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Big Indian


Source: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

Intermarriages between white people and red ones in this country were not
uncommon in the days when our ancestors led as rude a life as the
natives, and several places in the Catskills commemorate this fact. Mount
Utsayantha, for example, is named for an Indian woman whose life, with
that of her baby and her white husband, was lost there. For the white men
early found friends among these mountains. As far back as 1663 they
spared Catherine Dubois and her three children, after some rash spirits
had abducted them and carried them to a place on the upper Walkill, to do
them to death; for the captives raised a Huguenot hymn and the hearts of
their captors were softened.

In Esopus Valley lived Winnisook, whose height was seven feet, and who
was known among the white settlers as the big Indian. He loved a white
girl of the neighborhood, one Gertrude Molyneux, and had asked for her
hand; but while she was willing, the objections of her family were too

strong to be overcome, and she was teased into marriage with Joseph
Bundy, of her own race, instead. She liked the Indian all the better
after that, however, because Bundy proved to be a bad fellow, and
believing that she could be happier among barbarians than among a people
that approved such marriages, she eloped with Winnisook. For a long time
all trace of the runaway couple was lost, but one day the man having gone
down to the plain to steal cattle, it was alleged, was discovered by some
farmers who knew him, and who gave hot chase, coming up with him at the
place now called Big Indian.

Foremost in the chase was Bundy. As he came near to the enemy of his
peace he exclaimed, I think the best way to civilize that yellow serpent
is to let daylight into his heart, and, drawing his rifle to his
shoulder, he fired. Mortally wounded, yet instinctively seeking refuge,
the giant staggered into the hollow of a pine-tree, where the farmers
lost sight of him. There, however, he was found by Gertrude, bolt
upright, yet dead. The unwedded widow brought her dusky children to the
place and spent the remainder of her days near his grave. Until a few
years ago the tree was still pointed out, but a railroad company has now
covered it with an embankment.

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