Schaghticoke’s Indian Massacre
By 1710, eight intrepid Dutch families had settled along the Hoosic River near what is now the Knickerbocker Mansion in the town of Schaghticoke. They lived on the relatively isolated fifty-acre farms they leased from the city of Albany. At this early point they would have cleared just a few of their fifty acres for cultivation, and probably lived in rough log homes. Their immediate neighbors were a couple hundred Schaghticoke Indians (the numbers are very uncertain), also farmers, living in similar but probably poorer circumstances. A few Indians had grouped together near the protection provided by a roughly built fort garrisoned by a few soldiers.
One of the original leaseholders was Daniel Kittle or Ketelhuyn. He was born in Albany in 1674, and married Deborah Viele in 1695. They eventually had twelve children. Daniel had been a constable, tax collector and assistant alderman in Albany, as well as a lieutenant in the colonial militia. Though he had lived in the city, he was familiar with the wilderness and spoke at least one Indian language. Among his neighbors in Schaghticoke were his brother David with his wife Johanna Bradt, and his sister Maria with her husband Johannes Bradt, and their families. They got along well with their Indian neighbors.
On October 20, 1711, David Kittle and Johannes Bradt were on their way by horse to the village of the Schaghticoke Indians when they encountered a stranger, a French Indian. After some conversation the Indian shot and killed Johannes Bradt. The Indianescaped, after he struggled with and wounded David Kittle with his ax, telling David that there were “twenty French Indians on each side of the Hudson River.” Daniel Kittle set off for Albany to get help, leaving his brother and three local soldiers barricaded in his house.
In the middle of the night, there was a knock at the door. After some conversation in “the Indian Language,” David Kittle opened the door to a band of hostile Indians. “The Indians fired six shots at him.” Those in the house managed to keep the Indians at bay until they set the house on fire. Then there was a battle, which ended with deaths on both sides. Interesting details of the battle include that the defenders of the house included both an Indian; Mr. Kittle’s slave, a“Negro” boy; and three soldiers of the garrison. The letter in the NYS Archives describing the attack states, “A Lame Indian who was hid behind a fence hath seen all this barbarous threatening, who says there were about 100 Indians.” Two of the soldiers and David Kittle died at the house. David’s wife was at first taken captive, but killed and scalped just a short distance away, probably because “she was so big with child that she could scarcely walk.” Daniel’s infant child was also killed, its “brains dashed out against an oak tree,” but his wife, sister, and nephew were kidnapped, and taken to Canada. Daniel got permission from Governor Robert Hunter of New York to travel by way of Lakes George and Champlain to Montreal, where he ransomed the captives, returning to Albany in January. Undeterred, Daniel Kittle later built a home on a different site in Schaghticoke where he lived for the rest of his life.
How do we know such detail of this event? At the time, testimony was given by the “old lame Indian that lived near the Ketlins (sic) house” to the Indian Commissioners, who wrote a letter to the Governor. They told him in great detail of the attack, and requested that the frontier be better protected, and that fines be levied against inhabitants who were supposed to be guarding at night. The letter is in the records of the Colony of New York in the New York State Archives in Albany. Where were the Kittle homes? That remains a mystery, though they were certainly in the area of the Albany Corporation Lands, near the Knickerbocker Mansion.
In the next post, I will discuss the amazing follow-up to the Indian massacre.
Bibliography: Broderick, Warren, “Fiction Based on ‘Well Authenticated Facts’ ”, Hudson Valley Regional
Review, September 1987.