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Chief Croton

Myths and Legends of Our Own Lands

Charles M. Skinner

Between the island of Manhattoes and the Catskills the Hudson shores were plagued with spooks, and even as late as the nineteenth century Hans Anderson, a man who tilled a farm back of Peekskill, was worried into his grave by the leaden-face likeness of a British spy whom he had hanged on General Putnam's orders. "Old Put" doubtless enjoyed immunity from this vexatious creature, because he was born with few nerves. A region especially afflicted was the confluence of the Croton and the Hudson, for the Kitchawan burying-ground was here, and the red people being disturbed by the tramping of white men over their graves, "the walking sachems of Teller's Point" were nightly to be met on their errands of protest.

These Indians had built a palisade on Croton Point, and here they made their last stand against their enemies from the north. Throughout the fight old chief Croton stood on the wall with arrows showering around him, and directed the resistance with the utmost calm. Not until every one of his men was dead and the fort was going up in flame about him did he confess defeat. Then standing amid the charring timbers, he used his last breath in calling down the curse of the Great Spirit against the foe. As the victorious enemy rushed into the enclosure to secure the scalps of the dead he fell lifeless into the fire, and their jubilant yell was lost upon his ears. Yet, he could not rest nor bear to leave his ancient home, even after death, and often his form, in musing attitude, was seen moving through the woods. When a manor was built on the ruins of his fort, he appeared to the master of it, to urge him into the Continental army, and having seen this behest obeyed and laid a solemn injointure to keep the freedom of the land forever, he vanished, and never appeared again.

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