, learned that Smith, its author, a tory captain who had enlisted a company of royalists on the Hudson near Catskill, was then on his way to the house of Service, who was desired in the letter to have everything in readiness to supply the wants of his men on their arrival. Learning from their prisoner the route by which Smith would approach, the Americans at once resolved to intercept him. Some 15 or 20 miles distant from the Upper fort, while proceeding cautiously along the east side of the river, Smith and his followers were discovered on the opposite bank. Capt. Long halted his men, and proposed to get a shot at Smith. It was thought by some of the party an act of folly to fire at so great a distance, but the Captain, accompanied by Elerson, advanced and laid down behind a fallen log. Some noise was made by this movement, and the Tory chief stepped into an open piece of ground a little distance from his men to learn the cause of alarm, and thus fairly exposed his person. At this moment the rifles were leveled. Capt. Long was to tire, and in case he missed his victim, Elerson was to make a shot. At the crack of the first rifle, the spirit of Smith left its clay tenement to join kindred spirits. The scout, then advanced and poured in a volley of balls, wounding several, and dispersing all of the Tories Thus unexpectedly did justice overtake this company of men, whose zeal should have led them to serve their country instead of her foes.
Oct. 27, 1846, I met Abram Richtmyer of Conesville, from whom I learned the following facts: In 1764, his father, Peter Richtmyer, with others, located in Conesville, then called "Dies' Manor," six miles from Schoharie creek, and some distance from any neighbors. He, with 11 others, was taken to Harpersfield, when Capt. McDonald was there (in 1777), who administered an oath of allegiance to them, which was to be of no effect if they were not called upon to bear arms against King George; after executing which they were paroled. Richtmyer had hardly reached home when, that same afternoon, Peter Cole, a Tory from the Helleberg, came with a party and again made him a prisoner. As one of the first salutations, Cole struck him with a musket. While plundering the house, one of Cole's men threw a piece of her linen on the floor, and as Mrs. R. stooped to pick it up, one of the Tories, to manifest his loyalty to the King, drew up and snapped his gun at her breast, which, fortunately, missed fire, and he was prevented from a second attempt.
They plundered the house and took five horses, which they loaded with plunder the next morning and proceeded to Laraway's, on the Schoharie. There he was bound over night between two torles. From thence he was taken to the east branch of the Delaware, to the house of one Kittle, a Tory Kittle's wife told Cole " it would be easier to carry scalps than prisoners." Seeing his gun in Cole's hands, and knowing it was not sure fire, he made his escape from him, and the fifth night he returned to his anxious family, which he removed to Schoharie: and not long after his buildings were all burned; as were probably those of patriotic neighbors. Peter Richtmyer was one of the volunteers under Capt. Long, sent to arrest Service. Smith was advancing with 90 men, and when shot by Capt. Long, who planted a rifle ball between his eyes, he was in full Indian costume. After Smith fell, a few shots were exchanged, when his men precipitately took the back track. Capt. Smith had declared he would have Richtmyer's scalp, but he lost his own, as one of the party ran through the creek and scalped him. The late Judge Abeel, of Catskill, who was under Capt. Long at this time, received a musket ball in his shoulder, which Richtmyer cut out with a razor. The royalist, Peter Cole, came back after the war and was arrested and confined at Albany to be punished for his evil deeds, and Mr. Richtmyer was twice subpoenaed there as an interested witness, but the trial was postponed until he became lousy, and he was finally liberated.
Death of Service.-After disposing of the Catskill loyalists, Capt. Long and his companions directed their steps to the dwelling of Service. On arriving near, proper caution was taken to prevent his escape, and Murphy and Elerson were deputed to arrest him. They found the Tory back of his house, making a harrow. On the approach of the two friends, Mrs. Service, suspecting the object of their visit, came out and stood near them, when they informed her husband the nature of their visit. Service called them " d-d rebels," and retreating a few steps, he seized an axe and aimed a blow at the head of Murphy. But the man who could guard against surprise from the wily Indian, was not to fall thus ignobly. Elerson, who stood a few feet from his companion, as he assured the author, "told Murphy to shoot the DD rascal." The wife of Service, seeing the determined look of Murphy, caught hold of his arm and besought him not to fire. He gently pushed her aside, and patting her on the shoulder, said, " Mother, he will never sleep with you again." In another instant, the unerring bullet from his rifle had penetrated the tory's heart. Capt. Long and his men now advanced to the house, in which was found forty haves of fresh bread, proving that some notice had already reached there, of Smith's intended visit. Many have supposed that injustice was done to Service. The author has taken considerable pains to inform himself on this point, and finds proof most satisfactory, that from his ability and willingness to supply the wants of the enemy and his retired residence, he was a very dangerous man to the cause of liberty.
An old Tory, who returned after the war, and died a few years ago in the town of Mohawk, was accustomed, when intoxicated, to "Hurrah for King George." At such times he often told about being in person at the house of Service, who, as he said, "lived and died a Tory, as he meant to " Had not Service made an attempt on the life of Murphy, he would probably have been confined until the war closed, and then liberated, as was the case with several wealthy royalists. The property of Service was confiscated in the war. Some years ago, a son succeeded in recovering the confiscated property of his father, and thus came into the undivided possession of an estate amounting to eight or ten thousand dollars. The fortune thus obtained, however, was soon dissipated.
In the latter part of August, 1778,the Lower Schoharie Fort, but recently completed, was commanded by Lieut.-Col. John H. Beeckman.
Desertion became so frequent at Fort Stanwix in the summer of 1778, that Col. Gansevoort ordered five men, who deserted August 10, and were captured by Tuscarora Indians 50 miles away, on their route to Canada, to be shot. The order was executed August l7th, at the head of the regiment. Gen. Washington approved the act as a measure of necessity.*
Otsego County Settlements.-At the beginning of the war, Cherry Valley had become the foster settlement of some half a dozen or more smaller ones within a distance of 30 or 40 miles, embracing Harpersfield, New Town Martin, Springfield, Little Lakes, Laurens, Morris, etc. The different settlements were usually approached via Cherry Valley. Some of those named, with others, made up Old England district of Tryon county. Campbell says, Brant's first movement in those settlements was at Springfield, in January, 1778, 10 miles from Cherry Valley, where, as he says, the men who did not escape, were captured, while the women and children were collected in a house, and by Brant's direction were left unharmed.
The incursion into Springfield, is believed to have been late in June, 1778. At this time three families were on the east side of Mud Lake, viz: those of Alexander Sprague, one Corey, and a third name not remembered. They were about a mile north of Springfield Centre, on a road leading to the Kuyle settlement. The male members of these families had gone to Cherry Valley; when the residue of them on being alarmed, set out, as it was understood they should, to go to Fort Plain, some 15 miles distant. It was late in the day, and fearing they might encounter the foe, those women with their children concealed themselves for the night under a fallen treetop, in the swamp of the late Deacon Beach. Early in the
* Stone's Brant.
morning the fugitives were astir, but had not gone far front their place of concealment, when, to their surprise, they discovered the chieftain, Brant, standing upon a stump, looking anxiously toward them. He recognized them as friends, and by signs, motioned them to silence and back to concealment; instructing them, so far as he could, by the same telegraph, what course to pursue. In the after part of the day they reached Fort Plain in safety. After the war they again resumed their sylvan home. These facts were obtained in 1859, from the late Davis Hopkins, then nearly 70 years of age. He was a native of Sharon, Ct., and having married Miss Susie Ann Reynolds, of Litchfield, CT, removed in 1810, to the neighborhood of the families named, where he resided for the next 19 years. He assured the writer that he had often heard those women together, tell the story of concealment and escape from the Indians through the generosity of Brant; for had he allowed them to proceed in the direction they were pursuing, they must have been slain or captured by his blood thirsty followers. Among the pioneer settlers of Springfield, and near to the families above named, was Capt. Thomas Davy, who was killed in the Oriskany battle. He was an Englishman by birth. His descendants still reside in Springfield, but where his family sought safety after his death in 1717, is uncertain. Capt. Davy is not believed to have been in command of a company at Oriskany, but was there as a volunteer, and possibly with some of his neighbors. He is supposed to have been a militia Captain, before he settled in Springfield. In a historical sermon upon the early history of Springfield, delivered by Rev. P. F. Sanborne, July 16, 1876, it is stated that settlements were first made in that town in l762, when, as he says, five families went thither, those of John Kelley, Richard Ferguson and James Young, in the eastern part; Gustavus Klumph and Jacob Tygart, at the head of the lake. Two sons of Tygart, John and Jacob, were with other citizens, taken to Canada as prisoners. Mr. Sanborne names as another settler, a Mr. Spalsburg, and there were doubtless others not now remembered. The Davy family is still represented in Springfield.
Here are several interesting papers, which, in 1866, found their way from Brunswick, Me., into the Historical Magazine of New York, some of which are published on page 20 and, others at page 172, where they are accredited to Ed. Ballard of that place, who is, no doubt, a relative of Capt. Ballard, named in the context. The latter was an officer under Col. Alden, at Cherry Valley, in the summer of 1777. Here is an affidavit made before Peter S. Dygert, a justice of the peace then in the town of Palatine, Tryon county. I have corrected the orthography, that my readers may understand it. The deponent's name was George Knouts but it was more frequently written Cannouts. He has been called a Springfield prisoner, but it is not improbable he was a pioneer settler at the Little Lakes, now Warren. His capture took place in 1777, but just where is uncertain. I learned from a grandson of Mrs. George Knouts, who was a House before marriage, that she was tomahawked and scalped by an Indian, in the invasion of 1778, and left for dead -that she was found, cared for, recovered and lived to be 115 years old. She saved her son Adam from the enemy, by concealing him under a heap of brush, as they were approaching. This paper bears date after his exchange in Canada, and return to the Mohawk valley.
PALATINE, March ye 28, 1778.
" George Knouts declareth upon oath that he was a prisoner with Brant last summer, at old Mr. Tunnicliff's; that the said Tunnicliff supplied all Brant's party with provision freely, and that Brant made a bargain with Tunnicliff for three oxen for thirty-six pounds; and gave said Tunnicliff a writing under his hand for them; and that a servant lad of Tunnicliff told said Knouts, that his master had let Brant have 500 weight of cheese and 10 or 12 cows but a little before that time, and that the said Tunnicliff's son was at his liberty when he saw him there, and wore the same token on his hat that Brant's own men wore; which was a piece of yellow lace, and farther saith not.
" GEORGE X KNOUTS.
Sworn before me the day above mentioned,
" PETER S. DEYGERT, Justice."
" CAUGHNAWAGA, July 10. 1778.
" SIR-At the request of Lieut. Samuel Buffington, I now inclose you a duplicate letter from Gen. Washington to Gen. Gates, setting forth the advancement and situation of the armies at that time ; and also the latest particulars of the engagement, wherein you will perceive the loss on both sides. Please show this to Maj. Clyde and Maj. Campbell, and the rest of the principal people at or near your station; which will be a satisfaction to them as they have not an opportunity to get the news in that quarter; you will also please let your company know that I have no orders to supply your parts with provisions.
"I am sir, Your hble Servt,
" JELLES FONDA.
" To Capt. William Hudson Bollard,
At Cherry Valley.
The action referred to was no doubt the battle of Monmouth, N. J., which occurred June 28th. Mr. Fonda, who was Commissary in the Mohawk valley, in this letter calls Samuel Clyde and Samuel Campbell both Majors. As I have elsewhere shown, in the first organization of the Tryon county militia, August 26, 1775, Mr. Campbell was not named for any office; but Clyde was named as Adjutant of the Canajoharie regiment, of which Nicholas Herkimer was Colonel and Ebenezer Cox Lieut.-Col. Herkimer not long after was promoted to brigadier, and Cox to a colonelcy. It was an early army custom for some of the field officers to hold the ostensible command of a company in their regiment, and Clyde was appointed captain of the first company. In action such companies were under the immediate command of a first or "Captain Lieutenant." In the first organization only one major had been appointed to each regiment, and no quartermasters; and about a month later William Seeber was chosen the other major of Cox's regiment. He was mortally wounded the next season at Oriskany, and it is presumed Clyde was appointed to his former position. When the brigade received its additional officers it was proposed to raise a regiment of minute men, and its field officers were named, George Herkimer for Colonel and Samuel Campbell for Lieut.-Colonel, but the records of the time show no company organizations, and it is supposed this was the end of the regiment. To a petition to the Prov. Cong. of New York, of the inhabitants of Cherry Valley, New Town Martin and Springfield, dated at Cherry Valley, 1 July, 1778, the only military names to it were Samuel Campbell, Major, and Samuel Clyde, Captain.* The commissions of Clyde and Campbell can only determine when they were honored by an active Colonelcy.
Gen. Stark was in command at Albany in the summer of 1778, and there had correspondence with Capt. Ballard, some of which is preserved. June 23 he wrote the captain as follows:
Sir, you are to proceed with the party under your command to Caughnawaga,
there, or as near that place as you, with the advice of your and the other
officers in that quarter, shall judge most convenient to defend, and stop
the progress of Brant, the Indian commidant [commandant]; nevertheless you
are not to begin an engagement, but to suffer the militia from this quarter
to make the first attack and you to support them as you may think most proper.
If you should find that Brant has crossed the Mohawk river on his way to Crown
Point, you will then return with the detachment.
" Wishing you success, I am,
" JOHN STARK, B. G."
If you should stand in need of any horses or carriages, you are to apply to
the Quartermasters, all officers both civil and military [who] are ordered
to supply you with anything you may want; given under my hand,
" JOHN STARK, B. G."
Just where Capt. Ballard was stationed does not appear, but on July 4th, Gen. Stark wrote him in answer to a letter of the 1st instant, in which he said: "Concerning those disaffected persons, if they will not come within the lines and swallow the oaths of allegiance with a good stomach; you must take the trouble to take them in, and use your utmost endeavors (by usages becoming villains) to make them (after a season), valuable subjects. * * * * *
The militia from Berkshire county must be sent down, but you are to stay till further orders"
Here is a letter to Capt. Ballard, which I find in this connection. It is dated:
CHERRY VALLEY, July 15, 1778.
" DEAR SIR-We are exceedingly sorry that you are not
* Calendar of N. Y. Hist. Manuscript, vol. 1, p. 375.
soon to be with us, yet we hope from what Col. Stacey said yesterday, if there
is no great danger at Fort Stanwix, your regiment will reinforce the other
frontiers of this county, which we trust will he so, and in that case hope
you'll again be with us. That any strong party should come against Fort Stanwix
is unlikely, for the commanding officer at Schoharie writes that they find
by spies as well as by prisoners taken, that Butler is on the Susquehanna,
and that the settlements on the Susquehanna and Delaware are occupied by considerable
numbers of the enemy, that eleven hundred of them talk of striking us a blow
e'er long; they have certainly had large supplies of provisions, having drove
from the Delaware at once 101 head of cattle. [The reader will remember, Wyoming
was destroyed the first week in July, but news necessarily spread tardily.]
If any extraordinaries transpire pray write.
" Give our compliments to Col. Stacey and Lieut. Buffington,
" We are sir, your most obt. servants,
" SAMUEL CLYDE,
" MOSES YOUNGLOVE."
Dr. Younglove, who was made a prisoner the year before at Oriskany, had been exchanged, and was again on his professional duty in Tryon county. Here is a letter from Col. Alden to Capt. Ballard. And here I beg leave to state what Isaac Degraff, of Schenectada, said to the writer of that officer, viz: " That he should never have been sent to Cherry Valley, as he knew nothing of Indian warfare-that he was not only very incompetent for the position, but also a very intemperate man." All Revolutionary officers were not expected to be scholars, but all Colonels should have known how to spell Tories, when they were having constantly to deal with them. In this letter, the main part of which I shall give corrected, the word is twice written torreys.
HEAD QUARTERS, CHERRY VALLEY, Aug. 7, 1778.
" SIR-You will proceed with the party under your command, talking direction for your route of those persons that are with you as pilots. You will endeavor to make discoveries and get all the intelligence possible of Brant and his party. If you discover any party of the enemy, and judge them too strong for you to engage, you will return and report to me.
" You will take all precautions on your march to prevent the enemy from taking advantage by ambush. In your route if you find any of the effects of the Tories, or persons gone to the enemy, you will secure the same by bringing them into this garrison; also Tories or any of the people which yon have good evidence, have been or are disposed to assist and support the enemy; likewise such persons with their effects as you think are greatly exposed to the enemy.
Here is an attache or postscript to the above given verbatim- et-literatim: " Beg General Starck to send som money and bring on the offers (officers) and soldgers if to be spared by the general. Bring on my Kag of Sperets get my tee and Shougr of Lewton troubridge (Luther Trowbridge) tell tucker to House the wagon get sum seeling wax." The writer can punctuate to please himself; but this is a fair specimen of his scholarship; he wonderfully misplaced, his capital letters. Six days later, Capt. Ballard, furnished with the following orders was sent to Albany.
HEADQUARTERS, CHERRY VALLEY, Aug. 13, 1778.
" SIR-You will proceed, immediately with a number of tories (who you brought to this place prisoners) to Albany. You are to take a guard sufficient for you from the militia. When you arrive at Albany you will deliver the prisoners unto General Stark, then you will return and join your regiment.
"ICHABOD ALDEN, Col.
Here are several letters from Gen. Stark, which are presented with those preceding, to show the reader -what kind of events were often transpiring at the principal frontier outposts:
15th of August, 1778.
SIR-I received yours of the 12th inst. and am glad to hear of the success of your scout: a few such strokes will make the enemy watch their frontiers, and give us peace. Those Tories you sent, I shall take care that they shall be properly treated; and as for the plunder that Capt. Ballard's scout has taken, that did belong to the enemy; you will order to be divided amongst the people that took it; if any has fallen into their hands belonging to the honest inhabitants, you will be pleased to deliver it up to the proper owners.
" See that Capt. Ballard and his party cause such persons to divide the plunder as they think will do the most justice to the party; also that you order a court of inquiry to examine into the matter, and see what part ought to be returned to the owners, and make report of your proceedings to me.
You wrote you have (had) been obliged to employ some of the inhabitants to
assist you in building a fort: the accounts must be sent down, properly attested
to, and I make no doubt but they will be allowed of. But I cannot send you
any money till I have orders for so doing; if your scouts should be fortunate
enough to fall in with any more of the painted scoundrels (Tories), I think
it will not be worth their while to trouble themselves to send them to me,
your wisdom and that of your scouts may direct you in that matter.
" I am, sir, your most obedient, hum. serv.,
" JOHN STARK."
ALBANY, Aug. 22, 1778.
" To the Committee of Albany:
" GENTLEMEN-I received yours of yesterday, informing me of your desire to have the Tories Capt. Ballard brought here the other day.
" I assure you I have no intention to keep them; you write for twelve, as being inhabitants of the State, one of whom I look upon as a prisoner of war, and shall hold him as such. The other eleven I have given orders to be delivered up to you.
to the cattle and sheep brought in by Capt. Ballard, I have directed Col.
Alden to have a court of inquiry sit upon them, and make report to me; as
I thought the owners had not been concerned in any conspiracy against the
" I am," etc.
" JOHN STARK."
ALBANY, 3d October, 1778.
" SIR-Yours of the 30th Sept. has come to hand. I highly approve your proceedings concerning the tory effects; should advise you to keep the money in your hands for the present.
" I shall reserve the prisoners in my hands for the purpose of exchanging yours with Brant.
The French King has published, a declaration that his army and navy are to
seize, plunder, take, destroy, all the property of the King of Great Britain,
wherever they can find it, either by sea or land. This order was sent to Compte
Darbau, supposed to be his Prime Minister of State.
" I am your H. Serv't,
A Pretty Good Shot.-Isaac Quackenboss was under Col. Harper near the Susquehanna, as believed,in 1778; when happening to be alone, he discovered five Indians sitting on a log mending their moccasins. He was under the cover of a tree within gunshot of them, his gun being loaded with a bullet and four buck-shot. He supposed that if he fired on them, they would naturally conclude he was not alone-and his temerity construed rightly. He fired and two of them fell, and the surviving three ran off-and he ran too, though in the opposite direction. He got assistance, returned, and found the two dead warriors and the moccasins the party were mending; the survivors not returning from fear of another salute. From John S. Quackenboss, Esq., a nephew of Isaac, corroborated by Isaac Collier a fellow soldier of Quackenboss at the time.
The Settlement of Laurens.-One of the most celebrated settlers of Otsego county, was Joseph Mayall, who located near the present village of Laurens in 1771 or '72, distant from Cherry Valley 28 miles, and as the path led more than 30 miles. For some account of Mayall and other settlers near him, I am indebted to the memory of Isaac Powell of Laurens, who, at our interview (about 1852), was 72 years old. Mayall was of Irish parentage, and removed thither from Cherry Valley. A year or two after Powell located in the wilderness, several families settled near him. William Ferguson, also of Irish lineage, removed there from Cherry Valley; and Richard Smith and John Sleeper (the latter in 1773), adventurers from Philadelphia and New Jersey. These settlers located upon lands owned by Charles Reed and others. Smith was a man of intelligence and comparative wealth, and when the war began he had already erected a two story framed dwelling, which, at the time mentioned, was still standing and owned by the heirs of John Allen.
This was the first framed dwelling in the town. When the war-cry rendered it hazardous for patriotic settlers to remain in their sylvan homes, Mayall and Ferguson removed to the Mohawk river, and Smith, it is believed, went back to Philadelphia.
In 1773, several settlers struck off into the wilderness 10 or 12 miles from Laurens, at the present village of Morris, in the town of Butternuts.* The first settlers here were Ebenezer Knapp and Benjamin Lull. The latter had five sons nearly grown up at this time, named Benjamin, Joseph, Nathan, Caleb and William; four of whom stood plump six feet in their shoes. Knapp had only one son and four daughters: Rachel, Jerusha, Elizabeth and Martha; who were nearly grown to womanhood. Eastwood Allen, a New Jersey Quaker, settled nearly equi-distant from Mayall and Lull, about the time the latter moved in, and, believed, several years before other adventurers came in, whose names are now forgotten.
In 1776 the first marriage took place in Morris; the happy pair were Joseph Lull and Martha Knapp. The groom was nearly 20 and the bride a little under 14 years of age. At the beginning of border troubles, in 1777, Allen was among those who temporarily abandoned their forest homes, but the Knapp and Lull families resolved to remain, and for two summers longer braved the dangers of their abode, being obliged alternately to entertain whigs and tories, or the emissaries of the latter. I am not aware that any unusual inconvenience was experienced by the settlers on Butternut creek on account of the war, until the fall of 1778. Then, as appears by an obituary newspaper notice of the death of Mrs. Martha Lull, which took place Jan. 6, 1851, the Lull family had a corn-husking, in the midst of which fourteen Oneida Indians came there. Although armed-as, indeed, every body then was who could be-they declared themselves friendly, and no fear was entertained on account of their visit. They joined earnestly in the labor of the evening, partook bountifully of the collation which followed -a closing ceremony from time immemorial-and posting two of their number as sentinels, they laid down on the husks to sleep. As it was well known to the friends of liberty, that no
* This town mid a mill-stream running through it, took their name from the circumstance of so many butternut trees growing along the banks of that creek.
settlers would be allowed, to remain exposed to the clemency of the enemy, who would not feed them and furnish them desired information, the settlers on the Butternut creek were looked upon with suspicion by their more patriotic countrymen, as the sequel of this husking will show.
Sometime in the night a messenger announced at Lull's that a party of Continentals were approaching, and a moment after a shrill whistle near the door echoed through the-night air, which brought in the red sentinels. In a brief space of time, the dwellings of Lull and Knapp were surrounded by armed men, and their male members made prisoners and hurried off to Cherry Valley. The scene was one of terror to Martha, the young bride, who then not only had an infant child in her arms, but was cumbered with the care of two motherless children of her husband's brother Benjamin. She earnestly enquired of the Indians what would be the fate of the prisoners, her husband being among them, but learned nothing except that their lives would probably be spared. The women and children were not molested, nor were the dwellings plundered.
At the time of this eventful husking, the younger Knapp, Martha's brother, had gone on some errand to Albany. Returning a day or two after and learning at Cherry Valley the condition of things, he went down with three horses and conveyed his sister and other friends yet in the settlement to that place, the road much of the way being designated by marked trees. After a brief detention in Cherry Valley, Joseph Lull was set at liberty, and early on the morning that place was so effectually destroyed, he and his family had started to go to Dutchess county-hearing the alarm gun at the fort when only four miles from it. It is presumed the other settlers on Butternut creek, did not return to their forest home to remain, until peace and social order were restored.
John Sleeper remained at Laurens when his neighbors left in 1777, resolved to continue his pioneer residence, and being a Quaker, trust to his Christian creed in neutrality for safety. He had erected a snug log dwelling, cleared a few acres of tillable land, supplied part of his larder from wild animals, and all things considered, was living comfortably when the war-dogs of Mars were let loose. Nothing serious disturbed the Sleeper family, which had alternately to entertain friends and foes, until after the sacking at Cherry Valley; when a party of Seneca Indians laid it under unwilling contribution. Sleeper remonstrated with Brant for the treatment-as the latter had, on several occasions, had his larder replenished by the family of the former. Brant apologized for the apparent want of gratitude-said he could not restrain his Seneca devils as be called his followers of the Seneca nation; and advised his Quaker friend to return to New Jersey, until the war was over, lest his scalp and those of his family might go to Canada. He accordingly moved back to New Jersey, and to support his family opened a small store; but he had not long occupied it, when some American arms stored on the premises were discovered by a party of Hessians, who burned the store and its contents. After the war was over, Sleeper returned to Laurens. From Hudson Sleeper, a grandson of John Sleeper, the facts concerning the latter were noted down. The first church edifice erected in Laurens, said Isaac Powell, was a "Friends Meeting house," which is possibly still standing; it was 36 feet square, with a gallery.
But I return to Powell's recollections of Mayall. Moses Powell, the father of my informant, bought out Mayall and removed from Green county to Laurens, in 1801. Mayall remained six weeks after Powell took possession, and often amused the new comers with anecdotes of his earlier years. The settlers at Morris and those at Laurens, had for several years, to go to Cherry Valley to get their milling done. Aloes de Villa, a Frenchman, erected the first grist-mill in Butternuts. It stood on a small stream called mill creek, perhaps half a mile above its junction with Butternut creek, and distant from Louisville, one a half miles. The name of this village seems chosen to honor the name of its miller.
When compelled to abandon his forest home, Mayall was too fearless and patriotic not to give his country a share of his services. On some occasion he was on a scout with soldiers named McGown and Campbell toward Binghamton, and discovered the enemy under Brant. On its return the scout halted for the night at Mayall's dwelling in Laurens, intending to renew its march at an early hour in the morning. Some time in the night the backpart of the chimney fell in, and so unlooked for an event was construed as ominous of danger; and the scout at once resumed its return march, several hours earlier than was its intent-gave timely warning at Cherry Valley and prevented a surprise. The fall of this chimney was looked upon with great reverence, when subsequently it became known that Brant was then at Sleeper's, only a mile distant. The action of a hot fire on a chimney the frost had affected the preceding winter, no doubt caused its miraculous fall.*
When Mayall began his pioneer life, the country was full of wild game, and he was something of a Nimrod. The carcass of a deer often replenished his larder, while the pelt of a beaver often put money in his purse. So fond of trapping was he, that on the cessation of hostilities, he resumed the avocation. While trapping beaver on the Cherry Valley creek, he discovered three tories approaching. He could have escaped them, but supposing, as the war was considered at an end, they would not disturb him, he met them. They at once made him their prisoner, against his remonstrances, took the lock from his gun, and compelled him to carry it; and started on the southwestern route for Canada. The prisoner determined not to be taken far from his home by any three men, and on arriving at the mouth of the Schenevus creek, where it became necessary to cross, he told his captors he could not swim. One of his foes set out to ford the stream and show its depth, and as the other two stooped down to take off their shoes, he clubbed his musket and knocked them down; when snatching up their loaded guns, he sprang behind a tree. The one in the water got ashore, and under the cover of a tree, but not until one knee had received a bullet wound. From his temporary shelter the wounded tory begged for quarter, which, with fair promises, was granted; when, recovering the lock of his own gun, and retaining the extra guns for the interruption of his business, Mayall returned to Cherry Valley.
Mayall was an intelligent man, and was at one time supervisor
* Campbell has given an account of Capt. McKean's being at this place on a similar errand in June 1778, with five others; Sleeper assured the above Captain, that he was hourly expecting Brant with 50 followers. It was only in reference to the welfare of this pioneer's family, that McKean was persuaded to lodge elsewhere, probably at Wayall's dwelling. Mr. Powell seemed quite sure that Capt. McKean was not present at the fall of the chimney. Similar errands led rangers In a wide circuit all around the frontier posts; and many a stiring incident attendant on those perilous missions, is lost forever.
of Laurens, or the "Unadilla Country." He was remarkably well calculated for a border settler. He was a weaver by trade, and not unfrequently substituted standing trees for a part of his loom-his wife spinning the material to supply it. Sleeper built the first grist-mill in the town of Laurens, which stood near the lower end of the valley-it was the first mill erected below Cherry Valley. He also erected the first saw-mill, and Mayall the next. The latter observed to the Powell family, that he would not give much for a man in a new country, who could not take his team, plow and an axe to the woods, and make a harness in an hour, of linden or elm bark, with which he might plow the rest of the day. He removed from Laurens to French creek, a branch of the Alleghany, in Pennsylvania. The settlers in and around Laurens who had broken ground before the war, went back there after its close, and the country rapidly filled up with enterprising men. Smith resided in Laurens until 1802, when he went on a visit to Ohio and died there. One of his two sons, was the first sheriff of Otsego county. The descendants of Sleeper, Ferguson and Allen, were a few years ago, and perhaps are still in the town of Laurens.
John Tunnicliff, an Englishman of enterprise, went with a few adherents before the war into the now town of Exeter, some two miles west of the southerly end of Schuyler's lake. He was obliged to abandon his home until the war was over. His descendants still reside in that neighborhood. Pacifer Carr, with one Smith and a few other genial spirits of royalty, located in the now town of Edmeston. Politically, friends of the enemy, they continued their retired abode for several years, it not for the whole war. A small settlement known as New Town Martin, was also made in the present town of Middlefield, between Cherry Valley and Cooperstown, but its inhabitants removed early to Cherry Valley, or less exposed localities. This place was so called after Peter Martin, from his connection with its land-purchase. At the beginning of the war, he left his family at Fort Hunter, from whence he went to Montreal as a trader and died there. He left several small children, one of whom was the late Jeremiah Martin, of Fultonville, N. Y., and another was Mrs. Elizabeth Becker, and widow of Matthias Becker. She was the mother of Mrs. William A. Haslet, of Fort Plain, at whose house she died. Among the first settlers at this place were Eldred Hall, of New Jersey; Wilson and a Dixon.
Sad Fate of Eldred Hall.-On the breaking up of the settlement of New Town Martin, in the fall of 1777 or '78, Eldred Hall went to reside at Cherry Valley. He was an elderly man and a foreigner by birth. As he had a plenty of fodder there, on the approach of winter he drove some stock there and went every other day to feed the cattle. A heifer got astray, and going to look for it, in January, he never returned. A party of soldiers went down from Fort Alden and found his body, which had been mangled by the wolves, partially buried in the snow. It seems his visits had become known to a small party of Indians still lingering about the settlements, and presuming they would follow in his path, it was conjectured he had left it to avoid them, got down in the snow and perished. Indians, upon snow shoes, had passed near him, but as he was not scalped, it was presumed they had not killed him. The browsing heifer was found alive, it having sustained itself by browsing on the twigs and bushes. The other cattle had broken into a hay-barrack and were doing well. Mr. Hall was living alone at the time of his death. Isaac Maxfield, who, at our interview in 1850, was 73 years old. Hall was the grandfather of Maxfield's wife.
The Destruction of Cherry Valley.-The first detailed account of the invasion and sacking of this place was published by Judge Campbell, in 1831, in his Annals of Tryon County, from which volume I shall draw liberally in my narrative of the affair. Born and reared on the spot, he had every facility for making a truthful statement. In the fall of 1778, it became known by Indian messengers at Fort Stanwix that the enemy meditated an attack on Cherry Valley; and on the 6th of Nov. a letter was sent from that station to Col. Alden, notifying him of the designs of the enemy, which, two days later, he acknowledged the receipt of by a Oneida Indian. The enemy were congregating at Tioga. Of this band of destructives, Walter Butler had sought the command, aching for an opportunity to avenge his imprisonment at Albany; from which not long before he had surreptitiously escaped. Brant, satiated with blood and plunder, was on his return to Canada, when, meeting Butler with his father's orders to join him, he reluctantly did so. Col. Alden seemed to place little confidence in the information warning him in time from so distant a point; and when the citizens desired to place their valuable effects in the fort and come there to sleep nights, he framed excuses to prevent them from so doing; but said he would keep them properly warned by scouts. He sent out several parties, but the one which went in the direction whence the enemy were approaching, on the evening of the 9th, imprudently made a fire and laid down to sleep; to awake prisoners of war.
The Cherry Valley Fort, when completed, was called Fort Alden, in honor of its commandant. On the night of Nov. 10th, the enemy still unreported by scouts, encamped about a mile southwest of the fort. They had learned from the drowsy scout they had captured, that Col. Alden and Lieut. Col. Stacia, with a guard, were quartered nights at the house of Robert Wells, a good citizen, residing perhaps one fourth of a mile from the fort. This is now the Joseph Phelon place. A little snow fell during the night, followed after daylight by a drizzling rain and a hazy atmosphere, which favored the silent approach of the enemy. A Mr. Hamble, who lived some distance below the village, came up that morning on horseback and encountered the Indians on their way to the house of Mr. Wells. Regardless of their challenge, although fired upon and wounded, he ran his horse to warn Col. Alden of his danger and then hastened on to the fort. A seasonable alarm gun probably aided a few to escape, but the snow made it unfavorable for some of the settlers to conceal their flight; besides, the invaders were quite simultaneously at almost every isolated dwelling. Col. Alden delayed a few moments to call the guard together, which gave the enemy time to arrive, and just as they approached Wells', he ran toward the fort.
Death of Col. Alden and Capture of Lieut. Col. Stacia, as Found in a Manuscript of the Clyde Family.-As Stacia followed Alden in his flight, lie was soon overtaken and captured by Brant in person. Seeing the Colonel fleeing, Brant learned from Stacia who he was, and leaving his captive with his followers, he, in person, pursued Alden, and on nearing him called upon him to surrender, but instead of doing so he turned and snapped a pistol at him, whereupon he ran up and tomahawked him, inflicting three blows upon his head, when he fell and was scalped. His guard were also all captured or slain. Brant said afterwards he intended to capture the Colonel, but when be attempted to shoot him, he killed him in self-defence.
The family of Mr. Wells consisted of his wife and four children, his mother, brother John, sister Jane and three domestics. One of his children, a son, named John, chanced to be at school at Schenectada; but the rest of the family, eleven members in all, were cruelly murdered and scalped for the value of their scalp-locks. A Tory afterward boasted of having killed Mr. Wells when at prayer; but such a boast would not only have come with good grace from Capt. Butler, but from nearly every white man with him. Miss Jane Wells, reputed as a most amiable and benevolent girl, fled from the house and attempted to conceal herself behind a wood-pile, but was pursued thither by a savage. As he approached her she begged for her life in his own dialect, and Peter Smith, a former domestic in the Wells family, now one of the rangers, coming up, also interceded for her life, but in vain. Holding her by one hand he felled her to the ground with his tomahawk. It has been stated that Col. Butler was afterwards heard to say-"I would have gone miles on my hands and knees to have saved that family, and why my son did not do it, God only knows." Col. Butler need not have expressed any surprise that his son did not spare the Wells family: it was his nature only to indulge hatred and revenge; and as regards himself, any one reading his peremptory order to a poor prisoner begging for his life at Wyoming-to walk out and be shot down like a dog, some three months before-would naturally say this manifestation of false sympathy was for mere "buncombe." The village pastor, Rev. Samuel Dunlop, who resided on the old Dr. White (now Mrs. Cox place), was with his wife and daughter at home when the enemy arrived there. Mrs. Dunlop was killed and scalped, but the old gentleman and his daughter were saved by Little Aaron, an Oquago chief, who had often partaken of their hospitality. He succeeded in saving their lives, but the shock of the morning was so terrible, enfeebled as he was by old age, that Mr. Dunlop survived it only about a year. Mrs. Robert Wells was a daughter of Mr. Dunlop.
A settler named Mitchell, who lived, a mile east of the village, from some part of his farm, now owned by George Clark, saw the enemy approaching him, and fled from them to a place of safety in the woods. On returning to his house he found his wife and four children all tomahawked and scalped, his house plundered and set on fire. He put out the fire, and finding life in one of his children, a little girl nearly a dozen years of age, he was caring for her at the door, when he saw another hostile party approaching. He concealed himself a little distance from the house, and soon saw a Tory, named Newberry, from the Mohawk valley, whom he knew, approach the reviving girl- and, with a hatchet give her a death blow. On the following day Mitchell drew his slaughtered family to the fort on a sled, and, assisted by the soldiers, he buried his wife and children in a single grave. I shall have occasion to show that justice overtook Newberry the next season at Canajoharie. A party of the enemy surrounded the house of Col. Campbell, in his absence, plundering and burning it, making his wife and four children prisoners, who were all taken to Canada. A few citizens escaped to the Mohawk valley, but 32 of them, mostly women and children, were slain, as were also 16 continental soldiers. Nearly all the dwellings in the settlement, with considerable furniture and clothing, and all the barns, well filled with grain and hay, received the incendiary torch and were consumed. Thus was a prosperous settlement in a single day reduced to penury.
Col. Clyde and Col. Campbell, as appears by Mr. Campbell's account, were both from their homes on the morning of the 11th, but whether they were at the fort or not does not appear. Clyde lived about a mile westerly from the fort: his descendants are now on the place. Mrs. Clyde,* before the enemy reached her dwelling, gathering her eight children, one an infant, fled into the woods, where, under a log, she lay concealed all day and all night fasting and praying. She could hear the
* Mrs. Clyde, an intelligent and energetic woman, dreamed a third time that the enemy were burning the town and killing the inhabitants; and that Molly Brant- who had been friendly to the family, appeared in those dreams and urged her flight to the fort. In the morning those dreams were fearfully realized. In consequence of those dreams, Mr. Clyde went early that morning to the fort, to get Col. Alden's consent to remove his family thither from their great exposure; soon after which an alarm gun announced the destruction of the town already begun, and his return to his family cut off.- Clyde family manuscript.
yells of the savages in their movements as they passed near her concealment. In her flight she, by some means, had missed her oldest daughter, 10 or 12 years of age, but supposed she had reached the fort. On the morning after the rescue, Mrs. Clyde and her children with her, were found and brought into the fort; soon after which the daughter, Nancy, who had been concealed all that time alone, was discovered, and brought in, to the great joy of her friends. Who can imagine the dreadful experience of that child, thinly clad, without food, hid all day and all night in the woods, alone, shivering in the snow and rain and constantly terror-stricken at the yells and carnage going on around her.
Living with Mr. Clyde at this period, was an apprenticed lad of 16, named James Simons, who assisted Mrs. Clyde in getting her children to a place of concealment, and who remained with her during that long day and night of suffering. Once in the night a small party of Indians crossed the trunk of the tree they were under; at which time Mrs. Clyde passed her hand over the mouth of her infant child, and Simons thus muzzled their family dog. In the morning, Mrs. Clyde sent Simons to a hill between them and the fort, to see if the American flag was still floating; and if it was, to gain the fort, if possible, and inform her husband, if living, of her place of concealment. The enemy was yet in the settlements, but he reached the fort in safety. With an escort of 14 volunteers, Col. Clyde found and brought his family to the fort in safety, although they were discovered and fired upon by the enemy, who tried to cut off their retreat, but the guns of the fort drove back the foemen. On the destruction of their home, the Clyde family resided with a Van Alstine family at Canajoharie, until spring, and then removed to the vicinity of Schenectada, and remained there to the close of the war; the Colonel spending his summer months at the military posts in the valley above. At Schenectada, the boy Simons enlisted into a Maryland regiment, while passing through there, and was killed at the siege of Yorktown. Nancy, the oldest daughter of Col. Clyde, grew up and married a Schemerhorn, of Schenectada, and Esther Clyde, who was the infant in her mother's arms, married a Ripley, and proved a smart woman. Catharine and Anne, other daughters, married, the former, Lester Holt, and the latter, Maj. Thornton. The Col. James Campbell farm was a mile from the fort, and is now (1879) owned by Hon. "W. W. Campbell.- Clyde family Manuscript.
It would, seem that a Mr. Cannon and his wife-the parents of Col. Campbell's wife, an old couple were made prisoners, he with a bullet wound. He had lived in Middlefield, but was now residing at Cherry Valley. His wife unable to keep up with the party, was felled with a tomahawk by the side of her daughter. He lived to be exchanged as a prisoner, and came back; but Catharine Montour, whose son had captured him, censured the son for not having slain him in Cherry Valley. Molly Brant Johnson, too, tried various means to have Lieut. Col. Stacia killed. As is also made to appear, a Mrs. Moore, with four children were made prisoners at Cherry Valley, and taken with Mrs. Campbell and her children-one of which was a child in her arms-to Canada; the women and children captured there except them, being allowed to return to Cherry Valley, on the morning of the second day-more as believed from the humanity of Brant than of Butler. The Moore family, I suppose to have been that of James Moore, as John Moore, also of that place then had children grown up. The latter was a delegate to the New York Provincial Congress in September, 1775. Both men, were, in fact prominent citizens. This Moore family, lived about a mile northeast of the village, where Hiram Flint now resides. The enemy claimed in this expedition, to have taken about 50 scalps. Several attacks were made upon the fort during the day, but they were futile without artillery. Most of the enemy with between 30 and 40 prisoners, are said to have encamped the first night about two miles south of the fort. After allowing a part of the women and children to return, the party passed down the Susquehanna and up the Tioga, following the usual southwestern route into the Genesee country ; where a division of prisoners took place.
Here is an incident retained by Mr. Campbell as occurring at the destruction of Cherry Valley, going to prove the generosity of Brant. It seems a pity he had not learned the woman's name, whose life was thus preserved. As the narrative is given, Brant in person entered a house in which he found a woman in her avocations seemingly unconcerned, when the following scene transpired: "Are you thus engaged," said the chieftain, "when all your neighbors are murdered around you?" "We are King's people," she replied. "That plea will not avail you to-day. They have murdered Mr. Wells's family, who were as dear tome as my own." Said she-" There is one, Joseph Brant, if he is with the Indians, he will save us." "I am Joseph Brant, but I have not the command, and I do not know that I can save you; but I will do what is in my power." While speaking, several Senecas were observed approaching the house. "Get into bed and feign yourself sick," said Brant hastily. When the Senecas came in, he told them there were no persons there, but a sick woman and her children, and besought them to leave the house, which they accordingly did. As soon as they were out of sight, Brant went to the end of the house and gave a long shrill yell; soon after, a small hand of Mohawks were seen crossing an adjoining field with great speed. As they came up he addressed them: " Where is your paint? here, put my mark upon this woman and her children." As soon as it was done, he added: "You are now probably safe." And she was.
The claim of captives was thus indicated by the significant mark of a tribe; whose totem was seldom ever disregarded.
Agreeable to a statement of Thaddeus Scribner, made Sept. 4, 1832, to Hon. Geo. M. Scott, of Ballston, he was on duty under Capt. Van Denbergh at Fort Plank, three miles west of Fort Plain, in the fall of 1779 (he meant 1778). He said- "We were then commanded by Lieut. Col. James Gordon. While we were at Fort Plank (that is, Capt. V's company,) we received news that the enemy were at Cherry Valley. Our regiment united with the regiment of German inhabitants under Col. Klock and marched immediately to Cherry Valley, from which the enemy had been gone two hours. I assisted in burying the dead, etc." The inference to be drawn from this statement is, that Lieut. Col. Gordon of the Saratoga militia, was in command at Fort Plain and its neighboring poets in the fall of 1778.
The sufferings of the prisoners on their way from Cherry Valley to Canada must have been very severe: especially of the women and children, illy fitted to endure the fatigues of a journey of three or four hundred miles, at that inclement season, while,
Houseless were those who from the wood returned,
The fate of relatives to mourn;
As other friends to "living death," they learned,
By "human fiends," were captive borne.
The following anecdote was related by Joseph Brant after the Revolution, to John Fonda while at his house near Caughnawaga. Brant, on being censured by Fonda for his cruelties at Cherry Valley at the time of its desolation, said the atrocities were mostly chargeable to Walter Butler. He then stated that among the captives made by him at that place, was a man named Vrooman, with whom he had had a previous acquaintance. He concluded to give Vrooman his liberty, and after they had proceeded several miles on their journey, he sent him back about two miles, alone, to procure some birch bark for him; expecting, of course, to see no more of him. After several hours Vrooman came hurrying back with the bark, which the chieftain did not want. Brant said he sent this prisoner back on purpose to afford him an opportunity to escape, but that he was so big a fool he did not know it; and consequently he was compelled to take him to Canada.-Mrs. Evert Yates, a daughter of John Fonda. Mrs. Yates lived several years after this anecdote was first published, and always certified to its truth.
Death of John Thompson.-Here is an event that I believe authentic. Soon after the destruction of Cherry Valley, a small party of friends went thither on horseback on some errand, one of which number was John Thompson, a son of Alexander Thompson, an early settler of that place. On their return, from some cause Thompson's friends were some distance ahead of him on his arrival at the brimstone spring, not far below where Lieut. Wormuth had been killed the preceding May, when he was fired upon by concealed foes, and fell with a broken leg, his horse being killed. The Indians, running up, dispatched and scalped him. This act, says informant, was witnessed by one Hurlbut, who lived below there. The victim was unmarried and in his early manhood, and his remains were hurried in the village yard at Cherry Valley. This narrative was given the writer Feb. 11, 1859, by Thomas J. Thompson, a son of Maj. James Thompson of Cherry Valley, who was then 65 years old.
Death of a Little Girl, and Capture of Two Others, near Fort Herkimer.-The following narrative was furnished the writer by Dr. Eli Fox, of Mohawk village, Herkimer county, substantially as here given.
Christian Sharrar, who resided near Fort Herkimer, was killed at the battle of Oriskany, leaving a widow and two daughters, Margaret and Nancy, aged seven and nine years. On the morning of October 20, 1778, those sisters and Lucinda Bellinger, a girl of eight summers, went with a female slave (owned by Frederick Fox), to look for cows back of the fort. At a hickory tree, one fourth of a mile from home, the girls all lingered to gather nuts, not far from the present residence of James Edick. The wench had not gone far beyond them, when she discovered half a dozen Indians approaching, from whom she fled for the fort. As she passed the girls she shouted Wilder Kummer! Indians coming.
Not realizing their danger, the girls lingered, and in a moment, a party of Tuscuroras, led by a sachem called Flat Kop -Flat Head-were at the tree. The girls were all up in the branches and hoped to escape observation, but the delusion was fatal. In broken German, they were ordered down, and the sisters obeyed the mandate, but Lucinda refused to come down, when Flat Kop shot her dead. A brush fence ran under the tree and she fell to the ground on the opposite side, and as the Indian was about to leap the fence for her scalp, Peter Bellinger, her brother, who had heard her scream, showed himself with a pitchfork in hand, at the door of a barn near, and comprehending what had happened, raised as if to shoot the Indian if he attempted to cross the fence. The latter supposing Bellinger armed with a gun, hesitated in taking the chance to lose his own scalp to procure that of his victim. In the meantime, the report of the gun and the screams of the old negress, had alarmed the garrison, and seeing the troops approaching, the villain followed his comrades who had snatched up the sisters and were on the back track for the forest. The pursuing party possibly fearing an ambuscade, made slow pursuit, and the girls were borne away into a Canadian captivity, enduring hardships on their journey, which older prisoners would have shrunk from.
When captured,they were made to walk until they became footsore, and then were placed astride of an old horse stolen in the neighborhood. Nancy, the younger sister, often fell off, for which Flot Kop threatened to kill her, but her life was spared at the request of a tory, who joined the party at the old Shoemaker place, where Ezekiel Spencer formerly lived, and where the party obtained breakfast. Upon arriving in the Indian country. Flat Head having no children, took the girls to his own home. They were usually treated kindly, except when their red father came home drunk; and on such occasions as quickly as possible their squaw mother concealed them beyond his reach. When ransomed at the close of the war at a British post, their foster-mother came with them as far as Fort Stanwix, telling them if their white mother did not treat them well, to send her wordy and she would come after them. Their parting with her was very sad. They had become in all but color, two little squaws, for they had forgotten their German, and could only express their wishes in the Indian language. They had been by some means informed, that their natural mother was dead, and hence were more indifferent about returning, than were most liberated prisoners.
When brought into their native valley, thoroughly washed in the Mohawk, and clad in such costume as their neighbors, they were again two pretty children; though for some time more Indian than German in language and manners. During the transfer from filth to cleanliness, and the removal of their Indian toggery, for English dress, they fought like wild beasts, and Nancy had to have her hands tied for a time to prevent her from tearing off her clothes; which restraint made her desire to return to her wild-wood home: some of the novelties attending which were fascinating to children. Indeed, restraint had to be used to keep her from returning to Canada, and often was she heard shouting for her Indian mother to come and take her away; but like her sister with her German tongue returning, under the soothing influence of her mother and friends, she once more became reconciled to the scenes and customs of her juvenile home, and at the age of 18, she married Peter Fox, a resident of Fort Herkimer, and raised a family of six children. In her old age she lived with her son Frederick, in Ilion, and there died in 1845, at the age of 75 years. In recounting to her friends the recollections of her life spent in the forest, she always spoke very kindly of her adopted Indian mother. She was the grandmother of Dr. Fox, mentioned at the beginning of this story. Margaret Sharrar married George Edick, raised a family of eight children, and died in the town of Columbia, Herkimer county, about the year 1827. Thus has been treasured in the memory of this family, some of the scenes which will faintly reflect to the reader scores of others akin to it, which, for the want of treasuring memories, have irrevocably passed into the vortex of oblivion.
Incidents in the Life of Jacob Shew.-The narrative of the venerable patriot, Jacob Shew, of his own captivity, and that of 15 other captives, made in the Mayfield and Sacondaga settlements; from conversations with him prior to 1850, at which time he was a resident of Fulton county, N. Y.
To follow the footsteps of a soldier long after his fatiguing marches and counter-marches are ended, and with him in imagination fight over his battles, sharing his dangers and privations; though it prove a thankless task, is nevertheless a profitable and pleasing one. If we would know the true value of our liberty, we must learn its cost in blood, sweat, tears, hunger, pain and privation; following the pioneer settler to his peril-encompassed log tenement. The history of interesting localities is to a nation, what inlets are to the mountain rivulet.
The pride of the old world has ever been her princes and her nobles, the one inheriting though seldom meriting a crown-or tyrannic rule over serfs-the others made such by some farcical ceremony, to live drones and blood-suckers on the producing classes of community. The pride of the new world-particularly that portion which we inherit, is also her princes and her nobles; the former rendered such by the voice of a free and intelligent people-the latter, not by form and court favor, but by true valor and deeds of noble daring. And although it may be said that Americans have no grandfathers, many of her most distinguished sons and daughters having risen from obscurity-yet will Americans date an ancestry of real nobility, serving the Indians poise their rifles, seized, and held him, fearing if he started he would be shot. It now turned out that about 100 of the enemy, Indians and tories led by Lieut (afterwards Major) Ross, had come from Canada by the northern route, many of them to remove their families thither. They were also desirous of taking back some patriots as prisoners, with the plunder their dwellings might afford. That they should not be thwarted in the main object of the expedition, they crossed the Sacondaga two miles below the Fish house, where they concealed their canoes, and from thence proceeded with great circumspection to the river settlements near Tribes Hill, where most of their friends resided. They avoided doing any act that might betray their visit to any of the little forts in the neighborhood and elicit pursuit and having collected the Indian and Tory families sought, as expeditiously as possible, they were gathering to take their canoes, when fortune gave them the three prisoners named; having confined their range for prisoners and plunder to the dwellings of the outsiders of civilization.
In Philadelphia bush, north of Tribes Hill, they captured Charles Morris and his son John, George Cough and his son Henry, and an old gentleman named Eikler, who, for some unknown reason, was liberated; and passing through Fondas Bush they added to their prisoners, John Putman, Joseph Scott, John Reese, Herman Salisbury and Andreas Bowman. The prisoners named in this connection, as also Robert Martin and David Harris, a lad aged 16 years then living with the latter, were made captive on the 2d day of June; and the Shews and Woodworth, on the following day. On the night of the 2d, the enemy were encamped with their prisoners at a little distance southeast of Summer House Point. After securing Woodworth and his companions, the enemy proceeded directly to Mr. Shew's dwelling, which they had intended to visit on breaking up their camp in the morning.
When his father left home, he charged his son Jacob Shew to keep a good look out up the river for the foe. Mr. Shew's house was situated in a ravine between two gentle elevations, upon which Mr. Rosevelt and Mr. Grinnell erected nice dwellings about the year 1840. On the westerly one near the site of the Grinnell mansion, Jacob took his station. His vigils had lasted perhaps two hours, when he descried a canoe containing several Indians coming down the creek from Summer House Point.* He had not heard the report of his brother's rifle some time before, and on seeing the canoe he ran home to report his discovery; where the party with the prisoners named had already arrived from an opposite direction. Jacob and his brother Stephen now increased the number of prisoners to 16. Jacob, one of the youngest captives, was born April 15, 1763, being 15 years old when taken.
Could not Possibly Understand.-Several Indians among the invaders, the most of whom were Mohawks, were not only old acquaintances, but long the professed friends of Mr. Shew; from whom they had received numerous favors. The vicinity of his location being a great resort for fishermen and hunters; at times a dozen Indians slept at his house in a single night, partaking, while there, the hospitality of his table. He was assured by Aaron and David, two of his Indian friends who were brothers, when they followed the fortunes of the Johnson family to Canada, that for the numerous favors they had received from their "white brother," as they called him, he should be duly notified of impending danger, and not be injured or captured in his isolated retreat. This promise of the Indians was heard by young Jacob. Accordingly, pretending not to consider himself a prisoner on reaching home, the elder Shew was very attentive to the wants of his quondam friends. Observing they were reserved and stoical, he took occasion to remind them of their former promises. David, with a guttural grunt and shrug of the shoulders, replied in his native dialect, "Yok-tah cock-a-rungkee!" (I don't understand you). Proving for once, at least, the old adage false, which said an Indian could never forget a favor.
Owing to a combination of circumstances, the enemy were more humane than usual in this invasion, as no women or small children were either killed or carried into captivity. The dwellings of all the captives, except that of Woodworth, which was several miles out of the way, were plundered; and after
* When Mr. Algar and Henry Shew went to Johnstown, they concealed a canoe in the bushes, which they had used in crossing the creek at Summer House Point. The enemy found this boat, and in it several of their number passed down to the Sacondaga. This was the canoe seen by young Jacob Shew.
taking from Shew's house whatever they desired, the enemy suffered Mrs. Shew and her three youngest children to remain on the premises, but left them houseless; for now being out of danger of pursuit, as they believed, the torch was applied and the house mostly consumed before the incendiaries left it. The barn would have escaped destruction as the party had all moved forward, but for William Bowen, a Tory present, who also had received many favors from the Shew family. Looking back, the knave exclaimed, "What, are you going to let the cursed rebel's barn stand? "He then ran back some rods to the burning house, got a fire-brand, set the barn on fire and soon it was a heap of ruins.
The invaders under Lieut. Ross, who was a British officer, were all Indians but five, and well known to the Shew family. They were two brothers named Bowen, James Lintz, Sweeny, and Loucks. The latter was painted and clad like an Indian, but Mr. Shew recognized him soon after his capture and told him he need not paint to disguise his real character. Finding himself detected, he washed off his paint and did not again use it during his journey to Canada. Among the plunder made at Shew's, was about 500 pounds of maple sugar, which the family had made that spring and were husbanding with care to make it last through the year. The Indians' tomahawks were put in requisition, and soon all the enemy were running about with large cakes, the family not being allowed a morsel of it. This looked cruel to the children, whose mouths watered in vain for the sacharine plunder.
Mrs. Shew, after seeing her husband and two sons led off into the forest, and her buildings and their contents destroyed or carried away, set out for Johnstown, 18 miles distant, with feelings none can justly realize at this late day. A Tory squatter, an old Irishman named Kennedy,* aided Mrs. Shew and her children in crossing the Kennyetto at Summer House Point, from whence they proceeded to the house of Warren Howell,+ a pioneer settler in Mayfield, eight miles from the ashes of her own home. The fugitives were kindly treated at Howell's,
* This Kennedy removed to Canada with his family not long after the event referred to.
+ This Howell held a Lieutenant's commission in the militia at the beginning of difficulties: proved faithless to the trust, and went to Canada with the Johnsons.
considering the bias of the family, and remained there over night. On the following day they set forward, and were met at Philadelphia Bush by Mrs. Amasa Stevens and Miss Hannah Putman,* daughters of Loadawick Putman, on horseback. They had heard of Mrs. Shew's misfortunes, and thus proceeded to meet and assist her in getting to a place of safety. Mrs. Shew tarried all night with the hospitable Putman family, and arrived the next day with her children at the Johnstown fort.
Mrs. Martin and Mrs. Algar, with their children, were kept in the enemy's camp on the night Martin was captured (possibly the families of other captives were), and the following morning were set across the Kennyetto at Summer House Point, in the canoe which Henry Shew had left there, and proceeded on by Sir Wm. Johnson's road via Philadelphia Bush to Johnstown, where they arrived before Mrs. Shew.
Of the plunder taken along by the enemy, were four good horses, one of which belonged to Algar, the others to the Shew family. From Shew's place the party proceeded down the river to their canoes. Increased, as the party was, by 20 or 30 Indian families, from Tribes Hill, and the prisoners, the water-craft-some 20 canoes, including the one from Summer House Point-was found insufficient, and two large elm trees were cut down, from the bark of which two canoes were made and put afloat in about three Hours, each carrying four or five men with their packs. A part of the warriors swam the river with the horses and proceeded along its northern shore, while the remainder, with their prisoners and families, floated down the river in canoes. At the rapids, about 20 miles from the starting point and near the present village of Conklingville, the party halted for the night, the canoes being all drawn on shore.
An Indian chief named Peter Sword, who made known his sir-name to the prisoners by significantly extending his right arm, appeared to share the command with Ross; having, much of the time, the most to say. The prisoners were assembled every night and morning and counted in a novel manner. Peter, standing upon his feet, would drop his hands upon his knees, strain open his eyes like a monkey, and for every
* Miss Putman, then a girl in her teens, after the war became the wife of Jacob Shew. The murder of her father, brother, and sister's husband in May, 1780, is related elsewhere in this work.
prisoner give a shrill whoop, to be numbered by another of the party. He seemed pleased when, at the end of his labor the first night, the invoice ran up to sixteen. He also made a speech every morning to the Indians, just before or just after numbering the prisoners. In counting the captives at the first morning's dawn, the tally fell short one; when Peter sprang up from his recumbent position in evident surprise, and hastily scanning the prisoners he exclaimed in no very good humor- "Ump! Yankee gone! " The most of his prisoners were Germans.
The prisoners were bound nights, and usually an Indian slept on each side of every captive; but early in the evening, after his capture, Woodworth feigned sudden illness with cholera-morbus, and he was loosened to vomit, or rather try to, with no little contortion of body and visage, and he was, to all appearances, very sick, having often to run to the bank of the river, whither no one followed him, he was not rebound. His illness only lasted, however, until his foes were all asleep, who, flushed with their recent success, did not practice their usual vigilance. Proceeding to the river, Woodworth set a canoe adrift-not recovered by the enemy-to make them believe he had crossed the stream; but instead of doing so he struck off up the river on its easterly shore, arriving near the site of the present village of Northville early in the morning-25 miles from where he had been obliged to abandon his trusty rifle. At this point he forded the river, returned home, to the great joy of his family, and with it he arrived in Johnstown in the evening of the day after his captivity.
The water party consisting of part of the enemy, most of the prisoners and the removing families, went down the Sacondaga to the Hudson, crossed that river and transported their canoes to the shore of Lake George. In a carrying place about a mile distant from the lake, they found a three-handed bateau, which they took along. They floated down Lakes George and Champlain to St. Johns, always encamping on the shore at night. The party on land with the horses proceeded along the western side of the lakes, and at the south end of Lake Champlain both parties came together. John Shew, known by the enemy to be a good woodsman, was taken with the party on land. The Algar horse having broken a leg on the uneven ground, was killed and eaten by its new owners. The best horse of the three taken at Shew's, was owned by young Stephen. When the parties united, Stephen again saw his favorite animal grazing with its fellows, and could not give up the idea of its being his property. Pointing to it he observed to an Indian who had the care of it-"That is my horse!" " Umph! he mine now!" replied the Indian, by way of comfort to the boy.
The food of the water party and probably that of the other, consisted principally of fresh mutton, beef, poultry, etc., obtained as plunder on the premises of the prisoners. The meat was soon fly blown, but the Indians made soup of it. Jacob Shew carried the saddle of a sheep from the Sacondaga to Lake George. The prisoners generally had food enough, although Indian's fare, but for two days near the end of their journey, the water party fasted: enjoying the occupation of eating mouldy biscuit-several barrels of which had been left in that neighborhood by a cut-off party of Burgoyne's men the year before. While the enemy were without food, says George Cough, they thought seriously of killing the elder Shew to replenish their larder. After a halt of one day at St. Johns, the parties united, set out for Montreal. At an Indian village situated some miles above Montreal, called Caughnawaga, all the prisoners were obliged to run the gantlet. The lines were composed principally of Indian men armed with birch gads, who loosened the jackets of the prisoners, but none were seriously injured.
The captives were 12 days going from the Fish house to Montreal, where a British officer paid twelve dollars and a half each for those of them the Indians chose to give up. Mr. Cough and his son, John Shew, Scott and Bowman were not given up with the rest as prisoners of war, but were retained by the Indians and taken to their homes. What reward, if any, was paid for their capture is unknown. At the time of this invasion, the enemy were desirous of getting prisoners for exchange, and offered a more liberal bounty for prisoners than for scalps; this probably accounts for there having been no blood shed by Ross's party; believed to have been an unparalleled instance of humanity exercised by Canadian invaders during the war.
The 10 captives retained as prisoners of war were kept at Montreal for several weeks and then sent down to Quebec on a sloop, from which they were transferred to the ship Maria, Capt. Max, and remained on board of her at that port two or three months. While there a British sergeant drew up at their request, a petition to Sir John Johnson, which the ten Johnstown prisoners and perhaps others signed; proposing as they were held ready for an exchange, they would return home across the lakes and send back a number of the enemy then prisoners with the Americans, equaling their own number. To this proposition Sir John would not agree, but went on board the ship and told them in person that "If they would join his corps, they would all return together to possess their Johnstown lands."
" When the d-l will that be? " interrogated the elder Shew in no very good humor.
" The rebels can't hold out much longer," said Sir John, "and at the end of the war, we'll all go to Johnstown together."
" Never," responded the old patriot with emphasis, "will you go back to inherit your Johnstown possessions again!"
The tory chieftain was unwilling to believe the war would terminate so disastrously for his future prospects, and soon after left the ship. A few days after, Johnson sent for Mr. Shew to know if any of the prisoners of his acquaintance would be likely to enlist into his Majesty's service. Shew told him he thought they would not, but that he could try them if he chose. After a request from Sir John that he would exert his influence in that direction, the prisoner returned to the ship.
A Chance to Enlist.-The next morning a recruiting officer, a Sergeant, named Hilliard, who had removed from Johnstown to Canada, and who knew some of the prisoners, visited the ship to beat up for recruits. The prisoners were all on deck, and, agreeable to his instructions, he waited upon Mr. Shew to make known the nature of his errand. As the young captives gathered round the old gentleman, he said to them, " Here is a recruiting officer come to enlist you into the British service! My lads, if any of you want to sell your country for a green coat with red facings, and a cap with a lock of red horse-hair hanging down one side of it, you now have a good chance!" The reader is aware that the force of an argument depends much on the time and manner of its utterance. That the one of Mr. Shew had its desired weight, may be inferred from the fact that after numerous luring inducements and golden promises of reward in his Majesty's service, Seargeant Hilliard gathered up his papers and left the ship, without having made a single recruit. Thus much for the principles of the back woods men of western New York in the hour that tried men's souls.
When the Maria was moored under the Heights of Abraham, the British on the fortifications would play yankee-doodle to imitate the prisoners. Many of them who were in good spirits, however, would throw up their hats, huzza for the cause of liberty, begin a jig on the ship's deck and shout to the enemy to play away and they would dance for them. Early in September the Maria was ready to sail for England, via New York, where she was to land her prisoners, some 60 in all. Of the number were Lieut.-Col. Frederick Bellinger, and Major John Frey, officers who were made prisoners at Oriskany the summer before. When the ship was about to sail, those officers were told that they could remain at Quebec or go to New York. Maj. Frey said he would rather remain on the vessel with his countrymen and share their chance to get home, and Col. Bellinger expressed the same views, and they remained on board. After a pleasant sail down the St. Lawrence and into the gulf, the vessel was brought to at Newfoundland, to enquire if any Yankees had been there lately; an inquiry known there to apply to privateers. They were informed that some had left that port only the day before.
Soon after leaving the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Maria fell in with a privateer, which immediately gave chase. The pursuit lasted for two days, and the British vessel escaped by being a better sailer than her antagonist; but she was driven directly out of her course; and after a sail of several weeks, being part of the lime nearer Europe than America, and not daring to run down to New York, she returned to Halifax, there landed her captives and sailed directly from thence to England. The trip to sea was a novelty in the life of the Johnstown settlers, the most of whom were very sea-sick for several days; often lining the ship's side and casting up their dinners without the aid of stomach-pumps. Capt. Max was a gentleman, and treated the prisoners while on his vessel, as though he was born with a soul, a contingency that does not always happen in the birth of naval commanders.
Nearly 1,300 captives were then assembled at Halifax, and two ships were fitted out to take them to Boston to be exchanged. Several prisoners had effected their escape from Halifax, by having good knives; and -when the Johnstown prisoners were confined there, their knives were taken from all of them except the elder Shew. They had to cook their own meat in a large kettle set in an arch, and often were allowed but a scanty supply of fuel to do it with. Not unfrequently the grease was skimmed off to increase the flame, and at times an old garment was tucked under the kettle. If the meat was not half cooked, as was frequently the case, it had to be eaten in its raw state, with the peas or beans soaked with it-the meat having to be pulled apart with the fingers. Jacob Shew chanced to find a piece of an iron hoop, and with an immense rubbing upon a stone, he made it supply the needs of a knife to the mess which included him. An old tar who had managed to retain his knife, exposed it to a sentinel from motives of mischief, who demanded its surrender to him. The prisoner refused to part with it, and the soldier was taking measures to get it by force, when the old salt, knife in hand, fell back among the prisoners, and the sentinel not daring to leave his post, bit his lip in anger to see his authority set at defiance.
While detained at Halifax, Putman, Salisbury and the elder Morris were taken sick and died. The rest of the Johnstown prisoners who had been on board the ship Maria, were landed in Boston, where young Morris also died. Reese left Boston, but as he never reached home, his friends supposed he died on the way. The three Shews, father, Stephen and Jacob, left Boston together, the latter with the small-pox just developing. Doct. Farrell, of Rhode Island, and Moses Hicks, of Virginia, fellow prisoners, journeyed with the Shews from Boston to Roxbury. As the three latter sat down much fatigued by the wayside in Massachusetts, opposite a nice house, to rest their wearied limbs, some 15 or 18 miles from the city, a little black girl was sent out to enquire if they were deserters. "If you are deserters," said she "master said you should come in, but if you are not, he does not wish to see you," Such was the comfort meted by wealthy tories, to men suffering in the cause of freedom.
On arriving in the town of Sudbury, nearly 20 miles from Boston, Jacob Shew gave out, sat down by the way-side, and told his friends he could go no farther. After seeing him well cared for, they journeyed on, found friends on the route who supplied their necessities, and arrived in Johnstown January 1, 1779. Jacob fortunately fell into Samaritan hands, was cured of his loathsome disease, and reached Johnstown on the 17 of March following his capture, it being "St. Patrick's day in the morning."
How Shew and Scott made their Escape.-I have observed that several of the Johnstown prisoners were retained among the Indians. John Shew and Joseph Scott, known by their captors to be good hunters, the former being a celebrated marksman, were taken some distance north of the St. Lawrence, where they were retained not far apart. They were allowed to hunt for their new masters to supply them with food, and several times met in their excursions. At one of those accidental meetings the two friends agreed to take French leave of the forest and return home. Securing what food and ammunition they could, they met by concert and set their faces toward Johnstown, distant several hundred miles. On arriving at the St. Lawrence, they luckily found a tree canoe on shore, in which they crossed the river. Fearing they might be on an island, they concealed the canoe in the bushes, but they were soon undeceived and resumed their march. They had secured hooks and fish-lines, and with those and their fire arms they, for several days, were well fed.
While journeying along the western shore of Lake Champlain, they became straitened for food, and seeing a British vessel not far from the shore, they resolved to obtain a supply from her. Making a signal, a boat was sent for them and they were soon on ship-board. They stated that they were Tories (it is a wonder the he did not choke them), going to see their suffering families in a frontier settlement, and there chanced to be no one on board who knew them, they were believed, obtained a good supply of food, were again set on shore, and meeting with no hindrance, they arrived in a few days at Saratoga, where they were arrested as British spies. Gen. Schuyler, who was then in command there, was informed in the evening that two spies had been taken. "Bring them in to-morrow morning for examination," said the General.
In the campaign of 1777, John Shew had become acquainted with General Schuyler, and when himself and comrade were taken into his presence in the morning, the latter instantly recognized his Johnstown friend.
" What, John, are you here as a spy ? " said be in a friendly manner, advancing and offering his hand.
" They say so," said John, exchanging the proffered salutation.
"But where do you come from?" enquired the general, who had no doubt about his patriotism.
"I suppose you knew," said the wearied soldier, "that I was some weeks ago made a prisoner, with my friends and neighbors, and taken to Canada." At his request, Shew related the manner of his own and his friends' capture and conveyance to Canada; how, on their arrival, they were separated; how he and Scott had escaped from their captives; and how, when in want of food they had obtained it of their foes, etc., etc., all of which deeply interested the General; and learning that they desired to go directly to their friends, he supplied their immediate wants and gave them a parting blessing. They arrived in Johnstown some five or six weeks after their capture. The elder Cough and Bowman, who were taken up the St. Lawrence, also gave their Indian captors the slip, much in the manner Shew and Scott had done, and after an absence of a few months, they, too, returned safely to their friends. They were three weeks in the woods without seeing a soul; were greatly straitened for food, and for several days had to subsist almost wholly upon sheep sorrel. The younger Cough remained a prisoner in Canada until the close of the war, and finally died there.
How a Prisoner Twice Escaped from Johnstown.-Here is a matter published in my Trappers of New York which should find a place here. John, a son of Philip Helmer, named as one of the pioneer settlers in Fonda's Bush, who remained there after his patriotic neighbors removed to Johnstown, accompanied Sir John Johnson to Canada on his removal thither from Johnson Hall. Returning to the settlement, as believed, in 1778, he became an object of suspicion; was arrested and confined at the Johnstown fort.* A sentinel was placed over him who was very green in the service, and improving a favorable opportunity, the prisoner took occasion to praise his gun, and closed
* The Johnstown jail was inclosed in palisades with block house corners, to be known In the war as the Johnstown fort.
his adulation by requesting permission to look at it, which was readily granted. The piece had hardly passed out of the young guard's possession, ere his authority was set at defiance, and its new owner took it to a place of retirement to inspect is merits; which were not fully decided upon until he had safely arrived in Canada.
At a later period, believed in the same year, young Helmer had the audacity again to visit the Johnstown settlements. He returned late in the fall and was concealed at his father's house for some time, intending, on the return of spring, if possible, to take back with him some recruits for the British service. The nonintercourse between whig and Tory families favored his design, but by some means his place of refuge became known to three patriotic neighbors-Benj. DeLine, Solomon Woodworth and Henry Shew, who determined on his capture. Well armed, they proceeded One night to the vicinity of his father's dwelling and concealed themselves where they believed he would pass. Soon after, unsuspicious of danger, he approached the trio, who poised their rifles and he yielded to their authority and was lodged in the Johnstown fort. The entrance to its picketed enclosure was on the south side. Helmer had a sister Magdalene- the Germans call the name Lana, by which she was known. Miss Lana was on intimate terms with a soldier then on duty at the Johnstown fort; and at an interview with him after one of several visits to her brother, to whom she carried such little comforts as a sister can provide; she got a pledge from him that when on sentinel duty he would unlock the prison door and set the prisoner free. It was in the night time, and while his vigils lasted, that she had found access to the prisoner.
True to his promise, Lana's lover did set her brother at liberty, and with two other soldiers who were seduced from their duty by him, they all fled together. When she wills it, what cannot a woman do? A sergeant and five men, Amasa Stevens, Benj. DeLine, and three continental soldiers were soon upon their trail, which they were enabled to follow by a light fall of snow, and taking with them a lantern that they might travel by night, they came up with and surprised them in the woods. The two of his wounds, and again imprisoned. By some unaccountable means he succeeded the third time in escaping, fled to Canada, and there remained. At an interview between Helmer and Nicholas Stoner in Canada, after the war, the former stated that he suffered incredible hardships in making his last journey thither.-From Jacob Shew and Nicholas Stoner.
A Strike for Liberty,-The following account of the captivity and escape of two citizens of Ulster county, is copied from the Connecticut Journal of September 2, 1778. I find it at page 560 of the New York Historical Collections, published by Barber & Howe, in 1845. It reads as follows:
POUGHKEEPSIE, August 17.
" We have also certain accounts that Andrieson and Osterhout, who were taken by the Indians and Tories at Leghewegh, in Ulster county, some time ago, made their escape from them when within one day's march of Niagara, and are returned home. They were committed to the charge of three Indians, one a captain and two squaws; who treated them with great severity, and threatened to kill Osterhout, who, from fatigue and hunger, could not travel as fast as they would have him. At night, the Indians thinking themselves secure from the great distance back into the country, went to sleep. When Andrieson proposed to Osterhout to sieze the opportunity of putting the Indians to death; which (Osterhout declining) he executed himself by very expedltiously tomahawking the three Indians before they were so far recovered from their sleep as to make any effectual resistance. The squaws waking with the noise, took to their heels and escaped. Thereupon, Andrieson and Osterhout, possessing themselves of the Indian's provisions, consisting of three or four ducks and two quarts of samp, with the most valuable part of the Indian's plunder-consisting of some fine linen shirts, a laced beaver hat, with other articles of clothing, and some silver, with each of them a gun, they set out for home, where they arrived after 17 day's march, much worn out with fatigue and hunger, but in high spirits."
How Cornelius Van Dyck Shot an Indian.-Among the Schoharie patriots in the Revolution, was Cornelius Van Dyck. He was in the ranger service, was often on scouting duty, and while thus engaged the following incident occurred. At some period of the war, believed in 1778, he was threading his way alone through the forest, when he came suddenly upon an Indian a few rods off, and as he was raising his rifle the warrior discovered him and sprang behind a large tree. Near him was a wind-fallen tree, and behind its roots Van Dyck took shelter. Great caution was now observed by the foemen to get the first shot. At length the Indian, discovering a portion of the ranger's head exposed, sent a bullet after it. The ball cut off a lock of hair and grazed his cheek, upon which he purposely fell backward in such a manner that his adversary could see him fall. He quickly changed his position, however, so as to rest upon his knees, and thus remained with his rifle cocked.
The Indian, not doubting but his shot had taken effect, without waiting to reload his piece, ran up to secure a prize in the scalp-lock of his victim. The cavity in the earth, made by the upturned roots before him, so concealed Van Dyck that his adversary did not see him until he was close upon him, at which instant a bullet plowed its way among his vitals. The savage sprang several feet from the ground, with a yell, and then sank down to a slumber that knew no waking. Of course the ranger had an extra rifle.
In the second war with Britain, Van Dyck, who had ever been fond of a military life, although then advanced in years, again enlisted under the stars of freedom, and was on duty on the lines between New York and Canada. While there he went hunting, and not returning as expected, he was found dead in the woods; having been visited, as was supposed, by some sudden illness.-From Doct. Cors. II. Van Dyck, a nephew of Van Dyck above named.
Other Events in 1778.-In August, Lieut. Col. William Butler proceeded from Schoharie with the troops under his command, to Unadilla and Oquago, Indian towns on the Susquehanna, which they effectually destroyed, with large quantities of provisions.
The troops under Col. Butler, in this excursion, among whom were several volunteers from the Schoharie militia, suffered incredible hardships. "They were obliged to carry their provision; on their backs; and, thus loaded, frequently to ford creeks and rivers. After the toils of hard marches, they were obliged to camp down during wet and chilly nights without covering, or even the means of keeping their arms dry."-Dr. Ramsay. After an absence of sixteen days, they were greeted with a hearty welcome at the forts in Schoharie. As appears by receipts given by Lieut. Col. John H. Beeckman at the Lower Fort, Schoharie, Aug. 27 and 29, 1778, to Jacob Fr. Lawyer, for their pasturage, Butler brought back 49 horses and 52 head of horned cattle, which proves the expedition one of much importance.
A regiment of New York State troops, under Col. Duboise, went into winter quarters at Schoharie in the fall of 1778. Adjt. Dodge, Maj. Rosencrans, Capt. Stewart, and Ensign Johnson, of Duboise's regiment, wore quartered in the kitchen of Chairman Ball's dwelling.-Peter Ball.
On the 6th of August of this year, M. Gerard was publicly received by the United States government as minister of the king of France. On the 14th of September following, Dr. Franklin was appointed minister to France, the first American minister delegated to a foreign court.
" The alliance of France gave birth to expectations which events did not fulfill; yet the presence of her fleets on the coast deranged the plans of the enemy, and induced them to relinquish a part of their conquests."-Hale.
The reward paid by English agents for the scalps of the Americans, eiqht dollars each, excited the avarice of both Indians and tories; and many innocent women and children were slain, not only in this, but in several years of the war, to gratify the cupidity of a merciless and unfeeling enemy.
Late in the fall, the army under Washington erected huts near Middlebrook, in New Jersey, and went into winter quarters. In December of this year, Mr. Laurens resigned his office as president of Congress, and John Jay was chosen in his place.
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