|JOHN BRICKELL – HIS CAPTIVITY, ETC.
MR. BRICKELL was one of the three or four first white men that ever took up their permanent residence in what is now Franklin County. He came here, he informs us, in 1797, and he ever after made it his place of residence; living most of the time on a ten acre lot of land just in front or the penitentiary, which he purchased of Lyne Starling, before the town of Columbus was laid out. His narative [sic.], from which the following extracts are taken, was written and published in 1842, in the American Pioneer, a monthly periodical. But as it was never seen by many, it seems highly proper to give it a place in this work. Mr. Brickell was an intelligent man, a hatter by trade, and for many years a member of the Methodist Church. He says:
“I was born on the 24th of May, 1781, in Pennsylvania, near a place then known as Stewart's Crossings, on the Youghiogheny River, and, as I suppose from what I learned in after life, about four miles from Beesontown,
now Uniontown, in Fayette County. On my father's side, I was of Irish, and on my mother's of German parentage. My father died when I was quite young, and I went to live with and elder brother, on a preëmption settlement, on the north-east side of the Alleghany River, about two miles from Pittsburgh. On the breaking out of the Indian war, a body of Indians collected to the amount of about one hundred and fifty warriors, and spread up and down the Alleghany River about forty miles, and by a preconcerted movement, made an attack on all the settlements along the river, for that distance, in one day.
“This was on the 9th of February, 1791. I was alone, clearing out a fence row, about a quarter of a mile from the house, when an Indian came to me, and took my axe from me and laid it upon his shoulder with his rifle, and then let down the cock of his gun, which it appears, he had cocked in approaching me. I had been on terms of intimacy with the Indians, and did not feel alarmed at this movement. They had been about our house almost every day. He took me by the hand and pointed the direction he wanted me to go; and although I did not know him, I concluded he only wanted me to chop something for him, and went without reluctance. We came to where he had lain all night, between two logs, without fire. I then suspected something was wrong,
and attempted to run; but he threw me down on my face, in which position I every moment expected to feel the stroke of the tomahawk on my head. But he had prepared a rope, with which he tied my hands together behind me, and thus marched me off. After going a little distance, we fell in with George Girty, son of old George Girty. He spoke English, and told me what they had done. He said ‘white people had killed Indians, and that the Indians had retaliated, and now there is war, and you are a prisoner; and we will take you to our town and make an Indian of you; and you will not be killed if you go peaceably; but if you try to run away, we won't be troubled with you, but we will kill you, and take your scalp to our town.’ I told him I would go peaceably, and give them no trouble. From thence we traveled to the crossings of Big Beaver with scarce any food. We made a raft, and crossed late in the evening, and lay in a hole in a rock without fire or food. They would not make fire for fear we had attracted the attention of hunters in chopping for the raft. In the morning, the Indian who took me, delivered me to Girty, and took another direction. Girty and I continued our course towards the Tuscarawas. We traveled all that day through hunger and cold, camped all night, and continued till about three in the afternoon of the third day since I had tasted a mouthful. I felt very
indignant at Girty, and thought if ever I got a good chance, I would kill him.
“We then made a fire, and Girty told me that if he thought I would not run away, he would leave me by the fire, and go and kill something to eat. I told him I would not. ‘But,’ said he, ‘to make you safe, I will tie you.’ He tied my hands behind my back, and tied me to a sapling, some distance from the fire. After he was gone, I untied myself and laid down by the fire. In about an hour, he came running back without any game. He asked me what I untied myself for? I told him I was cold. He said: ‘Then you no run away>’ I said ‘no.’ He then told me there were Indians close by, and he was afraid they would find me. We then went to their camp, where there were Indians with whom I had been as intimate as with any person, and they had been frequently at our house. They were very glad to see me, and gave me food, the first I had eaten after crossing Beaver. They treated me very kindly. We staid all night with them, and next morning we all took up our march toward the Tuscarawas, which we reached on the second day, in the evening.
“Here we met the main body of hunting families and the warriors from the Alleghany, this being their place of rendezvous. I supposed these Indians all to be Delawares; but at that time I could not distinguish
between the different tribes. Here I met with two white prisoners, Thomas Dick and his wife Jane. They had been our nearest neighbors. I was immediately led to the lower end of the encampment, and allowed to talk freely with them for about an hour. They informed me of the death of our two neighbors, Samuel Chapman and William Powers, who were killed by the Indians — one in their house, and the other near it. The indians showed me their scalps. I knew that of Chapman, having read hair on it.
“Next day about ten Indians started back to Pittsburgh. Girty told me they went to pass themselves for friendly Indians and to trade. Among these was the Indian who took me. In about two weeks they returned well loaded with store goods, whisky, etc.
“After the traders came back, the company divided; and those who came with us to Tuscarawas, and the Indian who took me, marched on towards Sandusky. When we arrived within a day's journey of an Indian town, where Fort Seneca since stood, we met two warriors going to the frontiers to war. The Indian I was with, had whisky. He and the tow warriors got drunk, when one of the warriors fell on me and beat me. I though he would kill me. The night was very dark, and I ran out into the woods, and lay under the side of a log. They presently missed me, and got lights to
search for me. The Indian to whom I belonged called aloud: ‘White man, white man!’ I made no answer; but in the morning, after I saw the warriors start on their journey, I went into camp, where I was much pitied on account of my bruises. Next day we arrived within a mile of the Seneca town, and encamped for the night, agreeably to their manner, to give room for their parade, or grand entrance the next day. That took place about eight o'clock in the morning. The ceremony commenced with a great whoop or yell. We were then met by all sorts of Indians from the town, old and young, men and women. We then called a halt, and the formed two lines about twelve feet apart, in the direction of the river. They made signs for me to run between the lines towards the river. I knew nothing of what they wanted, and started; but I had no chance, for they fell to beating me until I was bruised from head to foot. At this juncture, a very big Indian came up and threw the company off me, and took me by the arm, and led me along through the lines with such rapidity that I scarcely touched the ground, and was not once struck after he took me till I got to the river. Then the very ones who beat me the worst were now the most kind and officious in washing me off, feeding me, etc., and did their utmost to cure me. I was nearly killed, and id not get over it for two months. My
impression is, that the big Indian, who rescued me, was Captain Pipe, who assisted in burning Crawford. The Indian who owned me did not interfere in any way.
“We staid abut two weeks at the Seneca towns. My owner there took himself a wife, and then started with me and his wife through the Black Swamp towards the Maumee towns. At Seneca I left the Indians I had been acquainted with, near Pittsburgh, and never saw or heard of them afterwards. When we arrived at the Auglaize River, we met an Indian my owner called brother, to whom he gave me; and I was adopted into his family. His name was Whingwy Pooshies, or Big Cat. I lived in his family from about the first week in May, 1791, till my release in June, 1795.
“The squaws do nearly all the labor except hunting. They take care of the meat when brought in, and stretch the skins. They plant and tend the corn; they gather and house it, assisted by young boys, not yet able to hunt. After the boys are at the hunting age, they are no more considered as squaws, and are kept at hunting. The men are faithful at hunting, but when at home lie lazily about, and are of little account for anything else, seldom or never assisting in domestic duties. Besides the common modes, they often practice candle hunting; and for this they sometimes make candles or tapers, when they cannot buy them. Deer come to the
river to eat a kind of water grass, to get which they frequently immerse their whole head and horns. They seem to be blinded by light at night, and will suffer a canoe to float close to them. I have practiced that kind of hunting much since I came to live where Columbus now is, and on one occasion killed twelve fine deer in one night.
“The fall after my adoption, there was a great stir in the town about an army of white men coming to fight the Indians. The squaws and boys were moved with the goods down the Maumee, and there waited the result of the battle, while the men went to war. They met St. Clair, and came off victorious, loaded with the spoils of the army. Whingwy Pooshies left the spoils at the town came down to move us up. We then found ourselves a rich people. Whingwy Pooshies's share of the spoils of the army was two fine horses, four tents, one of which was a noble marquee, which made us a fine house in which we lived the remainder of my captivity. He had also clothing in abundance, and of all descriptions. I wore a soldier's coat. He had also axes, guns, and every thing necessary to make an Indian rich. There was much joy among them.
“I saw no prisoners that were taken in that battle, and believe there were none taken by the Delawares. Soon after this battle another Indian and I went out
hunting, and we came to a place where there lay a human skeleton stripped of the flesh, which the Indian said had been eaten by the Chippewa Indians who were in the battle; and he called them brutes thus to use their prisoners. During the time of my captivity I conversed with seven or eight prisoners, taken from different parts, none of which were taken from that battle, agreeably to my best impressions. One of the prisoners I conversed with, was Isaac Patton by name, who was taken with Isaac Choat, Stacy and others from a blockhouse at the Big Bottom, on the Muskingum. I lived two years in the same house with Patton. I think I saw Spencer once. He was with McKee and Elliot as a waiter, or kind of servant; and, if I remember right, he was at the rapids.
“On one of our annual visits to the rapids to receive our presents from the British, I saw Jane Dick. Her husband had been sold, I understood, for forty dollars, and lived at Montreal. He was sold because he was rather worthless and disagreeable to the Indians. She became suddenly missing, and a great search was made for her; but the Indians could not find her. After my release from captivity, I saw her and her husband at Chillicothe, where they lived.
“She told me how she was liberated. Her husband had concerted a plan with the Captain of the vessel who brought the presents, to steal her from the Indians. The Captain concerted a plan with a black man, who cooked for McKee and Elliot to steal Mrs. Dick. The black man arranged it with Mrs. Dick to meet him at midnight, in a copse of underwood, which she did, and he took her on board in a small canoe, and headed her up in an empty hogshead, where she remained until the day after the vessel sailed, about thirty-six hours. I remember well that every camp, and the woods were searched for her, and that the vessel was searched; for the Indians immediately suspected she was on board. But not thinking of unheading the hogsheads, they could not find her. I saw the black man at Fort Hamilton as I returned from captivity, who told me how he stole Mrs. Dick off, which was in every particular confirmed by Mrs. Dick's own statement afterward. He also told me that there was a plan concerted between him and the Captain, to steal me off at the same time. ‘But,’ said he, ‘they watched you so close I could not venture it.’ This I knew nothing of, until I was told by the black man, except that I observed the vigilance with which they watched me.
“In the month of June, 1794, three Indians, two men and a boy, and myself, started on a candle-light
hunting expedition to Blanchard's Fork of the Auglaize. We had been out about two months. We returned to the towns in August, and found them entirely evacuated, but gave ourselves little uneasiness about it, as we supposed the Indians had gone to the foot of the Maumee rapids to receive their presents, as they were annually in the habit of doing. We encamped on the lower island in the middle of a cornfield. Next morning an Indian runner came down the river and gave the alarm whoop, which is a kind of a yell they use for no other purpose. The Indians answered and one went over to the runner, and immediately returning told us the white men were upon us, and we must run for our lives. We scattered like a flock of partridges, leaving our breakfast cooking on the fire. The Kentucky Riflemen saw our smoke and came to it, and just missed me as I passed them in my flight through the corn. They took the whole of our two months work, breakfast, jerked skins and all. One of the Kentuckians told me afterwards that they got a fine chance of meat that was left.
“Wayne was then only about four miles from us, and the vanguard was right among us. The boy that was with us in the hunting expedition, and I, kept together on the trail of the Indians till we overtook them, but
the two Indians did not get with us until we got to the rapids.
“Two or three days after we arrived at the rapids, Wayne's spies came right into camp among us. I afterwards saw the survivors. Their names were Miller, McClelland, May, Wells, Mahaffy, and one other whose name I forget. They came into the camp boldly and fired on the Indians. Miller got wounded in the shoulder. May was chased by the Indians to the smooth rock in the bed of the river, where his horse fell. He was taken prisoner and the rest escaped. They then took May to camp. They knew him; he had formerly been a prisoner among them, and ran away from them. They told him: ‘We know you; you speak Indian language; you not content to live with us. To-morrow we take you to that tree; (pointing to a very large bur oak at the edge of the clearing, which was near the British Fort,) we will tie you up and make a mark on your breast, and we will try what Indian can shoot nearest it.’
“It so turned out. The next day, the very day before the battle, they tied him up, made a mark on his breast, and riddled his body with bullets, shooting at least fifty into him. Thus ended poor May.
“On the next day, being myself about six miles below with the squaws, I went out hunting. The day being
windy, I heard nothing of the firing of the battle, but saw some Indians on the retreat. One Indian, whom I knew, told me I had better go to camp, for the Indians were beaten, and they are preparing at camp to make their escape. The runners, towards dusk, came in, and said the army had halted and encamped. We then rested that night, but in great fear. Next morning, the runners told us the army had started up the river towards the mouth of the Auglaize. We were then satisfied. Many of the Delawares were killed, and wounded. The Indian who took May was killed, and he was much missed; for he was the only gunsmith among the Delawares.
“Our crops and every means of support being cut off, we had to winter at the mouth of Swan Creek, perhaps where Toledo now stands. We were entirely dependent on the British, and they did not half supply us.
“The starving condition of the Indians, together with the prospect of losing all their cows and dogs, made the Indians very impatient, and they became exasperated at the British. They said they had been deceived by them, for they had not fulfilled one promise. It was concluded among them to send a flag to Fort Defiance in order to make a treaty with the Americans. This was successful. Our men found the Americans ready to make a treaty, and they agreed on an exchange of
prisoners. I had the pleasure to see nine white prisoners exchanged for nine Indians, and the mortification of finding myself left; there being no Indian to give for me. Patton, Johnston, Sloan and Mrs. Baker of Kentucky were four of the nine; the names of the others I do not recollect. Patton, Johnston and Mrs. Baker, had all lived with me in the same house among the Indians, and we were as intimate as brothers and sisters.
“On the breaking up of spring, we all went up to Fort Defiance, and on arriving on the shore opposite, we saluted the fort with a round of rifles, and they shot a cannon thirteen times. We then encamped on the spot. On the same day, Whingwy Pooshies told me I must go over to the fort. The children hung round me crying, and asked me if I was going to leave them? I told them I did not know. When we got over to the fort and were seated with the officers, Whingwy Pooshies told me to stand up, which I did; he then rose and addressed me in about these words: ‘My son, these are men the same color as yourself; there may be some of your kin here, or you kin may be a great way off from you; you have lived a long time with us; I call on you to say if I have not been a father to you? If I have not used you as a father would a son?’ I said: ‘You have used me as well as a father would a son.’ He said: ‘I am glad you say so. you have lived long with me;
You have hunted for me; but our treaty says you must be free. If you choose to go with the people of your color, I have no right to say a word; but if you choose to stay with me, your people have no right to speak. Now reflect on it, and take your choice; and tell us as soon as you make up your mind.’
“I was silent a few moments, in which time it seemed as if I thought of almost every thing. I thought of the children I had just left crying; I though of the Indians I was attached to; and I thought of my people, whom I remembered; and this latter thought predominated, and I said: ‘I will go with my kin.’ The old man then said: ‘I have raised you; I have learned you to hunt; you are a good hunter; you have been better to me than my own sons; I am now getting old and cannot hunt; I though you wold be a support to my age; I leaned on you as on a staff. Now it is broken – you are going to leave me, and I have no right to say a word – but I am ruined.’ He then sank back in tears in his seat. I heartily joined him in his tears – parted with him, and have never seen nor heard of him since.
“I learned the Delaware language well, and can speak it now about as well as English. I will give the Delaware names of a few streams. Sepung, is properly what we call a stream, there being no distinction between runs, creeks and rivers, as with us. They called the Ohio
Whingwy Sepung, or Big Stream. Paint Creek, in Ross County, I never heard called Yoctongee; but we called it Olomon Sepung, or Paint Creek. Seckle Sepung, or Saltlick Creek, what is now called Alum Creek. Whingwy Mahoni Sepung, or Big Lick Creek, is what we call Big Walnut Creek. The scioto was so called, but it is not a Delaware name, and I do not know its meaning.
“It was about the 1st of June, 1795, that I parted with Whingwy Pooshies. The next day I started for Fort Greenville. I rode on a horse furnished by the Americans. I was under the charge and protection of Lieut. Blue, who treated me with every kindness; and at Fort Greenville had a good suit of clothes made for me by a tailor. We had been there about a week, when a company of men arrived from Cincinnati, among whom was a brother of my brother's wife, with whom I had lived, and from whom I was taken. He told me of a sister I had, who was married, and lived about nine miles from Cincinnati, up Licking, on the Kentucky side. I then left Mr. Blue at Fort Greenville, and went to my sister's. She and all the neighbors seemed to be overjoyed, and a great crowd collected to see me, and hear about my living among the Indians. I then went to Grant's Salt Works, up Licking, to hunt for them. I made money there by killing deer at one dollar a piece, and
turkeys at twelve and a half cents. I bought me a house, and had money left to take me to Pennsylvania. I went with a man named Andrew Lewis. There was great joy again, at my brother's, on my return to his house, from whence I was taken. My sister-in-law, in particular, seemed much gratified with my return, as did the great crowd which here again collected to see me, and hear the narrative of my captivity.
“In 1797, I came to this place, that is, now Columbus, Ohio, and have resided here ever since; generally enjoying good health, it never having cost me a dollar in my life for medical aid; and without ever wearing any thing like a stocking inside of my moccasin, shoes or boots, from the time I went among the Indians to this day; and, I can say wat perhaps few can at this day, that my feet are never cold.
“At another time, the Lord granting the opportunity, I will give more of the incidents of my life, as connected with the settlement and improvement of the county.
“Columbus, Ohio, Jan. 29, 1842.”
Mr. Birckell died the 20th day of July, 1844, in the 64th year of his age.
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