History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883
Volume II, Page 292
If the Indians had been severely chastised in New York in 1779, and had been obliged to seek out new habitations for their families, and consequently were not very troublesome that season ; they were early treading the war path the succeeding year, to revenge the lasting injuries done them.
The following incident transpired in the spring of 1780, in the Mohawk valley. The facts were related to the author by John S. Quackenboss, and Isaac Covenhoven, the latter one of the actors :
A Noted Tory, How Killed.-George Cuck, a tory who had become somewhat notorious from his having been engaged with the enemy at Oriskany, Cherry Valley, and elsewhere, entered the valley of the Mohawk late in the fall of 1779, with the view of obtaining the scalps of Capt. Jacob Gardinier, and his Lieut, Abraham D. Quackenboss, for which the enemy had offered a large bounty. Cuck was seen several times in the fall, and on one occasion, while sitting on a rail fence, was fired upon by Abraham Covenhoven, a former whig neighbor, the ball entered the rail upon which he sat, and he escaped. As nothing more was seen of him after that event, it was generally supposed he had returned to Canada. At this period, a Tory by the name of John Van Zuyler, resided in a small dwelling which stood in a then retired spot, a few rods south of the residence of the late Maj. James Winne, in the town of Glen. Van Zuyler had three daughters, and although he lived some distance from neighbors, and a dense forest intervened between his residence and the river settlements, several miles distant, the young whigs would occasionally visit his girls. Tory girls sometimes made agreeable " sparkers," especially in " sugar time."
James Cromwell, a young man who lived near the Mohawk, went one pleasant Sunday evening in the month of March, to see Cornelia, one of Van Zuyler's daughters. Most of the settlers then made maple sugar, and Cromwell found his fair Dulcinea, boiling sap in the sugar bush. While they were "sparking it," the girl, perhaps thinking her name would soon be Mrs. Cromwell, became very confiding and communicative. She told her beau that the Tory Cuck, was at their house. Cromwell at first appeared incredulous. "He is surely there," said she, " and when any one visits the house, he is secreted under the floor." The report of his having been seen in the fall instantly recurred to his mind, and from the earnestness of the girl, he believed her story. Perhaps Cromwell was aware that the girl, when with him, was inclined to be whiggish-be that as it may, he resolved instantly to set about ascertaining the truth or falsehood of the information. In a very short time he complained of being made suddenly ill, from eating too much sugar. The girl, whose sympathy was aroused, thinking from his motions that he was badly griped, finally consented to let him go home and "sugar off" alone. Away went Cromwell, pressing his hands upon his bowels and groaning fearfully, until he was out of sight and hearing of his paramour, when the pains left him. Taking a direct course through the woods, he reached the dwelling of Capt. Jacob Gardinier, some four miles below his own, and within the present village of Fultonville, about 12 o'clock at night, and calling him up, told him what he had heard. Capt. Gardinier sent immediately to his Lieut., Abram D. Quackenboss, to select a dozen stout hearted men and meet them as soon as possible at his house. The Lieutenant enquired what business was on hand. The messenger replied-"Capt. Gardinier said I should tell you that there was a black bear to be caught." In a short time the requisite number of Whigs had assembled, and the Captain, taking- his Lieutenant aside, told him the duty he had to perform. He declined going himself on account of ill health, and entrusted the enterprise to his Lieutenant. He directed him to proceed with the utmost caution, as the foe was no doubt armed, and as his name was a terror in the valley, to kill him at sight. The party, well armed, set off on the mission.
The snow, yet on the ground, was crusted so hard that it bore them, and having a bright moon-light night, they marched rapidly forward. Halting a quarter of a mile from Van Zuyler's house, the Lieutenant struck up a fire, and as his men gathered around an ignited stump, he addressed them nearly as follows : " My brave lads ! It is said that the villain Cuck, is in yonder house, secreted beneath the floor. The object of our visit is to destroy him. He is a bold and desperate fellow-doubtless well armed, and in all probability some of us may fall by his hand. Those of you, therefore, who decline engaging in so dangerous an undertaking, are now at liberty to return home." " We are ready to follow where you dare to lead !" was the response of one and all. " It is yet too early," said the Lieutenant, and while they were waiting for the return of day, the plan of attack was agreed upon. At the stump were assembled Lieut. Quackenboss, Isaac and Abraham Covenhoven, twin brothers, John Ogden, Jacob Collier, Abraham J., and Peter J. Quackenboss, Martin Gardinier, James Cromwell, Gilbert Van Alstyne, Nicholas, son of Capt. Gardinier, a sergeant, Henry Thompson, and "Nicholas Quackenboss, also a sergeant. It was agreed that the party should separate and approach the house in different directions, so as not to excite suspicion. The appearance of a light in the dwelling was a signal for moving forward, and selecting Ogden, Collier, and Abraham J. Quackenboss to follow him, the Lieutenant led directly to the house. As they approached it, a large watch dog met them with his yelping, which caused the opening of a little wooden slide over a loophole for observation, by a member of the family ; but seeing only four persons, the inmates supposed they were sugar-makers. On reaching the door and finding it fastened, the soldiers instantly forced it-the family, as may be supposed, were thrown into confusion by the unexpected entrance of armed men. " What do you want here ? " demanded Van Zuyler. " The Tory George Cuck!" was the Lieutenant's reply. Van Zuyker declared that the object of their search was not in his house. The three daughters had already gone to the sugar works, and their father expressed to Lieut. Quackenboss his wish to go there too. He was permitted to go, but thinking it possible that Cuck might also have gone there, several men, then approaching the house, were ordered to keep an eye on his movement. Abraham Covenhoven was one of the second party who entered the house. There was a dark stairway which led to an upper room, in which it was thought the object of their search might be secreted. Covenhoven was in the act of ascending the stairs with his gun aimed upward, and ready to fire, as Abraham J. Quackenboss drew a large chest from the wall on one side of the room, disclosing the object of their search. Discharging a pistol at Nicholas Gardinier, the Tory sprang out before Quackenboss, who was so surprised that he stood like a statue, exclaiming, "dunder! dunder ! dunder ! " The wary Lieutenant was on his guard, and as Cuck leaped upon the floor from a little cellar hole, made for his secretion, he sent a bullet through his head, carrying with it the eye opposite. He fell on one knee, when the Lieutenant ordered the two comrades beside him to fire. Ogden did so, sending a bullet through his breast, and as he sank to the floor, Collier, placing the muzzle of his gun near his head, blew out his brains. Thus ended the life of a man who was ready to imbrue his hands in the blood of his former neighbors and countrymen.
When the gun was fired, Covenhoven said the report was so loud and unexpected that he supposed it fired by Cuck at himself, and came near falling down stairs. Had the party not divided into several squads, the peep from the slide window would have betrayed the object of their visit, and more than one would doubtless have fallen before the villain had been slain, for he had two loaded guns in the house, and a brace of well charged pistols, only one of which he had taken into the kennel. They also found belonging to him, a complete Indian's dress, and two small bags of parched corn and maple sugar, pounded fine and mixed together, an Indian dish, called by the Dutch quitcheraw-intended as food for a long journey.
After his death,
it was ascertained that Cuck had entered the valley late in the fall-that
he had been concealed at the house of this kindred spirit, who pretended neutrality
in the contest, whose retired situation favored the plans of his guest, and
was watching a favorable opportunity to secure the scalps mentioned, and return
to Canada. The making of maple sugar he had supposed would favor his intentions,
as an enemy was unlocked for so early in the season, and the persons whose
scalps he sought, would probably expose themselves in the woods. He had intended,
if possible, to secure both, scalps in one day, and by a hasty flight, pursue
the nearest route to Canada. As the time of sugar making had arrived,-it is
probable his enterprise was on the eve of being consummated ; but the goddess
of liberty, spread her wings in his path, and defeated his hellish intentions.
Van Zuyler was made a prisoner by the party, and lodged in the jail at Johnstown
; from whence he was removed not long after to Albany. When they were returning
home with VanZuyler in custody, as they approached the sugar bush of Evert
Van Epps, near the present village of Fultonville, one of them, putting on
the Indian dress of Cuck (which, with the guns and pistols were taken home
as trophies), approached the sugar makers as an enemy, which occasioned a
precipitate retreat. The fugitives were called back by others of the party,
when a rope being provided, their prisoner was drawn up to the limb of a tree
several times by the neck ; but as he had been guilty of no known crime, except
that of harboring Cuck, although suspected of burning Covenhoven's barn in
the fall, his life was spared and he was disposed of as before stated. Cuck
(This was probably the same German name that was at that period in the Johnstown settlements, and was there written Cough.)
was a native of Tryon county, and was born not many miles from where he died.
An Amiable Sister.-After the above story was published in 1845, I learned from one who well knew the family, the following additional facts of its history. Cornelia Van Zuyler aged 16, and her brother John, aged 12 years, were left alone at the house one day, she to scrub the floor, and he to cut fire-wood. She wanted him to get her a pail of water, and on his refusing to do it, she seized a loaded gun and shot him through the body. He fell on his face and expired near the door, when she drew him into the house, and plugged the wound with tow to prevent the flow of blood. She reloaded the gun, went to a neighbor's named Covenhoven and told them the Indians had been to their house and shot John ; but soon after confessed the deed to her parents. She escaped arrest and punishment in those perilous times, under the plea of insanity ; the family placing a cap on her head for a while, and pretending she was insane. As the brother and sister were at home alone, the cause and manner of his death was only known as this affectionate girl saw fit to give them. She married a man by the name of Sharpe after the war. The elder Van Zuyler once recovered from a cut across the abdomen with a scythe, which left his bowels protruding;- at another time he escaped death under a caving sand bank, which buried him six feet deep. Facts given the author in 1849 and 1850, by Chauncey Orion.
Captured in a Sugar Bush at Harpersfield-On the 2d day of April 1780, a scout of 14 individuals, commanded by Lieut. Alexander Harper, (not Col. John Harper as stated by some writers) were sent from the Schoharie forts by Col. Vrooman into the vicinity of Harpersfield, to keep an eye on the conduct of certain suspected persons living near the headwaters of the Delaware, and if possible to make a quantity of maple sugar The party was surprised after being there four days, by a body of Indians and tories under Joseph Brant, and hurried off to Canada. The scout consisted of Lieut. Harper, Freegift Patchin*, Isaac Patchin, his brother, Ezra Thorp, Lieut. Henry Thorp, Lieut. Thomas Henry,+ and his brothers James and John, Cornelius Teabout, Stevens, William Lamb and son William (he was gone 11 years and was unknown on his return), Dr. Brown and one other. About the time they arrived at then place of destination, a heavy snow fell, and not anticipating the approach of a foe, they began their sugar manufacture, the preceding winter has justly been designated in the annals of mercury as the cold winter, and the spring was very backward, they were busily engaged in sugar making-which can only be done
*Mr. Patchin was a fifer during the war, and a General of militia after its close. He was a very worthy man, and once represented his county in the Legislature.
+ Thomas Henry and his brother James were both killed in the sugar bush by the same Indian, althought not then together, who also hurled his omahawk at John. The latter knew Brant, who was near, and called to him in the Indian tongue and he saved his life. John Henry was a carpenter by trade, and had known Brant when working at it in the Mohawk valley. On his arrival in Canada, he was set to work, and the enemy wanted him to go to Bermuda to work there, and on his refusing to do it, to subdue his indifferent spirit as they said, he was confined in a dungeon at Quebec, in which he died. He wrote to his family that they might know why he was thus cruelly treated. From Thomas Henry, (in 1847), a son of this John Henry, who was three years old when his father was captured, and 70 at our interview.
while the weather thaws in the day-time and freezes in the night, -from the time of their arrival until the 7th, when they were surprised by 43 Indiana and seven tories.
So unlooked for was the approach of an enemy, and so complete was their surprise, that the Americans did not fire a gun. Two of them were shot down, and eleven more, who were in the sugar bush, surrendered themselves prisoners. Poor Stevens, who was on that day sick in bed, and unable to proceed with the prisoners, was killed and scalped in cold blood. Brant, on recognizing Harper, approached him. " Harper ! " said he, " I am sorry to find you here !" " Why ? " asked the latter. " Because," replied he, " I must kill you, although we were once school mates !" The ostensible object of Brant's mission had been, to lay waste the Schoharie settlements. Confronting Harper, with his eyes keenly fixed upon him, he enquired : " Are there any troops at Schoharie?" Harper's anxiety for the settlers prompted the ready answer: " Yes, 300 continental troops from the eastward, arrived at the forts but three days since." The intelligence-false, though the occasion justified it-was unwelcome to the chief, whose countenance indicated disappointment. The 11 prisoners were then pinioned, and secured in a hog-pen. Several Tories were stationed to guard them during the night, among whom was one Beacraft, a notorious villain, as his after conduct will show.
The Indians built a large fire near, and were in consultation for a long time, about what disposition should be made with the prisoners. Harper could understand much of their dialect, and overheard several of the Indians and Tories urging the death of the prisoners, as they did not consider the enterprise sufficiently accomplished. The opinion of Brant, which was that the party return immediately to Niagara, finally prevailed. Often during the night, while an awful suspense was hanging over the fate of the prisoners, would Beacraft comfort them with this and similar salutations : " You d-d rebels ! you'll all be in hell before morning."
Lieut. Harper discovered, while the enemy were consulting the preceding evening, that his word was doubted by many of the party, and early in the morning he was ordered before an Indian council consisting of Brant and five other chiefs. He was told that his story about the arrival of troops at Schoharie was unbelieved. The question as to its truth was again asked, while the auditors-tomakawk in hand-awaited the answer. Harper, whose countenance indicated scorn at having his word thus doubted, replied that what he had before told them was true, and if they any longer doubted it, they should go there, and have their doubts removed. "Not a muscle of the brave man's countenance indicated fear or prevarication, and full credit was then given to the statement. Fortunate would it be if every falsehood was as productive of good, for that alone prevented the destroyers from entering the Schoharie valley, when it was feebly garrisoned, and where they intended to strike the first effectual blow in revenge of the injuries done them the year before, by the armies under Van Schaick and Sullivan.
The rest of the prisoners were now let out of the pig-stye, when Brant told them in English that the intended destination of the party was Schoharie, which he had been informed was but feebly garrisoned-that his followers were much disappointed at being obliged thus to return-that it had been with difficulty he and his chiefs had restrained the desire of their comrades to kill the prisoners and proceed to the Schoharie valley-that if they would accompany him to Niagara, they should be treated as prisoners of war, and fare as did their captors. The latter expressed a willingness to proceed. They were compelled to carry the heavy packs of the Indians, filled with plunder taken at the destruction of Harpersfield the day before and all set forward for Canada. They were still bound, and as the snow was several feet deep, they at first found it very difficult to keep up with the Indians, who were provided with snowshoes. Some 10 or 15 miles from the place of capture, the party halted at a grist-mill, upon the Delaware river, owned by a tory named Hugh Alexander. This royalist told Brant he might better have taken more scalps and less prisoners ; and his daughters, sensitive creatures, even urged the more generous chieftain to kill his prisoners then, lest they might return at some future day and injure their family. Angus Mclntosh, another Tory in this vicinity, told Brant he might better have made less prisoners. The enemy obtained of Alexander about three bushels of shelled corn, which was also put upon the backs of the prisoners, and they resumed their march. The Tory family of Rose filled a tea-kettle with butter which was given to young Lamb to carry, and after the butter was used, he had to lug it all the way to Canada. They had proceeded but a few miles down the river, when they met Samuel Clockstone, a Tory well known to Brant and most of the prisoners. When Brant made known to him the intended expedition, and its termination from what Lieut. Harper had told him, Clockstone replied : " depend upon it, there are no troops at Schoharie-I have heard of none." With uplifted tomahawk, Brant approached Harper, who was confronted by Clockstone. "Why have you lied to me?" asked the Indian, with passion depicted in every feature and gesture. Harper, apprised of what the Tory had said, in his reply thus addressed the latter ; " I have been to the forts but four days since, the troops had then arrived, and if Capt. Brant disbelieves me, he does so at his peril." Noble, generous hearted fellow, thus to peril his own life to save the lives of others. He had remained at the forts three days after the party were at the sugar bush, which Clockstone happened to know, and the latter admitted that possibly troops had arrived. Brant was now satisfied that his prisoner had not deceived him, and the march was resumed.
April 8th, in the town of Stamford, where Novatus Bliss lived in 1847, the Indians made prisoners an aged man, named Brown, and two grand-sons, one 17 and the other 19 years of age. The Brown family had but recently commenced a forest life, at a place then known as Township. On the day after the party met Clockstone, as the traveling was very bad. Brown, having also a heavy pack to carry, found himself unable to keep up with the company, and begged permission of his captors to return ; telling them that he was too old to take any part in the war, and could not injure the King's cause. On his making this request, the party halted and the old gentleman's pack was taken from him. Knowing the Indian character, he read his fate in the expressive gestures of his silent masters, and told his grandsons, in a low voice, that they would never see him again, for the Indians were going to kill him. He took an affecting leave of the boys and was then compelled to fall in the rear, where he was left in charge of an Indian, whose face, painted black, denoted him as being the executioner for the party. Brown was killed at the Great Bend in the Susquehanna. In a short time this Indian overtook his comrades with the hairless scalp of the murdered prisoner, hanging at the end of his gun.
Two miles southeast of Brown, lived a whig family of McGees, consisting of husband, wife, and four children. The enemy visited this family in its route, and obtained the scalps of the parents and two children ; the other two, John and a sister, fled and concealed themselves where they saw their house burn down. The place where the McGees were buried became a public burying-ground. John McGee became a very useful citizen, and was a Justice of the Peace after the war. Price Campbell's family was to have been killed, but the enemy took the wrong course and went to McGee's.-Thos. Henry.
The party proceeded, from McGee's, down the Delaware river to the Cookhouse flats, from whence they directed their course to Oquago. Constructing rafts, they floated down the Susquehanna to the mouth of the Chemung. The prisoners were unbound when on a raft, but rebound on leaving it.
The Indians, capable of enduring more fatigue than their prisoners on a scanty supply of food-being provided with snow shoes, and having little baggage to carry, would probably have wearied out most of their prisoners, whose bodies, like that of poor Brown, would have been left to feast wild beasts, and their bones, like his, to bleach upon the mountains, had not Brant providentially fallen ill of fever and ague, which compelled the party, for a time, to lay by every other day on his account. They had been journeying about a fortnight, and were approaching a warmer latitude, when a rattle-snake, which had left its den in a warm spot, was killed, and a soup made of it, a free use of which effected a cure for the invalid.
The corn obtained near the head of the Delaware, was equally distributed among the whole party, by an allowance of about two handfills a day which was counted out by the berry to deal justice. This is a noble trait of the Indian character. He never grudgingly gives a scanty allowance to his prisoner, and satiates his own appetite, but shares equally his last morsel with him. The corn was boiled in small kettles carried by the Indians preparatory to eating.
While in the vicinity of Tioga Point, the prisoners came near being sacrificed, to gratify the savage disposition to revenge, even on the innocent, an injury done to a friend. While the Indians were on their way down the Chemung, Brant detached 10 of his warriors, mostly Senecas, to a place called Minisink,* an old frontier settlement on the borders of New York and Pennsylvania, in the hope of making prisoners and plunder. They arrived in due time at the place of destination, and succeeded in obtaining several scalps and five prisoners, three men and two small children. The following particulars of their capture and escape, I find in a note subjoined to Treat's Oration, delivered at Geneseo in 1841, on exhuming the remains of Lieut. Boyd and his command :
"The father of Major Van Campen was thrust through with a spear ; and whilst the red warrior was, with his foot on the breast of his victim, endeavoring to extricate his spear, another savage had dashed out the brains of Moses Van Campen's brother with a tomahawk, and was aiming a blow at Moses' head. He seized the Indian's arm and arrested the descending blow. Whilst thus engaged, his father's murderer thrust his spear at his side. But he avoided the weapon, being only slightly wounded. At this moment the chief interfered, and his life was spared.
"After several days' march, the party, mostly Senecas, above mentioned, arrived near Tioga point, with Lieut. (now Major) Van Campen ; a Dutchman by the name of Pence ; Pike, a robust Yankee ; and two small children. During the day, these prisoners marched with the party, bearing the baggage ; and at the evening halt, were made to carry the wood for the fires.
" Van Campen had, for some time, urged upon the two men, prisoners with him, to make an attempt to escape during the night, by tomahawking the Indians whilst sleeping. He depicted to them the horrors of a long captivity, and of the agonizing tortures to which they would probably be subjected. His companions, however, were at first alarmed at the danger of a contest with 10 warriors. During the afternoon preceding the eventful night of their delivery, he succeeded in persuading them to join him in the meditated blow, before they crossed the river and their retreat was thereby cut off. He advised them to remove the Indians' rifles ; and with the heads of the tomahawks, dash out their brains ; for if the edges of the weapons
* This word signifies, as I have been told, " The water is gone."
were used, the time required to extricate the hatchet after each blow, would prove a dangerous delay. He was over-ruled by his comrades ; and after some discussion among them, that plan was adopted, which was finally acted upon.
" At evening, the savages, according to their custom, lighted their fires, and bound the arms of, the captives behind their backs. They then cut two forked stakes for each side of the fire, and placed between them (resting on the forks), two poles, against which they could lean their rifles. During the evening meal, one of the savages, after sharpening a stick on which to roast his meat laid down his knife in the grass, near the feet of Van Campen, who saw it, and so turned his feet as to cover it, hoping the Indian would forget it before going to rest. After the meal was finished, the 10 Indians having first examined their prisoners to ascertain if they were fast bound, lay down to sleep. Five were on each side of the the fire-their heads under the poles, and his rifle standing at the head of each, ready to be grasped at the instant.
" About midnight, Van Campen sat up and looked around, to learn if all were asleep. Their loud snoring told him the hour to strike had arrived. He then, with his feet drew the knife within reach of his pinioned hand. Rising cautiously, he roused his companions. Pence cut the bands from Van Campen's arms, and the latter then cut loose his two comrades. There had been a slight fall of snow, which had frozen among the leaves, and rendered every footstep fearfully audible. But they succeeded in removing all the rifles to a tree at a short distance from the fire, without awakening one of the warriors. During the afternoon, several of the rifles had been discharged in killing a deer, and, through forgetfulness, left, unloaded. The plan proposed was, that Pence, who was an excellent marksman, should lie down on the left of one row of Indians, with three rifles, and, at the given signal, fire. They supposed the same ball would pass through at least two savages. In the mean time, VanCampen should tomawawk three of those on the other side and Pike, two. Then there would be but three Indians remaining, and each of the captives was to fasten on his foe-Van Campen and Pike with their tomahawks, and Pence with one of the undischarged rifles. Fortunately, for their safety, Pence had taken the two unloaded rifles.
" All things being ready, Van Campen's tomahawk dashed out the brains of one of the Indians at a single blow, but Pence's rifle snapped without discharging. At the noise, one of the two assigned to Pike's charge, with a sudden " ugh ! " extended his hand for his rifle. Pike's heart failing him at this awful crisis, he crouched to the ground and stirred not. But Van Campen saw the Indian starting to his feet, and, as quick as thought, drove the tomahawk through his head. Just as the fifth blow of Van Campen had dispatched the last savage on his side of the fire, Pence tried the third rifle, and the ball passed through the heads of four. The fifth on that side, John Mohawk, bounded to his feet, and rushed toward the rifles. VanCampen darted between him and the tree, and Mohawk turned in night. Van Campen pursued him, and drove the tomahawk through his shoulder. Mohawk immediately grasped his adversary, and, in the struggle, both fell-Van Campen undermost. Each knew his fate depended on the firmness of his grasp, and they clung to each other with unrelaxed nerve, and writhed to break free. Van Campen lay under the wounded shoulder, and was almost suffocated with the Indian's blood which streamed over his face. He eagerly stretched his hand around Mohawk's body to reach the knife of the latter; for the tomahawk had fallen from his hand in the struggle. But as they fell, the Indian's belt had been twisted around his body, and the knife was beyond his reach. At length they break away, and both spring to their feet. Mohawk's arms had been round Van Campen's neck, and the arm of the latter over the back of the former. As they gained their feet, Van Campen seized the tomahawk and pursued the again retreating Indian. His first, impulse was to hurl the hatchet at his foe, but he saw at once the imprudence of his course. If it missed its object, it would be turned in a moment against his own life ; and he therefore gave over the pursuit, and one alone of the 10 Senecas escaped.
" On returning to his comrades, he found Pike on his knees begging for his life, and Pence standing over him with a loaded rifle, ready to fire. Pence answered V. C.'s inquiry into his conduct, by saying, " De tarn Yankee bee's a cowart, and I musht kill um." With difficulty Van Campen prevailed upon the Dutchman to spare the frightened and dastardly Pike. They then scalped their victims ; and, taking their rifles, set forward with the two boys, on their return home, which they reached in safety. * Among the scalps which were strung to the belt of one of the warriors, were those of Van Campen's father and brother." *
Mohawk, the sachem who had escaped from Van Campen, was occupying a little hut near Tioga Point, where the Minisink party were to await Brant's arrival, endeavoring to cure his wound, when he returned with his prisoners. As the party under Brant drew near that place, the war whoop was sounded, and was soon answered by a pitiful howl-the death yell of the lone Indian. The party halted in mute astonishment, when the Indian, with the nine pairs of moccasins, taken from the feet of his dead comrades, came forward and related the adventures of himself and friends, and the terrible disaster that had overtaken them. Instantly, the whole band under Brant seemed transformed to so many devils incarnate, gathering round their prisoners with frantic gestures, and cutting the air with their weapons of death. At this critical moment, when the fate of the prisoners seemed inevitable from the known rule of Indian warfare, Mohawk threw himself into the midst of the circle, and made a signal for silence. This Indian knew most of the prisoners, having lived about Schoharie before the war. He told his attentive auditors, that the prisoners were not the men who had killed his friends, and that to take the lives of innocent men to revenge the guilt of others, could not be right: he therefore desired them to spare their lives. The storm of passion which seemed ready but a moment before to overwhelm the prisoners, now yielded to the influence of reason, and the tomahawks of the savages were returned to their girdles.
The company again moved forward, the prisoners grateful to the Almighty for their deliverance from such obvious perils. On arriving near Newtown, the whole party, Indians as well as prisoners, were on the point of starvation, when an unusual number of wolf tracks arrested their attention. They lead to the half devoured carcass of a dead horse, supposed to have
* This sentence should be much modified or left out. It has been shown by a later writer (see Geo. Peck's Wyoming) that great injustice is done in this narrative to the character of Pike; who is said, by those who knew the men, to have been quite as brave as was Pence, It less impetuous than Van Campen. Indeed such was the testimony of the other prisoners. The last survivor of an event should never attempt his own elevation by impeaching or belittleing the acts of a compatriot.
been a pack horse, left by accident the fall before by the army under Gen. Sullivan. The under side of the animal, frozen, and buried in snow, was found in a good state of preservation. It was instantly cut up, and equally distributed, even to the fleshless bones, among the whole party. Fires were built-the meat cooked-and the nearly famished travelers feasted upon the remains of this horse, with far more satisfaction than would the epicure upon his most dainty meats.
In the present county of Steuben, the prisoners saw the " Painted Post," which had been erected, by the Indians, to commemorate some signal battle fought upon the spot. Leaving the route of Sullivan on the Chemung, they proceeded farther north. On their journey, the tories, Beacraft,* and Barney Cane, boasted of the acts of cruelties each had then perpetrated during the war. The party descended to the Genesee river nearly famished, and there met a company of Indians that had arrived to make preparations to plant corn. The latter had brought with them from Niagara, a fine looking horse, which Brant instantly ordered killed, and distributed to his again starving men and prisoners. No part of the animal, not even the intestines were suffered to be lost. They roasted the meat, using white ashes as a substitute for salt. They also found upon the Genesee flats, small ground nuts, which they roasted and ate with their horse flesh.
From this place, Brant sent forward a runner to Niagara, a distance of 80 miles, to announce the result of his expedition, the number of prisoners, and their character. Brant was in possession of a secret which he kept in his own breast, that doubtless operated as an incentive for him to save the life of Lieut. Harper and his men. Among the prisoners taken at the massacre of Cherry Valley, in the fall of 1778, was Miss Jane Moore, whose mother was a sister of Harper. Not long after her arrival at Niagara, she was courted, and became the wife of Capt. Powell, a British officer of merit. +
* Priest states, that Beacraft boasted at this time of killing a Vrooman boy In Schoharie. He had no lack of evil deeds at that period, but that writer must have misunderstood Gen. Patchin in that part of the narrative. Beacraft did kill a boy named Vrooman in Schoharie in the manner there described, but it was not until the 9th day of the following August, as will be shown. He also boasted of the act after it was committed. He was a notorious villain, and partial justice was awarded him subsequently.
+ When Cherry Valley was invaded, the house of John Moore, Esq., once a member of the N. Y. Prov. Congress-was plundered and destroyed. He with two sons escaped from the enemy, but his three daughters, Jane, Mary and Abigal were taken as prisoners to Canada. Jane married Capt. Powell and remained In Canada, and her sisters both got back to Cherry Valley. They were all young ladies grown when captured. Mary married Matthew Culley and Abigal married his brother David. One of those ladles wore a mark on her forehead for years, caused by a strap in carrying burdens while a prisoner.-Sald William Harper of Harpersfleld, at our interview in 1847 ; he was then 80 years old.
Brant* suggested to his runner to the fort, that Capt. Powell should send the warriors from both Indian camps contiguous, down the lake to the Nine Mile Landing-there to await his arrival with the prisoners. Having obtained permission from Col. Butler to do so, Powell gave the Indians a quantity of rum to aid, as they supposed, in their celebration, and away they went. The danger Brant justly apprehended, was, from the impossibility of restraining the violent acts of many of the Indians, while the prisoners were running the gantlet, knowing that relations to the Minisink party would he present burning with revenge, and all were smarting under the chastisement they bad received the preceding year. He knew that no act, however atrocious, would be considered by many of his warriors too severe to inflict at this time on the prisoners. That
" In person. Brant was about the middle size, of a square, stout build, lifted rather for enduring hardships than that quick movements. His complexion was lighter than that of most of the Indians, which resulted, perhaps, from his less exposed manner of living. This circumstance, probably gives rise to a statement, which has been often repeated, that he was of mixed origin. (The old people in the Mohawk valley to whom he was known, generally agree in maintaining that he was not a lull blooded Indian, but part white.) He was married in the winter of 1779, to a daughter of Col. Croghan, by an Indian woman. The circumstances of this marriage are somewhat singular. He was present at the wedding of Miss Moore from Cherry Valley, who had been carried away a prisoner, and who married an officer of the garrison at Fort Niagara.
"Brant had lived with his wife for some time previous, according to the Indian custom, without marriage ; but now insisted that the marriage ceremony should be performed. This was accordingly done by Col. Butler, who was still considered a magistrate. Alter the war he removed with his nation to Canada. There he was employed In transacting important business for his tribe. He went out to England after the war, and was honorably received there."- Memoirs of Dr. Wheetock-see N. Y. His. Col.
Joseph Brant died on the 24th November, 1807, at his residence near the head of Lake Ontario, in the 65th year of his age. Not long before that event, the British government refused, for the first time, to confirm a sale of lands made by that chief, which mortified him very much. The sale was afterwards confirmed, at which he was so much elated, that he got into a frolick, that is said to have laid the foundation for his sickness, and resulted in his death. The wife of Brant, who was very dignified in her appearance, would not converse In English before strangers, notwithstanding she could speak it fluently, -Said Judge Isaac B. Tiffany,who visited Brant at his own home in 1806.
Harper was a relative of Mrs. Powell, Brant concealed from every individual of his party.
Four days after the messenger had been sent forward, they arrived near Niagara, when the tories began to tantalize the prisoners, by telling them that in all probability few of them would survive running the gantlet. On arriving at the first encampment, the prisoners were as happily disappointed to find that the lines through which they were to pass were composed of old women and children, who would not be likely to inflict much injury, as were the Tories to find the revengeful warriors all absent. Most of the prisoners escaped with little injury, except Freegift Patchin. He was approached by an old squaw, who, as she exclaimed " poor child," gave him a terrible blow upon the head. As the prisoners drew near the second encampment, they were gratified to perceive that, through the policy of Capt. Powell, a regiment of British troops was thrown into parallel lines to protect them. When Patchin had arrived within a few rods of the gateway, an Indian boy ran up and gave him a blow on the forehead with a hatchet, which had nearly proven fatal. A soldier standing by, snatched the weapon from the hand of the young savage and threw it into the lake. The unexpected meeting of Harper with friends among the enemies of his country, was no doubt very gratifying.
On arriving at the fort, the prisoners were brought before several British officers, among whom sat Col. John Butler as presiding officer. The Colonel put several abusive questions to the prisoners, and addressing Freegift Patchin, who stood nearest his seat, he asked him " if he did not think that by and by his Indians would compel a general surrender of the Yankees ? " Smarting under his wounds, he replied " he did not wish to answer for fear of giving offense.'' The unfeeling officer insisted on an answer, and the young American, whose patriotic blood was rising to fever heat, replied: "If I must answer you, it is to say, no-you might as well think to empty the adjoining lake of its waters with a bucket, as to attempt to conquer the Yankees in that manner." Butler flew into a passion, called Patchin " a d-d rebel" for giving him such an insolent reply, and ordered him out of his sight. At this instant, a generous hearted British officer interfered. Said he to Col. B.: "the lad is not to blame for answering your question, which you pressed to an answer ; he has, no doubt, answered it candidly, according to his judgment." Extending a glass of wine to Patchin, whose spirit he admired-" Here, my poor fellow," said he, " take this glass of wine and drink it." Such unexpected kindness received his grateful remembrance. The examination of the prisoners having ended, Mrs. Nancy Bundy,* who was also a prisoner at the time, prepared as speedily as possible, a soup made of proper materials for them.
The captors received as their reward for the delivery of the Schoharie party, eight dollars per head. This, it is believed, was the stipulated reward for American scalps or prisoners, to be paid for by Col. John Butler,+ the British agent for that business, during the war : but it was often the case that the delivery of a committee-man's scalp or his person, or that of an officer or noted soldier, entitled the possessor to a larger sum. From Niagara, the prisoners, except Harper, were sent from post to post, and finally lodged in prison at Chamblee. Here they remained in irons nearly two years, suffering most acutely for the necessaries of life. Free. Patchin was reduced to such a state, as to be unable to rise from the floor without the aid of one of the Thorps.
Doctor Pendergrass, a physician who had the care of the prisoners, totally neglected to enquire into their real condition, the consequence was that some of them became objects of loathing, even to themselves. Of the latter number was Free. Patchin. A worthy physician at length succeeded Pendergrass
* This woman stated to Freegift Patchin, " that herself, her husband, and two children were captured at the massacre of Wyoming, and brought to the Genesee country. There she had been parted from her husband, the Indiana carrying him she knew not where. She had not been long in the possession of the tribe with whom she had been left, when the Indian who had taken her prisoner was desirous of making her his wife ; but she repulsed him, saying, very imprudently, she had one husband, and it would be unlawful to have more than one. This seemed to satisfy him, and she saw him no more for a long time. After a while he came again, and renewed his suit, alleging that now there was no objection to her marrying him, as her husband was dead, 'for,' said he,' I found where he was, and have killed him.' She then told him, If he had killed her husband he might kill her also, for she would not marry a murderer. When he saw that his person was hateful to her, he tied her, took her to Niagara, and sold her for eight dollars. The fate of her children she did not know.- Priest."
+This man, who died some years after the war near Niagara, partially received punishment in this life for his cruelties in the Revolution, for he was six weeks dying-or rather continued to breathe in the most acute suffering for that length of time, every hour of which It was thought would prove his last. A fact communicated by Judge Isaac H. Tiffany, who was in Niagara at the time.
in his station, and the sufferings of the prisoners was at once mitigated. On his first visit to the prisoners confined in the room with the Patchins, Steele, the commanding officer of the fort, accompanied him. The doctor proceeded to examine the prisoners singly. Ashamed of being seen, Free. Patchin was occupying the darkest corner of the room, and had thrown an old blanket around him, to hide his naked limbs. The doctor at length approached him. " Well, my lad," he asked, "what is the matter with you?" "Nothing, sir," was the reply. " Then get upon your feet," added the doctor. " I cannot do it," replied Patchin. The former then thrust the end of his cane under the blanket and removed it, discovering his pitiful condition. The doctor possessed a humane heart, and his sympathy for the prisoner was instantly aroused. Turning to Steele, with a look that denoted surprise and anger, he demanded to know why this prisoner had been so cruelly neglected, ordering his shackles instantly removed. The language and treatment of this medical officer was so unexpected, and so different from what he had previously experienced, that Patchin could not refrain from weeping like a child. With proper treatment his health soon improved.
From Chamblee the prisoners were taken to Rebel Island, where, except John Brown, they remained until peace was proclaimed. From that place they were sent to Quebec, via Montreal, and put on board of a cartel ship bound for Boston : where they arrived after many perils at sea. They then directed their course to Albany, and from thence to Schoharie, where they arrived nearly three years after their capture. Gen. Patchin was married after the war, and settled in Blenheim, Schoharie county, where he resided until the close of his life. His widow assured the writer, that Mr. Patchin's constitution received a shock while a prisoner, from which he never entirely recovered.
The young prisoner, Brown, after being nearly three years on Prison Island, escaped from thence to the south shore on a raft, and plodded his way down through the forest. It must have been in the fall, for he had to subsist mostly on chestnuts, ground nuts and whatever he could find to sustain life, and at the end of 19 days he was welcomed among his friends.- William. Harper.
Solomon Woodworth's -Defense of the Sacondaga Blockhouse.-In the spring of 1779 a small blockhouse was erected in the present town of Mayfield, Fulton county, called the Sacondaga Block-house. It was built on " The Plains," as then denominated, situated four miles westerly from Summer House Point, and nearly two miles southeast of Mayfield Corners. A man named Howell had lived on the spot before and in the early part of the war ; but, being tinctured with toryism, he removed to Canada. The site was chosen for an out-post on account of a celebrated spring. The post was designed, in part, to afford a refuge for a few scattered families in its neighborhood, but more particularly to guard against a surprise from the enemy, of the settlers nearer Johnstown, as the enemy often came by way of the Sacondaga, a few miles north of the blockhouse.
After this defense was erected, if was garrisoned by some 30 of Capt. McKean's company of rangers under Lieut. Walter Vrooman. John Shew enlisted under Capt. McKean for a term of nine months, and was on duty much of that time at this outpost Garrison duty was in part performed at such military stations by the militia, who were classed and had to furnish a quota of one man in every 10. They were legally drafted, but usually went by agreement without that resort. John Shew was a sergeant at this time, and having to be absent several weeks during his enlistment, his brother, Jacob, took his place as a substitute.
The Sacondaga blockhouse was guarded by a party of Capt. McKean's command until the first day of January, 1780. An enemy being no longer looked for, and the term of enlistment of most of the men having expired, the garrison was broken up, at which time Solomon Woodworth, who resided about two miles distant, as he could be better accommodated, removed thither for the rest of the winter, taking his stock with him. Some time in March, as the enemy had been seen in numbers in the vicinity of Putman's Creek, as stated in a letter from Col. Van Schaick, of Albany, to Col. Visscher ; the latter acting on a suggestion of the former, sent one third of his regiment thither under Lieut. Col. Veeder ; the remainder of the regiment having been ordered to Fort Johnson and other commanding points along the Mohawk ; but nothing more having been seen of the enemy, the troops were withdrawn form the blockhouse near the first of April.
On the very night the garrison broke up, seven Indians attacked the blockhouse, which was still occupied by the fearless Woodworth. They were doubtless apprised that the troops had been withdrawn. The attack was made as silently as possible, and in a manner intended to insure its destruction. The building was of the usual quadrangular form, the second story projecting several feet over the first, and was without pallisades. Provided with two long poles with pine torches attached, they ignited them and set them up so as to communicate the flame to the jutting above the first story. In putting up the poles the Indians made noise enough to startle Woodworth's dog, and that awoke and alarmed its master. He sprang out of bed ; saw at a glance his dangerous situation ; bounded out of the house in his nether garment; knocked down the torches into the snow ; ran back into the house and barred the door just in time to shut out his yelling foes. This was all done in less time than it requires to relate it; but the enemy, in number unknown, stood only a short distance from the door with poised rifles; as the reader may suppose, this was a most hazardous exploit, not to be performed by a faint heart.
had been so expeditious, the invaders all fired at him, and with the advantage
of the moonlight, his escape would seem miraculous. He received only a slight
body wound. As soon as he had fastened his door he snatched up his rifle,
and, from a loop-hole, fired upon and severely wounded one of his foes. Fearing
another shot in their exposed situation, the invaders took up their wounded
comrade and fled into the wilderness. Soon after, they were pursued ; overtaken
about 40 miles north of the blockhouse, where they had encamped, and five
then in camp were slain by Woodworth and volunteers with him. Here is a letter
from Lieut. Col. Veeder to Col. Visscher, and one from the latter to Col.
Van Schaick, showing the transaction :
" BLOCKHOUSE, SACONDAGA, April 2, 1780.
" DEAR SIR--The party I have sent out is just now come in. They have met with great success ; they have killed five of the Indians, and brought all their arms and their packs with them, and all our men are arrived without a scratch.
" Sir, I am your friend and humble servant,
" VOLKERT VEEDER, Lieut.- Col"
" Col. Fisher."
3d April, 1780.
" SIR-On Tuesday night last, the blockhouse [at Sacandaga] was attacked by a scouting party of Indians, to the number of seven, as near as could be ascertained, and endeavored to set it on fire in two different places, which they would have effected had it not been for the activity of one brave man who lived there, named Solomon Woodworth, who, although alone, sallied out and extinguished the fire. Whilst he was doing it, seven shots were fired at him, one of which, only, touched him. On his return into the house he fired at them, one of whom he wounded in the thigh, on which the rest fled and took the wounded Indian with them. The reason of the blockhouse being without men at that time, was through the neglect of one of the militia officers, which I have taken notice of already in a particular manner. I immediately sent out a party after them, who returned without success, for the want of snow shoes. Seven volunteers, turned out on last Thursday, and came up with them, in camp, on Saturday about 12 o'clock, when five of the Indians fired upon my men, and the whole missed, upon which the brave volunteers run up and fired upon them with buck-shot and wounded every one of them, took, and killed the whole, and brought in all their packs and guns without ever receiving the least hurt. This intelligence I just received from Col. Veeder, by express from the blockhouse, where he commands sixty men.
please order up some rum and ammunition for the use of my regiment of militia,
being very necessary, as the men are daily scouting. Your commands at any
time shall be punctually obeyed, by
" Your most humble servant.
" FREDERICK VISSCHER, Colonel.
" Col. Goshen Van Schiack-sent by express."
In a letter from Col. Visscher to Col. Van Schaick, dated April 13th, the names of the volunteers in the above enterprise are given, and are as follows : Solomon Wood worth, John Eikler, Peter Pruyn, David Putman, Ruloff Voorhies, and Joseph Mayall. The number of volunteers, however, was seven, as stated by Col. Visscher, and the name omitted, said Jacob Shew, was William Scarborough, the first husband of Anna Mason, afterwards the wife of Maj. Nicholas Stoner. Scarborough was killed in the fall of 1781, as I have shown in chapter VI of my Trappers of New York.
The pursuing party under Woodworth did not exceed the number pursued, as it was necessary to travel upon snow-shoes, and only seven pairs could be obtained in the vicinity. The Indians fired on the volunteers as they approached them, doing no injury, and in turn became an easy prey and all were slain. The two that escaped were out hunting, at the time, to obtain food. " Returning to the camp and finding their comrades all dead," said George Cough, " they fled to Canada with all possible expedition, scarcely sleeping or eating until they arrived there." The details narrated above were communicated to me by Jacob Shew, after the publication of my first book.
A Novel Foot-race.-The enemy having been reported in the summer of 1780, in the vicinity of Otsego Lake, two companies of troops went from the Mohawk river forts to reconoitre in that neighborhood, and if possible give some account of them. Capt. Putman led his company of rangers from Fort Plain in this enterprise, and the other, one of militia, was commanded by Maj. Coapman, a Jerseyman. The troops, after a halt at Cherry Valley, proceeded to the place indicated, but not finding trace of the foe, they retraced their steps to Cherry Valley, and soon after left for the Mohawk. An argument arose between the commanding officers, as to which company could produce the strongest men, that of the rangers or the militia ; to settle the question it was proposed to see from which company the most men could first reach Garlock's tavern-an inn of the times at Bowman's creek. Maj. Coapman was a large, ungainly man, and did not expect to beat in person, but several of his men resolved not to see the militia distanced without a severe struggle. Capt. Putman, and Henry Shew of his command, both pretty heavy men started off, and soon the greater part of both companies were on the run.
The race was continued for some five or six miles. The day was quite warm, and at the end of several miles Capt, Putman sunk down exhausted beside the road, and perhaps a mile farther on Henry Shew gave out. One after another fell in the rear, until few remained on the course. Three of Putmans men-John Eikler, Jacob Shew and Isaac Quackenboss, the latter a lean fellow-distanced all competitors, after a hard struggle with some of Coapman's men, and arrived much fatigued, at the Traveler's Home. Victory was with the rangers. The race lasted about an hour and a half, and the troops were scattered for miles'. The commandants were pretty confident none of the enemy were abroad, but had it been otherwise, the consequences might have been very disastrous to the patriots. After the men had all assembled at the tavern, taken refreshments and the bill had been footed by Maj. Coapman, the troops returned leisurely and in order to Fort Plain.
An Incident at the Herkimer Dwelling.-A few years before the Revolution, Gen. Herkimer erected a substantial brick house below the Little Falls, which, at his death, he gave to his brother George. Just as this matter was going to press, a note from Watts T. Loomis, Esq., of Little Falls, informs me that the brick of which this house was built, were manufactured within a few rods of the building ; where he has seen in the past summer, the remains of the old kilns, with masses of the debris of brick yet remaining there. In the summer of 1780, as believed, although it was possibly in 1781, Col. Willet went with a scouting party from Fort Plain, to Fort Herkimer ; and on his way back, halted at the Herkimer mansion. While there, a small party of Indians were discovered in the woods above the house, and in her anxiety for her husband, Mrs. George Herkimer went to the front door, and stepping upon a seat on the piaza with an arm around the north west post, she blew a tin horn to arrest her husband's attention; he with several slaves was hoeing corn on the flats near the river. She asked him if he saw the Indians, and he replied that he did. At this moment Col. Willet came to the door, and observing her exposure to the enemy he seized hold of her dress, exclaiming : " Woman ! for God's sake come in, or you'll be shot." She stepped down, but was hardly on the floor, when a rifle ball entered the post instead of her head; leaving a hole that is still visible-the bullet remaining therein buried. It is presumed that the men under Wallet fired on or pursued the enemy, who were thus interrupted in their murderous design. This event was told the writer in the summer of 1846, by Mrs. Alida, wife of Jacob E. Eacker, a daughter of George Herkimer-whom I had then known 20 years. Our meeting then was in the office of a Daguerrean artist in Little Falls, her sister Mrs. Magdalene Greene, being with her and corroborating the story. The same summer Warren Herkimer, a brother of those ladies, also confirmed the narrative.
Murder of the Reads and Capture of two Prisoners.-On the farm long known as the " Frederick Rickard farm," two miles south of the village of Ephratah, lived, in 1780, an old, quiet, and unoffending couple by the name of Read ; taking no active part in the war. While they were one day engaged in pulling flax, a party of four or five Indians surprised and killed them, bearing their scalps away to the usual market- They were then frosted by many winters, and, to insure the usual reward, they were colored on the way to Canada.
On the same day, about half way from Reed's to Ephratah, this same party of Indians surprised and captured Philip Empie and Conrad Neahr-; the latter being on his way, with rope halters, to catch a span of horses. After securing those prisoners, the enemy struck off into the wilderness for Canada ; encamping the first night six or eight miles northward of Ephratah village. To secure the prisoners, the Indians compelled them to lay down, when they placed a halter across the breast of each, and one of their number laid upon either side of them. Being fatigued, the party were soon all sound asleep, except Empie, who gradually worked himself out from under the halter and stood up. His first thought was to wake his companion, when both, armed with the weapons of their captors, might dispatch them ; but as Neahr slept so soundly, he deemed it imprudent to attempt to arouse him, and left the camp as silently as possible A little distance from the encampment, ran Timmerman's creek, which empties into the Mohawk at St. Johnsville. Placing his shoes on his feet, heels forward, so as to give the track the appearance of going in an opposite direction, he went to the creek and (in it again turned his shoes) passed down the stream, as rapidly as possible, nearly to its mouth ; and by day-light he had reached a place of safety. Neahr was taken to Canada, and after enduring all kinds of hardships, was exchanged and returned to his friends. The dwelling of Frederick Empie, the father of Philip named above, stood but a little distance from a small block-house, which had been erected for the defense of a few settlers.-Benjamin Getman, of Ephratah.
Burning of a Mill-The Money Saved.-The grist-mill erected by Sir William Johnson, in Tilleborough, at the now village of Ephratah, a small stone edifice, was visited by the enemy, as believed, in 1780 ; and as it still served a few whig families their milling purposes, the miller, Ellas Krepp, an old bachelor, was made a prisoner, the mill burned, and he taken to Canada. The walls of the building remained standing, and as it was known that he had saved his earnings and must have money somewhere, it was thought that possibly he might have concealed it on the premises ; hence more or less fruitless search was made for it. At the close of the war Krepp returned and called on George Getman to go with him to the ruins of the old mill As may be supposed, the miller was an anxious visitant. Near the door-way he removed a stone from the inner wall, and lo ! his treasure except some continental money which had become valueless, was safe-the depreciated notes were burned. He removed from a cavity made in the wall, several hundred dollars in gold and silver. Some have placed the amount at £700. The sum, whatever it was, was sufficient to defray his expenses for the remainder of his life ; and after his funeral expenses were paid, two shillings and six pence (31 1-4 cents) remained. Lucky would it be if all estates closed up as well.- Benjamin Getman.
Escape of the Dockstader Brothers.-On the farm of George Dockstader, situated nearly a mile westward of Fort Dayton, his two sons, John and George were on the flats loading grain, on the 28th of August, 1780, when they discovered about 20 Indians approaching them. John was on the wagon receiving the grain as his brother pitched it to him. The Indians shot the horses, when John leaped from the wagon and, with his brother, fled toward the fort, under a shower of bullets. They ran through a corn field and the corn-stalks were cut off about their heads by the musketry, but they were fleet young men and both escaped ; John, with a buck-shot, in one shoulder, and George, with a bullet hole through the brim of his hat, as he found on reaching the fort.-John Dockstader, at the age of 93, corroborated.
John Adam Hartman.-In the language of a Herkimer correspondent in 1847 : "One of the bravest, as well as one of the most efficient men in this section, of Revolutionary scenes, was John Adam Hartman," who died in March 1835, at the age of 93.
At an invasion of the enemy in the summer of 1780, said by some to have been 300 strong, Indians and tories ; they were discovered in the act of driving some cattle from its vicinity, when about 40 of the inmates of Fort Dayton turned out, if possible, to recover the cattle. They tired upon the cow-boys but seeing them rallying in great numbers, they deemed it prudent to abandon the enterprise and return to the fort, which they did, it is believed, without the loss of a man. In the pursuit, however, Hartman, the last man to turn his back on the foe, followed one of the enemy so closely, that in leaping a fence the rascal lost his hat, but dared not recover it ; seeing which the patriot bounded over the fence, exposed to the fire of the enemy, secured and bore the hat as a trophy to the fort. We are not certain but he may have captured as many live-stock, as the Indians drove off.-Manuscript of Frederick Petrie, corroborated by John Dockstader.
Prisoners Made, and Hartman Wounded.-October 29, 1780, Nicholas Harter was missing from Fort Dayton, having gone to look after his cattle, and as was supposed, he had been made a prisoner. A scout of 30 rangers sallied out, if possible, to learn his fate, Hartman of the number. They had gone about three-fourths of a mile from the fort, when they encountered a body of the enemy much larger than their own. Hartman was an out-flanker and discovered a half-breed Negro and Indian in the bushes, and shot him, but in the same covert way a tory, who, in turn, shot Hartman. Seeing the flash of his gun the ranger fell back, but not in time to avoid the ball, which entered his right shoulder, making a very bad wound. Retaining his gun, he regained the fort in safety. But for Hartman's discovery of the enemy, it subsequently became known that the whole party would have been drawn into a defile and either captured or slain, as their foes had prepared an ambuscade. As it was, George Dockstader, Marks Tabert and one Demooth, with Harter, were by this party made prisoners. The Indian who had Dockstader, treated him kindly. Demooth, who was a very strong man, enlisted into the British service, was with the party which afterwards burned the Little Falls grist-mill, and improved his opportunity to leave the enemy and again join his old command. Hartman had not fully recovered from his wound, when he was as plucky as ever.- Manuscript of Frederick Petrie, confirmed by John Dockstader and Conrad Hartman, a son of John Adam. As appears by Dr. Petrie's account, John Demooth received a bullet wound at this time, and was, with Hartman, for three months under his care.
Under the Hay.-Here is another incident in the life of Hartman, believed to have transpired in the summer of 1780. He had gone upon the river flats to put up hay, and when about 40 cocks were up he chanced to be alone. Seeing a party of Indians approaching from a direction which cut off his retreat, he, unobserved, crept under one of the hay-cocks and kept quiet. Finding no one in the field as expected, they quickly set fire to the cocks and decamped. As chance would have it, they all burned but the one he was under, which, imperfectly ignited; went out, and he was left unscathed for future service. -Paul Custer, in 1849, who had the story from Hartman.
A Sympathetic Scene at Fort Dayton, in 1780.-In the Revolution, when a signal gun heralded an enemy, exposed settlers, if possible, gained a block-house or fort, but on their way they were sometimes overtaken and slain. On some occasion, believed in 1780, an elderly lady, fleeing to Fort Dayton, was pursued by the Indians and shot down quite near the picketed inclosure, on its westerly side. Her cries for assistance were heartrending, and called into action the sympathy of every inmate of the post. Several expert Indian riflemen had gained a covert on the hill, and waited to have the temerity of friends expose their persons in her behalf, which, it was believed, would have insured their certain death. Most piteously she besought assistance, which, so near at hand, was not available. She called to her friends to throw her some rags, with which to staunch her wounds, and thus stay life's ebbing tide, which was done. The enemy were finally compelled to retire, and she was taken into the fort, but her wounds were mortal and she soon afterwards expired.-Adam Bell.
Philip Helmer, during the war, is said to have killed three Indians three fourths of a mile northwest of Shellsbush, and two of them at one shot.- Custer.
Nearly half a mile from Fort Dayton was an apple orchard, in a hole of which, apples had been buried. A man went from the fort to this hole, who was seen by an Indian on the hill, who, embracing the opportunity, ran thither and killed him. Thus were the Indians constantly prowling about the settlements, for opportunities to procure scalps for the Canadian market.- Custer.
In the Civil History of Schoharie at this period of the war, Marcus Bellinger was supervisor, and William Dietz, a justice of the peace. Agreeable to an act of Congress, passed Feb. 12, 1780, assessors were appointed in the frontier districts to ascertain, as nearly as possible, how much grain each family might need for its consumption, that the remainder of the stock might be in readiness for their less provident neighbors or the army. Bellinger gave written certificates to the requisite quantity for each family in his district, and Dietz gave written permits to such as had not a supply, to draw one.
An Invasion of Sir John Johnson.-Several times in April, of this year, the Mohawk river settlements were alarmed by anticipated invasions, bat those alarms died away and were not renewed until near the middle of May. The following correspondence addressed to " Col. Visscher, at Caughnawaga," gives the earliest reliable testimony of the enemy's approach.
" FORT PARIS,
May 15th, 1780.
"SIR-I have intelligence, which I believe is very certain, that the enemy are on their way, and will attack in four different places in this county within a few days. I hope you will exert yourself to discover them, and make every possible preparation to defeat their design.
" It is expected that they will come by the way of Sacandaga.
" I am your h'ble serv't.
"JACOB KLOCK, Col.
Bearing the same date, Col. Visscher received an anonymous letter written at Caughnawaga, stating that an invasion of the enemy under Sir. John Johnson was hourly expected, adding as a corroborating circumstance, that a number of his near neighbors, five of whom were named, had gone away the night before to join the invaders. The writer added, that he had written some days previous what he suspected, and that the enemy would be very strong.
Among the Visscher papers on this subject I also find the following :
17th May, 1780.
" DEAR SIR-Just this moment returned from Albany : Col. Van Schaick has requested of me to write to you, requesting you to send me by the bearer, Sergt. Carkeright, an account of all the persons that have gone to the enemy from your county, with their names, which request I wish you to comply with ; also let me know if any thing of the alarm has turned up.
" I am, dear sir, your friend,
" Col. Visger"
Nothing more was heard of the enemy until Sunday night the 21st day of May, when Sir John Johnson, at the head of about 500 troops, British, Indians and tories, entered the Johnstown settlements from the expected northern route. The objects of the invasion doubtless were, the recovery of property concealed on his leaving the country, the murder of certain whig partizans, the plunder of their dwellings, and the capture of several individuals as prisoners ; intending, by the execution of part of the enterprise, to terrify his former neighbors.
About midnight the destructives arrived in the north east part of the town, from which several of the Tories had disappeared the day before, to meet and conduct their kindred spirits to the dwellings of their patriotic neighbors : for when Johnson was censured for the murder of those men, he replied that their " tory neighbors and not himself were blameable for those acts." A party of the enemy proceeded directly to the house of Lodowick Putman, an honest Dutchman, living two miles from the court house. Putman had three sons and two daughters. On the night the enemy broke into the house, two of his sons were fortunately gone sparking a few miles distant. Old Mr. Putman, who was a Whig of the times, and his son Aaron who was at home, were taken from their beds, murdered, and scalped. While the Indians were plundering the house and pulling down clothing from hooks along the wall, Mrs. Putman snatched several articles of female apparel, such as gowns, petticoats, etc., from the hands of a large Indian, telling him that such and such things she must and would have for her daughter. The fierce looking savage, whom few women of the present day would care to meet, much less to contend with, offered some resistance to her gaining several garments, and they jerked each other about the room ; but seeing her determination to possess them, he finally yielded to her entreaties And prowess, and with a sullen " umph " let go his hold. After the enemy had been gone sometime from the house, Mrs. Putman and her daughter Hannah, afterwards the wife of Jacob Shew, Esq., leaving the mangled remains of their murdered friends, proceeded to the Johnstown fort, where they arrived about sun-rise. The jail was palisaded, and, with several block houses built within the inclosure, constituted the Johnstown fort.
At this period, one of Putman's daughters was married to Amasa Stevens, also a Whig, living in the neighborhood; While some of the enemy were at Putman's, another party approached the dwelling of Stevens, and forcing the doors and windows, entered it in different directions at the same instant. Poor Stevens was also dragged from his bed, and compelled to leave his house. Mrs. Stevens, in the act of leaving the bed, desired a stout savage, or a painted tory, as she afterwards supposed, not to allow the Indians to hurt her husband. He forced her back upon the bed with her terrified children, a boy, named after his grandfather, two and a half years old, and an infant daughter named Clarissa, telling her she should not be hurt. A few rods from the house Stevens was murdered, scalped and hung upon the garden fence. After the enemy had left the dwelling, Mrs. Stevens looked out to see if she could discover any one about the premises. She had supposed her husband taken by them into captivity ; but seeing in the uncertain starlight the almost naked form of a man leaning upon the fence, she readily imagined it to be that of her husband. In a tremulous voice she several times called " Amasa ! Amasa ! " but receiving no answer she ran to the fence. God only knows what her mental agony was, on arriving there and finding her husband stiffening in death. With almost supernatural strength she took down the body and bore it into the dwelling (which, with Putman's, had been spared the incendiary torch from motives of policy), and depositing it, sprinkled with the scalding tears of blighted affection, she snatched the two pledges of her early love and sought safety in flight to the fort ; where she found her surviving relatives.
The amorous Putman brothers set out on their return home towards day-light, from what is now called Sammonsville, and discovering the light of the burning buildings at Tribes' Hill, they hastily directed their steps to the fort, meeting at the gateway their mourning relatives.
Stevens had just finished planting when murdered, and the next week purposed to have journeyed eastward with his family. The Putmans were killed on the farm formerly owned and occupied by Col. Archibald Mclntyre. They were both buried in one grave in a single rough box ; and while their neighbors were performing the art of burial, they were once alarmed by the supposed approach of the enemy and left the grave, but soon returned and filled it.-Clarissa, relict of Joseph Leach, and daughter of Amasa Stevens.
Dividing his forces, Col. Johnson sent part of them, mostly Indians and tories, to Tribes' Hill ; under the direction, as believed, of Henry and William Bowen, two brothers who had formerly lived in that vicinity and removed with the Johnsons to Canada. These destructives were to fall upon the Mohawk river settlements, at the hill, and proceed up its flats, while Johnson led the remainder in person by a western route to Caughnawaga, the appointed place for them to unite. The Bowens led their followers through Albany Bush, a Tory settlement in the eastern part of the town, where, of course, no one was molested, and directed their steps to the dwelling of Capt. Garret Putman, a noted whig. Putman, who had a son named Victor, also a Whig, had been ordered to Fort Hunter but a few days before, and had removed his family thither ; renting his house to William Gault, an old English gardener who had resided in Cherry Valley before its destruction, and James Plateau, also an Englishman. Without knowing that the Putman house had changed occupants, the enemy surrounded it, forced an entrance, and tomahawked and scalped its inmates. The house was then pillaged and set on fire, and its plunderers knew not until next day, that they had obtained the scalps of two Tories In the morning, Gault, who was near 80 years old, was discovered alive outside the dwelling, and was taken across the river to Fort Hunter, where his wounds were properly dressed ; but he soon after died.
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