Big Indian legend is standing tall
The following is an account of the Big Indian legend by author and 19th-century newspaperman Charles M. Skinner. It appears in his book Myths and Legends of Our Own Land, published in 1896.
“In the Esopus Valley lived Winnisook, whose height was seven feet, and who was known among white settlers as “The Big Indian.” He loved a white girl of the neighborhood, one Gertrude Molyneux, and had asked for her hand; but while she was willing, the objections of her family were too strong to overcome, and she was teased into marriage with Joseph Bundy, of her own race, instead.
She liked the Indian all the better after that, however, because Bundy proved to be a bad fellow, and believing that she could be happier among barbarians than among a people that approved such marriages, she eloped with Winnisook.
For a long time all trace of the runaway couple was lost, but one day the man having gone down to the plain to steal cattle, it was alleged, was discovered by some farmers who knew him, and who gave hot chase, coming up with him at the place now called Big Indian.
Foremost in the chase was Bundy. As he came near to the enemy of his peace he exclaimed, “I think the best way to civilize that yellow serpent is to let daylight into his heart,” and, drawing his rifle to his shoulder, he fired. Mortally wounded, yet instinctively seeking refuge, the giant staggered into the hollow of a pine tree, where the farmers lost sight of him. There, however, he was found by Gertrude, bolt upright, yet dead.
The unwedded widow brought her dusky children to the place and spent the remainder of her days near his grave. Until a few years ago the tree was still pointed out, but a railroad company has now covered it with an embankment.”