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The Wyoming Valley Massacre of 1757


Thomas Pattison

Chapter Seven

(The captivity of the sisters is described, with an account of their single reunion during their imprisonment)


The tribe whose massacres, atrocities, and cruelties the author is endeavoring to portray - now at this time it will be seen - display a sample of their cunning jealousy, and the disposal of their prisoners as they had done in selecting them, as they placed the prisoners as distant from each other as possible, especially those of sanguinity and relationship, in order to prevent all intercourse or conference or contact.

Witness the case of the sisters Sarah and Johanna Utter, of whom we particularly narrate, who were with families two miles apart, who never had but one interview during their stationary captivity - which was eleven months duration.  Their joyous meeting and grievous separation will be mentioned later in this chapter. Sarah was given to an elderly Squaw whom she was taught to call "Suky", meaning Grandmother.  Who - notwithstanding the cruel barbarity of the Indian as a general character, ever treated her adopted granddaughter kindly, the same as her own children.

One trait of this old squaw - which seemed almost a prodigy - when the tribe went off on such incursions as above narrated, which frequently they did; this old squaw would pray to the Great Spirit to soften and mollify the hearts of the Indians and turn them back.  She would wring her hands, apparently in real distress, exclaiming, "O, the poor women and children!"  Thus it appears this child of the forest, reared among crime, torture, murder, and every licentiousness, appeared to possess human feelings equal to those reared in more enlightened circles.  She was wont to pray daily, never participating in their joy, felicities, and exultations in the torture of captives.  At such times she would seem sad and gloomy.  The Author mentions this as considering it almost a prodigy in nature and fearful such cases are rarely met.

Johanna, above-named, was given to a squaw as an adopted daughter, from which she received many kindnesses, nothing in particular to complain considering their circumstances.  The fare of the females was much more tolerable than that of the males, as the care of females is committed to the squaws, who do not appear to be possessed of equal and refined cruelty as that of the male.  The male prisoners remained with the men, who feel more the weight of vengeance and cruelty.

This and the neighboring tribes brought prisoners and booty from places they had devastated, and destroyed the inhabitants in cases of tortures of prisoners.  They frequently invite neighboring tribes with which they are at peace to participate in their gratifications and exultations in saluting their desire for vengeance on the Whites, which they glory in the most refined cruelty on such occasions.  Bring elusion to those groups in human shape, the torture ended they now finished in jubilee a war dance, in which the Squaws seldom join.

When provision was scarce among the Squaws (which was frequently the case), they would impart to the prisoners a greater allowance than to their own children, saying at the time: "Pale face cannot live on as short fare as the Indian."  The prisoners for the eleven months did not suffer as much for food as on their journey.  By remaining stationary, the Indians could with less food procure food, yet the lack of food and other comforts was grievous, the gloominess of their situation possessing their minds was grievous to the extreme, beyond what can adequately be described.

As before stated, Sarah and Johanna Utter never saw each other but once during their captivity in Canada.  The manner of their meeting and cause of contact was thus: one was sent to hunt for a pony and the other for a cow - on their approach Johanna saw in the distance an object.  She feared it was an Indian or some wild beast, advancing in a direction to meet her - she became intimidated, turned a little aside into a thick of underbrush where from her cover she could observe the movements of the object without herself being noticed.  When behold on her near approach it was her long absent sister Sarah!  Imagine their joy at this interview, which only could be equaled by the grief in their separating again.  They fell in each others arms in the most frequent embrace and delight, not thinking of separating again.

This long-wished-for interview could be enjoyed but for a short space, when the elder said to the younger, "We must part."  Which was so heart-rending to the younger that she fell prostrate to the ground and for a moment seemed almost lifeless.  Her sister doing her utmost to reconcile her, telling her that too long delay or knowledge of their interview would arouse the suspicions of the Indians and they would be severely punished, if not killed.  The younger could hardly be persuaded to a separation, begging her sister not to leave her but accompany her home.  The elder clearly pointed out the danger of their going in conjunction to the home of either.  The younger in a degree calmed herself, and they separated never expecting to see each other again - supposing for which they had just reason that their relations and acquaintances all suffered in the great massacre - and they, to be left during life in doleful captivity environed by woods and wilds and their cruel tormentors.

How forlorn the hope of these sisters, far separate from their homes and confident they must remain in dreary solitude, of which if any friends survive, were ignorant of their fate, destiny, locality, and fare.  Without the least lingering hope or the least prospects of ever being restored to those fond endearments and kindnesses bestowed upon them by fond and loving parents and kind friends; with the clear recollection of their once juvenile plays and pleasant pastimes, with joyful and endeared playmates of suitable age to enjoy those pleasing exercises so highly prized in childhood; never before having to face adverse fortune of any tangibility that now so suddenly befell, and they bereft of all those enjoyments - and in their environs were tribes of Indians forbidding the least hope of any amelioration of their condition, depressing their spirits whose feeling and dreads would be difficult to defect.

Eleven months have now elapsed since their stationary captivity, and about twelve since they left their home.  The captives were ignorant of any exertion used for their delivery and nothing affording them the least hope of amelioration of their condition or ever again hearing the chant of civilization, and doomed to drag out a forlorn and dreary existence with their captors.

The Wyoming Valley Massacre of 1757, Final Chapters.

The Utter Family Tree

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