From Sheshequin 1777-1902; C. F. Heverly; pub.
1902, Towanda, PA.
Thrilling Incidents--As recounted by Hannah Durkee, daughter of Judge Gore, and written down from her lips by her daughter, Amanda Allen: "I was born in New London county, Conn., September 8, 1769. When I was eleven months old my parents moved to Wilkes-Barre, on land granted by the King to the Connectcut colonies. They settled on the east side of the Susquehannah river, near Jacob's Plains. We were driven off in six weeks by the Pennamites. My father was taken prisoner, and while crossing the river he said something displeasing to them, when one of them struck him with his oar across the forehead, which marked him for life. How he got away I know not, but he went with his family to New Jersey, where he lived about two years and then returned again to Wilkes-Barre. Father built a saw-mill soon after his return, and while he was building it my mother sent my brother, Avery, across the race to get some hewings to burn. When he was out of her sight he coaxed me to go with him. We crossed close by the mill. While we were crossing, he said, : 'Now, Hannah, hold on tight and don't fall into the water.' The caution gave me such a fright that I immediately fell in, and he said I was sinking for the third time when he caught me by the hair and raised me out of the water, and fortunately laid my face down and wrung the water out of my clothes as well as he could, and when my reason returned, for fear of censure, he cautioned me to keep still until they were dry. We lived there about two years, in which time father built a large two-story house, when we were again beset by the ravages of war. Here my mother gave birth to twin daughters; one of them did not survive long and the other was very weakly and had to be kept in a dark room. We learned the Pennamites had raised an army and were coming to plunder everything from the settlers and burn their houses. Father was stoning a well he had just dug. He got out, shouldered his gun, and every man that was able to bear arms went to meet them. They lay in ambush two miles below Shawneytown, attacked them and defeated them, and we were left undisturbed for awhile. The Pennamites at that time were commanded by Colonel Plunket.
"Soon after father enlisted in the American army under a commission. He came home sometimes for recruits and stayed two or three weeks at a time. I saw him enlist a good may men. He was a lieutenant in the Connecticut line, and was absent at the battle of Wyoming. Many of our neighbors were home on parole and were killed in the battle. My father lived on the east side of the river, and my grandfather Gore on the west side. My mother's parents lived with her at that time; their names were Avery. The day after the battle, July 4, 1778, a party of Tories came to the opposite side of the river and concealed, all but one, who called, 'Over, over.' Grandfather Avery, thinking him to be a neighbor, went after him with a canoe, when they rushed into the canoe and compelled him to row them over. They went into the house and told mother to carry out such things as she wished to save, as they were going to burn it. She commenced to carry out the best of the goods, and as fast as she carried them out they took them down to the river where the rest of the party had arrived to carry off the plunder with the canoes. After collecting such things as they wished to take away, they set fire to the house and left. Mother brought water and extinguished the flames. Soon after another party came and fired it, and told her if she put it out her life would be a forfiet. My parents saw it burn. They started for New Jersey on foot, carying such things as they could provisions and clothing. Mother had my youngest sister to carry in her arms; she was then three years old. They had to pass through thirty miles of woods and encamped on the ground in the open air. Grandfather and Grandmother Avery continued their journey through to Connecticut, with several others, and performed the whole journey on foot and subsisted upon the charity of the people. At this time I was living with Grandfather Gore, near Forty Fort, and went to the post with them July 2. When the alarm came my Uncle Asa Gore's wife was in travail. She gave birth to a son and then was carried immediately to the fort. The next day, Friday, July 3, 1778, our men, under Colonel Zebulon Butler, paraded all who were able to bear arms and marched out to meet the enemy. I had seven uncles in the battle, and out of these five were killed and one wounded. Silas, Asa, and George Gore were killed, as were Timothy Pierce and John Murphy, who married my uncles' sisters. Daniel Gore was wounded in the left arm. In the evening as we sat outside of the fort, we heard the voice of a man upon the opposite side of the river. They called to know who he was and he replied, 'Daniel Gore.' Grandmother said, 'Have I one son living!' with such expressive voice that it still sounds in my ears. My head at this time was lying in her lap and we were all absorbed in grief. They brought him over, dressed his wounds and he left again under cover night, as did the rest who remained alive.
"The next day the fort surrendered, and the Indians began plundering. They made the women give up their beads and other ornaments. My aunt, Sally Gore, had a chest of clothing that was very nice, and she sat upon it. A young Indian told her to get up. She said she would not. He went out and an older one came in with a tomahawk. and she resisted his command. The entreaties of her friends made her leave it to their inspection. They distributed her clothing among the squaws, one putting her white satin bonnet on hind side before and wearing it off. After securing such things as their fancy led them to carry away, they began their work of destruction by cutting open beds and strewing feathers and straw. They emptied meal, flour and all kinds of provisions, and strewed them to the wind in a common mass. I was broken out with measles at the time and they put me in a bed with my sick aunt to keep them from disturbing her. It had the desired effect and few ventured into the room. One Indian came in with her husband's vest on and wore it away, and by that she knew her husband was killed. She gave her son his father's name, Asa Gore. I can never forget the heartrending sighs and sobs at the sound of the guns that were completing the work of death. We remained there a few days until aunt could be moved.
"Word came there was a nation of Indians coming that could not speak a word of English and everyone would be killed who was found there. We then put up such things as we could carry inm packs and handkerchiefs and started for New Jersey. We travelled two days, passing a great many who had given out by the way, some sick, others weary. We passed a great many infants who drew their first breath by the roadside, among them two pairs of twins. Their mothers' beds were hemlock boughs and their covering was poles and bushes with sometimes an article of clothing or blankets added. They remained in this condition until our army was apprised of it and they sent pack-horses with provisions to help them through the woods. They carried those unable to walk until they got to inhabitants in the eastern part of Pennsylvania, where Grandfather Gore stopped. He got the use of a small house of a man by the name of Stroud, (Stroudsburg), about fiftly miles from Wyoming. The rest disbanded and went to different parts of the country, many going through to Connecticut. We remained here a few days without knowing whether the rest of our friends were living or not. One day grandmother called me in from play and I came running in. My father sat there: we were neither of us able to speak for some time. Then he took me on his lap and asked me if I wanted to see my mother. I told him yes. He said she was at Mr. Bucoy's in New Jersey with the rest of the children. They were all alive, but they supposed that all on the west side of the river were killed. Father got a passage for Mrs. Satterlee, her four children and myself in a baggage wagon to go within a few miles of where mother was. Mrs. Saterlee's husband was killed in the battle and she was returning to her friends in Connecticut. Two of my aunts had gne there before. Mrs. Saterlee begged food by the way. Sometimes we fared well, at other times we considered ourselves among Tories. After we separated a kind man took me on a horse and carried me to where mother was.
"After our people took possession of Wyoming again and established guards there, father went with my uncle Asa's widow to Connecticut, where she became an inmate of Deacon Avery's family with her son. She lived there about seven years and then married a man by the name of Murphy. Mr. and Mrs. Avery had no children and they adopted her son and made him heir to a handsome property. The old people lived and died with him. Father returned, and after burying their dead they erected barracks and small houses and many lived in or near the fort. The men tried to secure their crops. The Indians were frequent visitors and often killed them while at work in the fields. Four men and a boy crossed the river to work: the Indians crept under the brush that grew along the fence until they got near them and then rushed out and killed and scalped the men and stabbed the boy nine times and took off his scalp. The cannon was fired from the fort which frightened them away, and as soon as was deemed prudent they crossed with canoes and carried them over. The boy was alive and recovered; the men's faces were all cut in gashes. Mr. Ganly and another man went out hunting, and were taken prisoners and carried to Meshoppen. There they killed the Indians and returned. A party of Indians lay in ambush several days watching for Captain Franklin, and not being able to get him they went to his house, Sunday, April 7, 1782, took his wife and four children prisoners and carried them to Meshoppen, that being their place of resort. Our men went in pursuit and found them. They had placed them under guard and commanded them to lay flat upon the ground to keep them from being discovered. Mrs. Franklin raised her head to look about. An Indian told her if she did it again he would kill her. This did not keep her quiet. She raised her head a second time and he shot her. She died on the spot: (Mr. Miner says: 'In the midst of the firing the two little girls and the boy sprang from their captors and found refuge with their friends. Instantly the savages shot Mrs. Franklin and retreated: the chief raised the babe on his shoulder and thus bearing her aloft, fled.'); then they took the babes and dashed their brains out against a tree. Our men put them to flight, carried back the children and left the dead, not thinking it prudent to remain and bury them. Thye afterwards went after them. Mrs. Franklin's clothes were on the ground as she lay in them: her body was gone and never found. Her two oldest sons were prisoners at Niagra at the time.
"The Indians came into the house of Mr. Lester, killed and scalped him, and took his wife and four children prisoners. The two oldest were daughters. The boys died. Mrs. Lester and daughters remained in captivity until the end of the war, when Mrs. Lester and one of them were released. In a few months Mrs. Lester and Captain Franklin were married and then went in pursuit of the other daughter. According to the treaty, the prisoners were to be sent to Niagra. They went there. The girl had not been sent in, and after much inquiry they learned she was on the Grand river in Michigan. An Indian was sent to pilot Franklin to the tribe she was with. They found her and as soon as they made their business known the squaws began making great lamentations, and she utterly refused to leave the Indians. When they compelled her to come, the squaws tore her clothing all off and left her naked. Franklin wrapped his horse blanket around her, and then mounted his horse and an Indian handed her up to him and he carried her off by force. They joined her mother at Niagra, then returned home. They stopped at father's for dinner, and we tried every way we could to familiarize her with the ways of the white people. She was then fourteen years old, and a squaw in every respect except color. She talked with me afterward and said she was always mortified in company, and yet was unable to overcome the Indian traits and carried them with her through life. She married Mr. Cole, who was one of the first settlers of Scipio.
"July 4, 1778, the next day after the battle, when they came into the fort, Queen Esther (a half breed squaw) said she 'was never so tired in her life as she was yesterday killing so many darned Yankees.' She killed fourteen. One of my uncles was one of the number. One man escaped to tell the fate of the others. After this the Indians continued their depredations upon the inhabitants. Some days had elapsed since any Indians had been seen about there, and Uncle Daniel Gore and Mr. Abbott went out to look at their farms, a little more than a mile off. They were discovered by a party of Indians that gave chase. Mr. Abbott being in the rear, was shot ane the Indians stopped to scalp him. This gave my uncle a chance to escape. A young man came to the fort famished, weary, ragged and dirty. Said his name was Mayers and he ws taken from near Sunbury. The Indians had been so troublesome that a party had turned out to hunt them down. They found no signs of them, and had sat down to eat their lunch and some of them had begun to play cards. The Indians had come upon them unexpedly and killed all but him and another one. He was with the Indians two days, when he managed to get hold of one of their knives and cut the cords he was bound with, and crept softly away until he was out of sight and hearing. He had been gone sixteen days and lived on bark and roots. The life of the other man he doubted not had paid the forfeit of his escape. Mother washed and mended his clothing and he started for home.
"Before the battle we lived near Jonathan Slocum. They had a daughter about my age: her name was Frances. We went to school together. Mr. Slocum, his son William and Chester Kingsley went out some distance from the fort to grind some knives (Mr. Miner's account differs somewhat 'On the 2d of November, 1778, while the two Kingsley boys were engaged in grinding a knife, Nathan, aged fifteen, was shot and scalped by an Indian. Frances Slocum, aged five, the younger Kingsley boy, and a black girl were seized and carried away into captivity. On the 16th of December following, while Mr. Slocum, his father-in-law, Isaac Tripp, and William Slocum were foddering cattle, they were fired upon by a party of Indians. Mr. Slocum was shot dead, Mr. Tripp wounded and tomahawked, but William escaped"): Frances was with them. The Indians killed Mr. Slocum, wounded William and took Chester and Frances prisoners. Every means was taken to find them but to no purpose. When Mrs. Slocum saw me it brought to mind her lost Frances, and many has been the time I have witnessed her tears in speaking of Frances. After Frances became old she was found among the Miamis in Indiana, surrounded by an Indian family of her own. Chester was never heard from to my knowledge. Mr. Slocum's house was not destroyed and the family remained there unmolested until our people took the fort.
"The Indians had been so troublesome that it was thought it best to send the army to destroy their crops and habitations. They went to Tioga Point and then to Catharinetown, and ddown the west side of Seneca lake to Geneva, cutting their road as they went. They camped with the main army at Tioga, then sent out parties to destroy their crops and wigmams. When the crops were near enough to Genessee river they were thrown in, and at other times burned. The Indian families had all left and kept before the army. Their warriors were on the lurk to kill our men when they could. By one of their parties Boyd was tortured because he would not tell them the situation of our army. He made signs of being a Free Mason. The chief, understanding him, gave orders not to kill hiom, but to provide for him, as he was going away to be gone some days. After the chief had gone they questioned Boyd again. He would tell them nothing. The Indians took out one end of his intestines and fastened it to a tree, and drove him around it until they were all wound on the tree. They scalped and left him. He was found next day. John Spalding assisted in carrying him into camp. After surveying the country around Genessee, Moscow and Allon's Hill, they returned to Seneca lake and divided: saome going between the lakes, others went around the outlet of the Cayuga to the east side. There they found a large hewed log house, called a castle, built for a place of worship. It had a large brass lock on the door. Father took it off, carried it home, put it on his own door and it still remains there. They burned the castle. I think it stood near where Savonia now stands. The two armies met at Ithaca again. They cut down a large orchard near Geneva. At Chemung river they had a warm skirmish with the Indians. They were in a gulf between the hills. When the inhabitants were returning to Wyoming after the massacre, the smallpox broke out in the army.
"Grandfather and grandmother returned two weeks before we did and moved into the house father had built, and while father was after us grandfather and grandmother were both taken very sick. When we got into the neighborhood we were halted, vaccinated and staid there some days. Grandfather wished to see us very much: we were not permitted to go there until he died, when mother and I were permitted to look through the window and view the cold remains of one who had been very dear to me. I felt his loss very much. Grandmother recovered. The house was cleaned and we moved there. Father had hired a woman to pick up feathers from the corners of the fences and other lodging places. She had enough for two beds, and we made ticks from old tent cloth. We lived there on small means, witnessing scenes of cruelty every few days. A man and a boy were boiling sap in their cabin. The Indians tomahawked and poured boiling sap down the man's throat, scalped him and took the boy prisoner. Men crossed over Kingston flats to work. The Indians secreted among the bushes and killed a number of our men and they killed an Indian noted for his bravery. He was called Anthony Turkey. The rest disappeared. Our men brought over their dead and also Anthony Turkey, laid him on the green before the fort and all went to view him The next day they fitted up an old canoe and placed him in a sitting position, fastened a rooster between his legs with a peck of corn before him, wrote a pass and fastened it to his hand, stating where he had started from and shoved him in the current of the river. Shortly the Indians came near the fort in the night and said, 'They have killed Anthony Turkey,' (his name was Anthony Kneebuckle) and they defied those in the garrison to come out and kill them, thinking they would get them out that way. We were often alarmed in the night and ran to the fort. Much of the time we slept with our clothes on. A party went out to see what they could discover, and they found a mulatto with a very nice spyglass. They could not get him to speak a word. They marshalled him, sentenced him to have his fingers pinched with bullet moulders and put to torture in other ways, yet could not get a word from him. They sent him to headquarters as a spy, and as father was officer of the day he gave the spyglass to him.
"Forty Fort is on the west side of the river (Susquehannah) opposite Kingston flats. It was called Forty Fort, because forty men were there from Connecticut to help build it. I think grandfather was one of the forty men. There were three or four springs coming out of the bank directly in front of the fort, and there the river is so wide that small arms on the opposite side can do no damage. The guard house was a small distance from it, and a part of the time was occupied for a school-room. One day we heard the report of a gun directly in front of the door and windows soon after school had opened in the afternoon, and a scene of confusion instantly commenced. Teachers and scholars sprang for the door and windows, getting out as best they could, and ran for the fort. Soon after we learned an Indian had been concealed in the bushes watching the movements at the fort, and that there were 100 more further back. They expected to come at night and take the fort by suprise. The Indian said he could have hit a number of us with his gun while we were at play at noon. Our seats ran from the door directly back and were filled with scholars. He pointed to see how many he could hit with one shot, and in putting his gun down he accidently hit it against a bush and it went off, and put all on their guard. They left for that time. When General Sullivan was marching his army into Wilkes-Barre to drive back the Indians, father watched until he saw them come over the mountain, then he called us all to him and let us look through the spyglass to see them, and told us that we might go to bed and sleep that night. Our joy was beyond description.
"These scenes finally closed and we were settled quite securely, when on March 24, 1784, we were visited by an ice flood in the night which did great damage. We were awakened by one of our neighbors after the water had surrounded our house. We all got away and went to high land, where we were joined by many others. They built a large fire in the fields and we remained there until daylight, when they discovered a family by the name of Pierce in a black walnut tree which stood in front of their door. Mr. Pierce had drawn his canoe up near his house and lashed it to a tree to feed his cattle in: he awoke in the night and found his bed in the water. They went into the chamber and knocked a hole through the roof and sat on the peak of the house. A son four years old was left in the house until near day, when a cake of ice came against the house and knocked the chimney down. He called out, 'What is that?' They asked to khow where he was, and he said 'Here on a board.' They drew him up with the rest of the family, and finally they succeeded in getting in their canoe, and from there to the tree where they remained until near noon before they could be got off.
"The settlement was mostly overflowed and nearly all the cattle, sheep and hogs were drowned or carried away in the night. In the morning we saw a hencoop floating down with a rooster on the top crowing. Such a flood had not been known before, and I have not heard of any since that compared with it. Father and others went about ten miles to a place that had been vacated in the time of war and cut grass to winter the cattle. My brother Avery and another man went there to take care of the stock. They carried their provisions, built a cabin and cooked for themselves. The winter was very severe, the snow very deep, so there was no passage to and fro until the middle of March, when three men fixed snow shovels and went to see what had been their fate. They found them well and remained a few days. After they had eaten what provisions they had carried with them they killed a heifer and lived on beef. Then they took the fences from the stacks, and all started for home and reached there a few days before the flood. By this means our cattle were saved, but the hogs were drowned. The darkness of the night was doubtless a great saving of human life: as the people could see nothing all escaped as fast as they could to high ground. Only one man was drowned near here. Mr. Asa Jackson and Uncle Daniel Gore were together. Uncle Daniel got into his skiff and rode safely across the flats. The other man got on his horse and rode part way, when a block of ice came against him and both he and his horse were drowned. As soon as the water had settled we returned to our house. My brother was the first to enter. He stepped upon a loose board and went under water into the cellar. A chest we had our best clothes in had a pound of copperas in also, and everything was nicely colored and all things about the house compared with that.
"All went to work again to prepare for another year's crops, when on May 1 we received orders from the Pennamites to leave the place. They had a treaty with the Indians, and had hired them to come and plunder and drive off the settlers. Many of the settlers not wishing to engage in any more warfare, prepared to move, some going to Connecticut, others went up the river about thirty miles to a place called Bowman's Creek. We started the 18th for that place. The first day we went ten miles. There were sixty or seventy in the company, and each one that was able carried a pack or bundle. The heavy articles were carried in canoes. At night they would unload and camp until daylight. The second morning we saw a boat returning, and mother got a passage for my youngest sister, Sally, in a canoe, and left Anna and myself to make our way the best we could with the others. We kept in their company until we came to Uncle Daniel Gore's on Bowman's flats. We had driven down some stakes and peeled bark, and wove in and made a small room. Mother returned in a few days. At that time father was at the assembly in New Jersey and did not return until June. After making their families as comfortable as they could, the men went back to defend their rights. They had a battle and a number were killed on both sides. They proposed coming together the next day. All laid down arms, and as soon as the attention of our men was drawn towards the speaker their commander gave 'Order Arms' and they secured the guns of our men and took most of them prisoners. My brother was one of them, and was kept in jail until there was a settlement with the colonies. Colonel Swift tried to fire the fort in their possession one dark night. He was discovered and was wounded by a shot from the fort. His men carried him away and concealed him until he could be carried farther. They brought him to our house, where he remained three weeks. He left as soon as he was able, for the enemy were on the lookout for him. He started in the morning for Owego. That night there came a company and surrounded our house; two or three came in so still that none awoke until they lit a candle, when the light awoke father. They asked for Swift. Father told them he left here in the morning, and he thought him out of their reach for that time. They searched until they were satisfied, then lay down upon our floor (which was composed of solid earth) until morning. Our house was in part, the one I spoke of, my uncle's building of stakes and barks. After father returned he added another room of bushes and there we lived until November. Then father and mother went down the river to get the rest of their goods, and left my three sisters and myself alone. The second day we saw a boat coming up the river: we heard their voices, we watched it and it did not pass, nor could we see anyone. Being accustomed to the fear of men, we put out the light, covered the fire and sat out doors most of the night. We were not disturbed and we learned afterwards that they had been stealing plums, as there was az large plum orchard near.
"In November, father, with two other families, moved about forty miles
up the river. The season had been very dry and warm amd the river low.
Our goods were carried in canoes with hands to row them. The rest travelled
on foot along the bank of the river. The boats often got stuck, and we
had ropes fastrened to them to pull them along. All took hold to help,
and some of them were in the water most of the time while assisting in
towing the boats. My uncle had the fever and ague and every other day he
rode on horseback. His fits came on in the afternoon, and Wealthy and myself
took turns going ahead to wait on him while his fits were on. We would
go as far as we thought the company would go that day, then make what preparationw
we could for their coming. One night the boats did not come. The boys got
there with the cows. I carried a drinking cup and we all had our supper
and breakfast from the cup. I had the saddle for a pillow and the boys
found their beds as best they could. The rest of the company came up about
ten o'clock. They had had more than usual trouble with the boats. After
taking a rest we all moved on.
We settled near the mouth of the Chemung river, on Queen Esther's flats: remained there one year, then moved ten miles down the river upon the opposite side in the town of Sheshequin. There my parents spent the remainder of their days, and there Grandmother died in 1801, aged 83 years. At the age of 19, October 19, 1788, I was married to Elisha Durkee and moved to Scipio, Cayuga county, New York, in company with William Patrick and family. One company had gone before us. They followed the old Sullivan road to the head of Seneca lake. There they fixed up some boats left by the army and went down the lake, and from Seneca river up the outlet of Cayuga lake. Our boat was leaky and we had to unload and caulk it often and dry our clothes. We had but little, and it took but little time to unload. We would go ashore and camp at night. When we arrived at our destined place, Mr. Durkee drove down two stakes in front of a large log, put up some poles, covered the top with bark and set up branches at the end. There we spent the summer of 1789. In the fall we built a log house on the east shore of Cayuga lake, about half way between Aurora and where Savannah now stands. All the boards used were split and hewed. In December I gave birth to a daughter (Betsey Durkee Sweetland). She was the first white child born in the town of Scipio. We lived there two years, during which time it had become settled all along the shore for miles. Captain Franklin, who married Mrs. Lester, moved here and settled on a farm where Aurora now stands, with money to pay for it when it came for sale: but not being able to see his neighbors starve around him, he had lent his money to buy provisions with, so he could not pay for the whole. He agreed with a man to deed the whole and lease him half. The man had a friend who was willing to join him in robbing Franklin of it all. That was too much for him: he became deranged and shot himself. It was a heavy blow to the whole settlement, for he had been a father to all. We lived on the Indian reserve and got title of them in 1791. Governor Clinton sent orders to drive off the inhabitants and burn their buildings and fences, and we were again compelled to be homeless. Our house was burned as well as those of all others. I had two children at that time. I remained there and cooked by the fire of our house one week, then started on horseback with my children for Sheshequin. Mr. Durkee built a rail pen, chinked it with buckwheat straw, and remained there throughout the winter to care for his cattle. In the spring he moved to the old Watkins farm at Scipioville and lived there one year. Then he bought a farm of 200 acrew at Gilberry Tracy at $1.25 an acre, one mile west and one mile south of what is called Scipio Center.
"Elisha Durkee's mother's maiden name was Molly Benjamin. Her father was sent to England as a representative of the Connecticut colonies, was taken sick and died there. His grandmother's maiden name was Molton. She was a Scotch woman and noted doctress."