First School Shooting in America in 1764, Enoch Brown School Massacre

enoch brown

First School Shooting in America in 1764, Enoch Brown School Massacre.

Enoch Brown School Massacre

As horrific as school shootings and school massacres are in modern times, they are not a new phenomenon in the United States. In fact, the massacre that occurred at the School of Enoch Brown may not even be the first, but it is the first to be recorded.

Schools have been a prime target of people upset with government policies since before the declaration of independence was written. America’s first (known) school massacre occurred in Pennsylvania, in the midst of The Pontiac’s War. A full 12 years before the declaration of independence was written in 1776.

The First School Shooting in America, Enoch Brown School Massacre.

In 1764, three Native American warriors entered the log schoolhouse of Enoch Brown. They were not carrying guns, instead they carried the Native American warriors preferred weapons at the time, a stone maul and scalping knives. They were deadly serious on their intent to use them that day.

The school’s lone teacher, Enoch Brown, pleaded with the warriors to kill him and to spare the lives of his students. The attacking warriors were in no mood to negotiate and proceeded to savagely club and scalp Enoch Brown and all eleven of his students.

Stone maul like the one used at enoch brown
Stone Maul like the ones presumably used by the attacking warriors at the School of Enoch Brown.

Enoch Brown, and ten of his young students would die that day. Only one child, Archie McCullough, would survive being clubbed with the stone maul before being scalped. His account of the Enoch Brown School Massacre is below.

“Two old Indians and a young Indian rushed up to the door soon after the opening of the morning session. The master, surmising their objective, prayed to them only to take his life and spare the children, but all were brutally knocked in the head with an Indian maul and scalped”

Statement given by Archie McCullough after the massacre. Although he was also clubbed and scalped, he survived the injuries.

The day before the Massacre at the school of Enoch Brown…

The same warriors who, the next day, would enter the school of Enoch Brown and perpetrate the first school massacre in American history, encountered a pregnant woman, Susan King Cunningham. They beat her to death with stone mauls/clubs, scalped her, cut the baby from her body and left her on the road dead.

Scalping knife
Traditional Native American Scalping knife

After the Enoch Brown School Massacre the warriors were called cowards by tribal elders.

When the warriors returned to Delaware tribes village on the Muskingum River in the Ohio Country and showed the scalps from the massacre at Enoch Brown, their chief rebuked them as cowards, the worst disgrace given to Native American warriors, for attacking children.

John McCullough, a settler who had been held prisoner by the Delaware Tribe since 1756, later described the return of the raiding party in his captivity narrative:

I saw the Indians when they returned home with the scalps; some of the old Indians were very much displeased at them for killing so many children, especially Neep-paugh’-whese, or Night Walker, an old chief, or half king,—he ascribed it to cowardice, which was the greatest affront he could offer them.

According to The Pennsylvania Rambler the story of the Enoch Brown School Massacre goes something like this.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary that morning as eleven students arrived at the schoolhouse for their lessons.

The students included two girls and nine boys – Archie McCullough, Ruth Hale, Ruth Hart, Eben Taylor, George Dustan, two boys of the Dean family, plus four others whose names have unfortunately been forgotten over the years.

According to local legend, a number of students skipped class for one reason or another that morning, sparing their lives.

If the legend is true, then at least six children, if not more, had strange reasons as to why they were not in class – ranging from stopping to watch people cut hay to one girl who had a strange feeling of dread.

One of the students who supposedly skipped school that day was a young James Poe, who would later become a noted Indian fighter on the Pennsylvania frontier.

The horrific scene of America’s first school shooting/massacre was discovered a couple hours later by a passerby who was curious as to why the schoolhouse seemed so quiet. Looking inside the building, the terrible atrocity was discovered – Enoch Brown lay butchered in the center of the room, still holding onto the Bible he taught from.

Around him were ten of the eleven students who attended class that day. The room was a bloody mess and the mangled bodies were lying in a large pool of blood.

Upon discovering this dreadful sight, the passerby ran to spread word. Soon families and neighbors arrived to claim their dead. A search of the area would discover the missing child who had survived the massacre.

Archie McCullough was discovered washing his bloody, scalped head at the nearby spring that provided water for the schoolhouse.

Archie would later tell of how Enoch Brown offered his life for the safety of the children and how the trio attacked the defenseless children anyway. Archie was struck on the head with a stone maul and had a portion of his scalp brutally ripped away.

Once the raiders left the building Archie managed to hide himself behind the fireplace, afraid the Delawares warriors would discover they had failed to kill him.

After he was convinced they were gone, Archie crawled from the schoolhouse to the nearby spring where searchers discovered him. Traumatized, it was said, Archie would never be the same again.

The families of the victims had a large box constructed and Enoch and the ten children would be buried in a mass grave near the schoolhouse.

The First Mass Murder in a US School was is 1764, 1st School Massacre.
Marker for the “Enoch Brown School Massacre” near Greencastle, Pennsylvania.

Sadly, most residents forgot about the massacre and the mass burial of Enoch Brown and his pupils. Those familiar with the story thought it was merely a legend, because no identifiable grave could be located near the old schoolhouse.

It would not be until the mid-1840s when the common grave was discovered. They marked the grave with four locust trees.

In the spring of 1883, the four locust trees were cut down and, fearing the grave would be lost, a group of local men offered to purchase the land.

On August 4, 1885, a granite marker was erected in honor of the victims of the Enoch Brown School massacre and at the location where the schoolhouse once stood, a memorial to the tragic events was placed.

Farther down the hollow from the grave site is the spring where Archie was discovered and it now bears his name.

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First School Shooting in America in 1764, Enoch Brown School Massacre.