Thomas Quick, Jr (July 19, 1734 – 1795 or 1796) was the son of an early settler in eastern Pennsylvania in colonial America, who became a local folk hero for his exploits as a serial killer of approximately 100 Native Americans after witnessing his father's murder.
Early lifeThomas (Tom) Quick, Jr., was born in Milford, Pennsylvania, on July 19, 1734, the first of at least seven children of Thomas Quick, Sr.and Margrieta Dekker, who had married on December 22, 1713. In 1733, the elder Quicks emigrated from New York to Pennsylvania, where they were among the first white settlers in the Milford area. Tom Sr. built a log cabin, and later a saw mill and a grist mill, on the banks of the Vandemark Creek, which flows into the Delaware River near Milford. Tom grew up with his family, the natives, and other white settlers. He became an expert rifleman, hunter and fisherman, and was adept in many of the native sports. He roamed over all the countryside; this knowledge afterwards became of great service to him in waylaying and murdering natives.
Death of his fatherAs time went by, initial friendliness of the natives was replaced by suspicion, as they became alarmed at the encroachments of the whites. Plotting of the destruction of the entire white population of the Delaware Valley ensued, and the natives watched for an opportunity to put their plans into action. Unsuspecting of this treachery, the Quicks went about their work unarmed. One winter day in February 1756, the elder Tom Quick and 22 year old Tom Jr., together with some other settlers, went up the Delaware River, which was then frozen. They were soon engaged in cutting hoop-poles. As they were at work, they were ambushed by a party of natives, one of whom fired his rifle, mortally wounding Tom's father. The remaining whites escaped, and finding that they were not being pursued, turned cautiously back to see what became of Tom Sr. They heard the scalping war-whoop, and saw the rejoicing of the killers over his prostrate form. It was at this moment that Tom, Jr. resolved that he would avenge the death of his father.
Indian SlayerThereafter, Tom was seldom seen in the settlements and then only long enough to procure powder and balls. He took for himself the title, "The Avenger of the Delaware" and kept count of how many natives he killed. Among others, he apparently killed his father's murderer, thus successfully avenging his father's death. This, however, did not stop Tom from continuing the murdering. Numerous improbable tales of his exploits have been told. In one story, six (or seven?) natives allegedly came across Tom splitting rails, and told him he must go along with them. He said he would if they would help him get the log split in two. They put their fingers in the crack on either side to assist him and he knocked the wedge out, and as their fingers were all fast in the log he knocked their brains out at his leisure.
DeathTom died in about 1795 or 1796. Legend says he died of smallpox, and while on his deathbed, Tom indicated that he had killed 99 natives. He pleaded with the locals to find and bring him one more native to kill; although they did not, the smallpox resulted in more deaths amongst the natives than he had caused while he was alive.
MonumentA monument to Tom Quick was erected in Milford August 28, 1889, and his remains were transferred there. The "Settler's Monument" consisted of a zinc-covered hollow obelisk above a stone base, and was located on a traffic island in the middle of Sarah Street, which is now a side street in Milford. The monument was vandalized in 1997, and the obelisk was eventually put in storage by city officials after objections to its restoration by native Americans. The traffic island remains in place, together with his bones and a plaque.
"There are several inscriptions and emblems on the monument. On the side looking east, there is an emblem of a wreath, and on the die it is stated that Tom Quick was the first white child born within the limits of the Borough of Milford; on the base next the die is "Tom Quick, the Indian Slayer" or "The Avenger of the Delaware." On the side of the monument looking south, is a tomahawk, canoe paddle, scalping knife, wampum, and an inscription which states that, maddened by the death of his father, he never abated his hostility to the Indians till his death, 40 years afterwards. On the base next the die, it states the time and place of his death; that he was buried on the farm of James Rosencrantz on the banks of the Delaware five miles from this spot, on what is now "The Rose Cemetery," two miles south of Matamoras; that his remains were taken up on the 110th anniversary of the Battle of Minisink, July 22nd, 1889, and placed beneath this monument. On the north side on the shaft is a plow, and an inscription stating where his father came from and when he settled there; that he was the first white settler in this part of the upper Delaware, and that his log cabin, saw mill and grist mill were the first structures erected by white men in the settlement of this region. On the base is a statement that after a peaceful residence of twenty years with the Indians, Thomas Quick was shot and scalped by his supposed friends who were lying in ambush along the bluff on the south side of the mouth of the Van de Mark, and a half mile east of his home. On the west side is "Old Glory" on a standard partly unfurled, and on the die is an inscription which states that this monument was erected by a descendant of Thomas Quick of the fourth generation; in youth, a resident of Milford; in age, one of the founders of the Chicago Tribune, who was from 1865 to 1869, Lieut. Governor of Illinois, and also an inscription which reads: "Done under the direction of Rev. A. S. Gardner, Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Milford, 1889." (From Tom Quick - Indian Slayer, Theo. D. Schoonmaker, Esq)
MiscellanyNoel Stookey wrote a song about Tom Quick and the monument, which he called the "sorry sign." A hotel in Milford, built in 1882, is named the Tom Quick Inn; there is no information about the inn's namesake at their website.
- Thomas (Indian Slayer) Quick At Long Island Genealogy
- History of Pike County Chapter V Borough of Milford
- Tom Quick - Indian Slayer, Theo. D. Schoonmaker, Esq, 1904
- Tom Quick, Indian Slayer At Genealogy Your Way
- Tom Quick At noelpaulstookey.com
- Tom Quick Inn "An 1882 Victorian structure is well recognized for its excellent food, warm atmosphere, courteous service and beautiful rooms"
- What to do about Tom Quick At The River Reporter
- History of Pike County Chapter V Borough of Milford 1886
- Tom Quick, or The Foundation and the Capstone 1889
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