THE OHIO VALLEY-GREAT LAKES ETHNOHISTORY
ARCHIVES: THE MIAMI COLLECTION
It is noted that the following work from the Miami Archives should be read and considered within the historical context in which it was composed and printed. The opinions expressed and the language used do not reflect the opinions or standards of the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology, but are, rather, indicative of thought in that historical moment during which the document was published.
(Due to length divided here into two parts)
Meginness, John F., Biography of
Frances Slocum: The Lost Sister of
Wyoming, Williamsport, Pa.:
Heller Bros. Printing
LOST SISTER OF WYOMING.
Complete Narrative of her Captivity and Wanderings among the Indians.
"I am become
a stranger unto my brethren,
-Psalms lxix.- 8.
BY JOHN F. MEGINNESS,
AUTHOR OF THE "HISTORY OF THE
WEST BRANCH VALLEY OF THE SUSQUEHANNA,"
"BIOGRAPHICAL ANNALS," "THE HISTORICAL JOURNAL," ETC.
HELLER BROS. PRINTING HOUSE,
SISTER OF WYOMING.
MEANING OF THE WORD WYOMING AND
DESCRIPTION OF THE
VALLEY- INDIAN INVASION AND MASSACRE- THE SLOCUM
FAMILY- CAPTURE OF FRANCES- GRIEF OF THE MOTHER.
THE scene of our story is laid in the lovely valley of Wyoming, Pennsylvania, on the east bank of the North Branch of the Susquehanna River, and the thrilling incidents connected with it had their beginning late in the autumn of 1778. But before proceeding, and in order that the reader may have a clear understanding as to the location of this beautiful and historic region, it is deemed best to describe its geographical position.
Chapman, in his history of this region in 1818, says that Wyoming is a corruption of the name given to the locality by the Indians. They called it Maugh-waw-wame. The word is compounded of maugh-waw, large, and wame, plains. The name, then, signifies, The Large Plains. The Delawares pronounced the first syllable short, and the German missionaries, in order to come as near as possible to the Indians pronunciation, wrote the name M'chweuwami. The early settlers, finding it difficult to pronounce the word correctly, spoke it Wauwaumie, then Wiawumie, then Wiomic, and, finally Wyoming.
of Frances and the members of her family, and she soon became more at ease, and listened with interest to a history of the Slocum family. They told her how her father was cruelly murdered by Indians less than two months after her capture, and the deep anxiety of their mother, while she lived, to learn the fate of her lost child; how her brothers had searched for her in vain, and how they had learned of her whereabouts through the kindness of Mr. Ewing. They assured her that Mrs. Towne was the sister who ran away to the fort with her little brother in her arms, and that Joseph Slocum, now before her, was that very brother! This seemed to make a deep impression on her mind, as she listened carefully to the particulars as they were communicated to her through the interpreter. In due time preparations were made to take down in writing her Indian history. To this she seemed to have some aversions, until the reasons for it were fully explained by Mr. Miller, the interpreter, when she consented.
This was a most extraordinary meeting, and excited unusual interest in the community. Many of the residents of Peru- several of whom are yet living- knew Frances as the "old white woman," but none of them at that time knew that her history partook of such a romantic character. The people gathered in and around the hotel, gazing upon the strangers and listening with amazement and wonder. They crowded the doors and windows and so interrupted the free circulation of the air that the Indian party, so accustomed to the free atmosphere of the woods and the prairies, were almost suffocated. The food cooked by civilized methods was unpalatable to them and they did not relish it. The circumstances and the surroundings had a depressing effect upon Frances, and she sought relief in accordance with the customs of savage life. She slipped away quietly, and a few (page 64) minutes afterwards was found with her blanket pulled over her head, lying on the stoop fast asleep!
After a rest the conference was resumed, when the following questions were asked and answers given:1
Were you ever tired of living with the Indians?
No; I always had enough to live on, and have lived well. The Indians always used me kindly.
Did you know that you had white relations who were seeking you for so many years?
No; no one told me, and I never heard of it. I never thought anything about my white relations, unless it was a little while after I was taken.
Do you remember when you were taken away?
I can well remember the day when the Delaware Indians came suddenly to our house. I remember that they killed and scalped a man near the door, taking the scalp with them. They then pushed the boy through the door; he came to me and we both went and hid under the staircase. They went up stairs and rifled the house, though I cannot remember what they took, except some loaf sugar and some bundles. I remember that they took me and the boy on their backs through the bushes. I believe the rest of the family had fled, except my mother.
They carried us a long way, as it seemed to me, to a cave, where they had left their blankets and traveling things. It was over the mountain and a long way down on the other side. Here they stopped while it was yet light, and there we staid all night. I can remember nothing about that night, except that I was very tired, and lay down on the ground and cried till I was asleep. The next day we set out and traveled many days in the woods before we came to a village of In- (page 65) dians. When we stopped at night the Indians would cut down a few bought of hemlock on which to sleep, and then make up a great fire of logs at their feet, which lasted all night. When they cooked anything they stuck a stick in it and held it to the fire as long as they chose. They drank at the brooks and spring, and for me they made a little cup of white birch bark, out of which I drank. I can only remember that they staid several days at this first village, but where it was I have no recollection.
After they had been here some days, very early one morning two of the same Indians took a horse and placed the boy and me upon it, and again set out on their journey. One went before on foot and the other behind, driving the horse. In this way we traveled a long way till we came to a village where these Indians belonged. I now found that one of them was a Delaware chief by the name of Tuck Horse. This was a great Delaware name, but I do not know its meaning. We were kept here some days, when they came and took away the boy2 and I never saw him again, and do not know what became of him.
Early one morning this Tuck Horse came and took me, and dressed my hair in the Indian way, and then painted my face and skin. He then dressed me in beautiful wampum beads, and made me look, as I thought, very fine. I was much pleased with the beautiful wampum. We then lived on a hill, and I remember he took me by the hand and led me down to the river side to a house where lived an old man and woman. They had once several children, but now they were all gone- either killed in battle, or having died very young. When the Indians thus lose all their children they (page 66) often adopt some new child as their own, and treat it in all respects like their own. This is the reason why they so often carry away the children of white people. I was brought to these old people to have them adopt me, if they would. They seemed unwilling at first, but after Tuck Horse had talked with them awhile, they agreed to it, and this was my home. They gave me the name of We-let-a-wash, which was the name of their youngest child whom they had lately buried. It had now got to be the fall of the year (1779), for chestnuts had come. The Indians were very numerous here, and here we remained all the following winter. The Indians were in the service of the British, and were furnished by them with provisions. They seemed to be the gathered remnants of several nations of Indians. I remember that there was a fort3 here. In the spring I went with the parents who had adopted me, to Sandusky; where we spent the next summer; but in the fall we returned again to the fort- the place where I was made an Indian child- and here we spent the second winter, . In the next spring we went down to a large river, which is Detroit River, where we stopped and built a great number of bark canoes. I might have said before, that there was war between the British and the Americans, and that the American army had driven the Indians around the fort where I was adopted. In their fights I remember the Indians used to take and bring home scalps, but I do not know how many. When our canoes were all done we went up Detroit River, where we remained about three years. I think peace had now been made between the British and Americans, and so we lived by hunting, fishing, and raising corn. The reason why we staid here so long was, that we heard that the Amer- (page 67) icans had destroyed all our villages and corn fields. After these years my family and another Delaware family removed to Ke-ki-ong-a [now Fort Wayne]. I don't know where the other Indians went. This was now our home, and I suppose we lived here as many as twenty-six or thirty years. I was there long after I was full grown, and I was there at the time of Harmar's defeat. At the time this battle was fought the women and children were all made to run north. I cannot remember whether the Indians took any prisoners, or brought home any scalps at this time. After the battle they all scattered to their various homes, as was their custom, till gathered again for some particular object. I then returned again to Ke-ki-ong-a. The Indians who returned from this battle were Delawares, Pottawatamies, Shawnese and Miamis.
I was always treated well and kindly; and while I lived with them I was married to a Delaware.4 He afterwards left me and the country, and went west of the Mississippi. The Delawares and Miamis were then all living together. I was afterwards married to a Miami, a chief, and a deaf man. His name was She-pan-can-ah. After being married to him I had four children- two boys and two girls. My boys both died while young. The girls are living and are here in this room at the present time.
I cannot recollect much about the Indian wars with the whites, which were so common and so bloody. I well remember a battle and a defeat of the Americans at Fort Wash- (page 68) ington, which is now Cincinnati. I remember how Wayne, or 'Mad Anthony,' drove the Indians away and built the fort. The Indians then scattered all over the country, and lived upon game, which was very abundant. After this they encamped all along on Eel River. After peace was made we all returned to Fort Wayne and received provisions from the Americans, and there I lived a long time.
I had removed with my family to the Mississinewa River some time before the battle of Tippecanoe. The Indians who fought in that battle were the Kickapoos, Pottawatamies and Shawnese. The Miamis were not there. I heard of the battle on the Mississinewa, but my husband was a deaf man, and never went to the wars, and I did not know much about them.
At the conclusion of this account of her capture, life and wanderings with the Indians for so many years, there was a pause for a few minutes. Every one present seemed deeply impressed with the story and the simple, artless manner in which it was related. In a short time the conversation was resumed:
We live where our father and mother used to live, on the banks of the beautiful Susquehanna, and we want you to return with us; we will give you of our property, and you shall be one of us and share all that we have. You shall have a good house and everything you desire. Oh, do go back with us!
No, I cannot, was the sad but firm reply. I have always lived with the Indians; they have always used me very kindly; I am used to them. The Great Spirit has always allowed me to live with them, and I wish to live and die with them. Your wah-puh-mone [looking glass] may be longer than mine, but this is my house. I do not wish to live any
JOSEPH SLOCUM AND HIS OLDEST AND
VISIT FRANCES IN 1839- MRS. BENNETT KEEPS A JOURNAL,
WHICH IS PRINTED IN FULL FOR THE FIRST TIME.
TWO YEARS had now passed since Joseph and Isaac Slocum, accompanied by their sister, Mrs. Towne, had made their memorable visit to the Wabash for the purpose of meeting and identifying their lost sister in her Indian dwelling. The recollections of that visit were still fresh in their minds, and they felt it their duty to look after the welfare of their aged relative in her far western home. Mrs. Mary Towne, who had nearly reached the age of 72, was too old to make another journey to the Wabash. Isaac, who lived in northwestern Ohio, had recently lost his wife and was unable to visit his sister at this time. Joseph, however, yearned to make another journey to the reservation for the purpose of meeting her again. According, early in September 1839, he commenced preparations for the journey, and it was decided that his two daughters, Hannah and Harriet, should accompany him. The former was the oldest of his seven children, and the latter the youngest. Hannah was the wife of Mr. Ziba Bennett, of Wilkes-Barre, whom she had married in 1825. She was noted for her high Christian character, and took a deep interest in the welfare of her aunt. Harriet E., who was single, was about twenty years old at that time. She soon afterwards married Charles Drake, and on his death several years afterwards married Mr. Lewis, and now resides at (page 101) Madison, New York. Mrs. Bennett, who was a methodical woman, kept a diary in which she noted the daily incidents of the journey. The original is now in the hands of her son, Mr. George Slocum Bennett, of Wilkes-Barre. It is an interesting record of that toilsome journey, and as it has never been printed in full, it is, with the permission of the owner, given herewith without abridgment, because it forms an important part of this narrative. The start was made from Wilkes-Barre September 10th, 1839, where the journal begins. It is as follows:
WILKES-BARRE, September 10th, 1839.
Left home at 8 o'clock in the morning in a very poor four horse coach, loaded with passengers and baggage, Mr. Chas. Saylor, Mr. Courtright, Jonathan and Harriet Slocum, and Nancy Bird, were our company to Niagara Falls. We found the roads bad, many of the bridges down. Arrived at Tunkhannock at 5 o'clock to dine; called to see Frances Osterhout, who is in the last stage of consumption; she is since dead. We reached Montrose at 11 o'clock at night tired and weary; found father who had been waiting for some time. He came another road in his own conveyance. We stopped at Dr. Warner's, who keeps a temperance house. The stages do not run daily to Oswego. We here left my brother, and father was our company. The proprietor sent us in a four horse coach to Binghamton to accommodate us. We had a colored man in the coach, which some of the company did not like; we let the poor fellow ride and he was very civil. We arrived at Binghamton at 11 o'clock to breakfast, which was good and very refreshing, as we had not eaten since 5 o'clock the day before. The roads were bad, our load heavy, which kept us so late. Called to see Mr. and Mrs. Stocking, who received me very cordially; walked around the town; found it
furnished, with a store, &c. It was 3 o'clock when we reached Peru;5 the Capt. came afterwards, but returned in the evening. My aunt and cousin stayed till the next afternoon, when the Capt. returned and went home with them. They parted very friendly, expecting to see us again.
September 30th, 1839. This day I visited my aunt; found her living on the banks of the Mississinewa River, Indiana, in what is called a double hut. She is of small stature, not very much bent, had her hair clubbed behind in calico, tied with worsted ferret; her hair is somewhat gray; her eyes a bright chestnut, clear and sprightly for one of her age; her face is very much wrinkled and weatherbeaten. She has a scar on her left cheek received at an Indian dance; her skin is not as dark as you would expect from her age and constant exposure; her teeth are remarkably good. Her dress was a blue calico short gown, a white Mackinaw blanket, somewhat soiled by constant wear; a fold of blue broadcloth lapped around her, red cloth leggins and buckskin moccasins. The interior of her hut seemed well supplied with all the necessaries, if not with luxuries. They had six beds, principally composed of blankets and other goods folded together; one room contained the cooking utensils, the other the table and dishes; they spread a cloth on their table and gave us a very comfortable meal of fried venison, tea and short cake. Her oldest daughter is large and fleshy; I should think would weigh near 200 pounds; is smart, active and intelligent; is very observing. She is 34 years of age. The youngest is smaller, is quiet and very retiring; is 24 years of age. The mother's name is Ma-con-a-qua, a Young Bear. The eldest daughter's name, Kich-ke-ne-che-qua, or Cut Finger. The (page 111) youngest, O-saw-she-quah, Yellow Leaf. The grandchildren's names, Kip-pe-no-quah, Corn Tassel; Wap-pa-no-se-a, Blue Corn; Kim-on-tak-quah, Young Panther. They have a looking glass and several splint bottom chairs. A great many trinkets hang about the house, beads and chains of silver and polished steel. Some of their dresses are richly embroidered with silver broaches; seven and eight rows of broaches as closely as they can be put together. They have many silver earrings. My aunt had seven pairs in her ears; her daughters perhaps a dozen apiece. They have saddles and bridles of the most costly kind; six men saddles and one side saddle. They have between fifty and sixty horses, one hundred hogs, seventeen head of cattle, also geese and chickens. Their house is enclosed with a common worm fence, with some outhouses, principally built of logs. A never-failing spring of excellent water is near the door, with a house over it. They have a section of land (which is 640 acres) given to her two daughters. The treaty was ratified by government this spring. The land which is owned by government is now settling, which is not so pleasant for them, as intruders frequently help themselves to horses, hogs and cattle.
Captain Brouillette, her son-in-law, is now with her, providing for the family by killing game, as he is a noted hunter. He provides the wood, which is rather unusual for an Indian and lays up corn and hay for the winter. The husband of the youngest daughter and he did not agree very well, as he was a lazy, indolent Indian; would not provide, but was ready to spend and eat what was provided. Brouillette left, was absent seven months, during which time the other died, in April. In June she married a second; he was killed by a Wea6 in August. There is a dispute between the Miamis (page 112) and Weas respecting their annuity. The Miamis disclaim all connection with the Weas; they had a dispute, and it ended in his death. Three years ago the eldest grand-daughter died; supposed she was poisoned by Godfroys. His son wanted to marry her; her parents would not consent, as he was a drunken, worthless Indian, and as they always seek revenge, it ended in her death. Her parents mourn yet for her. At present they appear to live happy and comfortable. My aunt's husband has been dead six years. She says she was taken by an Indian chief whose name was Tuckhorse, adopted by him and his wife in the place of a daughter they had lost a short time before. If there was anything to eat she always had it. They lived one year at Niagara, where she recollects seeing a machine by which they raised goods from below the falls, and let them down; and also of Indians being afraid to cross above the falls on account of the rapidity of the current. She lived three years near Detroit. She says the old man made chairs, which he sold; he also played on the violin; he frequently went to the frontiers and played, for which they paid him. The old squaw made baskets and brooms, which they sold. The British made them presents of ammunition and food, which they had to go after under the cover of night. As to her religion, she is well apprised of a heaven and a hell, the necessity of living a quiet and peaceable life; if she is such she will be happy when she dies; this was taught her by her adopted parents. She says she is able to have a better house, but fears to do it on account of the jealousy of the Indians. She has money, some that has been saved since the (page 113) treaty of St. Mary's eighteen years ago; she has lent $300 at a time. They moved from Detroit to Fort Wayne; after they victory they lived on Eel River, three miles from Fort Wayne, where they had planted corn and made preparations in case of a defeat. They lived there about twenty years. She married a Delaware Indian by the name of Little Turtle; when the Delawares removed west she refused to go with them, and chose to stay with her adopted mother; as the Miamis had treated her kindly she would not go. She then married a Miami, She-pan-can-ah. They came to this reserve about twenty-four years since. Her adopted father could talk good English; she could speak it while she lived with him; he was very careful to publish that she was dead, and the Indians generally promised to do the same. The chief's names are Richardville and Ma-jin-i-cah.
Thursday night at 10 o'clock, Oct. 3, we left Peru on our return home; we reached Logansport7 at 4 in the morning. The public house was not very neat; the females were all sick with the fever that prevails in that country. The location is pleasant and good; it has grown up rapidly; is now rather at a stand; the country is now suffering from drought; it is now eighteen months since they had had a heavy rain; we spent
The boat in which we came to Northumberland went up the West Branch; we came up the North Branch; stopped a few minutes at Danville; saw Mr. and Mrs. Shoales. We reached Wilkes-Barre about 8 o'clock on Monday morning, Oct. 28th, having been absent seven weeks, with the exception of one day; traveled about 2000 miles; had uninterrupted good health; no accident befell us; the weather was unusually pleasant and we found our friends all well at home, and had been so during our absence, for which I shall ever feel grateful to Him whom the winds and seas obey. It cost us $387, 69 1/2.
HANNAH FELL BENNETT.8
1 (*, p. 64) Dr. Peck's Wyoming, p. 261, and Todd's Lost Sister, p. 132.
2 (*, p. 65) This was Kingsley. It has been shown that in course of time he returned from captivity, married, and finally died in Rhode Island.
3 (*, p. 66) There can be little doubt that the place she describes was Fort Niagara on the river of the same name, which was the concentrating point at that time.
4 (*, p. 67) The statement by some writers that her first husband was Little Turtle is incorrect. This celebrated chief was born a few miles north-east of Fort Wayne in 1747. His mother was a Mohican woman. On the death of his father he became chief of the Miamis. He died at Fort Wayne July 24, 1812, and was succeeded by Pe-che-wa, commonly called John B. Richardville. His father was a Frenchman and his mother was a sister of Little Turtle. He was born about 1761, and died at Fort Wayne in 1841, and was buried by the Catholics of that place. A monument marks his grave. He is the famous chief of whom it is said "he never took or offered a bribe!"
5 (†, p. 110) Peru, the capital of Miami County, a pretty little city of about 6,000 inhabitants, is situated on the Wabash River. Its main street is noted for the width and beauty of its stone sidewalks.
6 (*, p. 111) The Weas had a common origin with the Miamis, were once a powerful tribe, and lived on the lower Wabash. In 1816 the Weas and the Kickapoos entered into a treaty of peace with the United States and sold their lands on the west side of the Wabash. Two years later they disposed of all their lands in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, except a few special reservations. In 1820 they made a final cession of all their lands and agreed to leave the Wabash, but many of them remained.
7 (*, p. 113) At this point the Wabash and Eel Rivers unite. The town was founded in 1828, and in 1829 the county was organized and named Cass, in honor of Gen. Lewis Cass, who was the principal commissioner in negotiating treaties with the Miamis and Pottawatamies in 1826. It was made the county seat, and the seal represents Gen. Cass and Au-bee-naub-bee, a Pottawatamie chief, shaking hands. The chief some years afterwards was killed by his son in a drunken brawl, and his skull and the knife with which he was slain, are now in the possession of Maj. S. L. McFadin, of Logansport. The name, in honor of Capt. Logan, a Shawanee chief, who lost his life while attesting his fidelity to the whites in November, 1812, in Ohio, was decided by a shooting match, and "port" was added to indicate its commercial importance. It now (1890) contains about 15,000 inhabitants.- Helm's Hist. Cass Co., p. 33.
8 (*, p. 118) Mrs. Hannah Fell Bennett, author of this journal, died at Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Feb. 5, 1855, in the 53d year of her age.
to TOC, p. 23
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