Big Indian

: 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.