Mary Antone was
hanged at Peterboro Sept. 30, 1814, for the murder of an Indian girl who
had won her lover. Abram Antone killed John Jacobs who was the principal
witness against his daughter Mary, in 1815. For several years he was in
hiding, but he was executed at Morrisville Sept. 12, 1823.
Abram Antone was born in the year 1750. His father
was a Stockbridge Indian, his mother the daughter of an Oneida chief. In
the year 1776 he took up arms in favor of the Americans. He claimed that
he was in three battles and also that at one time he was employed by Gov.
Geo. Clinton on a secret mission.
Antone was accused of and later confessed to several
murders, one of which was the murder of his own child. History states
that liquor was probably the cause of this act. The murder for which he
was convicted and executed was that of an Indian named John Jacobs, who
furnished the evidence by which Antone's daughter was convicted and
Authorities tried for a long time to bring about his
arrest and finally by trickery he was captured and placed in jail at
Morrisville. He was executed Friday, September 12, 1823. When word was
spread about of his capture, the whole population, of this region
breathed more freely for he was feared as well as hated and when it was
decreed that he was to be publicly executed, the people far and near
came to witness the execution. Hunters came with their rifles as they
feared that the tribes would try to rescue him at the last hour. However,
there was no disturbance and Antone went to his death like the stoical
warrior that he was.
Smith in his history of Madison and Chenango Counties
says that the ferocity of Antone, who is represented as a most wily and
ferocious savage, has been greatly exaggerated by tradition and history
and that he had many noble traits of character. This trial was the last
at which the Indian's rights in a judgment before his own people had to
give way to the courts of civilization.
The following are the circumstances connected with the murder for which
he was executed. In the year 1810, Mary, the daughter of Antone, formed
a connection with a young Indian, it said of the Stockbridge tribe;
however, the connection was soon broke off, and the young savage left
his former mistress for one more agreeable.
This so enraged the heroine
that she determined to kill her rival, which she effected by stabbing
her with an Indian knife. When arrested, and on her way to prison, she
manifested a remarkable indifference as to her fate, justifying herself
concerning the murder of the squaw, by observing that she had got away
her Indian, and deserved to die. She was executed in Smithfield in this
John Jacobs was the principal evidence against her. He had also been
very active in her arrest. In short, he was considered by Antone as the
principal cause of his daughter's death, and both before and after her
execution he openly threatened to kill him the first opportunity. Jacobs
hearing of it, left the country, and did not return till Antone sent him
word that he would not molest him, probably for the purpose of getting
him into his power.
The circumstances of the poor fellow's death are
these: Relying on Antone's promise, he did not take all the precaution
which seems to have been necessary. He was hoeing corn in a field, with
a number of men, when Antone came up in a friendly way, shaking hands
with each one until he came to Jacobs, and while grasping his hand, in
apparent friendship, slipt a long knife from out the frock sleeve of his
left arm, pronouncing "How d'ye do, brother!" and quicker than lightning
plunged it into the body of Jacobs, striking him three times under the
short ribs. He fell at the first blow. Antone giving a terrific yell,
bounded off before any one had recovered presence of mind sufficient to
ABRAM ANTONE was born in the year 1750, on the banks of
the Susquehanna. His father was an Indian of the Stockbridge tribe---his
mother, the daughter of an
Oneida chief. When quite young, his parents removed
to the county of Chenango, where for the most part he has since lived.
adventurous, having been bred in the true spirit of his savage
ancestors, he took up arms in favor of the Americans in the year 1776.
It has been asserted that he was a British Indian, which he altogether
denied. "I was," said he, "in three battles. I fought for the Americans,
and fought bravely."
On being asked how many of the enemy he had slain,
"More that that," he replied, holding up both hands with fingers spread,
and then added that he could not tell exactly how many, "because," he
said "though I often pointed my rifle, yet on account of much smoke, I
could not always tell whether I had killed or not."
He asserted that he
had once been employed by Gov. George Clinton on a secret mission, and
observed that he was a great friend to him. If this is true, it shows
him to have been perfectly trustworthy, even if bloodthirsty and
The first murder of his which was
well attested and to which he assented, was committed at Chenango Point
about 1798. The Indian whose duty it was to distribute the government
allowance to the different tribes, defrauded, or was believed by Antone,
to have defrauded him of some part of the money.
declared his intention to kill him, which he effected in the following
way: At the raising of an Indian house near the Point, Antone, as usual
on such occasions, was present. The Indian whom he had threatened was
also present, though not without the precaution of being armed. Antone
did not assist much, but sat on a piece of timber within the frame.
continued sitting there, till the house was raised, and the people
assembled together to the number of fifty, for the purpose of drinking,
when Antone suddenly taking aim, fulfilled his promise by shooting the
Indian directly through the heart. He then arose and walked deliberately
The Indians buried the body and here the matter ended, Antone
paying a sum of money to the tribe for a ransom.
But the most atrocious
deed of all, is one at which humanity starts with horror---a crime at
which nature revolts, and which is almost without parallel---the murder
of an infant child, and that child his own! The circumstances of this
event are almost too horrible to relate. It appears from the account of
his wife, that returning from an assembly of Indians one evening to his
wigwam, he found his little infant of four or five months old
vociferously crying. Impatient at the noise, the monster snatched the
child from its mother's arms, and raking open a hot bed of coals, buried
the infant beneath them. It might be hoped for the honor of humanity
that this account were not true, but the fact was allowed by his wife,
and well attested by others, so that no doubt can remain as to the truth
"To look at the old warrior,"
writes his historian, "one would scarcely suppose he could be guilty of
so enormous a crime. He has a noble countenance in which there is not
the least expression of malice. On the contrary there is something
placable and bordering on serenity in his features. His eye is
penetrating but yet expresses no cruelty. His voice is somewhat broken
by age, but pleasant and sonorous. In short, no one has seen him, but
has gone away with a more favorable impression than when he came."
The next thing of any consequence
which occurs in his life is his removal to Canada. This appears to have
been ten or twelve years before his death. While residing in that
country, in a removal from one encampment to another, he was overtaken
by a company of men on horseback, one of whom insulted the squaws in
Antone's company. On his resenting it the other struck him with his whip
calling him an Indian dog, and rode off with his companions, laughing at
the Indian's threats of vengeance, which would probably have been
executed on the spot had it not the offender been surrounded by a number
of well-mounted cavaliers.
The indignant warrior left his friends to
seek their encampment alone. Armed only with his knife he determined to
follow his enemy till an opportunity should occur of dispatching him.
For many days he pursued the travelers without success, closely dogging
them. Grown desperate he at length determined on a bold step. Disguising
himself by painting his face warrior fashion, he entered a public house
where the horsemen had put up. He was not recognized.
Gaining the favor
of the landlord by his peaceful demeanor, he was permitted to lodge
before the fire. The observing eye of the Indian had noticed where the
bedroom of the doomed man was situated. He arose in the night with a
noiseless step, entered the room and finding where he lay, struck him on
the left side; the blow needed not repeatal; and the groan of the victim
was lost in the exulting yell of the savage, who burst from the house
before the family, terrified by the demoniac whoop, could oppose him.
The particulars of this murder were received from a civilized Indian of
the Stockbridge tribe, who probably heard them from Antone himself.
Antone confessed to the murder of a white man in Canada.
The next occurrence in order was
the murder for which he was indicted. It will be necessary, however, to
briefly mention a few events which took place previous to it. In 1810,
Mary, the daughter of Antone, formed a connection with a young Indian,
it is said, of the Stockbridge tribe; however, the connection was soon
broken off, and the young man left her for one more agreeable.
enraged Mary that she determined to kill her rival, which she effected
by stabbing her with an Indian knife. When arrested and on her way to
prison she manifested a remarkable indifference as to her fate,
justifying herself concerning the murder of the squaw, by saying that
"she had got away her Indian and deserved to die."
She was executed
in Peterboro, in this county. John Jacobs had been the principal
evidence against her. He had also been very active in her arrest. In
short, he was considered by Antone as the principal cause of her death,
and before and after her execution, he openly threatened to kill him.
Jacobs (who was also an Indian, or half-breed,) left the country and did
not return till Antone sent him word that he would not molest him.
Relying upon Antone's promise, he returned and engaged in his usual
avocations. He was hoeing corn in a field with a number of men, when
Antone came up in a friendly way, shaking hands with each one, and while
grasping the hand of Jacobs in apparent friendship, slipt a long knife
from out the frock sleeve of his left arm, pronouncing, "How d'ye do,
brother?" and quick as lightning plunged it into the body of Jacobs,
striking him three times under the short ribs. He fell at the first
blow. Antone, giving a terrific yell, bounded off before any one had
recovered presence of mind sufficient to pursue him.
That night he was
pursued by a number of Indians and was surprised in his hiding-place,
but by his fleetness he escaped. He went constantly armed with a rifle
and knives, accompanied by dogs, and his sons daily ministered to his
needs while concealed in the forest. He was often surrounded by officers
in pursuit of him, but he managed to escape.
There was an attempt to take him
while encamped on a Mr. John Guthrie's land, in the town of Sherburne.
Two large and resolute Indians having obtained information that Antone
was alone in his camp, went with full determination of securing him.
They went to his wigwam and discovered him alone, making a broom; but
the ever-watchful Indian, hearing a rustling noise, seized his rifle,
and, as they suddenly entered, pointed at the foremost, declared if he
advanced a step further he would shoot him dead.
His determined manner
appalled the pursuers, and after parleying with him a short time, they
withdrew, very much mortified at the result of their enterprise. Antone
grimly smiled as they turned away, for his trusty rifle was not
loaded, a circumstance of which he frequently boasted afterwards. He at
length grew so bold and fearless that he marched through our towns and
villages in open day, without any fear of being taken. It is said that
in the village of Sherburne he entered a store in which there were about
twenty men, and drank till he was intoxicated.
Antone was finally betrayed into
the hands of a posse of officers, by a man who won his confidence by
professions of friendship. He decoyed him by getting him out of his
cabin to have a trial with him in shooting at a mark. As soon as Antone
had discharged his piece, the officers, who were stationed in secret a
few steps away, rushed upon and secured him, though not without a
desperate struggle, for the old veteran fought manfully, exhibiting
exceeding strength and agility, and was considerably bruised in the
During Antone's confinement
several pious people endeavored to explain to him the principles of the
Christian religion. But he either could not or would not understand
them. He had no idea of a Saviour. He mentioned through the interpreter
that he put his trust in God, or more properly the Great Spirit. He was
then asked if it was the God of the Christian, or the spirit which was
worshiped by his fathers. The eye of the warrior sparkled as he readily
replied, "THE GOD OF MY FATHERS!"
Until toward the last he nourished
a hope of being reprieved, but when this hope failed he expressed a
willingness to die, and only complained of the manner; the mode of
execution he regarded as degrading. "No good way!" he said, putting his
hands about his hands about his neck. "No good way to hang like a dog!"
then, pointing to his heart, observed that he should be willing to be
shot. He was, moreover, very anxious about his body, feeling it would be
obtained for dissection. He made no lengthy confession, but assented to
having committed the murder herein related, and only these. Several
other atrocious murders had been attributed to him, which he utterly
The jury in
his case, according to the facts elicited by testimony, and agreeable to
our laws, rendered a verdict of "guilty," and according to his sentence
he was executed in Morrisville, on Friday, the 12th day of September,
1823. A large delegation of his own race were present. The execution was
a public one, and a great concourse of people witnessed it.