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The Discovery of Harvey's Lake

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Benjamin Harvey's
Discovery of the Lake

Chapter 2

Harvey Placed in Custody of Indians

One of the sentries on duty there at that hour was the young man named Charles Harris, who, being acquitted with the Misses Harvey and Bullock, recognized their voices when they hailed the fort.  Being admitted within the walls, they quickly told their story to the commander of the garrison, who ordered the alarm-gun to be fired. But by this time the captors and the captured were far on their journey, and beyond the sound even of the signal which fell upon the ears of the people of the valley as notification that someone in the community had been murdered into captivity.

An hour or two later there arrived at the fort a young Irishman named Thomas Connolly, who had deserted from Lieutenant Tunney’s band shortly after the Misses Harvey and Bullock had been released. He gave information as to the route the party had traveled in approaching the valley, and stated that they expected to return northward the same way.

Woodcut of Fort Niagara at the confluence of Lake Ontario and the Niagara River in Canada. Reproduced from an ealier work in HWB vol. I, p. 298. Fort Niagara was a British stronghold in the American Revolutionary War and the base for Bulter's Rangers.

As soon as possible that morning Captain Franklin, with twenty-six of his men, set out from the fort in pursuit of the fleeing enemy, and marched up the river as far as Secord’s where the pursuit was abandoned, being considered hopeless. Finding at this point the canoes left behind by the marauders, Captain Franklin and his men entered them and floated down to Wilkes-Barre, where they arrived after an absence of three days.

The two young women having been released, in the manner previously described, the marauders and their remaining captives marched away from the valley as rapidly as the snow, the darkness of the night and the tangled wilderness would permit. They traveled all that night and the next day, at the close of which they arrived at the headwaters of Mehoopany Creek, which empties into the Susquehanna a dozen or fifteen miles above Secord’s. Apprehending annoying consequences from the desertion of Connolly, Lieutenant Turney had changed his line of march, and had forced his band and their captives to cover a good deal of ground—some of which was remarkably rough and rocky—in a comparatively short space of time. The captives, in addition to having their arms bound, were compelled to carry upon their backs the plunder which had been seized by their captors.

Benjamin Harvey was at this time in the fifty-ninth year of his life, and although a man of remarkable physique (he was six feet and three inches in height, and solidly built), yet he nearly collapsed under the strain of this forced march. He was the oldest man in the party, and when they reached Mehoopany, where they purposed to encamp for the night, it seemed certain that Mr. Harvey would not be able to endure the hardships of the march on the morrow. George Palmer Ransom, one of the Lieutenant Turney’s captives, who lived to an old age, years afterward narrated that Benjamin Harvey during the march from Plymouth to Mehoopany, after frequently unbraiding Turney for his heartlessness, would berate and curse all Indians in general, and those in particular who were his captors; and then, when almost out of breath, would call down a variety of imprecations upon the “British red-coats and red devils” who had so often made his life miserable. Ransom said that Turney was very much annoyed by these outbreaks, but managed to make a show of holding his temper.

Early in the morning of December 8th (which was Friday),  Turney and the Indian chief held a consultation, which resulted in Mr. Harvey being placed in the custody of the Indians—evidently to be disposed of in whatsoever manner the latter should determine upon.


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