Saturday, October 30, 2010


Royalton Indian Raid-continued from Zadoc Steele's Book

Timothy Durkee's family suffered from the burning of Royalton. Heman, being the oldest child of his family, remained in the town while all of his siblings moved to New York except Harvey. Heman was my 4th great grandfather. Timothy's grandchildren spread out far and wide into Pennsylvania, New York, Wisconsin, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Odelltown, Canada, Iowa and of course, Vermont.

1779 was the year Royalton was chartered. The town was in good condition with large stocks of cattle grazing in their fields. It was a friendly town. On the morning of the 16th of October 1780, before dawn, 300 hundred Indians of various tribes approached. They were led by the Caghnewago tribe and had left Canada with the goal of destroying Newbury, a town on the Connecticut River in the eastern part of Vermont. A British Lieutenant Horton was the commander, and a Frenchman, Le Mott was his 2nd. Their pilot or leader was Hamilton, a former prisoner of Americans in 1777 at the taking of Burgoyne. He had been at Newbury and Royalton in the last summer on parole of honor and had escaped to the enemy.

They managed to make camp at Tunbridge, not far from Royalton on Sunday. They entered Royalton on Monday and went into the house of John Hutchinson who lived not far from the line between Royalton and Tunbridge. They took him and his brother, Abijah prisons and plundered the house. Then they went into the house of Robert Havens, who lived a little ways from Hutchinson. Havens was out in his pasture after his sheep and when on a hill heard his neighbor's dog barking and realized what had happened. Then he saw a group of Indians going into his house, so he hid under a log and cried, knowing his family was in there. He heard his wife scream and his sons running for their lives. The Indians chased after Thomas Pember, who had been courting Havens's daughter, and threw a spear at him which pierced his body, but he continued to run until loss of blood killed him. He was speared again and scalped.

Haven's home became their station. Elias Button was walking down the road and saw the approaching Indians so ran from them but they overtook the young man and speared and then scalped him. Next they went to the home of Joseph Kneeland and his father who lived about a 1/2 mile from Havens. There they also found Simeon Belknap, Giles Gibbs and Jonathan Brown. They took these five men prisoners. Then they went to the house of Elias Curtis and took him and his friends John Kent and Peter Mason. Mrs. Curtis was still dressing herself while sitting on her bed when the Indians entered her bedroom. She was attacked by an Indian with a large knife who grabbed her neck but was distracted by her gold beaded necklace, and he spared her life. Instead he took her beads. They told the prisoners to be quiet or be killed. The Indians plundered every house. They took horses they found, but the horses were frightened and didn't help them very much.

General Elias Stevens, who lived in the first house on the river, had gone down the river about two miles and was working with his oxen and cart when a neighbor approached calling out to him, "For God's sake, turn out your oxen, for the Indians are at the mill!" So he did and got on his horse to return to his family when he was met by Captain Joseph Parkhurst who told him that the Indians were nearby. He couldn't get to his family in time, he was told. They came to the house of Deacon Daniel Rix and took Mrs Rix and several of her children with him on his horse. Captain Parkhurst took Mrs. Benton and her children on his horse and they all rode off with Deacon Rix and others on foot. He decided to leave Mrs Rix and the children with Mr. Burroughs and left for home when he saw the Indians, came back to the group he had left and told them to get into the woods and hide. The Indians stayed on the road chasing General Stevens. He passed the house of Mr. Tilly Parkhurst, his father-in-law and saw his sister milking by the barn and told her to leave or the Indians would have her. Now the road was full of the Indians. Stevens got to his house. He managed to put his mother and sister on his horse, and then with Mrs. Rix and her children, rode off. The Indians took her eldest son from her and told her and the other 5 children to leave. Steven's dog came after him, causing him to stumble and fall so he also had to run to the woods for safety, leaving the women and children. They took 14 yr old Gardner Rix, son of Deacon Rix. They were chased to the house of Mr. Benedict, about a mile away. He hid behind a log. Next Avery, a young man, was made a prisoner.

The Indians killed their prisoner, Joseph Kneeland and scalped him. They killed Giles Gibbs with a tomahawk in the head. Colonel House had become a leader of men who had gathered to fight the Indians but House was a coward and was ineffectual. They never caught the Indians.

So it wasn't just a matter of riding into town on horses and setting fire to homes. It was a mean and bloody affair. However, it didn't deter the few brave people to rebuild and remain. This must have been traumatic for the survivors. No wonder so many left Royalton.

Resource: Durkee Family Newsletter, Bolume XII #1, Spring 1993.


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