Tuesday, February 8, 2011

321st Anniversary of the Schenectady Massacre, 8th February 1690

“ … As to the causes of this bloody war, which they pretend originated with us, jealousy arising from the trading of our people...seems to be the principal one, for the Indians, that is to say, the Five Nations, were very friendly disposed toward us. The French begrudged us this and therefore made every effort to make them hostile to us …”
(Robert Livingston's contemporary account of the Schenectady Massacre[1])

On Februrary 8, 1690, the Iroquois and French attacked Schenectady in the dark of night. And the results were devastating. Burke, in his book, compares the Schenectady Massacre to other raids by the French and the Iroquois during the five year period from 1689 – 1704. During this time period, the Schenectady Massacre was by far the worst massacre in terms of fatalities (with 60 killed – the next highest was Deerfield, MA with 38 fatalities)[2] with 27 hostages taken (and a number of people died in the cold, driven out in their bedclothes). To put things in perspective, over 50% of the community died.

Willem Abrahamse (Tietsoort), [3] a Schenectady settler, was severely wounded in the massacre, but fled with his family to Esopus (Kingston), where they had friends.[4]

Willem and his wife, Neeltje Swart, had thirteen children, all of whom except Geertruy, Helena, Adrientjen, Marytje and Neeltjen were referenced in Willem's will (so may not have survived him). Of his children, Isaac, Helena, Adrientje, Marytje and Neeltjen would not have been born yet. Aaghe (Eytie), Elizabeth, Abraham, Sephanus, Jacob, Geertruy, Rebecca and Ariaantje would have been affected by the massacre.[5]

Tragically, Willem and Neeltje's nine year old daughter, Gertruy, permanently lost the use of her legs due to exposure from the extreme cold during their escape, and never walked again (see petition of 1707 where Willem asks for help because of his daughter's permanent injury).[6]




YE PEOPLE KILD AND DESTROYED BY YE FRENCH OF CANIDA & THERE INDIANS AT SKINNECHTADY TWENTY MILES TO YE WESTWARD OF ALBANY BETWEEN SATURDAY AND SUNDAY YE 9TH DAY OF FEBRUARY 1689/1690 [7]
Aertse, Jorls [Vander Baast] shott and burnt
Alexander, Robt souldr [soldier] of Capt. Bulls shott
Alolff, Mary, wife of Cornelis Viele Junr Shott
Andries, Daniel & George 2 souldiers of Capt Bull
Bratt, Ands Arentse shott & Burnt & also his childn
Christoffelse, David & his wife with 4 Children all burnt in there house
Church, Serjt [Sargent] of Capt Bull's Compy
de Goyer, Jan Roeloffse burnt in ye house
Gerritse, Sander ye sonne of Gysbert Gerritse [van Brakel] kild & burnt
Grant, Ralph a souldler in ye fort shott
Harmense, Frans [van de Bogart] kild
Hessellng, Robt shott
Jansse, Barent [van Ditmarrs] Killd & Burnd his sonne kild
Janz, Antje doughter of Jan Spoor kild & burnt
Marcellis, Gerritt and his Wife & childe kiled
Pleterse, Wm kild
Potman, Joh: kild his wife kild & her scalp taken off
Schaets, Reynier and his sonne kild
Skermerhoorn, Johannes ye sonne of Symon
3 negroes of Symon Skernerhoorn
Talmidge, Enos Leift [Lieutenant] of Capt Bull kild & burnt
Tassemaker, Dome Petrus ye Minister kild & burnt In his house
Teunise, Sweer [van Velsen] shott & burnt his wife kild & burmt
4 negroes of ye said Sweer Teunise ye same death
Van Eps, Jan and his sonne & 2 of his children kild
a negro of dito Van Eps
Viele, Mary, wife of Dowe Aukes & her 2 children killd
and his negro Woman Francyn
Vroman, Engel [Blom] the wife of Adam Vroman shot & burnt her child the brains dashed out against ye wall
Vrooman, Hind Meese & Bartholomeus kild & burnt
2 negroes of Hind Meese ye same death
Wemp, Myndert killd
a french girl Prisoner among ye
Mohogs kild
a Maquase Indian kild
In all 60
(over 50% of the community)

LYST OF YE PERSONS WHICH YE FRENCH AND THERE INDIANS HAVE TAKEN PRISONERS ATT SKINNECHTADY AND CARIED TO CANIDA YE 9TH DAY OF FEBRUARY 1689/90[8]
[note: the return of the captive, where available, is given in parentheses]
Baptist, Jan sonne of Jan Van Epps(ret'd1693)
Bonts, Stephen adopted sonne of Geertje Bonts (ret'd – no information)
Burt, David belonging to Capt Bull's Compe (ret'd ?)
Gerritse, Stephen ye sonne of Gysbert Gerritse [Van Brakel] (ret'd – no information)
Groot, Symon (ret'd 1691), Abraham, Philip, Dyrck & Claas; (ret'd estimated at 1691) all 5 sonnes of Symon Groot
Fransen, Claes (ret'd?) sonne of Franse Harmense [Van de Bogart]
Janse, Arnout sonne of Paulyn Janse (ret'd – no information)
Marks, Joseph of ye Capt Bull's Compe (ret'd 1691)
Van der Volgen, Lawrence Claes (ret'd 1699) sohne of Claes Lawrence Purmurent [Vander Volgen]
Switts, Isaak Connellse(ret'd ?) & his eldest Sonne (ret'd 1690)
Teller, Johannes (ret'd 1692) and his negro
Vedder, Albert & Johannes sonnes of harme Vedder (ret'd?)
Viele, Arnout ye sonne of Arnout Corn Viele ye Interpr (ret'd 1693)
Vroman, Barent ye sonne of Adam Vroman (ret'd 1697) & ye neger
Webb, John a souldier Belonging to Capt Bull (ret'd ?)
Wemp, John sonne of Myndt Wemp (ret'd?) & 2 negroes
a negro of Barent Janse [van Ditmars]
In all 27

For inquiring minds, more information on the Schenectady Massacre can be found:

  • Mohawk Frontier: The Dutch Community of Schenectady, New York, 1661-1710 (Excelsior Editions) This book is a good general resource on the Schenectady area and has genealogical tidbits here and there for the period 1661 – 1710
  • Robert Livingston's comments and contemporary description of the massacre found in his personal journal (The Schenectady Massacre, Robert Livingston, 1690), available online [last accessed October 2010].
  • History of the Schenectady Patent (based on Jonathan Pearson's book cited here and elsewhere in my blog), found online [last accessed January 2011]

[2] Mohawk Frontier: The Dutch Community of Schenectady, New York, 1661 – 1710, by Thomas E. Burke, Jr. (2nd Edition, Excelsior Edition of State of New York Press), page 107.
[3] See the story of Willem and the bear in my post for 14th January 2011.
[4] History of Orange County, by EM Ruttenber and LH Clark (1881), pages 14 & 15.
[5] Baptisms, Reformed Dutch Church Records for Schenectary and Kingston.
[7] A History of the Schenectady Patent in Dutch & English Times: being contributions toward a History of the Lower Mohawk Valley (1883), by Jonathan Pearson [victims listed alphabetically – Pearson does not], page 261 et seq 
[8] A History of the Schenectady Patent in Dutch & English Times: being contributions toward a History of the Lower Mohawk Valley (1883), by Jonathan Pearson [victims listed alphabetically – Pearson does not], page 264 et seq. Information on the captives' returns/found derived by Thomas E. Burke Jr, presented in his book, Mohawk Frontier: The Dutch Community of Schenectady, New York, 1661-1710 (Excelsior Editions), page 202.

1 comment:

  1. A great write-up of the massacre - my 9th great-grandfather Jan Potman and his wife were killed at the Massacre.

    Thomas MacEntee

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