Enoch Brown Schoolhouse Massacre

Enoch Brown Schoolhouse Massacre
America’s young history is peppered with tragedy. However, in my opinion, nothing is more tragic than mass school shootings and the loss of innocent lives. School massacres, such as the one that involved the Ohio National Guard and protesting students at Kent State University, Charles Whitman and his shootings of students from the tower at the University of Texas, the Columbine High school massacre, the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school and the Virginia Tech massacre. The Virginia Tech School shooting in 2007 had the highest body count of any school shooting in US History to that date. The previous "record holder" was the University of Texas massacre by Charles Whitman.

The tragedies of school massacres seemingly permeate the news on an almost regular basis and as sad as that is, have you ever paused to wonder how far back in the young history of the US these school shootings have occurred? The very first recorded school massacre in the United States occurred in 1764.

It happened in Pennsylvania at the Enoch Brown School near the city that is now known as Greencastle, Pennsylvania. This massacre happened during Pontiac’s War. Pontiac’s War, Pontiac’s Rebellion or Pontiac’s Conspiracy, began in 1763. Some Native Americans from tribes in the Great Lakes region of the US, the Illinois Country, and the Ohio Country were not very happy with the British and their postwar policies after the French and Indian War. Native American warriors from many tribes began an uprising in an attempt to force British soldiers and settlers out of the area. This war was named after Chief Pontiac, the leader of the Odawa Nation and the most prominent of the many Native American leaders in the struggle.

It was July 26, 1764 and Enoch Brown was teaching his students, a group of youths, when four Native American warriors from the Lenape tribe or as they are also known as, the Delaware tribe, attacked the school. Enoch pleaded with them to spare the children but they shot and scalped him and then went on to murder and scalp the children. Some farmers who had heard the gun shot ran to the schoolhouse but were too late. They discovered the body of Enoch Brown lying bloody on the floor and still clutching his Bible against his chest. They also discovered the bodies of nine slaughtered children on the floor of the schoolhouse. One boy named Archie McCullough was scalped but still alive and was crawling around on the floor, touching the faces of the other dead children in an attempt to recognize them. They also found a little girl sitting by a nearby spring. She too was scalped but crawled through a window and went down to the spring to wash the blood from her face. She was found alive as well..

This tragedy could have possibly been avoided if the people had used an incident that happened the day before the Enoch Brown Schoolhouse massacre as a precursor to further tragic events. This same war party encountered a woman walking on a road, near the schoolhouse. She was pregnant and heading to a friend’s house when the Indians killed and scalped her then cut the fetus from her abdomen and laid it on the ground next to her.

A settler who had been held prisoner by the Delaware tribe since 1756, wrote about the return of the war party in his captivity memoir. He wrote that he witnessed the return of the raiding party, showed their scalps to the chief called Night Walker and how Night Walker had called them cowards for killing so many children. It was the greatest insult he could offer the warriors.

Enoch Brown and the school children were buried in a common grave. In 1843, the grave was excavated to check the location as being accurate. In 1855, a memorial was erected and the area was named Enoch Brown Park.

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