Women of Wawasink | Women of the Revolution


    About the author

    Edward St. Germain.
    Edward St. Germain

    Edward A. St. Germain created AmericanRevolution.org in 1996. He was an avid historian with a keen interest in the Revolutionary War and American culture and society in the 18th century. On this website, he created and collated a huge collection of articles, images, and other media pertaining to the American Revolution. Edward was also a Vietnam veteran, and his investigative skills led to a career as a private detective in later life.


      The sufferings of families during the depredations of the Indians on the frontier, in Wawasink and its vicinity, were not exceeded even by those of Wyoming. The women bore their share not only in these, but in the efforts made for defence – loading guns for their defenders, and carrying water to extinguish the flames of their dwellings. In an attack upon the house of the widow Bevier, when, after it was fired, the two women sought refuge in the cellar, the daughter, Magdalen, took with her the Dutch family Bible. When the flames approached them, they decided to deliver themselves up to the savages, and made their way through the cellar window – the mother in advance. The daughter threw her apron over her head, fearing to see her parent killed. As she feared, the widow fell a prey to the cruel tomahawk, while the Bible was wrested from Magdalen’s hands and stamped in the mud, she herself being retained a prisoner. When afterwards released, she was fortunate enough to recover the treasure she had saved from the flames – some of the leaves only being soiled by the mud – and it is still preserved as a precious relic in the family.

      The house of Jesse Bevier at the Fantinekill was assailed afterwards, and defended successfully by the spirit and resolution of its inmates. Their powder was laid in basins on the table, and the women helped to load the pieces, till at length the old log house was fired at a point where the little band of heroes could not bring their guns to bear. Their situation now became most alarming, and the women applied every drop of liquid in the house to check the progress of the flames; taking milk, and even swill, in their mouths, and spirting it through the cracks of the logs, in hopes thus to protract existence till relief might come from Naponoch. At this awful crisis, when death appeared inevitable, the pious mother, knowing that “with God all things are possible,” proposed that they should suspend their exertions, and unite in petitions to the throne of grace for mercy. Her son replied that she must pray, and they would continue to fight. And fervent were the prayers of that mother – till it seemed as if they were answered by direct interposition from heaven. The brother of Bevier, warned of danger by the mute appeal of the dog belonging to the house, came with another to his assistance, and the Indians and tories, not knowing, when they heard the firing of their sentry, how large a force was coming, withdrew from the house just as the flame’s had extended to the curtains of the bed.

      A solemn and affecting scene in this tragedy was that at the bedside of Jacob Bevier, who lay ill, and unable to move, when all the family had fled across the mountain, except an insane brother, who was sitting on the fence, unconscious of danger, and a daughter, who in spite of entreaties and expostulations, would not leave her suffering parent.

      The old stone fort at Wawasink was also the scene of active operations. It was the courage and presence of mind of Catharine Vernooy that saved the fort when first assailed by the enemy. She was going to milk when she heard them coming; but returned quickly to the fort, closed the door, and called to the sentry to assist her in getting the brace against it. At the house of Peter Vernooy, too, the females were active in rendering assistance. They loaded the pieces, of which there was a double set, and stood with axes, determined to plunge them into their foes, if they should attempt to break through the windows. The wife of Vernooy had a family of small children, but kept them quiet by her authority, while all was going on.

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