Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

a

unconcerned, with a bloody scalp in his hand; he had pursued the Indian about a quarter of a mile, and tomahawked him.

Not long after this, I was called upon to command four hundred . riflemen on an expedition against the Indian town on French creek. It was some time in November before I received orders from General M•Intosh to march, and then we were poorly equipped and scarce of provision. We marched in three columns, forty rods from each other. There were also flankers on the outside of each column, that marched abreast in the rear, in scattered order; and even in the columns the men were one rod apart; and in the front the volunteers marched abreast in the same manner of the flankers, scouring the woods. In case of an attack, the officers were immediately to order the men to face out and take trees; in this position, the Indians could not avail themselves by surrounding us, or have an opportunity of shooting a man from either side of the tree. If attacked, the centre column was to reinforce whatever part appeared to require it most.

When we encamped, our encampment formed a hollow square, including about thirty or forty acres; on the outside of the square, there were sentinels placed, whose business it was to watch for the enemy, and see that neither horses nor bullocks went out; and when encamped, if any attacks were made by an enemy, each officer was immediately to order the men to face out and take trees, as before mentioned; and in this form, they could not take the advantage by surrounding us, as they commonly had done when they fought the whites.

In this manner, we proceeded on to French creek, where we found the Indian town evacuated. I then went on further than my orders called for, in quest of Indians; but our provision being nearly exhausted, we were obliged to return. On our way back we met with considerable difficulties, on account of high waters and scarcity of provision; yet we never lost one horse, excepting some that gave out.

After peace was made with the Indians, I met with some of them in Pittsburg, and inquired' of them in their own tongue concerning this expedition, not letting them know I was there. They told me that they watched the movements of this army ever after they had left Fort Pitt, and as they passed through the glades or barrens they had a full view of them from the adjacent hills, and computed their number to be about one thousand. They said they also examined their camps, both before and after they were gone, and found they could not make an advantageous attack, and therefore moved off from their town and hunting ground before we arrived.

In the year 1789, I settled in Bourbon county, Kentucky, seven miles above Paris, and in the same year was elected a member of the convention that sat at Danville to confer about a separation from the State of Virginia; and from that year until the year 1799, I represented Bourbon county either in conventiớn or as a member of the General Assembly, except two years that I was left a few votes behind.

a

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

There stands to this day, near the river Susquehanna, in the borough of Harrisburg, the trunk of a mulberry tree, that flourished in full vigor, when William Penn first arrived in the Delaware. At the foot of this tree there is a grave, surrounded by a board fence. It is the sepulchre of the father of the founder of the present seat of government of Pennsylvania. He came to America soon after Penn. He was a Yorkshireman by birth, and in humble life; and it is said assisted to clear away the wood, grub the stumps, and open the streets of Philadelphia. Being an enterprising man, he soon became an active pioneer, and with the fruit of his industry, commencing a trade with the Indians, penetrated by degrees to the westward, until he reached the Susquehanna, on the left bank of which river he built himself a cabin, and sat down permanently at the very spot where the town of Harrisburg, now stands.

Here he deposited his merchandise, and opened a profitable commerce with his red neighbors, who were numerous about the Paxton · creek, and had several villages in its vicinity, along the Susquehanna shore. Mr. Harris acquired the friendship of most of these tribes, receiving their peltry and other objects of Indian traffic, for his ammunition and rum. This led to an active exchange of commodities, and gradually enabled him to purchase the land adjacent to his establishment, and to undertake considerable agricultural improvements. *

The majestic Susquehanna, nearly a mile broad, flowed in front of his hut, while along its high banks nothing was to be seen but one dark mass of woods, reaching to the summit of the lofty hills that bounded the view in every direction. In the bosom of this wilderness Mr. Harris's family was located, and here was born Mr. John Harris, who, in the year 1785, laid out Harrisburg, and who was the first white child born to the west of Conewago creek.

In this state of things, it happened one day, that a number of his Indian customers, who had been drinking freely, called for an additional supply of rum. On Mr. Harris's refusing to gratify them, ihey dragged him from his hut, and bound him to that very mulberry tree, at the foot of which he now lies buried.

Here they declared to burn him alive, and bade him prepare for 3 instant death. Dry wood was gathered and fire held in readiness to

* We learn from some of Mr. Harris's descendants, that he had, previous to his emigration, worked as a brewer in London, and that he brought with him to this country sixteen guineas, which was the whole of his property: His first purchase of land on the Susquehanna was a tract of five hundred acres from Edward Shippen, for which paid $190. The deed is dated December 19, 1733. Mr. Harris was the first person who introduced the use of the plough in the neighborhood of the Susquehanna.

kindle it; the yells of the exasperated savages echoed along the shore, while with demoniac gestures they danced around their victim. Death in its most cruel form was before him, and bereft of hope he gave himself for lost. In vain did he supplicate for mercy, and offer every thing in exchange for life; deaf to his entreaties, and determined on his destruction, they declared he should die. The fire was brought to the pile, and about being applied, when a band of friendly Indians, in numbers sufficient to rescue him, burst from the woods and set him at liberty.

These Indians were led on by a negro man named Hercules, a slave belonging to Mr. Harris, who at the first alarm ran to a neighboring tribe to beg for succor, and now brought it to his master's relief. The deliverance was well timed. A moment's delay would have been fatal. The presence of mind, the decision, and the speed of this negro alone saved the respectable Mr. Harris; and so sensible was he of the great service rendered to him by this poor slave, that he instantly emancipued him, and the descendants of the worthy Hercules now reside at Harrisburg, and enjoy their freedom so nobly won, in the bosom of the large community who occupy the ground on which the occurrence took place.

Wherever this story is related, let the virtuous African share largely in our praise and admiration.

An escape so providential was suited to make a deep and lasting impression on the mind of Mr. Harris. Pious and grateful feelings fastened on the heart. It was a signal deliverance; it was a manifest evidence of God's merciful interposition. Struck with this conviction, Mr. Harris, in order to perpetuate the memory of it among his own descendants, directed that at his death his body should be deposited at the foot of this mulberry tree; and there it lies, a memento at once of savage ebriety, domestic fidelity, and, above all, of the watchfulness of Him “ who alone can inflict or withhold the stroke of death."

CHAPTER XXV.

THE FOLLOWING RECORDS OF THE EARLY TRANSACTIONS OF THE CONES. TOGA INDIANS, ARE COPIED FROM TDE MINUTES OF THE PROVINCIAL COUNCIL, OF TIIL YEAR 1721, AND IT WILL BE SEEN THAT THE MINGOES OR CONESTOGAS WERE A LARGE AND POWERFUL TRIBE.

At a council held at Conestoga, July 6th, 1721, were present, the Honorable Sir William Keith, Bart., Governor; Richard Hill; Caleb Pusey; Jonathan Dickinson; Colonel John French; James Logan, Secretary. The governor spoke to the Conestoga Indians, as follows:

My Brothers and Children,-So soon as you sent me word that your near friends and relations, the chiefs of the Five Nations, were come to visit you, I made haste and am come up to see both you and

« AnteriorContinuar »