The Story of the Allen Family Murders

Maria McEachron was 18 years old and recently married at the time of her sister’s horrible murder by Burgoyne’s Indians. The story was recorded by Dr. Asa Fitch, a local historian who documented local stories sixty years after the war. Here is what Maria McEachron later said:

My father, Yerry Killmore, told my brother Adam to go and help Allen get in his wheat, but Adam felt lazy and wouldn’t go, and Father used afterwards to say he could forgive Adam for all his disobedience, he was so glad he disobeyed him at this time. So he sent his Negro Tom, who was a young man grown, in Adam’s place, and the wench Sarah, who was about twelve years old, and my sister Catherine also went along. They went on foot early on Saturday morning and were to return home at night.

They wrought together in the harvest field, Mistress Allen binding the sheaves, the black girl carrying them together, Allen and Tom reaping, and Catherine at the house taking care of the babe and getting their dinner — she having gone for this purpose, the Mistress Allen might help in the wheatfield. To make more sure of killing all, it was supposed the Indians lurking in the woods waiting till they should be all in the house at dinner, for twas then that the attack was made.

Catherine and the Negroes not coming home at night, on Sunday morning Father sent the boy Abram, Tom’s brother, on horseback. Catherine was lame in one foot at this time and he sent the horse for her to ride home on — not knowing but what her foot might have got worse from walking and thus preventing her coming home the night before.

[After coming upon the scene of the massacre] Abram jumped on the horse and rode homewards, three miles to McKallors — choking and crying, he could scarcely for a time make out to them the tale. He durst not ride any further. They thought at first he was afraid of the Indians in the woods and had lied to them about the family’s being murdered as an excuse for his fears, and to get them to send somebody home with him.

Allen was found on the path to the barn and near to the barn. A piece behind him was Catherine; behind her and half way from the house to the barn was Mistress Allen with her babe in her arms and placed at her breast — where it must have been put by the Indians, for to scalp it they must have had it out of its mother’s arms. The two children and the Negro girl had tried to hide themselves in the bed, for they were found there, the bedclothes gashed and bloody from the tomahawks. Blood was tracked all around the floor. Bullet holes were perforated through the door, and there was one bullet through the cupboard door in the northeast corner of the house.

I was living with my husband, Peter McEachron, at the head of the lake [Cassayuna]. On that Saturday he was over at Salem helping them put up pickets around the Presbyterian Church, and came home at night. The next day, Sunday, we heard of the murder and fearing our house would be sought out and we be murdered, we forsook it and in our two boats went onto the island in the lake wehre we stayed all night, not venturing to kindle a fire lest it should reveal our hiding place to the Indians.

Next day some of our neighbors passing saw our house deserted. Alarmed, they called our names walking along the lake shore. Hearing and seeing who they were, we answered and came ashore. Cheered up by them, we concluded it was better to stay at home and defend our house if attacked, than forsake it and thus invite its being destroyed.”

Excerpt from Their Own Voices: Oral Accounts of Early Settlers in Washington County, New York  (July 22, 2011) by Jeanne Winston Adler. Used with permission. 

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