My ancestor, Alexander
McFee, came to the United States just before the start of the American
Revolution. He came from Scotland with his wife, Peggy (Clark), his three
eldest children and, I believe, his father and two sisters.
settled in Cherry Valley, New York then a part of Tryon County. It is
there that, around the time of the war, Alexander's children were captured
I learned of
this tale through family writings and my grandmother. The details of the
story vary, as almost all family tales do, but the general tale is the
On the day of
the capture, Alexander was at the fort and his wife, Peggy, went to the
spring to get some water. As Peggy turned back toward her log home, she
saw Indians climbing over a nearby brush fence. The Indians seized Peggy
and went to the log home where they took the children. These were
William, age eight, Barbara, age 5 and an infant, Frances.
There was snow
on the ground, the air was very cold, and the walk was hard. Peggy
carried Frances, who was crying, and it was hard for her to keep up with
the party. Enraged by the crying and straggling behind, the Indians sent
Peggy back with Frances but kept William and Barbara.
kept for eight months or so. It is not known where or how she was able to
return to her family.
kept several years. His father, Alexander, was said to have gone to
Canada to retrieve him. It is also said that William would not "own" his
mother. He would say his mother was "up in a tree", as that is how the
Indians would dispose of their dead.
William grew up
to marry Margaret Garlock and settled in Schoharie County, New York where
he is buried.
I am told a
full account of this capture can be found in the "Manuscript of Yates". I
have yet to locate these papers. I did find an excerpt in "The Story of
Old Ft. Plain and the Middle Mohawk Valley" by Nelson Greene that relates
to this tale. It is as follows:
Yates wrote a letter to Col. H. Frey dated Freyburg, March 22, 1782. He
said among other things: 'We have already had three different inroads from
the enemy. The last was at Bowman's kill [Canajoharie Creek] from whence
they took three children of McFee's family."