xt7z08635m1q https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7z08635m1q/data/mets.xml Pritts, Joseph 1841  books b929701p93922009 English G. Hills : Lancaster, Pa. Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Indian captivities. Indians of North America --Wars --1790-1794. Frontier and pioneer life --Ohio River Valley. Indians of North America --Wars --1750-1815. Incidents of border life : illustrative of the times and condition of the first settlements in parts of the middle and western states, comprising narratives of strange and thrilling adventure--accounts of battles--skirmishes and personal encounters with the Indians--descriptions of their manners, customs, modes of warfare, treatment of prisoners, &c., &c.--also, the history of several remarkable captivities and escapes ; to which are added brief historical sketches of the war in the North-west, embracing the expeditions under Gens. Harmar, St. Clair and Wayne ; with an appendix and a review ... / compiled from authentic sources. text Incidents of border life : illustrative of the times and condition of the first settlements in parts of the middle and western states, comprising narratives of strange and thrilling adventure--accounts of battles--skirmishes and personal encounters with the Indians--descriptions of their manners, customs, modes of warfare, treatment of prisoners, &c., &c.--also, the history of several remarkable captivities and escapes ; to which are added brief historical sketches of the war in the North-west, embracing the expeditions under Gens. Harmar, St. Clair and Wayne ; with an appendix and a review ... / compiled from authentic sources. 1841 2009 true xt7z08635m1q section xt7z08635m1q 








... .





wira AN


Ai flie? the sun over Larmon's grassy hill, so pass tho tales of old ;   it is tlie voice of year   lhat are gone   they roll before me with nil their deeds   I seize the talcs as they pass, und pout thsm forth.   Obsiin.





Be it remembered, That on the Nineteenth day of October, [L. S. ] Anno Domini, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-nine, J. Pritts, of the said district, hath deposited in this office the title of a Boole, the title of which jsji^ike^itoxds following, to wit:

" Incidents of Border f.ife. II lucrative.of the-BHtnes._aud Condition of the First SeTUoments in par: Ui'iJli; -ami Western States, com-

prising Narratives of strange and thrilling Adventure, accounts of Bat* ties   Skirmishes and Personal Encounters with the Indians   Descriptions of their Manners, Customs, Modes of Warfare, Treatment of Prisoners, &c. fcc. :   Also, The History of several Remarkable Captivities and Escapes.   To which are added Brief Historical Sketches of the War in the North-West, embracing the Expeditions under Gens. Harmar, St. Clair and Wayne.   With an Appendix and a Review, compiled from au-SjJH thentic sources."  The right whereof he claims as Proprietor, in con-

formity with an Act of Congress, entitled " An act to amend the several actB respecting Copy-Rights."

FRA's HOPKINSON, CVk qf the Dist. 

Several years since, the compiler of this work was in company, in a stage coach, with two gentlemen of the clerical profession, on our way to Philadelphia. In the course of the journey, the conversation happening to turn upon the early history of the region of country through which we were passing, one of our companions was very naturally led to touch upon some of those remarkable and stirring incidents til honlp.r h'ViiniliO.wliJfb almost constant state of liosUKty between the white settlers und the aboriginal inhabitants, so abundantly gave rise. The other of our companions   a gentleman distinguished for his piety, learning, and rarely surpassed powers of oratory   became so much interested in the subject of discourse, that he enquired with some earnestness of manner where he should be able to procure a work from which he might become more intimate with the details of those frontier events. To this it was replied, that it was to be regretted that the written history of these times was so very meagre ; and that even what little has found a record in the detached and homely narratives of some participators in these frontier adventures, or in the equally unpretending and fragmentary chronicles of other, but contemporary writers of their deeds, had almost passed from the reach of the general reader   books of this kind having become extremely scarce. The result of the conversation was an expression of an increased desire on the part of the clergyman to obtain a particular work devoted to the subject, and of a determination on our part to collect as many of the'printed fragments of that part of our country's history as a diligent research might enable us to procure; and from the collection, and such additional resources as might fall within our reach, to compile a volume embracing whatever might seem interesting and suitable to the design and scope of the desired work. Though years elapsed without putting us in possession of the sought-for materials as fully as we wished, we flatter ourselves that we have at length succeeded in bringing together such a collection of narratives, and detail of adven- 
   iv PREFACE.

tures, as seem sufficiently copious, authentic, and interesting to justify committing them to the press and the judgment of the reading public.

In presenting this work to his countrymen, the compiler feels that he has mistaken the American taste, and greatly overrated the value attached to the contents of his book, if it does not meet with a welcome reception. It would be strange, indeed, if at a period when even the most extravagant and frivolous creations of fancy find ready consumption in the perhaps growing appetite for the marvellous and romantic, a narration of exciting scenes, known to be undoubted facts, and presented in the unadorned language of truth, should be less acceptable. It the admiration and sympathy of readers can be so strongly enlisted in the heroism :.ud suffering that never existed save in the creative imagination of the novelist, how much more readily and rationally should their sensibilities betouched by the noble daring, the toils and pmIIVi;",- of iW pioneer.-, sockin?. amidst ceaseless peril, to convert a howling wilderness into "a land flowing with milk and honey," and preparing the way for us, their successors and children, to sit down in peace under our own vine and fig-tree, where there are none to make us afraid.

On many accounts, we think our volume must be received with great eagerness. As already intimated, there have been but few books ever offered to the world, whether of real or fictitious adventure, so rich in varied, thrilling, and wonderful incident. From the first sound of their axe on the borders of the wilderness, through all the successive sttges of improvement, until the forest was gradually cleared away, and other frontier settlements formed by other but kindred adventurers, to be in their turn the scenes of wild and daring exploits, interposed to shield the first against the predatory incursions of a never-tiring foe, the original settlers of any given portion of the country whose early history it is intended to illustrate, passed through so many strange and exciting events that the unadorned record of the life of any one of these back-woods-men, appears far more like an ingenuous romance than a sober and veritable biography. We do not purport to give a book made up entirely of the memoirs of individual adventurers. For the most part our volume is filled with only the most remarkable incidents occurring in the settlements, of which any account has been preserved. It is much to be regretted that the entire lives of many more of the pioneers of civilization, are not recorded.   A few such, however, are to be found 


in the following pages.   And we defy any reader of the least pretension to literary taste, to take up any one of these, the Life of Col. James Smith, for instance, with which our volume begins, and perusing it as a mere story book, independent of its value as a record of very interesting events, and not pronounce that simple and artless narrative one of the most charming compositions he ever read. It is but recently we heard one of our friends, (alas! now no more,) a gentleman of a remarkably classic turn of mind, and keenly alive to all that is beautiful in literature, exclaim, unconsciously to himself, as he rose from the perusal of it, " The untutored Defoe!" We have often thought since how appropriately the term was applied. We see throughout the whole narrative, told in language always plain and simple as a child's, though in some places, it is true, not quite grammatically correct, the same minute yet not tiresome detail of circumstances, the same descriptive manner of relating events as they appear to have occurred, which have made Robinson Crusoe a favorite with all, from the boy just beginning to read, or the unlettered servant girl half spelling through its pages, up to those most distinguished for learning and cultivation of taste. But rich in wonderful, yet at the same time apparently natural incident, as this best production of Defoe undoubtedly is, we deem it to be even surpassed in that respect by the humble sketch we have just ventured to compare with it. And what has been said of this first article of our volume, might be said also, to a certain extent, of nearly every one that follows. We have referred to it as a specimen merely because of its place, and not because of any great superiority, either in matter or in manner, it possesses over a number of the other articles, except that it is somewhat more complete as a biography. Our whole boak throughout abounds with scenes and adventures equally romantic, and many of them are described as artlessly and as well.

Indeed, what almost everyone knows generally of the kind of life led bv the first settlers in the middle, and some parts of the western states, will serve to convince him that our compilation must be a work of no little interest. Almost every one knows something, yet how indefinite is his knowledge, of the early history of this now flourishing part of the country. He may have some general notion of brave men starting out, with their families, from homes of security, and settling in little groupes in the wilderness, erecting their log cabins in their clearings, and a rude stockade fort near the centre of each of these little colonies, to which, at the alarm of an invasion, A* 


their wives and children were seen hastily flying   of the whole of one of these little settlements assembled at times of extraordinary danger, and going from farm to farm to plough their fields or to cut down their harvest, their rifles all the time at their sides, or ready to be seized at a moment's warning   of savages lurking in the woods, shooting down whoever ventured to go forth unarmed and alone to his labor, then rushing into the undefended door to kill or to carry into captivity, all the inmates of his dwelling   of desperate conflicts between the white settlers and their savage foes, sometimes one party victorious, and sometimes the other   of fugitive Indians pursued into the heart of the wilderness, and the captives they had carried oif, perhaps the wives, children, brothers, or sisters of the pursuers, rescued'   of other prisoners, when pursuit was either unsuccessful or not made, sometimes making their escape by the way, then chased by their disappointed captors, and if not again taken, wandering days and nights in the forest, without food or the means of procuring it, and at length reaching their homes, perhaps only to find them desolate ; sometimes, less fortunate, bound to the stake, and expiring in tortures ; and sometimes carried to the Indian villages, adopted into their families, and becoming learned in their language and traditions, their manners and customs, modes of life and of warfare, and then perhaps after long years of captivity, returning to their friends, and describing all the wonders they had witnessed during a sojourn among a strange and uncivilized people. But beyond these vague generalities, how few know any thing of the life these settlers led. Yet who that knows aught of that life does not long to know more ? Who that has heard of any such incidents as we have just now enumerated, does not feel a longing desire to hear them described at length, with all their attending circumstances ? To gratify such a feeling as this was one object of our compilation. Whether we have succeeded to the satisfaction of our readers it is for them to determine; but for our own part, we repeat, we would not know where to seek, whether in the pages of fiction or of history, a relation of events more romantic, or possessing a more absorbing interest, than many of the narratives we have given to the public.

But it is not merely as a collection of entertaining and wonderful adventure, to be read for a winter evening's amusement, and then to be thrown aside as a thing of little worth, our volume recommends itself to the American reader.   It is still more valuable as a faithful 


chronicle of the times to which it relates. Decidedly the most interesting portions in the history of any part of our country, are those relating first to the period of its early settlement, and secondly to that period commencing with the French and Indian war, and terminating with the struggle of the revolution. But it so happens, that in the greater part of that region of country whose early condition this work is intended to illustrate, these two periods exactly coincide. Partly for this reason, and partly for others we shall presently mention, do we deem that very region of country the scene of more varied and stirring adventure than has been witnessed in almost any other section of the land   the incidents of a frontier settlement, and the incidents of one or the other of the wars referred to, all taking place at the same time. In the character of the aboriginal tribes who disputed with the settlers of this region the occupancy of the lands, and in the features of the country where their contests were had, may be found oilier causes both to multiply the adventures and to render them remarkable, beyond those of any other of our frontier settlements. The Indians who here resisted the advance of civilization, were certainly the most heroic and warlike race that ever claimed a portion of the territory we now call our own, and they kept up a more prolonged border warfare than was elsewhere witnessed in defence of it. During a great part of this protracted warfare, the white settlements were on the eastern side of the mountains, and the Indian villages on the western ; the mountainous district between, while it served as a barrier to the tide of civilization, affording secure hiding places to small war parties of the savages, whence they could wait a favorable opportunity, and make an unexpected descent upon the settlements, and then again sheltering them in the fastnesses of the hills until at their leisure they could make good their retreat. And when the intrepid pioneers at length ventured to cross the mountains and establish themselves in the western valley, they were so few in number, and removed so far beyond the reach of any assistance their countrymen might have rendered them, that they were enabled to maintain themselves in their new homes against the formidable attacks of their far more numerous adversaries, only by engaging in the most desperate conflicts. During such a period, and in such a condition of the frontiers, more remarkable scenes must have been enacted every year, than have been witnessed within the same extent of country, in any half a century since.   But, for many reasons, it is of this very 


period we know the least. The adventurers had too much to do to write their own history. Indeed the most of them knew far better how to wield the axe or the rifle than the pen. And even of those who lived to enjoy, in the evening of their days, the quietness of a safe and peaceful home, and who were skilled enough to record the various adventures of which they had been witnesses or had borne a part, few, it is evident, thought the occurrences of their eventful lives worth the trouble of narrating. Such incidents as to us would appear strange, were to them of every-day occurrence, and perhaps they thought as little of them in many instances as the men of our own day do of the ordinary events of theirs. We suspect, however, that of the few memorials of the limes that have been in print, some have been lost. They may have fallen into the hands of those whose bad taste would lead them to despise the homeliness of the style in which they were written, and to cast them aside among the rubbish of forgotten things. This we know, that it was with great difficulty we were enabled to procure a number of the most interesting narratives in our volume. The copies of them tn be found must be extremely scarce. What few remain of these homely, but at the same time valuable and highly entertaining productions, it is one main object of our publication to preserve. It is a duty which we of the present generation owe to the memory of the pioneers of civilization in the region where we dwell, to gather up with religious care whatever records of the times there are left, and, studying them well, to transmit them in as enduring a form as possible to the generations that succeed us. We, the children of these hardy adventurers, and the posterity that conies after us, should know how much we are indebted to them, in order to appreciate as we ought the blessings we enjoy, purchased and secured to us at such an expense of peril, suffering, and toil. How different from ours is the life they led ! But where, save in these fragments of history we have endeavored to snatch from oblivion, can we obtain a correct knowledge of their times ? If we form an idea of them from a comparison with what at present we may see going on, our impressions must be altogether wrong.   There is nothing in the world now that in the least resembles the border scenes of that period.   The frontier adventurers of our own time, differ as much irom those of that day, in all their habits and circumstances of life, as the open prairie lands, where the settler now finds his field ready for the plough, 


differ from the thickly wooded country, where the earlier pioneer cut his way through the forest to make himself a farm.

From the materials in our hands, we might have attempted a general outline of the history of the period we have undertaken to illustrate ; we might have given a more connected narrative of the frontier events we wished to preserve; and concluded with a general description of border life and border character of the period. Such attempts have been often made. But they are usually wanting in interest; they fail to give any vivid impressions of what they describe ; and very frequently they are only calculated to mislead. We have chosen rather to give our Incidents of Border Life in detached pieces as we found them. And especially where the adventurers themselves, or those who were their contemporaries, have related the events of their times, we have greatly preferred preserving their own stories in their own homely language.   Their deeds are best told in their own words.   We have scarcely, changed a syllable. This the taste of some may condemn, but in our opinion it is one of the chief merits of the work.   To have altered the style of the witnesses would have greatly marred and weakened their evidence.   To have attempted to improve the pictures they have drawn, would only have destroyed their identity; they would have been no longer, as they now are, perfect representations of border life    scenes of days gone by, fixed, at the time, in enduring colors, by the rude but faithful artists who were witnesses of what they paint with such untutored yet such graphic skill. 




In May, 1755, the province of Pennsylvania agreed to send out three hundred men, in order to cut a wagon road from Fort Loudon, to join Braddock's road, near the Turkey Foot, or three forks of Yohogania. My brother-in-law, William Smith, Esq. of    Conoeocheague, was appointed commissioner, to have the oversight of these road-cutters.

Though I was at that time only eighteen years of age, I had fallen violently in love with a young lady, whom I apprehended was possessed of a large share of both beauty and virtue ; but being born between Venus and Mars, I concluded I must also leave my dear fair one, and go out with this company of road-cutters, to see the event of this campaign; but still expecting that sometime in the course of this summer, I should again return to the arms of my beloved.

We went on with the road, without interruption, until near the Allegheny Mountain; when I was sent back, in order to hurry up some provision wagons that were on the way after us. I proceeded down the road as far as the crossings of Juniata, where, finding the wagons were coming on as fast as possible, I returned up the road again towards the Allegheny Mountain, in company with one Arnold Vigoras. About four or five miles above Bedford, three Indians had made a blind of bushes, stuck in the ground, as though they grew naturally, where they concealed themselves, about fifteen yards from the road. When we came opposite to them, they fired upon us, at this short distance, and killed my fellow traveller, yet their bullets did not touch me; but my horse making a violent start, threw me, and the Indians immediately ran up, and took me prisoner. The one that laid hold on me was a Canasataugua, the other two were Delawares. One of them could speak English, and asked me if there were any more white men coming after ? I told them not any-near, that I knew of. Two of these Indians stood by me, whilst the other scalped my comrade: they then set off and ran at a smart rate, through the woods, for about fifteen miles, and that night, we slept on the Allegheny Mountain, without fire, 

life and travels of

The next morning they divided the last of their provision, which they had brought from Fort Du Quesne, and gave me an equal share, which was about two or three ounces of mouldy biscuit   this and a young ground-hog, about as large as a rabbit, roasted, and also equally divided, was all the provision we had until we came to the Loyal-Hannan, which was about fifty miles; and a great part of the way we came through exceeding rocky laurel thickets, without any path. When we came to the west side of Laurel Hill, they gave the scalp halloo, as usual, which is a long yell or halloo, for every scalp or prisoner they have in possession; the last of these scalp halloos were followed with quick and sudden shrill shouts of joy and triumph. On their performing this, we were answered by the firing of a number of guns on the Loyal-Hannan, one after another, quicker than one could count, by another party of Indiai.s, who were encamped near where Ligoneer now stands. As we advanced near this party, they increased with repeated shouts of joy and triumph; but I did not share with them in their excessive mirth. "When we came to this camp, we found they had plenty of turkeys and other meat there; and though I never before eat venison without bread or salt, yet as I was hungry, it relished very well. There we. lay that night, and the next morning the whole of us marched on our way for Fort Du Quesne. The night after we joined another camp of Indians, with nearly the same ceremony, attended with great noise, and apparent joy, among all except one. The next morning we continued our march, and in the afternoon we came in full view of the fort, which stood on the point, near where Fort Pitt now stands. We then made a halt on the bank of the Allegheny, and repeated the scalp halloo, which was answered by the firing of all the firelocks in the hands of both Indians and French who were in and about the fort, in the aforesaid manner, and also the great guns, which were followed by the continued shouts and yells of the different savage tribes who were then collected there.

As I was at this time unacquainted with this mode of firing and yelling of the savages, I concluded that there were thousands of Indians there ready to receive General Braddock; but what added to my surprise, I saw numbers running towards me, stripped naked, excepting breech-clouts, and painted in the most hideous manner, of various colours, though the principal colour was vermilion, or a bright red; yet there was annexed to this, black, brown, blue, &c. As they approached, they formed themselves into two long ranks, about two or three rods apart. I was told by an Indian that could speak English, that I must run betwixt these ranks, and that they would flog me all the way, as I ran, and if I ran quick, it would be so much the better, as they would quit when I got to the end of the ranks. There appeared to be a general rejoicing around me, yet, I could find nothing like joy in my breast; but I started to the race with all the resolution and vigour I was capable of exerting, and found that it was as I had been told, for I was flogged the whole way.   When I had got near the end of the lines, I was struck with

   colonel james smith. IS

something that appeared to me to be a stick, or the handle of a tomahawk, which caused me to fall to the ground. On my recovering my senses, I endeavoured to renew my race ; but as I arose, some one cast sand in my eyes, which blinded me so, that I could not see where to run. They continued beating me most intolerably until I was at length insensible; but before I lost my senses, I remember my wishing them to strike the fatal blow, for I thought they intended killing me, but apprehended they were too long( about it.

The first thing I remember was my being in the fort, amidst the French and Indians, and a French doctor standing by me, who had opened a vein in my left arm ; after which the interpreter asked me how I did : I told him I felt much pain ; the doctor then washed my wounds, and the bruised places of my body, with French brandy. As I felt pain, and the brandy smelt well, I asked for some inwardly, but the doctor told me, by the interpreter, that it did not suit my case.

When they found I could speak, a number of Indians came around me, and examined me, with threats of cruel death, if I did not tell the truth.   The first question they asked me, was, how many men were there in the party that were coming from Pennsylvan: join Braddock?   I told them the truth, that there were three hundred.   The next question was, were they well armed ?   I told them they were all well armed, (meaning the arm of flesh,) for they had only about thirty guns among the whole of them; which, if the Indians had known, they would certainly have gone and cut them all off"; therefore, I could not in conscience let them know the defenceless situation of these road-cutters.   I was then sent to th hospital, and carefully attended by the doctors, and recovered quick er than what I expected.

Some time after I was there, I was visited by the Delaware India already mentioned, who was at the taking of me, and could speak some English.   Though he spoke but bad English, yet I found him. to be a man of considerable understanding.   I asked him if I had done any thing that had offended the Indians, which caused them t| treat me so unmercifully ?   He said no, it was only an old custi r the Indians had, and it was like how do you do; after that, he    I would be well used.   I asked him if I should be permitted remain with the French?   He said no   and told me, that, as st^ as I recovered, I must not only go with the Indians, but must he made an Indian myself.   I ask3d him what news from Braddock's army?   He said, the Indians spied them every day, and he sf,)w.ed me by making marks on the ground with a stick, that Bra<.j ock army was advancing in very close order, and that the Indians wo< surround them, take trees, and (as he expressed it,) shoot um do all one pigeon.

Shortly after this, on the 9th day of July, 1755, in the mornii I heard a great stir in the fort. As I could then walk with a s in my hand, I went out of the door, which was just by the wall the fort, and stood upon the wall and viewed the Indians in a hudt 

life and travels OF

b -jbefore the gate, where were barrels of powder, bullets, flints, &c., and every one taking what suited ; I saw the Indians also march off It fin rank entire   likewise the French Canadians, and some regulars.

After viewing the Indians and French in different positions, I com-l nputed them to be about four hundred, and wondered that they Mj attempted to go out against Braddock with so small a party.   I was it then in high hopes that I would soon see them fly before the British

I troops, and that General Braddock would take the fort and rescue me.

I remained anxious to know the event of this day ; and, in the

  L r\l afternoon, I again observed a great noise and commotion in the fort, and though at that time I could not understand French, yet I found f i;that it was the voice of joy and triumph, and feared that they had

if received what I called bad news. ; 1    1 had observed some of the old country soldiers speak Dutch: as

II spoke Dutch, I went to one of them, and asked him, what was I >Hhe news?   He told me that a runner had just arrived, who said

that Braddock would certainly be defeated; that the Indians and French had surrounded him, and were concealed behind trees and in..gillies, and kept a constant fire upon the English, and that they p  saw the English falling in heaps, and if they did not take the river, Tjwhich. was the only gap, and make their escape, there would not be fione man left alive before sundown.   Some time after this I heard a ynumber of scalp halloos, and saw a company of Indians and French I /"Scorning in.   I observed they had a great many bloody scalps, grena-fdiers' caps, British canteens, bayonets, &c. with them. They brought the news that Braddock was defeated.   After that, another ompany came in, which appeared to be about one hundred, and '.infly Indians, and it seemed to me that almost every one of this company was carrying scalps ; after this came another company with . number of wagon horses, and also a great many scalps. Those that were coming in, and those that had arrived, kept a constant firing of small arms, and also the great guns in the fort, which were accompanied with the most hideous shouts and yells from all quarters ; so t   hat it appeared to me as if the infernal regions had broke looso.

About sundown I beheld a small party coming in with about a en prisoners, stripped naked, with their hands tied behind their ks, and their faces and part of their bodies blackened   these goners they burned to death on the bank of Allegheny river opposite to the fort.   I stood on the fort wall until I beheld them begin to burn one of these men: they had him tied to a stake, and kept touching him with firebrands, red-hot irons, &c, and he screaming tjip^most doleful manner,   the Indians in the mean time yelling c infernal spirits.   As this scene appeared too shocking for me to old, I retired to my lodgings both sore and sorry. .Vhen I came into my lodgings I saw Russel's Seven Sermons, lich they had brought from the field of battle, which a Frenchman de a present of to me.   From the best information I coukl receive, sre were only seven Indians and four French killed in this battle, uV   d five hundred British lay dead in the field, besides what were "    c d in the river on their retreat. 

[before the gate, where 'aw', every one