In the Book " CHAINBREAKER
The Revolutionary War Memoirs of Governor Blacksnake"
which was Edited and with an Introduction and Notes by Thomas S.
Abler copyright 1989 by the University of Nebraska Press, there is a
narrative of Governor Blacksnake, who was a Seneca Indian fighting
for the British, about his experiences in the Wyoming Valley of
Pennsylvania during the American Revolution which holds a bit of
controversy about the Commander he was with when he entered the
valley. He refers to him as Captain Turkey or Turkey and the
discussion in the book begins on page 99 through 101 in which the
leader ( Turkey ) is being thought as a British Officer.
What I present here is an excerpt from the book by William L.
Stone published in 1844 entitled " The Poetry
and History of Wyoming: containing Campbell's
Gertrude, and the History of
Wyoming, from it's discovery to the beginning of the
present century " it is from the second edition published
by Mark H. Newman 1844 New York.
In this book there is information that may shed new light on the subject of; "Who was Captain Turkey?" As you will read in the following, Turkey was a well known Indian in the Wyoming Valley during the 18th Century, and I believe that this was the same "Turkey" that Blacksnake spoke about in his Memoirs. There is too much coincidence in the name appearing in another historical account at approximately the same time period and dealing with the same geographical location. As quoted by the editor of "CHAINBREAKER", Blacksnake's date's of events don't necessarily coincide with the the fixed dates of events as we know them. Well here it is - You decide!
The Williams family was distinguished for its
patriotism and bravery. The father was Thaddeus Williams, and his
house stood not far from Fort Wyoming, in the borough of Wilkesbarre.
He had a son, Thomas, who was a sergeant in the regular service, and
who, with short intermission, served with distinguished gallantry
during the greater part of the war. It was mentioned in the preceding
chapter, that in the month of March, 1779, while Captain Spalding was
in command of Fort Wyoming, a sudden irruption of tories and Indians
took place, by whom the fort was surrounded. Happily, however, a few
discharges of the only field-piece in the fortress put them to
flight. But the severest battle fought during this irruption was
between the Indians and Sergeant Thomas Williams, who happened to be
at home on furlough. His father, who had removed back to the valley,
with others, after the general desolation the year before, was at
this time indisposed, and in bed. The only other male in the house,
besides the sergeant was a younger brother twelve or thirteen years
old. The position of the Williams' house was such, that the Indians
determined to take and destroy it previous to their meditated attack
upon the garrison. There were three loaded muskets in the house, and
plenty of ammunition. Seeing the Indians approaching his castle, the
sergeant made his dispositions for defense. He barricaded the doors
and getting his guns ready, gave his little brother the necessary
directions for loading them as often as he fired. He was a man of too
much coolness and experience to waste his ammunition. Waiting,
therefore, until the Indians had approached very near, Williams took
deliberate aim between the logs of which the house was constructed,
and brought their leader dead to the ground. With a hideous yell his
comrades retreated, dragging away the body. They advanced again, and
assaulted the door, which was too well secured easily to yield. Their
numbers were now increased, and they in turn fired into the house,
through the interstices between the logs. By one of the shots Mr.
Williams , the father, was severely wounded in his bed: but the
sergeant kept up a brisk a fire as his little brother, who acted his
part manfully, could enable him to do, and a second and a third of
the savages fell. They again retreated, taking away their slain, and
raising their customary death howls. Maddened by their loss, however,
they again approached, one of them bearing a flaming brand, with
which they were resolved to fire the house. But with deliberate aim
the sergeant brought the incendiary to the ground, whereupon the
Indians seized his body and drew off, without again returning to the
assault. However many more than the four enumerated were slain by the
brave sergeant was not known, because the Indians always carry off
their dead. Beyond doubt, the lives of the whole family were saved by
his intrepidity, and that of his heroic little brother. The sergeant
is yet living in the valley, an opulent and respectable farmer.
Another family upon whom the blow fell with great force and severity, was that of Mr. Jonathan Weeks. He resided upon a large farm, with his sons and son-in-law, about a mile below the Borough of Wilkesbarre. He had living with him, at that time of the alarm, his three sons, Philip, Jonathan, and Bartholemew; Silas Benedict, a son- in - law; Jabel Beers, an uncle; Josiah Carman, a cousin; and a boarder, named Robert Bates. These seven men from a single house- hold all seized their arms and hurried to the field. And there fell with their Captain, whose name was M'Carrican, a man of letters and teacher of the hamlet school. Two days after the battle, a party of twenty Indians visited the house of Mr. Weeks, and demanded breakfast. Having obtained their demand, they next informed Mr. Weeks that he must quit the valley forthwith. The old man remonstrated. "All my sons have fallen," said he with emotion; "and here am I left with fourteen grand-children, all young and helpless." But the dusky conquerors were inexorable: nevertheless, having gorged themselves with blood already, and having moreover satisfied their appetites for the morning, they did not want only apply the tomahawk again. The leader of this party was an Indian named Anthony Turkey, - fellow who had been well known to the settlers as one of the former residents of the valley, when both races lived together in friendship. The appearance of Turkey among the invaders was a source of surprise, because of his former friendship. But he proved as thoroughly savage as the wildest of his race; and notwithstanding his former acquaintance with Mr. Weeks, he would not allow the bereft old man to remain upon his farm. Still, in driving him away, the Indians so far tempered their decree with mercy as to allow him his oxen and wagon, with which he took the sobbing women and their little ones back to the county of Orange, (New-York,) whence they had emigrated to Wyoming. But the Indian leader, Turkey, afterward met the fate he deserved, in this place. Returning with the party of tories and Indians who invaded the valley a second time in March, 1779, as just related in the case of the Williams family, he was shot through the thigh in the engagement which took place on the flats, and before his people could carry him away he was surrounded by the Wyoming boys who called out to him -"Surrender, Turkey, - we won't hurt you." But he refused, and resisted like a chased tiger, until it became necessary to make an end of him. After the enemy were gone, the lads took the body of Turkey, and set it up-right in a canoe, all painted to their hands, and grinning horribly with the muscular contortions of death. They then placed a bow and arrows in his hand, and sent him adrift, amidst the cheers of men and boys. The canoe, thus freighted, created some sensation as it passed below, and was the cause of several amusing incidents. In one case a man put off in a canoe to take the straggler; but catching a glimpse of the ferocious countenance of the Indian, and fancying that he was drawing his bow to let fly a poisoned arrow, he paddled back to the shore with all convenient expedition.
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