Cherry Valley is a tiny little village in Otsego County. The kids and I took a winter’s day drive to see the village again. We’ve been through a few times, as I used to live here and I wanted the kids to experience the thrilling “mountain switchback” roads I used to frequent as a young lass. This time, we decided to stay in town and try to locate the Cherry Valley Massacre monument. I never knew about the famous massacre until after I’d moved away; my later interest in American Revolution history sparked my interest in finding it.
Little did I know that I passed the monument almost every day during my time here. Um, DUH. It sits in the Cherry Valley Cemetery, several yards south of the village center, on Alden Street (Route 166).
The writing on this side of the monument reads:
Sacred to the memory of those who died by
in the destruction of this village
at the hands of the Indians & Tories
under BRANT & BUTLER
Nov. 11. A.D. 1778
In case your history is as rusty as mine was, the massacre in this tiny town ignited incredible outrage amongst the New York colonists, and strengthened their resolve against tyrannical British rule. On November 11, 1778, a group of about 800 Tories (called “Butler’s Rangers”) and Indians led by Mohawk Indian chief Joseph Brant and Loyalist Major Walter Butler attacked a small palisade fort in the frontier wilds of Cherry Valley. The Indians were angry that their homes had been burned by American rebels. They attacked the fort and barbarously slaughtered or captured over 70 persons. Women and children were either kidnapped to remote tribal areas or scalped.
The monument was dedicated on August 15, 1878. Then-governor Horatio Seymour delivered the dedication speech to a group of 10,000 attending the ceremony.
“I am here today,” said the speaker, “not only to show reverence for those dead patriots, but to offer my respects and heartfelt gratitude to the living descendants of those illustrious persons of the early settlements, who have erected this memorial stone. It is to be hoped that their example will be copied; that the report of these commemorative exercises will move others to like acts of pious duty. Let every son of this soil uncover reverently as this monument is unveiled, and do reverence to their sturdy patriotism, made strong by their grand faith, their trials, and their sufferings, and show that the blood of innocent children, of wives, of sisters, of mothers, and of brave men, was not shed in vain. Let us show the world that 100 years have added to the value of that noble sacrifice. Thus we shall leave this sacred spot better men and women, with a higher and nobler purpose of life than that which animated us when we entered this domain of the dead.”
The cemetery was very quiet as we walked around. The snow was starting to fall very quickly, so we hurried out to quickly explore the rest of the town. I stopped into Rury’s Grocery and there, much to my shock and surprise, was Mr. Rury at the counter!! He was an elderly gentleman way back when I lived here, eons ago! I was so surprised to see him. The store still looked and smelled the same, as if you were stepping back into the 1880s. It was surreal.
We took a few snapshots around town, but I was growing anxious about the weather, which can change quickly in this high elevation.
One thing we did do was stop into The Plaid Palette. Wow, what a store! i think we spent the better part of an hour, browsing the millions of Celtic products and chatting with Susan Murray-Miller, proprietor of the shop, author, and town historian.
I purchased the most amazing earrings — they are green Fender guitar pick earrings with Scotland bagpipe charms that dangle from it. I LOVE them! the kids chose some lambs wool scarves, a nice jack-knife, and a tam o-shanter. 🙂
We checked out the Cherry Valley Museum next door (I’ve been wanting to see this for years), but it’s closed until May.
I also desperately wanted to visit The Tepee, the iconic, “Roadside America” souvenir shop that’s helped put Cherry Valley on the map. It’s been around forever; my husband remembers visiting it as a kid! 😉 But the weather took a terrible turn for the worst that day, and since it was growing dark, we had to turn around and go home. I felt so bad because the Tepee folks were expecting us to visit. We DO plan on going back to see what we missed, though!