Settler Encounters With The Native Americans

Reference is made to Maxwell’s cabin at Rush Run in 1772 as being probably the first efforts toward early attempts at settlement in Jefferson County. He returned here in 1780, bringing with him a young bride. Another cabin was erected and a small patch cleared for corn. They made friends with the Indians who called Mrs. Maxwell the “Wild Rose,” and the red men while stealing from everybody else did not molest the Maxwells. The border troubles increasing, most of Maxwell’s neighbors erected blockhouses as places as refuge and stored them with arms and provisions. He, however, considered himself safe, and soon a daughter was born and named Sally. When the daughter was about three years old the parents made a visit to Fort Henry, leaving her in charge of a young man who was visiting them. They intended remaining two days, but alarmed by a reported uprising of the Indians they returned home to bring their visitor and their daughter to the post. As they drew near their cabin the air became thick with smoke, and when they entered the cleared ground, and looked for their home, no home was there. Instead burning logs and smoking ruins; around the ground was trodden with many feet of moccasined men. A tomahawk smeared with fresh blood lay among the embers, and near by lay the charred remains of their late visitor, but not a trace could they discover of their daughter. There seemed no doubt that Sally was dead, and the mother was so crazed by the terrible calamity, that snatching the hunting knife from her husband’s belt, she almost severed her head from the body. All the settlers had assembled at Fort Henry; they were soon notified by the infuriated husband, and decided to follow the trail of the savages, but during the first night heavy rains fell, causing all traces of the trail to disappear and the baffled party were obliged to return in order to defend their own homes and families. Then it was that Maxwell swore to be avenged, and single handed for months he shadowed the red murderers through the dim forest until his grudge had been glutted a hundredfold, and his name inspired as much terror among the Indians as that of Simon Kenton or Lewis Wetzel. Maxwell did not appear again in this vicinity until about the time Fort Steuben was completed by Captain Hamtramck, in February, 1787. Colonel Zane recommended him to the captain as a scout for the new fort. Zane said his eye was keener and his tread lighter than those of the most wily savage. He rivaled even that subtlest of Indian hunters, Lewis Wetzel. It was on a scouting expedition from this fort that he met the party of Indians who had fired upon John Wetzel and a companion, who were going down the river in a canoe, and not obeying the command of the Indians to stop, Wetzel was shot through the body. He saved his friend, who was mortally wounded, from further outrage by directing him to lie in the bottom of the canoe, while he paddled beyond the reach of the savages. He died upon reaching the shore, and his death was terribly avenged by his son. Maxwell, who had acquired the habit of loading his gun while at a full run, was chased by this same party from tree to tree, until he had killed three of the six, and the others thinking him always loaded, left him. Maxwell returned to the fort that night with three scalps. He is said to have been surprised and captured by a party of Indians who had closely watched his movements. He was taken alive to their encampment, and after the usual rejoicing over the capture of a noted enemy he was made to run the gauntlet, after which he was blackened and tied to a stake while the fires were kindled. Just as the savages were about to begin the torture, a heavy rain put out the fire. The Indians concluded not to finish the torture that day, and so postponed it. During the night they taunted the “soft stepper,” as he was called by them, who was bound to a log by a buffalo throng around his neck, and his hands were bound to his back with cords. At last those watching him fell asleep, and Maxwell began trying to loose the cords, and soon extricated one of his arms. It was but the work of a few minutes for him to pull the strap binding him to the log over his head, and quietly getting a pair of moccasins and a jacket from one of his watchers, he sneaked away to where the horses were corralled, and selecting the first horse he came across, he was soon far away. It was not long until he was again on the trail of another band of Indians led by Simon Girty. He abandoned the pursuit, however, and was not again actively engaged in Indian warfare until the campaign of 1790, when he acted as a scout for General Harmar. After St. Clair’s defeat the next year he returned home and fished along the banks of the Ohio until he joined Wayne, and was a scout in the battle of Fallen Timbers. It was during Wayne’s campaign that he discovered that his daughter had not been burned in his cabin twelve years before, but had been taken by a chief and by him sold to wandering Hurons, who had been expelled by the Iroquois, to the territory at about the headwaters of the Mississippi. He also learned that she was still living among the Hurons. No sooner did he hear this from an Indian of the Huron tribe than he set out for their land. He had no doubts, no fears, that she was not his daughter. How he identified her is not known, but in the course of a year after his departure he returned, bringing with him a beautiful and well-proportioned girl of about sixteen years of age. She could speak no word of English and had no recollection of her former home. After she had become reconciled to her father and was able to speak his language, she told how her life had been spent among the Hurons, where her beauty and white skin had made her almost a goddess. She had always thought herself a daughter of the chief and had often wished that she could darken her skin and hair so she could more resemble the other maidens of the tribe. Although knowing nothing of the ways of civilized society, Sally was not by any means totally unaccomplished. Her adopted father had taught her to fear the great spirit, speak the truth and to bear pain without a murmur. She learned that the important part of the Indian woman’s duty was to raise the vegetables needed for food, to prepare savory dishes of venison and other game, to make their garments, ornamenting them with uncommon skill and taste, and to manufacture baskets. She knew all the herbs, roots and barks that observation and tradition had taught the Indian to employ in the cure of diseases; all the trees and shrubs were known to her by the Indian name, and she was skilled in domestic surgery. For a long time she pined for the freedom of her Indian home, but the kindness and patience of the matrons living near Fort Henry, finally weaned her away from all inclination to return. Her father now declared peace between him and the red man.

Another characteristic adventure of those days was that of the Johnson boys near what is now the town of Warrenton in 1788. The two boys, John and Henry, the former about thirteen and the latter eleven years of age, were in the forest cracking nuts when they were captured by two Indians, and after journeying some distance over a circuitous route the party halted for the night. The elder, in order to keep the Indians from killing them, pretended that they were pleased to be taken, as they had been treated illy at home and desired to get away from their people. During the evening and before they lay down to sleep, John guardedly informed his brother of a plan he had arranged in his mind for escape. After the Indians had tied the boys and had gone to sleep, John loosened his hands and having also released his brother, they resolved to kill their captors. John took a position with a gun one of the Indians had by his side, and Henry was given a tomahawk. At a given signal, one discharged the rifle and the other almost severed the head of the other Indian with the tomahawk. The one struck with the tomahawk attempted to rise, but was immediately dispatched by the brave boy. Coming near Fort Carpenter early in the morning, they found the settlers preparing to go in an expedition of rescue. The story that they had killed the two Indians, one of whom was a chief, was not believed by the settlers about the fort, but to convince them John accompanied the men to the scene of the encounter, where they found the body of the Indian killed by John with the tomahawk, but the other had been only wounded and had crawled away. His body was found afterwards. Doddridge says that after the Wayne victory, a friend of the Indians killed by the Johnson boys, asked what had become of the boys. When told that they still lived with their parents on Short Creek, the Indian replied, “You have not done right; you should have made kings of those boys.” The land on which the two Indians were killed was donated to the Johnson boys by the Government for this service. This land was purchased from the Johnson boys by Captain Kirkwood, and has been since in the possession of the Howard, Medill and Kirk families.

The two Castleman girls, Mary and Margaret, furnish another interesting story. They came from the Virginia side of the river in 1791 to a sugar camp at the mouth of Croxton’s Run, above Toronto, accompanied by their uncle, a Mr. Martin. While engaged in boiling sap, they were surprised by Indians, who shot Marin and , capturing Mary, ran in a westerly direction. Margaret had hidden in a hollow sycamore, but started to follow her sister. A young Indian picked her up and claimed her as his property. The girls were taken to Sandusky, where Margaret was sold to a French trader and Mary was married to a half-breed who treated her with great cruelty. When at last he threw his knife at her she ran away and reached her friends on the Ohio, where she married a man named Wells. The father of the girls, after the Wayne treaty, found Margaret at Detroit and brought her home, where she married David Wright, who lived in the upper part of the county. She lived to the age of 103 years, and left a grand-niece, Mrs. Devore, living at Mingo.

A Mr. Riley located on land west of Mingo, where he built a cabin. One day in 1784, while he and his two sons were working in a cornfield, the Indians surprised and killed the father and one son, the other having escaped. At the cabin they found the mother and two daughters. Mrs. Riley was tied to a grapevine and the two daughters carried off, one of whom was soon tomahawked and the other sold to a French trader at Detroit. The remains of the murdered ones were gathered together and buried in what is now Wells Township on the Smiley Johnson estate, where the graves have been cared for as a patriotic duty. Mrs. Riley had escaped from the grapevine and taken refuge in the blockhouse that stood at the mouth of Battle Run. Riley’s Run, the little stream in that neighborhood, is now called Riddle’s Run. The following story is told a little further on in the book: The tragic fate of the Riley family has already been told in the chapter relating to the pioneers, but some fresh facts having been gleaned from Hon. William H. Tarr, of Wellsburg, they are worthy of insertion here, especially as they refer to the last Indian massacre in this valley. The victims had taken up a claim and built a cabin about a mile and a half west of Brilliant, the family consisting of the father, mother and two boys and two girls, aged about fourteen or sixteen years. Early in the spring of 1792 they were engaged in gathering sugar-water when the Indians came upon them. The father, mother and one boy were tomahawked on the spot. The oldest boy fled to the “blockhouse” on the river and escaped. The Indians took the two girls, and fearing pursuit, hastily fled. One-half mile west of what is now the village of New Alexandria, at what is still called the Cold Spring, one of the girls became frantic and was killed with a tomahawk. After the peace resulting from Wayne’s victory much interest was taken and many conjectures made along the border as to the fate of the captive girl. As the years passed, various rumors came out of the West -- rumors of death by tomahawk, death by grief for her murdered family and of adoption by the Indians. Nothing, however, was sustained by facts or carried with it even a semblance of truth. Among the three volunteers from this vicinity in the War of 1812 was James Riley, the boy who escaped to the blockhouse. A rumor having become current after peace was declared that some prisoners from this part of the valley were among the Indians, young Riley obtained a permit from the commandant at Fort Meigs to go among the Indians, and there he found a woman, middle aged, in full Indian dress, morose and stupid, with every trait of savage stamped on her appearance. She was the long lost sister, and well remembered the murder of her family, but no amount of persuasion could induce her to return. These were her people, she knew no other, and with them she would remain. The kindly hand of Fate has cast a veil over the future of the captive girl; most likely she followed in the train of the wandering savages westward until the end came. The three volunteers mentioned above were William Tarr, Felty Mendel and James Riley, all from Brooke County, and some of their descendants are living there at this day. The graves of the Rileys are on lands belonging to the estate of the late Smiley H. Johnson, just back of Brilliant. The cabin from which the Rileys went to meet their death is still standing; about 100 rods west of the cabin, on slightly elevated ground, in an old orchard is the last resting place of the Rileys. No kindred hands are near to care for these lonely graves. They, too, have passed to the great beyond. No enclosure surrounds the spot where they lie. The rough unlettered stones crowned with the moss of the passing ages still mark the spot where the martyred Rileys rest. A solitary osage orange tree spreads its bright green leaves protecting over all, typical emblem of a resurrected life to come. Vandal hands have never disturbed their silent slumber and no other graves have ever been permitted here. Side by side, father and mother, brother and sister lie. The storms of winter and the bright sunlight of summer have come and gone for a hundred years over the last martyrs to the cause of civilization.

In the early days considerable ginseng was dug in this section and taken east to be exchanged for salt and other products. Josiah Davis, with several others, came across the river in canoes, and he, with an old man named Anderson, was engaged in digging the root on what is now the Bustard farm, adjoining Steubenville. Suddenly an Indian whoop was heard and the crack of two rifles. Anderson fell dead and Davis started to run, with the savages after him. The other members of the party, who do not seem to have been noticed by the savages, hastened home and reported both the missing ones dead. Davis, however, succeeded in distancing his pursuers, and reaching the river near the present site of the LaBelle Mills, arrived home in safely, his knife still open in one hand and the stick he had been whittling to dig the root with in the other.



SULLIVAN During January, 1785, when the well known Indian Chief, Joe White Eyes, was en route to Fort McIntosh at the mouth of the Beaver River to sign a treaty, he stole some horses from a farmer named Sullivan, in what is now Wells Township. Sullivan called his dog and gave chase. Approaching the Indian, the dog raised a great commotion, when White Eyes turned and shooting Sullivan, continued his journey. Afterwards, referring to the matter, he coolly remarked: “He must have been a fool; he knew he was in danger when the dog kicked up so, and he knew I was not going to be thus detected, therefore he compelled me to shoot him – I couldn’t help myself,” a philosophical reflection characteristic of the border.

INDIANS About the close of the eighteenth century four Indians journeyed into the town of Warrenton, and bought some whisky, from which they soon became greatly intoxicated. When they started for home they were followed by a party of whites to a short distance back of what is now Portland Station on Short Creek, where they laid down to rest and were soon in a drunken stupor. Here they were attacked by the whites and all killed. The farm was afterwards owned by J. D. Stringer, who plowed up a number of bones supposed to belong to these unfortunates.

TILTON Jack Tilton, of that same neighborhood, was killed by Indians when he was about fourteen years old, having been run down and shot and scalped while out after cows. His dead body was found on the bank of Short Creek, about half a mile west of Portland, where the house of George S. Bigger now stands.

BROWN On March 27, 1789, as Mrs. Glass, afterwards Mrs. Brown, of Brooke County, Virginia, was spinning at her home, her black woman who was gathering sugar water outside, screamed, “Here are Indians.” She ran to the door, where an Indian presented his gun at her. She begged him not to shoot, but take her prisoner. Another Indian caught her boy and the negro woman, and after stealing some articles, started for the river, having for captives Mrs. Brown, her son, and the negro woman with her two children, four and one year old. After a short march they stopped for consultation, and to one of the Indians who could speak English she held out her son and begged for his life, saying he would make a fine little Indian. The Indian motioned her to walk on with her child, when the other Indian struck the negro boy with the pipe end of his tomahawk, knocking him down, and dispatched and scalped him. They reached the river three miles below Mingo about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and taking their canoe, made for Rush Run, where they encamped for the night about a mile above the mouth. At sunrise they crossed the divide on to Short Creek, where they again camped in the afternoon and deposited their plunder with the fruits of previous robberies. Mr. Glass was working with a hired man in a field about a quarter of a mile from the house when his family was taken, but knew nothing of it until about 2 p.m., four hours after. After a fruitless search for the missing ones, he went to Wells fort and collected ten men, and that night lodged in a cabin where Wellsburg now stands. Next morning they found the place where the party had embarked, Mr. Glass recognizing the print of his wife’s shoe in the earth. They crossed the river and examined the shore down nearly as far as Rush Run without result, when most of the men, concluding that the Indians had gone down the river to the Muskingum, wanted to turn back. Mr. Glass begged them to go at least as far as Short Creek, to which they agreed, and at Rush Run found the canoes. While going down the river one of the Indians threw into the water some papers which he had taken from Mr. Glass’s trunk. Mrs. Glass picked several of the pieces out of the water, and under pretense of giving them to her boy dropped them into the bottom of the canoe, where her husband found them. The trail of the party up the run was soon discovered and easily followed, owing to the softness of the ground and the derangement of the weeds standing from the previous fall. About an hour after the Indians halted on Short Creek, Mr. Glass and party saw the smoke of their camp. In order that the Indians might have no chance to kill their captives, they crept quietly through the bushes. Mrs. Brown’s son had toddled to a sugar tree to get some water, where the Indians had made a tap, but not being able to get it out of the bark trough, his mother stepped out of the camp to get it for him. The negro woman was sitting some distance from the Indians who were examining a scarlet jacket which they had taken. Suddenly they dropped the jacket and turned their eyes towards the men, who, supposing they were discovered, immediately discharged several guns, and with a yell rushed upon them. One of the Indians was wounded, and dropped his gun and shot pouch. After running a hundred yards a second shot was fired after him by Major McGuire, which brought him down, but the pursuit was not carried further, as the Indians had told Mrs. Brown that there was another encampment close by. They hurried home, and reached Beech Bottom fort that night.

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