This article about Maria Schell has been transcribed from the original and contributed by Carol and Charles Marston. Does anyone know the complete article, date, author, and paper?


The Angel at the Gate of this little Schell's Bush Blockhouse was none other than Maria Petree Schell. May God Bless her! And Maria Schell it was, who with the echo of every barking gun rushed to replace the exploded charge.

But loading muskets of that period was not the simple process of the present. To eject an exploded shell and insert a new one in the rifle of today takes no time at all. But there was nothing of that in the guns of the Schell Blockhouse. Henry Quackenbush and the Remington boys had yet to dawn in Herkimer County.

So, Maria Schell's job was far more complicated. First in order, the powder had to be measured out and poured in the muzzle of the gun. Then it must be wadded and rammed down. Next, the shot had to be inserted in the same way. And that, too, wadded and rammed down. Finally a percussion cap had to replace the one exploded. With every discharge this process had to be repeated. And all of this gruelling service we owe to that great-hearted defender of her embattled home, Maria Petree Schell. This is why the Savages were so often forced to seek safety in the forest.

The Lady of the Blockhouse.

My Mother insisted that Maria Schell was a daughter of Johan Joost Petree, militant Patriot of the Mohawk valley. This is not confirmed in Herkimer, but Cutter's Genealogical History has: "Johan Joost Petree died in 1770, leaving four daughters. One of the daughters married John Christian Schell, hero of Schell's Bush." Mother was so proud of the heroism of Maria Petree Schell. There never was any (---). Thought, quite so good as (---) of the Blockhouse. Mother never tired telling of the thrilling deeds of that invincible lady, of the (---). (unreadable text.) Mother love which stood adamant against every foe, which gave her all in every crisis. It matters not, she said, where we are, or when, thoughts of Mother will well up and fill and overflow until consciousness is submerged in the flood of precious memories that surge with the calm assurance, the blessed peace, of Mother love.

We may rear monuments to our Mothers. We may engrave their virtues in granite and bronze, but art has no element that can incarnate the dear form we know as Mother. Like the tendrils of that illimitable love with which our lives are intertwined with each passing day.

Lady Blasts The Battering Ram
Then Mother described the ferocious battering ram of the Savages. Cutting down a straight sizable sappling at the edge of the forest, they lopped off the limbs and top, making a formidable weapon about sixty feet long. The fifty husky Red skins, twenty -five on each side, grabbed that log and started on a madly plunging dash for the Blockhouse door. But there was one very important factor with which the Indian failed to reckon. "The Angel at the Gate". With the savages plunging headlong, butt-ended for the door, Maria Petree Schell grabbed her ready guns and with unerring aim brought down the leading Red skins on each side of the log, fumbling things topsy turvy and forcing the rest of the onrushing mob to drop their battering ram and run. Three times that exploit was repeated and every time, Maria Schell's faithful guns proved an insurmountable barrier between her front door and the infuriated savage mob. The Indians did not pause to pick up the debris.

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Last Updated: 3/12/97
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