2 – The Fitch Gazetteer: Jane McCrea and the Allen Family Massacre

Before I detail my notes on the Fitch Gazetteer, there are a few historical events about which you may want to read as they are referenced quite often. A few options are in the following books but there are more out there.

  • “The Pictorial Field-book of the Revolution: Or, Illustrations, by …, Volume 1″ by Benson, John Lossing.  I haven’t read much of this book but it’s free (downloadable) at Google Books and details both the Jane McCrea incident and the Allen Family Massacre: http://preview.tinyurl.com/c5fl3nk

I can’t vouch for the accuracy of either book and they are occasionally repeating traditions that are not provable but I will leave it to the reader to decide. Also, while I am quoting from “The Pictorial Field-book of the Revolution” with regards to the Allen family massacre, I am only doing so as it is written in a more story-like fashion. “The Fort Edward book” is more text book like.

Jane McCrea

From my sketch 16 – Sarah Gordon Fraser Campbell McNeil:

  • Jane McCrea, or Jenny as she was known, was visiting Sarah’s house near Fort Edwards.  They were both taken by Indians and Jenny was killed.  You can read more about the incident in this Wiki article. The story quickly spread, was re-told and certainly embellished. (Note: Sarah = Sarah Gordon Fraser Campbell McNeil)

From the Gazetteer (unknown orator):

  • … in the rear of the house discovered the Indians, shouted an alarm through an open window, & ran to the fort. Mrs. Campbell’s negro servant and child, who occupied the shanty continuous with the house, ran into the house, she hid her child under a large kettle & then jumped into the cellar hole. Miss McMcrea and Mrs. Campbell followed her, the latter “being less agile & unwieldy”, was just getting through the trap door when the Indians burst in, pulling her out by her hair, without noticing the servant, they jumped into the cellar and lifted McCrea out; both were run out of the house & the party came upon 2 horses; McCrea was raised onto one, but Mrs. Campbell indicated her inability to ride, & was lifted by both arms, & run along up the hill; the detachment from the Fort was now firing and the Indians dropped to the ground with each volley, then got up and ran again until they were out of musket range; Mrs. Campbell was then stripped of all her clothing except her chemise and Jane McCrea was shot according to Mrs. Campbell “by a bullet casually fired from the Americans, upon the retreating Indians”; it was not until 2 days later that she knew that Jane was dead, or what had become of her, when the Indians came into Burgoyne’s camp with a collection of scalps (the pole that had the scalps of the Allen family)

The Allen Family Massacre

From “The Pictorial Field-book of the Revolution”, p. 100

  • … on the same (day) when Jenny lost her life a party of savages murdered the whole family of John Allen of Argyle consisting of himself his wife three children a sister in law and three negroes. The daughter of Mrs. McNeil already mentioned was then at the house of Mr. Allen’s father in law, Mr. Gilmer who, as well as, Mr. Allen, was a Tory. (My Note: referencing the Jenny McCrea incident. Mrs. McNeil is Sarah Gordon Fraser Campbell McNeil from above.) Both were afraid of the savages nevertheless and were preparing to flee to Albany. On the morning of the massacre a younger daughter of Mr Gilmer went to assist Mrs. Allen in preparing to move. Not returning when expected, her father sent a negro boy down for her. He soon returned. “They are all dead – father, mother, young missus and all!” It was too true. That morning while the family were at breakfast the Indians burst in upon them and every one. Mr. Gilmer and his family left in great haste for Fort Edward but proceeded very cautiously for fear of the savages. When near the fort and creeping along a ravine, they discovered a portion of the very party who had plundered Mrs. McNeil’s house in the morning. They had emptied the straw from the beds and filled the ticks with stolen articles. Mrs. McNeil’s daughter, who accompanied the fugitive family, saw her mother’s looking glass tied upon the back of one of the savages. They succeeded in reaching the fort in safety.

The above states the Jane McCrea abduction by Indians happened the same day as the Allen Family Massacre. Gazetteer gives the date 26 July 1777 – or the day before. Probably not important.

From the Gazetteer, a (horrific) account was given. I’m not sure who the orator was.

  • … the white man was guarded by two Indians, while 6 or 7 of them “crept along beside the fence towards the house, till one of them reached a spot from which he could fire into the house door, at Allen, who was seated at the table with his face towards the door”; Allen was wounded when the attack began, and he, Mrs. Allen, and Catherine fled the house; according to Ann MacArthur, there were two or three shot holes in the door; Mrs. Allen and Catherine, “striving to defend the babe”, were found in the path to the barn; “both of them I believe had hold of the child when found”; the two little girls, “had crept into the bed and covered themselves with the coverlid and were there murdered and found. Where the black girl was found, I do not recollect.”; the Negro, Tom, “it was always supposed made a heroic defense he was the only one that appeared to have resisted”; when he was found, they had “had skinned both his lower and upper lips, separating the skin up to his nose and down to his chin- this I suppose was not done until after he was dead”; when Abe arrived he did not get off his horse, which “was fractions, snorting and refused to go, and in urging him along, he rode over the two women without seeing them… when he got near enough to see his brother, hanging out the door, was murdered, he wheeled the horse and rode homewards, without seeing anybody but his brother”; that third night following the massacre, Alexander Campbell who is in Burgoyne’s Army, ascertained the identity of the Allen scalps, and came to check on the McArthur’s safety bringing them their first news of the murders; the McArthur’s then went to their grandfather Campbell’s who resided on the Dwelly place; the day before the murders, Allen was at McArthur’s “making some arrangement with father about shooting that, hearing the report of each other’s guns they might know it was squirrels or other game they were shooting”; it was here, that he said he wished the Indians were as thick as trees in the woods; the McArthur’s and their party left the Dwelly place two or three days after going there, on their way into Burgoyne’s camp; passing by the Allen house, “the cap of the murdered babe, made of calico, was found on a stump beside the house, all glued together with the dried blood”.
  • “Adam Kilmore and a group were at Fort Miller, New York, on the morning of the Allen massacre July 26, 1777 and spent the night here instead of returning home, unaware of the murders. Malcolm Morrison resided 2 miles south of here: after hearing of the Allen massacre, Alexander Campbell left Burgoyne’s camp and arrived here searching for someone who might go with him to check the house of Duncan McArthur.”

The Dwelly Farm

In the above sketch, you see a reference to the “Dwelly place”. The Dwelly place or sometimes referred to as Dwelly Hill, is another common reference in the Gazetteer which refers to the site of the Alphonso Dwelly farm in 1849. Don’t let it cause confusion! The orators were describing the location of a neighbor in 1849 so as to give a current point of reference.

The Dwelly farm was originally the home of Duncan Campbell AKA “old Duncan” or “White Dunk” who will be discussed in the next sketch.

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