Kate Clayton, the Indian Captive of Cherry Valley. Thrilling Incidents in the Early Indian Border Warfare in the State of New York. Containing an Account of the Massacre at Cherry Valley, and the Captivity of Miss Clayton among the Seneca Indians. Edited from Family Manuscripts, and the Personal Narrative of the Captive. Rochester: D.M. Dewey, 1855.
90 pp. Double-sided frontispiece (included in pagination), and illustrations throughout. 12mo (190 x 115 mm). Original pictorial yellow wrappers. Custom chemise, reddish-brown morocco-backed slipcase. Foxed, some tape repairs to wrappers, some tiny chips to corners and to spine.
FIRST EDITION. A rare captivity romance based upon the events of the Cherry Valley Massacre. On November 10, 1778, a detachment of Butler's Rangers, a loyalist militia led by Colonel John Butler, the detachment led by his son Walter, and a group of Iroquois led by Chief Joseph Brant crept into the village, easily overcame the American militia led by the incompetent Ichabod Alden, and slaughtered or made prisoners of many of the settlers. Kate Clayton, who name doesn't actually appear in the records of those whose families were killed or taken prisoner, was captured after seeing her family murdered by Mohawk Chief Brant and the villainous Walter Butler. The narrative implies that Brant intended Clayton as a future bride. After being saved from death by a handsome fellow settler, Clayton witness numerous other horrors before the narrative ends with her in the arms of her male companion. "Perhaps the secret of it all was the gold they received for their scalps, at the hands of the British. They, certainly, were more to blame than the Indians themselves. The savages had no enlightened sense of right and wrong. They could be easily influenced by promises and gifts. They were encouraged at every step by the British rangers, who fought with them and led them on. They were, in fact, mere instruments in the hands of our enemies. Fierce, blood-thirsty, revengeful, delighting in slaughter, loving war for its own sake, though at first they had promised to remain neutral, yet they were easily influenced to break their obligations" (p 33). We can only find the Siebert copy in the auction records and that one lacked both the original wrappers and the frontispiece. Howes H658 ("c"); Sabin 33103; not in Ayer or Field.
Provenance: ownership inscriptions of Ellen M. Long to frontispiece, title and preface.
Acquisition: purchased from William Reese Company, 2001, $3,200.