Hoosick Township Historical Society

The Brimmer Massacre in 1755

The sign marker shown is located on Indian Massacre Road in the town of Petersburgh. This sign is just after the Paul Green farm on the back road to Vermont in Petersburgh Junction.

I researched the event and found approximately the same story in three different places. At the museum, we have an audio tape of Florence Fonda Sweet done by Christina Stevens. Mrs. Sweet, born in 1896, was a seventh generation decedent of the Brimmer Family that started to live at this farm circa 1754. The sign sets the incident on June 2, 1755, but other sources set the date on June 15.

During the French and Indian War, the settlers in the Hoosick Valley were burned out by war parties on their way to and from Massachusetts. They always had to be on the lookout for the enemy. Mr. John G. Brimmer was at work in his fields with his three sons. Finding an Indian blanket, the father told his sons to get the horse team and head to the main house. As Jeremiah mounted his horse, he was struck by a fatal bullet. Godfrey and Jonathan immediately seized their guns and ran to a brush fence. The Indians found them and after a very short battle, the two sons were captured.

The two boys were marched to St. Johns, Canada. As they were about to be killed, they were spared when an old Indian hunter recognized them as the family that helped him when he was in the Hoosick area. Six weeks later, they were sold as slaves to French officers. After the fall of Quebec in 1759, the boys escaped but were captured by the British near Fort Ticonderoga. Patroon Stephen Van Rensselaer obtained their release. They made their way to Albany and then to their family living in Rhinebeck-on-the-Hudson. The family moved back to the valley where a branch of the family lived for 200 years before the farm was sold. The seven generations were listed with name and birth year by Mrs. Sweet.

In talking to people in the community, I became aware of a Brimmer massacre re-enactment that took place around 1933. With Richard Dix coming to the area, the entire re-enactment became very important. I am told that the schools cooperated and students were an integral part of the action. Richard Dix was a famous actor from 1921 to 1947. Richard Dix’s real name was Ernest Carlton Brimmer, and he was born in St. Paul, Minnesota.

He was one of a few actors that made the transition from silent movies to talking movies. He acted in 97 feature movies and received a Oscar nominated as Best Actor in 1931 for the film “Cimarron.” His last movies were a series of mysteries called the “Whistler.” If anyone has the newspaper accounts of this re-enactment or memorabilia please let us make a copy. It should be part of our Library.

Compiled for HoosickHistory - Phil Leonard - January 2007.