Massey Harbison, white frontierswoman who with her baby survived the Indians and their horrors

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Depiction of the terrified Massey Harbison and her baby after their escape from the Indians in 1792 – this was just the beginning of her agony. (Fort Pitt Museum, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). Account say her hair actually was reddish or auburn, which would fit her Scotch-Irish genes and temperament. 😉



My white heroine to honor today is the white, Scotch-Irish pioneer woman Massey Harbison of Freeport, Pennsylvania, who lived between 1770 and 1837.


The comment I posted underneath this video was:

Excellent video. I have often blogged about this heroine. One would think — in this age of feminism and GLORIFYING “STRONG WOMEN” — that she would be a household word, but it is un-p.c. these days to point out the phenomenon of widespread atrocities by Indians, and that rape and torture were an integral part of Amerindian culture. (See the book “Scalpdance” by Thomas Goodrich or “Settler Forts of Western Pennsylvania” by John DeMay.)

I feel so strongly about Massey as a role model and heroine that my very important series of God videos starts off with her and with the town of Freeport, which she helped to people as a mother of eleven white Americans, this town founded along the beautiful mountain valleys of the Allegheny River.

Massey’s gunpowder horn from the year 1793, still owned today by a descendant named Harbison in Freeport. Had the Indians not committed a violent home invasion at 3 am, bursting violently into her cabin when she was asleep and her husband was away, quite ironically, on Indian patrol, she would surely have used her rifle to defend herself and her three children. (The Pennsylvania long rifle, wrongly called the Kentucky long rifle, was made by German-Americans in eastern Pennsylvania, it had rifling (spiral grooves in the barrel for increased bullet speed via spin, as with a football), it was deadly at up to 200 yards, and was far superior during the American Revolution to the British muskets.) 



The longrifle was developed on the American frontier in southeastern Pennsylvania in the early 1700s. It continued to be developed technically and artistically until it passed out of fashion in the 19th century. The longrifle was the product of German gunsmiths who immigrated to new settlements in south eastern Pennsylvania in the early 1700s, and later in Virginia and other territories.

German flags outside the Reichstag building in Berlin


Tax records from these locales indicate the dates these gunsmiths were in business.[3] Strong pockets of longrifle use and manufacture continued in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and North Carolina well into the 20th century as a practical and efficient firearm for those rural segments of the nation. Longrifles could be made entirely by hand and hand-operated tooling, in a frontier setting.



Well, who were the “Scotch-Irish” people who settled the frontier, cleared the forest land for crops, and fought the Indian wars?

Like Massy Harbison, they were a keltic people, often red- or auburn-haired, with green or blue eyes, and fierce warriors. The Scots themselves are an Irish tribe that moved from Ireland to what is called Scotland today, and that is why both peoples wear kilts, like plaid patterns on their clothing, drink whiskey and play bagpipes, all keltic customs.


Sean Connery in his Scottish garb: he actively supports Scottish independence

The movie “Braveheart” about the Scots fighting for their freedom was actually filmed in Ireland and used many Irish soldiers for battle scenes.

(For “Braveheart” scenes shot in Ireland, see 2:30 to “3:36 of Part 1 of the God video, here:]


The Scotch-Irish (in the US Census they are sometimes called Protestant Irish or Northern Irish) were one of the many betrayed white subjects over the centuries of the British monarchy. When the American Revolution broke out the Scotch-Irish who had moved here fought as one man for American independence. After a series of defeats in the Revolution, George Washington said defiantly: “If the British take the whole coast, I will withdraw to the mountains with my Scotch-Irishmen.”

Interestingly, as the video above states, Massey’s father, a New Jersey man, fought against the British under General George Washington in every battle except the Battle of Long Island. As part of his reward after independence, he got land in western Pennsylvania and his family trekked 350 miles westward, crossing over the Appalachian Mountains, to get there.


Wikipedia ( : The Scotch-Irish were generally ardent supporters of American Independence from Britain in the 1770s. In Pennsylvania, Virginia, and most of the Carolinas, support for the revolution was “practically unanimous.”[33]

One Hessian officer said, “Call this war by whatever name you may, only call it not an American rebellion; it is nothing more or less than a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian rebellion.”[33]

A British major general testified to the House of Commons that “half the rebel Continental Army were from Ireland”.[42]

Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, with its large Scotch-Irish population, was to make the first declaration for independence from Britain in the Mecklenburg Declaration of 1775.


Who were the Scotch-Irish with this confusing name? Were they Scottish or Irish? Well, one could over-simplify and say that the Scots-Irish arose in the 1600s in northern Ireland as Scottish men came in and married Irish women. When the British ruling class lured these Protestants, from Scotland but also some from England, into the northern part of Catholic Ireland, they promised them they could keep their Calvinist religion. But a few generations later, after they had served as useful tools to keep the native Irish down on their own island, the British aristocracy demanded they drop their religion and become members of the Anglican church, the Church of England.

At a time when religion was taken extremely seriously, this was an outrageous breach of promise, and these Scottish Irish had enough love of freedom and pugnacity to say: We are out of here. Let’s go to America, and get some religious and economic freedom.

Most of them came into America through Philadelphia, in easternmost Pennsylvania, between 1720 and 1750, and then moved west to the Pittsburgh area……..


…or south into the mountainous areas of Virginia and the Carolinas, up into the Appalachian mountains, and then began to populate the new states of Kentucky, Tennessee and the Ohio valley. Many went to Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas, and some further west. Very many famous cowboys and gunslingers had Scotch-Irish names. When you think of whiskey and rowdy cowboy fights in the saloons, think the Scotch-Irish. 🙂

Throughout their history in America, they have never willingly submitted to control from above, not in Scotland, Northern Ireland, or in America. They were the moonshiners who refused to pay a federal tax on whiskey, not even to George Washington in 1794, nor to the IRS today. They ran the Whiskey Rebellion. They are at the origin of modern country music, singing “A country boy can survive.”



Distribution of the Scotch-Irish


They are the coal miners’ daughters. They have been a huge percentage of the American warrior class, and include such great military names as Andrew Jackson, Stonewall Jackson, Douglas McArthur, and George Patton.

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Andrew jackson head.jpg
Andrew Jackson
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Elvis Presley
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Ulysses S. Grant
George Patton
John Wayne portrait.jpgJohn Wayne


US presidents of mostly Scotch-Irish descent:


Andrew Jackson
7th President, 1829-37: He was born in the predominantly Ulster-Scots Waxhaws area ofSouth Carolinatwo years after his parents leftBoneybefore, near Carrickfergusin County Antrim. A heritage centre in the villagepays tribute to the legacy of ‘Old Hickory’, the People’s President. Andrew Jackson then moved toTennessee, where he served as Governor.
James Knox Polk
11th President, 1845-49: His ancestors were among the first Ulster-Scots settlers, emigrating fromColerainein 1680 to become a powerful political family in Mecklenburg County,North Carolina. He moved toTennessee and became its governor before winning the presidency.
James Buchanan
15th President, 1857-61: Born in a log cabin (which has been relocated to his old school inMercersburg, Pennsylvania), ‘Old Buck’ cherished his origins: “My Ulster blood is a priceless heritage”. The Buchanans were originally from Deroran, near Omagh in County Tyrone where the ancestral home still stands.
Andrew Johnson
17th President, 1865-69: His grandfather left Mounthill, nearLarne in County Antrimaround 1750 and settled in North Carolina. Andrew worked there as a tailor and ran a successful business in Greeneville,Tennessee, before being elected Vice-President. He became President following Abraham Lincoln‘s assassination.
Ulysses S. Grant[70]
18th President, 1869-77: The home of his maternal great-grandfather, John Simpson, at Dergenagh, County Tyrone, is the location for an exhibition on the eventful life of the victorious Civil War commander who also served two terms as President. Grant visited his ancestral homeland in 1878. The home of John Simpson still stands in County Tyrone.[71]
Chester A. Arthur
21st President, 1881-85: His succession to the Presidency after the death of Garfield was the start of a quarter-century in which the White House was occupied by men of Ulster-Scots origins. His family left Dreen, near Cullybackey, County Antrim, in 1815. There is now an interpretive centre, alongside the Arthur Ancestral Home, devoted to his life and times.
Grover Cleveland
22nd and 24th President, 1885-89 and 1893-97: Born in New Jersey, he was the maternal grandson of merchant Abner Neal, who emigrated from County Antrim in the 1790s. He is the only president to have served non-consecutive terms.
Benjamin Harrison
23rd President, 1889-93: His mother, Elizabeth Irwin, had Ulster-Scots roots through her two great-grandfathers, James Irwin and William McDowell. Harrison was born in Ohioand served as a brigadier general in the Union Army before embarking on a career in Indiana politics which led to the White House.
William McKinley
25th President, 1897-1901: Born in Ohio, the descendant of a farmer from Conagher, near Ballymoney, County Antrim, he was proud of his ancestry and addressed one of the national Scotch-Irish congresses held in the late 19th century. His second term as president was cut short by an assassin’s bullet.
Theodore Roosevelt
26th President, 1901-09: His mother, Mittie Bulloch, had Ulster Scots ancestors who emigrated from Glenoe,County Antrim, in May 1729. Roosevelt praised “Irish Presbyterians” as “a bold and hardy race.”[72]
Woodrow Wilson
28th President, 1913-21: Of Ulster-Scot descent on both sides of the family, his roots were very strong and dear to him. He was grandson of a printer from Dergalt, nearStrabane, County Tyrone, whose former home is open to visitors.
Richard Nixon
37th President, 1969-74: The Nixon ancestors left Ulster in the mid-18th century; the Quaker Milhous family ties were with County Antrimand County Kildare.

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And they do not like blacks or race-mixing. There are about 430 counties in mostly Scotch-Irish Appalachia, stretching from New Hampshire down to northern Alabama and Georgia, and Barack Obama in 2008 carried less than 10% of those counties, and those were counties with many negroes, or college towns full of liberals, such as Asheville, North Carolina.

Now back to Massy Harbison personally as a Scotch-Irishwoman. She was no liberal. She had just seen the Indians murder her two older children. Though she fainted when each child was killed with a hatchet and scalped, seeing the blood-dripping scalps on the Indians’ belts, she came to, and decided she would never be any Indian’s “squaw” (wife).

[See her account at the end of this blog!]


Myself on the Allegheny in Freeport, gesturing north to where she was abducted, Butler, Pa, then a Seneca Indian camp, 17 miles north. What a trek of horror for this married woman, being taken by the very savages who had just killed her children, there to become, in their intention, the squaw of one of the murderers.

Her escape was an act of incredible bravery, because no white woman before or since ever successfully escaped the Indians while carrying a baby.

And what did the Indians do to those who tried to escape? They died under the most gruesome tortures, hours and even days of literal torture festivals. Their skin was flayed off, and fingers, toes, ears and nose were sliced away, often with the Indian females, the squaws, joining in on the fun. Indians poured hot coals on their scalped skull, and jammed lit splinters of wood into their skin.

This 2002 book by Allan Eckert revealed Indian atrocities.


Indians also routinely killed and ate their captives as well when hungry, and French, British and American pioneers and military officers all became eyewitnesses to their cannibalism and reported in detail on it.

The book Settler Forts of Western Pennsylvania by John DeMay, often featured in my blog at, came out fifteen years ago, and no major publisher would touch it or its truth about WHY the American pioneers had the drastic and shocking saying: The only good Indian is a dead Indian.

All Indian men did was hunt or wage war so as to capture and torture others for fiendish sport.

Indian braves performed no work whatsoever except hunting, killing and torturing. Their squaws had to do everything else, including all farming. Whites found the Indian lifestyle barbaric and disgusting, and the tortures unspeakable. THIS is why the expression arose “the only good Indian is a dead Indian,” which, btw, applied to the braves, the male warriors, not the women. Whites in general did not massacre Indian women and children. (However, the US cavalry, the US Government, did do so in the 1870-1900 period because the country was run totally by the Republican Party between 1860-1913, and big business and the railroads wanted all the Indians out.)

Well, the Indians did give us tobacco, a dubious gift indeed. 😉

What is shocking to me today is that while ALL the older generation today in western Pennsylvania know who Massy Harbison was, absolutely no one in the younger white generation does, not even in the very town of Freeport where many of the people have Massy’s own blood in their veins and her Scotch-Irish looks on their faces.

Massey is buried in Freeport Cemetery, in Freeport, Armstrong County, western Pennsylvania. 90% of the  young people in the town have no idea who she was.



Now one might think that she would serve well as a feminist hero, a symbol of female strength for today’s women. But overriding even feminism for the New World Order lie machine is this: preserving the white guilt trip toward the poor, peaceful, nature-revering Indians, so the atrocities by the Indian tribes toward her and many other pioneer whites must be deleted from textbooks and television for the young, brainwashed whites of today.

This is John de Nugent, saluting the courageous pioneer, loyal wife and mother of 11 white Americans, who survived the worst horrors and yet carried on, Massy Harbison of Freeport, Pennsylvania, for Save White

The log cabin below is similar to the one in which Massy Harbison lived.




On May 22, 1792, Massy,(sometimes spelled Massa, Massy, or Massey in various accounts), was asleep in her cabin when Munsee and Seneca Indians entered it. Her husband was a spy for the American army and was not home at the time. Massy held her year-old baby in her arms. Her three and five year old boys were with her. The Indians scalped one boy immediately for putting up a fight and refusing to go with them. As they dragged Massy and her children out of the cabin, she saw a neighbor getting water from a well. She screamed. He saw that the family was being kidnapped and ran into the nearby fort to alert the inhabitants.

The Indians forced Massy to march for two days toward what is now Butler, PA. A second son was scalped on the march for making crying noises. On the second night Massy escaped with the baby. For the next four days she tried to get back to the settlement.

From Freeport (icon with the dot) up to the Indian camp at what is now called Butler was a 20-mile march. After her escape, she wisely avoided all the trails and went through the woods and swamps in her bare feet, without a compass, arriving much further south of Freeport on the Allegheny River., where she finally ran into white men near Six Mile Island in the Sharpsburg part of Pittsburgh, a 55 mile trek, barefoot and through wilderness, and without food or shelter.  

Finally, bruised, terrified, starving, sunburned, and her bare feet punctured by over one hundred and fifty thorns, Massy reached the shore of the Allegheny River. She called out to three white men on the other shore. One, who was her nearest neighbor, did not recognize her either “by her countenance, or by her voice.” She had changed that much in six days, but she and her baby survived.

*Condensed from “Floodtides Along the Allegheny” by Francis Harbison



The Captivity of Massy Harbison In Her Own Words


Milestones Vol 21 No 4 Winter 1996 [source:]
Readers of Milestones read briefly of Massy Harbison some years ago. Here is a greatly expanded account from the files of Bob Barensfeld. Bob has a special interest in Massy’s adventure, since his wife and children are direct descendents of this famous woman.


This account was printed in a book called Western Pennsylvania and of the West, published in Pittsburgh in 1847. Too long for one issue of Milestones, the story will be concluded in the next issue.

Vicissitude is the characteristic feature of the present life. All are the subjects, in a greater or less degree, of the trials and the changes of life; but although it is certain that there is a general allotment of trials in the present world, so that “every heart knoweth its own bitterness;” yet it is but too evident that there are some of the human family who are called to pass through those which are infinitely more severe than others.

Some seem to pass over the season of life, without encountering those awfully agitating billows which threaten their immediate destruction; while to others the passage to the tomb is fraught with awful tempests and overwhelming billows. Happy will it be for those who after having sailed over the boistrousous ocean of time, shall eventually be wafted, by a divine breeze, into the haven of eternal repose.

That those trials, which were of a particular nature, and of an almost overwhelming magnitude, were endured by me, will appear by a recital of those sober facts, (facts which are too notorious to be denied, and too peculiar to be counterfeited,) to which the attention of the reader is now invited.

On the return of my husband from Gen. St. Clair’s defeat, mentioned in a preceding chapter, and on his recovery from the wound he received in the battle [JdN: where 600 soldiers were killed in Ohio in the early 1790s by Indians; see St. Clair item below below], he was made a spy, and ordered to the woods on duty, about the 22nd of March, 1792. The appointment of spies to watch the movements of the savages, was so consonant with the desires and interests of the inhabitants, that the frontiers now resumed the appearance of quiet and confidence.

Those who had for nearly a year been huddled together in the block-house were scattered to their own habitations, and began the cultivation of their farms. The spies saw nothing to alarm them, or to induce them to apprehend danger, till the fatal morning of my captivity; they repeatedly came to our house, to receive refreshments, and to lodge.

On the 15th of May, my husband, with Capt. Guthrie and other spies, came home about dark, and wanted supper; to procure which, I requested one of the spies to accompany me to the spring and spring-house, and William Maxwell complied with my request. While he was at the spring and springhouse, we both distinctly heard a sound, like the bleating of a lamb or fawn. This greatly alarmed us, and induced us to make a hasty retreat into the house. Whether this was an Indian decoy, or a warning of what I was to pass through, I am unable to determine.

But from this time and circumstance, I became considerably alarmed, and entreated my husband to remove me to some more secure place from Indian cruelties. But Providence had designed that I should become a victim to their rage, and that mercy should be made manifest in my deliverance.

On the night of the 21st of May, two of the spies, Mr. James Davis and Mr. Sutton, came to lodge at our house, and on the morning of the 22nd, at day break, when the horn blew at the block house, which was within sight of our house, and distant about two hundred yards, the two men got up and went out: I was also awake, and saw the door open, and thought, when I was taken prisoner, that the scouts had left it open. I intended to rise immediately; but having a child at the breast, and it being awakened, I lay with it at the breast to get it to sleep again, and accidentally fell asleep myself.

A settler fort in western Pennsylvania. Settlers ran to these from their farms if they had time. The distance might be a few hundred yards or a few MILES. Farmers were killed while working their fields by a gun blast or arrow, and Indians would then burst into the cabins with the wives and small children, stealing, smashing, beating, killing, scalping, raping and abducting.

The spies have since informed me that they returned to the house again, and found that I was sleeping; that they softly fastened the door, and went immediately to the block house; and those who examined the house after the scene was over, say that both doors had the appearance of being broken open.

The first thing I knew from falling asleep, was the Indians pulling me out of the bed by my feet. I then looked up, and saw the house full of Indians, every one having his gun in his left hand, and tomahawk in his right.

A stone tomahawk


Two Indians with tomahawks seize a white pioneer woman



If spared, years of captivity were the result.



Beholding the dangerous situation in which I was, I immediately jumped to the floor on my feet, with the young child in my arms. I then took a petticoat to put on, having only the one in which I slept; but the Indians took it from me, and as many as I attempted to put on, they succeeded in taking from me, so that I had to go just as I had been in bed. While I was struggling with some of the savages for clothing, others of them went and took the children out of another bed, and immediately took the two feather beds to the door and emptied them. The savages immediately began their work of plunder and devastation. What they were unable to carry with them, they destroyed. While they were at their work, I made to the door, and succeeded in getting out, with one child in my arms, and another by my side; but the other little boy was so much displeased by being so early disturbed in the morning, that he would not come to the door.

When I got out, I saw Mr. Wolf, one of the soldiers, going to the spring for water, and beheld two or three of the savages attempting to get between him and the block house; but Mr. Wolf was unconscious of his danger, for the savages had not yet been discovered. I then gave a terrific scream, by which means Mr. Wolf discovered his danger, and started to run for the block house; seven or eight of the Indians fired at him, but the only injury he received was a bullet in his arm, which broke it. He succeeded in making his escape to the block house. When I raised the alarm, one of the Indians came up to me with his tomahawk, as though about to take my life; a second came and placed his hand before my mouth, and told me to hush, when a third came with a lifted tomahawk, and attempted to give me a blow; but the first that came raised his tomahawk and averted the blow, and claimed me as his squaw.

The Commissary, with his waiter, slept in the store-house, near the block house. And upon hearing the report of the guns, came to the door to see what was the matter, and beholding the danger he was in, made his escape to the block house, but not without being discovered by the Indians, several of whom fired at him, and one of the bullets went through his handkerchief, which was tied about his head, and took off some of his hair. The handkerchief, with several bullet holes in it, he afterwards gave to me.

The waiter, on coming to the door, was met by the Indians, who fired upon him, and he received two bullets through the body, and fell dead by the door.

[JdN: As John DeMay points out in his book, Settler Forts of Western Pennsylvania, the Scotch-Irish and Germans in western Pennsylvania were FURIOUS that the liberal Quakers (as in the Quaker Oats logo below) way back east in Philadelphia, then still the state capital, refused to sell guns to endangered pioneer white families, but in nauseating self-imagined Christian virtue — and race treason — sold guns to the Indians “for self-defense”!



It goes without saying that the Stone Age Amerindians themselves had no knowledge of metallurgy or gun-making; only whites had that. In one incident the Scotch-Irish of western Pa. seized a wagonload of guns out of Philadelphia and destined for the Injuns, keeping them for the defense of their own families FROM the Indians. The problem of ultraliberals, white Christian self-hate and the white guilt trip is not new in American society….]

The savages then set up one of their tremendous and terrifying yells, and pushed forward and attempted to scalp the man they had killed; but they were prevented from executing their diabolical purpose by the heavy fire which was kept up through the port holes from the block house.

In this scene of horror and alarm, I began to meditate an escape, and for that purpose I attempted to direct the attention of the Indians from me, and to fix it on the block house, and thought if I could succeed in this, I would retreat to a subterranean rock with which I was acquainted, which was in the run near where we were.

For this purpose, I began to converse with some of those [Indians] who were near me respecting the strength of the block house, the number of men in it, &c., and being informed that there were forty men there, and that they were excellent marksmen, they immediately came to the determination to retreat, and for this purpose they ran to those who were besieging the block house, and brought them away.

They then began to flog me with their wiping sticks, and to order me along. Thus what I intended as the means of my escape, was the means of accelerating my departure in the hands of the savages. But it was no doubt ordered by a kind Providence, for the preservation of the fort and the inhabitants in it; for when the savages gave up the attack and retreated, some of the men in the house had the last load of ammunition in their guns, and there was no possibility of procuring more, for it was all fastened up in the storehouse, which was inaccessible.

The Indians, when they had flogged me away along with them, took my oldest boy, a lad about five years of age, along with them, for he was still at the door by my side. My middle little boy, who was about three years of age, had by this time obtained a situation by the fire in the house, and was crying bitterly to me not to go, and making bitter complaints of the depredations of the savages.

But these monsters were not willing to let the child remain behind them; they took him by the hand to drag him along with them, but he was so very unwilling to go, and made such a noise by crying, that they took him up by his feet, and dashed his brains out against the threshold of the door. They then scalped and stabbed him, and left him for dead.

When I witnessed this inhuman butchery of my own child, I gave a most indescribable and terrific scream, and felt a dimness come over my eyes, next to blindness, and my senses were nearly gone.

The savages then gave me a blow across my head and face, and brought me to my sight and recollection again.

During the whole of this agonizing scene I kept my infant in my arms.

As soon as their murder was effected, they marched me along to the top of the bank, about forty or sixty rods, and there they stopped and divided the plunder which they had taken from our house, and here I counted their number, and found them to be thirty-two, two of whom were white men, painted as Indians.

Several of the Indians could speak English well. I knew several of them well, having seen them go up and down the Allegheny River. I knew two of them to be from the Seneca tribe of Indians, and two of them Munsees; for they had called at the shop to get their guns repaired, and I saw them there.

We went from this place about forty rods, and they then caught my Uncle John Currie’s horses, and two of them into whose custody I was put, started with me on the horses towards the mouth of the Kiskiminetas, and the rest of them went off towards Puckety. When they came to the bank that descended towards the Allegheny, the bank was so very steep, and there appeared so much danger in descending it on horseback, that I threw myself off the horse in opposition to the will and command of the savages.

My horse descended without falling, but the one on which the Indian rode who had my little boy, in descending, fell, and rolled over repeatedly; and my little boy fell back over the horse, but was not materially injured; he was taken up by one of the Indians, and we got to the bank of the river, where they had secreted some bark canoes under the rocks, opposite to the island that lies between the Kiskiminetas and Buffalo. They attempted in vain to make the horses take the river. After trying for some time to effect this, they left the horses behind them, and took us in one of the canoes to the point of the island, and there they left the canoe.

Here I beheld another hard scene, for as soon as we landed, my little boy who was still mourning and lamenting about his little brother, and who complained that he was injured by the fall, in descending the bank, was murdered.

One of the Indians ordered me along, probably that I should not see the horrid deed about to be perpetrated. The other, then took his tomahawk from his side, and with this instrument of death, killed and scalped him. When I beheld this second scene of inhuman butchery, I fell to the ground senseless, with my infant in my arms, it being under, and its little hands in the hair of my head. How long I remained in this state of insensibility, I know not.

The first thing I remember was my raising my head from the ground, and my feeling myself exceedingly overcome with sleep.

[JdN: This can be a way the brain uses to prevent a total nervous breakdown. At seemingly the oddest moments, instead of excitement and fear, a victim of PTSD may become very sleepy. I know this to be true personally but that is another story. At times, thinking back to truly horrible things, I find myself literally yawning, but certainly not out of tiredness or boredom! The human brain wants to shut down to protect itself from utter madness. ]

I cast my eyes around and saw the scalp of my dear little boy, fresh bleeding from his head, in the hand of one of the savages, and sunk down to the earth again, upon my infant child.

The first thing I remember after witnessing this spectacle of woe, was the severe blows I was receiving from the hands of the savages, though at that time I was unconscious of the injury I was sustaining. After a severe castigation they assisted me in getting up, and supported me when up.

Here I cannot help contemplating the peculiar interposition of Divine Providence in my behalf How easily might they have murdered me! What a wonder their cruelty did not lead them to effect it! But instead of this, the scalp of my boy was hid from my view, and in order to bring me to my senses again, they took me back to the river, and led me in knee deep; this had its intended effect. But “the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”

We now proceeded on our journey, by crossing the island, and coming to a shallow place where we could wade out, and so arrive to the Indian side of the country. Here they pushed me in the river before them, and had to conduct me through it. The water was up to my breast, but I suspended my child above the water, and through the assistance of the savages, got safely out.

From thence we rapidly proceeded forward, and came to big Buffalo; here the stream was very rapid, and the Indians had again to assist me. When we had crossed this creek, we made a straight course to the Connequenessing Creek, the very place where Butler now stands; and from thence we traveled five or six miles to Little Buffalo, and crossed it at the very place where Mr. B. Sarver’s mill now stands, and ascended the hill.

The Harbison cabin was below the south side of the bridge here, at the white dot. The bridge, named for a Medal of Honor winner, crosses the Allegheny over to the modern town of Freeport on the north side. The mouth of the Kiskiminetas river is upper-right, where the Amerindians took her and failed to get the stolen horses to cross. Buffalo Creek is on the left, flowing north-south. I have walked hundreds of times as I think throughout this area, seeing the same exact locations Massy saw.


I now felt weary of my life, and had a full determination to make the savages kill me, thinking that death would be exceedingly welcome, when compared to the fatigue, cruelties and miseries I had the prospect of enduring.


To have my purpose effected, I stood still, one of the savages being before me, and the other walking on behind me, and I took from off my shoulder a large powder-horn they made my carry, in addition to my child, who was one year and four days old. I threw the horn on the ground, closed my eyes, and expected every moment to feel the deadly tomahawk. But to my surprise, the Indians took it up, cursed me bitterly, and put it on my shoulder again. I took it off the second time and threw it on the ground; and again closed my eyes, with the assurance that I should meet death; but instead of this, the savages again took up the horn, and with an indignant frightful countenance, came and placed it on again.

I took it off the third time, and was determined to effect it, and therefore threw it, as far as I was able from me, over the rocks. The savage immediately went after it, while the one who had claimed me as his squaw, and who had stood and witnessed the transaction, came up to me, and said ‘Well done, I did right and was a good squaw, and that the other was a lazy son of a b–h; he might carry it himself’

I cannot now sufficiently admire the indulgent care of a gracious God, that, at this moment preserved me amidst so many temptations, from the tomahawk and scalping knife.

The savages now changed their position, and the one who claimed me as his squaw, went behind. This movement, I believe, was to prevent the other from doing me any injury; and we went on till we struck the Connequenessing, at the Salt-Lick, about two miles above Butler, where was an Indian camp, where we arrived a little before dark, having no refreshment during the day.

The camp was made of stakes driven in the ground sloping, and covered with chestnut bark; and appeared sufficiently long for fifty men. The camp appeared to have been occupied for some time; it was very much beaten, and large beaten paths went out from it in different directions.

That night they took me about three hundred yards from the camp, up a run, into a large dark bottom, where they cut the brush in a thicket, and placed a blanket on the ground, and permitted me to sit down with my child. They then pinioned my arms back, only, with a little liberty, so that it was with difficulty that I managed my child. Here, in this dreary situation, without fire or refreshment, having an infant to take care of, and my arms bound behind me, and having a savage on each side of me, who had killed two of my dear children that day, I had to pass the first night of my captivity.

Ye mothers, who have never lost a child by an inhuman savage, or endured the almost indiscribable misery here related,may nevertheless think a little (though it be but little) what I endured; and hence now you are enjoying sweet repose, and the comforts of a peaceful and well replenished habitation, sympathize with me a little, as one, who was a pioneer in the work of cultivation and civilization.

But the trials and dangers of the day I had passed, had so completely exhausted nature, that notwithstanding my unpleasant situation, and my determination to escape impossible, I insensibly fell asleep, and repeatedly dreamed of my escape, and safe arrival in Pittsburgh, and several things relating to the town, of which I knew nothing at the time; but found to be true when I arrived there. The first night passed away, and I found no means of escape, for the savages kept watch the whole of the night, without any sleep.

In the morning one of them left us, to watch the trail or path we had come, to see if any white people were pursuing us. During the absence of the Indian, the one that claimed me, and who remained with me, and who was the murderer of my last boy, took from his bosom his scalp, and prepared a hoop, and stretched the scalp upon it.


A scalp hoop with the scalp of an Amerindian (hence the black hair)



Those mothers who have not seen the like done on one of the scalps of their own children, (and few, if any, ever had so much misery to endure,) will be able to form but faint ideas of the feelings which then harrowed up my soul! I meditated revenge! While he was in the very act, I attempted to take his tomahawk, which hung by his side and rested on the ground, and had nearly succeeded, and was, as I thought, about to give the fatal blow, when, alas! I was detected.

The savage felt me at his tomahawk handle, turned round upon me, cursed me, and told me I was a Yankee; thus insinuating he understood my intention, and to prevent me from doing so again, faced me. My excuse to him for handling his tomahawk was that my child wanted to play with the handle of it. Here again I wondered at my merciful preservation, for the looks of the Indian were terrific in the extreme; and these, I apprehend, were only an index to his heart. But God was my preserver!

The savage who went upon the look-out in the morning, came back about twelve o’clock, and had discovered no pursuers. Then the one who had been guarding me went out on the same errand. The savage who was now my guard began to examine me about the white people, the strength of the armies going against them, &c., and boasted largely of their achievements in the preceding fall, at the defeat of Gen. St. Clair.

[JdN: General St. Clair — a Scot with a Norman name — had a very mixed career in American war and politics. he led the US Army —– to a catastrophic defeat at the hands of the Indian chiefs Little Turtle and Blue Jacket in Ohio, with 600 soldiers and many white women and children killed.]


He then examined the plunder which he had brought from our house the day before. He found my pocket-book and money in his plunder. There were ten dollars in silver [coin = about $250 today], and a half a guinea in gold in the book. During this day they gave me a piece of dry venison, about the bulk of an egg, and a piece about the same size, the day we were marching, for my support, and that of my child; but owing to the blows I had received from them in my jaws, I was unable to eat a bit of it. I broke it up and gave it to the child.

The savage on the look-out returned about dark. This evening, (Monday, the 23rd) they moved me to another station in the same valley, and secured me as they did the preceding night. Thus I found myself the second night between two Indians, without fire or refreshment. During this night I was frequently asleep, notwithstanding my unpleasant situation, and as often dreamed of my arrival in Pittsburgh.

Early on the morning of the 24th, a flock of mocking birds and robins hovered over us, as we lay in our uncomfortable bed; and sung, and said, at least to my imagination, that I was to get up and go off.

A mocking bird


JdN: The quintessential early bird, American Robins are common sights on lawns across North America, where you often see them tugging earthworms out of the ground. Robins are popular birds for their warm orange breast, cheery song, and early appearance at the end of winter.



As soon as day broke, one of the Indians went off again to watch the trail, as on the preceding day, and he who was left to take care of me, appeared to be sleeping. When I perceived this, I lay still and began to snore, as though asleep, and he fell asleep.

Then I concluded it was time to escape. I found it impossible to injure him for my child at the breast, as I could not effect anything without putting the child down, and then it would cry, and give the alarm; so I contented myself with taking from a pillow-case of plunder, taken from our house, a short gown, handkerchief, and child’s frock, and so made my escape; the sun then being about half an hour high.

I took a direction from home, at first, being guided by the birds before mentioned, and in order to deceive the Indians; then took over the hill, and struck the Connequenessing Creek about two miles from where I crossed it with the Indians, and went down the stream till about two o’clock in the afternoon, over rocks, precipices, thorns, briars, &c., with my bare feet and legs.

Connequenessing Creek


I then discovered by the sun, and the running of the stream, that I was on the wrong course, and going from, instead of coming nearer home. I then changed my course, ascended a hill, and sat down till sunset, and the evening star made its appearance, when I discovered the way I should travel;

Venus is the evening star, and is due west, thus 90 degrees to the left of it is south, which is where Massy needed to trudge.


….and having marked out the direction I intended to take the next morning, I collected some leaves, made up a bed, and laid myself down and slept, though my feet being full of thorns, began to be extremely painful, and I had nothing still to eat for myself or child.

The next morning, (Friday, 25th of May) about the breaking of the day, I was aroused from my slumbers, by the flock of birds before mentioned, which still continued with me, and having them to guide me through the wilderness. As soon as it was sufficiently light for me to find my way, I started for the fourth day’s trial, of hunger and fatigue.

There was nothing very material occurred on this day while I was traveling, and I made the best of my way, according to my knowledge, towards the Allegheny River. In the evening, about the going down of the sun, a moderate rain came on, and I began to prepare for my bed, by collecting some leaves together, as I had done the night before; but could not collect a sufficient quantity, without setting my little boy on the ground; but as soon as I put him out of my arms, he began to cry.

Fearful of the consequences of his noise in this situation, I took him in my arms, and put him to the breast immediately, and he became quiet. I then stood and listened, and distinctly heard the footsteps of a man coming after me, in the same direction I had come! The ground over which I had been traveling was good, and the mould was light; I had therefore left my foot-marks, and thus exposed myself to a second captivity! Alarmed at my perilous situation, I looked around for a place of safety, and providentially discovered a large tree which had fallen, into the tops of which I crept, with my child in my arms, and there I hid myself securely under the limbs. The darkness of the night greatly assisted me, and prevented me from detection.

The footsteps I heard were those of a savage. He heard the cry of the child, and came to the very spot where the child cried, and there he halted, put down his gun, and was at this time so near, that I heard the wiping stick strike against his gun distinctly.

My getting in under the tree, and sheltering myself from the rain, and pressing my boy to my bosom, got him warm, and most providentially he fell asleep, and lay very still during the time of my danger at that time. All was still and quiet, the savage was listening, if by possibility he might again hear the cry he had heard before. My own heart was the only thing I feared, and that beat so loud, that I was apprehensive it would betray me. It is almost impossible to conceive, or to believe, the wonderful effect my situation produced upon my whole system.

After the savage had stood and listened with nearly the stillness of death, for two hours, the sound of a bell, and a cry like that of a night owl, signals which were given to him from his savage companions, induced him to answer, and after he had given a most horrid yell, which was calculated to harrow up my soul, he started and went off to join them.

A woman and her dog demonstrate using a hollow log for concealment or survival


After the retreat of the savage to his companions, I concluded it unsafe to remain in my concealed situation till morning, lest they should conclude upon a second search, and being favored with the light of day, find me, and either tomahawk or scalp me, or otherwise bear me back to my captivity again, which was worse than death!

But by this time nature was nearly exhausted; and I found some difficulty in moving from my situation that night; yet, compelled by necessity, and a love of self-preservation, I threw my coat about my child, and placed the end between my teeth, and with one arm and my teeth, I carried the child, and with the other arm groped my way between the trees, and traveled on as I supposed a mile or two, and there sat down at the root of a tree till morning. The night was cold and wet, and thus terminated the fourth day and night’s difficulties, trials, hunger, and danger!

The fifth day, Saturday, 26th of May, wet and exhausted, hungry and wretched, I started from my resting place in the morning as soon as I could see my way, and on that morning struck the head waters of Pine Creek, which falls into the Allegheny about four miles above Pittsburgh; though I knew not then what waters they were, but crossed them, and on the opposite bank I found a path, and discovered in it two mockasin tracks, fresh indented, and the men who had made them were before me, and traveling on the same direction that I was traveling, This alarmed me; but as they were before me, and traveling in the same direction as I was, I concluded I could see them as soon as they could see me, and therefore I pressed on in that path for about three miles, when I came to the forks where another branch empties into the creek, where was a hunter’s camp, where the two men, whose tracks I had before discovered and followed, had been, and kindled a fire and breakfasted, and had left the fire burning.

I here became more alarmed, and came to a determination to leave the path. I then ascended a hill, and crossed a ridge towards Squaw Run, and came upon a trail or path. Here I stopped and meditated what to do; and while I was thus musing, I saw three deers coming towards me in full speed; they turned to look at their pursuers; I looked too with all attention, and saw the flash of a gun, and then heard the report as soon as the gun was fired. I saw some dogs start after them, and began to look about for a shelter, and immediately made for a large log, and hid myself behind it; but most providentially, I did not go clear to the log; had I done so, I might have lost my life by the bites of rattlesnakes; for as I put my hand to the ground, to raise myself that I might see what was become of the hunters, and who they were, I saw a large heap of rattlesnakes, and the top one was very large, and coiled up very near my face, and quite ready to bite me. This compelled me to leave this situation, let the consequences be what they might.



In consequence of this occurrence, I again left my course, bearing to the left, and came upon the head waters of Squaw Run, and kept down the run the remainder of that day.

During the day it rained, and I was in a very deplorable situation; so cold and shivering were my limbs, that frequently in opposition to all my struggles, I gave an involuntary groan. I suffered intensely this day, from hunger, though my jaws were so far recovered from the injury they sustained from the blows of the Indians, that wherever I could, I procured grape vines, and chewed them for a little sustenance. In the evening I came within one mile of the Allegheny River, though I was ignorant of it at the time: and there, at the root of a tree, through a most tremendous night’s rain, I took up my fifth night’s lodgings; and in order to shelter my infant as much as possible, I placed him in my lap, and placed my head against the tree, and thus let the rain fall upon me.

On the sixth (that was Sabbath) morning from my captivity, I found myself unable for a very considerable time, to raise myself from the ground; and when I had once more, by hard struggling, got myself upon my feet, and started upon the sixth day’s encounter, nature was so nearly exhausted, and my spirits were so completely depressed, that my progress was amazingly slow and discouraging.

In this almost helpless condition, I had not gone far, before I came to a path where there had been cattle traveling; I took the path under the impression that it would lead me to the abode of some white people, and by traveling it about one mile, I came to an uninhabited cabin! and though I was in a river bottom, yet I knew not where I was, nor yet on what river bank I had come. Here I was seized with feelings of despair, and under those feelings I went to the threshold of the uninhabited cabin, and concluded that I would enter and lie down and die; as death would have been to me an angel of mercy in such a situation, and would have removed me from all my misery.

Such were my feelings at this distressing moment, and had it not been for the recollection of those sufferings which my infant would endure, who would survive me for some time after I was dead, I should have carried my determination into execution.

Here, too, I heard the sound of a cow bell, which imparted a gleam of hope to my desponding mind. I followed the sound of the bell till I came opposite to the fort at the Six Mile Island.

When I came there, I saw three men on the opposite bank of the river. My feelings at the sight of these were better felt than described.

I called to the men, but they seemed unwilling to risk the danger of coming after me, and requested to know who I was.

I replied, that I was one who had been taken prisoner by the Indians on the Allegheny River on last Tuesday morning, and had made my escape from them. They requested me to walk up the bank of the river for a while, that they might see if the Indians were making a decoy of me, or not; but I replied to them that my feet were so sore that I could not walk.

Then one of them, James Closier, got into a canoe to fetch me over, and the other two stood on the bank, with their rifles cocked, ready to fire on the Indians, provided they were using me as a decoy; when Mr. Closier came near to the shore, and saw my haggard and dejected situation,

he exclaimed, “Who in the name of God are you?” This man was one of my nearest neighbors, before I was taken; yet in six days I was so much altered that he did not know me, either by my voice or my countenance.

When I landed on the inhabited side of the river, the people from the fort came running out to the boat to see me; they took the child from me, and now I felt safe from all danger, I found myself unable to move, or to assist myself in any degree. Whereupon the people took me, and carried me out of the boat to the house of Mr. Cortus.

Here, when I felt I was secure from the ravages and cruelties of the barbarians, for the first time since my captivity, my feelings returned with all their poignancy!

When I was dragged from my bed and from my home, a prisoner with the savages; when the inhuman butchers dashed the brains of one of my dear children out on the door-sill, and afterwards scalped him before my eyes; when they took and tomahawked, scalped, and stabbed another of them before me, on the island; and when with still more barbarous feelings, they afterwards made a hoop, and stretched his scalp on it; nor yet when I endured hunger, cold, and nearly nakedness, and at the same time my infant sucking my very blood to support it, I never wept!!! No! it was too, too much for nature!

A tear then would have been too great a luxury! And it is more than probable, that tears at these seasons of distress, would have been fatal in their consequences; for savages despise a tear!

But now that my danger was removed, and I was delivered from the pangs of the barbarians, the tears flowed freely, and imparted a happiness, beyond what I ever experienced before, or ever expect to experience in this world!

When I was taken into the house, having been so long from fire, and having endured so much from hunger, for a long period, the heat of the fire, and smell of the victuals, which the kindness of the people immediately induced them to provide for me, caused me to faint. Some of the people attempted to restore me, and some of them put some clothes upon me. But the kindness of these friends would, in all probability, have killed me, had it not been for the providential arrival, from down the river, of Major M’Culley, who then commanded the line along the river.

When he came in and saw my situation, and the provisions they were making for me, he became greatly alarmed, and immediately ordered me out of the house, from the heat and smell; prohibited my taking anything but the whey of buttermilk, and that in very small quantities, which he administered with his own hands.

[JdN: This refers to the well-known medical fact that starving people must not be allowed to ravenously eat food or it literally will kill them.]

Through this judicious management of my almost lost situation, I was mercifully restored again to my senses, and very gradually to my health and strength.

Two of the females, Sarah Carter and Mary Ann Crozier, then began to take out the thorns from my feet and legs; and Mr. Felix Negly, who now lives at the mouth of Bull Creek twenty miles above Pittsburgh, stood by and counted the thorns, as the women took them out; and there were one hundred and fifty drawn out, though they were not all extracted at that time, for the next evening, at Pittsburgh, there were many more taken out. The flesh was mangled dreadfully, and the skin and flesh were hanging in pieces, on my feet and legs. The wounds were not healed for a considerable time. Some of the thorns went through my feet, and came out on the top. For two weeks I was unable to put my feet to the ground to walk.

Besides which, the rain to which I was exposed by night, and the heat of the sun, to which my almost naked body was exposed by day, together with my carrying my child so long in my arms, without any relief and any shelter from the heat of the day or the storms of the night, caused nearly all the skin of my body to come off, so that my body was raw nearly all over.

The two men’s tracks which I had followed down the run, referred to before, and which made me so much afraid, were two spies, James Anderson and John Thompson, who arrived at the station very soon after me.

The news of my arrival at the station spread with great rapidity. The two spies took the intelligence that evening, as far as Coe’s station, and the next morning to Reed’s station, to my husband. It also reached Pittsburgh that same evening. And the next morning, a young man who was employed by magistrates of Pittsburgh, came for me to go immediately to town, to give in my deposition, that it might be published to the American people.


Being unable to walk or ride on horseback, some of the men took me and carried me into a canoe on the river, and took me down in this manner; and when I arrived in Pittsburgh, I was taken from the canoe, in the arms of the men, to the office of John Wilkins, Esq., the father of the Hon. William Wilkins, Judge of the United States Court.

The deposition which I then gave in, was published throughout the Union, in the different newspapers of the day, and has since been preserved, and may be read in Loudon’s Narrative of Outrages by the Indians, vol. 1. p. 85.


As the intelligence spread, the town of Pittsburgh, and the country for twenty miles round, was all in a state of commotion. About sunset the same evening, my husband came to see me, in Pittsburgh, and I was taken back to Coe’s station on Tuesday morning. In the evening I gave the account of the murder of my boy on the island. The next morning, (Wednesday,) there was a scout went out, and found it by my direction, and buried it, after being murdered nine days.

* * *

Reaction by an Australian comrade:

We read a lot about the Irish and Scots and see many similarities between them. The people of Galicia in north-west Spain (ancestors of mine) also share a common history, particularly with Ireland. There in northwest Spain you’ll see Celtic tradition that lives on in the language, place names, music and dance and yes, even the bag pipes!

Good on you, John, for the work that you do.


Thanks, white brother in Oz. In your honor, here is a nice video right back:

….. A musician who was a descendant of Massy Harbison here in Ontonagon, UP of Michigan!

The late Boe Harbison, guitarist and vocalist with an amazing baritone; his widow still has a classy gift shop here in town



 A tribute to Boe:


……Author Thomas Goodrich on what the Indians were really like


Tom Goodrich on Amerindian atrocities (Red Ice Radio)





Catherine German


Captured by Indians along with her three younger sisters, Catherine German was subjected to repeated rapes and beatings by the tribe that held her prisoner. Her parents and two other siblings were murdered and scalped. She was held for five months in this horrible, violent and demeaning situation. Read about it in Scalp Dance: Indian Warfare on the High Plains, 1865–1879 by Thomas Goodrich.


……The white Solutreans from Europe were the true Native Americans!

…..visitors to this website

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All US banknotes are made of linen, cotton and paper in a special paper mill in this town of Haverhill in northern Massachusetts. Why not send me some of it? 😉

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Argentina is 90% white — mostly white Spanish, Italians, Germans and Poles. Here is its capital, Buenos Aires ( = “Good airs”)

Refined baritone and talented musician Eduardo Fal has became one of the greatest Argentinian guitar players of all time.

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1 Comment

  1. A comrade named Matthew wrote to a friend of mine with whom she had shared this Massey Harbison article:

    [Thursday, July 07, 2016 3:07 PM] M:

    Thank you for sending me that article. I love John de Nugent; he is a noble and virtuous man. A descendant of Normandy like myself.

    Massey Harbison was such a strong woman (strong doesn’t even begin to describe her, actually) to endure that sort of suffering from her savage captors.

    I’m really moved right now after that.

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