"The latter bore me struggling and resisting towards the lake. Notwithstanding the rapidity with which I was harried along, I recognized, as I passed them, the lifeless remains of the unfortunate surgeon. Some murderous tomahawk had stretched him upon the very spot where I had last seen him.
"I was immediately plunged into the water and held there with a forcible hand, notwithstanding my resistance. I soon perceived, however, that the object of my captor was not to drown me, for he held me firmly in such a position as to place my head above water. This reassured me, and, regarding him attentively, I soon recognized, in spite of the paint with which he was disguised, The Black Partridge.
"When the firing had nearly subsided, my preserver bore me from the water and conducted me up the sand-banks. It was a burning August morning, and walking through the sand in my drenched condition was inexpressibly painful and fatiguing. I stooped and took off my shoes to free them from the sand with which they were nearly filled, when a squaw seized and carried them off, and I was obliged to proceed without them.
"When we had gained the prairie, I was met by my father, who told me that my husband was safe and but slightly wounded. They led me gently back towards the Chicago River, along the southern bank of which was the Pottowattamie encampment. At one time I was placed upon a horse without a saddle, but, finding the motion insupportable, I sprang off. Supported partly by my kind conductor, Black Partridge, and partly by another Indian, Pee-so-tum, who held dangling in his hand a scalp, which by the black ribbon around the queue I recognized as that of Captain Wells, I dragged my fainting steps to one of the wigwams.
"The wife of Wau-bee-nee-mah, a chief from the Illinois River, was standing near, and, seeing my exhausted condition, she seized a kettle, dipped up some water from a stream that flowed near, threw into it some maple-sugar, and, stirring it up with her hand, gave it me to drink. This act of kindness, in the midst of so many horrors, touched me most sensibly; but my attention was soon diverted to other objects.
"The fort had become a scene of plunder to such as remained after the troops marched out. The cattle had been shot down as they ran at large, and lay dead or dying around. This work of butchery had commenced just as we were leaving the fort. I well remembered a remark of Ensign Ronan, as the firing went on. 'Such,' turning to me, 'is to be our fate—to be shot down like brutes!'
"'Well, sir,' said the commanding officer, who overheard him, 'are you afraid?'
"'No,' replied the high-spirited young man, 'I can march up to the enemy where you dare not show your face.' And his subsequent gallant behavior showed this to be no idle boast.
"As the noise of the firing grew gradually less and the stragglers from the victorious party came dropping in, I received confirmation of what my father had hurriedly communicated in our rencontre on the lake shore; namely, that the whites had surrendered, after the loss of about two-thirds of their number. They had stipulated, through the interpreter, Peresh Leclerc, for the preservation of their lives, and those of the remaining women and children, and for their delivery at some of the British posts, unless ransomed by traders in the Indian country. It appears that the wounded prisoners were not considered as included in the stipulation, and a horrid scene ensued upon their being brought into camp.
"An old squaw, infuriated by the loss of friends, or excited by the sanguinary scenes around her, seemed possessed by a demoniac ferocity. She seized a stable-fork and assaulted one miserable victim, who lay groaning and writhing in the agony of his wounds, aggravated by the scorching beams of the sun. With a delicacy of feeling scarcely to have been expected under such circumstances, Wau-bee-nee-mah stretched a mat across two poles, between me and this dreadful scene. I was thus spared in some degree a view of its horrors, although I could not entirely close my ears to the cries of the sufferer The following night five more of the wounded prisoners were tomahawked."
* * * * *
The Americans, it appears, after their first attack by the Indians, charged upon those who had concealed themselves in a sort of ravine, intervening between the sand-banks and the prairie. The latter gathered themselves into a body, and after some hard fighting, in which the number of whites had become reduced to twenty-eight, this little band succeeded in breaking through the enemy, and gaining a rising ground, not far from the Oak Woods. Further contest now seeming hopeless, Lieutenant Helm sent Peresh Leclerc, a half-breed boy in the service of Mr. Kinzie, who had accompanied the detachment and fought manfully on their side, to propose terms of capitulation. It was stipulated that the lives of all the survivors should be spared, and a ransom permitted as soon as practicable.
But in the mean time a horrible scene had been enacted. One young savage, climbing into the baggage-wagon containing the children of the white families, twelve in number, tomahawked the entire group. This was during the engagement near the sand-hills. When Captain Wells, who was fighting near, beheld it, he exclaimed,—
"Is that their game, butchering the women and children? Then I will kill, too!"
So saying, he turned his horse's head, and started for the Indian camp, near the fort, where had been left their squaws and children.
Several Indians pursued him as he galloped along. He laid himself flat on the neck of his horse, loading and firing in that position, as he would occasionally turn on his pursuers. At length their balls took effect, killing his horse, and severely wounding himself. At this moment he was met by Winnemeg and Wau-ban-see, who endeavored to save him from the savages who had now overtaken him. As they supported him along, after having disengaged him from his horse, he received his death-blow from another Indian, Pee-so-tum, who stabbed him in the back.
The heroic resolution of one of the soldiers' wives deserves to be recorded. She was a Mrs. Corbin, and had, from the first, expressed the determination never to fall into the hands of the savages, believing that their prisoners were always subjected to tortures worse than death.
When, therefore, a party came upon her, to make her a prisoner, she fought with desperation, refusing to surrender, although assured, by signs, of safety and kind treatment, and literally suffered herself to be cut to pieces, rather than become their captive.
There was a Sergeant Holt, who, early in the engagement, received a ball in the neck. Finding himself badly wounded, he gave his sword to his wife, who was on horseback near him, telling her to defend herself; he then made for the lake, to keep out of the way of the balls. Mrs. Holt rode a very fine horse, which the Indians were desirous of possessing, and they therefore attacked her, in hopes of dismounting her.
They fought only with the butt-ends of their guns, for their object was not to kill her. She hacked and hewed at their pieces as they were thrust against her, now on this side, now that. Finally, she broke loose from them, and dashed out into the prairie. The Indians pursued her, shouting and laughing, and now and then calling out,—
"The brave woman! do not hurt her!"
At length they overtook her again, and, while she was engaged with two or three in front, one succeeded in seizing her by the neck behind, and dragging her, although a large and powerful woman, from her horse. Notwithstanding that their guns had been so hacked and injured, and even themselves cut severely, they seemed to regard her only with admiration. They took her to a trader on the Illinois River, by whom she was restored to her friends, after having received every kindness during her captivity.
Those of the family of Mr. Kinzie who had remained in the boat, near the mouth of the river, were carefully guarded by Kee-po-tah and another Indian. They had seen the smoke—then the blaze—and immediately after, the report of the first tremendous discharge sounded in their ears. Then all was confusion They realized nothing until they saw an Indian come towards them from the battle-ground, leading a horse on which sat a lady, apparently wounded.
"That is Mrs. Heald," cried Mrs. Kinzie. "That Indian will kill her. Run, Chandonnai," to one of Mr. Kinzie's clerks, "take the mule that is tied there, and offer it to him to release her."
Her captor, by this time, was in the act of disengaging her bonnet from her head, in order to scalp her. Chandonnai ran up, and offered the mule as a ransom, with the promise of ten bottles of whiskey as soon as they should reach his village. The latter was a strong temptation.
"But," said the Indian, "she is badly wounded—she will die. Will you give me the whiskey at all events?"
Chandonnai promised that he would, and the bargain was concluded. The savage placed the lady's bonnet on his own head, and, after an ineffectual effort on the part of some squaws to rob her of her shoes and stockings, she was brought on board the boat, where she lay moaning with pain from the many bullet-wounds she had received in both arms.
The horse Mrs. Heald had ridden was a fine, spirited animal, and, being desirous of possessing themselves of it uninjured, the Indians had aimed their shots so as to disable the rider, without injuring her steed.
She had not lain long in the boat, when a young Indian of savage aspect was seen appapproaching buffalo robe was hastily drawn over her, and she was admonished to suppress all sound of complaint, as she valued her life.
The heroic woman remained perfectly silent, while the savage drew near. He had a pistol in his hand, which he rested on the side of the boat, while, with a fearful scowl, he looked pryingly around. Black Jim, one of the servants, who stood in the bow of the boat, seized an axe that lay near, and signed to him that if he shot, he would cleave his skull; telling him that the boat contained only the family of Shaw-nee-aw-kee. Upon this, the Indian retired. It afterwards appeared that the object of his search was Mr. Burnett, a trader from St. Joseph's, with whom he had some account to settle.
When the boat was at length permitted to return to the mansion of Mr. Kinzie, and Mrs. Heald was removed to the house, it became necessary to dress her wounds.
Mr. K. applied to an old chief who stood by, and who, like most of his tribe, possessed some skill in surgery, to extract a ball from the arm of the sufferer.
"No, father," replied he. "I cannot do it—it makes me sick here"—(placing his hand on his heart.)
Mr. Kinzie then performed the operation himself, with his penknife.
At their own mansion the family of Mr. Kinzie were closely guarded by their Indian friends, whose intention it was to carry them to Detroit for security. The rest of the prisoners remained at the wigwams of their captors.
The following morning, the work of plunder being completed, the Indians set fire to the fort. A very equitable distribution of the finery appeared to have been made, and shawls, ribbons, and feathers fluttered about in all directions. The ludicrous appearance of one young fellow, who had arrayed himself in a muslin gown and the bonnet of one of the ladies, would, under other circumstances, have afforded matter of amusement.
Black Partridge, Wau-ban-see, and Kee-po-tah, with two other Indians, having established themselves in the porch of the building as sentinels, to protect the family from any evil that the young men might be excited to commit, all remained tranquil for a short space after the conflagration.
Very soon, however, a party of Indians from the Wabash made their appearance. These were, decidedly, the most hostile and implacable of all the tribes of the Pottowattamies.
Being more remote, they had shared less than some of their brethren in the kindness of Mr. Kinzie and his family, and consequently their sentiments of regard for them were less powerful.
Runners had been sent to the villages to apprise them of the intended evacuation of the post, as well as of the plan of the Indians assembled to attack the troops.
Thirsting to participate in such a scene, they hurried on; and great was their mortification, on arriving at the river Aux Plaines, to meet with a party of their friends having with them their chief Nee-scot-nee-meg, badly wounded, and to learn that the battle was over, the spoils divided, and the scalps all taken.
On arriving at Chicago they blackened their faces, and proceeded towards the dwelling of Mr. Kinzie.
From his station on the piazza Black Partridge had watched their approach, and his fears were particularly awakened for the safety of Mrs. Helm (Mr. Kinzie's step-daughter), who had recently come to the post, and was personally unknown to the more remote Indians. By his advice she was made to assume the ordinary dress of a Frenchwoman of the country; namely, a short gown and petticoat, with a blue cotton handkerchief wrapped around her head. In this disguise she was conducted by Black Partridge himself to the house of Ouilmette, a Frenchman with a half-breed wife, who formed a part of the establishment of Mr. Kinzie and whose dwelling was close at hand.
It so happened that the Indians came first to this house, in their search for prisoners. As they approached, the inmates, fearful that the fair complexion and general appearance of Mrs. Helm might betray her for an American, raised a large feather bed and placed her under the edge of it, upon the bedstead, with her face to the wall. Mrs. Bisson, a half-breed, the sister of Ouilmette's wife, then seated herself with her sewing upon the front of the bed.
It was a hot day in August, and the feverish excitement of fear and agitation, together with her position, which was nearly suffocating, became so intolerable, that Mrs. Helm at length entreated to be released and given up to the Indians.
"I can but die," said she; "let them put an end to my misery at once."
Mrs. Bisson replied, "Your death would be the destruction of us all, for Black Partridge has resolved that if one drop of the blood of your family is spilled, he will take the lives of all concerned in it, even his nearest friends; and if once the work of murder commences, there will be no end of it, so long as there remains one white person or half-breed in the country."
This expostulation nerved Mrs. Helm with fresh resolution.
The Indians entered, and she could occasionally see them from her hiding-place, gliding about, and stealthily inspecting every part of the room, though without making any ostensible search, until, apparently satisfied that there was no one concealed, they left the house.
All this time Mrs. Bisson had kept her seat upon the side of the bed, calmly sorting and arranging the patch-work of the quilt on which she was engaged, and preserving an appearance of the utmost tranquillity, although she knew not but that the next moment she might receive a tomahawk in her brain. Her self-command unquestionably saved the lives of all present.
From Ouilmette's house the party of Indians proceeded to the dwelling of Mr. Kinzie. They entered the parlor in which the family were assembled with their faithful protectors, and seated themselves upon the floor in silence. Black Partridge perceived from their moody and revengeful looks what was passing in their minds, but he dared not remonstrate with them. He only observed in a low tone to Wau-ban-see,—
"We have endeavored to save our friends, but it is in vain—nothing will save them now."
At this moment a friendly whoop was heard from a party of new-comers on the opposite bank of the river. Black Partridge sprang to meet their leader, as the canoes in which they had hastily embarked touched the bank near the house.
"Who are you?" demanded he.
"A man. Who are you?"
"A man like yourself. But tell me who you are,"—meaning, Tell me your disposition, and which side you are for.
"I am a Sau-ga-nash!"
"Then make all speed to the house—your friend is in danger, and you alone can save him."
Billy Caldwell for it was he, entered the parlor with a calm step, and without a trace of agitation in his manner. He deliberately took off his accoutrements and placed them with his rifle behind the door, then saluted the hostile savages.
"How now, my friends! A good-day to you. I was told there were enemies here, but I am glad to find only friends. Why have you blackened your faces? Is it that you are mourning for the friends you have lost in battle?" (purposely misunderstanding this token of evil designs.)
"Or is it that you are fasting? If so, ask our friend, here, and he will give you to eat. He is the Indian's friend, and never yet refused them what they had need of."
Thus taken by surprise, the savages were ashamed to acknowledge their bloody purpose. They, therefore, said modestly that they came to beg of their friends some white cotton in which to wrap their dead before interring them. This was given to them, with some other presents, and they took their departure peaceably from the premises.
Along with Mr. Kinzie's party was a non-commissioned officer who had made his escape in a singular manner. As the troops were about leaving the fort, it was found that the baggage-horses of the surgeon had strayed off. The quartermaster-sergeant, Griffith, was sent to collect them and bring them on, it being absolutely necessary to recover them, since their packs contained part of the surgeon's apparatus, and the medicines for the march.
This man had been for a long time on the sick report and for this reason was given the charge of the baggage, instead of being placed with the troops. His efforts to recover the horses being unsuccessful, he was hastening to rejoin his party, alarmed at some appearances of disorder and hostile indications among the Indians, when he was met and made prisoner by To-pee-nee-bee.
Having taken from him his arms and accoutrements, the chief put him into a canoe and paddled him across the river, bidding him make for the woods and secrete himself. This he did; and the following day, in the afternoon, seeing from his lurking-place that all appeared quiet, he ventured to steal cautiously into the garden of Ouilmette, where he concealed himself for a time behind some currant-bushes.
At length he determined to enter the house, and accordingly climbed up through a small back window into the room where the family were. This was just as the Wabash Indians had left the house of Ouilmette for that of Mr. Kinzie. The danger of the sergeant was now imminent. The family stripped him of his uniform and arrayed him in a suit of deer-skin, with belt, moccasins, and pipe, like a French engage. His dark complexion and large black whiskers favored the disguise. The family were all ordered to address him in French, and, although utterly ignorant of the language, he continued to pass for a Weem-tee-gosh, and as such to accompany Mr. Kinzie and his family, undetected by his enemies, until they reached a place of safety.
On the third day after the battle, the family of Mr. Kinzie, with the clerks of the establishment, were put into a boat, under the care of Francois, a half-breed interpreter, and conveyed to St. Joseph's, where they remained until the following November, under the protection of To-pee-nee-bee's band. They were then conducted to Detroit, under the escort of Chandonnai and their trusty Indian friend, Kee-po-tah, and delivered up, as prisoners of war, to Colonel McKee, the British Indian Agent.
Mr. Kinzie was not allowed to leave St. Joseph's with his family, his Indian friends insisting on his remaining and endeavoring to secure some remnant of his scattered property. During his excursions with them for that purpose, he wore the costume and paint of the tribe, in order to escape capture and perhaps death at the hands of those who were still thirsting for blood. In time, however, his anxiety for his family induced him to follow them to Detroit, where, in the month of January, he was received and paroled by General Proctor.
Captain and Mrs. Heald were sent across the lake to St. Joseph the day after the battle. The former had received two wounds, the latter seven, in the engagement.
Lieutenant Helm, who was likewise wounded, was carried by some friendly Indians to their village on the Au Sable, and thence to Peoria, where he was liberated by the intervention of Mr. Thomas Forsyth, the half-brother of Mr. Kinzie. Mrs. Helm accompanied her parents to St. Joseph, where they resided in the family of Alexander Robinson, receiving from them all possible kindness and hospitality for several months.
After their arrival in Detroit, Mrs. Helm was joined by her husband, when they were both arrested by order of the British commander, and sent on horseback, in the dead of winter, through Canada to Fort George, on the Niagara frontier. When they arrived at that post, there had been no official appointed to receive them, and, notwithstanding their long and fatiguing journey in weather the most cold and inclement, Mrs. Helm, a delicate woman of seventeen years, was permitted to sit waiting in her saddle, outside the gate, for more than an hour, before the refreshment of fire or food, or even the shelter of a roof, was offered them. When Colonel Sheaffe, who had been absent at the time, was informed of this brutal inhospitality, he expressed the greatest indignation. He waited on Mrs. Helm immediately, apologized in the most courteous manner, and treated both her and Lieutenant Helm with the most considerate kindness, until, by an exchange of prisoners, they were liberated, and found means to reach their friends in Steuben County, N.Y.
Captain Heald had been taken prisoner by an Indian from the Kankakee, who had a strong personal regard for him, and who, when he saw the wounded and enfeebled state of Mrs. Heald, released her husband that he might accompany his wife to St. Joseph. To the latter place they were accordingly carried, as has been related, by Chandonnai and his party. In the mean time, the Indian who had so nobly released his prisoner returned to his village on the Kankakee, where he had the mortification of finding that his conduct had excited great dissatisfaction among his band. So great was the displeasure manifested, that he resolved to make a journey to St. Joseph and reclaim his prisoner.
News of his intention being brought to To-pee-nee-bee and Kee-po-tah, under whose care the prisoners were, they held a private council with Chandonnai, Mr. Kinzie, and the principal men of the village, the result of which was a determination to send Captain and Mrs. Heald to the island of Mackinac, and deliver them up to the British.
They were accordingly put in a bark canoe, and paddled by Robinson and his wife a distance of three hundred miles along the coast of Michigan, and surrendered as prisoners of war to the commanding officer at Mackinac.
As an instance of the procrastinating spirit of Captain Heald, it may be mentioned that, even after he had received certain intelligence that his Indian captor was on his way from the Kankakee to St. Joseph to retake him, he would still have delayed another day at that place, to make preparation for a more comfortable journey to Mackinac.
The soldiers, with their wives and surviving children, were dispersed among the different villages of the Pottowattamies upon the Illinois, Wabash, Rock River, and at Milwaukie, until the following spring, when they were, for the most part, carried to Detroit and ransomed.
Mrs. Burns, with her infant, became the prisoner of a chief, who carried her to his village and treated her with great kindness. His wife, from jealousy of the favor shown to "the white woman" and her child, always treated them with great hostility. On one occasion she struck the infant with a tomahawk, and narrowly missed her aim of putting an end to it altogether. They were not left long in the power of the old hag after this demonstration, but on the first opportunity were carried to a place of safety.
The family of Mr. Lee had resided in a house on the Lake shore, not far from the fort. Mr. Lee was the owner of Lee's Place, which he cultivated as a farm. It was his son who ran down with the discharged soldier to give the alarm of "Indians," at the fort, on the afternoon of the 7th of April. The father, the son, and all the other members of the family had fallen victims on the 15th of August, except Mrs. Lee and her young infant. These were claimed by Black Partridge, and carried to his village on the Au Sable. He had been particularly attached to a little girl of Mrs. Lee's, about twelve years of age. This child had been placed on horseback for the march; and, as she was unaccustomed to the exercise, she was tied fast to the saddle, lest by any accident she should slip off or be thrown.
She was within reach of the balls at the commencement of the engagement, and was severely wounded. The horse set off on a full gallop, which partly threw her, but she was held fast by the bands which confined her, and hung dangling as the animal ran violently about. In this state she was met by Black Partridge, who caught the horse and disengaged her from the saddle. Finding her so much wounded that she could not recover, and that she was suffering great agony, he put the finishing stroke to her at once with his tomahawk. He afterwards said that this was the hardest thing he ever tried to do, but he did it because he could not bear to see her suffer.
He took the mother and her infant to his village, where he became warmly attached to the former—so much so, that he wished to marry her; but, as she very naturally objected, he treated her with the greatest respect and consideration. He was in no hurry to release her, for he was in hopes of prevailing on her to become his wife. In the course of the winter her child fell ill. Finding that none of the remedies within their reach were effectual, Black Partridge proposed to take the little one to Chicago, where there was now a French trader living in the mansion of Mr. Kinzie, and procure some medical aid from him. Wrapping up his charge with the greatest care, he set out on his journey.
When he arrived at the residence of M. Du Pin, he entered the room where he was, and carefully placed his burden on the floor.
"What have you there?" asked M. Du Pin.
"A young raccoon, which I have brought you as a present," was the reply; and, opening the pack, he showed the little sick infant.
When the trader had prescribed for its complaint, and Black Partridge was about to return to his home, he told his friend of the proposal he had made to Mrs. Lee to become his wife, and the manner in which it had been received.
M. Du Pin, entertaining some fears that the chief's honorable resolution to leave it to the lady herself whether to accept his addresses or not, might not hold out, entered at once into a negotiation for her ransom, and so effectually wrought upon the good feelings of Black Partridge that he consented to bring his fair prisoner at once to Chicago, that she might be restored to her friends.
Whether the kind trader had at the outset any other feeling in the matter than sympathy and brotherly kindness, we cannot say; we only know that in process of time Mrs. Lee became Madame Du Pin, and that the worthy couple lived together in great happiness for many years after.
The fate of Nau-non-gee, one of the chiefs of the Calumet village, and who is mentioned in the early part of the narrative, deserves to be recorded.
Daring the battle of the 15th of August, the chief object of his attack was one Sergeant Hays, a man from whom he had received many acts of kindness.
After Hays had received a ball through the body, this Indian ran up to him to tomahawk him, when the sergeant, collecting his remaining strength, pierced him through the body with his bayonet. They fell together. Other Indians running up soon dispatched Hays, and it was not until then that his bayonet was extracted from the body of his adversary.
The wounded chief was carried after the battle to his village on the Calumet, where he survived for several days. Finding his end approaching, he called together his young men, and enjoined them, in the most solemn manner, to regard the safety of their prisoners after his death, and to take the lives of none of them from respect to his memory, as he deserved his fate from the hands of those whose kindness he had so ill requited.
CAPTIVITY OF J. KINZIE, SEN.—AN AMUSING MISTAKE.
It had been a stipulation of General Hull at the surrender of Detroit, which took place the day after the massacre at Chicago, that the inhabitants should be permitted to remain undisturbed in their homes. Accordingly, the family of Mr. Kinzie took up their quarters with their friends in the old mansion, which many will still recollect as standing on the northwest corner of Jefferson Avenue and Wayne Street.
The feelings of indignation and sympathy were constantly aroused in the hearts of the citizens during the winter that ensued. They were almost daily called upon to witness the cruelties practised upon the American prisoners brought in by their Indian captors. Those who could scarcely drag their wounded, bleeding feet over the frozen ground, were compelled to dance for the amusement of the savages; and these exhibitions sometimes took place before the Government House, the residence of Colonel McKee. Some of the British officers looked on from their windows at these heart-rending performances; for the honor of humanity, we will hope such instances were rare.
Everything that could be made available among the effects of the citizens was offered, to ransom their countrymen from the hands of these inhuman beings. The prisoners brought in from the River Raisin—those unfortunate men who were permitted, after their surrender to General Proctor, to be tortured and murdered by inches by his savage allies—excited the sympathies and called for the action of the whole community. Private houses were turned into hospitals, and every one was forward to get possession of as many as possible of the survivors. To effect this, even the articles of their apparel were bartered by the ladies of Detroit, as they watched from their doors or windows the miserable victims carried about for sale.
In the dwelling of Mr. Kinzie one large room was devoted to the reception of the sufferers. Few of them survived. Among those spoken of as objects of the deepest interest were two young gentlemen of Kentucky, brothers, both severely wounded, and their wounds aggravated to a mortal degree by subsequent ill usage and hardships. Their solicitude for each other, and their exhibition in various ways of the most tender fraternal affection, created an impression never to be forgotten.
The last bargain made was by black Jim, and one of the children, who had permission to redeem a negro servant of the gallant Colonel Allen, with an old white horse, the only available article that remained among their possessions.
A brother of Colonel Allen afterwards came to Detroit, and the negro preferred returning to servitude rather than remaining a stranger in a strange land.
Mr. Kinzie, as has been related, joined his family at Detroit in the month of January. A short time after, suspicions arose in the mind of General Proctor that he was in correspondence with General Harrison, who was now at Fort Meigs, and who was believed to be meditating an advance upon Detroit. Lieutenant Watson, of the British army, waited upon Mr. Kinzie one day with an invitation to the quarters of General Proctor on the opposite side of the river, saying he wished to speak with him, on business. Quite unsuspicious, he complied with the invitation, when to his surprise he was ordered into confinement, and strictly guarded in the house of his former partner, Mr. Patterson, of Sandwich. Finding that he did not return to his home, Mrs. Kinzie informed some of the Indian chiefs, his particular friends, who immediately repaired to the head-quarters of the commanding officer, demanded "their friend's" release, and brought him back to his home. After waiting a time until a favorable opportunity presented itself, the General sent a detachment of dragoons to arrest Mr. Kinzie. They had succeeded in carrying him away, and crossing the river with him. Just at this moment a party of friendly Indians made their appearance.
"Where is the Shaw-nee-aw-kee?" was the first question.
"There," replied his wife, pointing across the river, "in the hands of the red-coats, who are taking him away again."
The Indians ran to the river, seized some canoes that they found there, and, crossing over to Sandwich, compelled General Proctor a second time to forego his intentions.
A third time this officer made the attempt, and succeeded in arresting Mr. Kinzie and conveying him heavily ironed to Fort Malden, in Canada, at the mouth of the Detroit River. Here he was at first treated with great severity, but after a time the rigor of his confinement was somewhat relaxed, and he was permitted to walk on the bank of the river for air and exercise.
On the 10th of September, as he was taking his promenade under the close supervision of a guard of soldiers, the whole party were startled by the sound of guns upon Lake Erie, at no great distance below. What could it mean? It must be Commodore Barclay firing into some of the Yankees. The firing continued. The time allotted the prisoner for his daily walk expired, but neither he nor his guard observed the lapse of time, so anxiously were they listening to what they now felt sure was an engagement between ships of war. At length Mr. Kinzie was reminded that the hour for his return to confinement had arrived. He petitioned for another half-hour.
"Let me stay," said he, "till we can learn how the battle has gone."
Very soon a sloop appeared under press of sail, rounding the point, and presently two gun-boats in chase of her.
"She is running—she bears the British colors," cried he—"yes, yes, they are lowering—she is striking her flag! Now," turning to the soldiers, "I will go back to prison contented—I know how the battle has gone."
The sloop was the Little Belt, the last of the squadron captured by the gallant Perry on that memorable occasion which he announced in the immortal words:
"We have met the enemy, and they are ours!"
Matters were growing critical, and it was necessary to transfer all prisoners to a place of greater security than the frontier was now likely to be. It was resolved therefore to send Mr. Kinzie to the mother-country. Nothing has ever appeared which would explain the course of General Proctor in regard to this gentleman. He had been taken from the bosom of his family, where he was living quietly under the parole which he had received, and protected by the stipulations of the surrender. He was kept for months in confinement. Now he was placed on horseback under a strong guard, who announced that they had orders to shoot him through the head if he offered to speak to a person upon the road. He was tied upon the saddle to prevent his escape, and thus they set out for Quebec. A little incident occurred, which will help to illustrate the course invariably pursued towards our citizens, at this period, by the British army on the Northwestern frontier.
The saddle on which Mr. Kinzie rode had not been properly fastened, and, owing to the rough motion of the animal on which it was, it turned, so as to bring the rider into a most awkward and painful position. His limbs being fastened, he could not disengage himself, and in this manner he was compelled by those who had charge of him to ride until he was nearly exhausted, before they had the humanity to release him.
Arrived at Quebec, he was put on board a small vessel to be sent to England. The vessel when a few days out at sea was chased by an American frigate and driven into Halifax. A second time she set sail, when she sprung a leak and was compelled to put back.
The attempt to send him across the ocean was now abandoned, and he was returned to Quebec. Another step, equally inexplicable with his arrest, was soon after taken. This was, his release and that of Mr. Macomb, of Detroit, who was also in confinement in Quebec, and the permission given them to return to their friends and families, although the war was not yet ended. It may possibly be imagined that in the treatment these gentlemen received, the British commander-in-chief sheltered himself under the plea of their being "native-born British subjects," and perhaps when it was ascertained that Mr. Kinzie was indeed a citizen of the United States it was thought safest to release him.
In the mean time, General Harrison at the head of his troops had reached Detroit. He landed on the 29th of September. All the citizens went forth to meet him—Mrs. Kinzie, leading her children by the hand, was of the number. The General accompanied her to her home, and took up his abode there. On his arrival he was introduced to Kee-po-tah, who happened to be on a visit to the family at that time. The General had seen the chief the preceding year, at the Council at Vincennes, and the meeting was one of great cordiality and interest.
* * * * *
In 1816, Mr. Kinzie and his family again returned to Chicago. The fort was rebuilt on a somewhat larger scale than the former one. It was not until the return of the troops that the bones of the unfortunate Americans who had been massacred four years before, were collected and buried.
An Indian Agency, under the charge of Charles Jewett, Esq., of Kentucky, was established. He was succeeded in 1820 by Dr. Alexander Wolcott, of Connecticut, who occupied that position until his death in 1830.
The troops were removed from the garrison in 1823, but restored in 1828, after the Winnebago war. This was a disturbance between the Winnebagoes and white settlers on and near the Mississippi. After some murders had been committed, the young chief, Red Bird, was taken and imprisoned at Prairie du Chien to await his trial, where he committed suicide in consequence of chagrin and the irksomeness of confinement. It was feared that the Pottowattamies would make common cause with the Winnebagoes, and commence a general system of havoc and bloodshed on the frontier. They were deterred from such a step, probably, by the exertions of Billy Caldwell, Robinson, and Shaw-bee-nay, who made an expedition among the Rock River bands, to argue and persuade them into remaining tranquil.
The few citizens of Chicago in those days, lived for the most part a very quiet, unvaried life. The great abundance of game, and the immense fertility of the lands they cultivated, furnished them with a superabundance of all the luxuries of garden, corn-field, and dairy The question was once asked by a friend in the "East countrie,"
"How do you dispose of all the good things you raise? You have no market?" "No." "And you cannot consume them all yourselves?" "No." "What then do you do with them?"
"Why, we manage, when a vessel arrives, to persuade the captain to accept a few kegs of butter, and stores of corn and vegetables, as a present, and that helps us to get rid of some of our overplus."
The mails arrived, as may be supposed, at very rare intervals. They were brought occasionally from Fort Clark (Peoria), but more frequently from Fort Wayne, or across the peninsula of Michigan, which was still a wilderness peopled with savages. The hardy adventurer who acted as express was, not unfrequently, obliged to imitate the birds of heaven and "lodge among the branches," in order to insure the safety of himself and his charge.
Visitors were very rare, unless it was a friend who came to sojourn for several months and share a life in the wilderness. A traveller, however, occasionally found his way to the spot, in passing to or from "parts unknown," and such a one was sure of a hospitable and hearty welcome.
A gentleman journeying from the southern settlements once arrived late in the evening at Wolf Point, where was then the small trading-establishment of George Hunt and a Mr. Wallace. He stopped and inquired if he could have accommodation for the night for himself and his horse. The answer was, that they were ill provided to entertain a stranger—the house was small, and they were keeping "bachelor's hall."
"Is there no place," inquired the traveller, "where I can obtain a lodging?"
"Oh, yes—you will find a very comfortable house, Mr. Kinzie's, about half a mile below, near the mouth of the river."
The stranger turned his horse's head and took the road indicated. Arrived at the spot, his first inquiry was,—
"Is this the residence of Mr. Kinzie?"
"I should be glad to get accommodation for myself and horse."
"Certainly, sir—walk in."
The horse was taken to the stable, while the gentleman was ushered into a parlor where were two ladies. The usual preliminary questions and answers were gone through, for in a new country people soon become acquainted, and the gentleman ere long found himself seated at a comfortable hot supper—we will venture to say a fine supper, since the table in this domestic establishment has always been somewhat famous.
Apparently, the gentleman enjoyed it, for he made himself quite at home. He even called for a boot-jack after tea, and drew off his boots. The ladies were a little surprised, but they had lived a good while out of the world, and they did not know what changes in etiquette might have taken place during their retirement.
Before taking his leave for the night, the traveller signified what it would please him to have for breakfast, which was duly prepared. The next day proved stormy. The gentleman was satisfied with his quarters, and, having taken care to ascertain that there was no neglect or deficiency of accommodation so far as his horse was concerned, he got through the day very comfortably.
Now and then, when he was tired of reading, he would converse with the family, and seemed, upon the whole, by no means disposed to hold himself aloof, but to indulge in a little becoming sociability, seeing they were all there away in the woods.
The second day the weather brightened. The traveller signified his intention to depart. He ordered his horse to the door—then he called for his bill.
"My house is not a tavern, sir," was the astounding reply.
"Not a tavern! Good heavens! have I been making myself at home in this manner in a private family?"
He was profuse in his apologies, which, however, were quite unnecessary, for the family had perceived from the first the mistake he had fallen into, and they had amused themselves during his whole visit in anticipating the consternation of their guest when he should be undeceived.
* * * * *
It was in the year 1816 (the year of the rebuilding of the fort, after its destruction by the Indians) that the tract of land on which Chicago stands, together with the surrounding country, was ceded to the United States by the Pottowattamies. They remained the peaceful occupants of it, however, for twenty years longer. It was not until 1836 that they were removed by Government to lands appropriated for their use on the Upper Missouri.
In the year 1830 the town of Chicago was laid out into lots by Commissioners appointed by the State. At this time the prices of these lots ranged from ten to sixty dollars.
* * * * *
Mr. Kinzie, who, from the geographical position of this place, and the vast fertility of the surrounding country, had always foretold its eventual prosperity and importance, was not permitted to witness the realization of his predictions. He closed his useful and energetic life on the 6th of January, 1828, having just completed his sixty-fifth year.
Chicago was not, at the period of my first visit, the cheerful, happy place it had once been. The death of Dr. Wolcott, of Lieutenant Furman, and of a promising young son of Mr. Beaubien, all within a few weeks of each other, had thrown a gloom over the different branches of the social circle.
The weather, too, was inclement and stormy beyond anything that had been known before. Only twice, during a period of two months, did the sun shine out through the entire day. So late as the second week in April, when my husband had left to return to Fort Winnebago, the storms were so severe that he and his men were obliged to lie by two or three days in an Indian lodge.
Robert Kinzie, Medard Beaubien, and Billy Caldwell had gone at the same time to the Calumet to hunt, and, as they did not make their appearance for many days, we were persuaded they had perished with cold. They returned at length, however, to our infinite joy, having only escaped freezing by the forethought of Robert and Caldwell in carrying each two blankets instead of one.
Our only recreation was an occasional ride on horseback, when the weather would permit, through the woods on the north side of the river, or across the prairie, along the lake shore on the south.
When we went in the former direction, a little bridle-path took us along what is now Rush Street. The thick boughs of the trees arched over our heads, and we were often compelled, as we rode, to break away the projecting branches of the shrubs which impeded our path. The little prairie west of Wright's Woods was the usual termination of our ride in this direction.
When we chose the path across the prairie towards the south, we generally passed a new-comer, Dr. Harmon, superintending the construction of a sod fence, at a spot he had chosen, near the shore of the lake. In this inclosure he occupied himself, as the season advanced, in planting fruit-stones of all descriptions, to make ready a garden and orchard for future enjoyment.
We usually stopped to have a little chat. The two favorite themes of the Doctor were horticulture, and the certain future importance of Chicago. That it was destined to be a great city, was his unalterable conviction; and in deed, by this time, all forest and prairie as it was, we half began to believe it ourselves.
On the pleasant afternoons which we occasionally enjoyed as the season advanced, we found no small amusement in practising pistol-firing. The place appropriated to this sport was outside the pickets, the mark being placed on a panel in one of the bastions. The gentlemen must not be offended if I record that, in process of time, the ladies acquired a degree of skill that enabled them, as a general thing, to come off triumphant. One of the ladies, Mrs. Hunter, was a great shot, having brought down her grouse on the wing, to the no small delight of one of the officers, Captain Martin Scott, of raccoon celebrity.
Now and then there was a little excitement within the fort, aroused by the discovery that a settler had been engaged in selling milk-punch, instead of milk, to the soldiers, thereby interfering in no small degree with the regularity and perfect discipline of the service. The first step was to "drum out" the offender with all the honors of war—that is, with a party-colored dress, and the Rogue's March played behind him. The next, to place all the victims of this piece of deception in the guard-house, where the commanding officer's lady supplied them bountifully with coffee and hot cakes, by way of opening their eyes to the enormity of their offence. It is not to be wondered at that the officers sometimes complained of its being more of a strife with the soldiers who should get into the guard-house, than who should keep out of it. The poor fellows knew when they were well off.
Once, upon a Sunday, we were rowed up to Wolf Point to attend a religious service, conducted by Father See, as he was called.
We saw a tall, slender man, dressed in a green frock-coat, from the sleeves of which dangled a pair of hands giving abundant evidence, together with the rest of his dress, that he placed small faith in the axiom—"cleanliness is a part of holiness."
He stepped briskly upon a little platform behind a table, and commenced his discourse. His subject was, "The fear of God."
"There was a kind of fear," he told us, "that was very nearly alee-a-nated to love: so nearly, that it was not worth while splitting hairs for the difference." He then went on to describe this kind of fear. He grew more and more involved as he proceeded with his description until at length, quite bewildered, he paused, and exclaimed, "Come, let's stop a little while, and clear away the brush." He unravelled, as well as he was able, the tangled thread of his ideas, and went on with his subject. But soon, again losing his way, he came to a second halt. "Now," said he, wiping the perspiration from his forehead with a red cotton handkerchief many degrees from clean, "now, suppose we drive back a little piece." Thus he recapitulated what he wished to impress upon us, of the necessity of cherishing a fear that maketh wise unto salvation, "which fear," said he, "may we all enjoy, that together we may soar away, on the rolling clouds of aether, to a boundless and happy eternity, which is the wish of your humble servant." And, flourishing abroad his hands, with the best of dancing-school bows, he took his seat.
It will be readily imagined that we felt our own religious exercises at home to be more edifying than such as this, and that we confined ourselves to them for the future.
The return of our brother, Robert Kinzie, from Palestine (not the Holy Land, but the seat of the Land Office), with the certificate of the title of the family to that portion of Chicago since known as "Kinzie's Addition," was looked upon as establishing a home for us at some future day, if the glorious dreams of good Dr. Harmon, and a few others, should come to be realized. One little incident will show how moderate were the anticipations of most persons at that period.
The certificate, which was issued in Robert's name (he representing the family in making the application), described only a fractional quarter-section of one hundred and two acres, instead of one hundred and sixty acres, the river and Lake Michigan cutting off fifty-eight acres on the southern and eastern lines of the quarter. The applicants had liberty to select their complement of fifty-eight acres out of any unappropriated land that suited them.
"Now, my son," said his mother to Robert, "lay your claim on the corn-field at Wolf Point. It is fine land, and will always be valuable for cultivation; besides, as it faces down the main river, the situation will always be a convenient one."
The answer was a hearty laugh. "Hear mother!" said Robert. "We have just got a hundred and two acres—more than we shall ever want, or know what to do with, and now she would have me go and claim fifty-eight acres more!"
"Take my advice, my boy," repeated his mother, "or you may live one day to regret it."
"Well, I cannot see how I can ever regret not getting more than we can possibly make use of." And so the matter ended. The fifty-eight acres were never claimed, and there was, I think, a very general impression that asking for our just rights in the case would have a very grasping, covetous look. How much wiser five-and-twenty years have made us!
* * * * *
During my sojourn of two months at Chicago, our mother often entertained me with stories of her early life and adventures. The following is her history of her captivity among the Senecas, which I have put in the form of a tale, although without the slightest variation from the facts as I received them from her lips, and those of her sister, Mrs. William Forsyth, of Sandwich (C.W.), the little Maggie of the story.
It is well known that previous to the war of the Revolution the whole of the western portion of Pennsylvania was inhabited by different Indian tribes. Of these, the Delawares were the friends of the whites, and, after the commencement of the great struggle, took part with the United States. The Iroquois, on the contrary, were the friends and allies of the mother-country.
Very few white settlers had ventured beyond the Susquehanna. The numerous roving bands of Shawanoes, Nanticokes, etc., although at times professing friendship with the Americans and acting in concert with the Delawares or Lenape as allies, at others suffered themselves to be seduced by their neighbors, the Iroquois, to show a most sanguinary spirit of hostility.
For this reason, the life of the inhabitants of the frontier was one of constant peril and alarm. Many a scene of dismal barbarity was enacted, as the history of the times testifies, and even those who felt themselves in some measure protected by their immediate neighbors, the Delawares, never lost sight of the caution required by their exposed situation.
The vicinity of the military garrison at Pittsburg—or Fort Pitt, as it was then called—gave additional security to those who had pushed farther west, among the fertile valleys of the Alleghany and Monongahela. Among these were the family of Mr. Lytle, who, some years previous to the opening of our story, had removed from Baltimore to Path Valley, near Carlisle, and subsequently settled himself on the banks of Plum River, a tributary of the Alleghany. Here, with his wife and five children, he had continued to live in comfort and security, undisturbed by any hostile visit, and only annoyed by occasional false alarms from his more timorous neighbors, who, having had more experience in frontier life, were prone to anticipate evil, as well as to magnify every appearance of danger.
* * * * *
On a bright afternoon in the autumn of 1779, two children of Mr. Lytle, a girl of nine, and her brother, two years younger, were playing in a little dingle or hollow in the rear of their father's house. Some large trees, which had been recently felled, were lying here and there, still untrimmed of their branches, and many logs, prepared for fuel, were scattered around. Upon one of these the children, wearied with their sports, seated themselves, and to beguile the time they fell into conversation upon a subject that greatly perplexed them.
While playing in the same place a few hours previous, they had imagined they saw an Indian lurking behind one of the fallen trees. The Indians of the neighborhood were in the habit of making occasional visits to the family, and they had become familiar and even affectionate with many of them, but this seemed a stranger, and after the first hasty glance they fled in alarm to the house.
Their mother chid them for the report they brought, which she endeavored to convince them was without foundation. "You know," said she, "you are always alarming us unnecessarily: the neighbors' children have frightened you to death. Go back to your play, and learn to be more courageous."
So the children returned to their sports, hardly persuaded by their mother's arguments. While they were thus seated upon the trunk of the tree, their discourse was interrupted by the note, apparently, of a quail not far off.
"Listen," said the boy, as a second note answered the first; "do you hear that?"
"Yes," was the reply, and, after a few moments' silence, "do you not hear a rustling among the branches of the tree yonder?"
"Perhaps it is a squirrel—but look! what is that? Surely I saw something red among the branches. It looked like a fawn popping up its head."
At this moment, the children, who had been gazing so intently in the direction of the fallen tree that all other objects were forgotten, felt themselves seized from behind and pinioned in an iron grasp. What were their horror and dismay to find themselves in the arms of savages, whose terrific countenances and gestures plainly showed them to be enemies!
They made signs to the children to be silent, on pain of death, and hurried them off, half dead with terror, in a direction leading from their father's habitation. After travelling some distance in profound silence, the severity of their captors somewhat relaxed, and as night approached the party halted, after adopting the usual precautions to secure themselves against a surprise.
In an agony of uncertainty and terror, torn from their beloved home and parents, and anticipating all the horrors with which the rumors of the times had invested a captivity among the Indians—perhaps even a torturing death—the poor children could no longer restrain their grief, but gave vent to sobs and lamentations.
Their distress appeared to excite the compassion of one of the party, a man of mild aspect, who approached and endeavored to soothe them. He spread them a couch of the long grass which grew near the encamping-place, offered them a portion of his own stock of dried meat and parched corn, and gave them to understand by signs that no farther evil was intended them.
These kindly demonstrations were interrupted by the arrival of another party of the enemy, bringing with them the mother of the little prisoners, with her youngest child, an infant of three months old.
It had so happened that the father of the family, with his serving-men, had gone early in the day to a raising at a few miles' distance, and the house had thus been left without a defender. The long period of tranquillity which they had enjoyed, free from all molestation or alarm from the savages, had thrown the settlers quite off their guard, and they had recently laid aside some of the caution they had formerly deemed necessary.
These Indians, by lying in wait, had found the favorable moment for seizing the defenceless family and making them prisoners. Judging from their paint, and other marks by which the early settlers learned to distinguish the various tribes, Mrs. Lytle conjectured that those into whose hands she and her children had fallen were Senecas. Nor was she mistaken. It was a party of that tribe who had descended from their village with the intention of falling upon some isolated band of their enemies, the Delawares, but failing in this, had made themselves amends by capturing a few white settlers.
It is to be attributed to the generally mild disposition of this tribe, together with the magnanimous character of the chief who accompanied the party, that their prisoners in the present instance escaped the fate of most of the Americans who were so unhappy as to fall into the hands of the Iroquois.
The children learned from their mother that she was profoundly ignorant of the fate of their remaining brother and sister, a boy of six and a little girl of four years of age, but she was in hopes they had made good their escape with the servant-girl, who had likewise disappeared from the commencement.
After remaining a few hours to recruit the exhausted frames of the prisoners, the savages again started on their march, one of the older Indians offering to relieve the mother from the burden of her infant, which she had hitherto carried in her arms. Pleased with the unexpected kindness, she resigned to him her tender charge.
Thus they pursued their way, the savage who carried the infant lingering somewhat behind the rest of the party, until, finding a spot convenient for his purpose, he grasped his innocent victim by the feet, and, with one whirl, to add strength to the blow, dashed out its brains against a tree. Leaving the body upon the spot, he rejoined the party.
The mother, unsuspicious of what had passed, regarded him earnestly as he reappeared without the child—then gazed wildly around on the rest of the group. Her beloved little one was not there. Its absence spoke its fate; but, suppressing the shriek of agony, for she knew that the lives of the remaining ones depended upon her firmness in that trying hour, she drew them yet closer to her and pursued her melancholy way without a word spoken or a question asked.
From the depths of her heart she cried unto Him who is able to save, and He comforted her with hopes of deliverance for the surviving ones, for she saw that if blood had been their sole object the scalps of herself and her children would have been taken upon the spot where they were made prisoners.
She read too in the eyes of one who was evidently the commander of the party an expression more merciful than she had even dared to hope. Particularly had she observed his soothing manner and manifest partiality towards her eldest child, the little girl of whom we have spoken, and she built many a bright hope of escape or ransom upon these slender foundations.
After a toilsome and painful march of many days, the party reached the Seneca village, upon the head-waters of the Alleghany, near what is now called Olean Point. On their arrival the chief, their conductor, who was distinguished by the name of the Big White Man led his prisoners to the principal lodge. This was occupied by his mother, the widow of the head-chief of that band, and who was called by them the Old Queen.
On entering her presence, her son presented her the little girl, saying,—
"My mother, I bring you a child to supply the place of my brother, who was killed by the Lenape six moons ago. She shall dwell in my lodge, and be to me a sister. Take the white woman and her children and treat them kindly—our father will give us many horses and guns to buy them back again."
He referred to the British Indian Agent of his tribe, Colonel Johnson, an excellent and benevolent gentleman, who resided at Port Niagara, on the British side of the river of that name.
The old queen fulfilled the injunctions of her son. She received the prisoners, and every comfort was provided them that her simple and primitive mode of life rendered possible.
* * * * *
We must now return to the place and period at which our story commences.
Late in the evening of that day the father returned to his dwelling. All within and around was silent and desolate. No trace of a living creature was to be found throughout the house or grounds. His nearest neighbors lived at a considerable distance, but to them he hastened, frantically demanding tidings of his family.
As he aroused them from their slumbers, one and another joined him in the search, and at length, at the house of one of them, was found the servant-maid who had effected her escape. Her first place of refuge, she said, had been a large brewing-tub in an outer kitchen, under which she had, at the first alarm, secreted herself until the departure of the Indians, who were evidently in haste, gave her an opportunity of fleeing to a place of safety. She could give no tidings of her mistress and the children, except that they had not been murdered in her sight or hearing.
At length, having scoured the neighborhood without success, Mr. Lytle remembered an old settler who lived alone, far up the valley. Thither he and his friends immediately repaired, and from him they learned that, being at work in his field just before sunset, he had seen a party of strange Indians passing at a short distance from his cabin. As they wound along the brow of the hill, he could perceive that they had prisoners with them—a woman and a child. The woman he knew to be a white, as she carried her infant in her arms, instead of upon her back, after the manner of the savages.
Day had now begun to break, for the night had been passed in fruitless searches, and the agonized father, after a consultation with his kind friends and neighbors, accepted their offer to accompany him to Fort Pitt to ask advice and assistance of the commandant and Indian Agent at that place.
Proceeding down the valley, as they approached a hut which the night before they had found apparently deserted, they were startled by observing two children standing upon the high bank in front of it. The delighted father recognized two of his missing flock, but no tidings could they give him of their mother and the other lost ones. Their story was simple and touching.
They were playing in the garden, when they were alarmed by seeing the Indians enter the yard near the house. Unperceived by them, the brother, who was but six years of age, helped his little sister over the fence into a field overrun with bushes of the blackberry and wild raspberry. They concealed themselves among these for awhile, and then, finding all quiet, they attempted to force their way to the side of the field farthest from the house. Unfortunately, the little girl in her play in the garden had pulled off her shoes and stockings, and the briers tearing and wounding her tender feet, she with difficulty could refrain from crying out. Her brother took off his stockings and put them on her feet. He attempted, too, to protect them with his shoes, but they were too large, and kept slipping off, so that she could not wear them. For a time, they persevered in making what they considered their escape from certain death, for, as I have said, the children had been taught, by the tales they had heard, to regard all strange Indians as ministers of torture, and of horrors worse than death. Exhausted with pain and fatigue, the poor little girl at length declared she could go no farther.
"Then, Maggie," said her brother, "I must kill you, for I cannot let you be killed by the Indians."
"Oh, no, Thomas!" pleaded she, "do not, pray do not kill me! I do not think the Indians will find us."
"Oh, yes, they will, Maggie, and I could kill you so much easier than they would.'"
For a long time he endeavored to persuade her, and even looked about for a stick sufficiently large for his purpose; but despair gave the little creature strength, and she promised her brother that she would neither complain nor falter, if he would assist her in making her way out of the field.
The idea of the little boy that he could save his sister from savage barbarity by taking her life himself, shows what tales of horror the children of the early settlers were familiar with.
After a few more efforts, they made their way out of the field, into an uninclosed pasture-ground, where, to their great delight, they saw some cows feeding. They recognized them as belonging to Granny Myers, an old woman who lived at some little distance, but in what direction from the place they then were, they were utterly ignorant.
With a sagacity beyond his years, the boy said,—
"Let us hide ourselves till sunset, when the cows will go home, and we will follow them."
They did so, but, to their dismay, when they reached Granny Myers's they found the house deserted. The old woman had been called by some business down the valley, and did not return that night.
Tired and hungry, they could go no farther, but, after an almost fruitless endeavor to get some milk from the cows, they laid themselves down to sleep under an old bedstead that stood behind the house. Their father and his party had caused them additional terror in the night. The shouts and calls which had been designed to arouse the inmates of the house, they had mistaken for the whoop of the Indians, and, not being able to distinguish friends from foes, they had crept close to one another, as far out of sight as possible. When found the following morning, they were debating what course to take next, for safety.
The commandant at Fort Pitt entered warmly into the affairs of Mr. Lytle, and readily furnished him with a detachment of soldiers, to aid him and his friends in the pursuit of the marauders. Some circumstances having occurred to throw suspicion upon the Senecas, the party soon directed their search among the villages of that tribe.
Their inquiries were prosecuted in various directions, and always with great caution, for all the tribes of the Iroquois, or, as they pompously called themselves, the Five Nations, being allies of Great Britain, were inveterate in their hostility to the Americans. Thus, some time elapsed before the father with his attendants reached the village of the Big White Man.
A treaty was immediately entered into for the ransom of the captives, which was easily accomplished in regard to Mrs. Lytle and the younger child. But no offers, no entreaties, no promises, could procure the release of the little Eleanor, the adopted child of the tribe. "No," the chief said, "she was his sister; he had taken her to supply the place of his brother who was killed by the enemy—she was dear to him, and he would not part with her."
Finding every effort unavailing to shake this resolution, the father was compelled to take his sorrowful departure with such of his beloved ones as he had had the good fortune to recover.
We will not attempt to depict the grief of parents compelled thus to give up a darling child, and to leave her in the hands of savages, whom until now they had too much reason to regard as merciless. But there was no alternative. Commending her to the care of their heavenly Father, and cheered by the manifest tenderness with which she had thus far been treated, they set out on their melancholy journey homeward, trusting that some future effort would be more effectual for the recovery of their little girl.
Having placed his family in safety at Pittsburg, Mr. Lytle, still assisted by the commandant and the Indian Agent, undertook an expedition to the frontier to the residence of the British Agent, Colonel Johnson. His representation of the case warmly interested the feelings of that benevolent officer, who promised him to spare no exertions in his behalf. This promise he religiously performed. He went in person to the village of the Big White Man, as soon as the opening of the spring permitted, and offered him many splendid presents of guns and horses, but the chief was inexorable.
Time rolled on, and every year the hope of recovering the little captive became more faint. She, in the mean time, continued to wind herself more and more closely around the heart of her Indian brother. Nothing could exceed the consideration and affection with which she was treated, not only by himself, but by his mother, the Old Queen. All their stock of brooches and wampum was employed in the decoration of her person. The principal seat and the most delicate viands were invariably reserved for her, and no efforts were spared to promote her happiness, and to render her forgetful of her former home and kindred.
Thus, though she had beheld, with a feeling almost amounting to despair, the departure of her parents and dear little brother, and had for a long time resisted every attempt at consolation, preferring even death to a life of separation from all she loved, yet time, as it ever does, brought its soothing balm, and she at length grew contented and happy.
From her activity and the energy of her character, qualities for which she was remarkable to the latest period of her life, the name was given her of The Ship under full sail.
* * * * *
The only drawback to the happiness of the little prisoner, aside from her longings after her own dear home, was the enmity she encountered from the wife of the Big White Man. This woman, from the day of her arrival at the village, and adoption into the family as a sister, had conceived for her the greatest animosity, which, at first, she had the prudence to conceal from the observation of her husband.
It was perhaps natural that a wife should give way to some feelings of jealousy at seeing her own place in the heart of her husband usurped by the child of their enemy, the American. But these feelings were aggravated by a bad and vindictive temper, and by the indifference with which her husband listened to her complaints and murmurings.
As she had no children of her own to engage her attention, her mind was the more engrossed and inflamed with her fancied wrongs, and with devising means for their redress. An opportunity of attempting the latter was not long wanting.
During the absence of the Big White Man upon some war-party or hunting-excursion, his little sister was taken ill with fever and ague. She was nursed with the utmost tenderness by the Old Queen; and the wife of the chief, to lull suspicion, and thereby accomplish her purpose, was likewise unwearied in her assiduities to the little favorite.
One afternoon, during the temporary absence of the Old Queen, her daughter-in-law entered the lodge with a bowl of something she had prepared, and, stooping down to the mat on which the child lay, said, in an affectionate accent,—
"Drink, my sister, I have brought you that which will drive this fever far from you."
On raising her head to reply, the little girl perceived a pair of eyes peeping through a crevice in the lodge, and fixed upon her with a very peculiar and significant expression. With the quick perception acquired partly from nature and partly from her intercourse with this people, she replied, faintly,—
"Set it down, my sister. When this fit of the fever has passed, I will drink your medicine."
The squaw, too cautious to use importunity, busied herself about in the lodge for a short time, then withdrew to another, near at hand. Meantime, the bright eyes continued peering through the opening, until they had watched their object fairly out of sight; then a low voice, the voice of a young friend and playfellow, spoke:
"Do not drink that which your brother's wife has brought you. She hates you, and is only waiting an opportunity to rid herself of you. I have watched her all the morning, and have seen her gathering the most deadly roots and herbs. I knew for whom they were intended, and came hither to warn you."
"Take the bowl," said the little invalid, "and carry it to my mother's lodge."
This was accordingly done. The contents of the bowl were found to consist principally of a decoction of the root of the May-apple, the most deadly poison known among the Indians.
It is not in the power of language to describe the indignation that pervaded the little community when this discovery was made known. The squaws ran to and fro, as is their custom when excited, each vying with the other in heaping invectives upon the culprit. No further punishment was, however, for the present inflicted upon her, but, the first burst of rage over, she was treated with silent abhorrence.
The little patient was removed to the lodge of the Old Queen, and strictly guarded, while her enemy was left to wander in silence and solitude about the fields and woods, until the return of her husband should determine her punishment.
In a few days, the excursion being over, the Big White Man and his party returned to the village. Contrary to the usual custom of savages, he did not, in his first transport at learning the attempt on the life of his little sister, take summary vengeance on the offender. He contented himself with banishing her from his lodge, never to return, and condemning her to hoe corn in a distant part of the large field or inclosure which served the whole community for a garden.
Although she would still show her vindictive disposition whenever, by chance, the little girl with her companions wandered into that vicinity, by striking at her with her hoe, or by some other spiteful manifestation, yet she was either too well watched, or stood too much in awe of her former husband, to repeat the attempt upon his sister's life.
* * * * *
Four years had now elapsed since the capture of little Nelly. Her heart was by nature warm and affectionate, so that the unbounded tenderness of those she dwelt among had called forth a corresponding feeling in her heart. She regarded the chief and his mother with love and reverence, and had so completely learned their language and customs as almost to have forgotten her own.
So identified had she become with the tribe, that the remembrance of her home and family had nearly faded from her memory; all but her mother—her mother, whom she had loved with a strength of affection natural to her warm and ardent character, and to whom her heart still clung with a fondness that no time or change could destroy.
The peace of 1783 between Great Britain and the United States now took place. A general pacification of the Indian tribes was the consequence, and fresh hopes were renewed in the bosoms of Mr. and Mrs. Lytle.
They removed with their family to Fort Niagara, near which, on the American side, was the Great Council-Fire of the Senecas. Colonel Johnson readily undertook a fresh negotiation with the chief, but, in order to make sure every chance of success, he again proceeded in person to the village of the Big White Man.
His visit was most opportune. It was the "Feast of the Green Corn," when he arrived among them. This observance, which corresponds so strikingly with the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles that, together with other customs, it has led many to believe the Indian nations the descendants of the lost ten tribes of Israel, made it a season of general joy and festivity. All other occupations were suspended to give place to social enjoyment in the open air or in arbors formed of the green branches of the trees. Every one appeared in his gala-dress. That of the little adopted child consisted of a petticoat of blue broadcloth, bordered with gay-colored ribbons; a sack or upper garment of black silk, ornamented with three rows of silver brooches, the centre ones from the throat to the hem being of large size, and those from the shoulders down being no larger than a shilling-piece, and set as closely as possible. Around her neck were innumerable strings of white and purple wampum—an Indian ornament manufactured from the inner surface of the muscle-shell. Her hair was clubbed behind and loaded with beads of various colors. Leggings of scarlet cloth, and moccasins of deer-skin embroidered with porcupine-quills, completed her costume.
Colonel Johnson was received with all the consideration due to his position, and to the long friendship that had subsisted between him and the tribe.
Observing that the hilarity of the festival had warmed and opened all hearts, he took occasion in an interview with the chief to expatiate upon the parental affection which had led the father and mother of his little sister to give up their friends and home, and come hundreds of miles away, in the single hope of sometimes looking upon and embracing her. The heart of the chief softened as he listened to this representation, and he was induced to promise that at the Grand Council soon to be held at Fort Niagara, on the British side of the river, he would attend, bringing his little sister with him.
He exacted a promise, however, from Colonel Johnson, that not only no effort should be made to reclaim the child, but that even no proposition to part with her should be offered him.
The time at length arrived when, her heart bounding with joy, little Nelly was placed on horseback to accompany her Indian brother to the Great Council of the Senecas. She had promised him that she would never leave him without his permission, and he relied confidently on her word thus given.
As the chiefs and warriors arrived in successive bands to meet their Father, the agent, at the council-fire, how did the anxious hearts of the parents beat with alternate hope and fear! The officers of the fort had kindly given them quarters for the time being, and the ladies, whose sympathies were strongly excited, had accompanied the mother to the place of council, and joined in her longing watch for the first appearance of the band from the Alleghany River.
At length they were discerned, emerging from the forest on the opposite or American side. Boats were sent across by the commanding officer, to bring the chief and his party. The father and mother, attended by all the officers and ladies, stood upon the grassy bank awaiting their approach. They had seen at a glance that the little captive was with them.
When about to enter the boat, the chief said to some of his young men, "Stand here with the horses, and wait until I return."
He was told that the horses should be ferried across and taken care of.
"No," said he; "let them wait."
He held his darling by the hand until the river was passed—until the boat touched the bank—until the child sprang forward into the arms of the mother from whom she had been so long separated.
When the chief witnessed that outburst of affection, he could withstand no longer.
"She shall go," said he. "The mother must have her child again. I will go back alone."
With one silent gesture of farewell he turned and stepped on board the boat. No arguments or entreaties could induce him to remain at the council, but, having gained the other side of the Niagara, he mounted his horse, and with his young men was soon lost in the depths of the forest.
After a sojourn of a few weeks at Niagara, Mr. Lytle, dreading lest the resolution of the Big White Man should give way, and measures be taken to deprive him once more of his child, came to the determination of again changing his place of abode. He therefore took the first opportunity of crossing Lake Erie with his family, and settled himself in the neighborhood of Detroit, where he continued afterwards to reside.
Little Nelly saw her friend the chief no more, but she never forgot him. To the day of her death she remembered with tenderness and gratitude her brother the Big White Man, and her friends and playfellows among the Senecas.
At the age of fourteen the heroine of the foregoing story married Colonel McKillip, a British officer. This gentleman was killed near Fort Defiance, as it was afterwards called, at the Miami Rapids, in 1794. A detachment of British troops had been sent down from Detroit to take possession of this post. General Wayne was then on a campaign against the Indians, and the British Government thought proper to make a few demonstrations in behalf of their allies. Having gone out with a party to reconnoitre, Colonel McKillip was returning to his post after dark, when he was fired upon and killed by one of his own sentinels. Mrs. Helm was the daughter of this marriage.
During the widowhood of Mrs. McKillip, she resided with her parents, at Grosse Pointe, eight miles above Detroit, and it was during this period that an event occurred which, from the melancholy and mysterious circumstances attending it, was always dwelt upon by her with peculiar interest.
Her second brother, Thomas Lytle, was, from his amiable and affectionate character, the most dearly beloved by her of all the numerous family circle. He was paying his addresses to a young lady who resided at the river Trench, as it was then called, now the river Thames, a stream emptying into Lake St. Clair about twenty miles above Detroit. In visiting this young lady, it was his custom to cross the Detroit River by the ferry with his horse, and then proceed by land to the river Trench, which was, at some seasons of the year, a fordable stream.
On a fine forenoon, late in the spring, he had taken leave of his mother and sister for one of these periodical visits, which were usually of two or three days' duration.
After dinner, as his sister was sitting at work by an open window which looked upon a little side inclosure filled with fruit-trees, she was startled by observing some object opposite the window, between her and the light. She raised her eyes and saw her brother Thomas. He was without his horse, and carried his saddle upon his shoulders.
Surprised that she had not heard the gate opening for his entrance, and also at his singular appearance, laden in that manner, she addressed him, and inquired what had happened, and why he had returned so soon. He made her no reply, but looked earnestly in her face, as he moved slowly along the paved walk that led to the stables.
She waited a few moments, expecting he would reappear to give an account of himself and his adventures, but at length, growing impatient at his delay, she put down her work and went towards the rear of the house to find him.
The first person she met was her mother. "Have you seen Thomas?" she inquired.
"Thomas! He has gone to the river Trench."
"No, he has returned—I saw him pass the window not fifteen minutes since."
"Then he will be in presently."
His sister, however, could not wait. She proceeded to the stables, she searched in all directions. No Thomas—no horse—no saddle. She made inquiry of the domestics. No one had seen him. She then returned and told her mother what had happened.
"You must have fallen asleep and dreamed it," said her mother.
"No, indeed! I was wide awake—I spoke to him, and he gave me no answer, but such a look!"
All the afternoon she felt an uneasiness she could not reason herself out of.
The next morning came a messenger from the river Trench with dismal tidings.
The bodies of the young man and his horse had been found drowned a short distance below the ford of the river.
It appeared that, on arriving at the bank of the river, he found it swollen beyond its usual depth by the recent rains. It being necessary to swim the stream with his horse, he had taken off his clothes and made them into a packet which he fastened upon his shoulders. It was supposed that the strength of the rapid torrent displaced the bundle, which thus served to draw his head under water and keep it there, without the power of raising it. All this was gathered from the position and appearance of the bodies when found.
From the time at which he had been seen passing a house which stood near the stream, on his way to the ford, it was evident that he must have met his fate at the very moment his sister saw, or thought she saw him, passing before her.
I could not but suggest the inquiry, when these sad particulars were narrated to me,—
"Mother, is it not possible this might have been a dream?"
"A dream? No, indeed, my child. I was perfectly wide awake—as much so as I am at this moment. I am not superstitious. I have never believed in ghosts or witches, but nothing can ever persuade me that this was not a warning sent from God, to prepare me for my brother's death."
And those who knew her rational good sense—her freedom from fancies or fears, and the calm self-possession that never deserted her under the most trying circumstances—would almost be won to view the matter in the light she did.
* * * * *
The order for the evacuation of Port Dearborn, and the removal of the troops to Fort Howard (Green Bay), had now been received. The family circle was to be broken up. Our mother, our sister Mrs. Helm, and her little son, were to return with us to Fort Winnebago; the other members of the family, except Robert, were to move with the command to Green Bay.
The schooner Napoleon was to be sent from Detroit to convey the troops with their goods and chattels to their destined post. Our immediate party was to make the journey by land—we were to choose, however, a shorter and pleasanter route than the one we had taken in coming hither. My husband, with his Frenchmen, Petaille Grignon and Simon Lecuyer, had arrived, and all hands were now busily occupied with the necessary preparations for breaking up and removal.
I should be doing injustice to the hospitable settlers of Hickory Creek were I to pass by without notice an entertainment with which they honored our Chicago beaux about this time. The merry-making was to be a ball, and the five single gentlemen of Chicago were invited. Mr. Dole, who was a new-comer, declined; Lieutenant Foster was on duty, but he did what was still better than accepting the invitation, he loaned his beautiful horse to Medard Beaubien, who with Robert Kinzie and Gholson Kercheval promised himself much fun in eclipsing the beaux and creating a sensation among the belles of Hickory Creek.
Chicago was then, as now, looked upon as the City par excellence. Its few inhabitants were supposed to have seen something of the world, and it is to be inferred that the arrival of the smart and dashing young men was an event looked forward to with more satisfaction by the fair of the little settlement than by the swains whose rivals they might become.
The day arrived, and the gentlemen set off in high spirits. They took care to be in good season, for the dancing was to commence at two o'clock in the afternoon. They were well mounted, each priding himself upon the animal he rode, and they wore their best suits, as became city gallants who were bent on cutting out their less fashionable neighbors and breaking the hearts of the admiring country damsels.
When they arrived at the place appointed, they were received with great politeness—their steeds were taken care of, and a dinner was provided them, after which they were ushered into the dancing-hall.
All the beauty of the neighboring precincts was assembled. The ladies were for the most part white, or what passed for such, with an occasional dash of copper color. There was no lack of bombazet gowns and large white pocket-handkerchiefs, perfumed with oil of cinnamon; and as they took their places in long rows on the puncheon floor, they were a merry and a happy company.
But the city gentlemen grew more and more gallant—the girls more and more delighted with their attentions—the country swains, alas! more and more scowling and jealous. In vain they pigeon-winged and double-shuffled—in vain they nearly dislocated hips and shoulders at "hoe corn and dig potatoes"—they had the mortification to perceive that the smart young sprigs from Chicago had their "pick and choose" among their very sweethearts, and that they themselves were fairly danced off the ground.
The revelry lasted until daylight, and it was now time to think of returning. There was no one ready with obliging politeness to bring them their horses from the stable.
"Poor fellows!" said one of the party, with a compassionate sort of laugh, "they could not stand it. They have gone home to bed!"
"Serves them right," said another; "they'd better not ask us down among their girls again!"
They groped their way to the stable and went in. There were some animals standing at the manger, but evidently not their horses. What could they be? Had the rogues been trying to cheat them, by putting these strange nondescripts into their place?
They led them forth into the gray of the morning, and then—such a trio as met their gaze!
There were the original bodies, it is true, but where were their manes and tails? A scrubby, pickety ridge along the neck, and a bare stump projecting behind, were all that remained of the flowing honors with which they had come gallivanting down to "bear away the bell" at Hickory Creek, or, in the emphatic language of the country, "to take the rag off the bush."
Gholson sat down on a log and cried outright. Medard took the matter more philosophically—the horse was none of his—it was Lieutenant Foster's.
Robert characteristically looked around to see whom he could knock down on the occasion; but there was no one visible on whom to wreak their vengeance.
The bumpkins had stolen away, and, in some safe, quiet nook, were snugly enjoying their triumph, and doubtless the deceitful fair ones were by this time at their sides, sharing their mirth and exultation.
The unlucky gallants mounted their steeds, and set their faces homeward. Never was there a more crestfallen and sorry-looking cavalcade. The poor horses seemed to realize that they had met the same treatment as the messengers of King David at the hands of the evil-disposed Hanun. They hung their heads, and evidently wished that they could have "tarried at Jericho" for a season. Unfortunately, there was in those days no back way by which they could steal in, unobserved. Across the prairie, in view of the whole community, must their approach be made; and to add to their confusion, in the rarity of stirring events, it was the custom of the whole settlement to turn out and welcome the arrival of any new-comer.
As hasty a retreat as possible was beaten, amid the shouts, the jeers, and the condolences of their acquaintances; and it is on record that these three young gentlemen were in no hurry to accept, at any future time, an invitation to partake of the festivities of Hickory Creek.
* * * * *
In due time the Napoleon made her appearance. (Alas that this great name should be used in the feminine gender!) As there was at this period no harbor, vessels anchored outside the bar, or tongue of land which formed the left bank of the river, and the lading and unlading were carried on by boats, pulling in and out, through the mouth of the river, some distance below.
Of course it always was a matter of great importance to get a vessel loaded as quickly as possible, that she might be ready to take advantage of the first fair wind, and be off from such an exposed and hazardous anchoring-ground.
For this reason we had lived packed up for many days, intending only to see our friends safe on board, and then commence our own journey back to Fort Winnebago.
Our heavy articles of furniture, trunks, etc. had been sent on board the Napoleon, to be brought round to us by way of Fox River. We had retained only such few necessaries as could be conveniently carried on a pack-horse, and in a light dearborn wagon lately brought by Mr. Kercheval from Detroit (the first luxury of the kind ever seen on the prairies), and which my husband had purchased as an agreeable mode of conveyance for his mother and little nephew.
It was a matter requiring no small amount of time and labor to transport, in the slow method described, the effects of so many families of officers and soldiers, with the various etceteras incident to a total change and removal. It was all, however, happily accomplished—everything, even to the last article, sent on board—nothing remaining on shore but the passengers, whose turn it would be next.
It was a moment of great relief; for Captain Hinckley had been in a fever and a fuss many hours, predicting a change of weather, and murmuring at what he thought the unnecessary amount of boat-loads to be taken on board.
Those who had leisure to be looking out towards the schooner, which had continued anchored about half a mile out in the lake, had, at this crisis, the satisfaction to see her hoist sail and leave her station for the open lake; those who were a little later could just discern her bearing away to a distance, as if she had got all on board that she had any idea of taking. Here we were, and here we might remain a week or more, if it so pleased Captain Hinckley and the schooner Napoleon, and the good east wind which was blowing with all its might.
There was plenty of provisions to be obtained, so the fear of starvation was not the trouble; but how were the cooking and the table to be provided for? Various expedients were resorted to. Mrs. Engle, in her quarters above-stairs, ate her breakfast off a shingle with her husband's jack-knife, and when she had finished, sent them down to Lieutenant Foster for his accommodation.
We were at the old mansion on the north side, and the news soon flew up the river that the Napoleon had gone off with "the plunder" and left the people behind. It was not long before we were supplied by Mrs. Portier (our kind Victoire) with dishes, knives, forks, and all the other conveniences which our mess-basket failed to supply.
This state of things lasted a couple of days, and then, early one fine morning, the gratifying intelligence spread like wild-fire that the Napoleon was at anchor out beyond the bar.
There was no unnecessary delay this time, and at an early hour in the afternoon we had taken leave of our dear friends, and they were sailing away from Chicago.
RETURN TO FORT WINNEBAGO.
A great part of the command, with the cattle belonging to the officers and soldiers, had, a day or two previous to the time of our departure, set out on their march by land to Green Bay, via Fort Winnebago. Lieutenant Foster, under whose charge they were, had lingered behind that he might have the pleasure of joining our party, and we, in turn, had delayed in order to see the other members of our family safely on board the Napoleon. But now, all things being ready, we set our faces once more homeward.
We took with us a little bound-girl, Josette, a bright, pretty child of ten years of age, a daughter of Ouilmette, a Frenchman who had lived here at the time of the Massacre, and of a Pottowattamie mother. She had been at the St. Joseph's mission-school, under Mr. McCoy, and she was now full of delight at the prospect of a journey all the way to the Portage with Monsieur and Madame John.
We had also a negro boy, Harry, brought a year before from Kentucky, by Mr. Kercheval. In the transfer at that time from a slave State to a free one, Harry's position became somewhat changed—he could be no more than an indentured servant. He was about to become a member of Dr. Wolcott's household, and it was necessary for him to choose a guardian. All this was explained to him on his being brought into the parlor, where the family were assembled. My husband was then a young man, on a visit to his home. "Now, Harry," it was said to him, "you must choose your guardian;" and the natural expectation was that Harry would select the person of his acquaintance of the greatest age and dignity. But, rolling round his great eyes, and hanging his head on one side, he said,—
"I'll have Master John for my guardian."
From that day forward Harry felt as if he belonged, in a measure, to Master John, and at the breaking-up of the family in Chicago he was, naturally, transferred to our establishment.
There were three ladies of our travelling party—our mother, our sister Mrs. Helm, and myself. To guard against the burning effect of the sun and the prairie winds upon our faces, I had, during some of the last days of my visit, prepared for each of us a mask of brown linen, with the eyes, nose, and mouth fitted to our features; and, to enhance their hideousness, I had worked eyebrows, eyelashes, and a circle around the opening for the mouth, in black silk. Gathered in plaits under the chin, and with strings to confine them above and below, they furnished a complete protection against the sun and wind, though nothing can be imagined more frightful than the appearance we presented when fully equipped. It was who should be called the ugliest.