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The Massacre at Schaghticoke, NY


On the afternoon of Oct 20, 1711 Lt. Daniel Ketelhuyn (#125) and his brother-in-law, Captain Johannes Barentse Bratt, proposing to visit the village of the Schaghticoke Indians, were on their way thither, when they met in the woods through which they were passing a French Indian with a gun on his shoulder. Daniel at once accosted him in Indian language and inquired what his purpose was in that locality. The savage answered that he was hunting. To the question why he alone, the Indian answered that the camp of his party was not far away. The surprised Daniel, wishing to acquaint his brother-in-law, who was on horseback, with his fears, hastily communicated them to him in a few Dutch words.

The Indian, fully conscious of the jeopardy he was in, cocked his gun and shot Capt. Bratt. Perceiving Bratt to be dead and aware of his own and his family's personal danger in case the firing of the gun had alarmed the Indian's comrades, Daniel immediately ran toward the wily savage to take away the tomahawk which the Indian was banishing at him to keep him at bay.

The Indian fiercely struck at him with the hatchet as he came within reach, but only hit him on the shoulder with the shaft of it. In the struggle that followed Daniel threw the Indian upon the ground and wrenched with his left hand the tomahawk from the right hand of the savage. The strategic red man thinking to disconcert his powerful antagonist began telling him that his companions would surely revenge any injury done by him as there were twenty of them near by on each side of the Hudson. This information did not deter Daniel from making an effort to shift the stone ax from his left to his right hand. To do this, he was compelled to let go of the wriggling Indian. On regaining their feet the savage speedily fled, closely followed by the fleet-footed Daniel. A traveling vine having tripped him to the ground, Daniel lost sight of the running warrior.

Placing the corpse of his brother-in-law upon the horse in front of him, he cautiously rode back to his home where the lifeless body and the story of the Indian at once horrified the weeping women and children.

Confident that his family and visiting kinsfolk might soon realize the same fate as this brother-in-law, he at once began a search on horseback for armed men to aid him in resisting any attack by the Indians.

Before sundown he found three provincial soldiers and an Indian boy who volunteered to go to his home and guard it. He afterward rode on to Albany seeking more men to return to Schaghicoke before the Indians would execute any hostile act. At the time besides his wife (#126) and two children, there was also beneath his roof his brother, David and his wife (Johanna Bratt); his sister Maria (wife of the dead Capt. Bratt); her son, Joachem; a Negro boy; and the three soldiers and the Indian boy.

About midnight several knocks upon the front door caused David to ask who was there. The answer revealed a French Indian. Entrance being denied a number of bullets were fired at the door. The soldiers returned fire through the firing slot in the house. The Indians then set fire to the house which was soon in flames. At this time an old infirm Schaghticoke Indian, who had a wigwam nearby, concealed himself under the trunk of a fallen tree and witnessed the drama that was enacted in the fretful light and billowing smoke of the burning building.

Forced by the fire to meet the dire consequences of falling into the hands of the enemy the soldiers rushed one after the other through the suddenly opened doorway in an attempt to pass the line of savages posted to prevent their escape. The first soldier was killed instantly by two bullets. The second having successfully forced a passage through the whooping Indians was pursued by six and brought back a bound prisoner. The third met the same fate as the first. As he fell, the Negro boy ran past his body but failed to escape the grasp of the Indians. Joachem, Capt. Bratt's 16 year old son, was shot through one of his shoulders and became the third captive. David Ketelhuyn was shot through the open doorway, his charred body was found the next day among the smoldering ruins as was the body of one of Daniel's children who had been killed by a bullet fired at one of the fleeing soldiers. At this point the three women, Mrs. Bratt, Mrs David Ketelhuym and Mrs Daniel Ketelhuym (#126), the last carrying a seven month old babe in her arms, came out weeping. Setting fire to the barn and a barrack of corn, the savages led their prisoners to a spot not far distant from the building where they stripped, Mrs David Ketelhuym of her clothing and having subjected her to many indignities finally tomahawked her to death having first scalped her while still alive. From the hands of Daniel's wife one of the savages inhumanly wrenched her infant son, Cornelius and taking him to a tree beat out his brains against the trunk. To augment more keenly the grief of the shrieking mother, he hung the bloody body of the dead baby in the branches of the tree. The captured soldiers were meanwhile horribly tortured and killed. When Lt. Ketelhuym returned an hour later with a number of armed men, the Indians were on the west side of the river hurrying northward with their captives.

The next morning fifty soldiers arrived from Albany and brought the bodies back where they were buried on Oct 24 in the Reform Church graveyard. Three bodies of the Indian attackers were found in the nearby woods having died from wounds inflicted during the attack.

Daniel petitioned Lt. Governor Hunter for liberty to go to Canada with two or three Indians and attempt to ransom his wife. His request was granted quickly and he was furnished with a government passport and a letter to expedite the exchange of his wife, Mrs Bratt and her son, for any captives in the hands of Indians in the Province of New York.

He started in November along with several Indians who were familiar with the route to Montreal by way of Lakes George and Champlain, a journey of 230 miles. He was successful in his quest returning in January 1712 to Albany with his wife, sister and nephew.

 

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