The month of September holds a number of dates associated with the historical tale of the Boyd-Parker Ambush – today is one of the few that actually has a positive note to it. On September 17, 1927, the Livingston County Historical Society dedicated the Boyd and Parker Wayside Shrine. The event drew a large crowd and brought attention to a place of historical significance that had largely been forgotten for decades. The creation of the shrine eventually led to what is now Boyd & Parker Memorial Park.
The story of what happened to Lt. Thomas Boyd and Sgt. Michael Parker is one of the most gruesome tales to come out of the American Revolutionary War. I can recall my seventh grade history teacher, Mr. Dumas, telling my fellow classmates and I the gory details of the tortures visited upon these two men who had the misfortune of being captured by Chief Little Beard's Seneca tribe. It was so extreme, that I thought he was embellishing the story. I found out decades later that he hadn't embellished a bit. I was also surprised to find out that the story didn't end with their agonizingly prolonged deaths, but continued with with tales of grave robbery, conspiracy accusations, and human remains dug up and denied proper burial for more than two decades (and even once finally buried, were dug up yet again).
A large bur oak (pictured in the background of the photo above) that still stands in the park is believed to be the tree which played an incredibly sickening role in the final moments of Boyd and Parker back in 1779. Estimated at over 240-years-old, it is known as the Torture Tree. It looms over the park, an ancient reminder of the horrors of war and the painful sacrifice that likely prevented an ambush of General Sullivan's army by British Loyalists and their Native American allies.