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Full text of "Incidents attending the capture, detention, and ransom of Charles Johnston of Virginia"




THE CAPTIVITY 

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JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 



Of this edition, two hundred and 
sixty-seven copies have been printed, 
of which two hundred and fifty are 
for sale, and the type distributed. 
This is 

No 




Map Showmg Johnstojis Route 



NARRATIVES OF CAPTIVITIES 



INCIDENTS ATTENDING THE CAPTURE, 

DETENTION, AND RANSOM OF 

CHARLES JOHNSTON 

OF VIRGINIA 



Reprinted from the original, with introduction 
and notes by Edwin Erie Sparks 




cleveland 

The Burrows Brothers Company 

1905 



ee-^ 



:3'i 



UBEW'i^fi S ^^*'^ 



Copyright, 1905 

BY 

The Burrows Brothers Company 



REPUBLICAN rRINTINQ C2 
CEDAR RAriDS, IOWA 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 



Map of Johnston's Journey Frontispiece 
Introduction, Edwin Erie Sparks . 7 
Johnston's Narrative . . . .17 
Facsimile of (rriginal title-page . . 19 
Index .155 



217099 




INTRODUCTION 

CHARLES Johnston, an attorney residing 
in Botetourt county, in the state of 
Virginia, upon a journey to the Ken- 
tucky country in 1790, was made prisoner by 
the Indians. Captured on the Ohio River, 
near the confluence of the Scioto, Johnston 
was carried north through what is now the 
state of Ohio, to the Indian village of Upper 
Sandusky. Here he was ransomed by a Ca- 
nadian trader and taken to Detroit. Fur- 
nished transportation down the lakes by the 
British authorities at thepost of Detroit, Johns- 
ton proceeded to New York City, where he 
was interviewed by President Washington and 
made a deposition before Secretary Knox upon 
the condition of affairs in the Northwest. He 
returned to Virginia after an absence of sev- 
eral months. His Narrative was first pub- 
ished in 1827. 

The relation of Johnston does not rank 
among the foremost of American '^Captivi- 
ties" because he was a prisoner only about 
five weeks and because the details of his ex- 
periences were not committed to paper until 
thirty-five years after they occurred. This 
delay no doubt prevented his giving a more 
detailed account of his captivity and in some 
particulars may have militated against exact- 



8 INTRODUCTION 

ness of description. At the same time, the 
brevity produces a straightforwardness of 
narrative and simplicity of style which form 
a pleasant contrast with the prolixity and ver- 
bosity of the average relation of an Indian 
captivity. Being a man of some education, 
and conversant with current national affairs, 
Johnston was able to furnish some inside in- 
formation concerning the conditions along the 
northern boundary during that long vexatious 
period of British occupancy of the American 
posts. 

The original edition of the Narrative was 
supplemented, according to the custom of the 
day, by certain ''Sketches of Indian Character 
and Manners with Illustrative Anecdotes." 
One would expect to find these made up of 
personal observations of Johnston while in 
captivity. On the contrary, they are composed 
of quotations from Charlevoix, Long, Lewis 
and Clark, Schoolcraft and other writers on 
the life of the savages in North America. Be- 
cause they contain almost no original matter, 
they are omitted from this reprint. 

To appreciate the feelings with which a 
journey to Kentucky was undertaken in those 
days, one must remember that the settled por- 
tions of the United States were confined close- 
ly to the Atlantic seaboard. At few points 
had civilization penetrated the interior more 
than 150 miles. In certain places, unusual 
facilities for travel in the shape of waterways 



INTRODUCTION 



or fertile valleys had drawn a long column of 
people far ahead of the main body on the 
march across the continent. The Potomac was 
especially favored in this particular, being 
the only stream affording access to the West. 
The wave of people which it caused to ad- 
vance poured over the mountains, encompass- 
ing the headwaters of the Ohio. 

Within this settled extension lay the Brad- 
dock road, the first route opened to the trans- 
Allegheny regions. It formed part of the 
easiest route to Kentucky. Passing up the 
Potomac, the traveler crossed the mountains 
by the Braddock road to the Monongahela. 
Floating down that stream to the Ohio, he 
found himself in time at Limestone, Kentucky, 
from which point of debarkation, a road led 
to the interior settled portions of the state. 
This route meant a long detour for residents 
of central or southern Virginia. Another route 
lay far to the South, the famous "Wilderness 
Road,'' which sought the Shenandoah valley 
and the headwaters of the Tennessee, passing 
finally through the Cumberland Gap and 
thence into central Kentucky. 

Mr. May and Mr. Johnston, in making 
their second journey to Kentucky, decided to 
avoid both these circuitous routes and to pro- 
ceed over the shorter but more difficult way 
directly across the mountains of what is now 
West Virginia, and down the Great Kanawha 
and Ohio rivers. From Petersburg, they fol- 



10 INTRODUCTION 

lowed the main travelled roads up the James 
River to the headwaters of that stream. 
Thence they used an old road, known as ''the 
Pocahontas trail," across the mountains to 
"the Greenbriar flats." Through these moun- 
tain highlands flowed the Greenbriar River, 
a tributary of the New River, which in turn 
flowed into the Great Kanawha. These upper 
or mountain streams were broken by so many 
falls that the travelers chose to remain on 
horseback and traverse by that means the strip 
of wild land eighty miles long, ''destitute of 
inhabitants," as Johnston says, until they 
should reach navigable water at the junction 
of the Great Kanawha with the Elk. 

The "heavy, clumsy, slow-moving struc- 
ture," which the party employed for the jour- 
ney down the rivers after embarkation, was 
what was commonly called an "ark." It was 
built flat without a keel, with high gunwales 
and sometimes a roof. Long poles bearing 
a "sweep" on the end kept the clumsy craft in 
the current upon which it depended for car- 
riage. Built by native workmen from planks 
sawed by hand, the ark was rarely returned to 
the place where it was built, but was dis- 
mantled in some lower river port, the lum- 
ber serving for building purposes. Evidently 
the ark made for the May party had no roof 
but high sides. When attacked, its passengers 
protected themselves from the savages by lying 
down in the bottom of the boat. 



INTRODUCTION ii 

The heterogeneous composition of the party 
was marked but not unusual. A land specu- 
lator and his attorney, a merchant, a frontiers- 
man, and '^two females of an humble condition 
in life'' were drawn together for mutual de- 
fense. It was quite common for people to 
travel in groups on the frontier for protection 
against the Indians and for mutual coopera- 
tion. Along certain public roads, an escort 
of United States troops was accustomed to 
pass at stated intervals for protecting trav- 
elers. Major Denny's Military Journal de- 
scribes boats lashed together for protection 
descending the Ohio. It was not felt neces- 
sary to join a party until the confines of Vir- 
ginia were passed. By the treaty of Fort 
Stanwix in 1768, the savages withdrew from 
western Pennsylvania and Virginia to the 
north of the Ohio River. For many years, 
the northern bank of that historic stream was 
known as ''the Indian side." The rapid spread 
of settlers to the westward of the Mountains 
after the close of the Revolutionary War and 
the opening of lands in the Northwest Terri- 
tory enraged the Indians north of the river 
and led to a warfare which lasted until the 
decisive victory of General Wayne and the 
treaty of Greenville in 1795 brought peace 
to the Ohio valley frontier. 

According to the official reports of these 
Indian depredations printed in the American 
State Papers, Indian Affairs, the savages main- 



12 INTRODUCTION 

tained a camp near the mouth of the Scioto 
from which they made sallies at intervals to 
prey upon travelers. This may be the camp 
to which Johnston was taken and which he 
describes. The Scioto valley was the North 
and South highway between the Ohio and the 
Great Lakes. 

The essential facts of the Johnston narrative 
have been used by Marshall, although the 
variations in his account illustrate discrepan- 
cies due to traditions. He says : 

"The i6th of January [1790], the Indians 
took two men and a lad near the mouth of Lee's 
creek on the Ohio. A few days afterward, 
they killed two men on the Hanging fork of 
Duck's River. The 29th of the month, a man 
was made prisoner opposite the mouth of 
Kentucky; and the settlement at that place 
evacuated. 

"March the ist, the Indians killed a part 
and dispersed the rest of the people in Kenne- 
dy's Bottom. 

"A canoe ascending the Ohio about the last 
of March was taken by the Indians near the 
mouth of the Scioto and three men killed. 
Within a few days after, a boat coming down 
was decoyed to shore by a white man who 
feigned distress ; when fifty savages rose from 
concealment, ran into the boat, killed John 
May and a young woman, being the first per- 
sons they came to, and took the rest of the 
people on board prisoners. It is probable 



INTRODUCTION 13 

that they made, according to their idea of 
duty or of honor, these sacrifices to the manes 
of so many of their slaughtered friends. 

''Soon after this event, for the Indians still 
continued to infest the river, other boats were 
taken and the people killed or carried away 
captive. 

'The 2nd of April, they attacked three 
boats on the Ohio near the confluence of the 
Scioto. Two, being abandoned, fell into the 
hands of the enemy, who plundered them; the 
other being manned with all the people, made 
its escape by hard rowing." — Marshall's His- 
tory of Kentucky, vol. i., page 357. 

Burnet's Notes were published after the 
Johnston Narrative; but the former author 
evidently had not the advantage of having 
read the latter. Burnet's account is a strange 
commingling of the attack upon the May boat 
and that of the following day in which the 
survivors of the May party were compelled 
to take part. Burnet says: 

"During the same month [March, 1790], 
three boats descending the river in company, 
saw a boat lying at the Indian shore, a short 
distance above the Scioto River, containing a 
large party of Indians. The descending boats 
were fortunately near the Virginia shore when 
the enemy discovered them. On coming op- 
posite to them, a white man, standing at the 
edge of the water, called and begged them to 
surrender, affirming as the fact that the In- 



14 INTRODUCTION 

dians were fifty or sixty in number and that 
if resistance should be made, the whole party 
would be murdered. 

^'The proposition was rejected, of course, on 
which the Indians commenced a heavy fire 
which was continued for some time without 
effect, but which gave the descending boats 
time to pass them. The savages, failing to 
bring them to, commenced a pursuit; and the 
Americans, finding they could not save all 
their boats, selected the strongest and aban- 
doned the others, which contained a number 
of horses and much other valuable property. 
Holes were cut in the sides of the boat they 
selected to enable them to increase the number 
of rowers. The Indians pursued with great 
effort some six or eight miles, when they gave 
up the chase and the Americans arrived at 
Limestone without further molestation. They 
lost 28 horses and merchandise valued at 
£1500, which were left in their abandoned 
boats. 

'^Bruckner Thruston, then a member of the 
Legislature, was one of the party and reported 
the facts to Gen. Harmer. The party con- 
sisted of 28 men, a family of females, and 
some negro women and children. The Indians 
numbered about sixty and it was afterwards 
ascertained that the boat in their possession 
had been captured by them a day or two be- 
fore — that it belonged to John May, who 
with four others were made prisoners — not 



INTRODUCTION 15 



one of whom escaped to tell their fate. It is 
presumable, however, that the person who 
hailed the boats of Mr. Thruston was one of 
the unfortunate captives." — Burnet's Notes on 
the Northivest Territory (1847), page 84. 

Much of this information was derived by 
Burnet from the Series on Indian Affairs in 
the American State Papers. Thruston's affi- 
davit can be found in vol. i. of this series, page 
91. Four pages preceding will be found a 
deposition taken by Charles Johnson [j/c] 
before the Secretary of War during his stay in 
New York City after his return from captivity. 
He says: 

"On 20th of March, 1790, going down the 
river Ohio, in company with John May, Esq., 
of Virginia, with four other persons in our 
boat (two of whom were women) we were 
attacked by a party of fifty-four Indians, con- 
sisting chiefly of Shawanese and Cherokees. 
In this attack, Mr. May and one of the women 
were killed, the rest of us made prisoners. 

"The day following, a canoe coming up the 
river, with six men in it, were fired upon and 
all killed. 

"In a few hours afterwards, two boats (the 
owners of which had abandoned them and 
got on board a third boat that was in company) 
were taken by the savages with goods and 
other property in them, which, in my opinion, 
must have amounted to several thousand 
pounds value. 



i6 INTRODUCTION 

*^Two days afterwards, the Indians divided 
themselves into several parties, when they set 
off to this town, and arrived in about five or 
six weeks at Sandusky, where the nation of 
Wyandot or Huron Indians live. 

"Whilst in the Indian country, I was in- 
formed that one of our party whose name was 
William Flin and whom, on the division, had 
fallen to the Cherokees, was carried to the 
nation of Miamies, there tied to a stake, and, 
in the most inhuman manner, was roasted 
alive. 

"I further understood that there are a num- 
ber of Americans who have been made pris- 
oners by the Indians, and are now in the 
Shawanese and Miami nations, languishing 
under slavery and all its bitter appendages." 

La Rochefoucauld's version of Johnston's 
story, of which the latter complains in his 
Introduction, may be found on page 339 of 
the first volume of La Rochefoucauld's '^Trav- 
els through the United States." It is headed 
"The History of Mr. Johnston, of Virginia, 
who in 1790 was taken prisoner by the Indians, 
written on board the Pigon in October, 1794." 
Aside from the incorrect spelling of proper 
names, the story agrees remarkably with that 
told by Johnston himself. Indeed, Rochefou- 
cauld's account sheds additional light upon 
many parts of Johnston's narrative and is real- 
ly worth reading as supplementary to it. 
Edwin Erle Sparks. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 



Reprinted from a copy of the 
orig'inal edition 



A NARRATIVE 



OF THE 



INCIDENTS ATTENDING THE CAPTURE 
DETENTION, AND RANSOM, 

OP 

CHARLES JOHNSTON, 

OF BOTETOURT COUNTY, VIRGINIA, 

WHO WAS MADE rRISONER BY THE INDIANS, ON THI 
jaVER OIHO, IN THE YEAR 1790 ; 

TOGETHER -WITH 

%X INTERESTING ACCOUNT OF THE TATE OF HIS CO.H 

TANIONS, FIVE IN NUMBER, ONE OF >VHOM 

SUFFERED AT THfc STAKE. 



TO WHICH ARE ADDED, 

<SUrUi)cs of 

INDIAN CHARACTER AND MANNERS 

MTTH 

ILLUSTRJITJVE AJS^ECDOTES. 



NEW-YORK: 

PRLNTED BY J. & J. HARPER, 82 CLIFF-ST 

1827. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 21 



INTRODUCTION 

THE incidents of my capture on the River 
Ohio by the Indians, in the year 1790, 
and of my subsequent detention by 
them, have been considered, by many gentle- 
men, on whose candor and intelligence I can 
rely, of such interest as to merit the attention 
of the public. My earlier days have been so 
completely occupied by the business of a very 
active life, that I can with truth say, I could 
never spare the time necessary for such a work, 
until age is advancing upon me, and I find 
myself able to command a little leisure. But 
the strongest consideration which has operated 
on me to engage in this undertaking is, that an 
extremely incorrect and imperfect narrative 
was published by the Duke de Liancourt, in 
the account of his travels in America, which 
appeared some years ago. Being called to 
Europe, on matters of business, in 1793, on my 
return in the following year I crossed the 
Atlantic in the ship Pigon, commanded by 
Captain Loxley, bound from London to Phil- 
adelphia. The Duke de Liancourt* was one 

♦Francois Alexandre Frederick Rochefoucauld-Liancourt 
D'Estissac was born in a small village of France in 1747 
and died in Paris in 1827. He fled from his native country 
in 1792 because of his attempt to aid the king in escaping 
the Revolutionists and two years later reached the United 
States. He was disappointed because President Wlashing- 



22 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

of my fellow-passengers. He assumed the 
name of Aberlib, which, as [iv] he informed 
me, was that of a Swiss servant formerly in 
his employment, because he was apprehensive, 
that in the event of our falling in with a 
French ship of war, his true name and title 
being known, might determine its commander 
to seize his person and carry him to France. 
On the voyage, as soon as we became acquaint- 
ed, he selected me, from among a number of 
other passengers, as the object of his confi- 
dence, and imparted to me, and to no other 
person on board, except the Captain, the cir- 
cumstances which had compelled him to fly 
from France, and to seek an asylum in a 
foreign country from the infuriated party, who 
had determined on the destruction of the 
French nobility. In the progress of our ac- 
quaintance, he ascertained that I had been a 
prisoner among the savages, and elicited from 
me a detail of the circumstances. We had fre- 
quent interviews in the cabin, while the other 
passengers were on deck. But the communi- 
cation between us was of a nature, which 
subjected us both to the probability of mis- 
taking the precise sense in which either of us 
meant to be understood: since he spoke the 

ton refused to intervene in France to secure the release of 
Lafayette from prison. He returned to France in 1799 
when Bonaparte restored his estates. During his residence 
in America he collected material for his Yoijage dans les 
Etats-Unis, which was published in New York in 1795 and 
in London in 1799. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 23 

English language very imperfectly, and I was 
utterly ignorant of the French. I observed 
that he committed what I told him to paper, 
in his own tongue, and therefore inferred it 
was his intention to publish my story. Upon 
inquiry, whether this [v] was his design, his 
answer left me in a state of uncertainty. But 
I obtained from him a positive assurance, that 
if he did publish, he would furnish me with 
an English translation, to be examined and 
corrected by me, before it should be issued 
from the press. The Duke did not execute 
his promise. I presume it escaped his memory, 
or, if he wrote me on the subject^ his letter 
miscarried. The first intelligence I obtained 
on the subject was from the publication itself, 
which came to my hands not long after it was 
printed. It is replete with errors, particularly 
in relation to the names of persons and places.* 
Facts too are so coloured as to bear some re- 
semblance to truth, while there is an essential 

*A few short specimens of the Duke's mistakes will be 
sufficient to show the general inaccuracy of his relation. 
He represents me as making a trip to Kentucky "to examine 
some witnesses before the supreme Court of Virginia.'" He 
calls Kelly's Station "Kekler's Station." Green Briar 
Court-house, is "Great Brayer Court-House;" Jacob Skyles 
is "James Skuyl;'' Mockasins are "Macapins;'' the boat in 
which our party descended the Ohio is a "Ship;'' and I 
might cover pages with his errors. These, and his omission 
of facts, may be perceived by a comparison of his narrative 
with mine. I could, if necessary, give stronger proof of 
his imperfect knowledge of our language, by transcribing 
a letter from him now in my possession, which was written 
in'reply to one that I had addressed to him on the subject 
of his errors. INote in original.] 



24 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

variance from it; resulting, in all probability, 
from the difficulty of our understanding each 
other accurately. I am perfectly confident, 
that the Duke has made no intentional misrep- 
resentation, [vi] The excellence of his heart, 
and the correctness of his moral principles, 
place him above all suspicion. But another 
objection arises, from his omission of many 
striking details. It shall be my object to 
present as minute and faithful a narrative, of 
the occurrences when I was captured, and 
while in the hands of the savages, as my mem- 
ory can supply after the lapse of so many years. 
I can confidently assert, that my recollection of 
incidents, during a period so calamitous to me, 
and while my faculties were vigorous, is suffi- 
ciently perfect to give them without danger of 
mistake. Every one, who has attained to my 
age, must have ascertained by experience, that 
the striking events of youthful life are fastened 
indelibly on the memory, and that their im- 
pression is more perfect, and is retained with 
greater precision, than those circumstances 
which occur to us in our declining years. I 
entertain no fears that my veracity will be 
questioned by those to whom I am known ; and 
I appeal to others, who may read my details, 
whether they are distinguished by any fea- 
tures, which ought to bring upon them the 
frowns of incredulity. 

Botetourt Springs, 
Virginia, April 10, 1827. 



I 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 25 



NARRATIVE 



CHAPTER I. 

MR. John May, a gentleman of great 
worth and respectability, formerly 
resided at Belle-Vue, on the Appo- 
mattox river, five miles above the town of 
Petersburg, in Virginia. He was an early 
adventurer in the location and purchase of 
lands in Kentucky,* after the settlement of 
that country commenced. His business was 
of such a nature and extent as to require the 
assistance of a clerk. In the year 1788, he 
offered me such inducements to enter his ser- 
vice, that I did not hesitate to accept his pro- 
posals. He was involved in some of those 
numerous litigations which have resulted, in 
Virginia and Kentucky, from the mode pre- 
scribed by law for acquiring title to unappro- 
priated lands, and among others was engaged 
in a contest with the late Judge Mercer. In 
the progress of this contest, it became necessary 

*"Mr. May had been an early adventurer and constant 
visitor to Kentucky. He was no warrior; his object was 
the acquisition of land — which he had pursued with equal 
avidity and success to a very great extent. Insomuch, that 
had he lived to secure the titles, many of which have been 
doubtless lost by his death, he would probably have been 
the greatest landholder in the country." — Marshall's His- 
tory of Kentucky, Vol. I., p. 357. 




26 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

for Mr. May to procure the depositions of 
witnesses who lived in the western country; 
and, in the month of August, 1789, I attended 
him in a journey made to Kentucky for the 
purpose of taking those depositions. No re- 
markable incident occurred in the course of 
this first trip, and we returned safely into the 
interior in the succeeding November. But 
having accomplished our object in part only, 
we set [8] out again from his residence, with 
a view to its completion, in the latter part of 
February, 1790. We had travelled altogether 
by land on the first occasion. But in this 
second journey, Mr. May determined to reach 
the point of his destination* by descending the 
Kenhawa and Ohio rivers. We proceeded by 
the usual route to Green Briar Court-house,t 
where the town of Lewisburg has been since 
built, which place we left about the 8th or 
loth of March. The country between that 
place and the Kenhawa river, on which we 
were to embark, was then destitute of inhabi- 
tants, and the distance about eighty miles. On 

*They probably came up the James to the Shenandoah 
valley, passed southwestward through the openings in the 
mountains along the headwaters of the Tennessee, turned 
westward through the Cumberland Gap, and thence north- 
west by Crab Orchard to the settled portions of central 
Kentucky, This was the famous "Wilderness Road." 

tThe "Greenbriar Flats" had long been a place of ren- 
dezvous for western expeditions. Here the troops collected 
for the Kanawha Foray in Lord Dunmore's war. Near at 
hand was the White Sulphur Spring, a familiar landmark. 
Lewisburg is still the county seat of Greenbriar county, 
West Virginia, near the Virginia boundary line. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 27 

the evening of the first day after our departure 
from Lewisburg, we came up with a party con- 
sisting of eight or ten persons, on their way 
to the Kenhawa. Among them were Col. 
George Clendiner, and Mr. Jacob Skyles, the 
latter of whom was on a mercantile adventure, 
with a stock of dry goods, which he intended 
to carry down the river to Kentucky. The 
weather was uncommonly cold; and on that 
night there was so great a fall of snow, that in 
the morning we found it nine or ten inches 
thick on our blankets. We toiled on through 
a dreary country and unpleasant weather for 
two or three days longer, and then arrived at 
Kelly's Station,* on the Great Kenhawa. There 
we contracted for one of those heavy, clumsy, 
slowly-moving structures, at that time employ- 
ed on the Ohio for the conveyance of travellers 
and their property to the western settlements, 
which had become considerable, and were 
rapidly increasing. But in the country now 
forming the State of Ohio, there was not, I 
believe, the habitation of a white man from 
Point Pleasant to Symmes's small settlement at 
the mouth of the Great Miami. At this day 
the same region comprehends a white popula- 
tion of perhaps seven or [9] eight hundred 

♦"Walter Kelly was the first to locate on the Kanawha, 
but he was murdered by the Indians a few months after his 
arrival in the valley. Mr. Morris came here a few months 
after Mr. Kelly's death and purchased the Kelly creek tract 
of land from the widow of Mr. Kelly." — Atkinson's History 
of the Kanawha Valley. 



28 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

thousand;* sends fourteen representatives to 
the congress of the United States; and may be 
fairly ranked among the most powerful states 
in the Union. On the margin of the river, 
then occupied by savages and wild beasts, 
flourishing towns have arisen, and productive 
farms appear. On the stream itself, numerous 
steam boats have supplied the- place of the 
wretched arks, formerly the only vehicles of 
trade and communication, which laboured 
along with difficulty, and without profit to 
their owners. Works of internal improve- 
ment have been commenced, which promise 
the highest benefits to a country enriched by 
nature with many of her choicest gifts. A 
great canal, t already begun, will probably be 
completed in the course of a few years, which 
will yield all the benefits of a direct water 
communication with New Orleans, by the 
rivers Ohio and Mississippi, and with New- 
York by Lake Erie and the New- York canal : 
bearing on its bosom a commerce which will 
extend, by an interior navigation, from the 
northern to the southern extreme of the United 
States. This is a career of prosperity un- 
equalled even by the rapid progress of other 
members of the American Union, and unpar- 

*Mr. Wright, one of the representatives in Congress from 
that state, in his speech on the Judiciary bill, which I have 
lately seen, states the population at one million. [ Note in 
original.} 

tReference is here made to the Erie Canal, one portion 
of which was opened in 1825 at a time when the author 
was no doubt engaged in writing his reminiscences. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 29 

alleled in history. What a subject of reflec- 
tion to the statesman and political economist! 
What a source of triumph, on the part of the 
free and thrifty institutions of the western 
hemisphere, over the strong systems of the 
eastern! Nor is this comparative view of the 
present, and former condition of the country 
to which it refers, unconnected with my sub- 
ject. Many inhabitants of the states bordering 
on the Ohio river have come into exist- [10] 
ence since the occurrence of the incidents 
which I am about to relate; and might think 
the facts incredible, if not reminded of the 
state of things, so utterly different then from 
what it is now. 

Our boat, or ark, for which we had bargain- 
ed at Kelly's Station, was not ready to receive 
us until the lapse of several days. We were 
invited by Col. George Clendiner,* who re- 
sided at the mouth of Elk river, some seven or 
eight miles from the Station, and where the 
town of Charlestont has since been built, to 

*"The first settlers of this section of the country were 
the Clendennins, Morrises, etc. . . . This tract was then 
owned by George Clendennin, from whom Joseph Ruffner 
purchased it." — Atkinson, p. 186. In 1790, Washington 
asked Col. Clendennin to act as agent for the sale of some 
of the 32,373 acres of land which Washington owned about 
the Kenawha. He addressed him as "George Clandenen." 
An "Errata" in the original Johnston Narrative changed 
"Clendiner" to "Clendenning." A letter from Clendennin 
will be found in American State Papers, Indian Affairs, vol. 
I, p. 84. 

tCharleston was not settled until some twelve years after 
the mouth of the Elk was visited by May and his party. 
Travelers down the Ohio were accustomed to have boats 



30 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

spend this interval with him. At his house 
our time was passed in the utmost comfort, 
highly enhanced by the liberal, warm, and 
cordial hospitality, with which we were enter- 
tained by him and Mrs. Clendiner. From his 
dwelling we descended the Great Kenhawa to 
Point Pleasant, our party consisting of Mr. 
May, Mr. Skyles, and myself. Upon our ar- 
/rival at that place, there was an accession to 
our number, composed of three persons : Wil- 
liam Flinn, Dolly Fleming, and Peggy Flem- 
ing. Flinn was one of those hardy characters, 
bred in the young settlements of our country, 
accustomed to their usual pursuits; the sports 
of the chase, and hostilities with the Indians. 
The Miss Flemings were females of an hum- 
ble condition in life. They were sisters. One 
of them was the particular friend of Flinn, 
and the other was her travelling companion. 
They were residents of Pittsburg, bound for 
the country down the Ohio river. 

built at the mouth of the Elk or at Kelly's station a few 
miles above, Dunmore's party which was engaged in the 
battle of Point Pleasant hewed out their canoes at the 
mouth of the Elk. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 3 1 



[11] CHAPTER II. 

WE remained but a short time at Point 
Pleasant.* Having before heard a 
rumour, that the savages had decoy- 
ed a boat, which was descending the river, to 
the shore, and had killed all who were on 
board, we there came to the resolution, that 
no circumstances, no consideration, should in- 
duce us to venture on the land, until our ar- 
rival at Limestone. t Those with whom we 
conversed at the Point, advised us, too, by no 
means to hazard ourselves on shore; since the 
intelligence received at that place was, that 
various parties of Indians were lurking about 
the banks of the Ohio. How far we adhered 
to our resolution, or attended to the informa- 
tion which we had obtained, will be seen in 
the sequel. The water was high in the river, 
which afforded us great facility in getting 
along. We had nothing more to do, than to 
gain the middle of the stream, and permit our 
heavy and unwieldly boat to float down. Our 
numbers were too few, and our experience as 

♦The battle of Point Pleasant, the most important engage- 
ment of "Lord Dimmore's War," was fought in 1774. It is 
said that the soldiers engaged in it gave the name to the 
point formed by the junction of the Kanawha and the Ohio 
because of its pleasant outlook. Fort Randolph was con- 
structed on the site after the war. 

tNow Maysville, Kentucky, the point of disembarkation 
on a journey to Central Kentucky. 



32 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

watermen too limited, to accelerate our pro- 
gress beyond the rate at which the current 
flowed. But there was perfect safety, while 
we remained out of musket or rifle shot from 
the shore. In that there was no difficulty, as 
the part of the river, down which we were to 
pass, was about a mile in width. We appre- 
hended no danger from any attempt which the 
savages might make to board us, while we 
were at a distance from land, because such 
attempts were not in conformity to their hab- 
its ; the gunwales of our boat were so high, that 
we were competent to the successful resistance 
of [ 1 2] a party much larger than our own ; and 
Mr. May, Skyles, Flinn, and I, were provided 
with fire arms. It is true, they were nothing 
better than ordinary fowling pieces, except 
Mr. Skyles's, which was a small neat rifle. 
But they seemed to us sufficient for our pur- 
poses, and would probably have proven so, if 
our indiscretion had not placed us completely 
in the power of our foes, and where the best 
weapons could not be employed with any 
chance of advantage. 

Our boat was steered by an oar at the stern, 
and the male passengers performed that serv- 
ice in rotation. We had descended the river 
nearly to the junction of the Sciota,* when 



♦"The pioneers who descended the Ohio on their way 
westward will remember while they live the lofty rock 
standing a short distance above the mouth of the Scioto 
on the Virginia shore, which was occupied for years by the 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 33 

about dawn of day, on the 20th of March, we 
were called up by Flinn, who stood at the 
steering oar. He turned our attention to a 
smoke, which he had discovered, and which 
was suspended in the atmosphere about the 
height of the tree-tops, on both sides of the 
river. We instantly determined to ascertain 
on which bank the fire that produced this 
smoke was burning, and then to bear from it 
towards the other. After a short time, we saw 
distinctly, that the smoke ascended from a fire 
on the north-western shore; and we began to 
turn towards the south-eastern, when we per- 
ceived two white men on the same side of the 
river where the fire was. They called to us, 
and implored us to receive them on board' our 
boat, declaring, that they had been taken pris- 
oners by the Indians some weeks before, at 
Kennedy's Bottom in Kentucky; had been led 
by their captors across the Ohio, and had been 
so fortunate as to escape from their hands: 
that they were suffering with the severest dis- 
tress of cold and hunger, and must perish, or 
again fall into the power of their enemies, 
unless they were rescued [13] by us from the 
miserable fate which awaited them. They 
continued down the bank of the river abreast 
of us, and repeated their story with cries and 



savages as a favorite watch-tower from which boats ascend- 
ing and descending could be discovered at a great distance." 
— Burnet's Notes on the Northwest Territory, p. 94, The 
rock is still known locally as "the Indian lookout." 



34 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

wailings, until the suspicions which had arisen 
in our minds on their first appearance, began 
to be weakened. At length they pressed their 
tale upon us with so much earnestness, and 
stated so many minute particulars connected 
with it, that our feelings were excited towards 
them, and we discussed the question of going 
on shore. We had first inquired from them 
as to the smoke which we had seen rising from 
their side of the river; but they denied that 
there was any fire. This falsehood, conclu- 
sively disproved by the evidence of our eyes, 
ought to have determined us to close our ears 
against all they told us. We proceeded, how- 
ever, with the discussion. Flinn, and the two 
females, accustomed from their early lives, 
like most of the first settlers on our frontier, to 
think lightly of danger from Indians, urged us 
to land. Mr. May, Mr. Skyles, and I, oppos- 
ed it. We laid great stress on the fact, that the 
two white men had not told the truth with 
respect to the fire, and therefore were not 
worthy of credit. But Flinn's reply was, that 
they were under the necessity of kindling fire 
in the cold weather which then prevailed, and 
were unwilling to acknowledge they had any, 
lest we might suspect there were Indians on 
the shore. By this time our progress on the 
water was so much faster than theirs on land, 
that we had gone far below them, and were 
almost out of reach of their voices. Flinn 
then proposed a scheme by which, according 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 35 

to his mode of reasoning, all the hazard of 
landing would be thrown upon himself alone, 
without exposure to the rest of our party. He 
said we had gained on them so much, that if 
there [14] were any Indians, we must be 
greatly ahead of them; might touch the shore 
only long enough for him to leap on it, and 
immediately turn the boat into the stream 
again, where we would be safe: that if our 
apprehensions of Indians were well founded, 
he could perceive them as soon as they could 
see him; that he had no fears but he could 
escape by outrunning them ; and that he would 
rejoin us the next day at Limestone, whither 
he would proceed on foot. On the contrary, 
should our fears prove groundless, we could 
put back, and take him and the two men on 
board. Believing this plan could be carried 
into effect in safety, and our hearts at the same 
moment yielding to the feelings of humanity, 
all on board immediately and fatally acceded 
to this proposition, without reflecting, that in 
crossing the current we should cease to move 
as rapidly as we had while going directly with 
it. The consequence was, we were so long in 
getting to the shore, that by the time we had 
reached it and had put Flinn out, to our utter 
asonishment and dismay, we beheld a party of 
Indians, completely armed after their manner, 
rushing upon us. Their number was not great, 
since none but the swiftest could gain the spot 
where we landed as soon as the boat reached it. 



36 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

We therefore determined on resistance. Mr. 
Skyles and I took up our guns for that pur- 
pose; but the main body of the Indians, who 
had concealed themselves from our view by 
keeping in the back ground as they ran at some 
distance from the river, began to come up. 
When Mr. May perceived their numbers thus 
increasing, he remonstrated against so unequal 
a contest, and urged that our attention and 
exertions should be directed to the single ob- 
ject of getting back into the current. But the 
height of the water was [15] such, that our 
boat was involved among the numerous and 
strong branches of a large tree which bent 
from the bank; and while we in vain endeav- 
oured, by all the means in our power, to extri- 
cate ourselves, the whole body of Indians, fifty- 
four in number, after firing a few scattering 
shot as they came up, took a position not farth- 
er than sixty feet from us, and, rending the air 
with the horrible war-whoop, poured their 
whole fire into our boat. Resistance was 
hopeless — to get from the shore impossible. 
In this state of despair, we protected 
ourselves from their fire by lying down 
in the bottom of the boat but not until 
the Indians had killed Dolly Fleming, 
who had taken shelter behind me, and 
received a ball in the corner of her mouth 
which passed close over my left shoulder. 
Skyles was wounded by a rifle bullet, which 
ranged across his back from one shoulder to 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 37 

the other. Our enemies continued to fire into 
the boat, until all our horses were killed. The 
danger to which we were already exposed was 
aggravated by these animals. They were so 
frightened by the smell of powder and the dis- 
charge of guns, that it was extremely difficult 
to avoid their trampling on us before they 
were shot; and after they fell, it was barely 
possible to keep clear of the kicks and struggles 
which they made in their dying agonies. Af- 
ter they were killed, the firing ceased, and all 
was quiet on board. Mr. May, who had not 
taken off his night-cap since he awoke in the 
morning, then rose on his feet, and, taking it 
from his head, held it up as a signal of surren- 
der. Seeing him rise, I reminded him of the 
danger to which he would be exposed by stand- 
ing up, and entreated him to lie down again. 
But it was too late. About the moment when 
I spoke, the fire recommenced, and [16] this 
excellent man fell dead by a ball shot through 
his brain, while I supposed that he had taken 
my advice and had lain down of his own ac- 
cord. Nor did I discover my mistake until, 
casting my eyes on him a short time after- 
wards, his face, covered with blood, and the 
mark of the ball in his forehead, too plainly 
indicated his fate. Once more the fire from 
the bank was discontinued. Flinn, by the time 
he had reached the top of the bank, was their 
prisoner: Mr. May and Dolly Fleming were 
killed: Mr. Skyles was wounded: Peggy 



38 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

Fleming and I remained unhurt. The sav- 
ages then made their arrangements for taking 
possession of our boat, and immediately car- 
ried them into effect. About twenty of them 
plunged into the water and swam to us, with 
tomahawks in their hands, while the rest stood 
with their rifles pointed towards us, for the 
purpose of destroying us in the event of resist- 
ance to the boarding party. When I found 
them climbing up the side of the boat, I rose, 
and reaching my hand to the Indian nearest 
me, assisted him in getting in; proceeding 
then to the others, I helped as many of them 
on board, in like manner, as I could. When 
they entered, they shook hands with me, crying 
out in broken English, ''How de do! How de 
do!" I returned their salutation by a hearty 
squeeze of the hand, as if glad to see them. 
The truth was, I expected, at the moment 
when we were made prisoners, that all would 
be put to the tomahawk. Finding our recep- 
tion so different from what I had anticipated, 
the kind greetings which I gave them were 
not altogether feigned. After the momentary 
confusion produced by the capture was over, 
they pushed the boat to the shore, when the 
remainder of the party entered it, with their 
rifles in their hands. They also shook hands 
with us, appearing [17] to be highly delighted 
at the success of their enterprise. After the 
transports of the moment had in a degree sub- 
sided, some began to examine into the booty 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 39 

they had taken, consisting principally of the 
dry goods belonging to Mr. Skyles, whilst 
others were employed in scalping and strip- 
ping the dead. After this operation was per- 
formed, the bodies of Mr. May and Dolly 
Fleming were thrown into the river. The 
party then all went on shore, taking the pris- 
oners and the booty along with them. 

The first thing now to be attended to, was 
the kindling of a fire, which was soon done. 
We were immediately afterwards stripped of 
the greater part of our clothes. The weather 
was uncommonly cold for the month of 
March. I wore a surtout and broadcloth coat 
over a red waistcoat. When these were un- 
buttoned, and the red vest was discovered, an 
Indian of the name of Chick-a-tom-mo, who 
had the chief command, and could speak some 
English, exclaimed, ^'Oh! you cappatain?" I 
answered in the negative. Then he said, 
pointing to his own breast, "Me cappatain — all 
dese," pointing to the other Indians, "my 
sogers." After taking my outer clothes, one 
of them repeated the word, "Swap — swap" 
— and demanded that I should give him my 
shirt for his, a greasy, filthy garment, that had 
not been washed during the whole winter. I 
was in the act of drawing it over my head, in 
compliance with his demand, when another 
Indian behind me, whose name I afterwards 
learned was Tom Lewis, pulled it back, and 
after reproaching the first for his unkindliness, 



40 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

took the blanket from his own shoulders and 
threw it over mine. After this occurrence, I 
seated myself by the fire. Having now some 
leisure for reflection, I began to consider of 
the awful situation into which I had [i8] been 
thus suddenly plunged. No human being, 
who has not experienced a similar misfortune, 
is capable of conceiving the horror which 
thrilled through my frame upon finding my- 
self a captive to these ruthless barbarians, and 
at the mercy of an enemy who knew no mercy. 
Bred up with an instinctive horror of Indians 
and of Indian cruelties, it was a situation 
which, of all others, I had most deprecated. I 
felt as if cut off for ever, from my friends and 
from the world : already my imagination plac- 
ed me at the stake, and I saw the flames about 
to be kindled around me. 

I had not remained long in this situation, 
when the scalps* of Mr. May and Miss Flem- 
ing, which had been stretched upon sticks bent 
into a circular form, were placed before me 
at the fire to be dried. The sight of these 
scalps, thus unfeelingly placed immediately 
in my view ; the reflection that one of them had 
been torn from the head of a female by our 
ferocious captors: the other from a man who 
had engaged my esteem and friendship ; with 

♦Investigators are fairly well agreed that the practice of 
taking scalps is a remnant of the head-hunting still in 
vogue among savages in the older portions of the world. 
Because the head was difficult to carry, the scalp was taken 
as evidence. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 41 

whom I had embarked on a plan of business 
now utterly frustrated; and that a much more 
cruel destiny than his was probably reserved 
for me, operated with an effect which I should 
in vain attempt to describe. 



42 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 



CHAPTER III. 

THE two white men, who had decoyed us 
on shore, now made their appearance. 
The name of one was Divine, the other 
Thomas. As soon as [19] they came up, sensi- 
ble of the strong imputation from us to which 
their conduct had subjected them, they began 
a course of apology and exculpation. They 
solemnly declared, that they had been com- 
pelled by the Indians to act the part which 
had brought us into their hands; that they had 
really been taken off from Kennedy's Bottom 
some weeks before; and expressed great con- 
cern, that they had been the unwilling instru- 
ments of our captivity. We hesitated to be- 
lieve them: and our doubts were increased as 
far as related to Divine, when a negro man 
who had been captured by the Indians some 
time before, and had continued with them ever 
since, arrived. He informed us, that Thomas 
had been extremely averse to any share in the 
scheme of treachery which had been practised 
upon us: but that Divine alone had devised it* 
and carried it into effect, on a promise which 

*The practice of decoying travelers upon shore along the 
Ohio was extensively carried on. Several white men or 
renegades, who had joined themselves to the Indians, were 
engaged in it. The most notorious case was that of Simon 
Girty, whose name was abhorred along the border. The 
official reports seem to indicate that Thomas and Divine 
had been captured as they described and were released 
upon condition that they entice the May boat to the shore. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 43 

he obtained from the Indians, that they would 
set him at liberty if he should procure for 
them other white prisoners in his stead. All 
the intelligence we obtained on this subject 
induced clearly the opinion with us, that Di- 
vine's guilt was unquestionable, and that 
Thomas had been an involuntary agent. About 
the time of the negro's arrival, six squaws, 
most of them old women, with two white chil- 
dren, a girl and a boy, the former about ten 
or eleven years of age, the latter perhaps a 
year or two older, joined us. They belonged 
to a family which had been taken prisoners in 
Kentucky, and from which they had been 
separated. 

Skyles's wound was painful, and Flinn was 
permitted to examine it. He ascertained that 
the ball had entered at the point of one should- 
er, had ranged towards the other, and was 
lodged against it. He then made an incision 
with a razor, and extracted it. One of the 
squaws washed the wound; caught [20] the 
bloody water from it in a tin cup ; and required 
Skyles to drink it, giving him to understand 
that by doing so the cure would be expedited. 

The fire, by this time, had been considerably 
extended: it was at least fifty feet in length. 
The Indians were all seated around it. Their 
rifles were arranged in a line in their rear, and 
so near, that each individual could lay his 
hand on his own in an instant. They were 
supported by long small poles, placed horizon- 



44 JOHNS TON'S NARRA TIVE 

tally about three feet high on forks, and were 
neatly and regularly disposed. Our captors 
consisted of Indians from various tribes. 
There were Shawanese, Delawares, Wyandots, 
and Cherokees.* Much the largest number 
were Shawanese. An old chief of that tribe 
took a position at one end of the line of fire, 
and harangued the party for ten or fifteen 
minutes. He frequently raised his eyes and 
pointed to the sun, sometimes to the earth, and 
then to me. We were incapable of compre- 
hending the business which occupied them, 
and were in a state of the most disquieting 
alarm; but my apprehensions were peculiarly 
excited, because he pointed at me, and at neith- 
er of the other captives. This circumstance, 
however, was soon explained, when at the close 
of his speech, Chickatommo conducted me to 
an Indian seated on the ground, and placed 
me at his side, telling me, that was my friend; 
whose name I afterwards ascertained was Mes- 
shaw-a, and that he belonged to the Shawan- 
ese tribe. Chickatommo then addressed the 
party from the same spot, on which the old 
Shawanese chief had stood, and very much 

*The varied tribal nature of these Indians showed how 
rapidly the aborigines were being pushed westward by the 
whites. They no longer occupied separate hunting grounds 
but had become marauders in common. The Delawares 
originally belonged in eastern Pennsylvania and the Cher- 
okees in Kentucky and Tennessee. The Shawnees had 
long resided in southern Ohio. The Wyandots came to the 
northern part of that state from Canada where they had 
been called Hurons. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 45 

after the same manner: but he pointed at 
Skyles, and when he had concluded his speech, 
delivered him to the custody of another Shaw- 
anese. The same ceremony was observed with 
respect [21] to Peggy Fleming and Flinn. 
She was allotted to the Cherokees, and Flinn 
to the Shawanese. Why neither of us went 
to the Delawares or Wyandots, we were unable 
then to conjecture. But the probability is, 
that as those tribes were at peace with the 
whites, the individuals of them who belonged 
to the party of our captors, were unwilling to 
incur the hazard of involving their people in 
war, by accepting any of the prisoners. Their 
presence on this occasion is sufficiently ac- 
counted for by recollecting, that young men 
of all the savage tribes frequently go out on 
predatory excursions, without consulting their 
chiefs or nation. The Cherokees, I believe, 
were not then engaged in open hostilities with 
us. Yet they were not influenced by any such 
scruples as those which governed the Dela^ 
wares and Wyandots, because, perhaps, as it 
was their intention to bear off their captive to 
the Villages of Indians on the Sandusky,* or 
Miamit of the lake, they did not apprehend a 
discovery of their conduct by the whites, or 

*0n the banks of this stream, which flows through north- 
ern Ohio and empties into Lake Erie, were situated the 
great Indian villages of Upper Sandusky and Lower San- 
dusky, beside several smaller communities. 

tThis stream, now known as the Maumee River, empties 
into Lake Erie near the northwestern corner of the state 



46 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

their own tribe, and were not disposed to fore- 
go the gratification of accepting a prisoner 
from the Shawanese as a reward for their as- 
sistance in making captures on the river. The 
Delawares and Wyandots were about to return 
to their own towns, and would have ofTended 
their people by bringing among them prisoners 
from a nation with whom they professed to be 
at peace. 

After the distribution of the captives, Di- 
vine, Thomas, and Flinn, were required by 
the Indians to prepare four additional oars 
for the boat which they had taken from us, 
and with which it was their intention to attack 
any other boat, or boats, that might be passing 
down while they remained on the river. The 
first night of our captivity was spent in the 
most painful anticipations. Next morning, at 
[22] an early hour, our foes were busily occu- 
pied in rendering their aspect as terrific as 
possible, by painting their faces in the manner 
which will be hereafter described, when I 
shall speak of the war-dance. Each individ- 
ual was provided with a small looking-glass, 
which he held before him while laying on the 
paint, and which was placed in a frame with 
a short handle, and a string through a hole in 
the end of it, for the purpose of tying it to his 
pack. This process was preparatory to their 

of Ohio. It was originally called "Miami" and the words 
"of the lake" were added to distinguish it from the Miami 
rivers which flow into the Ohio river. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 47 

intended attack on any white persons who 
might be passing on the river, and is never 
omitted by them when they expect to encounter 
an enemy. 

About ten o'clock, a canoe, containing six 
men, was observed to ascend the river slowly 
under the opposite bank. All the prisoners 
were compelled to go to the side of the water, 
for the purpose of inducing those who were in 
the canoe to cross over, and to come under the 
command of the Indian rifles. I vainly hoped 
that it would be in my power, by some signal 
or contrivance, to apprise these unfortunate 
persons of their danger, and to prevent their 
running headlong into such a snare as had suc- 
ceeded against us. But in this hope I was dis- 
appointed. Divine, ingenious in wicked strat- 
agems, seemed to be perfectly gratified to aid 
the savages in their views, and to feel no scru- 
ples in suggesting means for their accomplish- 
ment. He fabricated a tale, that we were pas- 
sengers down the Ohio, whose boat had suffer- 
ed so great an injury, that we were unable to 
proceed until it was repaired; but that, for 
want of an axe, it was impossible for us to do 
the necessary work. These unsuspecting ca- 
noe-men turned towards us: but the current 
bore them down so far below us, as to preclude 
all chance of my putting them on their guard. 
The Indians, as [23] they had acted in our 
case, ran down the river at such a distance 
from it, and under cover of the woods, that 



48 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

they they were not discovered until the canoe 
was close to the shore, when they fired into it, 
and shot every one on board. As they tum- 
bled into the water, their little bark was over- 
set. Two, who were not yet dead, kept them- 
selves afloat, but were so severely wounded 
that they could not swim off. The Indians 
leaped into the river, and after dragging them 
to the shore, despatched them with the toma- 
hawk. The bodies of the four who were killed 
were also brought to land, and the whole six 
were scalped.* All were then thrown into 
the river. Nothing I could then learn, or which 
has since come to my knowledge, has enabled 
me to understand who these unfortunate suf- 
ferers were. 

On the same day, two or three hours after- 
wards, three boats, standing down the river, 
came into view. I do not know why, on this 
occasion, the Indians relinquished the plan of 
treacherous deception, which had in two pre- 
ceding instances eventuated to their wish. 
They now waited until these boats reached the 

*They perform the process of scalping without regard to 
the size of the portion of skin taken from the crown of the 
head. If, in their haste to cut it off, they take more than 
is sufficient for their purpose, they afterwards, when at 
leisure, pare it down in a round shape to the diameter of 
about two inches. Doctor Robertson, in a note to his his- 
tory of America, says: "It was originally the practice of 
the Americans, as well as of other savage nations, to cut off 
the heads of the enemies they slew, and to carry them 
away as trophies. But as they found these cumbersome in 
their retreat, which they always made very rapidly, and 
often through a vast extent of country, they became satisfied 
with tearing off their scalps." il<^ote in original.^ 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 49 

point in the river directly opposite to them; 
when they commenced an ineffectual fire with 
their rifles. The Ohio was there so wide, that 
their bullets fell far short of their objects; and 
after the boats had passed below us, the sav- 
ages obliged all the male captives to get into 
the boat taken from [24] Mr. May, now 
provided with the additional oars made 
on the day before. Every Indian too, 
jumped into that boat, and as they were 
unpracticed in the use of the oar, the 
labour of plying it was consigned to us. 
Our captors stood over us, and compelled 
us to exert our strength in rowing; an art, in 
which we had as little experience as them- 
selves. But we took care, unskilful as we were, 
to avoid striking all at the same time with our 
oars. Yet as those whom we pursued had only 
one pair of oars in each boat, and we had two 
pair in ours, we shuddered for the event. Good 
management on the part of the passengers 
in the three boats, and intentional mismanage- 
ment on our part, saved them from the immi- 
nent dangers to which they were exposed. The 
middle boat waited for that in the rear, re- 
ceived the people from it, together with their 
oars, and pressed forward to overtake the 
headmost boat. By much efifort they came 
alongside, and all entered it, having then many 
hands to relieve each other in rowing, and six 
oars to our four. To our great joy, they shot 
rapidly ahead of us; when the Indians, giving 



50 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

up the chase of the boat which they now per- 
ceived they could not overtake, turned their 
attention to the two which were adrift, and 
which contained the property that had been 
abandoned in them. A rich booty* for our 
captors was found on board. It consisted prin- 
cipally of dry goods and groceries, intended 
for Lexington in Kentucky. There were some 
very fine horses too in them, among which I 
recognised two remarkable animals, a mare 
and a horse, belonging to Mr. Thomas Mar- 
shall, brother of the Chief Justice, with whom 
Mr. May and I had travelled through the 
wilderness on our return from the west in the 
preceding year. That gentleman's hat was 
also among the relin- [25] quished articles. I 
recognised it at a glimpse. It w!as one of the 
cocked hats worn at that time, and a small 
piece had been cut or torn from the point 
which was worn in front. If we had overtaken 
strangers in these boats, and they had been 
captured or put to death by the savages, it 
would have been an affliction to me sufficiently 
bitter. But what would have been the aggra- 
vation of my sufferings, had the passengers, or 
any of them, in the event of our coming up 
with them, proved to be my intimates and 
friends. 

The boats were taken to the shore, and their 

*For an account of this attack, see the quotation from 
Burnet's 'Notes on tJie Xorthiccst Territory in the Introduc- 
tion to this reprint. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 51 

contents landed. The chiefs distributed the 
plunder among their followers, in a manner 
that seemed perfectly satisfactory to all. Flour, 
sugar, and chocolate, formed a part of their 
acquisitions. They probably believed that I 
understood the subject of making flour into 
bread better than they did, and that duty was 
required of me. I was furnished with the un- 
dressed skin of a deer, which was most dis- 
gustingly stained, by having been used as a 
saddle on the sore back of a horse, and was 
now to answer the purpose of a tray. I com- 
menced my new employment by baking a 
number of loaves in the ashes. There was more 
dough than the fire would contain; and it 
struck me, that I would make the remainder 
into small dumplings and boil them in a kettle 
of chocolate then on the fire. All savages are 
particularly fond of sweet things. To gratify 
this taste, they had on the present occasion 
mixed a large portion of sugar with the choco- 
late, which in the operation of boiling infused 
itself into the dumplings and made them quite 
sweet. They were so delighted with this new, 
and, to them, delicious dish, that they ap- 
peared to consider me a very clever fellow as 
a cook, and continued me in that [26] em- 
ployment as long as I was their prisoner. They 
then indulged to the utmost excess in drinking 
whiskey found on board one of the boats. But 
they observed a precaution which, I believe, 
is never neglected by them in those situations 



52 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

which call on them for vigilance. A sufficient 
number for safe keeping and guarding their 
captives refrained from tasting the spirituous 
liquor, and had watchful eyes over us. The 
rest of the party drank to deep intoxication, 
in which Flinn went as far as any of them, 
and had a battle with one of the Indians, 
whom he easily vanquished. Some of the rest 
endeavoured to assist their combatant, when 
others interposed in Flinn's favour, and pro- 
tected him from attack, declaring that such 
treatment as he had received would only be 
tolerated by women, and that having acted like 
a man, they would not suflfer him to be abused. 
Their invariable habit is, not to quit the bottle 
or cask while a drop of strong drink remains; 
and they poured it down their throats until 
their stock was exhausted. This occurred in 
the course of the succeeding night. 

In the mean time, we were separated by our 
guard from those who were intoxicated, and 
removed to some distance from them, when 
we laid down to sleep. Skyles and I were re- 
solved on seizing the earliest occasion, which 
the course of incidents should present, for ef- 
fecting our escape. We flattered ourselves, 
that the senseless intoxication into which the 
main party were plunged, the darkness of the 
night, or a momentary relaxation of vigilance 
on the part of our guard, might furnish the 
golden opportunity. Our scheme was, to get 
into one of the boats lying under the bank of 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 53 

the river, and to drop without noise down 
the stream. If we could get but a little dis- 
tance from the shore [27] unperceived, there 
would be a good prospect of success. We re- 
mained silent until we believed that all our 
sentinels were asleep. We then commenced a 
conversation in whispers, which we presumed 
would not be heard; or, if heard, would not be 
understood by our guard, who knew nothing 
of the English language. But the wakeful 
suspicions of our keepers were always on the 
alert; and when our whispers reached their 
ears, they deduced the most unfavourable in- 
ferences, and put an end, at least for the present, 
to all our hopes, by confining us closely with 
cords. Soon after this was done, one of the 
drunken Indians straggled from his compan- 
ions, and came to us, brandishing his scalping 
knife. He quickly worked himself up into a 
great rage, and throwing himself across the 
body of Skyles, fastened on his hair and was 
determined to take ofif his scalp. It was with 
some difficulty that he was prevented, by those 
who were sober, from effecting his object. 
Resistance on the part of the prisoner was ut- 
terly beyond his power. They had secured 
both of us completely, by tying us down, in a 
manner which will be hereafter more minutely 
explained. During the night. Divine and 
Thomas secretly disappeared, without an ef- 
fort, that we could discover, on the part of the 
Indians to detain them. 



54 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 



[28] CHAPTER IV. 

ON the following day, the Indians 
seemed to think that their booty 
was of sufficient value to be 
worth carrying to their towns, and we 
took our departure from the Ohio in the after- 
noon. But all did not move off together. 
Those to whom Flinn belonged remained at 
the river, and we never saw them or him after- 
wards. When we began our march, a cow, 
taken in one of the boats which had been 
abandoned on the preceding day, as I have al- 
ready related, was committed to my care. I 
was required to lead her by a rope secured to 
her horns. This creature perplexed me ex- 
ceedingly. I suppose she had not been accus- 
tomed to travel in this way. She resisted my 
exertions to get her forward. She would leave 
the track on which we walked, and frequently 
when I passed on one side of a tree, she would 
insist on taking the other; to the great diver- 
sion of the Indians, who laughed immoderate- 
ly at the difficulties into which they had 
brought me with this unmanageable animal. 

Late in the evening we reached an encamp- 
ment, where our captors had probably spent 
some time before we fell into their hands. 
It was about five miles from the river, and 
they had left a number of horses, stolen from 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 55 

the settlements of Kentucky, a quantity of 
dried bear's meat, venison, peltry, and some 
of their people, at this retired spot. It was 
a rich valley, where there was no undergrowth 
of timber, but a luxuriance of tender grass be- 
low a covering of thick weeds, which protected 
it from the effects of frost and cold. This en- 
campment [29] was provided with shelters 
from the weather, composed of skins stretched 
over poles in the form of a tent. The valley 
in which it was situated afforded subsistence 
for their horses. Here, to my great relief, 
they took the cow off my hands by slaughter- 
ing her. After breakfast, on the next day, 
Chickatommo, attended by a party belonging 
to his tribe, and by the Cherokees with Peggy 
Fleming, left the encampment. The horses, 
(all of which he took with him,) were packed 
with the meat and peltry. The rest of the 
party followed not long after these. We trav- 
elled through a trackless wilderness, abound- 
ing in game, on which the Indians depended 
entirely for subsistence during the journey. 
Their plan was, to carry home the dried meat 
for the summer use of their families. On the 
first or second day's progress, the Indians ob- 
served a tree, the bark of which was marked 
by the claws of a bear, easily distinguished by 
these sagacious and experienced hunters. They 
immediately went to work with axes which 
were found in the captured boats, and soon 
felled the tree. Two very small cubs were 



56 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

found in its hollow trunk. Their dam, at- 
tracted by the noise at her den, came up when 
the tree fell, and was shot. We regaled our- 
selves upon the flesh of the cubs, which to me 
was excellent eating, although the manner of 
dressing was not such as to improve its quality 
or to suit a delicate taste. Their entrails were 
taken out, and after the hair was thoroughly 
singed from their carcasses, heads, and feet, 
they were roasted whole. On the next day, 
a remarkably fat bear was killed, and we re- 
mained on the ground where he was taken, 
until all his meat was consumed. 

The Indians now indicated a disposition to 
loiter and throw aWay time, very little in uni- 
son with the im- [30] patience which I felt to 
move on as rapidly as possible. I had con- 
ceived, and could not help cherishing the 
hope, that at our arrival at their towns it might 
be my good fortune to meet with some com- 
passionate trader, who would, by ransom or 
otherwise, relieve me from the sufferings and 
dangers of my captivity. An accident, in 
other respects unimportant, subjected me to 
a night's torture. The savages, apprehensive 
of possible danger from pursuit, had left a few 
of their party in their rear, to watch on their 
track, and to give them timely intelligence of 
any attempt that might be made by the whites 
to overtake them, and wrest from them either 
their prisoners or their plunder. To the few, 
thus left in the rear, my sentinel and protector, 



OF 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 57 

Meshawa, belonged. In his absence, I was 
committed to the custody of another Shawa- 
nese, altogether unlike him in temper and 
character. When he was about to secure my 
arms at night, by lashing a rope around them, 
I injudiciously and without reflection com^ 
plained that he drew the rope too tight. Upon 
which he exclaimed, "Damn you soul!" and 
tightened it with all the vigour he could exert, 
so closely, that by the morning it was buried in 
the flesh of one of my arms. I could obtain 
no rest; and when Meshawa came up with us 
the next day, it was exceedingly swelled and 
throbbed with agony. At the moment of his 
arrival he loosened the ligature from my limb, 
and harshly rebuked the other for the severity 
of his conduct towards me. 

The Indians still continued the habit of 
daily lounging. If a bear w^s killed, and they 
swallowed a plentiful repast of it; or if any 
other food was procured, which afforded them 
an abundant meal; immediately after satisfy- 
ing their appetites, they laid themselves down 
to sleep. When they [31] awoke, if a suffi- 
ciency was yet in the camp, they would again 
eat plentifully, and sleep as before. Some packs 
of cards were found among other articles of 
their plunder from the boats. With these they 
amused themselves daily, by playing a game 
entirely new to me, which, when interpreted 
into English, was called "Nosey." Only two 
hands were dealt out, and the object of each 



58 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

player was, by a mode of play which I do not 
now recollect, to retain a part of the cards in 
his own possession at the close of the hand, and 
to get all from his adversary. When this was 
done, the winner had a right to a number of 
fillips, at the nose of the loser, equal to the 
number of cards remaining in the Winner's 
hand. When the operation of the winner was 
about to begin, the loser would place himself 
firmly in his seat, assuming a solemn gravity 
of countenance, and not permitting the slight- 
est change in any muscle of his face. At every 
fillip the bystanders would burst into a peal of 
laughter, while the subject of the process was 
required to abstain completely even from a 
smile; and the penalty was doubled on him 
if he violated this rule. It is astonishing to 
what an excess they were delighted with this 
childish diversion. After two had played for 
some time, others would take their places, and 
the game was often continued hour after hour. 
While the Indians were employed in this 
amusement, I endeavoured to begin, and in- 
tended to keep, a journal of my travels. I was 
very imperfectly provided with the means of 
accomplishing my purpose. A copy of the 
Debates of the Convention of Virginia,* as- 
sembled to decide on the adoption or rejection 
of the Federal Constitution, was found in one 
of the boats taken on the Ohio. I had brought 

*This convention had met at Williamsburg two years 
before. Several editions of the Proceedings were printed. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 59 

it from that river to serve as a source [32] 
of amusement; and on the margins of its pages 
I determined to write my notes. The quill 
of a wild turkey was the best I could procure, 
of which I made a pen with a scalping knife. 
I furnished myself with ink by mixing water 
and coal dust together, and began my daily 
minutes of our progress and its incidents. This 
attracted the attention, but did not excite the 
disquiet, of the Indians. Tom Lewis, the same 
who gave me the blanket, when another was 
about to strip me of my shirt, after I had writ- 
ten some lines of my journal, took it from my 
hands, carried it to the others who were sitting 
around the fire, and showed it to them all. 
They seemed gratified and surprised at what 
indicated, in their opinion, something extra- 
ordinary about me, which, however, they 
could not comprehend. 

When the party had satisfied themselves 
with "Nosey," we resumed our march, and 
arrived at a large branch of the Sciota, which 
is, I believe, the same that is marked, on an 
excellent map of the State of Ohio in my pos- 
session, by the name of Salt Creek.* My shoes 
had been taken from me, and one of the 
squaws had made me a pair of mockasins from 
the leather of a greasy pair of old leggings. I 

♦This is an eastern tributary to the Scioto. Its name was 
due to the location along its banks of numerous salt springs 
from which the first settlers in the Northwest Territory 
obtained their supply of this commodity. 



6o JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

was in front when we came to the edge of the 
water. The stream was rapid. I was un- 
acquainted with its depth, could not swim, and 
hesitated to enter. An old woman, who was 
next behind me, took the lead, carrying a staff 
in her hand, with which she supported her- 
self against the force of the current. If a man 
had gone in before me, I should still have hesi- 
tated; but being confident that I could wade 
safely wherever the old woman could get 
along, I followed her. The bed of the creek 
was formed entirely of round smooth stones, 
[33] from which my greasy mockasins were so 
incessantly slipping, that I was every moment 
in extreme danger of losing my feet, and 
gained the opposite bank with the utmost diffi- 
culty. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 61 



CHAPTER V. 

IN the course of two or three days we came 
up with Chickatommo and his party, who 
had waited for us. The Cherokees, with 
their prisoner Peggy Fleming, had separated 
themselves from the Shawanese chief, and had 
taken a different route from that which we 
were to follow. The deportment of this girl 
was a subject of no little astonishment to me. 
I had expected, that the distressing occur- 
rences which had befallen us, and the gloomy 
prospect before us; the destruction of nearly 
all the party, and the death of her sister before 
her eyes; her own captivity and probably 
dreadful fate; would have plunged her into 
grief and despondency. But no such effect 
was produced. On the contrary, from the day 
of our capture, up to the time when she was 
borne off by the Cherokees, she seemed to be 
perfectly indifferent to the horrors of her sit- 
uation. She enjoyed a high flow of spirits; 
and, indeed, I had never seen any one who ap- 
peared to be more contented and happy. 

About this period of our journey, we came 
to a line of trees which had been marked by 
surveyors:* a class of persons against whom 

♦Survey of the public lands in the Northwest Territory 
had been undertaken by Thomas Hutchins, the government 
"geographer," three years before. After laying off seven 
of the ranges provided by the system of surveys, the labor 



62 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

the savages entertain the deepest and most ma- 
lignant hatred; because they consider them 
the agents by whom their [34] lands are laid 
off and taken from them, and because they 
are invariably harbingers of occupancy and 
settlement by the whites. The view of the 
trees, with the chops of the axe on their bark, 
irritated our party so highly, that we had 
reason to fear for our immediate safety. They 
poured forth curses on us, with a bitterness 
and fury that continued for some time : nor did 
they become calm again, until we had gone 
some distance beyond the marked line. 

Incidents of this kind, occurring every dav, 
I might almost say every hour, necessarily sub- 
jected us to frequent and severe suffering. But 
the miseries of the night were more uniform. 
Before we went to rest, our captors adopted 
the most rigorous measures for securing us. 
Our arms were pinioned by a strong rope of 
buffalo hide, which was stretched in a straight 
line, and each end secured to a tree. Our keep- 
ers laid themselves by us on these ropes, three 
or four on each side: but they wfere at liberty 
to change their positions, while we could only 
lie on our backs. We were generally placed 
on different sides, sometimes on the same side 
of the fire. No covering was allowed me, ex- 
was abandoned through fear of the savages. Before 1790, 
the work had been renewed. Probably the marks observed 
in this instance were made by surveyors engaged in run- 
ning lines for the Ohio Company at Marietta. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 63 

cept a child's blanket; for that which Tom 
Lewis had thrown over my shoulders on the 
first day of my captivity, had been restored to 
him as soon as the morning cold subsided. 
Skyles's blanket was much larger than mine, 
but we were not permitted to keep each other 
warm, by lying together, or bringing our bed 
clothes into a joint stock. The fire usually 
burnt down about the time when we awoke, 
fatigued with our position, and benumbed with 
cold. The residue of the night was nothing 
more than a series of severe pains; and when 
morning arrived, I was frequently incapable 
of [35] standing on my feet, until the warmth 
of the fire restored my strength. A deer-skin 
under us formed our sole protection from the 
cold and dampness of the earth. 

Skyles and I repeatedly conversed on a plan 
of escape which we meditated, but the execu- 
tion of which we agreed, for the present, to 
delay. The weather had been for some time 
dry. The vast multitude of leaves, with which 
the ground was covered in the woods through 
which we travelled, rendered it impossible to 
pass over them in their present state, however 
cautiously, without producing a noise so loud 
as to reach with certainty the ears of the In- 
dians, and to betray our flight. We hoped for 
rain before the expiration of many days, and 
were resolved on an attempt to regain our 
liberty as soon as the moist state of the leaves 
would permit us to walk among them unheard. 



64 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

Skyles had carefully concealed a knife in the 
pocket of his breeches, with which he intended 
to cut the cords that confined us at some fa- 
vourable hour of the night; and it was our 
design then to run off into the woods, whatever 
might be the hazard of wandering about, des- 
titute as we were, in the solitary wilds of the 
extensive forest by which we were surrounded. 
But unluckily, one morning, when he rose 
from the spot on which he had slept, I discov- 
ered the knife lying on his deer skin, and be- 
lieving myself unobserved by the Indians, I 
pointed it out to him. They, however, per- 
ceived it as quickly as he did, and instantly 
stripped our breeches from both of us. To 
supply their place, we were furnished with 
such covering as the Indians themselves were 
accustomed to wear. 

Skyles had, until this period, carried five 
English guineas in his watch pocket. When 
he was re- [36] quired to take off his breeches, 
several squaws were present. He therefore 
stepped a short distance aside; dropped the 
gold on the earth among the leaves; and pre- 
tending to employ himself in darning the legs 
of his stockings with a needle and thread, bor- 
rowed from one of the squaws, he took care 
to keep his back turned towards the party until 
he made a bag for his money out of a part of 
the linen of his shirt, which he cut off with 
a pair of scissors lent by the same squaw from 
whom he had obtained the needle and thread. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 65 

This bag he carried under the covering which 
was around his waist, and we valued its con- 
tents as a fund from w^hich we might derive 
substantial benefit, should we ever reach a 
place where comforts could be procured. But 
we had not travelled longer than three or four 
days, when the pieces of gold wore a hole 
through the linen bag, and were all lost. 

The incident of the knife disposed the In- 
dians to adopt a greater degree of rigour to- 
wards us than had been before practised. 
When we lay down to sleep at night, each of 
us had one end of a cord tied around his neck, 
and the other extended and fastened to a tree 
or stake five or six feet from his head. From 
this cord a small bell w»as suspended, which 
rattled with the slightest motion of our bodies, 
and announced to the whole party that we 
were stirring; and on every such occasion their 
vigilant attention was directed towards us. 
When this mode of confining us was first re- 
sorted to, the circumstances by which it was 
attended excited great alarm, and subjected 
us to the most painful terror for several hours. 
We had halted, early in the afternoon, in a 
small prairie. The Indians brought from an 
adjacent wood six strong stakes, which they 
drove securely into the ground. The bark 
[37] was taken off; each stake was painted 
red: and a cord, fixed around the neck of 
each prisoner, seemed to indicate preparations 
for an awful event. Skyles was extremely ter- 



66 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

rifled. My conjecture was, that nothing more 
was designed by the Indians than to take some 
new measure for retaining us securely in their 
power. The course of reasoning by which I 
endeavoured to allay the agitation of Skyles's 
mind, was ineffectual; and he at last begged 
that I would snatch up one of the rifles placed 
near us, and put him to death. The evening 
passed off; the hour of rest arrived; and we 
discovered that their arrangements looked no 
farther than to our safe keeping. 

The cords put around our necks were, dur- 
ing the day, bound up at the ends into a sort 
of club, which hung down behind. This 
club on Skyles's neck reached precisely to his 
wound, which it severely annoyed and irri- 
tated. Yet the Indians loaded him with a 
very heavy pack, of which he could not ven- 
ture to complain; because, in that event, he 
well knew, that his unfeeling master would 
aggravate the evil, by doubling his burden. 
As to myself, I had regularly borne a large 
weight of booty on my back from the encamp- 
ment near the Ohio river, and was never per- 
mitted to travel without an uncommonly heavy 
rifle barrel, which, in addition to my pack, 
incommoded me most grievously. 

It is the habit of these Indians, to treasure 
up all the bear's oil which they collect during 
the hunting season, and carry it to their vil- 
lages for home use. It is put up in deer skins, 
Which are stripped from the animal with as 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 67 

little splitting as possible, and the openings 
necessarily made are carefully and securely 
closed. These skins, when filled, are [38] 
usually transported on horses, each horse bear- 
ing two. The oil is eaten with their jerked 
venison, and is as palateable an addition to 
that article of food, as butter is to bread. On 
one occasion, those of the party who had 
charge of the horses, had started from our en- 
campment in the morning sooner than the 
rest, and had, perhaps inadvertently, left on 
the ground one of these skin-bags of bear's oil. 
When the foot party were about to commence 
their march they discovered it, and I was re- 
quired to bear it. The bag was accordingly 
placed on my back, secured by a hoppas,* 
whilst my pack and rifle barrel were carried 
by one of the Indians. I found it a much 
heavier burden than I had before sustained. 
Ignorant as yet of their temper towards me, 
and apprehensive of mischief, should I man- 
ifest a refractory spirit, I determined to bear 
this oppressive load as long as my strength 

♦The hoppas is a strap, fourteen or fifteen feet long, by 
which the pack is secured to the back. It is about two and 
a half inches wide in the middle, and gradually narrows 
towards each end to the width of one inch, or three-fourths 
of an inch. A length of near two feet, in the middle, or 
broadest part, is very closely woven, and neatly ornamented 
with beads and porcupine's quills, stained of various col- 
ours, and tastefully wrought into fanciful forms. The 
hoppas is so tied to the pack, that this ornamented portion 
passes over the breast and upper part of the arms, and is 
all that can be seen in front. It is curiously plaited by 
the hand, and is made from the bark of a wild plant closely 
resembling hemp, and quite as strong. [Note in original.^ 



68 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

could endure it. I staggered along under its 
weight for perhaps a mile, or more; when, un- 
able any longer to support it, I threw it down. 
My usual pack was then given to me, and the 
oppressive weight from which I had relieved 
myself was taken up by one of the party and 
carried forward till we overtook those who 
were mounted, without any appearance of dis- 
pleasure on their part at my conduct. 

Very soon after our capture, they invented 
names for Skyles and myself. I was called 
Ketesselo. [39] Whether this word was in- 
tended to express any particular idea, or 
whether any precise meaning was conveyed by 
it, I could not learn. The appellation, in their 
language, by which they distinguished my fel- 
low-prisoner, does not occur to my memory. 
But its English is, '^Stinking white man;" ap- 
plied to my unfortunate friend, because his 
wound had become offensive to the smell, al- 
though I was in the habit of washing it for 
him regularly every day. 

At length, after a journey of ten or twelve 
days, we arrived on the eastern bank of the 
Sciota, at a point where our party determined 
to cross the river. But the water was too deep 
to be passed by fording; and all were soon 
employed in preparing a raft for the transpor- 
tation of the men, women, prisoners, and bag- 
gage. The horses swam over. The dead timber, 
selected for constructing the raft, was felled 
and carried on the shoulders of the men to the 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 69 

waterside. A log had been cut, which was 
so large and heavy, that two persons were not 
able to carry it. Some of the party assisted a 
couple of their people to get the smaller end 
of this log on their shoulders, whilst I was 
required to bear the larger. They aided me 
in taking it up, but I quickly perceived that 
the burden was beyond my strength; and after 
staggering with it a short distance, there was 
no alternative but to throw it down. I called 
to the men who were in front of me with the 
smaller end, and told them in English, for I 
could not speak their language, what I was 
about to do. They probably did not under- 
stand me; and when I dashed the log to the 
ground, its whole weight by the sudden jolt 
was thrown so violently upon them, as to bring 
them to the earth with the log upon them. 
This roused them to a pitch of rage which 
might have seriously endangered my life, had 
not the in- [40] jury which they received been 
so severe, that it was not in their power for 
some time to rise. But the incident was a 
subject of high sport to their brethren, who 
roared with laughter, while my fellow-labour- 
ers were repeatedly crying, ''Damn Ketesselo! 
—Damn Ketesselo!" It is remarkable, that 
although only two Indians of this party 
understood or could speak our language, 
yet there was not one of them who 
did not utter curses in English; and all 
had caught the common salutation, "How- 



70 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

d'ye-do?" A consequence, which I did 
not regret, resulted from the adventure 
of the log. I was no longer required to 
aid in conveying the trunks of trees to the 
river. The raft was completed by securing to- 
gether the logs which composed it with grape- 
vines, and we all went over on it by making 
several trips. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 71 



CHAPTER VI. 

NOT long after passing the Sciota, we fell 
in with a hunting party, who en- 
camped not far from us. Some of 
our Indians conducted me to their encamp- 
ment; narrated boastfully the occurrences of 
our capture, and of their chasing the boats on 
the Ohio; and exulted in their success. Al- 
though I did not understand their language, 
their signs, gestures, and countenances, were 
so significant that I easily comprehended 
them. About this time, while I was crossing 
a creek upon a log, Which lay over it at the 
height of five or six feet from its surface, the 
greasy mockasins which I wore were so slip- 
[41] pery, that I tumbled off, over head and 
ears into the stream. But it was not deeper 
than my waist, and I had no difficulty in gain- 
ing the bank. Such is in general the stern grav- 
ity of face and deportment by which the sav- 
ages are distinguished, that when we turn our 
attention to this trait in their manners, we are 
ready to infer, that they are entire strangers 
to mirth. But this, or any like trivial occur- 
rence, never failed to produce from them loud 
and repeated bursts of merriment. It is per- 
haps worthy of notice, that although I had 
been little accustomed to exposure; had never 
been subjected to trials and hardships such as 



72 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

I was now compelled to undergo; yet no in- 
jurious effect on my health ensued from wad- 
ing creeks, falling into the water, lying out 
in the open air, in all kinds of weather, nor 
from any other inconvenience which I en- 
countered in the course of this long and pain- 
ful march, the first I had ever made on foot. 

Mr. Skyles and I soon found, that we had 
fallen into very diflferent hands. Perhaps the 
characters of no two men ever formed a more 
striking contrast, than did those of his keeper 
and mine. Messhawa, to wihom I had the 
good fortune to be allotted, had qualities 
which would have done honour to human na- 
ture in a state of the most refined civilization; 
whilst his keeper possessed such as disgraced 
even the savage. The one was humane, gen- 
erous, and noble; the other was ferocious, 
cruel, and brutal. These distinguishing traits, 
which clearly showed themselves from the 
first, continued to mark the conduct of each 
throughout the whole of our subsequent jour- 
ney. As regarded my safe keeping, Mess- 
hawa exerted a watchfulness and a fidelity to 
his trust, which never slumbered for a mo- 
ment. But even in the execu- [42] tion of his 
duty, he evinced a regard to my feeling, and 
a desire to mitigate the severity of my suffer- 
ings: whilst the conduct of Skyles's keeper 
was calculated, in every respect, to wound his 
sensibility, and to aggravate his pain. At our 
meals, Messhawa would divide with me to 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 73 

the last morsel ; but not so with the other. His 
object seemed to be, to afford his prisoner a 
sufficiency to sustain life, and nothing more. 
On one occasion, when we had penetrated far 
into the interior of the country after a fatigu- 
ing day's march, Skyles was eating some boiled 
racoon out of a kettle which was set before 
him. He had taken but a few morsels, when 
his keeper in an angry tone, snatched the kettle 
from him, and told him, he had ate enough, 
and should have no more! — It is true, we did 
not know these to be the words which he ut- 
tered, but from his gestures and manner we 
believed such to be the purport of them. Plen- 
tifully furnished with provisions for myself, 
from the bountiful hand of Messhawa, I felt 
the strongest inclination to supply the wants of 
my companion. But this could only be done 
by stealth; because I feared that discovery 
would draw down upon me the vengeance 
of his brutal keeper, and place it out of my 
power to minister to the sufferings of my less 
fortunate fellow-prisoner. The persons of 
these two Indians were as different as the 
qualities of their hearts. Messhawa was tall, 
straight, muscular, and remarkably well 
formed, of a very dark complexion, with a 
countenance free from the harshness and fero- 
city usually exhibited by the savage face, and 
expressive of mildness and humanity. He was 
distinguished as a swift runner. The other, 
whose name I have forgotten, was old, below 



74 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

the middle stature, lame, with a countenance 
on which the temper he continually displayed 
was very srongly marked. 

[43] My friend Skyles had procured a copy 
of the New Testament, which he frequently 
indulged himself in reading when we halted. 
One morning, when he was sitting at the fire 
with the book in his hand, endeavouring to 
extract that consolation from its pages which 
was inaccessible from any other source, the 
brutal old man, to whose custody he had been 
consigned, snatched it from him; harshly re- 
proved him for reading it; and threw it into 
the flames. 

The hour now arrived, when the man, who 
had been my companion in all the afflicting 
scenes of adversity through which I had passed 
since my capture; who was the sole individual 
with whom I could hold conversation ; and the 
object of my warm and incessant sympathy, 
was separated from me. We had observed, 
that eyes of never-wearied vigilance were fas- 
tened upon us by our captors, and that their 
suspicions were always alive to every circum- 
stance in our conduct. We therefore adopted 
the resolution, to deny ourselves the indul- 
gence of a frequent interchange of thoughts 
and words, and to say little to each other, lest 
the Indians, apprehensive that a plan of escape 
might be the subject of our talk, should put an 
end to all communication between us. We 
strictly conformed to this resolution for some 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 75 



time, until a delightful state of the atmos- 
phere on an April day so elevated our spirits, 
that we conversed much more freely than a 
discreet conformity to our own views of the 
subject would have prescribed. We were im- 
mediately punished for our imprudence. A 
party, consisting of eight or ten Indians, 
turned, with their prisoner Skyles, to the vil- 
lages on the Miami of the lake. The others 
proceeded with me and the two white chil- 
dren towards the towns on the river Sandusky. 
My [44] heart sunk within me when he was 
torn from my side. But the bitterness of the 
misfortune was greatest on his part; and I 
had yet some slender comforts left, while he 
had none. His wound, irritated by the pack 
which he carried, demanded care and atten- 
tion. I had been in the daily habit of wash- 
ing it; not a creature besides had touched it 
for a long time. He was now entirely in the 
hands of his unfeeling lame keeper, who cher- 
ished a savage delight in aggravating his 
sufferings; and there was not one among those 
around him who spoke his language. I was 
not wounded. Messhawa was of a kind, and 
even benevolent temper. Two of the Indians 
remaining with me were capable of expressing 
themselves in broken English; the little white 
boy and girl too were yet of my party. — Im- 
agination may, perhaps, supply what the pen 
cannot describe, in relation to such a subject 
as the parting between Mr. Skyles and me. 



76 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

To say, that we cordially shook each other by 
the hand; that we embraced; that tears flowed 
in profusion from our eyes ; would inadequate- 
ly impart our emotions. Despair was the pre^ 
vailing agent in the bosoms of both; and we 
quitted each other without a ray of hope to 
illumine our prospects. 

Soon after our separation, the people to 
whom I belonged halted, about midday, for 
refreshment. An Indian, well advanced in 
years, retired fifteen or twenty steps from the 
fire, and, lying down With his face to the 
ground, fell asleep. A young man,whohad kept 
his eyes on him, waited until he was perfectly 
in slumber. He then advanced, cautiously and 
without the slightest noise, to the spot where 
the other was quietly reposing; raised and 
dropped his tomahawk several times over his 
body; and at last struck its blade into his back 
with all the [45] strength he could exert. The 
wounded man sprung on his feet, and ran ofif 
as fast as his legs could carry him. But he 
was not pursued; nor did he afterwards rejoin 
us. I was never able to obtain a clue to this 
assassinating attempt. Incidents of this na- 
ture, though followed by no interesting conse- 
quence, yet go far to show the character of the 
singular and savage people who had me in 
their possession. 

A number of days subsequent to this were 
spent without any remarkable occurrence. The 
party sometimes travelled, often halted for the 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 77 

purpose of eating, sleeping, and playing their 
favorite game "Nosey," which they sometimes 
exchanged for a game like that called, 
among us. Five Corns. They also occa- 
sionally amused themselves by dancing, 
invariably accompanied with a song com- 
posed of the words, "Kon-nu-kah, — He- 
ka-kah, — We-sa-too, — Hos-ses-kah" — re- 
peated with a tone which did not strike 
the ear with a very musical effect. When 
they became fatigued with this exercise, they 
sometimes compelled Mr. Skyles, before he 
was separated from me, and myself, to imitate 
them in both the dance and the song, the words 
of which were repeated by me often enough to 
impress them so perfectly on my memory, that 
they are not yet forgotten. In one instance we 
were required, when the blaze of the fire was 
very high, to leap through it, and only es- 
caped injury by performing the act as quickly 
as possible. 

They carried two or three tobacco pipes, 
with which every man smoked when he chose, 
and they practised that amusement to great 
excess. A circle was frequently formed, and 
the pipe passed round from one to another, un- 
til all were satisfied. They are addicted, as I 
have before remarked, to taciturnity; and on 
these occasions, while enjoying [46] the fumes 
of their tobacco, a word was rarely spoken by 
an individual among them. Sometimes a short, 
dry observation would escape one of those 



78 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

within the circle, to which the others would 
express their assent by a sort of grunt. They 
are much in the habit of conveying their ideas 
by a gesture or sign, always made with striking 
significancy. 

We had now penetrated a great distance into 
the interior of a wild and uninhabited 
country; and I was compelled to abandon 
every thing like an effort or a hope to escape 
from my captors. Even though I had suc- 
ceeded in eluding their incessant vigilance, so 
far as to get out of their power, I should have 
been unable to procure sustenance of any kind, 
or to explore my way through woods and des- 
erts, for I knew not how many miles; and 
must have perished with hunger, or fallen into 
the hands of other Indians, parties of whom 
were wandering about in every direction. I 
was therefore reconciled to a continuance with 
them until we should arrive at their towns, 
where I flattered myself I might be purchased 
or ransomed by some benevolent trader. 

During the whole march, we subsisted on 
bear's meat, venison, turkeys, and racoons, 
with which we were abundantly supplied, as 
the ground over which we passed afforded 
every species of game in profusion, diminish- 
ing, however, as we approached their villages. 
But we were destitute of bread and salt, neces- 
saries of life to a white man, while they are 
considered mere superfluities by the Indian 
warrior or hunter, when he is occupied in 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 79 

war or the chase. A mode of living perfectly 
new to me; the fatigues of the journey; my 
exposure to all the inclemencies of the season 
and climate; and the uneasiness of mind un- 
der which I constantly laboured, [47] wasted 
my strength and depressed my spirits. I had 
been nearly four weeks on this distressful jour- 
ney. The vast wilderness through which I 
hadpassed, and that whichstill stretched before 
me, produced in my mind the frequent recol- 
lection of those beautiful lines from Gold- 
smith's Hermit, which were precisely adapted 
to my present condition: 

For here forlorn and lost I tread, 

With fainting steps, and slow. 
Where wilds, immeasurably spread. 

Seem length'ning as I go. 

But in addition to all these miseries, there 
was another source of painful apprehension, 
to which I could not advert with unconcern. 
I had heard enough of the Indian habits and 
manners to understand, that it is their usage, 
on reaching their towns with a prisoner, to 
subject him to the degrading and severe in- 
fliction of blows, while he runs the gauntlet. 

All the women and boys are provided with 
staves, clubs, and such other weapons as they 
may choose. They are then arranged in two 
ranks, at a short distance from each other, and 
the captive is compelled to make his progress 
between these ranks at whatever pace he 
pleases, while every possible exertion is made 



8o JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

to annoy and to beat him down. Should he be 
fortunate enough, when thus exposed, to avoid 
extreme injury, yet he is not exempted from 
the most awful calamity which barbarism has 
invented for those who fall into its power. 
If the vindictive temper of the savages is un- 
appeased; if they are not under the influence 
of those motives, or whims, or peculiar cus- 
toms, which determine them on saving life; 
the miserable prisoner is fastened to a stake, 
a fire is kindled around him, his suffering's are 
aggravated and protracted by all [48] the 
ingenuity of torture, until nature can bear it 
no longer, and he dies in agony inconceivable. 
The gloom, which reflection on such sub- 
jects had spread over my mind, was in some 
degree dispelled by an incident, which, under 
ordinary circumstances would have been dis- 
regarded. We found a negro in the woods, 
under cover of a tent, which contained a quan- 
tity of whiskey and peltrv belonging to his 
master, an Indian of the Wyandot tribe, then 
at peace with the United States. This negro 
was a runaway from the state of Kentucky,* 
and had fled across the Ohio to the country of 
the savages; among whom it was a law, as I 
was informed, that the first who should lav 
hands on such runaway had a right to hold 

♦Although fugitive slaves among the Indians north of the 
Ohio were not so numerous as those among the Seminoles 
of Florida, this relation of Johnston shows the presence of 
several with whom he came into contact. The whole num- 
ber must have been considerable. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 8i 

him as his property. The negro had been thus 
acquired by the Wyandot, who was, when we 
fell in with the negro, engaged in hunting, 
and had, on a trading expedition, recently 
visited the Muskingum, where he had obtain- 
ed the whiskey now in the possession and care 
of his negro man. 

I now felt myself quite at home; and the 
poor negro, whom under other circumstances, 
I should have kept at a distance, became my 
companion and friend. He treated me with 
great kindness and hospitality, offering me 
such refreshments as he had, the most accepta- 
ble of which were bread and salt. I had not 
tasted either since we left the Ohio river. My 
captors, as soon as they ascertained that the 
negro had whiskey for sale, began to barter for 
it a part of the booty which they had acquired 
on the Ohio. A pair of new boots, which 
they had taken from my saddlebags, and for 
which I had paid eight dollars at Petersburg, 
was given for a pint of whiskev; and other 
articles were exchanged at a similar rate. The 
scenes which had passed on [49] the Ohio 
were now to be acted over again. A disgust- 
ing revelry commenced, Which lasted for three 
days. As usual, a sufficient number remained 
sober to guard the prisoners, consisting, at 
this time, only of the two children and myself. 

On the first night, about the time when we 
were composing ourselves for rest, we were 
removed to some distance from the spot occu- 



82 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

pied by those who were in a state of intoxica- 
tion, that we might not, while asleep, be dis- 
turbed by them. The two children had never 
been tied; but I was confined by cords, and 
Indians laid themselves on each side of me as 
before. In this situation I slept, until about 
midnight, when I was awaked by the falling 
of rain. Soon after, the negro, who had ob- 
served the direction in which we had gone 
when removed from the place where the 
drunken Indians were, arrived at our camp, 
and kindly proposed to me, that I should go 
with him to his tent, and sleep under it, pro- 
tected from the rain. I pointed out the im- 
possibility of accepting his invitation, without 
the consent of my guard, lying on each side of 
me, upon the rope with which I was confined. 
These men, hearing a conversation between 
the negro and myself which they did not un- 
derstand, conceived a suspicion that he was 
concerting with me measures for my escape. 
They immediately sprung up, and seizing the 
negro, set up a tremendous yell, which was 
answered by the drunken party, and presently 
most of them came running towards us with 
their tomahawks in their hands. The negro, 
who could speak their language, was taken off 
a short distance and interrogated as to the 
object of his visit to me; after which I was 
separately questioned on the same point by 
one of those who spoke English. As there was 
an entire correspondence in our answers, [50] 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 83 

the Indians did not doubt their truth; and I 
was permitted to accept the invitation of my 
new friend. I soon reached his tent, accom- 
panied by nearly all the Indians, who ap- 
peared to have been much sobered by the in- 
cident which had just occurred.-- I then laid 
myself down within the tent, near its entrance, 
in front of which there was a fire. Sheltered 
from the rain, and no longer encumbered by 
ropes, I soon fell into a profound sleep, which 
I should probably have enjoyed till the morn- 
ing, had not my slumbers been interrupted 
by a sensation like that called the night-mare; 
but Which was, in fact, produced by the weight 
of a large Indian sitting composedly on my 
breast, before the fire, and smoking his pipe. 
I turned over and dropped him on the ground, 
where he continued to sit, indulging, as if 
nothing had occurred, in his favourite amuse- 
ment of smoking, until I again sunk into sleep. 



84 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 



CHAPTER VII. 

IN the morning, a frightful scene presented 
itself: they were preparing for the war- 
dance. A pole had been cut from the 
woods; after taking the bark from it, it was 
painted black, with streaks of red, winding 
like snakes around it: the lower end was sharp- 
ened, and at the top the scalps of my late com- 
panions, with others which they had obtained 
during their excursion, were suspended. Each 
Indian had dressed himself for the occasion, 
some had painted their faces black, with red 
round the eyes; others, reversing it, had 
painted their faces [51] red, with black round 
the eyes : all with feathers stuck in their heads, 
and all with the aspect of so many demons. 
When they had finished adorning themselves 
in this manner, the pole was stuck fast into the 
ground. They formed themselves into a circle 
around it: and then the dance began. It com- 
menced with the fell war-whoop, which had 
not ceased to ring in my ears since the fatal 
morning of our capture. They danced around 
the pole, writhing their bodies and distorting 
their faces in a most hideous manner. It is 
their practice, on such occasions, to repeat 
the injuries which have been inflicted on them 
by their enemies the whites; their lands taken 
from them — their villages burnt — their corn- 
fields laid waste — their fathers and brothers 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 85 

killed — their women and children carried into 
captivity. In this instance, by these repetitions 
of their wrongs and sufferings, they had 
wrought themselves up to a pitch of the great- 
est fury. 

The dance lasted for about half an hour. 
The scene being new to me, I had seated my- 
self on a log to witness it. When it ended, 
Chickatommo, with eyes flashing fire, ad- 
vanced towards me, and when in reach struck 
me a violent blow on the head. I immediately 
quitted my seat, seized him over the arms, and 
demanded why he struck me? He replied, by 
saying, ''Sit down !— sit down !" I accordingly 
loosened my grasp, and resumed my seat on 
the log. At that moment, perceiving the two 
prisoner children near, who, like myself, had 
been attentive spectators of the dance, he snatch- 
ed upatomahawk that was at hand, and advanc- 
ed towards them with a quick step and deter- 
mined look. Alarmed at his menacing ap- 
proach they fled: — he pursued. My humane 
friend Messhawa, seeing the imminent danger 
to which they were exposed, [52] bounded like 
a deer to their relief. The boy being older 
and stronger than his sister, she was the first 
to be overtaken by Chickatommo, and would 
have been the first to fall a victim to his rage; 
but at the moment when the fatal instrument 
was raised to strike her dead, Messhawfa had 
reached the spot. Coming up behind Chick- 
atommo, he seized him around the arms, and 



86 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

with violence slung him back. He then darted 
towards the affrighted child, whom he reached 
in an instant, snatched her up in his arms, and 
pursued the boy. Misconstruing the good in- 
tentions of Messhawa, he redoubled his exer- 
tions to escape, and they had run a consider- 
able distance before he was overtaken. When 
his deliverer came up with him, he thought all 
was over, and gave a bitter shriek, which was 
answered by one still more bitter from his 
sister, then in the arms of Messhawa and who 
had not yet understood his object. They were 
both, however, soon undeceived. Although 
he spoke to them in an unknown tongue, his 
language, from the manner of it, could not be 
misunderstood. They found that they had 
been mistaken, and that they had been pursued 
by a friend instead of an enemy. When this 
was ascertained, their little palpitating hearts 
were soon calmed into repose, and presently 
they arrived at our camp, walking by the side 
of Messhawa, who held each by the hand, and 
soothed them as they advanced with his ca- 
resses. The wood being an open one, I had 
viewed the scene with intense gaze; and no- 
thing could exceed the delight I felt at finding 
my poor little companions thus relieved from 
the dangers of so perilous a situation. 

On the next day two Mingo Indians* ar- 

*The Mingos inhabited the country now embraced in the 
eastern part of the state of Ohio. They were a remnant of 
the once powerful Iroquois. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 87 

rived, and immediately participated in the 
drunken debauchery of our camp. One of 
these men had killed in the [53] course of the 
preceding summer, an Indian of the Wyandot 
tribe, who w;as a husband, and the father of 
several children. Among all the savage na- 
tions of America, the usage prevails, of adopt- 
ing prisoners taken in war for the purpose of 
supplying any loss incurred by those, who 
have had their friends slain in battle, or other- 
wise. If one takes the life of another belong- 
ing to his own or a different tribe, he is bound 
to make reparation to the family of the dead 
man, either by the payment of a certain value 
in property, or by furnishing a substitute for 
the deceased, who occupies precisely the same 
station, and fills all the relations of such de- 
ceased in the community to which he be- 
longed; becomes the husband of his widow, 
should he have left one, the father of his chil- 
dren, and is required to perform all the duties 
appertaining to these connexions. If repa- 
ration is not made for the death of a man by 
one of the modes which have been mentioned, 
within a period limited by their usages, the 
murderer becomes liable to be killed with 
impunity by the relatives of him who has 
fallen, or by any other of his tribe. In this 
instance, the Mingo stated to my captors his 
wretched situation. He declared himself so 
poor, that he was not able to render the requi- 
site value for the Wyandot whom he had slain ; 



88 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

and therefore that his own life must be for- 
feited, unless the alternative condition w*as ful- 
filled by him. While their hearts were warmed 
more by the operation of the spirituous liquor 
they had drank, than by any genuine emotions 
of liberality, they did not hesitate to yield to his 
solicitations; and I was delivered over to this 
new master, to be substituted for the Wyandot 
whom he had murdered. 

When I had ascertained, that those with 
whom I had travelled from the Ohio River, 
were preparing [54] to resume their journey, 
and to leave me in the hands of my new pos- 
sessor, I wias utterly astonished and incapable 
of conceiving the cause of. so unexpected a 
determination. For the purpose of relieving 
my mind from the anxiety and alarm neces- 
sarily produced by my transfer to the Mingo, 
I requested the negro to explain its object. 
He was equally ignorant with myself of the 
negotiations between my present and former 
proprietors, and applied to both parties for 
explanation. The intelligence, unreservedly 
communicated to him by each, was perfectly 
concurrent, and the perturbation of my feel- 
ings was in a great degree diminished, when 
I learnt, that I was destined shortly to become 
a husband and a father. The prospect, indeed, 
was not very rapturous, of leading to the altar 
of Hymen an Indian squaw, already the 
mother of several children. But there was 
something extremely consoling in the hope, I 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 89 

might say in the persuasion, that such an event 
would bring within my reach those chances 
of escape from the savages, and for restoration 
to my country and friends, which I had thus 
far vainly exerted myself to obtain. 

The Indians, whose captive I had hereto- 
fore been, took up their packs immediately 
after surrendering me to the Mingo, and con- 
tinued their march. But before they set out, 
every individual made it a point to take leave 
of me, and to shake me by the hand. Several 
of them, by their countenances and manner, 
evinced feelings of kindness, and even of re- 
gret, at parting. My excellent friend Mess- 
hawa, who had certainly formed an attach- 
ment to me, seemed to partake more of this 
feeling than any of them. 

After they left us, I had leisure to reflect 
on my new condition, and believed I had 
reason to con- [55] gratulate myself on a 
change so auspicious. The matrimonial con- 
nexion, which had been designed for me, with- 
out my consent, occupied my mind, and I en- 
tertained an earnest curiosity w'ith respect to 
the female, the place of whose husband I was 
to supply, and with whom I was to be allied 
by the ties of marriage. Whether she was 
old or young, ugly or handsome, deformed or 
beautiful, were the questions not without their 
interest to me. I therefore inquired on those 
subjects from the Mingo, by the aid of my- 
interpreter, the negro. But he had never seen 



90 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

her, and could give me no information, except 
that she was the mother of three or four chil- 
dren. But Whatever might be her personal 
appearance, or the qualities of her heart; 
whether she was destitute of charms, or dis- 
tinguished for them; the plan to be pursued 
by me was clear, and my resolution was not 
to deviate from it. I was not to be consulted 
in relation to the marriage intended for me 
by those who claimed the disposal of my per- 
son : whether it was to be productive of happi- 
ness or misery to me, was no concern of theirs. 
The only benefit which could result on my 
side would be, that I should be free, and no 
longer continue the object of suspicion and 
vigilance; and might seize on the first favour- 
able opportunity which presented itself, of 
returning to the comforts, the security, and 
the enjoyments of civilized life. For the more 
certain attainment of my purpose, it was my 
intention, after assuming the charge of the 
family which I was about to enter by com- 
pulsion, thoroughly to devote myself to it, to 
reconcile myself as far as was in my power to 
the necesity by Which I was overwhelmed; 
but by no means to delay my escape, when the 
moment should arrive at which there was a 
possibility of its being accomplished. It may 
well [56] be conceived, that with such hopes 
and views, I became impatient for our arrival 
at the place of residence of my intended bride. 
These reveries, which I continued hourly 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 91 

to indulge, were not of long duration. After 
the lapse of two or three days, the Mingo, who 
now considered me as his property, began to 
move on with me towards the town at which 
I was to be delivered, and where the bridal 
ceremony was to be performed at the proper 
period subsequent to my arrival. Before he 
fell in with the party from the Ohio, we had 
struck the war-path leading from the country 
on that river, to the Indian towns on the San- 
dusky and Miami. Upon this war-path my 
late proprietors had proceeded, when they 
took leave of the Mingo and myself; and as 
he conducted me along the same route in their 
irear, it would happen, that if delayed a few 
days, we should overtake them. The fact was, 
that my former possessors, after the generous 
feeling excited by the whiskey, which they 
were quaffing when the Mingo joined them, 
had subsided, began to repent of their liber- 
ality, and determined to reclaim me. They 
accordingly halted until we came up with 
them. We were received with smiles, and 
every indication of civility. They all shook 
us by the hand, and there was nothing which 
induced the slightest apprehension of ill hu- 
mour. But this temper did not long display 
itself. A bitter altercation commenced, which 
soon proceeded to a high quarrel ; in the course 
of which I was not exempt from uneasiness 
when I observed, by their frequent pointing 
to me, that I was the subject of controversy. 



92 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

The danger w^as, that one party might despatch 
me with the tomahawk or rifle, rather than 
yield me to the claim of the other. The dis- 
pute Was terminated by the [57] act of Mess- 
haw!a, who caught two of the horses that were 
browzing in the immediate neighbourhood 
and in view of our position, mounted one of 
them, required me to get on the other, and 
conducted me, with his rifle on his shoulder, 
to the Indian town at upper Sandusky.* This 
was done by instruction from Chickatommo. 
We reached that place after riding about 
five miles. t Those of our party, who had been 
left in the rear by Messhawa and myself, did 
not long delay to follow us; and, when they 
arrived at the town, encamped about the centre 
of it. Mr. Francis Duchouquet, a Canadian 

*This prominent town of the Wyandot or Huron Indians 
was located about four miles southwest of the present city 
of Upper Sandusky, Ohio. By the treaty of 1817, the 
region about the Indian town was made into a reservation 
which was not opened to the whites until 1845, when the 
modern town was surveyed. Old Upper Sandusky was a 
favorite post for Canadian traders. 

I There were no streets in this town, but the Indian 
habitations were irregularly disposed, without regard to 
order or distance from each other. They were all con- 
structed of bark, supported by corner posts and cross tim- 
bers, to which the bark was secured by strings made of its 
inner fibres. There was no chimney, but the fire was made 
about the centre of the hovel, and a hole was left in the 
roof over it for the escape of the smoke. It requires no 
great labour to erect one of these frail dwellings; since 
the bark, which is the principal material, is obtained from 
large trees, when their sap begins to flow, in wide and long 
flakes. The corner posts and cross timbers are barely ot 

suflicient size and strength to sustain the outer covering. 

[Note in origin nl.} 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 93 

trader,* who had resided for some years among 
the Indians at this place, had met us at the 
point where the party had waited for the Min- 
go and me, and had then, on my earnest solici- 
tation, assured me, that overtures for my re- 
demption should be made on our arrival at 
Upper Sandusky. He visited us in a short time 
after we had encamped in that village. At the 
first moment when I saw this gentleman, I was 
animated with the hope, that I might prevail 
on him to treat w'ith the Indians for my ran- 
som, and that he might succeed in rescuing 
me from the pains and horrors of a captivitv 
which I had then suffered for many weeks. 1 
instantly renewed my application to him on 
this subject, and he did not hestitate to exert 
his good offices in my favour. But his propo- 
sitions [58] were decisively rejected; and the 
Indians expressed a determination not to let 
me go from their hands. The failure of this 
negotiation, when disclosed to me, produced 
an agonizing effect, which perhaps may be 
conceived, but cannot be expressed. All the 

*The French traders had been coming into the regions 
lying south of the Great Lal^es for the past half a century. 
The fact that Duchouquet resided permanently at the In- 
dian village was not extraordinary. Goureurs-de-bois and 
Indians brought the skins to the trader at some well-known 
point where he had established his headquarters. The 
trader carried them in bales to Detroit when a sufficient 
store had been accumulated, whence they were taken to 
Quebec by boat. 



94 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

terrors of a cruel death, inflicted by merciless 
savages, ingenious in the invention and prac- 
tice of torture, recurred to my imagination, 
and filled me with despair. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 95 



CHAPTER VIII. 

I HAD forgotten my copy of the Debates of 
the Virginia Convention, at the place 
from which I had been hurried by order 
of Chickatommo, on the day that we reached 
Upper Sandusky. Next morning the Mingo 
Indian, to whom I had been for a short time 
transferred, and from whom I had been re- 
claimed by my captors, appeared at our en- 
campment. Recollection of the contest which 
he had lately maintained, for possession of my 
person, induced a suspicion, that his views 
were not propitious to my safety; and I was 
disposed to avoid him. My fears, however, 
were entirely dispelled, when, on his approach 
towards me, he drew from his bosom the book 
in which I had kept my journal, and pre- 
sented it to me With a smiling face. 

Soon afterwards, the party who held me a 
prisoner, was gladdened by the arrival of sev- 
eral Wyandots from Muskingum, with a quan- 
tity of whiskey in kegs, each of which con- 
tained about ten gallons, brought on horses, 
and lashed across their backs with hickory 
wythes. Immediately they began to [59] bar- 
ter with their guests for the article, which of 
all others, is most valuable in their eyes. The 
Wyandots turned their whiskey to good ac- 
count. Five gallons were enough for the pur- 



96 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

chase of a horse worth two hundred dollars; 
a finely formed, handsome animal, now re- 
duced in his plight by the journey from the 
Ohio river. Others of inferior value, were 
exchanged at a price proportioned to the first; 
and drunkenness soon spread itself over our 
encampment. But their customary precaution 
was not neglected; and a small number refus- 
ing to drink, remained sober, for the purpose 
of guarding me. 

I had observed the liberality of their dis- 
position while under the influence of drink, 
when they gratuitously yielded me to the Min- 
go; and therefore, pressed Mr. Duchouquet 
to renew his efforts for my ransom, at a mo- 
ment which seemed favourable to my hopes. 
Again his propositions were rejected. I then 
begged him to ascertain, by inquiry from the 
Indians, to what point it was their intention 
to convey me; and what was the fate to which 
I was destined. To the first question they 
answered, by telling him that they intended to 
take me to their towns on the Miami river: 
to the second their reply was, that they did 
not know what final destination they should 
make of me. I had before this distinctly un- 
derstood, that captives conveyed to the Miami 
towns, were certain of meeting the most dread- 
ful fate; and that it is the invariable practice 
of the savages, to conceal their purposes from 
the prisoners whom they meant to sacrifice. 
When Mr. Duchouquet, therefore, reported 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 97 

to me the result of the inquiries \Vhich he had 
made at my request, my alarm and despon- 
dency were greater, if possible, than I had yet 
experienced; and every thing like hope was 
banished from my bosom. 

The spirit of drunken debauchery pre- 
vaided, un- [60] til the funds for purchasing 
whiskey, and the article itself, were about the 
same time exhausted. Four or five days of 
unbounded riot and intoxication had been 
passed, when the Indians to whom I belonged, 
finding themselves suddenly reduced from af- 
fluence to their usual poverty: ashamed of 
their wasteful expenditures, after having 
boasted of their exploits and their acquisitions 
on the Ohio; unwilling to return to their 
homes and their countrymen with nothing in 
their hands, of the wealth which they had re- 
cently possessed; adopted a resolution to go 
back to the river on which they had succeeded 
so well, and to make farther captures of white 
men and their property. They communicated 
their intention to Mr. Duchouquet, and in- 
formed him, that as the scalp of their captive 
might be transported with greater facility and 
safety than his person, they had determined to 
put me to death: but if he was in a temper to 
treat for my ransom, this was his time. A ne- 
gotiation was then commenced, and concluded 
happily for me, without my knowledge or in- 
tervention. It was agreed, that he should pay 
one hundred dollars worth of goods as the 



98 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

price of my liberation; and that I should be 
forthwith surrendered to him. The price was 
paid dow/n in six hundred silver broaches; 
which answjers all the purposes of a circulat- 
ing medium with them. 

This event, to me the most important of my 
life, by a singular coincidence occurred on the 
28th of April, in the year 1790;* the day on 
which I attained the age of twenty-one years. 
It might be truly and literally denominated 
my second birth; since, w^ithin the preceding 
twenty-four hours, I might have been consid- 
ered as dead to any prospect which my condi- 
tion presented, except the most miserable, and 
sunk to the lowest depth of despair. The ex- 
travagance of my joy was such, that I know 
[61] not any terms in our language adequate 
to its expression. Subsequent circumstances, 
presently to be noticed, threw me again into 
uneasiness and alarm. 

After the Indians had disposed of me, they 
separated themselves into two parties. A small 
number of the Shawanese, the Mingo, the 
women, and the two captive children, set out 
for the Miami towns. Chickatommo, with 
the other Shawanese, commenced their route 
back to the Ohio river. Their departure 
seemed to ensure my safety, and therefore my 
mind was perfectly quieted. But there was a 
white man among the Wyandots at Upper 

♦Johnston was in captivity about five weeks and traveled 
nearly two hundred miles. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 99 

Sandusky, who had been carried into captivity 
by those Indians when very young, and had 
been reared and naturalized with their tribe. 
He spoke the English language sufficiently to 
enable me to understand him; and we entered 
into conversation; in the course of wihich he 
intimated, that my emancipation was not yet 
reduced to certainty; and that he suspected it- 
was the intention of Chickatommo and his 
party, to regain possession of my person. This 
suggestion, from a man who knew the savages 
well; their characteristic treachery; and the 
fact, that they had already once reclaimed me 
after having consigned me to the Mingo, in- 
duced an apprehension, that what I had heard 
was not to be disregarded. This apprehension 
Was greatly strengthened, when on the suc- 
ceeding day, the Shawanese chief with his fol- 
lowers, actually presented themselves again at 
Upper Sandusky. 

Once more terror and despondency seized 
on me. I reflected on the events which had 
passed ; the miseries which I had endured ; and 
the dreadful fate which was inevitable, should 
I now, for the third time, fall into the hands 
of my captors. I deliberately and solemnly 
resolved, to resist their whole [62] force by 
exertion of all my powers, and to perish on 
the spot before they should ever again become 
my masters. I provided myself with a toma- 
hawk, and calmly sat down on a log, fixed in 
my purpose should they approach, but chop- 



loo JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

ping the log w/ith an air of indifference. They 
made no attempt upon me, and retired to an 
encampment which they formed on the river 
near the town, yet out of our view. Mr. Du- 
chouquet concurred with me in the opinion, 
that all the circumstances of their conduct 
were such, as ought to excite strong suspicion 
that they meditated my recapture. They had 
disappeared on the preceding day, after re- 
ceiving the price for wihich 1 had been sold; 
had declared a design of returning to the 
Ohio; had suddenly returned, without any ap- 
parent reason or business; had encamped at a 
place different from that which they had be- 
fore occupied, more remote from view, and 
better suited for a plan of surprise from it on 
us by night. We determined to prepare for 
the attack, and remain, with the utmost vigi- 
lance, on our guard. Mr. Duchouquet, and a 
labourer then in his service, continued to 
watch with me throughout the night. We 
locked and barred our door. We were in pos- 
session of an axe, several guns, and tomahawks. 
But there was no necessity for their use. The 
Indians permitted us to remain undisturbed; 
and on the next day quitted their camp. Their 
whole party, with their packs on their backs, 
came out of their course through the town; 
shook hands with Mr. Duchouquet and my- 
self, declaring an intention to visit the British 
post at Detroit, and departed. I could not yet 
banish from my mind all disquiet, and con- 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE loi 

tinued under some apprehension that they 
might lurk in the neighbourhood, for a fa- 
vourable opportunity to return and bear me 
off. But after several days of anxiety, we 
were informed by a party of strolling [63] 
Indians from Lower Sandusky, that they had 
met Chickatommo and his followers, at a con- 
siderable distance from our village, pursuing 
their journey steadily towards Detroit. My 
fears and dangers were now at an end: my 
spirits became buoyant, and I indulged none 
but the most joyous feelings. 

My mind became immediately occupied 
with the subject of my return to Virginia; 
which Was embarrassed with some difficulties. 
I was alone, utterly ignorant of the country, 
and could reach home by one of two routes 
only. The first lay through the dreary wilder- 
ness which I had recently traversed; and the 
travellers who should attempt to pass, were 
subjected to all the perils from which I had 
been so lately delivered. The distance to the 
nearest settlement was great, and I was not 
possessed of the means of providing myself 
subsistence on the journey, \Vhich I should 
have been compelled to make to Pittsburg. 
The other was extremely circuitous, though 
less liable to danger. I could travel in per- 
fect security under the protection of a trader: 
but there was no prospect of obtaining that 
advantage in a very short time, as the season 
of the year had not arrived, when the traders 



I02 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

were in the habit of repairing to Detroit, with 
the peltry purchased in the course of the win- 
ter and spring, at the Indian villages. It was 
Mr. Duchouquet's intention, to convey his 
purchases to that place in person, in the course 
of about five weeks ; and I had no choice but 
to remain at Upper Sandusky until that time; 
then to proceed with him to Detroit, and thence 
down the lakes into the state of New York, 
from which, the road to my native State would 
be perfectly easy and safe. The interval, be- 
tween my liberation from captivity and the 
commencement of my homeward journey, was 
employed in assisting Mr. Duchouquet to sell 
his merchandise to the In- [64] dians, in at- 
tending to his books and accounts, and in oc- 
casional excursions ; which I generally limited 
to the immediate vicinity of our village, be- 
cause there was some hazard in venturing to 
a distance. On one occasion, however, I ex- 
ceeded these limits, and walked two or three 
miles, for the purpose of visiting the spot 
where Col. Crawford* had been tortured and 
burnt to death some years before, by the 
Delawares. The sapling to which it was said 
he had been bound, when he suffered the 
most aWful fate to wliich man can be sub- 
jected, was still alive, and was pointed out to 

*Col. Crawford, a frontiersman, led a body of men from 
western Pennsylvania against the Indians of central Ohio 
in 1782, He was captured and carried to Upper Sandusky. 
His torture at the stake was witnessed by another captive 
who left a complete account of the revolting details. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 103 



me by my conductor — the white captive who 
was naturalized among the Wyandots. 

A trivial incident exposed me yet again to 
the resentment and vengeance of one of those 
savage beings, whom it was hoped I had en- 
tirely escaped. The traders, and other white 
persons, at the Indian towns, were in the habit 
of wearing shirts made of calico. Mr. Du- 
chouquet had furnished me with one of this 
description, which I had washed and hung out 
on a bush to dry. It had not remained there 
long, when I discovered a cow, belonging to 
an Indian of our village, in the act of eating 
it. She had devoured one sleeve, and was 
committing depredations on other parts of it; 
when I contrived to get near her with a toma- 
hawk in my hand, with which I gave her a 
blow in the forehead that felled her to the 
ground, apparently lifeless. Her owner, un- 
observed by me, was in view. He ran up to 
me with an infuriated, threatening face, and, 
at the moment when he appeared ready to ex- 
ecute his vengeance upon me for his fancied 
loss, the cow jumped up and ran away; there- 
by relieving me from the unpleasant necessity 
I should have been under of using the toma- 
hawk in my own defence, had he made an at- 
tack upon me. 

About this time a Shawanese Indian arrived 
at Up- [65] per Sandusky, and brought the 
heart-chilling intelligence, that my late fel- 
low-prisoner, William Flinn, had been burnt 



I04 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

at the stake, and devoured by the savages, at 
one of the Miami towns. This monster de- 
clared, that he had been present when the 
miserable man was sacrificed; had partaken 
of the horrid banquet; and that his flesh was 
sweeter than any bear's meat! — a food of all 
others in highest repute With the Indians. 

The small band of Cherokees, three in num- 
ber, to whom Peggy Fleming had been al- 
lotted, in the distribution made of the prison- 
ers on the Ohio, brought her to Upper San- 
dusky while I was there. She was no longer 
that cheerful, lively creature, such as when 
separated from us. Her spirits were sunk, 
her gayety had fled: and instead of that viva- 
city and sprightliness which formerly danced 
upon her countenace, she now wore the undis- 
sembled aspect of melancholy and Wretched- 
ness. I endeavoured to ascertain the cause of 
this extraordinary change, but she answered 
my inquiries only with her tears; leaving my 
mind to its own inferences. Her stay with us 
was only for a few hours, during which time, 
I could not extract a word from her, except 
occasionally the monosyllables yes and no. 
Gloom and despondency had taken entire pos- 
session of her breast; and nothing could be 
more touching than her appearance. Her 
emaciated frame, and dejected countenance, 
presented a picture of sorrow and of sadness, 
which would have melted the stoutest heart; 
and such was its effect upon me, that I could 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 105 

not abstain from mingling my tears with hers. 
With these feelings we parted. When we 
met again, it was under far different and more 
auspicious circumstances, as will hereafter be 
seen. 




io6 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 



[66] CHAPTER IX. 

EARLY in June, Mr. Duchouquet, in con- 
formity to his annual usage, set out for 
Detroit. All the traders, then occupied 
in the peltry business, were in the habit 
of repairing yearly, about the middle of au- 
tumn, with such articles of m/erchandise as 
were adapted to the Indian markets, to their 
towns, dispersed over the wide extended re- 
gions of the north-west. They carried with 
them ammunition, blankets, calico for shirts, 
coarse cloths for leggings, trinkets, vermillion, 
tomahawks, scalping-knives, and whatever 
else their experience informed them was suited 
to the taste, or to the necessities of their tawny 
customers. They received in exchange, the 
furs and skins collected by the Indians during 
their winter expeditions into the woods. But 
as these were not brought in until the spring, 
the traders sold the goods which the Indians 
wanted for winter use, on a credit until the 
spring; when they returned home, and paid 
for their fall purchases, as well as for the few 
light articles necessary to themi through the 
summer. They were in general, punctual to 
their engagements ; but there were some among 
them, who, like many of our white people, 
were apt to forget, or to disregard their prom- 
ises. The collections of the traders at the In- 
dian towns, were generally completed by the 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 107 

first of June, wlhen all their furs and skins 
were conveyed to Detroit; whence they were 
sent down the lakes, and the St. Lawrence, to 
Montreal and Quebec. The quantities of pel- 
try produced by this traffic, were immense 
and of very great value. They continue so at 
present; and the only change worthy of no- 
tice, which has since occurred, results from 
the great [67] water communication, lately 
effected by New^York, between the lakes and 
the Hudson river, which Will probably trans- 
fer all the trade of which I have spoken, 
from the markets of Canada to those of New- 
York. The Canadians will, however, retain 
that share, which is afforded by the country 
to the north of the river St. Lawrence, and 
out of the range of that canal navigation. 

Mr. Duchouquet was occupied in this trade. 
He sold his goods, and collected his peltry 
at Upper Sandusky. The season had arrived 
for transporting his purchases to Detroit; and, 
with a light heart, I began the journey to 
that post, in his party. The Sandusky river 
is not navigable from the upper town; and 
Mr. Duchouquet's peltry was carried on pack- 
horses to Lower Sandusky; w(hence there is a 
good navigation to Detroit. When we reached 
Lower Sandusky,* a great degree of consterna- 
tion prevailed there, produced by the incidents 

♦This Indian village, second in importance to Upper 
Sandusky, was located farther down the Sandusky river, 
below the rapids and at the head of navigation from Lake 
Erie. The site is now occupied by the city of Fremont, Ohio. 



io8 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

of the preceding day, and of the morning then 
recently passed. The three Cherokees, who 
had possession of Peggy Fleming, had con- 
ducted her to a place where they encamped, 
within a quarter of a mile's distance from the 
town. It was immediately rumoured that they 
were there, with a white fem)ale captive. The 
traders residing in the town, instantly deter- 
mined to visit the camp of the Cherokees, and 
to see her. Among them was a man, whose 
name Was Whitaker, and who, like the one 
that I had met with at Upper Sandusky, had 
been carried into captivity from the white set- 
tlements, by the Wyandots, in his early life. 
He was not so entirely the savage as the first; 
could speak our language better; and, though 
naturalized by his captors, retained some pre- 
dilection for the whites. The influence which 
he had acquired with his tribe, was such, that 
they had promoted him to the rank of a chief; 
and his standing [68] with them was high. 
His business had led him frequently, before 
this period, to Pittsburg, where the father of 
Peggy Fleming then kept a tavern, in which 
Whitaker had been accustomed to lodge and 
board. As soon as he appeared w^th the other 
traders at the camp of the Cherokees, he was 
recognised by the daughter of his old land- 
lord, and she addressed him by his name, earn- 
estly supplicating his efforts to emancipate 
her from the grasp of her savage proprietors. 
Without hesitation, he acceded to her request. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 109 

He did not make an application to the Chero- 
kees, but returned to the town and informed 
the principal chief, distinguished by the ap- 
pellation of King Crane,* that the white fe- 
male captive was his sister: a misrepresenta- 
tion greatly palliated by the benevolent mo- 
tive which dictated it. 

He had no difficulty in obtaining from the 
King a promise to procure her release. Crane 
went immediately to the camp of the Chero- 
kees; informed them that their prisoner was a 
sister of a friend of his, and desired, as a fa- 
vour, that they would make a present to him 
of Peggy Fleming, whom he wished to restore 
to her brother. They rejected his request. 
He then proposed to purchase her; this they 
also refused with bitterness, telling him "that 
he was no better than the white people, and 
that he w^as as mean as the ^/r/;" terms of the 
grossest reproach in their use of them. At 
this insult. Crane became exasoerated. He 
went back to the town; told Whitaker What 
had been his reception, and declared his in- 
tention to take Peggv Fleming from the Cher- 
okees by force. But fearing such an act 
might be productive of war between his na- 
tion and theirs, he urged Whitaker to raise the 

♦Crane was the best known chief of the Wyandots. 
His village at one time stood where the city of Lancaster, 
Ohio, is now located. After the treaty of Greenville, 
Crane removed to Upper Sandusky, where he died in 
1818. Numerous anecdotes showing the kindness of 
Crane to the whites have been handed down by tradition. 



I lo JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

necessary sum in value for her redemption. 
Whit- [69] aker, with the assistance of the 
other traders at the town, immediately m'ade 
up the requisite amount in silver broaches. 
This was not accomplished, until it was too 
late to effect their object on that evening. 
Early next morning. King Crane, attended 
by eight or ten young warriors, marched out 
to the camp of the Cherokees, where he found 
them asleep, while their forlorn captive was 
securely fastened, in a state of utter nakedness, 
to a stake, and her body painted black: an 
indication always decisive, that death is the 
doom of the prisoner. Crane, with his scalp- 
ing knife, cut the cords by which she was 
bound; delivered her the clothes of which she 
had been divested by the rude hands of the un- 
feeling Cherokees; and, after she was dressed, 
awaked them. He told them, in peremptory 
language, that the captive was his, and that 
he had brought with him the value of her ran- 
som. Then throwing down the silver broaches 
on the ground, he bore off the terrified girl 
to his town, and delivered her to Whitaker; 
who, after a few days, sent her, disguised by 
her dress and by paint as a squaw, to Pittsburg, 
under the care of two trusty Wyandots. I 
never learnt whether she reached her home or 
not: but as the Indians are remarkable for 
their fidelity to their undertakings, I presume 
she was faithfully conducted to her place of 
destination. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 1 1 1 

The Cherokees were so incensed by the loss 
of their captive, that they entered the Wyan- 
dot town of Lower Sandusky, declaring they 
would be revenged by taking the life of some 
white person. This was the cause of the alarm, 
which was spread among the traders at the 
time of our arrival, and in Which our party 
necessarily participated; as it was indispens- 
able that we should remain there several days, 
for the purpose of unpacking Mr. Duchou- 
[70] quet's peltry from the horses, and placing 
it on board the batteaux, in which it was to be 
conveyed to Detroit. The Cherokees painted 
themselves, as they and other savages are ac- 
customed to do, when they are preparing for 
war or battle. All their ingenuity is directed 
to the object of rendering their aspect as hor- 
rible as possible, that they may strike their 
enemies with terror, and indicate by external 
signs the fury which rages within. They 
walked about the town in great anger, and 
we deemfcd it necessary to keep a watchful eye 
upon them, and to guard against their ap- 
proach. All the w^hites, except Whitaker, who 
was considered as one of the Wyandots, assem- 
bled at night in the same house, provided with 
weapons of defence, and continued together 
until the next morning; when, to our high 
gratification, they disappeared, and I never 
heard of them afterwards. 



2 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 



CHAPTER X. 

AT this place we found Mr. Angus Mc- 
Intosh,* who was extensively engaged 
in the fur trade. This gentleman was 
at the head of the connexion to w'hich Mr. Du- 
chouquet belonged, who was his factor or 
partner at Upper Sandusky, as a Mr. Isaac 
Williams was here. Williams was a stout, 
bony, muscular, and fearless man. On one of 
those days Which I spent in waiting until we 
were ready to embark for Detroit, a Wyandot 
Indian, in his own language, which I did not 
understand, uttered som^ expression offensive 
to Williams. This produced [71] great irrita- 
tion on both sides, and a bitter quarrel ensued. 
Williams took down, from a shelf of the store 
in which the incident occurred, two scalping- 
knives; laid them on the counter; gave the 
Wyandot choice of them; and challenged him 
to combat with these weapons. But the char- 
acter of Williams for strength and courage 
was so well known to his adversary, that he 
would not venture on the contest, and soon af- 
terwards retired. 

Lower Sandusky was to me distinguished by 
another circumstance. It was the residence of 

♦The name of Angus Mcintosh appears among the mer- 
chants at Detroit in 1794. After the evacuation of that 
post by the British he removed across the river. He was 
a resident of Amherstburg, Canada, in 1819. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 113 

the Indian widow, whose former husband I 
had been destined to succeed, if the Mingo 
had been permitted to retain and dispose of 
me according to his intentions. I felt an ir- 
resistible curiosity to have a view of this fe- 
male, and it was my determination to find her 
dwelling, and see her there, if no other op- 
portunity should occur. She was at last point- 
ed out to me as she walked about the village, 
and I could not help chuckling at my escape 
from the fate which had been intended for 
me. She was old, ugly, and disgusting. 

After the expiration of four or five days 
from that on which we reached Lower San- 
dusky, our preparations were completed; the 
boats were laden \Vith the peltry of the traders ; 
and the whole trading-party embarked for 
Detroit. On the afternoon of the second day, 
having descended the river into Sandusky 
Bay, we landed on a small island,* near the 
strait by which it enters into Lake Erie.f [72] 

♦Probably Johnson's Island, located in the Bay off San- 
dusky, Ohio. 

■f- Nothing can more strikingly illustrate the rapid march 
of population and improvement than the changed condition 
of things on this Lake and its borders. In little more than 
twenty years from the period of which I am speaking, the 
hostile fleets of civilized nations encountered each other 
on its bosom; and the name of Perry, and the glories of 
the 10th of September, 1813, will not soon be forgotten by 
Americans. Lower Sandusky, too, then a rude assemblage 
of huts, the dwellings of men equally rude, is rendered 
memorable by the defeat of a numerous British and Indian 
force, by a handful of Americans, commanded by the young 
and gallant Major, now Colonel Croghan. [Note in original.] 



1 14 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

Here we pitched a tent which belonged to our 
party. The island wias inhabited by a small 
body of Indians, and we were soon informed, 
that they were preparing for a festival and 
dance. If I then understood the motive or 
occasion which induced this dance, it is not 
now wlithin my recollection. Several canoes 
were employed in bringing guests from the 
main, which is at a short distance, separated 
from the island by a narrow arm of the bay. 
We \yere all invited to the dance by short 
sticks, painted red, w?hich were delivered to us, 
and seemed to be intended as tickets of ad- 
mission. A large circular piece of ground 
was made smooth, and surrounded by some- 
thing like a pallisade. Within which the enter- 
tainment was held. We had expected that it 
would commence early in the evening; but 
the delay wtas so long, that we laid down to 
sleep in the tent, which stood near the spot of 
ground prepared for the dance. 

About eleven o'clock, we were awaked by 
the noise of the Indian mirth. One hundred, 
perhaps, of both sexes, had assembled. Their 
music Was produced by an instrument much 
resembling the tambourine. Both men and 
women were dressed in calico shirts. Those 
of the wbmen were adorned with a profusion 
of silver broaches, stuck in the sleeves and 
bosoms; they wore, besides, what is called a 
match-coat, formed by cloth, confined around 
the middle of their bodies by a string, with 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 1 1 5 

the edges lapping over toward the side, and the 
length of the garment extending a little below 
the knees. They Wore leggings and mockasins. 
Their cheeks were painted red, but no other 
part of their [73] face. Their long, black 
hair was parted in front, drawn together be- 
hind, and formed into a club. The liberal use 
of bear's oil gave it a high gloss. Such are 
the ornaments and dress of an Indian belle, by 
wihich she endeavours to attract the notice of 
admiring beaux. The men had a covering 
around their waists, to which their leggings 
were suspended by a string, extending from 
their top to the cord Which held on the cover- 
ing of the waist ; and a blanket, or robe, thrown 
over the shoulders, and confined by a belt 
around the body, of various colours, and 
adorned with beads. The women were ar- 
ranged together, and led the dance, the men 
following after them, and all describing a cir- 
cle. The character of this dance differed es- 
sentially from that of the war-dance, which I 
had witnessed on a former occasion. The one 
was accompanied by horrid yells and shrieks, 
and extravagant gestures, expressive of fury 
and ferocity. With nothing like a mirthful 
cheerfulness. The other, which I saw in this 
last instance, was mere festivity and lively 
mirth. The women were excluded in the first, 
but had an active share in the last; and both 
sexes were highly animated by the music of 
the tambourine. An abundant supper had 



1 1 6 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

been provided, consisting altogether of the 
fresh meat of bears and deer, without bread 
or salt, and dressed in no other manner than 
by boiling. It was served up in a number of 
wooden trenchers, placed on the ground, and 
the guests seated themselves around it. We 
were invited to partake, but neither the food 
nor the cookery were much to our taste; yet 
we were unwilling to refuse their hospitality, 
and joined in their repast. We were not gain- 
ers by it; for when we were faring, not very 
sumptuously, on their boiled fresh meat, With- 
out bread or salt, they [74] entered our tent, 
and stole from our basket, which contained 
provision enough for our voyage, a very fine 
ham, on which wt had intended to regale our- 
selves the next day. 

In the morning, we recommenced our pro- 
gress to Detroit. In our open batteaux we 
could not venture along the direct course, 
across a bay of Lake Erie, Which would have 
taken us to a hazardous distance from the land. 
We therefore hugged the shore, and landed 
whenever we required refreshment. To this 
we Were in a great degree induced by the 
multitude of turtles' eggs with which the beach 
abounded, and which we easily procured in 
plenty. They were deposited in cavities a 
short distance below the surface, and their 
position was discovered by penetrating the 
sand with a stick. The sand is generally 
firm ; but in those places Where the turtles have 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 1 17 

formed their nests, there is only a thin crust 
above them, which yields to a slight touch of 
a stick, and, by the facility wiith Which it is 
penetrated, shows where the eggs lie. We 
fried them in bear's oil, and found them very 
delicious food. 

Two or three days after leaving the island 
where we feasted With the Indians, we gained 
the entrance of Detroit river, and ascended it 
to the post of Detroit, on its western bank, then 
occupied by a British garrison.* There I was 
informed that my friend and brother in mis- 
fortune, Mr. Jacob Skyles, had spent several 
days in concealmfent from a band of Indians, 
who had pursued him to that place, after he 
had escaped from his captivity by a most re- 
markable series of adventures. I had not ob- 
tained the slightest intelligence with respect to 
him since our separation, and was in the high- 
est degree gratified to learn that he was safe, 
and on his way [75] into the United States. 
It would, however, have been an additional 
pleasure to me, could we have returned into 
Virginia together, in a state of feeling so 
different from that which we had experienced 
when in the power of those captors, from 

♦Prominent among the forts on the American side of the 
boundary line after the close of the Revolutionary war 
were Michilimackinac, Detroit, Erie, Schlosser, Niagara, 
and Oswego. Britain refused to withdraw her forces from 
them until the Americans paid certain claims owed to 
British merchants prior to the outbreak of hostilities. They 
were not vacated until arrangement was made by the Jay 
treaty of 1795. 



1 18 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

whom we had every thing to fear and nothing 
to hope. Several years afterwards we met at 
the Sw/feet Springs, when he detailed to me 
the singular history of his flight from the Mi- 
ami town, where the Indians had m^ade every 
arrangement for subjecting him to torture and 
death. These details I shall relate, after 
stating the particulars of Flinn's sufferings 
and end, more minutely than heretofore, as 
they were communicated to me by a trader 
wihom I saw at Detroit, and who was an eye- 
witness of the scene. The tale is horrible, and 
must shock every feeling of humanity. But 
my narrative would be imperfect without it; 
and although simlilar acts of barbarism and 
unrelenting cruelty have been related by oth- 
ers, this will, perhaps, interest the hearts of 
those who may read it, and will exhibit the 
savage character in a strong light. 

It has been already stated, that the Indians 
cautiously conceal from a prisoner their inten- 
tion, When they have determined that he shall 
be brought to the stake. The miserable Flinn 
had no intimation of his fate, and was perhaps 
indulging the fond hope, that he was yet to 
recover his liberty, and to be restored to civil- 
ized society. He had been conducted to one 
of those Miami towns which were, at that 
period, fatal to white captives; was not rigor- 
ously confined, though closely watched; and 
was suddenly seized by several Indians, at a 
place about a quarter of a mile from the vil- 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 1 19 

lage, where every preparation was immediate- 
ly made for his sacrifice. Incisions were made 
through the muscular [76] parts of his arm, 
between the elbows and shoulders, and, by 
thongs of bufifalo hide passed through them, 
he wias secured to a strong stake. A fire was 
kindled around him. A group had collected, 
among whom he discerned a white man. Flinn 
asked, if he was so destitute of humanity, as to 
look on and see a fellow-creature suffering in 
this manner, without an effort for his relief? 
This man instantly went into the adjacent vil- 
lage, informed the traders there of the plight 
Flinn was in, and of the necessity for interpos- 
ition in his favour without loss of time. They 
made up the customary value of a prisoner in 
silver broaches, which they delivered to the 
white man; and he hastened back, not doubt- 
ing that the ransom which he carried would 
be accepted: but it was peremptorily rejected. 
He then returned to the village, and applied 
again to the traders for their assistance, after 
reporting to them the failure of the proffered 
ransom. From their knowledge of the Indian 
habits and temper, they determined, as a last 
experiment, to send a keg of rum, in addition 
to the silver broaches ; under a persuasion, that 
their extravagant love of that spirit would 
effect more than any other offer. But when 
the rum was presented by the wihite man, they 
split the head of the keg which contained it 
with their tomahawks, and the liquor flowed 



1 20 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

unheeded on the ground. Flinn's agent, who 
had in vain made every exertion in his power 
to save him, then told himi that his case was 
desperate, and advised him to prepare for 
death. He exclaimed, ''Then all I have to say 
is, may the Lord have mercy on my soul!" — 
and never again, while he retained his senses, 
uttered a word or a groan. All the ingenuity 
of the savages wlas exerted in aggravating his 
torments, by all those means which they know 
so well how to employ. His firmness remain- 
ed unshaken; and he acted the same [77] 
part which their own warriors perform on 
such awful trials. Nothing could break his 
heroic resolution. At length the fire around 
him began to subside. An old squaw advanc- 
ed to rekindle it. When she came within his 
reach, he kicked her so violently, that she fell 
apparently lifeless. His tormentors were then 
exasperated to the highest point, and made 
incisions between the sinews and bones at the 
back of his ankles, passed thongs through 
them, and closely fastened his legs to the stake, 
in order to prevent any repetition of their ex- 
ertion. The old squaw, who by this time had 
recovered, was particularly active in wreaking 
her vengeance for the blow he had inflicted 
upon her. She lighted pine torches, and ap- 
plied their blaze to him; while the men bored 
his flesh with burning splinters of the same 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 121 

inflammable wood. His agonies were pro- 
tracted until he sunk into a state of insensibil- 
ity, when they were terminated by the toma- 
hawk. 



122 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 



M 



CHAPTER XL 

R. Skyles, afer leaving the party to 
which I belonged, was led by the In- 
dians, in whose possession he was, to 
one of the towns on the Miami of the Lake, in 
the neighbourhood where the wretched Flinn 
was tortured and put to death. Upon his ar- 
rival, he was compelled to run the gauntlet. 
A single fact will convey some idea of the 
spirit which directs the conduct of the savages 
on occasions of this sort. One of the lads be- 
longing to the ranks through which Mr. 
Skyles passed, provided himself with the 
branch of a tree, from which the smaller [78] 
limbs wfere all cut, except one. This he suf- 
fered to remain, near the large end of the wea- 
pon, about an inch and an half or two inches 
long, and sharpened it well at the point, giving 
it the form of a cock's spur. As the prisoner 
ran by the young savage, he drove the keen 
point of this instrument into his back with such 
force, that it remained firmly fixed in the 
flesh; was wrested from the hands of the boy; 
and was carried by Mr. Skyles, hanging down 
his back, to the end of his painful career. The 
same keeper, to whose custody he wias first 
committed, h^d charge of his person, and never 
relaxed his vigilance, until the last night of 
Mr. Skyles's continuance with the Indians. 
In the mean time, he had experienced much 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 1 23 

kindness from the wife of his surly sentinel, 
whose temper was altogether unlike that of her 
husband, and had been acted on in his favour 
by a variety of little attentions and services, 
which, from motives of policy, he rendered 
her every day; such as kindling her fire, and 
bringing her wood and water. At length she 
informed him, that his destiny was decided, 
and that he was, on the following day, to be 
tied to a stake and burnt to death. As the 
Indians are extremely addicted to falsehood, 
he at first doubted the truth of this appalling 
intelligence. But on that night it was com- 
pletely confirmed. When the hour of rest ar- 
rived, it was the regular habit of his keeper 
to lie down in the same cabin with him, at- 
tended by four or five other men, whose busi- 
ness it was to assist in watching and guarding 
him. His mind was so alarmed and agitated 
by wihat the squaw had communicated, that 
he could not compose himself to sleep, but 
remained awake until a late hour. The old 
squaw, who had imparted to him the awful 
tidings of his intended fate, and a young girl, 
with the guard Who were asleep, formed the 
party in his lodg- [79] ings. He feigned 
sleep so well as to deceive the women, who 
sat up by the fire, and entered into a conversa- 
tion, of which he was the subject. He had 
acquired so much of their language, as to en- 
able him to understand many of their expres- 
sions. The elder squaw lamented the event 



1 24 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

which was next day to befall the white pris- 
oner, and spoke in terms of compassion for 
the sufferings which he was to endure; while 
the girl exulted in the prospect of his torments, 
which in her opinion every white man justly 
deserved. Mr. Skyles, after hearing what 
passed between the women, waited in impa- 
tient vigilance until they were overpowered 
by sleep, and every one else w^as quietly at 
rest. He then carefully rose from the fire, 
near which he had lain, took up a small bag 
of parched corn which he had before observed 
in the cabin, with one of the rifles and ammu- 
nition belonging to the men, and, by cautiously 
creeping to the door, gained the open ground. 
He made all possible haste to the Miami of 
the Lake, which flowed not far from the town, 
and swam across it; but perceiving that he 
would be impeded by the gun, he determined 
to abandon the possession of it, and left it on 
the bank of the river. 

Soon after passing the stream, he heard a 
bell, which he supposed was worn by a horse; 
and anxious to travel with speed, he directed 
his course to the spot from whence the sound 
came. He was not mistaken in his supposition. 
He took the bell from the horse's neck, con- 
verted its leathern collar into a substitute for a 
bridle, by cutting it up into strings with a knife 
which he had brought from his lodge, and 
mounted on his back. The night was extreme- 
ly dark, and the growth in the woods very 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 1 25 

thick. His progress on the horse was therefore 
tardy and unpleasant. After riding a few 
miles, he determined to quit him, and march 
forward on foot. His inten- [80] tion was, 
to steer a course which would lead him to the 
settlements of Kentucky. He left the river, 
but was so unskilful a woodsman, that he pur- 
sued a direction quite opposite to that which 
he wished to follow, and which led him to the 
north, instead of the south. His plan was, to 
lie concealed all day, lest he should be seen, 
pursued, and be again captured by the In- 
dians; and to go forward in the darkness of 
the night, when he would be little exposed to 
the danger of discovery. But he was inces- 
santly environed with perplexing difficulties 
and perils. Frequently w^hile he was endeav- 
ouring to explore his way through thick woods 
and wilds, utterly dark, he came suddenly on 
the encampments of parties of Indians, whose 
dogs would give him alarm by flying at him 
and barking, with a noise which excited great 
apprehension, that their masters would dis- 
cover and seize on him. Groping his course, 
from necessity, in the night, a more experi- 
enced woodsman might have blundered far 
from the right tract. Sometimes he found 
himself, When day appeared, on, or near, the 
ground which he had left the evening before. 
While beset w'ith all these perplexities, his 
only means of subsistence, the little bag of 
parched corn, was exhausted; and a new dan- 



126 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

ger, that of perishing by hunger, stared him 
in the face. 

In this extremity, there Was no alternative, 
but to die for want of food in the wiilderness; 
or to march boldly onward in open day, and 
find something to support life. He did not 
hesitate in the choice, and adopted the hazard- 
ous resolution of entering the first village he 
could reach, and of applying to any trader, 
who might reside in it, for relief from starv- 
ing, and assistance in gaining a point of safety. 
But he w^isely decided, that such an attempt 
was not to be made, unless under cover of 
night. Pursuing, therefore, in the day, the 
course before him, without knowing [8i] 
whither it wiould lead, he had approached so 
near to one of the Miami towlns before he dis- 
covered it, that he feared, should he then re- 
tire, he would be exposed to the view of some 
of the inhabitants, who in such an event would 
certainly again make him a prisoner. Con- 
cealment until dark was his only resource. He 
laid himself down behind a log, which screen- 
ed him from the view of the people in the 
town, and quietly kept his position as long as 
there was any daylight. When darkness be- 
gan, he repaired to some charred fragm'ents of 
a fire, which had lately burnt out near his log. 
By reducing a small quantity to dust, and mix- 
ing it with water, he made a black colouring, 
Which he spread over his face and hands. His 
disguise was so complete, that he was quite 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 1 27 

satisfied he would not be recognised as a white 
nuan; and he entered the village. The wig- 
wams of the Indians, as I have before said, are 
composed of bark; the houses of traders, who 
reside among them, are built of logs. He 
knew the distinction, and availed himself of it. 
Proceeding with great caution, he came to a 
house of logs, looked through the chinks be- 
tween them, and ascertained that it was occu- 
pied by a family of Indians. It had probably 
been erected by a trader, who, from some cause 
or other, had left it. In his farther progress 
through the town, he identified the house of a 
trader, entered it, and asked for rum. He 
Was told by its occupant, that he had no rum, 
but would procure him some. When Mr. 
Skyles had waited this man's return for a short 
time, having observed the course in which he 
Walked ofif, he went out to meet him. He then 
disclosed to the trader, who had not yet discov- 
ered he was a white man, that rum was not his 
object; that he was an unfortunate citizen of 
the United States, who some weeks before had 
been captured by a band of Indians on the 
Ohio river; had been conducted by a party of 
them to one [82] of the Miami villages, where 
it was their intention to take his life, if he had 
not fortunately escaped their clutches; that he 
was then famishing with hunger; and that 
without some charitable aid he must soon per- 
ish, or become again the captive of enemies 
who would show him no mercy. The trader 



1 28 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

told him, that his own life would be haz- 
arded by affording him shelter; that 
there had been a party of Indians on that 
day in his village, from the tribe which had 
held him a prisoner, in search of him; but 
that he would do for him what was in his 
power. He conducted Mr. Skyles into a thick- 
et of hazel bushes near the village, where he 
left him, until he prepared some refreshment. 
He then informed him, that if he would em- 
bark in a canoe on the Miami of the Lake, 
flowing along the edge of the town where they 
were, he might, by paddling industriously, ov- 
ertake a boat belonging to certain traders, who 
had gone down the river that day to Detroit, 
but would probably lie to during the night. 
Mr. Skyles eagerly embraced this plan of mak- 
ing good his retreat. The trader led him to 
the water side. Where a canoe was lying, into 
which he stepped without delay, and deter- 
mined to exert himself in descending the river, 
that he might fall in with the traders and ob- 
tain a passage in their boat to Detroit. 

Between dawn and sunrise next morning he 
approached the entrance of Lake Erie, and 
discovered the boat not far ahead of him. He 
soon brought his canoe along side of it, but 
all on board were asleep. He awakened them. 
He had before revolved in his mind the ques- 
tion, wihether he should make himself known 
or not; and his first decision was in the nega- 
tive. He was induced to this by an appre- 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 1 29 

hension of treachery, and by that timid caution 
to which a man in his condition is liable. His 
principal fear was, that these traders, for the 
purpose of keeping on good [83] terms with 
the Indians, might mjake a merit with them of 
placing him again in their power. They in- 
quired who he was? — He answered, that he 
was an adventurer, who had been looking out 
for land such as he wished to acquire, on the 
river AuGlaize, but had been driven from the 
country by the fear of danger from the In- 
dians, who had lately practised horrid cruel- 
ties on certain White men captured on the river 
Ohio. They told him, it was true that one 
man had been burnt at a town on the Miami, 
and another had evaded the same fate by es- 
caping from them a few nights before; and 
that they had, at a town which they had left 
on the preceding day, seen a party in pursuit 
of the fugitive. After a little hesitation, he 
ventured to disclose the fact, that he was that 
fugitive; threw himself on their humanity; 
and entreated, that they would receive him 
into their boat and permit him to pass in it 
with them to Detroit. He was overjoyed, 
when they promptly acceded to his request, 
and conveyed him to the British post in safety. 
His pursuers followed him to that place, 
where he was under the necessity of remaining 
in concealment for several days, until their 
departure; wlhen he went on his journey into 
the United States. I am happy to add, that he 



130 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

recommenced business, some years afterwards 
moved to Kentucky, and succeeded in acquir- 
ing considerable property. But he has now 
gone to his long home, and has left an esti- 
mable family in comfort and independence.* 

*A singular incident, and for that reason only do I think 
it worthy of relation, has been communicated to me since 
Mr. Skyles's removal to Kentucky. He travelled by water 
down the Ohio river. As he passed the mouth of the 
Sciota, near which he knew we were taken, he recollected 
that when taken, he had concealed about two hundred 
dollars in gold, of which he was then possessed, under a 
log. He did not think he could identify the spot, at that 
distance of time. But he landed, and searched under ev- 
ery trunk of a tree which he saw lying on the ground near 
the place where he believed his money was deposited, until 
he had the good fortune to strike on the right one, and 
recovered his money. {Note in original.] 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 131 



[84] CHAPTER XII. 

{RETURN to the incidents which relate to 
myself. I staid nine or ten days at De- 
troit, for a conveyance down Lake Erie. 
During that time, I enjoyed the warmest kind- 
ness and hospitality from Mr. Mcintosh and 
his family. My first reception by his lady and 
brother displayed on their part a liberality of 
feeling towards me, which did not abate while 
I remained, and which will be remembered by 
me With the deepest gratitude as long as my 
life shall last. I was badly provided with 
clothing. Mr. Mcintosh supplied me with 
such as was decent, comfortable, and adapted 
to the season of the year. I was destitute of 
cash for my expenses on the long journey 
homeward, which I Was most anxious to com- 
mence. A subscription was circulated, I have 
reason to believe by Mr. Mcintosh and his 
brother James, among the inhabitants of the 
town of Detroit, which furnished me with a 
sufficient sum of money for my purposes. The 
population of the town then consisted of about 
one thousand persons, according to my present 
recollection.* 

♦Mr. Schoolcraft, whose journal was written in 1820, 
says, at page 51, "Detroit occupies an eligible situation on 
the West bank of the Strait that connects Lake Erie with 
Lake St. Clair, at the distance of six miles below the 
latter, and in North latitude 42° 30" according to the re- 



132 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

A state of things existed at this period, in 
the country where I then was, Which subjected 
any [85] citizen of the United States, passing 
through it, to considerable embarrassment. Al- 
though nearly seven years had elapsed since 
the conclusion of the war of independence, 
which had been ended by the definitive treaty 
of peace, entered into between the government 
of Great Britain and the American Congress, 
in September 1783, one of its important stipu- 
lations was yet unexecuted. The correspond- 
ence betwieen Mr. Jefferson, when Secretary 
of State, and Mr. Hammond, the British min- 
ister then resident in the United States, con- 
tained in General Washington's message to 
both houses of Congress on the 5th day of 
December 1793, exhibits the ground taken by 
these agents of their respective governments, 
on the subject of those infractions of the treaty 
of 1783 with which each government charged 
the other. The correspondence itself has been 
published; and those who desire accurate and 
extensive information on the topics which it 
involves, will find ample compensation in the 
gratification afforded by the display in it of 
distinguished talents, especially on the part of 
Mr. Jefiferson. The North Western posts, of 

ceived observation. The town consists of about two hun- 
dred and fifty houses, including public buildings, and has a 
population of fourteen hundred and fifteen inhabitants, 
exclusive of the garrison. It enjoys the advantages of a 
regular plan, spacious streets, and a handsome elevation 
of about forty feet above the river, of which it commands 
the finest views." {Note in original.'] 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 133 

which Detroit was one, were detained by 
Great Britain, and her garrisons occupied 
them, until after the victory obtained by Gen. 
Wayne over the Indians in that country, and 
the negotiation of Mr. Jay in 1794. 

Many of the Indian tribes had continued 
hostilities with the United States through the 
revolutionary war, and for a long period after 
its conclusion. The detention of the posts, by 
the British troops, gave them an extensive in- 
fluence in the surrounding territory; and no 
man was permitted to pass by those posts, with- 
out the consent of the commanding officer, at 
each of them, regularly declared by a written 
passport. In my case, the form [86] usually 
observed Was dispensed with; and Major Pat- 
rick Murray,* who was the Commandant at 
Detroit, politely furnished me with a permis- 
sion to go down the Lakes, which I here trans- 
cribe. It was directed to "Officers command- 
ing British garrisons," and expressed in the 
following words: 

"The bearer, Mr. Johnston, of Virginia, 
had the misfortune last winter to fall into the 
hands of the Indians on the Ohio; but having 
been redeemed by some British traders of this 
post, is now on his way to his home, and is 

♦According to the official records, Major Wiseman was 
in command of the British post at Detroit, from 1786 to 
1792. He was succeeded by Col. England, under whom 
the post was handed over to the United States. Murray 
may have been temporarily commanding at the time he 
issued the pass to Johnston. 



134 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

hereby recommended to the protection of all 
officers commanding British garrisons, 
through which he may pass. 

(Signed) 

Pat. Murray, Major 6oth Reg't. 

Commanding at Detroit." 
(Dated, Detroit, 22d June, 1790.) 

My obligation to this officer did not stop 
here. Several vessels, suited to the navigation 
of the Lakes, were employed in the transpor- 
tation of stores, provisions, and other neces- 
saries, to the garrisons of the different posts, 
and Were subject to the orders of their com- 
mandants. Major Murray invited me to 
take a passage in one of these vessels. She 
was a sloop, called the ''Felicity,"* command- 
ed by Capt. Cowan, and bound for Fort Erie, 
which was situated at the lower extremity of 
the Lake, where the river Niagara leaves it. 
I cheerfully accepted this advantageous in- 
vitation, and embarked in the sloop as soon as 
she was ready to sail. 

We steered our course down the lake, but 
were compelled, after going on for one or two 
days, by adverse winds, to lie to under the lee 
of an island. Here Capt. Cowan and I amus- 
ed ourselves in catching the fine fish of the 
Lake, which were very abundant around us. 
They afforded us excellent sport, and we suc- 

*"In the spring of 1793, four government vessels were 
lying in front of the town [Detroit] . , . the fourth was 
the sloop Felicity, armed with two swivels." — Farmer's 
History of Detroit, p. 908. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 135 

ceeded in getting as many [87] of them as we 
desired. Our bait consisted of a red rag and 
the rind of bacon, tied to our hooks with a 
string. We had nothing to do, but sit in the 
stern of the jolly-boat; and as it was rowed 
about by two sailors, our lines were thrown 
behind us, the bait floated on the surface, the 
fish rose eagerly at it, and we were incessantly 
occupied for several hours in drawing them 
on board. 

After a voyage of five or six days, we arriv- 
ed at Fort Erie, where I continued a very 
short time, as I found a boat ready to proceed 
down the Niagara to Fort Schlosser; in which 
I obtained a passage, by the civility of the 
British officer commanding at Fort Erie, and 
reached Fort Schlosser in the evening. It is 
situated about a mile above the celebrated 
cataract of Niagara,* on the American side 
of the river. I was politely received, and 
entertained for the night, at the post, by its 
British commandant, who, on the next morn- 
ing, visited the falls with me. It w^ould be 
vain presumption on my part, to attempt a 
minute description of this "most sublime of 
nature's works;" a distinction which Mr. Jef- 
ferson would not have conferredt on the Nat- 
ural Bridge across Cedar creek, in Virginia, 

♦Schoolcraft, in his Journal, page 33, says, "This is an 
Iroquois word to signify the thunder of Waters, and the 
word as still pronounced by the Senecas is O-m-dd-gdrdhy 
INote in original.] 

tin his "Notes on Virginia.'' 



136 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

if he had seen this stupendous cataract. Some 
conception may be formed of those emotions of 
wonder which the view excites, by recollect- 
ing, that here all the waters of the great Lakes, 
Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie, one of 
them fifteen hundred miles in circumference, 
and none less than five hundred, are collected 
into a space of three fourths of a mile, and 
rush over a precipice of rock one hundred and 
fifty feet high. Such was [88] the efifect pro- 
duced on me by surveying this magnificent 
object, that when I attempted to express the 
astonishment of my feelings to the officer who 
accompanied me, I could find no language to 
give it utterance, and remained absolutely 
dumb : and no wonder it had this effect. The 
tremendous roar of waters producing such a 
sound as had never before fallen on my ear, the 
spray formed into white clouds and rising up 
to heaven, the rainbow* with its beautiful 
tints, all form an assemblage of objects so sub- 
lime, as at once to defy and mock description. 
From the Falls I travelled on foot to fort 
Niagara, at the point where the river of that 
name enters Lake Ontario, and where the 
British commandant was Col. John Rodol- 
phus Harris. I was stopped at the gate of the 
fortification by a sentinel, who called the offi- 
cer of the day. He conducted me to the Col- 
onel; and when I came into his presence, he 

♦There is always a rainbow at the falls when the sun 
shines. iNote in original.} 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 137 

inquired sternly, "Who are you, Sir?" I an- 
swered by telling him my name, and that I 
was from Virginia. ''From Virginia! and 
what brought you here, you sir?" I then 
handed him Major Murray's passport. He 
read it, and threw it back to me rudely. ''Go 
about your business," said he ; "when you wish 
to leave this place, I will give you a passport." 
I then retired to a tavern, under a bitter sense 
of that mortification which was inflicted by the 
unfeeling rudeness of Col. Harris. But I ex- 
perienced a gratification next morning, which 
perfectly relieved me from its unpleasant ef- 
fects. Having returned from the landing, to 
which I had walked for the purpose of ascer- 
taining whether any boat would shortly go 
from it to Osw;ego, I entered my lodgings, 
and amused myself Wiith a book, when [89] an 
officer knocked at my door. He entered, and 
announced himself as Captain Lethbridge, of 
the garrison at Niagara. He informed me 
that he had heard of my captivity by the In- 
dians, and presumed I had been stripped of 
every thing and was destitute of money. He 
then offered me a purse, containing a number 
of guineas, and desired that I would take from 
it such a sum as would be sufficient to disburse 
my expenses to Virginia, and refund it when 
my convenience would permit. I told him, 
that by the liberality of the inhabitants of De- 
troit, I was supplied with money for my jour- 
ney, and therefore declined his gentlemanly 



138 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

and obliging offer. We entered into conver- 
sation, and by the amenity of his manners and 
language, he evinced a solicitude to counteract 
the operation of those feelings produced by 
the gross incivility of his commandant; and 
begged me to disregard and to forget the con- 
duct of a man, whose temper was naturally 
churlish, and his manners habitually morose. 
After this, Capt. Lethbridge frequently visited 
me at my lodgings; introduced me to other 
officers; and exerted himself to render my stay 
at Niagara as pleasant as polite attentions and 
kindness could make it. I shall ever cherish 
a high sense and grateful recollection of his 
deportment. It is due to the gentleman, who 
belonged to the different British garrisons 
which I passed, that I should declare. Col. 
Harris was the single individual among them 
of whose conduct towards me I had the slight- 
est reason to complain. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 139 



[90] CHAPTER XIII. 

WHILE I waited for a conveyance by 
water to Oswego, Mrs. Forsyth and 
her son, of Detroit, came to Niag- 
ara, on their way to visit their friends in the 
state of New- York. This lady, her son, and I, 
engaged an open boat at our joint expense, to 
convey us along the Lake Ontario to Oswego. 
Our voyage was protracted, by the necessity to 
which we were subjected, in such a boat as 
ours, of clinging to the shore. At night we 
landed, and slept in a tent with which she was 
provided, and in the accommodation of which 
she invited me to partake. I was somewhat 
surprised to be persecuted, as we were, in that 
northern climate, by the swarms of moschet- 
toes which infested our tent, and obliged us to 
keep up fires during the night for protection 
from their annoyance. The only habitation 
of man which we saw on the margin of the 
lake, was a miserable hut, occupied by a fugi- 
tive from Massachusetts, who had been en- 
gaged in the insurrection not long before 
headed by Shays,* and had retired to the bor- 

*Captain Daniel Shays, an ex-Revolutionary officer, head- 
ed an insurrection in Massachusetts for the redress of 
certain grievances. It culminated in 1787 in the killing 
of three of the insurgents and the dispersing of the re- 
mainder. Many fled to neighboring states and even to the 
frontier. 



I40 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

der of Ontario for concealment. We lodged 
one night under his shelter. 

Five or six days after we left Fort Niagara, 
we came to Fort Oswego, and immediately 
proceeded up the river which bears the same 
name, and connects, by one of its branches, the 
lakes Ontario and Oneida. Between these 
lakes there is a short portage around a fall. 
Which renders the navigation at that point im- 
practicable. Our boat was there hauled to 
the shore, placed on rollers, and launched into 
the water above the fall. But this was done 
[91] with so little caution and good manage- 
ment, that \Me narrowly, and With great diffi- 
culty, escaped the danger of dashing over the 
fall and wirecking our boat. Mrs. Forsyth 
was so alarmed, that she threw herself into the 
water, which was waist deep, and waded to 
the shore. 

We continued on the river into Lake Onei- 
da, which is of inconsiderable extent; steered 
to its eastern end; and, having gained the en- 
trance of Wood Creek, ascended that little 
stream as far as it was navigable. We crossed 
another portage of about one mile, and entered 
the Mohawk river, at or near Fort Stanwix, 
which, I believe, stood on the site of the town 
now called Rome. I had left the boat at the 
mouth of Wood Creek, and walked up its bank 
to Fort Stanwix. Between these points, I met 
a party of Oneida Indians, as I travelled alone. 
Their sudden and unexpected view startled 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 141 

me, and for a moment brought to my mind the 
horrors, which I hoped I had left behind me, 
never again to be encountered. They engaged 
me in talk, and I soon discovered that they 
were of a friendly tribe. This was then the 
course of communication between Upper Can- 
ada and the state of New-York; was much 
frequented; and boats were conveyed over the 
portage, from the head of the navigation of 
Wood Creek to Fort Stanwix, on a wagon al- 
ways kept in readiness for that service.* 

On the first evening after we commenced 
our descent of the Mohawk, anxious to enjoy 
the comforts of a bed, which it had not been 
my good fortune to obtain since we left Niag- 
ara, when our little party went on shore to 
spend the night, I walked to a decent looking 
farm-house, and inquired if I could obtain 
lodging in it. I received an abrupt refusal 
[92] from the mistress, who said that an out- 
house, to which she pointed, was open to my 
admission. But its appearance was comfort- 
less, and I rejoined Mrs. Forsyth and her son 
in the tent. My exterior and dress probably 
decided the good woman to withhold her hos- 
pitality, and were perhaps sufficiently unim- 
posing to exempt her from reproach. 

In our farther progress down the stream, we 
passed through the rich and beautiful country 
called the German Flats, consisting of wide- 

*The various methods of crossing a portage in the days 
of water travel are forcibly brought out in this narrative. 



142 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

spread, fruitful bottoms, on both sides of the 
Mohawk. The mention of this fine river 
brings to my recollection those exquisite lines 
written by Mr. Thomas Moore on its banks, 
and I cannot resist the inclination to insert 
them.* 

From rise of morn, till set of sun, 

I've seen the mighty Mohawk run; 

And as I mark'd the woods of pine 

Along his mirror darkly shine. 

Like tall and gloomy forms, that pass 

Before the wizard's midnight glass; 

And as I viewed the hurried pace 

With which he ran his turbid race, 

Rushing, alike untired and wild. 

Through shades that frown'd and flow'rs that smil'd 

Flying by ev'ry green recess, 

That wooed him to its calm caress, 

Yet sometimes turning with the wind, 

As if to leave one look behind! 

Oh! I have thought, and thinking sigh'd, 

How like to thee, thou restless tide! 

May be the lot, the life of him. 

Who roams along thy water's brim! 

Through what alternate shades of wo. 

And flow'rs of joy, my path may go; 

How many an humble still retreat 

May rise to court my weary feet; 

While still pursuing, still unblest, 

I wander on, nor dare to rest; 

But urgent as the doom, that calls 

Thy water to its destined falls, 

I see the world's bewild'ring force 

Hurry my heart's devoted course 

From lapse to lapse, till life be done, 

And the last current cease to run. 

♦The poem which is quoted here with many corruptions 
of the original text is entitled "Lines at the Cohoes or 
Falls of the Mohawk River." Moore composed it during 
his visit to America in 1804. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 143 

[93] Oh! may my fall be bright as thine! 
May Heav'n's forgiving rainbow* shine 
Upon the mist that circles me, 
As soft as now it hangs o'er thee! 

We arrived at Schenectady about noon of 
the third or fouth day after leaving Fort Stan- 
w'ix; and I travelled on foot that evening to 
Albany, where I remained a single night only, 
and embarked on the next day in a sloop, 
which was commanded by Capt. Tenyke, and 
sailed for New- York. When I reached that 
city, the first Congress of the United States, 
assembled under the authority of the present 
Federal Constitution, was in session there. t It 
was a very high gratification, after having 
laboured my way from the river Ohio to De- 
troit, down the lakes, and across the state of 
New- York, a distance considerably exceeding 
one thousand miles, without the view of a 
human face which I had ever seen before, to 
meet the delegation from my native state ; with 
two of whom. Col. Isaac Coles, t and Col. Jo- 
siah Parker,§ I was personally acquainted. 

*A rainbow always hangs over the falls of the Mohawk, 
when the sun shines. They are known by the name of the 
Cahoes; and at them IV.r. Moore's verses were written. 
[l^ole in original.'] 

tThis was the second session of the first Congress under 
the new Constitution. It had assembled in January prev- 
ious. 

JCol. Coles was a native of Virginia who was a Repre- 
sentative from that state in the First, Third and Fourth 
Congresses. 

§"Josiah Parker was a lawyer, a native of Virginia, and 
a member of the First, Second, Third, Fifth and Sixth 
Congresses. He died in 1810." — Congressional Directory. 



144 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

Besides the members of Congress, several 
other Virginians were in the city, with whom, 
under the influence of that warm feeling of 
attachment cherished by the sons of the ''An- 
cient Dominion" towards each other, I spent 
several days of social enjoyment. Among 
them was Col. William Davies,* a gentleman 
whom I had well known at Petersburg, the 
place of his residence. He was occupied, at 
the seat of the general government, in adjust- 
ing, as a commissioner on the part of Virginia, 
the account of his state with the United States. 
My stock of cash, for which I was indebted to 
he good people of Detroit, w'as nearly ex- 
hausted. But Col. Davies promptly [94] 
volunteered such supplies, as enabled me to 
complete my journey to my birth-place. 

Such adventures and scenes, as those which 
had lately occurred to m'e, were rarely pre- 
sented to the attention of the people of the 
northern cities; and mine excited some inter- 
est, and much conversation, in New- York. 
They came to the ears of Gen. Washington, 
then President of the United States; and his 
private secretary, Mr. Thomas Nelson, f of 
Virginia, visited me at my lodgings, with a 

*Col. Davies gained his title in the Revolutionary War. 
He was a son of Rev, Samuel Davies, a Presbyterian clergy- 
man of Virginia. He served in the office of Auditor of 
State for Virginia. 

I Thomas Nelson, son of Gov. Thomas Nelson, of Vir- 
ginia, became secretary to President Washington in Oc- 
tober, 1789. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 145 

message from the President, that he wished to 
see me. I was conducted by Mr. Nelson to 
his house,* and introduced to him. He con- 
gratulated me, with cordiality, on my fortun- 
ate release from the Indians, and made many 
inquiries with respect to the strength of the 
tribes in the country through which I had 
travelled while a captive. After answering 
his questions on that subject, as well as my 
limited opportunity of acquiring information 
would permit, he interrogated me as to the 
force of the British garrisons at the various 
military posts which I had passed, and the 
state of their fortifications. On these last 
points I could render him no reply from 
which the slightest benefit could be derived: 
because my character of an American citizen 
would have made me liable to suspicion, and 
even peril, while at the British fortifications, 
had I examined into such subjects; and there- 
fore I had deemed it indispensable to abstain 
from them. Besides, military affairs were out 
of the range of my experience and observation. 
His inquiries were of such a nature as led me 
to infer, that the government ot the United 
States contemplated the chastisement of the 
Indians, for the many depredations they had 
lately committed on the Ohio; and to wrest 
from the possession of the British troops the 

♦ President Washington at this time occupied the Ma- 
comb house on the west side of Broadway below Trinity 
church in New York City. 



146 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

military posts [95] which were then occupied 
by them w^ithin our territory, in violation of 
the treaty of 1783. That I did not err in my 
first inference, the disastrous expedition of 
General St. Clair,* which soon followed, af- 
forded sufficient proof; and I have little doubt 
that the last would have been substantiated, 
but for the amicable arrangement afterwards 
adjusted by Mr. Jay's treaty.t 

Nothing detained me longer from home, but 
the length of the road ; and I began my way 
to Virginia, in the stage coaches plying on the 
mail route to Richmond. t There I borrowed 
a gig and horse from a friend, and visited a 
small estate belonging to me in the upper part 
of Hanover, where I found some valued 
acquaintances, and my eldest brother, who had 
made a trip to my plantation for the purpose 
of looking into the state of my affairs during 
my absence. The unexpected meeting between 
us produced an efTect on him, which, he has 

♦Arthur bt. Clair, governor of the Northwest Territory, 
was sent upon an expedition against the Indians north of 
the Ohio in 1790. Notwithstanding the warning given to 
him by President Washington, he allowed his army to be 
ambushed and defeated. 

tinstead of attempting to occupy the forts by force, 
Washington sent John Jay as an envoy to Great Britain. 
He succeeded in negotiating the treaty which bears his 
name. Under its provisions, the forts were speedily evac- 
uated, the British troops crossing to Canada. 

$The mails at this time were carried on a long route 
from New Hampshire to Georgia, passing through the 
principal cities of the Atlantic plain. A branch extended 
as far west as Pittsburg. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 147 

always declared, he never experienced before 
or since; he shed tears plentifully, but they 
were tears of joy. Thence I proceeded, on one 
of my own horses, to the neighbourhood of my 
mother's dwelling, in the county of Prince Ed- 
ward, where no certain intelligence had been 
received with respect to me, and where the 
most distressful solicitude for my fate had 
prevailed. I feared that consequences to an 
aged and affectionate mother, which it was my 
duty carefully to avoid, might result from 
pressing into her presence without previous 
intimation. My arrangements were made in 
such a manner, that I rode to the house of 
a friend, Mr. Miller Woodson, in the evening, 
three miles distant. He kindly communicated 
to my mother, by letter, the prospect of my 
speedy arrival at home, and advised her to 
prepare for it the next day. My [96] recep- 
tion was distinguished by those evidences of 
strong emotion, which the occasion called 
forth. Tears of joy flowed from every eye. 
Even the sturdy slaves ran hastily from the 
field of labour, some of whom caught me in 
their arms and wept, whilst others fell upon 
their knees, and returned thanks to Heaven 
for my deliverance. 



48 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 



CHAPTER XIV. 

THE anxiety of the neighbourhood, to 
hear the details of my capture, and of 
all my way-faring, brought them in 
great numbers, day after day, to my mother's 
house, and subjected me to narrations, which 
I was compelled so often to repeat, and which 
begat in me so many unpleasant recollections, 
that I almost dreaded the return of each suc- 
ceeding day; my patience was severely tested, 
and I became quite fatigued with their in- 
quiries, and my own answers. 

I have always since regretted that when I 
left Mr. Duchouquet's abode, at Upper San- 
dusky, in my eagerness to set out for Detroit, 
where I should be perfectly secure from the 
mischiefs which had tormented me, and where 
I should be on my homeward route, I forgot 
the volume of the Debates of the Virginia 
Convention, in which my journal was written. 
If I had brought it with me, according to my 
intentions and wishes, my narrative would 
probably have been more minute, and my re- 
cord would have supplied many things, for 
which I now draw, in vain, on my memory. 

[97] In the winter of the year 1802, I re- 
sided in the city of Richmond, Where I then 
received a letter from Mr. Duchouquet, dated 
at Pittsburg, by which he informed me, that 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 149 

he was on his way to the city of Washington, 
in the character of interpreter to a band of 
Shawanese chiefs, who Were going on busi- 
ness with the general Government; and that 
he feared his duties would not permit him to 
leave them, and pay me a visit, as he wished. 
He stated the time of his probable arrival at 
Washington, and requested me to meet him 
there. I most cheerfully acceded to this re- 
quest. When we came together, I was utterly 
at a loss for adequate expression of that grati- 
tude by which I felt myself bound to him. 
Our meeting was warmly cordial. Among the 
Indians composing this party, it gave me great 
pleasure to recognise Tom Lewis, who threw 
his blanket over me at the river Ohio, soon 
after my capture, and when I had been 
stripped of my upper clothing. He recol- 
lected me at the first glance, and shook my 
hand heartily. I made special inquiry for 
the excellent Messhawa, and learned that he 
was alive, and in good health. Tom Lewis 
was a young wiarrior when I was made a 
prisoner. At the time of which I am now 
speaking, he had acquired so much reputation 
and confidence with his tribe, that he had been 
promoted to the rank of a chief. Grateful for 
the former kindness of this man, I rendered 
him such attentions as were in my power, and 
on one occasion, invited him to come with 
Mr. Duchouquet, to a private dinner, which 
I had caused to be prepared for them, at the 



1 50 JOHNS TON'S NARRA TIVE 

Hotel, in which I lodged. At the close of our 
repast, he was presented With a glass of sylla- 
bub. He tasted it repeatedly; at length he 
inquired, what is this? Then answering his 
own [98] question, he said "it is neither meat 
nor drink, it is something, yet it is nothing!^' 
Very soon after my return to Virginia, 1 
had made a point of remitting to Mr. Mcin- 
tosh at Detroit, through his friend Mr. Alex- 
ander McComb of New- York, the sum which 
Mr. Duchouquet had advanced when he re- 
lieved me from captivity, and this last named 
gentleman told me, that he had in many in- 
stances besides mine, rescued citizens of the 
United States from the hands of the Indians, 
by paying a ransom for them; but that he had 
not been fortunate enough to obtain repay- 
ment from all. I then advised him to apply to 
Congress for remuneration, in those cases 
where it had been withheld. I drew a petition 
to that body, which was presented by Mr. 
Giles,* who advocated his application warmly 
and successfully, and Mr. Duchouquet drew 
from the public treasury the amount which 
he asked, on no other evidence than his own 
statements, and the fact of his having re- 
deemed me from my captors. Mr. John Cot- 
ton Smith, of Connecticut, was then chairman 
of the committee of claims, and exerted him- 
self in procuring justice to a man who had al- 

*William B. Giles was a member of Congress repre- 
senting a district of Virginia from 1791 to 1803. 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 1 5 1 

ways practised benevolence towards those of 
our countrymen, whose misfortunes subjected 
them to the necessity of asking his aid. No 
objection was made to the passage of an act in 
his favour:* a course dictated both by justice, 
and a humane policy, which without question, 
the community approves. 

A correspondence was regularly continued 
between Mr. Duchouquet and myself, until 
within the last seven years, when no answers 
have been received to my letters, and my infer- 
ence is, that he has either removed to some 
distant residence out of reach of communica- 
tions, or is no longer in the land of the living. 

*The report on the claim of Duchouquet will be found 
in the Executive Documents of the House, seventh Con- 
gress, first session, Feb. 19, 1802. It recites that "certain 
of the redeemed captives, who were of sufficient ability, 
reimbursed him for the sums advanced. The remainder 
to the number of five, being in low and poor circum- 
stances, have never made any pecuniary restitution." The 
sum of $171.33 with interest to the total amount of $201.17 
was paid to Duchouquet. In 1836 his heirs petitioned 
Congress to confirm their title to certain lands in Ohio. 
His descendants are to be found in the central part of 
that state at the present day, with various modifications 
in the spelling of the name. 



I ^2 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 



[99] CHAPTER XV. 

AFTER the preceding narrative was writ- 
ten, I ascertained that my friend Mr. 
Duchouquet was yet alive, and that he 
resided at Piqua, on the head waters of the 
Miami of the Ohio. I lost no time in writing 
to him, and proposed that he should spend the 
present Winter with me. I was highly grati- 
fied by his acceptance of my invitation, and by 
his arrival at my house early in November 
last. It is his intention to remain with me, 
until the month of March next. He is now 
sixty-six years of age, and has spent upwards 
of forty of those years among the tribes of In- 
dians, who until lately, occupied the country 
between the Ohio river, and Lake Erie. His 
earlier life was devoted to the pursuits of a 
trader with the Indians, and his success was, 
for a long time, equal to his expectations. But, 
it was his misfortune, immediately before the 
commencement of the last war with Great 
Britain, in the prosecution of his business, 
according to the plan which it was his custom 
to observe, that he gave credit to a consid- 
erable number of Indians for goods sold them, 
to a large amount, and for wlhich they con- 
tracted to pay at the customary period. But 
before that period arrived, the British Gov- 
ernment had engaged Tecumthe, and his 



JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 1 53 

brother the Prophet, in their interests. The 
influence of these characters among their red 
brethren was such, that they had no difficulty 
in rekindling a spirit of hostility against the 
Americans, which had never been entirely ex- 
tinguished. The consequence was, that many 
of them followed Tecumthe:* and participat- 
ing in his disasters, never returned to their 
native towns. Mr. Duchouquet sustained such 
serious losses by this [100] event, that he re- 
linquished the business of a trader, and has 
ever since been employed in the service of the 
United States, as an interpreter to the Indian 
agency established at Piqua,and now under the 
superintendence of Mr. John Johnston, f My 
benefactor has ever sustained a fair character 
for integrity and veracity. He is not an en- 
lightened scholar, but possesses a sound un- 
derstanding, and is capable of judicious ob- 
servation. By him, I am enabled to add some- 
thing to the history of the most remarkable 
individuals among my captors, and to report 
so much in relation to them, as may further 
gratify any curious inquirer. 

*Tecumseh, sometimes spelled Tecumthe, a chief of the 
Shawnees, was at the head of the Indian uprising in 1810. 
His defeat by Gen. William Henry Harrison at the battle 
of Tippecanoe made the political fortune of the latter. 
Tecumseh took the side of the British in the War of 1812 
and was killed in the battle of the Thames. 

I Col. John Johnson was a native of Ireland who acted 
as United States Indian agent for many years. He was at 
first stationed at Ft. Wayne but in later years at Piqua, 
Ohio. 



T 54 JOHNSTON'S NARRATIVE 

Chickatommo was killed in a rencounter 
with a detachment of General Wayne's army, 
near Fort Defiance, in the year 1795. 

Messhawa was one of the followers of Te- 
cumthe and the Prophet. He either fell in 
battle with the Americans, or went to the coun- 
try west of the Mississippi; but it is believed 
he is dead. 

Tom Lewis attached himself to the service 
of our Government, and fought on our side, 
at the battle of the Thames. He attained the 
rank of chief among the Shawanese on Stony 
Creek, where a part of their tribe established 
themselves at a town bearing his name, and 
remained for several years. He has not con- 
ducted himself correctly, and has lost the con- 
fidence of his people, as w^ll as his chieftain- 
ship. He has removed with a band of his 
countrymen, beyond the Mississippi, and is 
yet alive. 

Whitaker fought against the Americans, 
when General Wayne defeated the Indians 
at the Rapids of the Miami of the Lake, and 
has been dead many years. 

King Crane acted the same part, at the same 
time. But in the war of 1813, he bore arms 
on our side, and fought for us at the battle of 
the Thames. He died eight or ten years ago. 



INDEX 



155 



INDEX 



Burnet's Notes, etc., 13, 15, 50. 
British garrisons, 8, 117, 132, 133, 

138, 145. 
Chick-a-tom-mo. 39, 44, 55, 61, 85, 

92,95,98,99.101, 154. 
Cherokees, 44. 45, 61, 104, 108, 110. 
Clendiner [Clendennin], George, 

27, 29. 
Coles, Col. Isaac, 143. 
Cowan, Captain, 134. 
Crawford, Colonel, 102. 
Detroit, 7, 93, 100. 101. 106, 107, 111, 

112, 113, 116, 117, 129, 133. 134, 

137, 143. 
Delawares, 44, 45. 46, 102. 

Divine. . 42. 46, 47, 53. 

Davies, Col. William, 144. 
Duchouquet, Francis, 92, 93, 96, 97, 

100, 102, 103, 106, HI, 148-153. 
Fleming, Dolly, 30, 36, 37, 39, 40. 
Fleming, Peggy, 30, 38, 45. 55, 61, 

104, 108, 109. 
Fort Stanwix, 11, 140, 143. 
Flinn, William, 30, 34, 37, 43, 45, 46, 

52, 54, 103, 118-122. 
Forsyth, Mrs., 139. 140, 141. 
French traders, 93. 
Greenbriar River, 10. 
Giles, William B., 150. 
Great Kanawha River, 9. 10, 27, 28, 

30. 
Harris, Col. John R., 136. 
Hymen, 88. 
Hurons, 44. 
Hutchins, Thomas, 61. 
Indians, 11. 35, 44, 47, 53, 54. 56. 59. 

64. 66, 78, 100, 106, 114. 
Indian dance, 114-116. 
Indian torture, 118-121. 
Johnston, Charles, 7, 80, 98. 



Jefferson, Thomas, 132, 135. 

Jay, John, 146. 

Kentucky, 8, 9, 25, 33, 43, 50, 55, 80, 

125. 
King Crane, 109, 110, 154. 
Kennedy's Bottom, 42. 
Ketesselo, 68, 69. 
Lake Erie, 45, 107, 113, 116, 128, 

131, 152. 
La Rochefoucauld, 16, 21. 
Lethbridge, Captain, 137. 
Lewis, Tom. 39, 59. 63, 149, L54. 
Lower Sandusky, 45, 10 1, 107, 111, 

113. 
May, John, 25, 36, 37, 39, 40, 49, 50. 
Marshall, Thomas, 50. 
Maumee River, 45. 
Messhawa, 44, 57, 72. 75, 85, 86, 92, 

149, 154. 
Miami River, 45, 75, 96, 104, 122, 

129. 
Moore, Thomas, 142. 
Mingos, 86. 

McComb, Alexander, 150. 
Mcintosh, Angus, 112. 131, 150. 
Murray, Major, 133, 134, 137. 
New York, city, 7, 107, 143. 
New York, state, 102, 141. 
Negro fugitive, 80. 
"Nosey," 57, 59, 77. 
Niagara, 134, 135, 137, 140, 141. 
Nelson, Thomas, 144, 145. 
Ohio River, 7, 11, 26, 31, 47, 49, 54, 

58,66,71, 81, 88, 91, 96, 98, 127, 

130, 143. 152. 
Oswego, 137, 139. 
Point Pleasant, 27, 31. 
Pittsburg, 101, 108, 110, 148. 
Parker, Col. Josiah, 143. 
Quebec, 93, 107. 



156 



INDEX 



Scioto River, 7, 12, 32. 59, 68, 71, 130. 
Shays, Captain Daniel, 139. 
Shawanese, 44, 46, 57, 61, 98, 103, 

149, 154. 
St. Lawrence, 107. 
St. Clair, Gen. Arthur, 146. 
Skyles, Jacob, 27, 32, 36. 43. 52, 53, 

63-65, 68, 72. 73, 75, 77, 117, 

122-130. 
Sandusky, 45, 91, 107, 113. 
Smith, John Cotton, 150. 
Salt Creek, 59. 
Schoolcraft, 131, 135. 

Thomas, . 42, 46, 53. 

Tobacco, 77. 



Tecumthe [Tecumseh], 152, 153. 
Upper Sandusky, 7, 45, 92, 95, 98, 

99,102,103.107, 108,109. 112, 148. 
Virginia, 7, 58, 101, 117, 137, 146. 
War dance, 84. 

Washington, President, 7, 132, 144. 
Whiskey. 80, 81, 95, 97. 

Whittaker, , 108-111, 154. 

Williamsburg, 58. 

Williams, Isaac, 112. 

Wyandots, 44-46, 80, 87, 88, 95, 98. 

103, 111,112. 
Wayne, General, 11, 133, 154. 
W^ood Creek, 140, 141. 
Woodson, Henry, 147". 




AN INITIAL FINE OF 25 CENTS 

WILL BE ASSESSED FOR FAILURE TO RETURN 
THIS BOOK ON THE DATE DUE. THE PENALTY 
WILL INCREASE TO 50 CENTS ON THE FOURTH 
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OVERDUE. 



SE? 13 1 
OCT 101934 

APR if 1939 
ToV 9 1045 

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JUL 16 1957 



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