John Christian Shell
Conversations of Abm M. Casler, & his sister Mrs. Howard Fuller, of Cold Spring, Cattaraugus Co: NY. Feb. 17-'50
Shell's Defence - Shell's block-house was four miles from Fort Dayton in a northerly direction, on the height of land. Shell & 3 sons with him - two of whom were grown - were at work in the field, seeing the Indians, they all escaped to the house. (Another grown son of Shell's was then in the main army with Gen. Washington). Two young twin sons about 7 or 8 years old, were out playing some distance from the house, in a different direction from the others. Several Indians persued them on their flight towards the house - a large dog with the boys kept between them & the Indians & kept the latter somewhat at bay, - & probably wd. have escaped but for a fence near the house, in climbing which they were overtaken & captured.
The house was made fast - the small children put under the bed; & guns and ammunition brought speeding into requisition. An Indian fell dead close to the house; Shell & his sond pulled up the floor, only a hole under the sill & pulled in the dead body, & got his powder horn - & then replenished their scanty supply of powder. Afterwards wounded McDonald, & drew him in, & also got his ammunition.
The Indians made several attempts to fire the house, but could not succeed in making the fire burn. While fighting Shell kept singing his hymn (not go up stairs, as Stone says, to sing it) - but sung & fought together, combining faith & works; & the battle continued until after dark, when it began to slacken. Shell arranged a ruse - & stole out & crept off some distance & ascended a tree, & called out in a loud voice - "Shell! hold out - Capt. Small is coming to your relief: which way had he & his men better approach?" One of the boys, as concerted, made the necessary reply. The Tories & Indians hearing this, made themselves scarce. Shell now returned, packed up his valuables, & with his family left for Fort Dayton. McDonald was left in the house with victuals before: Shell was apprehensive that the enemy might return, perhaps with a reinforcement. Next morning a party came from the fort, conveyed McDonald there - he soon after died of his wound. McDonald knew Shell before the war- & knowing the patriotic ardor of the family, their destruction was attempted.
The next year John Christian Shell, the head of this family, was killed in harvest time- his two grown sons then taking turns in guarding the field. A party of Indians stole upon the Shells, killing the old man & mortally wounding one of the sons - who, however, still kept loading & firing, determined with his brother to protect their father from being scalped. The other brother also kept up a brisk firing - The Indians drew off through the wheat, the Shells being in the open field. Signs were afterwards discovered in the wheat where the Indians had dragged off their dead or wounded.
The Casler family is related to the Shells.
John Fults, Sr. - Eaton's Bush P.O., Herkimer Co: N.Y. (or Little Falls, if there is no P.O. at Eaton's Bush) can tell of John Shell, a descendant of John Christian Shell: Fultz, Shell & Geo. Bellinger, all reside in the same neighborhood, & all married sisters of my informants' father. - Richd Casler (uncle informants) if living, resides near Fultz - was in Oriskany & Johnstown battles.
SOURCE:LYMAN DRAPER MANUSCRIPTS, WISCONSIN HISTORICAL SOCIETY, WISCONSIN, SERIES F, VOL. 10, pp 127-130.