Enoch Brown School Massacre Of 1764

By Karen Harris

Pontiac, chief of the Ottawa tribe and leader of a federation of Native Americans against the settlers, smokes the peace pipe at a meeting with a British major and his troops. (MPI/Getty Images)

School massacres didn't start with Columbine. The first recorded mass murder in a school in U.S. history happened a dozen years before the United States was even established, when four Native Americans retaliated against the white settlers who had occupied their land.

The Pontiac Wars

When white settlers moved into the Great Lakes region in the 1700s, they brought upheaval to the Native American people who had made their homes in the area for hundreds of years. In retaliation for the violence brought upon his people, Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa tribe launched an attack on British troops in what is now Detroit on May 7, 1763, leading to a series of hostilities known as the Pontiac Wars that spread into Pennsylvania and upstate New York. Displeased with the chaos, Governor John Penn of Pennsylvania offered a bounty in exchange for the scalps of Native Americans, and in the months that followed, bands of settlers murdered and scalped every Native American they could find.

In a famous council on April 27, 1763, Pontiac urged listeners rise up against the British. (Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons)

The Enoch Brown School Massacre

One of the grisliest incidents of the Pontiac Wars occurred on July 26, 1764. Early in the day, four Native Americans from the Delaware tribe clubbed a pregnant white woman to death, cut the fetus from her womb, and took her scalp before setting off for an isolated log schoolhouse near Greencastle, Pennsylvania. When the warriors burst into the schoolhouse, teacher Enoch Brown pleaded with them to spare the students, but they clubbed and scalped him and then the 11 youngsters.

Memorial erected in 1885, near Greencastle, Pennsylvania. (Smallbones/Wikimedia Commons)

The Aftermath

Amazingly, one boy named Archie McCullough survived the massacre, most likely unconscious and mistaken for dead by the attackers before they left. When he awoke, he crawled down the hill to the spring where the schoolchildren often went for a drink of water, where he was found by passersby several hours later. After reporting what had happened, McCullough miraculously made a full recovery from his injuries.

According to reports from a white settler who was held captive by the tribe at the time, the group of warriors returned to their village, located in Ohio along the Muskingum River, and proudly presented the scalps they collected, but their chief shamed them for targeting women and children. Meanwhile, the 10 murdered students and their teacher were buried in a common grave a few days after the brutal attack. In 1885, a memorial was built on the site of the grave to commemorate the victims of the first school massacre in U.S. history, and the area surrounding the memorial was later named Enoch Brown Park.

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Karen Harris

Writer

Karen left the world of academic, quitting her job as a college professor to write full-time. She spends her days with her firefighter husband and four daughters on a hobby farm with an assortment of animals, including a goat named Atticus, a turkey named Gravy, and a chicken named Chickaletta.