Notes for Catherine Blanchan:|
On 7 June, 1663, Louis du Bois headed an expedition against the Minnisink Indians. This was latter known as the Eusopus War. "It was organized at the time the settlement was attacked by the Minnisinks, who burned Hurley, killed and injured some of the settlers, and carried away as prisoners, the wife of Louis du Bois, his three children, and at least two of Jan Joosten van Meterens'. These were taken to the fastnesses of the Catskill Mountains and there remained in captivity for months, but were rescued on the eve of torture by du Bois and Captain Martin Kreiger's company of Manhattan soldiers; the trainband finally rounded up the Indians and defeated them on September 3, 1663. In connection with this tragic experience the following statement is quoted: "About ten weeks after the capture of the women and children, the Indians decided to celebrate their own escape from pursuit by burning some of their victims and the ones selected were Catherine du Bois, and her baby Sara, who afterward married her companion in captivity, John Van Metre. A cubical pile of logs was arranged and the mother and child placed thereon; when the Indians were about to apply the torch, Catherine began to sing the 137th Psalm as a death chant. The Indians withheld the fire and gave her respite while they listened; when she had finished they demanded more, and before she had finished the last one her husband and the Dutch soldiers from New Amsterdam arrived and surrounded the savages, killed and captured some, and otherwise inflicted terrible punishment upon them, and released the prisoners." "Some time after her husband's death, and when she was about 63 years of age, Louis' widow married Jean Cottin, a very worthy Huguenot, who kept a store at Kingston and had been previously the schoolmaster at New Paltz. In the year 1703 we find recorded in the church book at Kingston the following interesting entry in the list of baptisms, under date of September 5th: "Rachel - after profession of her faith she received the sacrament of holy baptism, aged 17 years. Besides the points required of her in the formula of baptism she also promised the congregation to serve her mistress Catharine Cottyn faithfully and diligently until the death of her mistress and after that to serve her master Jan Cottyn and after that she shall be at liberty and free." The old Dutch dominie, who recorded all this in the church book, performed a valuable deed for history and for the descendants of Louis DuBois, the Patentee. Usually the church record contained simply the name of the child baptized, the parents, and sponsors; but here we have the evidence that the woman who, in her early married years, saved her life by singing a psalm, while the savages were preparing to burn her at the stake, now in her old age manumitted her negro woman. This is perhaps the very first recorded instance in this country of the freeing of a slave." From [IT:History of New Paltz:IT] by Ralph Le Fevre.