Stories Of Ohio - 1897
by William Dean Howells
1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse


By William Dean Howells

Copyright, 1897, by American Book Company.


In the following stories, drawn from the annals of Ohio, I have tried to possess the reader with a knowledge, in outline at least, of the history of the State from the earliest times. I cannot suppose that I have done this with unfailing accuracy in respect to fact, but with regard to the truth, I am quite sure of my purpose at all times to impart it.

The books which have been of most use to me in writing this are the histories of Francis Parkman; the various publications of Messrs. Robert Clarke and Co. in the "Ohio Valley Series"; McClung's "Sketches of Western Adventure"; "Ohio" (in the American Commonwealths Series) by Ruf us King; "History and Civil Government of Ohio," by B. A. Hinsdale and Mary Hinsdale; "Beginnings of Literary Culture in the Ohio Valley," by W. H. Venable; Theodore Roosevelt's "Winning of the West"; Whitelaw Reid's "Ohio in the War"; and above all others, the delightful and inexhaustible volumes of Henry Howe's "Historical Collections of Ohio."

W. D. H.


I. The Ice Folk and the Earth Folk

II. Ohio as a Part of France

III. Ohio becomes English

IV. The Forty Years' War for the West

V. The Captivity of James Smith

VI. The Captivity of Boone and Kenton

VII. The Renegades

VIII. The Wickedest Deed in our History

IX. The Torture of Colonel Crawford

X. The Escape of Knight and Slover

XI. The Indian Wars and St. Clair's Defeat

XII. The Indian Wars and Wayne's Victory

XIII. Indian Fighters

XIV. Later Captivities

XV. Indian Heroes and Sages

XVI. Life in the Backwoods

XVII. The First Great Settlements

XVIII. The State of Ohio in the War of 1812

XIX. A Foolish Man, a Philosopher, and a Fanatic

XX. Ways Out

XXI. The Fight with Slavery

XXII. The Civil War in Ohio

XXIII. Famous Ohio Soldiers

XXIV. Ohio Statesmen

XXV. Other Notable Ohioans

XXVI. Incidents and Characteristics



The first Ohio stories are part of the common story of the wonderful Ice Age, when a frozen deluge pushed down from the north, and covered a vast part of the earth's surface with slowly moving glaciers. The traces that this age left in Ohio are much the same as it left elsewhere, and the signs that there were people here ten thousand years ago, when the glaciers began to melt and the land became fit to live in again, are such as have been found in the glacier drift in many other countries. Even before the ice came creeping southwestwardly from the region of Niagara, and passed over two thirds of our state, from Lake Erie to the Ohio River there were people here of a race older than the hills, as the hills now are; for the glaciers ground away the hills as they once were, and made new ones, with new valleys between them, and new channels for the streams to run where there had never been water courses before. These earliest Ohioans must have been the same as the Ohioans of the Ice Age, and when they had fled southward before the glaciers, they must have followed the retreat of the melting ice back into Ohio again. No one knows how long they dwelt here along its edges in a climate like that of Greenland, where the glaciers are now to be seen as they once were in the region of Cincinnati. But it is believed that these Ice Folk, as we may call them, were of the race which still roams the Arctic snows. They seem to have lived as the Eskimos of our day live: they were hunters and fishers, and in the gravelly banks of the new rivers, which the glaciers upheaved, the Ice Folk dropped the axes of chipped stone which are now found there. They left nothing else behind them; but similar tools or weapons are found in the glacier-built river banks of Europe, and so it is thought that the race of the earliest Ohio men lived pretty much all over the world in the Ice Age.

One of the learned writers[*] who is surest of them and has told us most about them, holds that they were for their time and place as worthy ancestors as any people could have; and we could well believe this because the Ohio man has, in all ages, been one of the foremost men.

* Professor G. F. Wright.

Our Ice Folk were sturdy, valiant, and cunning enough to cope with the fierce brute life and the terrible climate of their day, but all they have left to prove it is the same kind of stone axes that have been found in the drift of the glaciers, along the water courses in Northern France and Southern England.

Our Ice Folk must have dressed like their far-descended children, the Eskimos, in furs and skins, and like them they must have lived upon fish and the flesh of wild beasts. The least terrible of these beasts would have been the white bear; the mammoth and mastodon were among the animals the Ice Folk hunted for game, and slew without bows or arrows, for there was no wood to make these of. The only weapon the Ice Folk had was the stone ax which they may have struck into their huge prey when they came upon it sleeping or followed in the chase till it dropped with fatigue. Such an ax was dug up out of the glacial terrace, as the bank of this drift is called, in the valley of the Tuscarawas, in 1889, perhaps ten thousand years after it was left there. It was wrought from a piece of black flint, four inches long and two inches wide; at the larger end it was nearly as thick as it was wide, and it was chipped to a sharp edge all round. Within the present year another of the Ice Folk's axes has been found near New London, twenty-two feet under ground, in the same kind of glacial drift as the first. But it seems to have been made of a different kind of stone, and to have been so deeply rotted by the long ages it had been buried that when its outer substance was scratched away, hardly anything of the hard green rock was left.

After the glaciers were gone, the Ohio climate was still very cold, and vast lakes stretched over the state, freezing in the long winters, and thawing in the short summers. One of these spread upward from the neighborhood of Akron to the east and west of where Cleveland stands; but by far the largest flooded nearly all that part of Ohio which the glaciers failed to cover, from beyond where Pittsburg is to where Cincinnati is. At the last point a mighty ice dam formed every winter till as the climate grew warmer and the ice thawed more and more, the waters burst the dam, and poured their tide down the Ohio River to the Mississippi, while those of the northern lake rushed through the Cuyahoga to Lake Erie, and both lakes disappeared forever. For the next four or five thousand years the early Ohio men kept very quiet; but we need not suppose for that reason that there were none. Our Ice Folk, who dropped their stone axes in the river banks, may have passed away with the Ice Age, or they may have remained in Ohio, and begun slowly to take on some faint likeness of civilization. There is nothing to prove that they went, and there is nothing to prove that they staid; but Ohio must always have been a pleasant place to live in after the great thaw, and it seems reasonable to think that the Ice Folk lingered, in part at least, and changed with the changing climate, and became at last the people who left the signs of their presence in almost every part of the state.

Those were the Mound Builders, whose works are said to be two or three thousand years old, though we cannot be very sure of that. There are some who think that the mounds are only a few hundred years old, and that their builders were the race of red men whom the white men found here. One may think very much as one likes, and I like to think that the Mound Builders were a very ancient people, who vanished many ages before the Indians came here. They could not have been savages, for the region where they dwelt could not have fed savages enough to heap up the multitude of their mounds. Each wild man needs fifty thousand acres to live upon, as the wild man lives by hunting and fishing; in the whole Ohio country, the earliest white adventurers found only two or three thousand Indians at the most; and the people who built those forts and temples and tombs, and shaped from the earth the mighty images of their strange bird-gods and reptile-gods, could have lived only by tilling the soil. Their mounds are found everywhere in the west between the Alleghany Mountains and the Mississippi River, but they are found mostly in Ohio, where their farms and gardens once bordered the Muskingum, the Scioto, the two Miamis, and our other large streams, which they probably used as highways to the rivers of the southwest.

Their forts were earthworks, but they were skillfully planned, with a knowledge which no savage race has shown. They were real strongholds, and they are so large that some of them inclose hundreds of acres within walls of earth which still rise ten and twelve feet from the ground. They are on a far grander scale than the supposed temples or religious works; and there are more of them than of all the other ruins, except the small detached mounds, which are almost numberless.

These, from the charred bones found among the ashes in them, are known to be tombs, and they were probably the sepulchers of the common people, whose bodies were burned. The large mounds are heaped above walled chambers, and in these were platforms, supposed to have been altars, and whole skeletons, supposed to be the skeletons of priests buried there. The priests are supposed to have been the chiefs of the people, and to have ruled them through their superstitions; but there is nothing to prove this, for their laws were never put in written words or any other sign of speech. In some of the mounds little figures of burnt clay have been found, which may be idols, and pieces of ancient pottery, which may be fragments of sacred vessels, and small plates of copper, with marks or scratches on them, which may be letters. Some antiquarians have tried to read these letters, if they are letters, and to make sense out of them, but no seeker after true Ohio stories can trust their interpretations.

The Mound Builders used very little stone and showed no knowledge of masonry. But they built so massively out of the earth, that their works have lasted to this day in many places, just as they left them, except for the heavy growth of trees, which the first settlers found covering them, and which were sometimes seven or eight hundred years old. At Marietta, these works when the white people came were quite perfect and inclosed fifty acres on the bank of the Muskingum, overlooking the Ohio. They were in great variety of design. The largest mound was included in the grounds of the present cemetery, and so has been saved, but the plow of the New England emigrant soon passed over the foundations of the Mound Builders' temples. At Circleville the shape of their fortifications gave its name to the town, which has long since hid them from sight. One of them was almost perfectly round, and the other nearly square. The round fort was about seventy feet in diameter, and was formed of two walls twenty feet high, with a deep ditch between; the other fort was fifty-five rods square, and it had no ditch; seven gateways opened into it at the side and corners, and it was joined to the round fort by an eighth. It is forever to be regretted that these precious ancient works should have been destroyed to make place for the present town; but within a few years one of the most marvelous of the Mound Builders' works, the great Serpent Mound near Loudon, in Adams County, has been preserved to after time by the friends of science, and put in the keeping of the Peabody Museum at Harvard University.

The state of Ohio has passed a law protecting the land around it as a park, and there is now reason to hope that the mound will last as long as the rocky bluff on which the serpent lies coiled. This huge idol is more than twelve hundred feet long, and is the most wonderful symbol in the world of the serpent worship, which was everywhere the earliest religion of our race.

The largest military ruin is the famous Fort Ancient in Warren County, where, on a terrace above the Little Miami River, five miles of wall, which can still be easily traced, shut in a hundred acres. In Highland County, about seventeen miles southeast of Hillsborough, another great fortress embraces thirty-five acres oh the crest of a hill overlooking Brush Creek. Itswalls are some twenty-five feet wide at the base, and rise from &ix to ten feet above the ground. Within their circuit are two ponds which could supply water in time of siege, and in the valley, which the hill commands, are the ruins of the Mound Builders' village, whose people could take refuge in the fort on the hilltop and hold it against any approaching force.

For the rest, the works of the Mound Builders, except such as were too large to be destroyed by the farmer, have disappeared almost as wholly as the Mound Builders themselves. Their mole-like race threw up their ridges and banks and larger and lesser heaps, and then ceased from the face of the earth, as utterly as if they had burrowed into its heart. They may have fled before the ancestors of the savages whom our ancestors found here; they may have passed down peacefully into Mexico and built the cities which the Spaniards destroyed there. Or, they may have come up out of Mexico, and lost the higher arts of their civilization in our northern woods, warring with the wild tribes who were here before them. In either case, it is imaginable that the Mound Builders were of the same race as the ancient Mexicans and Peruvians, and it is probable that they were akin to the Zufiis of our own day. The snake dances of the Zufiis are a relic of the old serpent worship; and the fear and hate which the Zufiis bear the red savages of the plains may be another heritage from the kindred race which once peopled our Ohio valleys.


If the people of Ohio were Eskimos in the ages before history began, and then thousands of years after, but still thousands of years ago were Aztecs, there is no doubt that when history first knew of them they were Frenchmen. The whole Great West, in fact, was once as much a province of France as Canada; for the dominions of Louis XV. were supposed to stretch from Quebec to New Orleans, and from the Alleghanies to the Mississippi. The land was really held by savages who had never heard of this king; but that was all the same to the French. They had discovered the Great Lakes, they had discovered the Mississippi, they had discovered the Ohio; and they built forts at Detroit, at Kaskaskia, and at Pittsburg, as well as at Niagara; they planted a colony at the mouth of our mightiest river, and opened a highway to France through the Gulf of Mexico, as well as through the Gulf of St. Lawrence; and they proclaimed their king sovereign over all.

In Ohio they had a post on the Maumee, and everywhere they had settlements at each of the forts, where there was always a chapel and a priest for the conversion of the Indians. With the French, the sword and the cross went together, but very few of the savages knew that they were either conquered or converted. From time to time they knew that companies of picturesque strangers visited their towns, and promised them the favor of the French king if they would have nothing to do with the traders from the English colonies on the Atlantic, and threatened them with his displeasure if they refused. When these brilliant strangers staid among them, and built a fort and a chapel, and laid out farms, then the savages willingly partook of the great king's bounty, and clustered around the French post in their wigwams and settled down to the enjoyment of his brandy, his tobacco, his ammunition, and his religion. When the strangers went away, almost as soon as they had promised and threatened, then the savages went back to business with the English traders.

The company of Frenchmen who visited our Miami Indians at their town of Pickawillany, on the head waters of the Miami River in 1749, was of this last sort. It was commanded by the Chevalier Celoron de Bienville, and it counted some two hundred Canadians and French troops, officered by French gentlemen, and attended by one of those brave priests who led or followed wherever the French flag was carried in the wilderness. Celoron was sent by the governor of Canada to lay claim to the Ohio valley for his king, and he did this by very simple means. He nailed plates of tin to certain trees, and he buried plates of lead at the mouths of the larger streams. The leaden plates no one ever saw for a hundred years, till some boys going to bathe found them here and there in the wave-worn banks; but if the Indians could have read anything, or if the English traders could have read French, they might have learned at once from the tin plates that the king of France owned the "Ohio River and all the waters that fell into it, and all the lands on both sides." As it was, however, it is hard to see how anybody was the wiser for them, or could know that the king had upheld his right to the Ohio country by battle and by treaty and would always defend it.

In fact, neither the battles nor the treaties between the French and English in Europe had really settled the question of their claim to the West in America, and both sides began to urge it in a time of peace by every kind of secret and open violence. As for the Miamis and their allies among the neighboring tribes, they believed that God had created them on the very spot where Celoron found them living, and when he asked them to leave their capital at Pickawillany, and go to live near the French post on the Maumee, they answered him that they would do so when it was more convenient. He bade them banish the English traders, but they merely hid them, while he was with them, and as soon as he was gone, they had them out of hiding, and began to traffic with them. They never found it more convenient to leave their town, until a few years later, when a force of Canadians and Christian Indians came down from the post on the Maumee, and destroyed Pickawillany.

Celoron came into the Ohio country through the western part of New York. He launched his canoes on the head waters of the Beautiful River, as the French called the Ohio, and drifted down its current till he reached the mouth of the Great Miami. He worked up this shallow and uncertain stream into Shelby County, where he had his friendly but fruitless meeting with the chief of the Miamis. After that he kept on northward to the Maumee, and then embarked on Lake Erie, and so got back to Canada. It could not be honestly said that he had done much to make good his king's claim to the country with his plates of tin and lead. He had flattered and threatened the Indians at several places; and the Indians had promised, over the cups of brandy and pipes of tobacco which he supplied them, to be good subjects to Louis XV., who was such a very bad king that he did not deserve even such subjects as they meant to be. They seem not to have taken Celoron's warnings very seriously, though he told them that the English traders would ruin them, and that they were preparing the way for the English settlers, who would soon swarm into their country, and drive them out.

The Indians did not believe Celoron, and yet he told them the truth. The English traders were often men of low character, thoroughly dishonest in their dealings, and the English settlers were only waiting for the end of the struggle with the French to come and take the Indians' lands from them. If the French soldiers and the French priests had won in that struggle, Ohio and the whole West might now be something like the Province of Quebec as it was then. The Indians would have been converted to the Catholic faith, and they would still be found in almost as great numbers as ever throughout the vast region where hardly one of their blood remains.

But this was not to be. The French built their forts with a keen eye for the strongest points in the wilderness, and the priests planted the cross even beyond the forts. But all around and between the forts and the missions, the traders from our colonies, which afterwards became our states, stole into the country claimed for the king of France. At that time, there was peace between the king of France and the king of England in Europe, and they pretended that there was peace between their nations in America. They were very civil to each other through their ministers and ambassadors, over there, but their governors and captains here never ceased to fight and trick for the ownership of the West. From their forts, built to curb the English settlers, the French set the savages on to harass the frontier of our colonies, which their war parties wasted with theft and fire and murder. Our colonies made a poor defense, because they were suspicious of one another. New England was suspicious of New York, New York of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania of Virginia, and the mother country was suspicious of them all. She was willing that the French should hold Canada, and keep the colonies from joining together in a revolt against her, when she could easily have taken that province and freed them from the inroads of the Canadian Indians. The colonies would not unite against the common enemy, for fear one would have more advantage than another from their union; but their traders went out singly, through the West, and trading companies began to be formed in Pennsylvania and Virginia. While Celoron was in Ohio claiming the whole land for the king of France, the king of England was granting a great part of the same to a company of Virginians, with the right to settle it and fortify it The Virginia Company sent its agents to visit the Miamis at Pickawillany a year later, and bound them to the English by gifts of brandy, tobacco, beads, gay cloths, and powder.

The allied tribes, who had their capital at Pickawillany, numbered some two thousand in all. The Miamis themselves are said to have been of the same family as the great Iroquois nation of the East, who had beaten their rivals of the Algonquin nation, and forced them to bear the name of women. But many of the Ohio Indians were Delawares, who were of the Algonquin family; they were by no means patient of the name of women, and they and their friends now took the side of the French against the English. When at last the West, together with the whole of Canada, fell to the English and there presently began to be trouble between the American colonists and the English king, all the Indians, both Iroquois and Algonquins took part against the Americans. A little victory for either side, however, with gifts of brandy and tobacco, would turn their savage hearts toward the victors; and one must not be too confident in saying that the Indians were always for the French against the English, or always for the English against the Americans.

In fact, one must speak mostly of the Indians in words that have a double sense. The old explorers, missionaries, soldiers, and traders all talk of nations, towns, villages, kings, half-kings, queens, and princes, but these words present false images to our minds. Calling the chief town of the Miamis at Pickawillany their capital gives the notion of some such capital as Columbus or Washington; but if we imagine the chief town of the Miamis as it really was, we see some hundreds of wigwams in straggling clusters along the banks of the river, in the shadow of the ancient woods, or in the sunshine of the beautiful meadows, as the earliest white visitors to Ohio called the small prairies which they came upon in the heart of the forests. We see a large council house of bark, as nearly in the midst of the scattered huts as may be, where the Miamis hold their solemn debates, receive embassies from other tribes, welcome their warriors home from their forays, and celebrate their feasts and dances. We see fields bordering the village, where the squaws plant their corn and beans, and the maple groves where they make their sugar. Among the men and boys we see the busy idleness of children, all day long, except when the grown-up children go out upon a hunt, or take the warpath. Sometimes we see an English trader coming with his merchandise and presents, or a captive brought in to be tortured and burnt, or adopted into the tribe.

The tribes in the Ohio country were far abler than those that the English first met to the eastward, and they were fiercer than the fiercest which the Americans have at last brought under control in the plains of the Far West. Pitiless as Sioux and Apache and Comanche have shown themselves in their encounters with the whites in our day, they were surpassed in ferocity by the Shawnees, the Wyandots, and the Miamis whom the backwoodsmen met in a thousand fights, a century or a century and a half ago. The Ohio Indians were unspeakably vicious, treacherous, and filthy, but they were as brave as they were vile, and they were as sagacious as they were false. They produced men whom we must call orators, statesmen, and generals, even when tested by the high standards of civilization. They excelled us in the art of war as it was adapted to the woods, and they despised the stupid and wasteful courage of the disciplined English soldier. Till the white men studied war from them they were always beaten in their fights with the red men, and it was hardly the fault of the Indians if the pioneers learned from them to be savages: to kill women and children as well as armed men, to tomahawk and scalp the wounded, to butcher helpless prisoners. But this befell, and it is this which makes many of the stories of Ohio so bloody. We must know their hideous facts fully if we would know them truly, or if we would realize the life that once passed in the shadows of our woods.

The region that we now call Ohio was wonderfully varied and pleasant. The many rivers that watered it cleared their space to the sky where they ran, and here and there the meadows or prairies smiled to the sun in grass and flowers. But everywhere else there was the gloom of forests unbroken since the Mound Builders left the land. The long levels that bordered the great lake at the north, the noble hills that followed the course of the Beautiful River, the gently varied surfaces of the center, and the southwest, the swamps and morasses of the northwest, were nearly everywhere densely wooded. Our land was a woodland, and its life, when it first became known to the white man, was the stealthy and cruel life of the forest. Where the busy Mound Builders once swarmed, scanty tribes of savages lurked in the leafy twilight, hunting and fishing, and warring upon one another. They came and went upon their errands of death and rapine by trails unseen to other eyes, till the keen traders of Pennsylvania and Virginia began to find their way over them to their villages, and to traffic with the savages for the furs which formed their sole wealth.

All is dim and vague in any picture of the time and place that we can bring before us. There are the fathomless forests, broken by the prairies and rivers; there are the Indian towns widely scattered along the larger streams throughout the whole region; there are the French posts on the northern border, with each a priest and a file of soldiers, and a few Canadian farmers and traders. Under the cover of peace between the French king and the English king, there is a constant grapple between the French soldiers and the English settlers for the possession of the wilds which shall one day be the most magnificent empire under the sun; there are the war parties of Indians falling stealthily upon the English borders to the eastward; there is the steady pressure of the backwoodsman westward, in spite of every hardship and danger, in spite of treaties, in spite of rights and promises. These are the main features of the picture whose details the imagination strives to supply, with a teasing sense of the obscurity resting upon the whole. It is all much farther off than ancient Rome, much stranger than Greece; but it is the beginning of a mighty history, which it rests with the children of this day, and their children after them, to make the happiest and noblest chapter in the history of the world. It is a part of that greater history, and I should like my young readers to remember that the Ohio stories which I hope to tell them are important chiefly because they are human stories, and record incidents in the life of the whole race. They cannot be taken from this without losing their finest meanings.


Neither the French nor the English had any right to the Ohio country which they both claimed. If it belonged to any people of right, it belonged to the savages, who held it in their way before the whites came, and who now had to choose which nation should call itself their master. They chose the French, and they chose wisely for themselves as savages; for, as I have said, if the French had prevailed in the war that was coming, the Indians could have kept their forests and lived their forest life as before. The French would have been satisfied in the West as they had been in the North, with their forts and trading stations, and the Indians could have hunted, and fished, and trapped, as they had always done. In fact, the French people would often have become like them. They understood the Indians and liked them; sometimes they mated with them, and their children grew up as wild as their mothers. The religion that the French priests taught the Indians, pleased while it awed them, and it scarcely changed their native customs.

Wherever the English came, the Indians' woods were wasted, and the Indians were driven out of the land.

The English tried neither to save their souls nor to win their hearts; they both hated and despised the savages, and ruthlessly destroyed them. Now, when the smoldering strife between the French and English in the West burst into an open flame of war between the two nations, the Western tribes took the side of those whom reason and instinct taught them to know as their best friends.

But ten years after Celoron visited Ohio, Wolfe captured Quebec, and France gave up to England not only the whole of Canada, but the whole of the vast region between the lakes and the Gulf of Mexico, and kept for herself only the Province of Louisiana. The Indians were left to their fate, and they made what terms they could with the English. They promised peace, but they broke their promises, and constantly harassed the outlying English settlements. At one time they joined together under the great chief Pontiac, and tried to win back the West for themselves. The French forts had been ceded to Great Britain and garrisoned with British troops, and the allied Indians now took all of these but Detroit and Fort Pitt. In the end they failed, and then they made peace again, but still they kept up their forays along the English borders. They stole horses and cattle, they burned houses and barns, they killed men, women, and children, or carried them off into captivity. In the Ohio country alone their captives counted hundreds, though the right number could never be known, for they could easily be kept out of the way when the tribes were summoned to give them up.

It was the same story in the West that it had been in the East, and the North, and the South, wherever the savages fell upon the lonely farms or the scattered hamlets of the frontiers, and it was not ended until our own day, when the Indians were at last shut up in reservations.

It was their custom to carry off the women and children. If the children were hindered the march of their mothers, or if they cried and endangered or annoyed their captors, they were torn a hawked, or their brains were dashed out against the trees. But if they were well grown, and strong enough to keep up with the rest, they were hurried sometimes hundreds of miles into the wilderness. There the fate of all prisoners was decided in solemn council of the tribe. If any men had been taken, especially such as had made a hard fight for their freedom and had given proof of their courage, they were commonly tortured to death by fire in celebration of the victory won over them; though it sometimes happened that young men who had caught the fancy or affection of the Indians were adopted by the fathers of sons lately lost in battle. The older women became the slaves and drudges of the squaws and the boys and girls were parted from their mothers and scattered among the savage families. The boys grew up hunters and trappers, like the Indian boys, and the girls grew up like the Indian girls, and did the hard work which the warriors always left to the women. The captives became as fond of their wild, free life as the savages themselves, and they found wives and husbands among the youths and maidens of their tribe. If they were given up to their own people, as might happen in the brief intervals of peace, they pined for the wilderness, which called to their homesick hearts, and sometimes they stole back to it. They seem rarely to have been held for ransom, as the captives of the Indians of the Western plains were in our time. It was a tie of real love that bound them and their savage friends together, and it was sometimes stronger than the tie of blood. But this made their fate all the crueler to their kindred; for whether they lived or whether they died, they were lost to the fathers and mothers, and brothers and sisters whom they had been torn from; and it was little consolation to these that they had found human mercy and tenderness in the breasts of savages who in all else were like ravening beasts. It was rather an agony added to what they had already suffered to know that somewhere in the trackless forests to the westward there was growing up a child who must forget them. The time came when something must be done to end all this and to put a stop to the Indian attacks on the frontiers of Pennsylvania and Virginia. The jealous colonies united with the jealous mother country, and a little army of British regulars and American recruits was sent into Ohio under the lead of Colonel Henry Bouquet to force the savages to give up their captives.

This officer, who commanded the king's troops at Philadelphia, was a young Swiss who had fought in the great wars of Europe, in the service of the king of Piedmont and of the Dutch republic, before he was given a commission by the king of Great Britain. He had distinguished himself by his bravery, his skill, and his good sense. He seems to have been the first European commander to disuse the rules of European warfare, and to take a lesson from our pioneers in fighting the Indians, and the year before he set out for the Ohio country, he had beaten the tribes in a battle that taught them to respect him. They found that they had no such wrong-headed leader as Braddock to deal with; and that they could not hope to ambush Bouquet's troops, and shoot them down like cattle in a pen; and the news of his coming spread awe among them.

He gathered his forces together at Fort Pitt, after many delays. At one time a full third of his colonial recruits deserted him, but he waited till he had made up their number again, and then he started at the head of fifteen hundred men, on the 3d of October, 1764. A body of Virginians went first in three scouting parties, one on the right and one on the left, to beat up the woods for lurking enemies, and one in the middle with a guide, to lead the way. Then came the pioneers with their axes, and two companies of light infantry followed, to clear the way for the main body of the troops. A column of British regulars, two deep, marched in the center with a file of regulars on their right, and a file of Pennsylvanian recruits on their left.

Two platoons of regulars came after these; then came a battalion of Pennsylvanians in single file on the right and left, and between them the convoy, with the ammunition and tools first, then the officers' baggage and tents, then the sheep and oxen in separate droves for the subsistence of the army, then the pack horses with other provisions. A party of light horsemen followed, and last of all another body of Virginians brought up the rear. The men marched in silence, six feet from one another, ready, if any part of the force halted, to face outward, and prepare to meet an attack.

The Indians hung upon Bouquet's march in large numbers at first, but when they saw the perfect order and discipline of his army, and the knowledge of their own tactics which he showed in disposing his men, they fell away, and he kept his course unmolested, so that in two weeks he reached a point in the Ohio country which he could now reach in two hours, if he took rail from Pittsburg direct. But the wonder is for what he did then, and not for what he could do now. His two weeks' march through the wilderness was a victory such as had never been achieved before, and it moved the imagination of the Indians more than if he had fought them the whole way.

His quiet firmness in establishing his force in the heart of their country, where they had gathered the strength of their tribes from all the outlying regions, must have affected them still more. At the first halt he made on the Muskingum, they sent some of their chiefs to parley with him, but he gave them short and stern answers, bidding them be ready to bring in their captives from every tribe and family; and again took up his march along the river till he reached the point where the Tuscarawas and Waldhonding meet to form the Muskingum. There his axmen cleared a space in the forest, and his troops built a town, rather than pitched a camp. They put up four redoubts, one at each corner of the town, and fortified it with a strong stockade. Within this they built a council house, where the Indians could come and make speeches to their hearts' content, and deliver up their captives. Three separate buildings, one for the captives from each of the colonies, with the officers' quarters, the soldiers' cabins, the kitchens, and the ovens, were inclosed within the fort, and the whole was kept in a neatness and order such as the savages had never seen, with military severity.

The tribes soon began to bring in their prisoners, each chief giving up the captives of his tribe with long harangues, and many gifts of wampum, as pledges of good faith, and promises of a peace never to be broken. They said they had not merely buried the hatchet now, where it might sometime be dug up, but they had thrown it into the sky to the Great Spirit, who would never give it back again. They wished Bouquet to notice that they no longer called the English brothers, as they commonly did when they were friendly, but they called them fathers, and they meant to be their children and to do their bidding like children. They made him a great number of flattering speeches, and he gravely listened to their compliments, but as to the reasons they gave for breaking their promises in the past he dealt very frankly with them. He reminded them of their treacheries, and cruelties of all kinds, and of their failure to restore their captives after they had pledged themselves to do so, and he said, "This army shall not leave your country till you have fully complied with every condition that is to precede my treaty with you.... I give you twelve days from this date to deliver into my hands all the prisoners in your possession, without any exception; Englishmen, Frenchmen, women and children, whether adopted into your tribes, married or living amongst you under any pretense whatsoever, together with all negroes. And you are to furnish the said prisoners with clothing, provisions, and horses, to carry them to Fort Pitt.... You shall then know on what terms you may obtain the peace you sue for."

These words are said to have quite broken the spirit of the savages, already overawed by the presence of such an army as they had never seen in their country before. One of the great chiefs of the Delawares said: "With this string of wampum we wipe the tears from your eyes, we deliver you these prisoners... we gather and bury with this belt all the bones of the people that have been killed during this unhappy war, which the Evil Spirit occasioned among us. We cover the bones that have been buried, that they may never more be remembered. We again cover their place with leaves that it may no more be seen. As we have been long astray, and the path between you and us stopped, we extend this belt that it may be again cleared.... While you hold it fast by one end, and we by the other, we shall always be able to discover anything that may disturb our friendship."

Bouquet answered that he had heard them with pleasure, and that in receiving these last prisoners from them he joined with them in burying the bones of those who had fallen in the war, so that the place might no more be known. "The peace you ask for, you shall now have," he said, but he told them that it was his business to make war, and the business of others to make peace, and he instructed them how and with whom they were to treat. He took hostages from them, and he dealt with the other tribes on the same terms as they brought in their captives. On the 18th of November, he broke up his camp and marched back to Fort Pitt, with more than two hundred men, women, and children whom he had delivered from captivity among the savages.

It is believed that six hundred others were never given up. The captives were not always glad to go back to their old homes, and the Indians had sometimes to use force in bringing them to the camp where their friends and kindred who had come with Bouquet's army were waiting to receive them. Many had been taken from their homes when they were so young that they could not remember them, and they had learned to love the Indians, who had brought them up like their own children, and treated them as lovingly as the fathers and mothers from whom they had been stolen. In the charm of the savage life these children of white parents had really become savages; and certain of the young girls had grown up and married Indian husbands to whom they were tenderly attached. The scenes of parting between all these were very touching on both sides, and it is told of one Indian who had married a Virginian girl that he followed her back to the frontier at the risk of his life from her people. The Indians gave up the captives often so dear to them, with tears and lamentations, while on the other hand their kindred waited to receive them in an anguish of hope and fear. As the captives came into the camp, parents sought among them for the little ones they had lost, and husbands for the wives who had been snatched from their desolated homes. Brothers and sisters met after a parting so long that one or other had forgotten the language they once spoke in common. The Indians still hung about the camp, and came every day to visit their former prisoners and bring them gifts. When the army took up its march some of them asked leave to follow it back to Fort Pitt, and on the way they supplied their adopted children and brothers with game, and sought in every way to show their love for them.

Bouquet reached Pittsburg in ten days, without the loss of a single life at the hands of the savages, and with all his men in excellent health. Each day of his march he had pitched his camp among scenes of sylvan loveliness, on the banks of the pleasant streams that watered the fertile levels and the wild meadows, or wound through the rich valleys between the low hills. It would have been wonderful if his Pennsylvanian and Virginian recruits had not looked upon the land with covetous eyes: even the fathers and husbands and brothers who had come seeking their kindred among the Indians, had seen it with a longing to plant their homes in it. Its charms had been revealed to great numbers of the people who had known of it only from the traders before, and the savage was doomed from that time to lose it; for it already belonged to the king of England, and it rested with the English colonists to come and take it; or so, at least, they thought.


The French king gave up the West to the English king in 1763, but, as we have seen, the Indians had no part in the bargain. They only knew that they were handed over by those who had been their friends to those who had been their enemies, and they did not consent. They had made war upon the English colonists before, and now, in spite of the failure of Pontiac, and in spite of Bouquet's march into the Ohio country, they kept up their warfare for forty years, with a truce when it was convenient, and a treaty of peace when it was convenient, but with a steadfast purpose to drive the English settlers out, and to hold the wilderness for themselves. It was not until long after their power was broken by the American arms in 1794 that their struggle ended in the region which ten years later became the state of Ohio.

There was misunderstanding on both sides. The Indians naturally supposed that their own country belonged to them, and the colonists supposed that their eastern and western borders were the two oceans. These were commonly the boundaries which the English king had given them; and when he had not been quite clear about it in his grants of territory which he had never even imagined, they did not allow him to deal less splendidly with them than such a prince ought. He had, as we know, given the Ohio Company of Virginia a large tract of the best land beyond the Ohio even while the French still claimed the West, and he had encouraged the Virginians to believe they had a right to settle it and to fortify it. But after the capture of Quebec, when the West, as well as Canada, fell into the power of Great Britain, the English king, or rather his ministers, began to change their minds about letting the colonists take up lands in the Back Country, as they called it. The jealousy between the colonies grew less, but the jealousy between them and Great Britain grew greater; there were outbreaks here and there against her rule, and there was discontent nearly everywhere. The colonists were disappointed and embittered that the West should be treated as a part of Canada, by the mother country, when it ought to have been shared among the English provinces. The British government tried to hinder the settlement of the whites on the Indians' lands; and though it could not keep them off altogether, it did enough to make the savages feel that it was their friend against its own subjects. In 1774, Parliament passed a law which declared the whole West, between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and below the Great Lakes, a part of the Province of Quebec. This was felt by our colonies to be so great an injury that it was charged against Great Britain in the Declaration of Independence, as one of the causes for separation. It was in fact an act hostile to a people of the British race, language, and religion, and it was meant not so much to help the savages, as to hurt the colonists, though it did really help the savages. When the Revolutionary War broke out a year or two later, the British government did not scruple to make use of the cruel hatred of the Indians against its rebellious subjects.

It set on the war parties that harried the American border, and when the blood-stained braves came back with their plunder, their captives, and the scalps of the men, women, and children they had murdered, they were welcomed at the British forts as friends and allies. In certain cases, to be sure, British officers did what they could to soften the hard fate of the prisoners, but the British government was guilty, nevertheless, of the barbarous deeds done by the Indians. Its agents furnished them with arms and ammunition, and its ministers upheld them in the same atrocities against the American rebels as the French in their time had urged and tempted them to commit against the settlers when they were English subjects.

At the end of the Revolutionary War, the Indians were as slow to lay down their arms as they had been after the French War. In each case they fought the victors, as far as they could get at them in the persons of the hapless backwoodsmen and their wives and children. These backwoodsmen did not change greatly, in their way of life, during that long Indian war of forty years. They were of the hardy English, Welsh, and Scotch-Irish stock which a generation or two in the wilderness had toughened and strengthened. They had not yet ciphered it out that one red hunter and trapper must waste the fifty thousand acres which would support the families of a hundred white farmers in comfort and prosperity; but they knew that to the westward there was a region, vast and rich beyond anything words could say, and they longed to possess it, with a hunger that was sometimes a pitiless greed, and always a resistless desire. Yet it was not until the French gave up this region that they could even venture lawlessly into it, and it was not until it fell from Great Britain to the new power of the United States that the borderers began openly to press into the backwoods, singly as hunters and trappers, in families as neighborhoods as the founders of villages and towns. The pioneers felt that they were going to take their own wherever they found it, from the savages who could not and would not use it, and they were right, for the land truly belongs to him who will use it. The savages felt that the pioneers were coming to take their own from them, for in their way they were using the land; and they were right, too. All that is left for us to ask at this late day is which could use the land best and most; and there can hardly be any doubt of the answer.

To understand the situation clearly, the reader must keep in mind certain dates. Celoron de Bienville visited the Miamis in 1749, and the French kept the Ohio Indians on the warpath against the English settlements to the eastward until 1763, when they gave up the West to Great Britain. Then, until 1775, the savages alone fought the settlers as the subjects of the English king. The Revolutionary War broke out, and the Indians became the allies of the British. Then, in 1783, their country was given up to the United States, and they still fought their old enemies, who had not changed their nature by changing their name to Americans. In 1794, the great battle of Fallen Timbers was fought on the banks of the Maumee, and the long struggle was ended.

It had grown more and more fierce and cruel as time passed, and only three years before General Wayne won his lasting victory, General St. Clair had suffered his terrible defeat by the Indians. Through this defeat, the power of the whites in the West was shaken as it had never been before; the savages were filled with pride and hope by the greatest triumph they had achieved over their enemies; and all the settlements in the Northwestern Territory were endangered.

Perhaps I had better say seemed endangered. The Indians were really less to be feared than at any time before. They were weaker, and the whites were stronger. They were striving against destiny; and though their fate was sealed with the blood of their enemies, their fate was sealed. All the chances that had favored them had favored them in vain, and neither their wily courage nor their pitiless despair availed them against the people who outnumbered them, as the stems of the harvest field outnumber the trees of the forest.


The stories of captivity among the Ohio Indians during the war that ended in 1794 would of themselves fill a much larger book than this is meant to be. Most of them were never set down, but some of them were very thrillingly told, and others very touchingly, either by the captives themselves, or by such of their friends as were better able to write them out. One, at least, is charming, and the narrative of Colonel James Smith deserves a chapter by itself, not only because it is charming, but because it shows the Indians in a truer and kindlier light than they were often able to show themselves.

Smith was born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, which in 1737 was the frontier of the white settlement, and he was taken prisoner in 1755, by a small party of Delawares, near Bedford, while he was helping to cut a road for the passage of General Braddock's ill-fated expedition against the French. The Indians hurried from the English border, and forced him to run with them nearly the whole way to Fort Duquesne, which afterwards became Fort Pitt, and is now Pittsburg. A large body of savages was encamped outside the post, and there Smith expected to be burned to death with the tortures he afterwards saw inflicted upon many other prisoners; but he was only made to run the gantlet. Two lines of Indians were drawn up, with sticks in their hands, and Smith dashed at the top of his speed between their ranks. He was cruelly beaten, and before he reached the goal he fell senseless. When he came to himself he was in the hands of a French surgeon. He was well cared for, and he lived in hopes of rescue by Braddock's army, which was marching against Fort Duquesne in greater force than had ever been sent into the wilderness. But while he was still so broken and bruised as to be scarcely able to walk, the Indians came in with plunder and prisoners from the scene of their bloody victory over the British troops.

A little later, Smith's captors claimed him from the French, and carried him to an Indian town on the Muskingum. The day after their arrival a number of the Indians came to him, and one of them began to pull out his hair, dipping his fingers in ashes to get a better hold, and plucking it away hair by hair till it was all gone except a lock on the crown. This they plaited with strings of beadwork and silver brooches, and then they bored his ears and nose and put rings in them. They painted his face and body in different colors, hung a band of wampum about his neck, and fitted his arm with bracelets of silver. An old chief led him into the street of the village, and gave the alarm halloo, when all the Delawares, Caughnewagas, and Mohicans of the place came running, and formed round the chief, who held Smith by the hand, and made them a long speech. He then gave Smith over to three young squaws, who pulled him into the river waist-deep, and made signs to him that he should plunge his head into the water. But Smith's head was full of the tortures of the prisoners whom he had seen burnt at Fort Duquesne; he believed all these ceremonies were the preparations for his death, and he would neither duck.

He struggled with them, amidst the shouts and laughter of the Indians on the shore, until one of them managed to say in English, "No hurt you," when he suffered them to plunge him under the water and rub at him as long as they chose.

By this means they washed away his white blood, and he was adopted into the tribe in place of a great chief who had lately died. He seems never to have known why this honor was done him; but he was then a lusty young fellow of eighteen who might well have taken the fancy of some of his captors; and he probably fell into their hands at a moment which their superstition rendered fortunate for him.

When the squaws had done with him, he was taken up into the council house of the village, where he was dressed in a new ruffled shirt, leggins trimmed with ribbons and wrought with beads, and moccasins embroidered with porcupine quills. His face was painted afresh, and his scalp lock tied up with red feathers; he was given a pipe and tobacco pouch and seated upon a bear skin, while one of the chiefs addressed him in the presence of the assembled warriors. "My son," so the speech was interpreted to Smith, "you are now flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone. You are taken into the Caughnewaga nation, and initiated into a warlike tribe; you are adopted into a great family... in the room and place of a great man. After what has passed this day, you are now one of us by an old strong law and custom. My son, you have now nothing to fear; we are now under the same obligations to love, support, and defend you, that we are to love and defend one another; therefore you are to consider yourself as one of our people."

A grand feast of boiled venison and green corn followed, and Smith took part in it on the same terms as all the rest of his tribe and family. In due time he found out that no word the chief had addressed him was idly spoken, and he began to live the life of the savages like one of themselves, under the affectionate care and constant instruction of his brethren. He was given a gun, at first, and sent to hunt turkeys, but he came upon the trace of buffalo, and was lured on by the hope of larger game, and so lost his way. The Indians found him again easily enough, but as a punishment for his rashness his gun was taken from him, and for two years he was allowed to carry only a bow and arrows. Once when the hunters had killed a bear and he went out with a party to bring in the meat, Smith complained of the weight of his load; the Indians laughed at him, and to shame him they gave part of his burden to a young squaw who already had as much as he to carry. At another time, he went to the fields with some other young men to watch the squaws hoeing corn; one of these challenged him to take her hoe, and he did so, and hoed for some time with the women. They were delighted and praised his skill, but when he came back to the village, the old chiefs rebuked him, telling him that he was adopted in the place of a great man, and it was unworthy of him to hoe corn like a squaw.

Smith owns that he never gave them a chance to chide him a second time for such unseemly behavior. After that he left all the hard work to the squaws like a true Indian, and guarded his dignity as a hunter. He was never trusted, or at least he was never asked, to take part in any of the forays against the white frontier, when from time to time parties were sent to the Pennsylvania borders to take scalps and steal horses. It was a sorrowful thing for him when his savage brethren set forth on these errands of theft and murder among his kindred by race, and it was long before he could make the least show of returning their affection.

It was not until they gave him back some books which they had brought him from other prisoners, but had then taken from him for some caprice, that he says he felt his heart warm towards them. They pretended that the books had been lost, but declared that they were glad they had been found, for they knew that he was grieved at the loss of them. "Though they had been exceedingly kind to me," he says, "I still as before detested them, on account of the barbarity I beheld after Braddock's defeat. Neither had I ever before pretended kindness, or expressed myself in a friendly manner; but now I began to excuse the Indians on account of their want of information."

The family which Smith had been taken into did not stay long in the Muskingum country, but began the wandering life of the hunters and trappers, working northward mostly, and visiting the shores and waters of Lake Erie. It was all very pleasant and full of a wild charm while the fine weather lasted, especially for the men, who had nothing to do but to bring in the game and fish for the squaws to cook and care for. The squaws made the sugar in the spring; they felled the trees and fashioned from the barks the troughs to catch the maple sap, which they boiled down into sugar; they planted and tended the fields of corn and beans; they did everything that was like work, indoors and out, and the men did nothing that was not like play or war. While their plenty lasted, it was for all; when the dearth came, every one shared it. But in this free, sylvan life there was the grace of an unstinted hospitality. The stranger was pressed to make the lodge of his host his home, and he was given the best of his store. One day when his Indian brother came in from the hunt, Smith told him that a passing Wyandot had visited their camp, and he had given him roast venison. "And I suppose you gave him also sugar and bear's oil to eat with his venison?" Smith confessed that as the sugar and bear's oil were in the canoe, he did not go for them. His brother told him he had behaved just like a Dutchman, and he asked, "Do you not know that when strangers come to our camp we are to give them the best we have?" Smith owned that he had been wrong, and then his brother excused him because he was so young; but he bade him learn to behave like a warrior, and do great things, and never be caught in any such mean actions again.

The Indians were as prompt to praise and reward what they thought fine in him, as to rebuke what they deemed unworthy; and the second winter that they spent in Northern Ohio, they gave him a gun again for the courage and endurance he twice showed when he had lost his way from camp. Once when he was caught in a heavy storm of snow; he passed the night in the hollow of a tree, which he made snug by blocking it up with brush and pieces of wood, and by chopping the rotten inside of the trunk with his hatchet until he had a soft, warm bed. Another time, when he was looking at his beaver traps he was overtaken by the dark, and kept himself from freezing by dancing and shouting till daylight. His Indian friends honored him for his wise behavior, and as they had now beaver skins enough, they carried them to the French post at Detroit, where they bought a gun for him. They bought for themselves a keg of brandy, and they paid Smith the compliment, when he refused to drink, of making him one of the guards set over the drinkers to keep them from killing one another. He helped bring them safely through their debauch, but nothing could prevent their spending all they had got for their beaver skins in more and more brandy. Then they went back sick and sorry to the woods again.

The family Smith was taken into was honored for its uncommon virtue and wisdom. His two brothers, Tontileaugo and Tecaughretanego were men of great sense, with good heads and good hearts. They treated Smith with the greatest love and patience, and took him to task with affectionate mildness when he transgressed the laws of taste or feeling. The Indians all despised the white settlers, whom they thought stupid and cowardly, and they expected to drive them beyond the sea. They despised them for their impiety, and Tecaughretanego once said to Smith, "As you have lived with the white people, you have not had the same advantage of knowing that the Great Being above feeds his people and gives them their meat in due season, as we Indians have, who are wonderfully supplied, and that so frequently that it is evidently the hand of the Great Owaneeyo that doeth this; whereas the white people have commonly large flocks of tame cattle, that they can kill when they please, and also their barns and cribs filled with grain, and therefore have not the same opportunity of seeing and knowing that they are supported by the ruler of Heaven and Earth."

At this time the Indians were suffering from the famine that their waste and improvidence had brought upon them; and perhaps Smith might have said something on the white man's side. But he had nothing to say when rebuked for smiling at Tecaughretanego's sacrifice of the last leaf of his tobacco to the Great Spirit "Brother, I have something to say to you, and I hope you will not be offended when I tell you of your faults. You know that when you were reading your books, I would not let the boys or any one disturb you; but now when I was praying I saw you laughing. I do not think you look upon praying as a foolish thing; I believe you pray yourself. But perhaps you think my mode or manner of prayer foolish; if so, you ought in a friendly manner to instruct me, and not make sport of sacred things."

The prayer which Tecaughretanego thought ought to have escaped Smith's derision was one which he made after he began to get well from a long sickness; and it was certainly very quaint; but if the Father of all listens most kindly to those children of his who come to him simply and humbly, he could not have been displeased with this old Indian's petition.

"Oh, Great Being, I thank thee that I have obtained the use of my legs again, that I am now able to walk about and kill turkeys without feeling exquisite pain and misery: I know that thou art a hearer and a helper, and therefore I will call upon thee. Oh, ho, ho, ho! grant that my ankles and knees may be right well, and that I may be able not only to walk, but to run and to jump as I did last fall. Oh, ho, ho, ho! grant that on this voyage we may frequently kill bears, as they may be crossing the Scioto and Sandusky. Oh, ho, ho, ho! grant that we may kill plenty of turkeys along the banks, to stew with our bear meat. Oh, ho, ho, ho! grant that rain may come to raise the Olentangy about two or three feet, that we may cross in safety down to the Scioto, without danger of our canoe being wrecked on the rocks. And now, oh, Great Being, thou knowest how matters stand—thou knowest that I am a great lover of tobacco, and that though I know not when I may get any more, I now make a present of the last I have unto thee, as a free burnt offering. Therefore I request that thou wilt hear and grant these requests, and I thy servant will return thee thanks, and love thee for thy gifts."

Smith tells us that a few days after Tecaughretanego made his prayer and offered up his tobacco, rain came and raised the Olentangy high enough to let them pass safely into the Scioto. He does not say whether he thought this was the effect of the old Indian's piety, but he always speaks reverently of Tecaughretanego's religion. He is careful to impress the reader again and again with the importance of the Indian family he had been taken into, and with the wisdom as well as the goodness of Tecaughretanego, who held some such place among the Ottawas, he says, as Socrates held among the Athenians. He was against the Indians' taking part in the war between the French and English; he believed they ought to leave these to fight out their own quarrels; and in all the affairs of his people, he favored justice, truth, and honesty. The Indians, indeed, never stole from one another, but they thought it quite right to rob even their French allies; and it will help us to a real understanding of their principles, if we remember that the good and wise Tecaughretanego is never shown as rebuking the cruelty and treachery of the war parties in their attacks on the English settlements. The Indian's virtues are always for his own tribe; outside of it, all the crimes are virtues, and it is right to lie, to cheat, to steal, to kill; as it was with our own ancestors when they lived as tribes.

Smith was always treated like one of themselves by his Indian brothers, and he had a deep affection for them. Once, in a time of famine, when Tecaughretanego lay helpless in his cabin, suffering patiently with the rheumatism which crippled him, Smith hunted two whole days without killing any game, and then came home faint with hunger and fatigue. Tecaughretanego bade his little son bring him a broth which the boy had made with some wildcat bones left by the buzzards near the camp, and when Smith had eaten he rebuked him for his despair, and charged him never again to doubt that God would care for him, because God always cared for those children of his who trusted in him, as the Indians did, while the white men trusted in themselves. The next day Smith went out again, but the noise made by the snow crust breaking under his feet frightened the deer he saw, and he could not get a shot at them. Suddenly, he felt that he could bear his captivity no longer, and he resolved to try and make his way back to Pennsylvania. The Indians might kill him, long before he could reach home; but if he staid, he must die of hunger. He hurried ten or twelve miles eastward, when he came upon fresh buffalo tracks, and soon caught sight of the buffalo. He shot one of them, but he could not stop to cook the meat, and he ate it almost raw. Then the thought of the old man and little child whom he had left starving in the cabin behind him became too much for him. He remembered what Tecaughretanego had said of God's care for those who trusted in him; and he packed up all the meat he could carry, and went back to the camp. The boy ate ravenously of the half-raw meat, as Smith had done, but the old man waited patiently till it was well boiled. "Let it be done enough," he said, when Smith wished to take off the kettle too soon; and when they had all satisfied their hunger, he made Smith a speech upon the duty of receiving the bounty of Owaneeyo with thankfulness. After this, Smith seems to have had no farther thoughts of running away, and he made no attempt to escape until he had been four years in captivity. He was then at Caughnewaga, the old Indian village which the traveler may still see from his steamboat on the St. Lawrence River near Montreal. He had come to this place with Tecaughretanego and his little son in an elm-bark canoe, all the way from Detroit; and now, hearing that a French ship was at Montreal with English prisoners of war, he stole away from the Indians and got on board with the rest. The prisoners were shortly afterwards exchanged, and Smith got home to his friends early in 1760. They had never known whether he had been killed or captured, and they were overjoyed to see him, though they found him quite like an Indian in his walk and bearing.

He married, and settled down on a farm, but he was soon in arms against the Indians. He served as a lieutenant in Bouquet's expedition, and became a colonel of the Revolutionary army. After the war he took his family to Kentucky, where he lived until he died in 1812. The Indians left him unmolested in his reading or writing while he was among them, and he had kept a journal, which he wrote out in the delightful narrative of his captivity, first published in 1799. He modestly says in his preface that the chief use he hopes for it is from his observations on Indian warfare; but these have long ceased to be of practical value, while his pictures of Indian life and his studies of Indian character have a charm that will always last.


Colonel Smith was not the first whose captivity was passed in the Ohio country, but there is no record of any earlier captivity, though hundreds of captives were given up to Bouquet by the Indians. In spite of the treaties and promises on both sides, the fighting went on, and the wilderness was soon again the prison of the white people whom the savages had torn from their homes. The Ohio tribes harassed the outlying settlements of Pennsylvania and Virginia, whose borders widened westward with every year; but they were above all incensed against the pioneers of Kentucky. Ohio was their home; there they had their camps and towns; there they held their councils and festivals; there they buried their dead and guarded their graves. But Kentucky was the pleasance of all the nations, the hunting ground kept free by common consent, and left to the herds of deer, elk, and buffalo, which ranged the woods and savannas, and increased for the common use. When the white men discovered this hunter's paradise, and began to come back with their families and waste the game and fell the trees and plow the wild meadows, no wonder the Indians were furious, and made Kentucky the Dark and Bloody Ground for the enemies of their whole race, which they had already made it for one another in the conflicts between the hunting parties of rival tribes. It maddened them to find the cabins and the forts of the settlers in the sacred region where no red man dare pitch his wigwam; and they made a fierce and pitiless effort to drive out the invaders.

Among these was the famous Daniel Boone. He had heard of the glories of the land from a hunter who wandered into Kentucky by chance and returned to North Carolina to tell of it among his neighbors. Two years afterwards, in 1769, when a man of forty, Boone came to see for himself the things that he knew by hearsay, and he found that the half had not been told. But among other surprises in store for him was falling into the clutches of an Indian hunting party which ambushed him and the friend who was with him. They both escaped, and soon afterwards Boone's brother and a neighbor, who had followed him from North Carolina, chanced upon their camp. Boone's friend was before long shot and scalped by the Indians; the brother's neighbor was lost in the woods and devoured by the wolves. Then the brother went home for ammunition, and Boone was left a whole year alone in the wilderness. The charm of its life was so great for him that after two years more he returned to North Carolina, sold his farm, and came to Kentucky with his family. Other families joined them, and the little settlement founded in the woods where he had ranged solitary with no friend but his rifle and with foes everywhere, was called Boonesborough.

The Revolutionary War broke out, and the Ohio Indians, who had hitherto fought the pioneers as Englishmen, now fought them as Americans with fresh fury, under the encouragement of the British commandant at Detroit. In January, of 1778, Boone took thirty of his men, and went to make salt at the Blue Licks, where, shortly after, while he was hunting in the woods, he found himself in the midst of two hundred Indian warriors, who were on their way to attack Boonesborough. He was then fifty years old, and the young Indians soon overtook him when he tried to escape by running, and made him their prisoner. His captors treated him kindly, as their custom was with prisoners, until they decided what should be done with them, and at the Licks his whole party gave themselves up on promise of the same treatment. This was glory enough for the present; the Indians, as they always did when they had won a victory, went home to celebrate it, and left Boonesborough unmolested.

They took all their prisoners to the town of Old Chillicothe, on the banks of the Little Miami in Greene County. What became of his men we are not told; none of them kept a journal, as Smith did, but it is certain that Boone was adopted into an Indian family as Smith was. The Indians, in fact, all became fond of him, perhaps because he was so much like themselves in temperament and behavior, for he was a grave, silent man, very cold and wary, with a sort of savage calm. He was well versed in their character, and knew how to play upon their vanity. One of the few things he seems to have told of his captivity was that when they asked him to take part in their shooting matches he beat them just often enough to show them his wonderful skill with the rifle, and then allowed them the pleasure of beating such a splendid shot as he had proved himself. But probably he had other engaging qualities, or so it appeared when the Indians took him with them to Detroit. The British commandant offered them a ransom of a hundred pounds for him, while several other Englishmen, who liked and pitied him, pressed him to take money and other favors from them. Boone stoically refused because he could never hope to make any return to them, and his red brethren refused because they loved Boone too well to part with him at any price, and they took him back to Old Chillicothe with them.

He never betrayed the anxiety for his wife and children that constantly tormented him, for fear of rousing the suspicions of the Indians; but when he reached Old Chillicothe, and found a large party painted and ready to take the warpath in a new attack upon Boones-borough, he could bear it no longer. He showed no sign of his misery, however; he joined the Indians in all their sports as before, but he was always watching for some chance to escape, and one morning in the middle of June he stole away from his captors. He made his way a hundred and sixty miles through the woods, and on the ninth day entered Boonesborough, faint with the fast which he had broken but once in his long flight, to find that he had been given up for dead and his family had gone back to North Carolina.

Boone spent the rest of his days fighting wild men and hunting wild beasts in Kentucky, until both were well-nigh gone and the tamer life of civilization pressed closer about him. Then he set out for Missouri, where he found himself again in the wilderness, and dwelt there in his beloved solitude till he died. Nothing ever moved him so much as the memoir which a young man wrote down for him and had printed. He was fond of having it read to him (for he could not read any more than he could write), and he would cry out in delight over it, "All true; not a lie in it!" But it is recorded that he once allowed himself to be so far excited by the heroic behavior of a friend who had saved his life in an Indian fight, at the risk of his own, as to say, "You behaved like a man, that time."

This friend was Simon Kenton, or rather Simon Butler, one of the greatest of all the Indian hunters of Kentucky and Ohio. He had changed his name to escape pursuit from his old home in Virginia, when he fled leaving one of his neighbors, as he supposed, dead on the ground after a fight, and he kept the name he had taken through the rest of his life. He wandered about on the frontier and in the wilderness beyond it for several years, fighting the savages single handed or with a few comrades, and at times serving as scout or spy in the expeditions of the English against them. When the Revolution began, he sided of course with his own people, and he stood two sieges by the Indians in Boonesborough. It was here that Boone found him in 1778 when he escaped from Old Chillicothe, and they promptly made a foray together into the Ohio country, against an Indian town on Paint Creek. They fell in with a war party on the way, and after some fighting, Boone went back, but Kenton kept on with another friend, and did not return till they had stolen some Indian horses. As soon as they reached Boonesborough the commandant sent them into Ohio again to reconnoiter a town on the Little Miami which he wished to attack, and here once more Kenton was tempted by the chance to steal horses. He could not bear to leave any, and he and his men started homeward through the woods with the whole herd. When they came to the Ohio, it was so rough that Kenton was nearly drowned in trying to cross the river. He got back to the northern shore, where they all waited for the wind to go down, and the waves to fall, and where the Indians found them the second morning. His comrades were killed and Kenton was taken prisoner by the Indians whose horses they had stolen. The Indians were always stealing white men's horses, but they seemed to think it was very much more wicked and shameful for white men to steal Indians' horses. They fell upon Kenton and beat him over the head with their ramrods and mocked him with cries of, "Steal Indians' hoss, hey!" But this was only the beginning of his sufferings. They fastened him for the night by stretching him on the ground with one stick across his breast and another down his middle, and tying his hands and feet to these with thongs of buffalo skin: stakes were driven into the earth, and his pinioned arms and legs were bound to them, while a halter, which was passed round his neck and then round a sapling near by, kept him from moving his head. All the while they were making sure in this way that he should not escape, the Indians were cuffing his ears, and reviling him for a "Tief! A hoss steal! A rascal!" In the morning they mounted him on an unbroken colt, with his hands tied behind him and his legs tied under the horse, and drove it into the briers and underbrush, where his face and hands were torn by the brambles, until the colt quieted down of itself, and followed in line with the other horses. The third day, as they drew near the town of Old Chillicothe, where Boone had been held captive, they were met by the chief Blackfish, who said sternly to Kenton in English, "You have been stealing horses." "Yes, sir." "Did Captain Boone tell you to steal our horses?" "No, sir, I did it on my own accord." Blackfish then lashed him over the naked back with a hickory switch till the blood ran, and with blows and taunts from all sides Kenton was marched forward to the village.

The Indians could not wait for his arrival. They came out, men, women, and children, to meet him, with whoops and yells, and when they had made his captors fasten him to a stake, they fell upon him, and tore off all that was left of his clothes, and amused themselves till midnight by dancing and screaming round him, and beating him with rods and their open hands. In the morning he was ordered to run the gantlet, through two rows of Indians of all ages and sexes, armed with knives, clubs, switches, and hoe handles, and ready to cut, strike, and stab at him as he dashed by them on his way to the council house, a quarter of a mile from the point of starting. But Kenton was too wary to take the risks before him. He suddenly started aside from the lines; he turned and doubled in his course, and managed to reach the council house unhurt except for the blows of two Indians who threw themselves between him and its door. Here a council was held at once, and he was sentenced to be burnt at the stake, but the sentence was ordered to be carried out at the town of Wapatimika on Mad River. A white renegade among the Indians told him of his fate with a curse, and Kenton resolved that rather than meet it he would die in the attempt to escape. On the way to Wapatimika he gave his guard the slip and dashed into the woods; and he had left his pursuers far behind, when he ran into the midst of another party of Indians, who seized him and drove him forward to the town. A second council was now held, and after Kenton had run the gantlet a second time and been severely hurt, the warriors once more gathered in the council house, and sitting on the ground in a circle voted his death by striking the earth with a war club, or by passing it to the next if inclined to mercy. He was brought before them, as he supposed, to be told when he was to die, but a blanket was thrown upon the ground for him to sit upon in the middle of the circle, and Simon Girty, the great renegade, who was cruder to the whites than the Indians themselves, began harshly to question him about the number of men in Kentucky. A few words passed, and then Girty asked, "What is your name?" "Simon Butler," said Kenton, and Girty jumped from his seat and threw his arms around Kenton's neck. They had been scouts together in the English service, before the Revolution began, and had been very warm friends, and now Girty set himself to save Kenton's life. He pleaded so strongly in his favor that the council at last voted to spare him, at least for the time being.

Three weeks of happiness for Kenton followed in the society of his old friend, who clothed him at his own cost from the stores of an English trader in the town, and took him to live with him; and it is said that if the Indians had continued to treat him kindly, Kenton might perhaps have cast his lot with them, for he could not hope to go back to his own people, with the crime of murder, as he supposed, hanging over him, and he had no close ties binding him to the whites elsewhere. But at the end of these days of respite, a war party came back from the Virginian border, where they had been defeated, and the life of the first white man who fell into their power must pay, by the Indian law, for the life of the warrior they had lost. The leaders of this party found Kenton walking in the woods with Girty, and met him with scowls of hate, refusing his hand when he offered it. The rage of the savages against him broke out afresh. One of them caught an ax from his squaw who was chopping wood, and as Kenton passed him on his way into the village, dealt him a blow that cut deep into his shoulder. For a third time a council was held, and for a third time Kenton was doomed to die by fire. Nothing that Girty could say availed, and he was left to tell his friend that he must die.

Kenton's sentence was to be now carried out at Sandusky, and with five Indian guards he set out for that point. On their way they stopped at a town on the waters of the Scioto, where the captive found himself in the presence of a chief of noble and kindly face, who said to him, in excellent English, "Well, young man, these young men seem very mad at you." Kenton had to own that they were so, indeed, and then the Indian said, "Well, don't be discouraged. I am a great chief. You are to go to Sandusky; they speak of burning you there, but I will send two runners tomorrow to speak good for you."

This was the noble chief Logan, whose beautiful speech ought to be known to every American boy and girl, and who, in spite of all he had suffered from them, was still the friend of the white men. He kept his word to Kenton, though he seemed to fail, as Girty had failed, to have his sentence set aside, and Kenton was taken on to Sandusky. But here, the day before that set for him to die, a British Indian agent, a merciful man whose name, Drewyer, we ought to remember, made the Indians give him up, that the commandant at Detroit might find out from him the state of the American forces in Kentucky. He had to promise the savages that Kenton should afterwards be returned to them; but though Kenton could not or would not tell him what he wished to know, Drewyer assured him that he would never abandon any white prisoner to their cruelty.

At Detroit Kenton was kindly treated by the English, and beyond having to report himself daily to the officer who had charge of him, there was nothing to make him feel that he was a prisoner. But he grew restive in his captivity, and after he had borne seven months of it, and got well of all his wounds and bruises, he plotted with two young Kentuckians, who had been taken with Boone at the Blue Licks, to attempt his escape with them. They bought guns from some drunken Indians, and hid them in the woods. Then in the month of June, 1778, they started southward through the wilderness, and after thirty days reached Louisville in safety. Kenton continued to fight the Indians in all the wars, large and little, till they were beaten by General Wayne in 1794. Eight years later he came to live in Ohio, settling near Urbana, but removing later to Zanesfield, on the site of the Indian town Wapatimika, where he was once to have been burned, and where he died peaceably in 1836, when he was eighty-one years old. He is described as a tall, handsome man, of an erect figure and carriage, a fair complexion, and a most attractive countenance. "He had," his biographer tells us, "a soft, tremulous voice, very pleasing to the hearer, and laughing gray eyes that appeared to fascinate the beholder," except in his rare moments of anger, when their fiery glance would curdle the blood of those who had roused his wrath. He was above all the heroes of Ohio history, both in his virtues and his vices, the type of the Indian fighter. He was ready to kill or to take the chances of being killed, but he had no more hate apparently for the wild men than for the wild beasts he hunted.


Simon Girty, who tried so hard to save Kenton's life at Wapatimika, was the most notorious of those white renegades who abounded in the Ohio country during the Indian wars. The life of the border was often such as to make men desperate and cruel, and the life of the wilderness had a fascination which their fierce natures could hardly resist. Kenton himself, as we have seen, might perhaps have willingly remained with the Indians if they had wished him to be one of them, though he was at heart too kindly and loyal ever to have become the enemy of his own people, and if he had been adopted into an Indian family he would probably have been such an Indian as Smith was. But in the sort of backwoodsman he had been there was such stuff as renegades were made of. Like him these desperadoes had mostly fled from the settlements after some violent deed, and could not have gone back to their homes there if they would. Yet they were not much worse than the traders who came and went among the Indians in times of peace, and supplied them with the weapons and the ammunition they might use at any moment against the settlers.

Indeed, wherever the two races touched they seemed to get all of each other's vices, and very few of each other's virtues; and it is doubtful if the law breakers who escaped from the borders to the woods were more ferocious than many whom they left behind. Neither side showed mercy; their warfare was to the death; the white men tomahawked and scalped the wounded as the red men did, and if the settlers were not always so pitiless to their prisoners or to the wives and children of their warriors, they were guilty of many acts of murderous treachery and murderous fury. One of the best and truest friends they ever had, the great Mingo chief Logan, who was at last the means of Kenton's escape from the stake, bore witness to these facts in his famous speech; for in spite of his friendship for the whites, he had suffered the worst that they could do to the worst of their foes. When such white men as butchered Logan's kindred sided with the Indians, they only changed their cause; their savage natures remained unchanged; but very few of these, even, seem to have been so far trusted in their fear and hate for their own people as to be taken by the Indians in their forays against the whites.

The great Miami chief Little Turtle, who outgeneralled the Americans at the defeat of St. Clair, used to tell with humorous relish how he once trusted a white man adopted into his tribe. This white man was very eager to go with him on a raid into Kentucky, and when they were stealing upon the cabin they were going to attack, nothing could restrain his desire to be foremost. When they got within a few yards, he suddenly dashed forward with a yell of "Indians, Indians!" and left his red brethren to get out of the range of the settlers' rifles as fast as they could.

But Simon Girty led many of the savage attacks, and showed himself the relentless enemy of the American cause at every chance, though more than once he used his power with the Indians to save prisoners from torture and death. He was born in Pennsylvania, and he was captured with his brothers, George and James, during Braddock's campaign. They were all taken to Ohio, where George was adopted by the Delawares, James by the Shawnees, and Simon by the Senecas. George died a drunken savage; James became the terror of the Kentucky border, and infamous throughout the West by his cruelty to the women among the Indians' captives; he seems to have been without one touch of pity for the fate of any of their prisoners, and his cruelties were often charged upon Simon, who had enough of his own to answer for. Yet he seems to have been the best as well as the ablest of the three brothers whose name is the blackest in Ohio history. Many of the stories about him are evidently mere romance, and they often conflict. As he was captured when very young, he never learned to read or write; and it is said that he was persuaded by worse and wiser men to take sides with the British in the Revolution. But we need not believe that he was so ignorant or so simple as this in accounting for his preference of his red brethren and their cause. In fact, several letters attributed to him exist, though he may have dictated these, and may not have known how to write after all.

It is certain that he was a man of great note and power among the Indians, and one of their most trusted captains. He led the attack on Wheeling in 1777, where he demanded the surrender of the fort to the English king, whose officer he boasted himself. In 1782 he attacked Bryan's Station in Kentucky with a strong force of Indians, but met with such a gallant resistance that he attempted to bring the garrison to terms by telling them who he was and threatening them with the reenforcements and the cannon which he said he expected hourly. He promised that all their lives should be spared if they yielded, but while he waited with the white flag in his hand on the stump where he stood to harangue them, a young man answered him from the fort: "You need not be so particular to tell us your name; we know your name and you, too. I've had a villainous untrustworthy cur dog this long while named Simon Girty, in compliment to you, he's so like you, just as ugly and just as wicked. As to the cannon, let them come on; the country's aroused, and the scalps of your red cutthroats, and your own too, will be drying in our cabins in twenty-four hours; and if, by chance, you or your allies do get into the fort, we've a big store of rods laid in to scourge you out again."

The Indians retreated, but Girty glutted his revenge for the failure and the insult in many a fight afterwards with the Americans and in many a scene of torture and death. The Kentuckians now followed his force to the Blue Licks, where the Indians ambushed them and beat them back with fearful slaughter.

Girty remained with the savages and took part in the war which they carried on against our people long after our peace with the British. He was at the terrible defeat of St. Clair in 1791, and he had been present at the burning of Colonel Crawford in 1782. By some he is said to have tried to beg and to buy their prisoner off from the Wyandots, and by others to have taken part in mocking his agonies, if not in torturing him. It seems certain that he lived to be a very old man, and it is probable that he died fighting the Americans in our second war with Great Britain.

But the twilight of the forest rests upon most of the details of his history and the traits of his character. The truth about him seems to be that he had really become a savage, and it would not be strange if he felt all the ferocity of a savage, together with the rare and capricious emotions of pity and generosity which are apt to visit the savage heart. There have always been good Indians and bad Indians, and Simon Girty was simply a bad Indian.

1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse