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UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER LIBRARY BULLETIN - Volume XVIII· Spring 1963 · Number 3
The Papers of Colonel William Emerson - CATHERINE D. HAYES
On December 30, 1813, the tiny, defenseless community of Buffalo, New York, experienced the terror of Indians on the attack. They crashed out of the surrounding woods and into the town, shooting, scalping and burning. Men, women and children fled before the onslaught; only a few remained in a vain attempt to protect their possessions.
Buffalo was a victim of the War of 1812. The British and their Indian allies swept through it and the neighboring village of Black Rock in retaliation for atrocities committed by Americans in Canada. They left behind almost total destruction.
One of the few persons who remained in Buffalo that day was thirty-five-year-old Mrs. Sally Johnson Lovejoy (b. 21 Oct 1771; d. 30 Dec 1813; bur. Mumford Rural Cemetery, Mumford, NY, with her father, Caleb). Her story of courage, in the face of almost certain death, comes to light through the pages of a letter recently given to the University of Rochester.
The letter, which refers to the barbaric murder of Mrs. Lovejoy as she attempted to thwart the Indians, was given as part of a collection of papers owned by Colonel William H. Emerson of Rochester, a collateral descendant of the unfortunate woman. Many of his family papers and also papers relating to his work as corporation counsel for the City of Rochester are included in the collection.
Although the letter does not describe in detail the murder of Mrs. Lovejoy, it tells a graphic tale of family mourning and horror inspired by her death. It was written by Mrs. Lovejoy's brother, J. Johnson, to her brother, William; her sister, Mrs. Mary Johnson Smith, and brother-in-law, Willard H. Smith, Caledonia lawyer. The letter follows.
Sunday Jan,y 16th 1814
Brother Wm, Sister Mary & Willard H Smith Esqr
Permit me to address you all in the same letter.
Mr Smith's Letter of the 4th Inst. came to hand yesterday, the melancholy, distressing and most grievous information which it contain'd had previously come to my knowledge by the Papers and also, verbal information by a Maj. Guy who left Buffaloe the day after the most horrid and inhuman act was committed--Be assured my Dear Friends that I can truly Mourn and Sympathise with you in the loss of our most amiable and Dearly Beloved Sister--On Thursday morning Dec. 30th 1813, you state, that this most horrid and inhuman act was committed--the remembrance of this most melancholy day will ever kindle in my breast the most indignant hatred toward that brutal and savage nation who have so cruelly murdered and torn from us our beloved Sister--Our Parents, to whom I shall write soon as I close this, will hardly know how to bear up under such melancholy and distressing news--at their advanced age of life--My Mother I think can never be reconciled to such unwelcome news, it must break her heart, and still my duty obliges me to be the author of such melancholy news--the subject is too painful--let it suffice to say my Grief is almost insupportable--Harris you say is not yet heard of, I suspect he must have been killd or taken prisoner--dont fail to write soon as you get any Information--Mr. Lovejoy and Henry I am happy to hear escaped--Henry I should be glad to have come and stay with me and go to School long as he thinks proper to stay, if he cannot be more pleasantly situated with some of his other connections, I will do the best in my power to have him well inform'd, by keeping him constantly at School and by paying particular attention to his writing &c--I shall be absent the most of the Winter school keeping, and should be extremely glad to have Henry come and stay with me--He could assist Mrs. Johnson in making Fires and doing some few choars about the house before and after school-- As you will undoubtedly be unpleasantly situated in that country till the close of the present war, I think it will be the best thing Henry can do to come directly here and stay with me long as his Father shall think proper--I live in the House with Doct. Miller--we have plenty of room and a very comfortable house.
Accounts of Mrs. Lovejoy's altercation with the Indians have been published in the several histories of Buffalo and in publications of the Buffalo Historical Society.
The whereabouts of her husband and her son, Henry, are explained in a paper, "Buffalo During the War of 1812," prepared by William Dorsheimer for the Buffalo Historical Society.
. . .The British Indians had left the main column before it reached the village; and, swarming through the woods, came into Main Street near Tupper. . . Mrs. Lovejoy was in her house, on the present site of the Phoenix. The night before, her husband had mounted his horse, and taking his trusty rifle, had gone to the Rock, to make such defence of his home as became a brave man. 'Henry,' said the bold-hearted woman to her little son, 'you have fought against the British; you must run. They will take you prisoner. I am a woman; they will not harm me.' The lad flew into the woods. His light footfalls had not faded from the mother's ear when a score of Indians, wild with whiskey and the rage of battle, rush into the dwelling and commence to sack it. Confident in the great defence of her sacred sex, the careful housewife attempts to save her hard-earned treasures. Poor woman, thy sex is not sacred here! A tomahawk crushes into her brain, and she falls dead upon the floor of her desecrated home.
In the Municipality of Buffalo, New York, edited by Henry Wayland Hill, the incident is described by a daughter of Mrs. Margaret St. John, a neighbor, whose house was spared throughout the British occupation:
'My mother said she saw an Indian pulling the curtains down from the window of the Lovejoy house opposite, and saw Mrs. Lovejoy strike his hand with a carving-knife, and saw the Indian raise the hatchet; but as the door closed she could not know certain that he killed her. She did not dare to go and see.
'Soon there came along an advance guard with a cannon, and a British colonel on horseback . . . He said, "I have just now seen a very unpleasant sight in the house over the way. The Indians have killed a woman and I am very sorry any such thing should happen." "Well," said mother, "I was fearful she would provoke them to kill her. I spoke to her and said: 'Do not risk your life for property'; she answered: 'When my property goes, my life shall go with it.'"'
In Our Country and Its People, a Descriptive Work on Erie County, New York, edited by Truman C. White, another version of the incident is given.
'. . .At the same time Mrs. Lovejoy had become involved in an altercation with an Indian over a shawl. Mrs. St. John besought her to give it to him and come into her cottage for safety, but she declined to do so. Only a little later other Indians came to plunder and burn Mrs. Lovejoy's dwelling, but she placed herself in the doorway and resisted them. Suddenly a savage drew a knife and plunged it into her breast. Her body was dragged into the yard where it lay for hours on the snow.'
According to this account a British officer excused this piece of barbarity on the ground that Mrs. Lovejoy resisted those who entered her house and maintained that the responsibility for her death rested with herself, owing to her "indiscretion and desperation."
As other accounts describe the incident, neighbors saw the Indians set Mrs. Lovejoy's house on fire. They went to her house and carried her body outside. When they noticed the fire burning slowly they returned and managed to put it out. Later that night they decided to carry the body back into the house and with the help of a Judge Walden returned the body to a bed inside.
In an account in the Sandusky, Ohio, Clarion one man reported that when he was a boy he and his parents fled from the Indian attack and found refuge at night at the home of Mrs. St. John. The next morning, he said, they all went over to see Mrs. Lovejoy. "She was lying on the bedstead; she was a tall woman, was dressed in a black silk dress, with her long black hair hanging down or reaching through the cords and lying on the floor." They all stood about her and shed tears.
Martha St. John Skinner, daughter of Mrs. St. John, who reported this account, concluded by saying, "Then the Indians came again the third day and set the house on fire and she was burned in it, and Mr. Lovejoy came and gathered her bones in a handkerchief and buried them."
What happened to Mr. Lovejoy and Henry immediately following the burning of Buffalo by the Indians is not known, although some records show that Joshua Lovejoy died in New York City in 1824, at the age of fifty-three. According to William Ketchum's history of Buffalo, Joshua Lovejoy was a tavern keeper at Avon in 1805-1806, in a hotel erected at that place by James Wadsworth. He went to Buffalo in 1807 or 1808.
Henry Lovejoy, who was twelve years old in 1813, later became a well-known surveyor in the City of Buffalo. What little is known of him is reported by William Hodge, whose papers were published by the Buffalo Historical Society:
After the War, in the Winters of 1815-16 and 1816-17, Henry Lovejoy was our teacher. . . . By application to study he had acquired as good a 'common school education' as the times would allow, and turned his attention to the art of surveying, in which he became proficient. He continued its practice, as his business, in Buffalo, to the end of his long life. No man knew better than he, the original boundaries of our city lots, and of the farms adjoining. Indeed, in later years, in cases where the old land-marks were not to be found, he would sometimes trust too much to his own knowledge, to satisfy some, for, standing at a corner, and 'sighting' in different directions with his eye, he would strike his hickory compass-staff into the ground, saying 'That is near enough for all practical purposes.'
Other early material in the collection of papers given by Colonel Emerson to the University in 1961 and 1963 includes two diaries, one written by Caleb Johnson of Hampstead, NH, father of Mrs. Lovejoy
Dr. John E. Marshall
http://books.google.com/books?id=9r0LAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA420&dq=%22john+e.+marshall%22+%22buffalo%22#v=onepage&q=%22john%20e.%20marshall%22%20%22buffalo%22&f=false page 52 (of Biographical Sketches)
DR. JOHN ELLIS MARSHALL, the only child of Thomas and Sarah Edgerton Marshall, was born in Norwich, CT, 18 Mar 1785 His mother dying in his infancy, he was adopted by Daniel Ellis, of Franklin, CT, and educated by him as his son. He was lineally descended from William Hyde, John Post, Richard Edgerton and Francis Griswold, four of the original proprietors of Norwich. He was a pupil of the Rev. Samuel Nott, of Franklin, having as fellow students, Eliphalet Nott, subsequently president of Union College, and John Tracy, afterwards Lieutenant-Governor of this State. At the age of twenty he commenced the study of medicine with Dr. Philemon Tracy, of Norwich, under whose careful instruction he enjoyed peculiar advantages; and he attributed to Dr. Tracy's assistance and teaching, much of the success he attained in his profession. According to the testimony of a fellow-student, since a distinguished physician in Ohio, young Marshall was thorough in his medical studies, was gifted with a sound judgment and a discriminating mind; and by his diligent application to study, he laid broad and deep the foundation for his future eminence. He was licensed to practice by the Connecticut Medical Society on the 3d of August, 1808, and soon after left for the \Vest, taking up his residence in Oxford, NY, where he opened his first office. Not satisfied with his location, he removed in October, the following year, to Mayville, Chautauqua county, where he practiced his profession for several years with marked success.
On the 9 Feb 1811, Dr. Marshall was commissioned by Governor Tompkins as clerk of Chautauqua county at the time of its organization. On 20 Sep 1810, he was married to Ruth Holmes, daughter of Orsamus Holmes, of Sheridan, NY. On 15 Apr 1812, Dr. Marshall was appointed Surgeon to the Second Regiment of the New York State Militia. On 20 Dec 1813, he was ordered to join his regiment at Buffalo, and served five months on the Niagara frontier, when his regiment was disbanded. He again took the field on 1 Aug 1814, his regiment being encamped near Buffalo, where he remained during the remainder of the season. The fevers, diarrhoeas, and other diseases which prevailed in the army, crowded the hospitals and devolved upon Dr. Marshall, as senior surgeon, arduous and responsible duties. His cares, exposure and fatigue seriously impaired his health and rendered him an invalid during the remainder of his life.
After the close of the war Dr. Marshall continued the practice of his profession and to discharge the duties of county clerk, at Mayville, until March, 1851, when he sought a more promising field for professional labor in the then rising village of Buffalo. He soon took the front rank among his professional brethren and acquired a solid reputation as a physician and surgeon. On 2 Mar 1819, he was commissioned by Governor Clinton as clerk of Niagara county, which then embraced the present counties of Erie and Niagara, the duties of which he discharged until 17 Feb l821. On 27 Mar 1819, he was appointed by Governor Clinton, assistant hospital surgeon of the Fifth brigade of New York State Infantry, and re-appointed to the same position by the same Governor, 12 Jul 1826. He subsequently received the honorary appointments as a corresponding Fellow of the Medicine and Philosophical Society of New York city, and as an honorary member of the Medical Society of Geneva College. For many years he was a member of the Masonic fraternity and in 1819 rose to Mark Master Mason.
During the prevalence of the cholera in 1832, when Buffalo was particularly exposed to its invasion, and when little was known of its treatment, Dr. Marshall was appointed Health Physician by the Common Council of the city. The duties of this position were of the most arduous and responsible character. No vessel or canal boat was permitted to enter the city, without the certificate of the Health Physician. Those approaching in the night were detained until daylight at the mouth of Buffalo Creek, or in Black Rock harbor. This required his attendance at these ports at daybreak. These fatiguing duties were performed with great efficiency, in addition to his large private practice, which left him scarcely an opportunity for rest.
While in the full vigor of his intellect, in the midst of a wide and successful practice, Dr. Marshall was attacked with pleurisy on Saturday, 22 Dec 1838, and after severe illness, died on the following Thursday. His medical brethren paid a just tribute to his professional talents and worth, and of respect to his memory; and the Rev. Dr. Hopkins, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, of which Dr. Marshall had long been a ruling elder, preached to a large audience, his funeral sermon, in which his exemplary life and Christian virtues were eloquently portrayed.
Dr. John E. Marshall, a well educated physician, moved into the woods that covered the site of Mayville. He married Ruth, daughter of Deacon Orsamus Holmes, of Sheridan, in 1810. He was Supervisor for the Town of Chautauqua in 1814.
Orsamus Holmes MARSHALL, historian, was born in Franklin, CT, 13 Feb 1813; died in Buffalo, NY, 9 Jul 1884. His father, Dr. John E. Marshall, was one of the earliest settlers of Buffalo When the British burned that town in the war of 1812-'13 Dr. Marshall sent his wife to their former home in [Franklin] Connecticut, and there the son was born When he was two years old his parents returned to Buffalo, where he passed his life.
http://books.google.com/books?id=F9oTAAAAYAAJ&pg=PP13&dq=%22Abel+M.+Grosvenor%22&lr=#v=onepage&q=%22Abel%20M.%20Grosvenor%22&f=false page 235
Mr. Frederick Miller came to reside at Black Rock at a very early period, but did not come to reside in Buffalo until 1810. His name appears as the first licensed ferryman at Black Rock Ferry, when the State first began to exercise jurisdiction over it, in 1805-06. He kept the ferry, and a tavern at the ferry landing, until 1810, when he removed to Buffalo, as has been already observed. He remained however but a year, when he removed to the "Cold Spring," where he kept a tavern. During the war. he removed to Williamsville, and remained there till his death, which occurred in January 1836. Mr. Miller served during the war of 1812, in the army of the United States, in the capacity of Major of Artillery, hence his title by which he was afterwards known as "Major Miller." It was said that his men gave him the nick-name of "Major Squat," from the following circumstance:
A battery had been erected upon the high bank of the river near the ferry, nearly upon the ground now occupied by the Niagara Street Railroad building. The British had a battery directly opposite, and the two were hotly engaged in bombarding each other. Major Miller stood upon the breastwork directing the firing, and with a glass watching the effect of their shots upon the enemy's works, and at the flash of their guns, would order his men to squat behind their breastwork. The Major noticed that some of his men, in their excitement did not promptly obey the order to "squat;" he reiterated the order with emphasis, saying, "squat d—n you, or I'll squat you."
The Major was an uneducated man, but an energetic and useful officer, and much esteemed by the officers of the army. He left a large family of children; Mrs. Gen. H[eman]. B. Potter, was a daughter, the late Capt. Wm. T. Miller, and Capt. Fred. S. Miller, were sons. It is believed that all his sons became sailors—the fruit of their early training on the river—and rose to distinction as masters of vessels, and steamboats. Major Miller's descendants are still numerous in Buffalo and have been active and influential, in all the stages of its history, in contributing in their several spheres of action to its growth and prosperity.
Senior Warden, Western Star Lodge No. 239; Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Michigan.
11 Jul 1786 - 10 Jan 1862