A Massacre Re-Discovered
by: Eric Miller
Cemeteries are permanent museums dedicated to a past very near and dear to many of us. Efforts
to promote the interesting burial grounds around the U.S. continue to increase tourism and
stimulate interest in local history. Often the victim of neglect and vandalism, many have been
forgotten and left to decay.
Taphophiles, or people who love cemeteries, seek out the graves of interesting people often
in what we might think of as ordinary cemeteries. This visit on The Cemetery Trail
brings us to the town of Saxton, Pennsylvania.
As the story goes, a Revolution-era patrol led by Captain William Phillips was headed
for Fort Bedford when they sought refuge in an abandoned cabin along their travels. Unfortunately
for Captain Phillips and his patrol, they awoke to find the cabin surrounded by Indians. A battle
ensued and the cabin was soon engulfed in flames.
Private Philip Skelly fired a bullet that passed through the cheeks of Chief Bald Eagle, breaking
several teeth. He was less than pleased and the Indians increased their assault. The patrol soon
surrendered, and the captives were then marched about a half mile where they were tied to trees
and shot with arrows. Their bodies were discoverd by a group of settlers and buried in shallow graves.
This site of this revolutionary massacre was widely known to the Saxton residents in 1929 when the local
American Legion Post decided to erect a monument to some of the areas earliest settlers. But four years
later in January when workers finally came to make improvements to the site, to their surprise, they
unearthed the actual remains of the ten soldiers killed on that ill-fated day, July 6, 1780.
Attracting tourists to cemeteries like this one, can provide a means for raising money needed to
preserve these historic treasures.
Please visit with us next month as we make another stop along The Cemetery Trail.
Return to the Cemetery Trail home page
Eric Miller writes frequently on urban issues and lives in San Francisco. He
is the webmaster of http://home.earthlink.net/~urbancentury and is a partner
in the soon to launch New Colonist (newcolonist.com), a web publication for
urban residents. His articles have appeared in San Francisco Downtown, The
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and other publications. He can be reached by
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.