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The Wyoming Valley Massacre of 1757

Editor's note: This telling of the events surrounding the 1757 massacre was written circa 1862 by 80 year-old Thomas Pattison, a son of Sarah (Utter) Pattison, (whose kidnapping by Indians in 1757 during the French and Indian War after the massacre of her mother and siblings is the chief subject of this text) and brother to my 4th great-grandmother Sarah Pattison. The story describes a violent episode during Colonial America and, as the history was written by a descendant of massacre victims, not a historian, some of the material may be apocryphal in nature. Another, more well-known, massacre in the Wyoming Valley occurred a few years later, during the American Revolution, and that tragedy should not be confused with the events described herein.

Note on text: Whenever possible, I have refrained from editing - however, there were several misspellings which are now corrected, and punctuation was changed frequently for the benefit of the modern reader. The text that I worked from was a typewritten copy that has been in the possession of members of my family since the early 1930s. Every effort was taken to preserve the integrity of the narrative. (Michael Smith, editor).

Chapter One

(The preparations of the family of Abraham Utter to migrate from New York to Pennsylvania)

Abraham Utter and family resided in Dutchess Co. New York until 1750, his family at that period consisted of a wife and eight children.  He was highly possessed of a spirit of enterprise which has generally been the case of the pioneers who settled the wilderness of America, but with him was for years suppressed by lack of means for a suitable outfit for such an undertaking and to meet and surmount the difficulties reasonably apprehended to a new and unsettled country. He commenced the world with little or no means, his future - prospectively evident - that all depended on his physical energy.

While a resident of Duchess Co., N. Y. he maintained his family respectively and gave his children a fair education; his business was principally tilling land on shares - he having no land of his own, and as freehold could not be purchased in that old settlement by any means he had in prospect. He and several of his neighbors similarly situated came to a settled determination to migrate to a new country - where land was cheap, and there form a settlement, and in perfect reciprocity cherish each others interest.  His two eldest sons, seconding his views, were eager for the enterprise.

The place agreed upon and designated for their settlement was in the State of Pennsylvania, in the neighborhood of Wyoming on the Susquehanna River. In 1749 all concerned were steadily engaged in making preparations to take their departure the following Spring. This year (1749) the Association consisted of eleven families.

After encountering many difficulties and making many sacrifices united they succeeded in organizing a train of 17 teams - principally oxen and forty-four cows - with full determination to take their departure the first of April following. Mr. Utter's family as before stated consisted of a wife and eight children viz: Moses, Lydia, Marian, Abraham, James, Thomas, Sarah, and Johanna. Mr. Utter from his hard earnings saved sufficient for his journey, and to assist in beginning his new home.  He owned a Negro man who accompanied him to his new home in April 1750.  All their preparations were made - little did this worthy band think of the gloomy suns they were doomed to pass through.

Chapter Two

(The Utter Family makes their journey to Pennsylvania)

_________________

Proceeding from Dutchess Co., N. Y. to the State of Pennsylvania April 5, 1750, the train in readiness, with peace having been declared between England and France, and not doubting their future safety, the train now started. Not that the distance was so great, but their route lay through dense forest. They had various difficulties to encounter - roads to make and bridges to build over various streams. They camped several nights in woods.  After surmounting all these obstacles they finally reached their destination on April 14, 1750.

Surveying the tract designed for their settlement, each located their respective location and commenced improving same.  Mr. Utter with his sons and Negro went on vigorously improving their home, built as comfortable a dwelling as could be expected - considering the rude materials of which they had to construct it - and cleared the land, sowing twelve acres of wheat.

1751 - This year they cleared and sowed thirty acres of wheat - the crop from last year yielded an abundant return, inciting them still greater exertion.

1752 - This year their youngest child Dorcas was born, making the number of his children nine. Mr. Utter built a saw mill and was happy in his new home.

1753 - This year Mr. Utter's eldest daughters were married.  Lydia married Joseph Adams and Marian married Titus Husted and went with their husbands to their respective residences in Dutchess County, N. Y.  Mr. Adams and Mr. Husted were both respectable and had known the family while residing in Dutchess County.  Prosperity seemed to favor Mr. Utter thus far.  In 1754 Mr. Utter built a grist mill.

1755 - This year is characterized by a series of events most inauspicious to this community - which will be related in Chapter 3.

Chapter Three

(A description of the first attack upon the settlement by Indians)

___________________

The settlement was laid waste by the Canadian Indians, many of the inhabitants were massacred and a number made captives. In September, 1755 about fifty Indians accompanied by a number of Squaws from Canada imultaneously attacked the settlement at different points - but few had the fortune to escape.

Mr. Utter had some little warning of their approach and with his family left in haste, who, when they had retreated one and a half miles, sent his Negro man back for some money he had in haste forgotten.  The Indians approached while he was at the house, killed and scalped him, mutilated and mangled him in a shocking manner.  In that condition his remains were found when the Indians had retired; the rest of the family escaped (the two eldest girls were already living in New York State) to a fort about fifteen miles distant from their late abode.  His mills and barn were burned, his Negro slave, his cattle - all destroyed excepting one cow.  Though singular it may seem on first thought, in rambling late in the Fall, it was brought up on the fort - and on examination it was found a bullet had passed through her body.  The cow had probably fell when struck by the bullet or she escaped before another fire. The cause of the animal's straying is too precipitous to need comment, as the animals were nearly all destroyed within their usual wont and range, and the settlement depopulated.  Mr. Utter and family remained at the Fort until the Spring of 1756.  While at the Fort his oldest son Moses married.

Chapter Four

(War is declared between France and England; the Utter Family return to their settlement)

___________________

Mr. Utter contemplated a return to his late residence, to which his friends strongly remonstrated and admonished him to refrain, until the War ceased to rage between France and Great Britain, which had for two years been indirectly pursued and many incursions and depredations and murders had been committed by the French and Indians from Canada.

In May, 1756, War was formally declared by Great Britain against France, which was in a short time reciprocated by France in a like declaration. Notwithstanding the threatening attitude of the belligerence and instability of the two Powers, Mr. Utter's attachment to his late residence - which had been with him a Paradise, a nucleus of a land of prosperity - until the late calamity described in the preceding chapter, he was in hopes by repairs to bring his possessions to similar fructifications to which he had a continual hope once more to feel the delight of his once fondly cherished abode.

Mr. Utter felt safe to return - for there was an abundant means at hand and the command of British officers but alas, the command and disposition of means were misplaced and misdirected, being entrusted to British Officers and Minions of the Crown who were always jealous of the increasing consequence and advancement of the Colonists, never appreciating or allowing the least talent or meritorious act of the Colonists - however praiseworthy or magnanimous, but treated them with the utmost contempt, not allowing them to act at all from their own volition - which from the knowledge of this country far exceeded in the use of means and adoption that of these satellites surrounding British Royalty.  The suppression of which has caused the very blood of many Americans to boil in their veins and raised their ire and indignation to a pitch almost insuperable, yet most tacitly obey those far their inferior in talent and skill in managing, in war offensive or defensive, in any emergency could they have been allowed to employ their own means in their own way independent of Britain, would have averted many evils treated of in this narrative.

The British officers Lord London, Ambercombie, and other British Officials whose volatility in decisions and delays brought on many sad disasters and calamities, especially to the frontier settlements. The indecisions and delays and mismanagement of the British Officers, and total disregard of the best interests of the Colonies and safety of the New settlers was not felt by them in any degree manifest. Their enemy having knowledge of the delays and deleteriousness of which they did not fail to take advantage by incursions, depredations, and massacres and destruction of the frontier settlements.

Although war was raging between France and England, Mr. Utter felt safe to return to his late possessions, knowing that the commandants had sufficient force and means at their command to defend the frontier settlements at that direction, being misled by their fair promises and known ability - had they had the disposition so to do - to defend the settlers.  In the fore part of April 1756, Mr. Utter and his family went on to his late residence, a dreary waste to what it was previous to the destruction of the Indians.

The prospect dreary and rather forbidding, yet he and his sons yet remaining with him (Moses as aforesaid was married and now went on a separate location three miles from his father's locality) put forth their best energies making such repairs as immediate necessity required and most needed in that instant, erected as convenient a house as circumstances would admit, put in some fifteen acres of summer crops, tilled thirty acres to sow with wheat - which they sowed in good season. Their summer crops yielded fair return, and that Fall they commenced and mostly completed a dam for a mill.

In 1757 they finished the dam, having covered most of the irons from the mill, and had it in operation by the first of June.  This was a fine help to the settlement, as many had returned and made every effort to repair their wasted residences, and prepared to sow forty acres of wheat, as that which was sown the preceding year looked promising.  Everything in their settlement had the appearance of thrift and was fast recovering from the gloomy destitute appearance when they first appeared hither, and once more was an abode of comfort.

The settlers, not doubting a time not far distant when they could see their once happy homes something like the former delightsome appearance, for which end all put forth their best energies, with no intermission of toil or exertion. The inhabitants began once more to enjoy happy and social society which bereavement had given them a lesson to know how to duly appreciate.  Their wheat crops were an abundant yield, they got their new fallow ready for the seed by the first day of September, and were preparing to put in the seed.

The Wyoming Valley Massacre of 1757, Part Two.

The Utter Family Tree

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