Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

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

Volume II, Page 246, A Long and Successful Race for Life.-- While Col. Butler was in Springfield, in the month of June 1779, assisting to open a wagon road for transportation of the boats, David Elerson obtained permission of his Captain to proceed about a mile from the camp to a deserted house, and gather some mustard for greens. While thus engaged early in the day, he heard a rustling in some rank weeds near, and on looking in that direction, discovered to his surprise, nearly a dozen Indians cautiously advancing to capture him. He sprang and seized his rifle, which stood against the house, at which instant several tomahawks were hurled at him, one of them nearly severing a finger from his left hand. He dropped his haversack of greens and fled. In starting from the house, his foes ran so as to cut off his flight to his friends. He had to pass over a small clearing between the house and the woods, and on arriving at the farther edge of the former, he found his progress obstructed by fallen trees. He plunged in among them, when his pursuers, fearing he might escape, discharged their rifles at him. The volley rattled the old timber harmlessly about his head. Driven from the direction of the American camp, he fled, not knowing whither. After running for several hours, and when he began to think he had eluded the vigilance of his pursuers, an Indian appeared before him. As he raised his rifle the Indian sprang behind a tree. At that instant, a ball fired from an opposite direction, entered his body just above the hip, making a bad flesh wound. He then changed his direction, and renewed his flight.

Descending a steep hill into a valley, through which coursed a small stream of water, he reached the level ground much exhausted; but the moment his feet struck the cool water his strength revived, and scooping some up in his hand, which he drank, so invigorated him, that he gained the summit of the opposite hill with comparative ease. He had proceeded but a little way further, however, when he found himself again growing faint, and stepped behind a fallen tree just as an Indian appeared in pursuit. Not doubting but his hours were numbered, he resolved not to die unrevenged, and instantly raised his rifle to shoot him. Too weak and excited to hold his gun, he sat down upon the ground, rested it upon his knees, fired and the Indian fell. He had barely time to reload his faithful piece, before several other foes came in sight. His first thought was to bring down another, but as they gathered around their fallen chief, and began their death yell, the hope of escape again revived. While they were lingering around their comrade, Elerson darted off into the forest. He followed the windings of a creek for some distance, and finding in a thicket of hemlocks a large hollow tree, crawled into it, and heard no more of the Indians. It was near night, and being greatly exhausted, he soon fell into a sound sleep. On the following he backed out, found it rained, was lost, and again entered his gloomy shelter. As it continued to rain, he tarried in the log three nights and two days, without food or having his wounds dressed. He then crept from his concealment, cold stiff and hungry, unable to stand upright. He was enabled by the sun's welcome rays to direct his course, and came out at a place in Cobelskill, known in former days as Brown's Mills, distant about three miles from where he had been concealed, and at least 25 miles from the place where he had been surprised. Capt. Christian Brown, the owner of the mills, was acquainted with Elerson, treated him kindly, and sent him to the Middle Fort, ten miles distant, where his wounds were properly dressed, and he recovered. The writer saw, at this interview with this old soldier in 1837, when he obtained these facts, the scars from the wounds above noticed, and also other similar marks of honor.

Capt. Brown, (a brother of Judge Brown), is the officer mentioned as having been engaged under Capt. Patrick the summer before, in the Cobelskill battle. His mills,, a gristmills and a sawmill, where the first erected in that part of Schoharie country, and were not burned during the war, because a Tory named Sommer, who owned lands not far distant, expected if Brown's place was confiscated to the British government, to obtain it. To gratify him the buildings were spared. Brown's house, a small one story dwelling, covered with moss, was still standing in 1845. At the time the lower part of Cobelskill was burned, a party of Indians plundered it. Capt. Brown, learning that the enemy were in his vicinity, hurried his family to the woods, and then returned to secure some of his effects. While thus engaged, he saw from a window a party of Indians approaching, and as he could not leave the house so as to avoid being seen by them, he secreted himself in some part of it. The enemy entered and supposing it entirely deserted, plundered and left it, after which Capt. Brown sought his family, and with them fled to a place of greater safety. --James Becker. At the house of Capt. Brown, (said George Warner), during the absence of the former, and in the time of the Revolution, a wedding was consummated. The groom and bride were Brown's hired man and servant girl. The cobelskill soldiers were invited guests, and of course attended, for who does not attend a wedding when they can? After the lovers were united, the party was abundantly served with good pork and sour-crout; and being the best the bride could provide, they were received with as much gratification as would have been the rich dainties of a modern festival of the same character. The parties were poor, and the friends knew it, and made themselves merry. The wedding was in truth a good one, for certainly "All's well that ends well."

Brown's mills were situated on a road now leading from Barnerville to the village of Cobelskill, about two miles from the latter place. They were erected on a stream of water a few rods from a deep pool, whence it issued. It was unknown for many years where the water came from, until a sawmill was erected at Abraham Knieskern's in Carlisle, on a stream of water, which, near the mill, sank into the earth and disappeared. After this mill began to operate, sawdust made its appearance in the pool near Brown's mills, three miles distant. This millstream runs into the Cobelskill at Barnerville. Several millstreams in Carlisle and Sharon sink into the earth and reappear at considerable distance from the places of entrance.

A Warning, how it Came.--The buildings of Capt. Brown had been spared the incendiary torch, for reasons already shown; besides, the lands were among the best in the settlement. On some occasion, believed in 1778 or '79, Brown went with his hired man and perhaps other help from the Middle Fort to harvest his wheat. On his arrival he put his horses in the barn, and as he came out of it a bird lit upon the rim of his hat and began to sing. So unlooked for an event the Captain at once considered as an omen or warning of danger, and instead of going to the wheat field, he at once attached his team to the wagon and, with his help, returned to the fort, just in time to escape death or a wilderness journey to Canada; for he learned subsequently that a party of Indians and Tories, possibly forewarned of his intended visit to the farm, were lying in sight on a knoll south of the premises. It is believed that Capt. Crysler was the leader of this war party, as he was said to have his eye upon 400 acres of good land thereabouts. Facts from Mr. Ira Young, whose wife's grandfather, Brown was then living with Capt. Brown.

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