Jane Mccrea, an American woman, born at Lamington, N. J., in 1754, killed near Fort Edward, Washington co., N. Y., July 27,1777. She was the daughter of a Scotch Presbyterian clergyman settled in New Jersey, after whoso death she went to live with a brother on the Hudson river in the neighborhood of Fort Edward. At the commencement of the revolution she was betrothed to a young man named David Jones, who, adhering to the crown, went to Canada and was commissioned a lieutenant in a loyalist regiment. The approach of Burgoyne's army from the north in the summer of 1777 having spread consternation through the neighboring country, Miss McCrea's brother, who was a whig, prepared to remove to a place of safety, and sent for his sister, then on a visit to a Mrs. McNeil, residing at Fort Edward. Miss McCrea, supposing that her lover was in the invading army, lingered day after day at Mrs. McNeil's, with the hope of an interview with him. The summons of her brother having at last become peremptory, she prepared reluctantly to embark in a bateau which was to convey several families down the Hudson out of reach of danger.
On the morning fixed upon for her departure the house was suddenly surprised by a party of hostile Indians belonging to Burgoyne's army, and sent out by him to scour the country and harass the Americans; Mrs. McNeil and herself were made prisoners, and with other members of the family were hurried off to Burgoyne's camp. Mrs. McNeil arrived there in safety, and half an hour afterward another party of Indians came in with freshly severed scalps, on one of which she recognized the long glossy hair of Jane McCrea. The precise manner of her death has never been ascertained. The Indians said that she was killed by a random shot from a detachment of Americans sent out in pursuit, and that, being thus cut off from the reward offered for prisoners, they secured her scalp and left her body by the wayside. Another story is that a quarrel arose among the Indians as to whose prize she was, in the midst of which one of them in a paroxysm of rage tomahawked her. The event caused a general feeling of horror through the country, and even in Europe, and Burke used the story with powerful effect in the British house of commons.
An acrimonious correspondence ensued between Gates and Burgoyne; but the latter, who professed to be as much shocked as any one at the tragedy, denied peremptorily that the Indians were allowed to perpetrate such excesses with impunity. He immediately summoned a council of Indian chiefs, and demanded that the murderer should be given up; but it having been represented to him that his Indian allies would in that event probably desert him, he was persuaded to let the offender go unpunished. The story has been related in various ways, and under the hands of successive narrators has been expanded into a pathetic love romance. It was said that Lieut. Jones hired the Indians to bring his mistress to the camp, and that they murdered her on the way to settle a dispute respecting the reward offered. This, however, he always denied. He retired to Canada soon after, and lived to be an old man, but was to the close of his life melancholy and taciturn. Jane McCrea was buried on a hill near Fort Edward, and was afterward disinterred and buried near Three-mile creek. A few years later the remains were removed to the old Fort Edward burying ground, at which time, it is said, her skull was examined and exhibited no mark of a cut or gash from a tomahawk.
In 1874 the remains were removed to the new Union cemetery, between Fort Edward and Sandy Hill, and a marble slab was placed over the grave by Miss McCrea's niece, Mrs. Sarah II. Payn.
Thomas Mccrie, a Scottish author, born at Dunse in November, 1772, died in Edinburgh, Aug. 5, 1835. He was educated at the university of Edinburgh, and in 1795 was licensed as a preacher by the Antiburgher Associate presbytery of Kelso. For his active opposition to the voluntary principle in ecclesiastical polity, he was deposed in 1806. Afterward he was prominent in the Constitutional Associate presbytery. He wrote a " Life of John Knox " (1811; enlarged ed., 1813), and a "Life of Andrew Melville" (1819), giving an account of the formation of the Scottish kirk. In 1827 appeared his "History of the Progress and Suppression of the Reformation in Italy;" and in 1829 "The Progress and Suppression of the Reformation in Spain in the Sixteenth Century." He also reviewed Scott's " Old Mortality," to defend the Covenanters. He opposed Catholic emancipation in 1829, and subsequently took part in the " anti-patronage " controversy. He left an unfinished " Life of Calvin." His son edited a uniform edition of his works (4 vols., Edinburgh, 1856).