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Massy Harbison-Fort Hand Chapter, NSDAR

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The Story of Massy Harbison
dar_massy_cabin.jpg (98585 bytes)

    The log cabin above is similar to the one in which Massy Harbison lived.  Our chapter has placed a DAR sign on the property, which is owned by the City of New Kensington.  It is located at Oates Boulevard and Route 56 near Valley High School, and is called Massa Harbison Park.

    On May 22, 1792, Massy, (sometimes spelled Massa, Massy, or Massey in various accounts), was asleep in her cabin when Munsee and Seneca Indians entered it.  Her husband was a spy for the American army and was not home at the time.  Massy held her year old baby in her arms.   Her three and five year old boys were with her.  The Indians scalped one boy immediately for putting up a fight and refusing to go with them.  As they dragged Massy and her children out of the cabin, she saw a neighbor getting water from a well.  She screamed.  He saw that the family was being kidnapped and ran into the nearby fort to alert the inhabitants.

    The Indians forced Massy to march for two days toward what is now Butler, PA.  A second son was scalped on the march for making crying noises.  She overheard the Indians talking about their friend, Simon Girty.  Girty, who had once been on the American side in the Revolutionary War, was now working for the British.  On the second night Massy escaped with the baby.  For the next four days she tried to get back to the settlement.

    Finally, bruised, terrified, starving, sunburned, and her bare feet punctured by over one hundred and fifty thorns, Massy reached the shore of the Allegheny River.  She called out to three white men on the other shore.  One, who was her nearest neighbor, did not recognize her either "by her countenance, or by her voice"* she had changed so much in six days.  She and the baby survived.  She reported to the American army that Simon Girty could no longer be trusted.  The Americans were then able to take the fort at Detroit based on the intelligence Massy provided.

*Condensed from "Floodtides Along the Allegheny" by Francis Harbison
    Massy is buried in Freeport Cemetery, in Freeport, Armstrong Co., PA.
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