Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Massacre At Schenectady, New York 1748 - Rachel Quackenbos

This story comes from A History of the Schenectady Patent in the Dutch and English Times, Old French War, 1744-1748. This first account was written by Giles F. Yates, Esq., and published in the Schenectady Democrate an Reflector, April 22, 1836, was gathered from tradition then floating about among the aged people of that day, with whom Mr. Yates had an extended acquaintance.

"In the beginning of the month of July, 1748, Mr. [Daniel Toll] and his favorite servant Ryckert, went in search of some stray horses at Beukendal, a locality about three miles from this city. They soon heard as they supposed the trampling of horses; but on a nearer approach, the sound they mistook for that made by horses hoofs on the clayey ground, proceeded from the quaits with which some Indians were playing.

"Mr. Toll discovered his danger too late and fell pierced by the bullets of the French savages, for such they were. Ryckert more fortunate took to his heels and fled. He reached Schenectady in safety and told the dreadful news of the death of his master, and the presence of the enemy.

"In less than an hour about sixty volunteers were on their march to Beukendal. The greater part of these were young men & such was their zeal that they would not wait until the proper authorities had called out the Militia".

Without discipline or experience and even without a leader they hastened to the Indian Camp.

"Those in advance of the main body, before they reached the enemy were attracted by a singular sight. They saw a man resembling Mr. Toll sitting near a fence in an adjoining field and a crow flying up and down before him.

"On coming nearer they discovered it to be the corpse of Mr. Toll with a crow attached to it by a string.

"This proved to be a stratagem of the Indians to decoy their adversaries. The Schenectadians fell alas! too easily into the snare laid for them and were in a few moments surrounded by the Indians who had been lying in ambush. Thus taken by surprise they lost many of their number, and some were taken prisoners before they could make good their retreat.

"They however succeeded in reaching the house of Mr. De Graaf (299-1) in the neighborhood which had been for some time deserted. But while retreating they continued to fire upon their enemy. On reaching Mr. De Graaf's house they entered, bolted the doors and ascended to the second floor. Here they tore off all the boards near the eaves and thro the opening thus made fired with success at the savages and succeeded in keeping them at bay. In the meantime Dirck Van Vorst, who had been left in the charge of two young Indians effected his escape.

"The two youngsters were anxious to see the fight and secured their prisoner by tying him to a tree and left him alone. He succeeded in getting his knife from his pocket and cutting the cord with which he was bound. On the approach of the Schenectady militia under Col. Jacob Glen the party in Mr. De Graaf's house were relieved from their perilous situation and the enemy took up their line of march for Canada.

"On this occasion there were thirty-two citizens killed [?]: — of these we are able to give the names of Jacob Glen (cousin of Col. Glen), Peter Vrooman, John Darling, Adam Conde, ———— Van Antwerpen, Cornelius Vielè, Nicholaas De Graaf and Adrian Van Slyck: — wounded, Ryer Wemp, ———— Robinson and ———— Wilson: — prisoners, Abraham De Graaf and his son William, John Phelps, Harmon Veeder and Lewis Groot.

"The bodies of De Graaf and Glen were found lying in a close contact with their savage antagonists with whom they had wrestled in deadly strife.

"The corpses were brought to Schenectady the evening of the massacre and deposited in the large barn of Abraham Mabee, being the identical one now standing on the premises of Mrs. Benjamin, in Church street. The relatives of the deceased repaired thither to claim their departed kindred and remove them for interment."

Another narrative may be found in Drake's "Particular History" and seems to have been gleaned from various sources. It is particularly valuable as giving more names of the killed and missing than any other account.

"July 18, 1748. About three miles from Schenectady, Daniel Toll, Dirck Van Vorst and a negro went to a place called Poependal to catch their horses; but not finding the horses as they expected they went into the adjacent woods to a place called the Clay pit [Kley kuil]. They discovered Indians and attempted to escape from them, but were pursued by them and both Toll & Van Vorst where shot down, but the negro escaped. Van Vorst, though wounded was not killed but taken prisoner. The firing was heard at Maalwyck about two miles distant and the people there knowing that Toll & Van Vorst had gone for their horses suspected the occasion of the firing. This was about ten o'clock in the morning and a messenger was at once dispatched to the town where the alarm was sounded about twelve. Some of the inhabitants with a company of new levies posted there under Lieut. Darling of Connecticut in all seventy men marched out toward

Poependal cautiously searching for the enemy, as far as the lands of Simon Groot, but made no discovery of the enemy. At this point the negro before mentioned came to the party and told them where the body of his master was.

The negro was furnished with a horse and they (about forty in number) were piloted to the spot where his master lay dead; and near Poependal at Abraham De Graaf's house. They immediately entered the woods with the negro where they at once discovered the enemy in great numbers upon whom they discharged a volley with a shout. The enemy shouted in return accompanying it with a volley also. This was the commencement of a most desperate fight. All but two or three of the English stood to it manfully, although they were hemmed in on every side by the great numbers of the enemy, and fought over a space of about two acres; yet the battle ground was left in possession of the settlers. In this hand to hand encounter twelve of the inhabitants of Schenectady were killed outright, five were taken prisoners and seven of Lieut. Darlings men including himself were killed and six of them missing supposed to be taken prisoners. The news of this battle reached Albany in the evening of the same day and by midnight Lieut. Chew with one hundred English and two hundred friendly Indians were on the march for the scene of action, but to no other purpose than as showing their willingness to meet an emergency of this kind. The names of the people killed so far as ascertained were Daniel Toll, Frans Van der Bogart Jr., Jacob Glen Jr., Daniel Van Antwerpen, J. P. Van Antwerpen, Cornelis Vielen Jr., Adrian Van Slyck, Peter Vrooman, Klaas A. De Graaf, Adam Condè, John A. Bradt & John Marinus.

"There were missing, Isaac Truax, Ryer Wemp, Johannes Seyer Vrooman, Albert John Vedder & Frank Conner all belonging to Schenectady. Of the soldiers seven were killed & six missing."

From these accounts it is certain that the presence of the Indians was not suspected until the first shot; — that Capt. Daniel Toll was the first victim; — that the alarm was given by his negro Ryckert — that a company of Connecticut levies under Lieut. John Darling accompanied and followed by squads of the inhabitants marched to the scene, and that after a hot engagement the Indians retreated leaving twenty of the whites dead and taking away thirteen or fourteen prisoners besides the wounded.

Considering the number of the whites engaged, their loss was very severe, amounting probably to one-third of their force.

The following is the fullest list of killed and missing that can now be given:


John A. Bradt, Johannes Marinus, Peter Vrooman, Daniel Van Antwerpen, Cornelis Vielè, Jr., Nicolaas De Graaf, Adrian Van Slyck, Jacob Glen, Jr., Adam Condè, J. P. Van Antwerpen, Frans Van der Bogart, Capt. Daniel Toll.

Lt. John Darling, and seven of his soldiers, in all twenty men.


Ryer Wemp, ———— Robinson, Dirk Van Vorst, ———— Wilson.

And probably many others.

Missing — Prisoners:

John Phelps, Lewis Groot, Johannes Seyer Vrooman, Frank Connor, Harman Veeder, Isaac Truax, Albert John Vedder.

And six soldiers, in all thirteen men.

After the close of hostilities Governor Clinton sent Lieut. Stoddert to Montreal to arrange for an exchange of prisoners. With Capt. Anthony Van Schaick he went into the Indian country to recover the captives, but with indifferent success. Among those who returned with Lieut. Stoddert were Capt. Anthony Van Schaick, John Vrooman, Peter Vasborough [Vosburgh], Albert Vedder and Francis Connor. Efforts were made to induce others to return but without success; of these were Rachel Quackenbos, Simon Fort and Philip Phillipsen. Rachel Quackenbos (abjured renounce, repudiate, or retract) the English religion and Lieut. Stoddert could not persuade her to return. Fort and Phillipse also desired to remain with the Iroquois; the former belonged by adoption to a sister of a chief named Agonareche. She refused to give him up at any price. Capt. Van Schaick offered six hundred livres for Fort without succeeding in obtaining him. On the contrary, so determined was his squaw owner to retain him, that she said she would obey the French commandant and deliver him up, but that she and her husband would follow him, and he should not reach home alive. Lieut. Stoddert left Canada on the 28th June, 1750, with twenty-four prisoners.

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