Abraham Russ Massacre

 

The following is taken from The Whiskey Rebellion by Thomas P. Slaughter, 1986, by Oxford University Press:

Abraham Russ lived about twenty-two miles from Pittsburgh on the banks of the Allegheny River, some two miles above the mouth of Bull Creek in western Pennsylvania. Towards evening on March 22, 1791 the extended Russ family was preparing for dinner when seven Indians walked into the settlers' cabin. The Indians left their rifles at the door in a well-known token of friendship and requested to dine with the white frontiersmen. The family welcomed their guests, perhaps more out of fear than hospitality. John Dary, a thirteen-year-old boy, suspected the worst and left the house to hide in the woods while the Indians supped.

When the Indians had finished their meal, one of them rose and stood squarely against the door to prevent members of the household from leaving. The other Indians rose as well and began methodically to butcher and scalp their hosts. They disposed of four men, one old women, and six children in this manner.

Mrs. Dory, sister of Russ, witnessed the death of her mother and her child. An Indian lifted the eighteen-month-old infant by its feet and dashed the child's brains out against the skull of old Mrs. Russ. Thus with one horrid blow both were dispatched. In the panic of witnessing such a sight Mrs. Dary literally dismembered part of the frail cabin and escaped through the wall. Three of her daughters, a sister-in-law, and three nieces followed. Agnes Clark and two of her children also escaped in this n-tanner, as did Catherine Cutright, who had lost both husband and son in the massacre.

These women and children ran to the river, where their screams brought Levi Johnson from a mile and a half away. He shuttled the living across the river in his canoe while the Indians were plundering and setting fire to the cabin. Seventeen persons thus fled into the night. Once across the river, the survivors ran nine miles in the cold to a place of shelter. Two boys who had escaped separately hid in the woods near the cabin for three days before venturing forth.

News of the carnage traveled fast over the countryside. Families from miles around packed their belongings and moved to a defensible location at James Paul's farm on Pine Run. About seventy or eighty women and children gathered there by morning. The men erected a blockhouse where everyone lived together throughout the summer. The men also pursued the Indians, but to no avail. Several enlisted for six months' service with General Arthur St. Clair to fight the Indians as well.

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