Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

The Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883

Volume II, Page 322

Another Invasion of Cherry Valley.-The following particulars were narrated to the author in 1841, by Moses Nelson, then a resident of Otsego county. He stated, that on the morning Cherry Valley was destroyed, in the fall of 1778, he, then in his 14th year, was at the fort; that when the alarm was given of the enemy's approach, he ran home (some half a mile distant) and, with his mother, then a widow with whom he was living, fled to Lady hill, east of the village, where they remained concealed until the enemy had left. Nelson had four half-brothers at the time, older than himself, who were all in the service of their country. In the month of March following, he enlisted in the bateau service, for a term of 10 months, on the Hudson river, rendezvousing at Fishkill. After the time of his enlistment expired he again returned to Cherry Valley, and was living with his mother at that place, where a few daring spirits still continued their residence, when, on the 24th of April, 1780, a party of 79 hostile Indians and two Tories, broke in upon the settlement. One of the latter, named Bowman, a former resident of the Mohawk valley, was the leader of the band. They had previously been to the vicinity of the Mohawk, where they had made several prisoners; and passing along Bowman's creek-called at its outlet the Canajoharie creek-they captured several more, among whom were two persons named Young. This party killed eight individuals and took 14 prisoners in this expedition, and among the former was the mother of my informant, whose bloody scalp he was compelled to see torn off and borne off as a trophy.

This band of furies consisted of warriors from various tribes; and among the number were two Stockbridge Indians, one of whom claimed Nelson as his prisoner. The route pursued by the enemy, after completing the work of destruction at that doomed place, was down the Cherry Valley creek; and from Otsego lake, down the Susquehanna to the Tioga, and thence westward via the Genesee flats to Niagara.

The enemy, while returning to Canada, separated into small parties, the better to procure the means of subsistence. The two Stockbridge Indians, with whom he journeyed, made a canoe from a bass-wood tree, in which, with their prisoner, othey floated down the Susquehanna. At Indian villages, the party usually assembled. At two of those, Nelson had to run the gantlet, but he escaped with little injury. One of the prisoners, an aged man, who ran with a heavy pack on his back, was nearly killed. When Nelson was about to run, his master, who was called Capt. David, took off his pack to give him a fair chance for his life; and on one occasion placed himself at the entrance of a wigwam to which the prisoners were to flee, to witness the feat. Owing to his fleetness, he was not much injured. Said his master as he approached the goal, " you did run well." Many of the party-and among the number was his master David, tarried nearly two weeks to plant corn, in the Genesee valley-at which time he was sent forward with David's brother to Niagara, where he arrived after a journey of 18 days from his captivity.

As one of the Stockbridge Indians was an excellent hunter, Nelson did not suffer for the want of provisions, such as they were. The party, on their start from Cherry Valley, took along several hogs and sheep, which were killed and then roasted whole, after burning off the hair and wool. On his arrival at Niagara, Nelson was told by his master that he was adopted as an Indian, and was at liberty to hunt, fish, or enlist into the British service. Not long after this he was sold into the forester service of the enemy, the duties of which were "to procure wood, water, etc., for the garrison, and do the boating ; " being attached to what was called the Indian department. He was sent on one occasion with a party to Buffalo. He was for a while with several other captives whose situation was, like his own, in the employ of Col. John Butler. More than a year of his captivity was spent in the vicinity of Niagara.

While Nelson was with the two Indians on his way from Cherry Valley to Niagara, David, his owner, afterwards told him that the other Indian wanted to kill him. He said he replied to his brother-"You must first kill me, then you will have two scalps and be a big man." On their route to Canada, they passed the body of a white man, who had been killed by some other party.

Peace was proclaimed in the spring of 1783, and Nelson, with many other prisoners-none, however, who were taken when he was-returned home via Ticonderoga and Fort Edward. Previous to his return he visited Montreal, where he was paid for labor done in the British service the year before.

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