Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

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

Volume II, Page 158 -- The Killing of Lieut. Matthew Wormuth.--

(Mr. Campbell, who published the first detailed account of his death, called the name Wormwood, but he was from a German family who then wrote the name and still do Wormuth)

A few days previous to the irruption of the enemy into Cobelskill, they were in the vicinity of Cherry Valley, as believed, during the last week in May, and Brant had his destructives there with the intention of laying waste that place. He secreted them on Lady hill,

(This hill was embraced in a patent owned by a rich lady in England, from which circumstance it was formerly called lady hill. --Moses Nelson.)

about a mile east of the fort, to await a favorable opportunity to strike the fatal blow, and slay or capture some of its influential citizens. A company of boys happened to be training, for boys then caught the martial spirit, as Brant, like the eagle from its eyry, was looking down from his hiding place upon the devoted hamlet. Mistaking those miniature soldiers for armed men, he deferred the attack for a more favorable opportunity. Lieut. Matthew Wormuth, a promising young officer of Col. Klock's regiment, residing in Palatine, accompanied by Peter Sittz, a neighbor, had been sent by his colonel with dispatches for the garrison at Cherry Valley. Brant, who it is believed witnessed the arrival of those messengers, moved down and concealed a part of his men near the road by which they must return, to await that event. Nearly two miles from the fort, the road passed a deep and dismal gorge, called by the Mohawks, Te-ka-har-a-wa, the signification of which is unknown. At the upper end of the gorge, was a large rock, shaded by forest trees, near to which the enemy were concealed. As the horsemen approached the rock, says Campbell, they were hailed and ordered to stop, but instead of doing so, they put spurs to their horses. A volley of musketry brought down the young subaltern mortally wounded, and killed the horse of Sittz, who was captured. The horse of the former returned to the fort, and his bloody saddle revealed its owner's probable fate. Brant, in his concealment, supposed from his military dress, he was a Continental officer, but on running up to him and discovering a former personal friend, he expressed his sincere regret for his fate, and asked him if he thought his wounds were mortal, saying if he believed he could survive them, he would have him tenderly cared for. His reply was that he could not live; whereupon he was dispatched and scalped, but not by Brant in person. William H. Seeber, now (1880) living at the age of 89, who is from a patriotic family three members of which got a lasting furlough at Oriskany, and who has ever resided in a town adjoining Cherry Valley, assured me that he had always hears this story from Revolutionary men as here related. If Brant "lamented his death," it can hardly be supposed he would with his own hand have dispatched him.

He was found the next morning by a party from the fort to which he was borne, and a dispatch sent to Col. Klock announcing the fate of his own messengers of the day before. Col. Klock came up with a body of militia, and with him Peter Wormuth, father of the Lieutenant, who with a sad heart, for he was his only surviving son, took him to his residence in Palatine.

(Mr. Wormuth had four daughters, Christina who married Peter Gremps; Elizabeth, whose second husband was Capt. John Winn; Margaret, who married William, a son of Philip Fox, and at his death she married a Bauder, and Nancy, who married Thomas Cassidy. -- Said Gen. Peter C. Fox, in 1854.)

He dwelt in a small stone house, which in its ruins I visited in 1856. It stood on the farm of the late Reuben Lipe, between the present farm house and the river, where the road ran at an early day. Lieut. Wormuth was buried from this house; just where cannot be told, but it is said to have been near the Palatine stone church. He left a young widow, who afterwards became the wife of Maj. John Frey.

Copyright 1998, -- 2003. Berry Enterprises. All rights reserved. All items on the site are copyrighted. While we welcome you to use the information provided on this web site by copying it, or downloading it; this information is copyrighted and not to be reproduced for distribution, sale, or profit.

Contents Introduction Links Home