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Big Indian - TravelStorys

Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway

Location Trip Time Travel Type
New York 1.5 hour

Big Indian

MaryLou Stapleton has deep family roots in the Big Indian Oliverea Valley. She recounts the legend of Winnisook: Big Indian's namesake. MaryLou: Big Indian was named after an Algonquin Indian who was 7 foot tall. His name was Winnisook, and he was in love with one of the settler's daughters. Her name was Gertrude Molyneux. The Molyneux family did not want their daughter with the savage Indian. So they arranged a marriage with a man named Joe Bundy. Joe Bundy and Gertrude lived for quite a while on this farm, but Joe Bundy was a mean, nasty man, and Winnisook knew this. So he kept showing himself, and eventually Gertrude snuck out after Joe Bundy passed out, or whatever he did after drinking too much. And she started meeting him up in the mountains, and eventually he talked her into moving and running away. And in those days the Indians used to take the cows from the settlers. If they needed food, they would have a raid and they would just go take some cows from some of the farmers. So one day, the Indians did a raid. Who should Joe Bundy come across, but Winnisook, face to face. And he says, "This man not only took my cow, he took my wife!" So he was really mad, so he took out his gun and he shot him right through the heart. And Winnisook was able to ride on his horse to a tree, which was over by the Big Indian Market over here and he crawled in the tree and he died. Gertrude took her children and they lived the rest of their days around that tree where Winnisook was. And one day, when they put the railroad in, they cut the tree down, and what should come out but this great big skeleton of an Indian. And they said, "Well, I guess we have the name of our town now. It's called Big Indian." I used to do events at my store. I would do a little event called, "Celebration of the Big Indian." I would have vendors and I would have drumming. It was the last time that we did it and it was a lot of people there. I came home and I was just exhausted. And at three o'clock in the morning I woke up and it was like someone was calling me. I went back down to the store and I circle there, and I actually saw a vision. I saw all very, very old Indians dancing in a circle. And they were calling me. So I went in the circle and I danced for two hours, until 5 in the morning, and I was with all these native people. And I came back home and I went to bed. A few months after that, I was given my name, and it was "Spirit Dancer." That was pretty amazing... That was pretty amazing.

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