Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

With calculating pause and demon grin
They seize her hands, and, through her face divine,
Drive the descending axe !-the shriek she sent
Attained her lover's ear; he thither bent
With all the speed his wearied limbs could yield,
Whirled his keen blade, and stretched upon the field
The yelling fiends, who there disputing siood
Her gory scalp, their horrid prize of blood!
He sunk, delirious, on her lifeless clay,

And passed, in siarts of sense, the dreadful day.”
In a note to the above passages, Mr. Barlow says this tragical story of Miss
McCrea is detailed almost literally.

Extraordinary instance of female heroism, extracted from a letter written by Col. James Perry to the Rev. Jordan Dodge, dated Nelson Co., Ky., 20 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 inusket-balls, which caused him to fall back into the house with a bioken leg and arm. The Indians rushed on to the door ; but it being instantly fastened by his wife, who, with a girl of about 15 years of age, stood against it, the savages could not immediately 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 heudlong into the house, the others, supposing they had gained their end, rushed after 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 poise 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 lndians 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 half-smothered Indians. At the same moment, the door was attempted by another; but the heroine's arm had become too enfeebled by her over-exertions to deal a deadly blow. She however caused bim to retreat wounded. They then again set to work to make their house more secure, not knowing but avother attack would be made ; but they were not further disturbed. This affair 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 long-knives.' This affair happened at Newbardstown, about 15 miles from Sandy Creek, and may be depended upon, as I had the pleasure to assist in tumbling them into a hole, after they were stripped of their head-dresses, and about 20 dollars' worth of silver furniture.”

WELSH OR WHITE INDIANS.

Narrative of Capt. Isaac Stuart, of the Provincial Cavalry of South Carolina,

taken from his own mouth, by I. C., Esq., March, 1782. “I was taken prisoner, about 50 miles to the westward of Fort Pitt, about 18 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 as a ransom. After remaining two years in bondage, a Spaniard came to the nation, having been sent from Mexico ou discoveries

He made application to the chiefs of the Indians for hiring me, and another white man who was in the 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 700 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 out 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.”

Thus we have given so much of Captain Stuart's narrative as relates to the Wuite Indians. The remainder of it is taken up in details of several excursions, of many hundred miles, in the interior of the continent, without any extraordinary occurrence, except the finding of a gold mine. He returned by way of the Mississippi, and was considered a man of veracity by the late Lieutenant-colonel Cruger, of South Carolina, who recommended him to the gentleman who communicated his narrative.

I had determined formerly to devote a chapter to the examination of the subject of the White Indians; but, on reference to all the sources of information in my possession, I found that the whole rested upon no other authority than such as we have given above, and therefore concluded to give the most interesting parts of the accounts without comment, and let the reader draw his own conclusions. There seem to have been a good many accounts concerning the White Indians in circulation about the same 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 Sullon, 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 Indiai "own, 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 thay 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 S. Carolina; but after some time, for some reason

54

WHITE INDIANS.

[Book 1

he resolved to return to Virginia, and accordingly set out hy 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 hinn 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 was much surprised to hear him pray in their own language. Upon this they spoke to hiin, and finding he could understand them, got the sentence of death reversed, and his life was saved. They took him with thein 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 the 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 fall alive into their hands, they generally sell for slaves. These Indians live in large towns, and have commodious 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:- After 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 tiines 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 peaking Welsh, and retaini some ceremonies of the Christian worship; and at length this is universally believed there to be a fact. Capt. Abraham 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 13 tribes of Indians in 1810, &c., names one near a great mountain which he calls Mnacedeus. He said Dr. Siblev bad told him, when at Natchitoches, that a number of travellers had assured him, that there was a strong similarity between the Indian language and many words of the Welsh. Mr. Ker found nothing among any of the Indians to indicate a Welsh origin until he arrived among the Mnacedeus. Here 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 froin 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 no ced those 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. Should any one, however, choose to investigate the subject further, he will find pretty ample references to authors in which the subject has been noticed, in a note to the life of Madokawando, in our third book. In addition to which, he may consult the authorities of Moulton, as pointed out in his history of New York.

CHAPTER IV.

AMERICAN ANTIQUITIES— Fero Indian AntiquitiesOf Mounds and their con

tentsAccount of those in Cincinnati- In the Miami country-Works supposed to hare been built for defences or fortificationsSome at Piqua— Near Hamilton-Milford-DeerfieldSir miles above Lebanon-On Paint CreeliAt Marietta-At Circlerille— Their age uncertain-Works on Licking RiverAncient excavations or wells near Newark-Various other works.

To describe the antiquities of America would not require a very great amount of time or space, if we consider only those which are in reality such. And as to Indian antiquities, they consist in nothing like monuments, says Mr. Jefferson ; " for,” he observes, “I would not honor with that name, arrowpoints, stone hatchets, stone pipes, and half-shapen images. Of labor on the large scale, I think there is no remain as respectable as would be a common ditch for the draining of lands, unless indeed it would be the Barrows, of which many are to be found all over in this country. These are of different sizes, some of them constructed of earth, and some of loose stones. That they were repositories of the dead, has been obvious to all; but on what particular occasion constructed, was a matter of doubt. Some have thought they covered the bones of those who have fallen in battles fought on the spot of interment. Some ascribe them to the custom, said to prevail among the InJians, of collecting at certain periods the bones of all their dead, wheresoever deposited at the time of death. Others again suppose them the general sepulchres for towns, conjectured to have been on or near these grounds; and this opinion was supported by the quality of the lands in which they are found, those constructed of earth being generally in the softest and most fertile ineadow-grounds on river sides,) and by a tradition, said to be handed down from the aboriginal Indians, that when they settled in a town, the first person who died was placed erect, and earth put about him, so as to cover and support him; and that when another died, a narrow passage was dug to the first, the

66

56
AMERICAN ANTIQUITIES.

[Book 1 second reclined against him, and the cover of earth replaced, and so on. There being one of these in my neighborhood, I wished to satisfy myself whether any, and which of these opinions were just. For this purpose, I determined to open and examine it thoroughly. It was situated on the low grounds of the Rivanna, about two miles above its principal fork, and opposite to some hills, on which had been an Indian town. It was of a spheroidal form, of about 40 feet diameter at the base, and had been of about 12 feet altitude, though now reduced by the plough to seven and a half, having been under cultivation about a dozen years. Before this it was covered with trees of 12 inches diameter, and round the base was an excavation of five feet depth and width, from whence the earth had been taken of which the hillock was formed."

In this mound my author found abundance of human bones, which, from their position, it was evident had been thrown or piled promiscuously there together; bones of the head and feet being in contact; some vertical, some oblique, some horizontal, and directed to every point of the compass.” These bones, when exposed to the air, crumbled to dust. Some of the skulls, jawbones, and teeth, were taken out nearly in a perfect state, but would fall to pieces on being examined. It was evident that this assemblage of bones was made up from persons of all ages, and at different periods of time. The mound was composed of alternate strata of bones, stones, and earth. Hence it would seem that barrows, or mounds, as they are most usually called, were formed by the Indians, whose custom it was to collect the bones of their deceased friends at certain periods, and deposit them together in this manner.

But,” Mr. Jefferson observes, “on whatever occasion they may have been made, they are of considerable notoriety among the Indians: for a party passing, about 30 years ago, through the part of the country where this barrow is, went through the woods directly to it, without any instructions or inquiry, and having staid about it some time, with expressions which were construed to be those of sorrow, they returned to the high road, which they had left about half a dozen miles to pay this visit, and pursued their journey."

In these tumuli are usually found, with the bones, such instruments only as appear to have been used for superstitious purposes, ornaments or war. Of the latter kind, no more formidable weapons have been discovered than tomahawks, spears and arrow-heads, which can be supposed to have been deposited before the arrival of Europeans in America. What Mr. Jefferson found in the barrow he dissected besides bones, or whether any thing, he does not inform us. In several of these depositories in the city of Cincinnati, which Dr. Daniel Drake examined, numerous utensils were found. He has given a most accurate account of them, in which he has shown himself no less a philosopher than antiquary. He divides them into two classes, ancient and modern, or ancient and more ancient. “ Among the latter," he says,

" there is not a single edifice, nor any ruins which prove the existence, in former ages, of a building composed of imperishable materials. No fragment of a column, no bricks, nor a single hewn stone large enough to have been incorporated into a wall, has been discovered.”

There were several of these mounds or tumuli, 20 years ago, within a short space in and about Cincinnati; but it is a remarkable fact, that the plains on the opposite side of the River Ohio have no vestiges of the kind. The largest of those in Cincinnati was, in 1794, about 35 feet in height; but at this time it was cut down to 27 by order of General Wayne, to make it serve as a watchtower for a sentinel. It was about 440 feet in circumference.

Almost every traveller of late years has said something upon the mounds. or fortifications, scattered over the south and west, from Florida to the lakes, and from the Hudson to Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. By some they are reckoned at several thousands. Mr. Brackenridge supposes there may be 3000; but it would not outrage probability, I presume, to set them down at twice that number. Indeed no one can form any just estimate in respect to the number of mounds and fortifications which have been built, any more than of the period of time which has passed since they were originally erected, for beveral obvious reasons; one or two of which may be mentioned :-- the plough, excavations and levellings for towns, roads, and various other works, have entirely destroyed hundreds of them, which had never been described,

« AnteriorContinuar »