« PreviousContinue »
231 Upon the 16th of April in this year, was born at Salem upon the Muskingum river, Mary Heckewelder, daughter of the widely known Moravian missionary - the earliest born of white American children, who first saw the light north of the Ohio; and in her language rather than our own, we now give some incidents relative to the Christian Delawares and their teachers.
Soon after my birth, times becoming very troublesome, the settlements were often in danger from war parties ; and finally, in the begin. ning of September of the same year, we were all made prisoners. First, four of the missionaries were seized by a party of Huron warriors, and declared prisoners of war; they were then led into the camp of the Delawares, where the death-song was sung over them. Soon after they had secured them, a number of warriors marched off for Salem and Shoenbrun.* About thirty savages arrived at the former place in the dusk of the evening, and broke open the mission house. Here they took my mother and myself prisoners, and having led her into the street and placed guards over her, they plundered the house of every thing they could take with them and destroyed what was left. Then going to take my mother along with them, the savages were prevailed upon, through the intercession of the Indian semales, to let her remain at Salem till the next morning—the night being dark and rainy and almost impossible for her to travel so far-they at last consented on condition that she should be bronght into the camp the next morning, which was accordingly done, and she was safely conducted by our Indians to Gnadenhutten.
After experiencing the cruel treatment of the savages for some time, they were set at liberty again; but were obliged to leave their flourishing settlements, and forced to march through a dreary wilderness to Upper Sandusky. We went by land through Goseachguenk to the Walholding, and then partly by water and partly along the banks of the river, to Sandusky Creek. All the way I was carried by an Indian woman, carefully wrapped in a blanket, on her back. Our journey was exceedingly tedious and dangerous; some of the canoes sunk, and those that were in them lost all their provisions and every thing they had saved. Those that went by land drove the cattle, a pretty large herd. The savages now drove us along, the missionaries with their families usually in their midst, surrounded by their Indian converts. The roads were exceedingly bad, leading through a continuation of swamps.
Having arrived at Upper Sandusky, they built small huts of logs and bark to screen them from the cold, having neither beds nor blankets, and being reduced to the greatest poverty and want ; for the savages
• Moravian Towns.
Treatment of the Moravians.
had by degrees stolen almost every thing, both from the missionaries and Indians, on the journey. We lived here extremely poor, oftentimes very little or nothing to satisfy the cravings of hunger; and the poorest of the Indians were obliged to live upon their dead cattle, which died for want of pasture.*
To this account by one who is, from her age at the time, but a second-hand witness, we may add the following particulars. We have already mentioned the rise of the Christian-Indian towns upon the Muskingum. During the wars between the northwest savages and the Pennsylvania and Virginia frontier-men, the quiet converts of Post, Zeisberger, and Heckewelder had any other than a pleasant position. The Wyandots thought they betrayed the red men's interests to their religious white kinsfolk; the pale-faced Indian-haters of the Kenawha, doubted as little that the “praying” Delawares played them false, and favored the fierce warriors of the lakes.f Little by little these suspicions and jealousies assumed form, and the missionaries having actually been guilty of the crime of interpreting to the Delaware chiefs, certain letters received from Pittsburgh, measures were taken by the English, as early it seems, as 1779, to remove them from the American borders, and thus prevent their interference. No result followed at that time from the steps alluded to; but in 1780 or '81, the Iroquois were asked at a council held at Niagara to remove the Muskingum Christians, as the settlements were in the country claimed by the Five Nations. The New York savages were perfectly willing the thing should be done, but were not willing to do it themselves, so they sent to the Ottawas and Chippewayst a message to the effect that they might have the Moravian congregations to make soup of. The Ottawas in their turn declined the treat and sent the message to the Hurons, or, as they are most commonly called, the Wyandots. These, together with Captain Pipe, the war chief of the Delawares, who was the enemy of the missionaries because they taught peace, carried the wish of the English into execution, in the manner narrated by the daughter of the Moravian leader. At Detroit, whither four of the Europeans were taken in October, Heckewelder and his co-laborers were
* American Pioneer, ii. 224.
+ In Oct. 1777, a party of Americans crossed the Ohio to attack the Moravian towns.Heckewelder's Narrative, 165.
# The Ojibbeways or Odjibways, as it is lately written in conformity with the true sound and old writing.–Schoolcraft's Algic Researches. American State Papers, V. 707.718.
233 tried; but as even Captain Pipe could find no other charge against them than that of interpreting the American letters above referred to, they were discharged and returned to their families at Sandusky, toward the close of November.*
While the English and their red allies were thus persecuting the poor Moravians and their disciples on the one hand, the Americans were preparing to do the same thing, only, as the event proved, in a much more effectual style. In the spring of 1781, Colonel Brodhead led a body of troops against some of the hostile Delawares, upon the Muskingum. This, a portion of his followers thought, would be an excellent opportunity to destroy the Moravian towns, and it was with difficulty he could withhold them. He sent word to Heckewelder, and tried to prevent any attack upon the members of his flock. In this attempt he appears to have succeeded; but he did not, perhaps could not, prevent the slaughter of the troops taken from the hostile Delawares. First, sixteen were killed, and then nearly twenty. A chief, who came under assurances of safety to Brodhead's camp, was also murdered by a noted partisan, named Wetzel.t From that time, the Virginians rested, until autumn, when the frontier men, led by Colonel David Williamson, marched out expressly against the towns of the christian Delawares; but they found that the Hurons had preceded them, and the huts and fields of the friends of peace were deserted. I
The particular cause of this attempt on the part of the Americans was the series of attacks made during this year by small bands of Indians, along the whole range of stations, from Laurel Hill to Green river. The details of these incursions may be found in Withers' Border Warfare, 225, and Marshall's Kentucky, I. 115. Among these details, the mass of which we, of necessity, omit, is the following, which seems worthy of especial notice. Squire Boone's station, near Shelbyville, being very much exposed, those within it determined to seek a place of greater security: while on their way to the Beargrass settlements they were attacked by the Indians. Colonel Floyd, hearing of this,
See a full account in Heckewelder's Narrative, 230—299. + Heckewelder's Narrative, 214.-Doddridge, 291, (the date is in this account 1780, but we presume wrongly./Border Warfare, 219; Withers follows Doddridge, but both draw from Heckewelder, who says 1781.–For a full acceunt of Lewis Wetzel, the very embodiment of the most reckless class of frontier men, see Cist's Cincinnati Miscellany, i. 121, 161, 169, 177.
# Border Warfare, 229. Doddridge, 262.
1781. hastened with twenty-five men against the enemy, but fell into an ambuscade of two hundred savages, and lost half his men. Among those in his party was Captain Samuel Wells, with whom Floyd had been for some time at feud. This gentleman, as he retreated, saw his superior officer, but personal foe, on foot, nearly exhausted, and hard pressed by the invaders, on the point of falling a sacrifice to their fury; instantly dismounting, he forced Colonel Floyd to take his place in the saddle, and being himself fresh, ran by the side of the horse, supporting the fainting rider, and saved the lives of both. It will readily be believed their enmity closed with that day.*
In addition to the incursions by the northern Indians, this year witnessed the risings of the Chickasaws against Fort Jefferson, which, as we have said, had been unwisely built in their country, without leave asked. The attack was made under the direction of Colbert, a Scotchman, who had acquired great influence with the tribe, and whose descendants have since been among their influential chiefs. The garrison were few in number, sickly, and half starved; but some among them were fool-hardy and wicked enough to fire at Colbert, when under a flag of truce, which provoked the savages beyond all control, and had not Clark arrived with reinforcements, the Chickasaws would probably have had all the scalps of the intruders. As it was, the fort was relieved, but was soon after abandoned, as being too far from the settlements, and of very little use at any rate.
Meantime the internal organization of Kentucky was proceeding rapidly. Floyd, Logan, and Todd were made county Lieutenants of Jefferson, Lincoln, and Fayette, with the rank of Colonel; while William Pope, Stephen Trigg, and Daniel Boone, were made Lieutenant Colonels, to act for the others in case of need. Clark was made Brigadier General, and placed at the head of military affairs, his head quarters being at the Falls, between which point and the Licking he kept a row galley going, to intercept parties of Indians, though to very little purpose. George May, who had been surveyor for the whole county of Kentucky, after the division had Jefferson assigned him ; while Thomas Marshall was appointed to the same post in Fayette, and James Thompson in Lincoln. Of the three, however, only the last
* Butler, 2d edition, 115.—Marshall, i. 115.—Marshall, says this took place in April, Butler in September, and refers to Colonel F.'s MS. letters.
+ Butler, 2d edition, 119.
235 opened his office during this year, and great was the discontent of those waiting to enter the fertile lands of the two counties which were thus kept out of their reach; a discontent ten-fold the greater in consequence of the laws of Virginia in relation to her depreciated currency, the effect of which was to make land cost in specie only half a cent an acre.
One other event will close the western annals of 1781, and no more important event has yet been chronicled: it was the large emigration of
into a region abounding in young unmarried men; its natural result was the rapid increase of population.f And here, in imitation of the first historian of Kentucky, we may properly, introduce some notice of the modes of life prevailing at that early period.
Then, the women did the offices of the household ; milked the cows, cooked the mess, prepared the flax, spun, wove, and made the garment of linen or linsey; the men hunted, and brought in the meat; they planted, ploughed, and gathered in the corn ; grinding it into meal at the hand-mill, or pounding it into hominy in the mortar, was occasionally the work of either, or the joint labor of both. The men exposed themselves alone to danger; they fought the Indians, they cleared the land, they reared the hut, or built the fort, in which the women were placed for safety. Much use was made of the skins of deer for dress ; while the buffalo and bear skins were consigned to the floor, for beds and covering. There might incidentally, be a few articles brought to the country for sale, in a private way; but there was no store for supply. Wooden vessels, either turned or coopered, were in common use as table furniture. A tin cup was an article of delicate luxury, almost as rare as an iron fork. Every hunter carried his knife; it was no less the implement of a warrior: not unfrequently the rest of the family was left with but one or two for the use of all. A like workmanship composed the table and the stool ; a slab, hewed with the axe, and sticks of a similar manufacture, set in for legs, supported both, When the bed was by chance or refinement, elevated above the floor, and given a fixed place, it was often laid on slabs placed across poles, supported on forks, set in the earthen foor; or where the floor was puncheons, the bedstead was hewed pieces, pinned on upright posts, or let into them by auger holes. Other utensils and furniture, were of a corresponding description, applicable to the time.
The food was of the most wholesome and nutritive kind. The richest milk, the finest butter, and best meat, that ever delighted man's palate, were here eaten with a relish which health and labor only * Marshall, i. 124.
+ Ibid, 122.