Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

Annals of Tryon County;
or, the
Border Warfare of New York,
During the Revolution.
By William W. Campbell
New York; Printed and Published by J. & J. Harper 1831

Christian Shell

Note J.

Among the persons who distinguished themselves by their personal courage was Christian Shell, of Shell's Bush, in the now county of Herkimer. He refused to go into any of the forts, but built a block house upon his farm. These houses were usually built of hewn timber. The first story had no windows, but several loop holes, through which those within could fire upon the enemy. The second story projected over the first, two or three feet. Through this projection there were likewise apertures, through which the persons within could fire upon, or cast down missiles upon the assailants if they approached the house to force an entrance. The statements contained in the following specimen of rude poetry are true. The year following this recounter, the Indians stole the march upon Shell, and shot him while engaged in his work on his farm. His wife and children then removed to some of the forts.

A story, a story,
Unto you I will tell,
Concerning a brave hero,
One Christian Shell.

Who was attacked by the savages,
And Tories, as is said,
But for this attack
Most dearly they paid.

The sixth day of August,
He went to his field,
Determined if the enemy
Came, never to yield.

Two sons he had along with him,
Resolved were the same,
About the middle of the afternoon,
These invaders, they came.

He fled unto his block house,
For to save his life,
Where he had left his arms
In the care of his wife.

The enemy took prisoners,
Two sons that were twins,
About eight years of age,
Soon the battle it begins.

They advanced upon him,
And began to fire,
But Christian with his blunderbuss,
Soon made them retire.

He wounded Donald McDonald,
And drew him in the door,
Who gave an account
There was strength sixty-four.

They fought from two in the afternoon
Until the closing of the light,
Shell's son was slightly wounded
Before that it was night.

The old woman she has spoiled
Five guns, as I have since been told,
With nothing but a chopping axe,
Which shows that she was bold.

Six there was wounded,
And eleven there was Killed,
Of this said party,
Before they quit the field.

The Indians were forty-eight,
And Tories full sixteen,
By old Shell and his two sons,
Oh, the like was never seen.

Not like to get assistance,
Nor anybody's help,
They thought for to affright him
By setting up their YELP.

But God was his assistance,
His buckler and his shield,
He dispersed this cruel enemy,
And made them quite the field.

Come all you Tryon County men,
And never be dismayed,
But trust in the Lord,
And he will be your aid.

Trust in the Lord with all your might
And call upon his name,
And he will help you as he did Shell
To his immortal fame.

An account similar to the foregoing was related to me by Col. Nicholas Fish. In the spring of 1779, and a few days before the army broke up its encampment near the Hudson, the Indians and Tories, burned the settlement of Warwarsing. A detachment from the army was sent to the assistance of the place. Before their arrival it was mostly destroyed. They succeeded, however, in relieving a part of the inhabitants, and especially one man, who had defended himself bravely. His house was in the woods, and in advance of all the others in the settlement. He fled into his house with his wife on the approach of the Indians. Here he defended himself with such spirit that he drove the party who had attacked him back, and forced them to seek shelter behind the trees. The Indians then collected combustibles, and setting them on fire, rushed up, and threw them on the house. The flames caught. He then took two pails, and ran to a spring several rods distant, and filling them hastily with water, returned to the house. The Indians again rushed up, determined to take him, and threw their tomahawks, and were at the door almost the same instant that it was closed. He succeeded in extinguishing the fire. At this juncture the detachment came up, and the Indians fled. The officers, as a testimony of their admiration of his courage, made a liberal present of money to him, which they raised by contribution.

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