The Massacre Historic Sign (Harpersfield NY)

June 18, 2005

Article was updated on December 27, 2020

The McKee Massacre at Odell Lake- Mrs. McKee and her children were massacred by Tories and Indians during the Revolution. One daughter Anne was spared and taken to Fort Niagara. She returned to Harpersfield at the close of the war. Located on Odell Lake Road near the outlet of Odell Lake, there is a state marker.

In 1856 Jay Gould published History of Delaware County, and Border Wars of New York, which he had spent several years writing. Below is an excerpt from the book regarding the incident.

It was a dark and dismal night when the war-whoop sounded the death-knell of the inhabitants of that peaceful dwelling. The members of the family rushed out of the house to escape, if possible, the certain doom which awaited them should they remain within. As Mrs. McKee rushed from the house with an infant in her arms, and attempted to reach an out-door cellar, she was shot down. The remainder of the family were butchered and thrown into the flames, with the exception of a girl about 16 years of age. She fled to a swamp near by and concealed her person under a log, and while she thought herself secure from all harm, she ventured to raise her head to look toward the burning buildings, when she saw an Indian of large stature approaching her, wielding a firebrand in one hand and a large knife, smeared with blood, in the other. She immediately sprang from her hiding-place, and with outstretched arms approached the hideous savage and threw herself at his feet. That bold act saved her life. She was led back by her captor to the burning buildings, and putting several pairs of stockings on her feet, they then resumed their course to Fort Niagara.

What must have been the agony, think you, reader, of the husband and father, when the next day he returned, to behold his happy home a heap of ruins, beneath which he found the charred and mangled remains of his family. There was at this time a small fort at Harpersfield, garrisoned by only eight or ten men. By their assistance he collected the remains of the dead, and buried them all in one rude box.

Priest, in his narrative of the captivity of Schermerhorn, and while speaking of his running the gauntlet near Fort Niagara, says: “This dreadful race was also run by a Miss Anne McKee, who was taken prisoner in the town of Harpersfield, New York, during the Revolution, by the Mohawk Indians under Brant. She was a young Scotch girl, who during the journey suffered incredibly from hunger, the want of clothes, and other privations. When she came to Fort Niagara, the squaws insisted that she should run the race, in order that the pale-faced squaw might take a blow from the same sex of another nation than her’s. It was a grievous sight to see a slender girl, weak from hunger, and worn down with the horrors and privations of a four hundred miles’ journey through the woods, by night and day, compelled at the end to run this race of shame and suffering. Her head was bare, and her hair tangled into mats, her feet naked and bleeding from wounds, all her clothes torn to rags during her march — one would have thought the heart-rendering sight would have moved the savages. She wept not, for all her tears had been shed — she stared around upon the grinning multitude in hopeless amazement and fixed despair, while she glanced mournfully at the fort which lay at the end of the race. The signal was given, which was a yell, when she immediately started off as fast as she could, while the squaws laid on their whips with all their might; thus venting their malice and envy upon the hated white woman. She reached the fort in almost a dying condition, being beaten and cut in the most dreadful manner, as her person had been so much exposed on account of the want of clothing to protect her. She was at length allowed to go to her friends — some Scotch people then living in Canada — and after the war she returned to the States.”

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