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« Extraordinary instance of female heroism, extracted from a letter
voritten by Col. James Perry .to the Rev. Jordan Dodge, dated Nelson Co., Ky., 20th April, 1788.
“On the first of April inst., a number of Indians surrounded the house of one John Merril, which was discovered by the barking of a dog. Merril stepped to the door to see what he could discover, and received three musket-balls, which caused him to fall back into the house with a broken leg and arm. The Indians rushed on to the door, but it being instantly fastened by his wife, who, with a girl of about fifteen years of age, stood against it, the savages could not inmediately enter. They broke one part of the door, and one of them crowded partly through. The heroic mother, in the midst of her screaming children and groaning husband, seized an axe, and gave a fatal blow to the savage, and he falling headlong into the house, the others, supposing they had gained their end, rushed afier him, until four of them fell in like manner before they discovered their mistake. The rest retreated, which gave opportunity again to secure the door. The conquerors rejoiced in their victory, hoping they had killed the whole company; but their expectations were soon dashed by finding the door again attacked, which the bold mother endeavored once more to secure, with the assistance of the young woman. Their fears now came on them like a flood; and they soon heard a noise on the top of the house, and then found the Indians were coming down the chimney. All hopes of deliverance seemed now at an end; but the wounded man ordered his little child to tumble a couch, that was filled with hair and feathers, on the fire, which made such a smoke that two stout Indians came tumbling down into it. The wounded man at this critical moment seized a billet of wood, wounded as he was, and with it succeeded in despatching the hall-smothered Indians. At the same moment the door was attempted by another, but the heroine's armı had become too cnfeebled by her over-exertions to deal a deadly blow. She, however, caused him to retreat wounded. They then again set to work to make their house more secure, not knowing, but another attack would be made, but they were not firther disturbed. This atrair happened in the evening, and the victors carefully watched with their new family until morning. A prisoner, that escaped immediately after, said the Indian last mentioned was the only one that escaped. He, on returning to his friends, was asked, "What news? said, “Plaguy bad news, for the squaws fight worse than the Longknives.' This affair happened at Newbardstown, about fifteen miles from Sandy Creek, and may be depended upon, as I had the pleasuro to assist in tumbling them into a hole, after they were stripped of their head-dresses and about twenty dollars' worth of silver furniture."
WELSH OR WHITE INDIANS.
as a ransom.
Narrative of Captain Isaac Stuart, of the Provincial Caralry of
South Carolina, taken from his own mouth, by I. C., Esq., March, 1782.
"I was taken prisoner, about fifty miles to the westward of Fort Pitt, about eighteen years ago, by the Indians, and carried to the Wabash, with other white men. They were executed with circumstances of horrid barbarity, but it was my good fortune to call forth the sympathy of a good woman of the village, who was permitted to redeem me from those who held me prisoner, by giving them a horse
After remaining two years in bondage, a Spaniard came to the nation, having been sent from Mexico on discoveries. He made application to the chiefs of the Indians for hiring me, and another white man who was in a like situation, a native of Wales, and named John Davey, which was complied with. We took our departure and travelled to the westward, crossing the Mississippi near Red River, up which we travelled upwards of seven hundred miles. Here we came to a nation of Indians remarkably white, and whose hair was of a reddish color, at least mostly so. They lived on a small river which emptied itself into Red River, which they called the River Post; and in the morning, the day after our arrival, the Welshman informed me that he was determined to remain with the nation of Indians, giving as a reason that he understood their language, it being very little different from the Welsh. My curiosity was excited very much by this information, and I went with my companion to the chief men of the town, who informed him, in a language that I had no knowledge of, and which had no affinity with that of any other Indian tongue that I ever heard, that the forefathers of this nation came from a foreign country, and landed on the east side of the Mississippi (describing particularly the country now called West Florida), and that, on the Spaniards taking possession of the country, they fled to their then abode; and, as a proof of what they advanced, they brought oul rolls of parchment wrote with blue ink, at least it had a bluish cast. The characters I did not understand, and the Welshman being unacquainted with letters of any language, I was not able to know what the meaning of the writing was. They were a bold, hardy, intrepid people, very warlike, and their women were beautiful compared with other Indians.”
There seem to have been a good many accounts concerning the White Indians in circulation about the above period, and the next we shall notice is found in Mr. Charles Beatty's journal, the substance of which is as follows:
At the foot of the Alleghany Mountains, in Pennsylvania, Mr. Beatty stopped at the house of a Mr. John Miller, where he “ met with one Benjamin Sutton, who had been taken captive by the Indians,
and had been in different nations, and lived many years among them. When he was with the Choctaws, at the Mississippi river, he went to an Indian town, a very considerable distance from New Orleans, whose inhabitants were of different complexions, not so tawny as those of the other Indians, and who spoke Welsh. He saw a book among them, which he supposed was a Welsh Bible, which they carefully kept wrapped up in a skin, but they could not read it;, and he heard some of those Indians afterwards, in the lower Shawanee town, speak Welsh with one Lewis, a Welshman, captive there. This Welsh tribe now live on the west side of the Mississippi, a great way above New Orleans.”
At Tuscarora valley he met with another man, named Levi Hicks, who had been a captive from his youth with the Indians. He said he was once attending an embassy at an Indian town on the west side of the Mississippi, where the inhabitants spoke Welsh, “as he was told, for he did not understand them” himself. An Indian, named Joseph Peepy, Mr. Beatty's interpreter, said he once saw some Indians whom he supposed to be of the same tribe, who talked Welsh. He was sure they talked Welsh, for he had been acquainted with Welsh people, and knew some words they used.
To the above Mr. Beatty adds: “I have been informed that many years ago, a clergyman went from Britain to Virginia, and having lived some time there, went from thence to South Carolina; but after some time, for some reason he resolved to return to Virginia, and accordingly set out by land, accompanied with some other persons. In travelling through the back parts of the country, which was then very thinly inhabited, he fell in with a party of Indian warriors going to attack the inhabitants of Virginia. Upon examining the clergyman, and finding he was going to Virginia, they looked upon him and his companions as belonging to that province, and took them all prisoners, and told them they must die. The clergyman, in preparation for another world, went to prayer, and, being a Welshman, prayed in the Welsh language. One or more of the Indians were much surprised to hear him pray in their own language. Upon this they spoke to him, and finding he could understand them, got the sentence of death reversed, and his life was saved. They took him with them into their country, where he found a tribe whose native language was Welsh, though the dialect was a little different from his own, which he soon came to understand. They showed him a book, which he found to be a Bible, but which they could not read; and on his reading and explaining it, their regard for him was much heightened.” After some time the minister proposed to these people to return to his own country, and promised to return again to them with others of his friends, who would instruct them in Christianity; but not long after his return to England he died, which put an end to his design.
It is very natural to inquire how these indians, though descended from the Welsh, came by books; for it is well known that the period at which the Welsh must have come to America was long before printing was discovered, or that any writings assumed the form of
books as we now have them. It should be here noted that Mr. Beatty travelled in the autumn of 1766.
Major Rogers, in his “Concise Account of North America,” published in 1765, notices the White Indians, but the geography of their country he leaves any where on the west of the Mississippi; probably never having visited them himself, although he tells us he had travelled very extensively in the interior. “This fruitful country,” he says,
, "is at present inhabited by a nation of Indians, called by the others the White Indians, on account of their complexion, they being much the fairest Indians on the continent. They have, however, Indian eyes, and a certain guilty Jewish cast with them. This nation is very numerous, being able to raise between 20 and 30,000 fighting men. They have no weapons but bows and arrows, tomahawks, and a kind of wooden pikes, for which reason they often suffer greatly from the eastern Indians, who have the use of fire-arms, and frequently visit the White Indians on the banks of the easterly branch, (of Muddy River?) and kill or captivate them in great numbers. Such as fail alive into their hands they generally sell for slaves. These Indians live in large towns, and have cominodious houses; they raise corn, tame the wild cows, and use both their milk and flesh; they keep great numbers of dogs, and are very dexterous'in hunting; they have little or no commerce with any nation that we at present are acquainted with."
In the account of Kentucky, written in 1784, by an excellent writer, Mr. John Filson, we find as follows:-Alter noticing the voyage of Madoc, who, with his ten ships with emigrants, sailed west about 1170, and who were, according to the Welsh historians, never heard of after, he proceeds, “This account has at several times drawn the attention of the world; but as no vestiges of them had then been found, it was concluded, perhaps too rashly, to be a fable, or at least that no remains of the colony existed. Of late years, however, the western settlers have received frequent accounts of a nation, inhabiting at a great distance up the Missouri, in manners and appearance resembling The other Indians, but speaking Welsh, and retaining some ceremonies of the Christian worship; and at length this is universally believed there to be a fact. Capt. Abrahant Chaplain, of Kentucky, a gentleman whose veracity may be entirely depended upon, assured the author that in the late war, (revolution,) being with his company in garrison at Kaskaskia, some Indians came there, and, speaking the Welsh dialect, were perfectly understood and conversed with by two Welshmen in his company, and that they informed them of the situation of their nation, as mentioned above."
Henry Ker, who travelled among the thirteen tribes of Indians in 1810, &c., names one near a great mountain which he calls Mnacedeus. He said Dr. Sibley had told him, when at Natchitoches, that a number of travellers had assured him that there was a strong similarity een the In language and many words Welsh. Mr. Ker found nothing among any of the Indians to indicate a Welsh origin until he arrived among the Mnacedeus. Ilere he found many customs which were Welsh, or common to that people, and he adds, “I did not understand the Welsh language, or I should have been enabled to have thrown more light upon so interesting a subject,” as they had “printed books among them, which were preserved with great care, they having a tradition that they were brought there by their forefathers.” Upon this, in another place, he observes, “The books appeared very old, and were evidently printed at a time when there had been very little improvement made in the casting of types. I obtained a few leaves from one of the chiefs, sufficient to have thrown light on the subject, but in my subsequent disputes with the Indians I lost them, and all my endeavors to obtain more were ineffectual.”
How or at what time these Indians obtained “printed books,” Mr. Ker does not give us his opinion ; although he says much more about them.
There are a great number of others who have noticed these Indians; but after an examination of them all, I am unable to add much to the above stock of information concerning them. Upon the whole, we think it may be pretty safely said, that the existence of a race of Welsh about the regions of the Missouri does not rest on so good authority as that which has been adduced to establish the existence of the sea-serpent.
BATTLE OF ORISKANA-DESTRUCTION OF WYOMING.
Colonel Joseph Brant was an Onondaga of the Mohawk tribe, whose Indian name was Thayendaneca, or Tayadanaga, signifying a brant. But as he was seldom called by that name aster he became known to the whites, it was generally forgotten. He received a very good English education at "Moor's charity school," at Lebanon, in Con. necticut, where he was placed by Sir William Johnson, in July, 1761. His age, at this time, we have not learned.
The story that he was but half Indian, the son of a German, has been widely spread, but it is denied by his son, and now believed to be a falsehood, ignorantly circulated. This error might have arisen either from the known fact of his being of rather a lighter complexion than his countrymen in general, or from his having married a woman who was a half-breed.
Brant went to England in 1775, in the beginning of the great revolutionary rupture, where he was received with attention, and doubtless had there his mind prepared for the part he acted in the memorable struggle which ensued. He had a colonel's commission in the English army upon the frontiers, which consisted of such of the Six Nations and tories, as took part against the country. General Sir William Johnson was agent of Indian affairs, and had greatly