June 2016

The Murder of John Armstrong (Captain Jack), by Musemeelin, in the Juniata Valley.

Thursday, June 30, 2016
The Murder of John Armstrong (Captain Jack), by Musemeelin, in the Juniata Valley.
Juniata Valley - valley & ridge
Musemeelin, also known as John Musemeelin, was of the Delaware (Lenape) and was ultimately incarcerated in Philadelphia over his crimes of the killings of Captain Jack Armstrong of the Juniata and his two companions. In the earlier days of this nation, both those of European descent and those of the Native population were violent at times.

Other Individuals:

The following is what Shickcalamy declared to be the truth of the story concerning the murder of John Armstrong, Woodworth Arnold, and James Smith, from the beginning to the end, to wit: 

Jack Armstrong is better known as Captain Jack, and is referred to as "John Armstrong" in the 1856 book excerpted in this post, "History of the Early Settlement of the Juniata Valley" by Uriah James Jones. Other sections of the book go on to refer to him as Jack Armstrong, at page 131. He went by both names.

That Musemeelin owing some skins to John Armstrong, the said Armstrong seized a horse of the said Musemeelin and a rifle gun; the gun was taken by James Smith, deceased. Some time last winter Musemeelin met Armstrong on the river Juniata, and paid all but twenty shillings, for which he offered a neck-belt in pawn to Armstrong, and demanded his horse, and James Armstrong refused it, and would not deliver up the horse, but enlarged the debt, as his usual custom was ; and after some quarrel the Indian went away in great anger, without his horse, to his hunting-cabin.

Some time after this, Armstrong, with his two companions, on their way to Ohio, passed by the said Musemeelin's hunting-cabin; his wife only being at home, she demanded the horse of Armstrong, because he was her proper goods, but did not get him. Armstrong had by this time sold or lent the horse to James Berry. After Musemeelin came from hunting, his wife told him that Armstrong was gone by, and that she had demanded the horse of him, but did not get him; and, as is thought, pressed him to pursue and take revenge of Armstrong.

The third day, in the morning, after James Armstrong was gone by, Musemeelin said to the two young men that hunted with him, " Come, let us go toward the Great Hills to hunt bears; " accordingly they went all three in company. After they had gone a good way,. Musemeelin, who was foremost, was told by the two young men that they were out of their course. "Come you along," said Musemeelin; and they accordingly followed him till they came to the path that leads to the Ohio. Then Musemeelin told them he had a good mind to go and fetch his horse back from Armstrong, and desired the two young men to come along. Accordingly they went. It was then almost night, and they traveled till next morning.

Musemeelin said, " Now they are not far off. We will make ourselves black; then they will be frightened, and will deliver up the horse immediately; and I will tell Jack that if he don't give me the horse I will kill him;" and when he said so, he laughed.

The young men thought he joked, as he used to do. They did not blacken themselves, but he did. When the sun was above the trees, or about an hour high, they all came to the fire, where they found James Smith sitting; and they also sat down. Musemeelin asked where Jack was. Smith told him that he was gone to clear the road a little. Musemeelin said he wanted to speak with him, and went that way, and after he had gone a little distance from the fire, he said something, and looked back laughing, but, he having a thick throat, and his speech being very bad, and their talking with Smith hindering them from understanding what he said, they did not mind it. They being hungry. Smith told them to kill some turtles, of which there were plenty, and they would make some bread by-and-by, and would all eat together.

While they were talking, they heard a gun go off, at which time Woodworth Arnold was killed, as they learned afterward. Soon after, Musemeelin came back and said, " Why did you not kill that white man, according as I bid you? I have laid the other two down." At this they were surprised ; and one of the "young men, commonly called Jimmy, ran away to the river-side. Musemeelin said to the other, " How will you do to kill Catawbas, if you cannot kill white men? You cowards I'll show you how you must do ; " and then, taking up the English axe that lay there, he struck it three times into Smith's, head before he died. Smith never stirred. Then he told the young Indian to call the other, but he was so terrified he could not call.

Musemeelin then went and fetched him, and said that two of the white men were killed, he must now go and kill the third ; then each of them would have killed one. But neither of them dared venture to talk any thing about it. Then he pressed them to go along with him; he went foremost. Then one of the young men told the other, as they went along, " My friend, don't you kill any of the white people, let him do what he will; I have not killed Smith; he has done it himself; we have no need to do such a barbarous thing."

Musemeelin being then a good way before them, in a hurry, they soon saw John Armstrong sitting upon an old log. Musemeelin spoke to him and said " Where is my horse? " Armstrong made answer and said, " He will come by-and-by ; you shall have him." "I want him now," said Musemeelin. Armstrong answered, " You shall have him. Come, let us go to that fire," (which was at some distance from the place where Armstrong sat,) "and let us talk and smoke together." "Go along, then," said Musemeelin. " I am coming,'^ said Armstrong, "do you go before, Musemeelin; do you go foremost." Armstrong looked then like a dead man, and went toward the fire, and was immediately shot in his back by Musemeelin, and fell.

Musemeelin then took his hatchet and struck it into Armstrong's head, and said, "Give me my horse, I tell you." By this time one of the young men had fled again that had gone away before, but he returned in a short time. Musemeelin then told the young men they must not offer to discover or tell a word about what had been done, for their lives ; but they must help him to bury Jack, and the other two were to be thrown into the river. After that was done, Musemeelin ordered them to load the horses and follow toward the hill, where they intended to hide the goods. Accordingly they did; and, as they were going, Musemeelin told them that, as there were a great many Indians hunting about that place, if they should happen to meet with any they must be killed to prevent betraying them.. As they went along, Musemeelin going before, the two young men agreed to run away as soon as they could meet with any Indians, and not to hurt anybody.

They came to the desired place; the horses were unloaded, and Musemeelin opened the bundles, and offered the two young men each a parcel of goods. They told him that as they had already sold their skins, and everybody knew they had nothing, they would certainly be charged with a black action were they to bring any goods to the town, and therefore would not accept of any, but promised nevertheless not to betray him. " Now," says Musemeelin, '' I know what you were talking about when you stayed so far behind." The two young men being in great danger of losing their lives--of which they had been much afraid all that day--accepted of what he offered to them, and the rest of the goods they put in a heap and covered them from the rain, and then went to their hunting-cabin.

Musemeelin, unexpectedly finding two or three more Indians there, laid down his goods, and said he had killed Jack Armstrong and taken pay for his horse, and should any of them discover it, that person he would likewise kill, but otherwise they might all take a part of the goods. The young man called Jimmy went to Shamokin, after Musemeelin was gone to bury the goods, with three more Indians, with whom he had prevailed ; one of them was Neshaleeny's son, whom he had ordered to kill James Smith ; but these Indians would not have any of the goods. Some time after the young Indian had been in Shamokin, it was whispered about that some of the Delaware Indians had killed Armstrong and his men. A drunken Indian came to one of the Tudolous houses at night and told the man of the house that he could tell him a piece of bad news. " What is that?" said the other. The drunken man said, "Some of our Delaware Indians have killed Armstrong and his men, which if our chiefs should not resent, and take them up, I will kill them myself, to prevent a disturbance between us and the white people, our brethren."

Oneida Chieftain Shikellamy by Anonymous
See page for author [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
The next morning Shickcalamy and some other Indians of the Delawares were called to assist Allumoppies in council; when Shickcalamy and Allumoppies got one of the Tudolous Indians to write a letter to me, to desire me to come to Shamokin in all haste--that the Indians were very much dissatisfied in mind. This letter was brought to my house by four Delaware Indians, sent express; but I was then in Philadelphia, and when I came home and found all particulars mentioned in this letter, and that none of the Indians of the Six Nations had been down, I did not care to meddle with Delaware Indian affairs, and stayed at home till I received the governor's orders to go, which was about two weeks after. Allumoppies was advised by his council to employ a conjuror, or prophet, as they call it, to find out the murderer.

Accordingly he did, and the Indians met. The seer, being busy all night, told them in the morning to examine such and such a one that was present when Armstrong was killed, naming the two young men. Musemeelin was present. Accordingly, Allumoppies, Quitheyquent, and Thomas Green, an Indian, went to him that had fled first, and examined him. He told the whole story very freely. Then they went to the other, but he would not say a word, and they went away and left him. The three Indians returned to Shickcalamy and informed them of what discovery they had made, when it was agreed to secure the murderers and deliver them up to the white people.

Then a great noise arose among the Delaware Indians, and some were afraid of their lives and went into the woods. Not one cared to meddle with Musemeelin and the other that could not be prevailed on to discover any thing, because of the resentment of their families ; but they being pressed by Shickcalamy's son to secure the murderers, otherwise they would be cut off from the chain of friendship, four or five of the Delawares made Musemeelin and the other young man prisoners, and tied them both.

They lay twenty-four hours, and none would venture to conduct them down, because of the great division among the Delaware Indians ; and Allumoppies, in danger of being killed, fled to Shickcalamy and begged his protection. At last Shickcalamy's son. Jack, went to the Delawares,--most of them being drunk, as they had been for several days,--and told them to deliver the prisoners to Alexander Armstrong, and they were afraid to do it ; they might separate their heads from their bodies and lay them in the canoe, and carry them to Alexander to roast and eat them ; that would satisfy his revenge, as he wants to eat Indians. They prevailed with the said Jack to assist them ; and accordingly he and his brother, and some of the Delawares, went with two canoes and carried them off.

The Northeast Blackout of 1965

Wednesday, June 29, 2016
The Northeast Blackout of 1965
The Northeast blackout of 1965 happened around sunset on November 9, 1965 after a safety relay, sort of like a circuit breaker and around the size of shoebox, tripped and caused the power outage throughout parts of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Vermont, and Pennsylvania. It affected over 30 million people and the power was down for nearly 13 hours in many places. It's thought that the cause was that the limit was set too low on a relay. So, as the sun set and the temperature fell, power usage spiked (due to home heating) and caused the device to trip and the grid to go down.

At the time it was one of the largest power outages ever experienced. Like in 2003, there was a cascade of failures that made the outage become more widespread. Citizens of New York City using public transport had no choice but to walk. Only it was at night instead of during the day (as it was in 2003). Endless numbers of citizens in NYC were stuck in elevators. From the subways, 800,000 people had to walk through the pitch black tunnels and to street level. Once above, they were greeted by a quieter city and the brilliance of the full moon in the sky providing most of the street lighting.

Following the event, "Where were you when the lights went out?" became a saying and also became the title of a comedy film that gives a fictional account of the experiences of an actress during the blackout. The incident also became the subject of a few television shows.

Due to the outage, policies were implemented to try and prevent future widespread incidents of this sort. This led to the cooperation of utility companies and the creation of the National Electric Reliability Council.


See also:

Rutland City in the Dark: Northeast Blackout of November 9th, 1965

The 1977 Blackout

2003 - Blackout hits Northeast United States

Interesting Read >> Unidentified Flying Objects in the sky during the 1965 blackout

Photos and Video of the Erskine, Lake Isabella Wildfire

Friday, June 24, 2016
Photos and Video of the Erskine, Lake Isabella Wildfire
The Lake Isabella area, in Kern County, California is no stranger to both small and large wildfires. In 2014, the Shirley Fire burned 2,545 acres of land and caused over $12 million in damage.

The current Lake Isabella fire has far surpassed that fire though and has scorched 30,000 acres. This while also claiming two lives and burning 100 buildings. Around 2,000 people have been evacuated from the area, as of Friday, June 24, 2016.

Emergency personnel and volunteers are helping people in the affected communities. This is as firefighters, with about 800 out in the area, continue to fight the Erskine fire, trying to protect thousands of buildings. What aided the spread of the fire has been the past few years of drought, and the high temperatures and gusting winds that the area is currently experiencing. At one point, the fire scorched 11 miles of land in about 13 hours, leaving firefighters overwhelmed. Unfortunately, conditions are expected to worsen over the weekend.

Wildfire burns more than 30,000 acres, prompting state of emergency; 2 dead, 100 structures lost

Erskine Fire - Incident Information System

General William McAlevy - Revolutionary War Soldier and Pioneer of Huntingdon County

Saturday, June 18, 2016
General William McAlevy - Revolutionary War Soldier and Pioneer of Huntingdon County
William McAlevy was a rebellious man who made his own path and was an influential anti-Federalist that shook up the law and government in late-1700s Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.

Early Life

William McAlevy was born in the year 1728 in County Down, Ireland. He left Ireland around the year 1746, at about the age of 18, and made the decision to move to the American colonies. It's unclear if any of his other family members joined him in the voyage or not. Though another source gives a completely different description of his arrival to the colonies.

After arriving, he first settled in the Cumberland Valley. Which had a large settlement of his fellow Scots-Irish Presbyterians. More specifically, he lived in the region between Harrisburg and Carlisle, Pennsylvania. While living on his homestead there, he met his first wife, Margaret Harris. Her family, her father Robert and mother Mary Ann, were immigrants from County Donegal in Ireland. Though her mother died in Ireland prior to their arrival to the colonies in 1746. The two married in 1758 in Carlisle.

William McAlevy didn't stay in that region though and he left his family in search of a new homestead for the family in the less tamed, more mountainous area of Pennsylvania. An area which, at the time, was mainly inhabited by Shawnee and Ohio Valley tribes. This new place was in what is modern-day northern Huntingdon County.

Move to Huntingdon County

He followed an old Indian path from the Susquehanna region, through the Sherman Valley (probably in the area of modern day Shermans Dale), onto Tuscarora, through Shade Gap, then known as the Shades of Death, to Aughwick, and stopping at Standing Stone (Huntingdon) before continuing on through Stone Creek Valley and to the unbeaten path, the forested areas of Northern Huntingdon County, following the banks of the Standing Stone Creek. This journey of his would've been during the year of 1765. It was at Standing Stone Creek where he found where their homestead would be, approximately 17 miles up Route 26 and somewhere in the immediate area of McAlevys Fort Road. He picked this place as he saw it as a great region for farming.

old path

Not long after, he began planning to bring his family and their belongings to their new homestead. Since the path he traveled along from Harrisburg was too rough for a wagon, especially through Jack's Narrows, he decided on making a canoe from a massive pine tree. He took this canoe and made his way down Standing Stone Creek, southeast down the Juniata, and then shortly along the Susquehanna to Harrisburg. Arriving at Harrisburg, his wife and children got into the canoe and their important belongings were loaded. McAlevy and his family then made their way back along the waterways in which he arrived, to Standing Stone (Huntingdon). From there, and onto Standing Stone Creek, he had a horse to help pull the canoe out of sandbars as it traveled up the creek.

After finally arriving at their new homestead they were wary of their "neighbors", Native American inhabitants of the area. They quickly came to the realization that they had to build themselves a fort . This fort was located only a short distance of a few hundred feet east of Standing Stone Creek, on a hill, and west of the where the community of McAlevys Fort present town site is today. Their fort was also used by those living nearby that needed refuge from raids and other offensive and defensive activities of the original inhabitants of the area.

In time, the McAlevy family began to turn this wild area, nature-wise, into a developed place for settlement and farming. The first few years there were rough, with attacks happening regularly. He once had a close call when he and a companion were a good ways from the fort. He was shot by a Native American man but was able to run away. His companion wasn't so lucky, being captured and scalped. Following this event though, he made headway and cleared enough land to farm and comfortably support his family.

Unfortunately, his first wife Margaret died before his time serving in the military during the Revolutionary War. She died in 1768, being born in 1734.

William married again, to a Mary Hays, but their marriage only lasted a year. There was a warning about an impending Indian attack that the fort may not have been capable of protecting everyone from. So many settlers, and the McAlevys, left the fort and took off to somewhere else for safety. They traveled across Stone Mountain on a log platform, a "slidecar", that was pulled by horses or behind wagons and dragged along the ground.

On her death, little detail is available (that i can find) but, as i mentioned, she died only about a year after they were married. William then ended up marrying yet again, this time to a widow, another Margaret, Margaret Allen on September 16, 1789. See 1811 here for the possible year of her death.

The Revolutionary War

During the Revolutionary War, William McAlevy commanded a company that was situated at the northern region of the Juniata Valley, not too far from where he lived. They were tasked with responding to and repelling attacks during the war. Yet, even prior to the war, it was his militia that defended against Indian attacks in the area. His experience became more important during the Revolutionary War and they were already, in an unofficial manner, against acknowledging the authority of King George III before they even knew the war broke out. Once they knew the war had started though, they clashed with Tories and Indians.

In the spring of 1778 there was a force of around 320 Tories, commanded by John Weston, who headed into Huntingdon and drove out citizens who were not loyal to the the crown. McAlevy, now a colonel, heard news of this but was initially unable to respond. As the Tory force was stronger, more prepared, and more well-armed. So he asked for reinforcements and Colonels Brown and Buchanan responded and their forces joined up with McAlevy's. They marched on to Huntingdon but, by the time they arrived, the Tories had already fled. McAlevy and his men continued defending the region against Tories and their Native American allies until Weston died and the alliance was broken.

McAlevy then became a brigadier general after the end of Revolutionary War. He aligned with Thomas Jefferson but, as an anti-Federalist, was opposed to adoption of the Constitution and made many efforts in politics to prevent its ratification. His influence, and his political partners, failed to achieve this goal in elections and, in turn, he turned to other methods to oppose the Constitution going into effect. He made "war" against its establishment in Huntingdon County for a year or two.

Creating Unrest in Huntingdon and Huntingdon County

What angered him, and many others, was that those who were appointed to head the government in the newly-established Huntingdon County were the elitists of the region, the easily corrupted. Which was a dislike of many anti-federalists, that the Constitution made political corruption far more likely. McAlevy and his allies formed up and headed to a county government meeting. This was in March of 1788 and six months after the formation of the county. Their intent was to break up the meeting on its first day. They were armed with clubs and had an effigy of Colonel Cannon along with them. The court heard of their march beforehand and two justices, Philips and Henderson, left the court and tried to stop them from heading to the court and disturbing the peace. They were unsuccessful and McAlevy and his men continued on all the way to the court meeting at Sell's Tavern. Which, at the time, was located off where Allegheny Street is today.

McAlevy's men then entered the tavern and began to make a racket to drown out the court and their speech. In response, the court had no choice but to end the meeting. Each warning the protesters received was completely ignored and this lead to the detainment of McAlevy by Sheriff Elliot. Being disliked by the protesters, this only made them more rebellious and they went at the sheriff and freed McAlevy. Elliot called for help but it was too much for those trying to oppose McAlevy's men and McAlevy was helped out of the court by his supporters. Immediately after the event, McAlevy and some of his allies were indicted and a grand jury met the next morning on this issue. The court was in session but the prosecution was unprepared to go ahead, especially with the uneasy atmosphere of the court, and the court was postponed.

In May of 1788, the annual militia muster was held in the region of Hartslog Valley. Sheriff Elliot was present, as he was also the lieutenant in Huntingdon County. Also present were many of the citizens who protested at the court back in March. Their intent though was to prevent the muster. At first, they pretended to fall in line with every participant. They then began to protest against the command of Major Spencer and Colonel Cannon and saw the two as being not fit for the positions that they were elected to. Tempers flared and Elliot and one of the officers was injured in the fighting. Fighting that was referred to by many as a 'riot'.

In response, an agreement was made to bring in another commander, for a temporary time, to appease those who weren't willing to muster under Colonel Cannon and Major Spencer. Then men who were against Spencer and Cannon were told to step forward. Which ended up leading to 1/3 of the men walking out. In response, given that so many refused to muster under the officers, Elliot and the officers had no choice but to end the roll call, leaving the field along with men who'd arrived at Hartslog as a part of the battalion.

This defiance by McAlevy and others lead to action against them. Justice Thomas Duncan Smith (possible match), who was also disliked by the protesters, was approached to file charges against McAlevy and two other men for their actions at the muster. Warrants were then issued for their arrest. They appeared at court and were told by a different justice, Thomas McClure, informing the men of the order for them to appear before Justice Smith in five days.

Five days later, McAlevy and the two other men showed up at the court along with a crowd of individuals also against the court. The hearing went on as normal (as things could be) and Smith said he would set their bail. McAlevy and the men refused this and demanded to be sent to jail. The justice was unable to do this, as a jail had not been built yet. Their stubbornness lead to the justice having no choice but to let them go without their having to pay a bail.

McAlevy and his men then left the court and the town to meet up at their meeting place. Once there, they began to plan a new action and gather up reinforcements. After a few hours they, a force of around 100, headed to Huntingdon, fully armed with weapons, guns, clubs, knives, tomahawks and other weaponry. They marched their way down the main street, and to the public square, then began to show their force while openly displaying their weapons and making plenty of noise. The crowd watching their activities, including authorities, officers, and citizens felt a sense of fear. They realized that McAlevy and his supporters had a power that couldn't be resisted.

In response, Justice Smith was called out to the "event" and was placed in the center of a circle, with a rifle pointed at him, and was surrounded by McAlevy's men. He was then ordered to revoke and destroy the warrants over their activities at the failed muster. Justice Smith complied, pulled the warrants out but he refused to destroy them himself. So Smith handed them to one of McAlevy's men, the one that had been pointing a rifle at him, and the man proceeded to rip up the warrants, tossing the ripped up pieces at Smith.

Court clerk Lazarus B. McLain was also sent for and was ordered to show the indictment from March. Being under intimidation, he produced the document and it was torn up just like the warrants were. Afterwards, to further their point, McAlevy sent some of his men to the courthouse at Sell's Tavern, following behind Smith and Henderson, to destroy the court docket containing more information of McAlevy and his men's cases. Smith and Henderson handed over the docket under force. These documents were also destroyed, possibly burned.

Out of these events, officials of the county were told that their lives may have been in danger. So many of them went into hiding or left the area completely. Justice Smith hid out at a friend's place while Justice Henderson left Huntingdon. After their fleeing from their own homes, their homes were searched by those suspected of being McAlevy's men. Either with or without the command (or knowledge) of McAlevy. David McMurtrie, Sheriff Elliot, and two other constables also left/fled the area to work elsewhere. Sheriff Elliot was unable to act, for his own safety, in his law enforcement duties throughout the county. Huntingdon County practically became lawless at this time.

This atmosphere continued and on June 5th, 1788 a call for aid was made to the Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They looked into the matter and by June 25th had made the decision to take measures to end the disturbances throughout Huntingdon County. Though nothing immediate came of this decision and the unrest continued throughout Huntingdon County.

Raids into Huntingdon became more frequent, citizens were being assaulted, and the homes of county officials were attacked and vandalized at night. In mid-August, 160 men from all over Huntingdon County joined up with McAlevy (under his leadership), with John Smith, Abraham Smith, and John Little as his lieutenants. They marched in the streets in Huntingdon and were provided weapons by those in fear of an attack. Government officials of the county, and supporters of the county government, took up defense in Sheriff Elliot's home and came armed to defend themselves. McAlevy's force never headed to Elliot's home though and instead stayed in the streets of Huntingdon. Around the same time as these marches, they had a meeting at William Kerr's house to choose delegates to send to a convention that was going to be held at Lewisburg. After this meeting they proceeded to leave Huntingdon.

By September, the Huntingdon County government was getting back on its feet and carrying on with their activities. Which included the court operations. They still had received no help from the Supreme Executive Council and McAlevy was still very active. Though his violence lessened and the political battles, under his influence, heated up instead.

In August of 1789, the Supreme Executive Council postponed any action in Huntingdon County. Mostly due to the fact that things were beginning to calm as the county government stabilized itself. All without any help from the feet-dragging Supreme Executive Council.

His Later Years

McAlevy still played an influential role in his anti-federalist party. He was still involved in the leadership throughout the 1800s and was still highly respected by its members. He was still involved with the military too and was made a brigadier general of the second brigade (mentioned above), by Governor McKean. The second brigade was in operation with forces comprised of those in Huntingdon and Mifflin counties. Which, at the time, included Centre County, which was a part of Mifflin. He also served proudly at his Presbyterian church at Manor Hill. He contributed in dispensing communion at his church, which was located not far from the fort he built.

On August 21st, 1822, at age 94, William McAlevy died at his daughter Jane's home near Petersburg. He's buried at McAlevys Fort Hill Cemetery in McAlevys Fort, PA.

For more materials, click History of Huntingdon County

Mary Jemison - White Woman of the Genesee - Letchworth Park

Saturday, June 11, 2016
Mary Jemison -  White Woman of the Genesee -  Letchworth Park
Mary Jemison 1856
By James E. Seaver [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Mary Jemison, also known by the name Dehgewanus, (meaning, "Two Falling Voices") was born on a small ship on the Atlantic Ocean in 1742 or autumn of 1743. Her birth occurred as the ship sailed from Belfast, Ireland to the New World. The ship itself went by the name, "William and Mary" (possible reference). When they arrived they, newborn Mary and her parents Thomas Jemison and Jane Jemison (nee Irwin), settled in Pennsylvania. They made their way westward to settle in an area where Scots-Irish immigrants had already built a settlement. This settlement wasn't all that far from Gettysburg and went by the name Marsh Creek. Once settled, in 1744, her father built a cabin for the family. In time, there were six children in the family, which included Mary.

At this time the French and Indian War continued as Mary Jemison and her family felt the effects of the war. On April 5th, 1755, French soldiers and Shawnee Indians (six Shawnee, four French) raided her family's cabin.  Mary was said to be 13 at this time. They took the whole family hostage, except for her two brothers. Her brothers had escaped before they were captured. The family was taken west, to the French-built Fort Duquesne, near modern-day downtown Pittsburgh. Before arriving at the fort though, their captors made a decision to get rid of some of them. So they separated Mary and a neighbor boy (named Davy Wheelock) from the rest of their families. Mary and Davy's family members were left behind, with some of the Shawnee and French, and were killed.

Mary's mother's maiden name was Irwin before she met Thomas Jemison. (source)

Fort Duquesne
By Sébastien Paquin (moi-même)
 [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Once they reached Fort Duquesne, Mary was sold to two Seneca women. From the fort, she was taken down the Ohio River, into Ohio. After a while of being in the village she was, more or less, adopted by the people. She was brought into the tribe and took the place of a young warrior that had died. This is where she took on her new name Dehgewanus, meaning Two Falling Voices. In time, she began to learn their ways and began living like the Seneca. In 1760 and somewhere near Sciota, Ohio she became the wife of a Delaware named Sheninjee at 17. In 1761, they had a daughter together. Unfortunately, the daughter died a couple days after being born. Months later, sometime before the spring of 1762, she had a son and named him Thomas in memory of her father.

Once the summer of 1762 arrived, Mary and Sheninjee, with Thomas in a cradleboard on her back, set off with a small party towards New York State. The relocation was a nearly seven hundred mile trip to Sheninjee's homeland. They headed to an area along the Genesee River in a valley known as Sehgahunda. The name which means 'Vale of the Three Falls', describing the three waterfalls of Letchworth. Before arriving though, Sheninjee made a decision to go on a short hunt but ended up getting ill and dying. So Mary (Dehgewanus), continued on her own towards Sehgahunda, arriving as a widow in this area she didn't know well at the time. Members of Sheninjee's tribe aided her in settling near Little Beard's Town. A town which was located near present-day Cuylerville, NY. There she grieved for about a year over the loss of Sheninjee. This, her new home, inside the land of the Seneca, made for a quiet and peaceful life for a few years.

That is until the Revolutionary War broke out.

Many of the tribes had sided with the British during the Revolutionary War. Due to this, they became entangled in a battle with the Continental Army. In 1779, George Washington sent around five thousand soldiers to Little Beard's Town to battle the Seneca. The Seneca, who ambushed the soldiers in an attempt to stop them, had successes early on. Yet it wasn't enough and the Continental Army broke through their defense. They proceeded to burn down their fields and homes throughout a vast area of the Genesee River Valley. As John Sullivan's troops arrived at Little Beard's Town, the Seneca retreated to the forest. While other members of the tribe fled to other Seneca villages that hadn't been attacked. Dehgewanus went south from Little Beard's Town and to an abandoned village known as Gadaho. She and her children found shelter there with two runaway slaves.

As time went on, she adapted even more to the culture of the Seneca and lived completely as one of them. It was, in living along the Genesee River, where she met Hiokatoo and they spent years living there until the land was bought up by land speculators. This came after the Seneca tribe voted, likely pressured into a vote at Big Tree (present-day Geneseo) in the summer of 1797. They were persuaded to sell their land to said speculators. The treaty upset a lot of Seneca. Yet, the tribe members went along anyway and sold a good portion of their homelands to settlers. One of the lands sold was where Dehgewanus, Hiokatoo and her children lived. She was present at Big Tree and was able to get some of her land set aside to become part of the nearly eighteen thousand acre Gardeau Reservation. Even though Dehgewanus and her family still had a good amount of land to grow their food on, her family, along with the rest of the Seneca tribe, began to face more hardships. This only increased as more settlers moved into the surrounding areas. Which, in turn, the tensions began to affect her family directly. Her husband Hiokatoo died in 1811, and three of her sons were killed between 1811 and 1817. Some of the residents in the area also tried to take Dehgewanus' lands during this period.

Mary Jemison Cabin
Mary Jemison Cabin By J. Stephen Conn 

Most of her neighbors respected her, especially as she got older and was starting to be seen as an 'elder'. This is when she got the name, "Old White Woman of the Genesee." Dehgewanus was charitable and took care of those in need who showed up at her cabin. She would even visit the cabins of her neighbors, giving them tea and cake. This is around the same time when local residents convinced a doctor, James Seaver, to interview her in November 1823. At the time of the interview, which happened at Whaley Tavern, she was 80 years old. These interviews, which led to the writing of the book, as initially titled, "The Life and Times of Mrs. Mary Jemison" and its publication the following year by James Everett Seaver (Find A Grave). In 1823, the Senecas gave up (under pressure) the Gardeau Reservation and two acres of land were set aside for Dehgewanus. In 1831, she sold these lands, (yet again, another questionable sale done under pressure), and relocated to the Buffalo Creek Reservation, where she died on September 19, 1833, age 89 or 90.

About forty years after her death, her grave was relocated to Letchworth from the Buffalo Creek Reservation. This came after the sale of the reservation and after her grandchildren petitioned William Pryor Letchworth to relocate her grave to the park. He agreed to do so and in March of 1874, Dehgewanus' remains were placed in a new walnut coffin and brought to the Genesee River Valley by train. At the ceremony on the Council Ground, mixing both Seneca and Christian observances, she was buried on a bluff above Letchworth's Middle Falls. The site is marked by a statue of her carrying Thomas in a cradleboard on her back.

White Woman of the Genesee
White Woman of the Genesee By J. Stephen Conn

Videos about Mary Jemison


Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge in Western New York

Monday, June 06, 2016
Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge in Western New York
A new day awakens in the marsh
The Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is a 10,828-acre refuge located in Western New York. Developed in the 1950s, it was first known as the Oak Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge was established to preserve the natural features of the land and the wildlife of the area. The idea to create the refuge came after the reduction of wildlife in the area due to the draining of the swamps. In the 1930s, increased logging and farming was one of the main causes of the further reduction of the wildlife. Residents became concerned and made moves to protect the swamps and stop the destruction.

The Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is within the towns of Alabama and Shelby, NY. Located in the wildlife refuge are 'pools' of water that provide for the wildlife and marsh vegetation. They include the Seneca Pool, Oneida Pool, Cayuga Pool, Mohawk Pool, and the Onondaga Pool. There are also four trails and four overlooks in the refuge. All of which are open to the public for visiting and usage any time of the year. These trails are the Kanyoo Nature Trail, Onondaga trail, Swallow Hollow Trail and Feeder Road. The Kanyoo Nature Trail gets its name from the Iroquois word for "wildlife".

Wildlife of the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge


Being on a major path of bird migrations, the wildlife refuge experiences a sizable amount of species of birds in the area. The path is known as the Atlantic flyway. Around two hundred and sixty-six species of birds have been spotted at the wildlife refuge. Sixty of which stay there all year round. As for geese that seasonally nest on the refuge, only around two hundred pairs of geese stay on the 'stop' that is the Iroquois NWR. While the rest continue on to nesting areas in Canada. The heights of migration are from the middle of March to the beginning of April. In the autumn season, the migrations occur from the middle of September until early October. Other birds that migrate to the area are sandpipers, killdeer, and various other shorebirds. They arrive (in their highest numbers) during and between the months of May to August. Birds of prey are also known to frequent the area of the refuge during migrations or stay year round. The most common birds of prey being the American Kestrel and the Red-tailed hawk. Though Ospreys and Bald eagles are also present at the refuge.

Fish and Mollusks

The species of fish in the waters of the refuge provide a food source for the other wildlife. These species of fish include bass, bullhead, yellow perch, sunfish, black crappie, northern pike and the invasive carp. Mollusk species, mussels, and clams, are also found in the waters of the refuge


The environment and diversity of the Iroquois NWR allows it to support a wide range of mammals. The wildlife is present in both the wetlands and other areas of the refuge. Many of the mammals are known to inhabit Western New York are present in the refuge. This includes the many well-known animals. Including muskrats, red foxes, gray squirrels, white-tailed deer and eastern cottontail rabbits. River otters and coyotes have sometimes been spotted at the refuge.

Amphibians and Reptiles

The most visible reptiles at the refuge are snapping turtles and the midland painted turtles. On warm and sunny days you can find the painted turtles resting out in the sun for warmth. You'll also find snapping turtles around the refuge looking for areas in which to lay their eggs. As for snakes, there are the more commonly sighted water snakes and garter snakes. Lesser-seen snakes on the refuge are the smooth green snakes, the black rat snake, the northern redbelly snake, the eastern milk snake and the northern brown snake. None of these snakes are venomous.

You can also find many amphibians at the Iroquois NWR. They live in the forest and wetlands of the refuge. Species of frogs and toads include the northern leopard frog, green frogs, gray tree frogs, American toads, the western chorus frog, and spring peepers. In the spring, you can hear the songs of the frogs all throughout the season. Salamanders on the refuge include Jefferson and blue-spotted salamanders.

Emergent marsh

Activities and Trails on the Refuge

There are plenty of recreational and educational activities on the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. There is a visitor's center on Casey Road that provides education about the local wildlife and information. Within the visitor center is a nature store providing apparel, nature books, and more items available for sale.


Feeder Road - Originally, Feeder Road was constructed in 1823, using material from the digging of the Feeder Canal. The canal's purpose was to direct water from Tonawanda Creek, into Oak Orchard Creek. From there it went to the Erie Canal. Feeder Road goes through woods, grasslands, and wetland.

Kanyoo Nature Trail - Kanyoo takes you through the forest and wetlands. On the boardwalk, there's an observation area that provides excellent views of the marshland. During the spring and summer, wildflowers and other colorful, natural sights are everywhere

Onondaga Natural Trail - The Onondaga takes visitors over the Onondaga marsh, through the woods, and over plantations areas. These plantations were initially created by the Seneca. Long before the wildlife refuge existed they used some of the area for farming. All throughout the trail, you'll spot birds and other wild animals.

Swallow Hollow Nature Trail - Somewhat similar to the Kanyoo Nature Trail, a boardwalk will take you through marshland. The trail also goes through wetland and the wooded areas. In spring and into summer plenty of songbirds, such as the Warbler, are found along this trail. Panels along this trail also provide information about wildlife that you can expect to spot.

Overlooks on the Refuge

Cayuga Marsh Overlook - From this overlook, you'll be able to watch bald eagles in their nest. You'll also spot various other wildlife, including waterfowl and black tern. It's best to bring a pair of binoculars with you for best viewing.

Mallard Overlook - At this overlook, you can view Ringneck Marsh (south-east view) and possibly spot an osprey nest. Great blue heron and waterfowl are also visible here.

Ringneck Marsh Overlook - Ringneck Marsh is visible from the a northern 'perspective'. This is the best overlook for viewing migrating geese.

Schoolhouse Marsh Overlook - Here you'll be able to see waterfowl and it's where you can get the best sightings of shorebirds.

Bird watcher

Official Websites

Massacre of the Dean Family in the Autumn of 1780

Saturday, June 04, 2016
Massacre of the Dean Family in the Autumn of 1780
On a Sunday night in the autumn of 1780, the Dean family was visited by Captain Simonton and his family. At the time, Simonton and his family were the closest neighbors to the Dean family, living at a home along the Juniata on the "river road", near Canoe Valley, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. While visiting, Captain Simonton gave news of hostile Native Americans being in the area. So he recommended that the Deans head to Lowry's Fort, which existed near modern day Fox Run and Goodman Roads in Alexandria. Matthew Dean's family consisted of eight children at this time and the sooner they got ready to evacuate, the better. Mr. Dean chose not to leave for the fort though and dismissed the sighting as just rumor. When the Simontons were getting ready to leave, his son stopped his parents to ask if he could stay overnight at the Dean's place. His parents gave in and Mrs. Simonton promised to visit the next day.

Fox Run Road (Also, Bing StreetSide view)

The next morning, Mr. Dean takes two of his sons and two of his oldest daughters out to their cornfields to prepare the fields for spring and sow some rye. Once done with the planting, Mr. Dean went into the woods to hunt wild pigeon for food. Not long after, he saw smoke in the distance coming from the direction of his home and hurried out of the woods. His four children also followed quickly along with him. Along the way, they met up with Mrs. Simonton, as she was arriving, and she followed them to the home with the five Deans. They all arrived at the Dean home to find that all of the children and his wife were dead. The home was also lit on fire by the raiding Native Americans. In the yard, one of Mr. Dean's young daughters was found scalped. The home had burned for a while and only the burned remains of the Dean family's members were left. The Simonton boy was nowhere to be found though. A search party, following the trail of the Native American individuals, was headed by the eight Beatty boys and included many other men from other local families.

Captain Simonton traveled to Minor's Mill that day and only heard the news once he arrived back at Water Street. Hearing the news, he quickly took off to the Dean's as they were pulling remains of the Dean family from the home. Hearing the news of his missing son he, along with everyone else, suspected that his son was taken into captivity. In response, Simonton offered up a  ransom or reward for his return or recovery. The amount he offered was 100 pounds. He attended a few treaty meetings, including ones at Miami Valley and Chillicothe, Ohio. The captives he saw at these treaties, none of them were his son. The many searches for his son, by the search parties, also came up empty handed. After a while, he lost hope and gave up the search.

Decades passed, during the War of 1812, three of Simonton's other sons were with Captain Moses Canan's military company and working with Senecas (who were neutral) there in Cattaraugus County, NY. A white man was spotted by some of the other men in the company, living comfortably with the Seneca, with a wife. Being curious, they asked about his past and wondered if he was from the Juniata. They asked him with him replying, "I think I am." He also told them that his name was John Sims. The Army soldiers then asked him if he wanted to see his brothers, telling him that they were nearby, and John said that he would. He then began to cry and it was clear that he was the missing brother. While still talking with the soldiers, his wife arrived, looking displeased, and quickly took him away. After that, they never saw him again throughout their whole time stationed at Cattaraugus.

On the rest of the family, the elder, Captain Simonton, died before his sons arrived back from war. and one of Dean's daughters, one of the ones working in the field at the time of the massacre, married a member of the Caldwell family. His sons surviving sons were also married and had quite large families.

Suggested Reading and Sources:

History of Huntingdon and Blair Counties, Pennsylvania By J. Simpson Africa, Page 321
History of the Early Settlement of the Juniata Valley by Uriah James Jones, Chapter XXIX, Page 301
Dean Families of South-central Pennsylvania, About 1780 to 1810

Katelyn Nicole Davis ? Forever Missed