What changes have been mirrored in the blue Ohio during the last hundred years! The waters of the river itself have not been more changing than the landscape. This is the true age of magic. Who is there that does not see that the Lamp of Civilization far surpasses the dull luminary of one Aladdin? Not a single palace, but whole cities have sprung into existence, as it were, in a single night. Instead of transforming towns into lakes, and their inhabitants into blue, green, and yellow fish, by our magic, swamps and reedy lakes are transformed into cities, and in the place of innumerable suckers, cats, and minnows, behold thronging populations of men. Unnumbered generations of wide-eyed children have wondered at the enchanted horse, which, by the turning of a peg, in a single day transported the Prince of Persia and his lady love to his distant dominions. But we have enchanted horses which travel at the rate of a mile a minute, able to carry, not merely two persons, but whole populations. Yet we do not wonder. The author of the "Arabian Nights' Entertainments" thought his fancy had transcended the bounds of all that was possible. But the creations of his imagination are tame and dull beside the marvelous handiwork of the real Genie, the Spirit of Civilization.
It is still possible to imagine the past. We can conjure up faint visions of the majestic river rolling on in everlasting solitude. The winding shores lie wrapped in the mantle of perennial forests. Not a sound is heard above the muffled roar of the flood.
It is evening. At points where the shore slopes gradually to the water, stand shadowy herds of mild-eyed deer, now drinking from the cooling current, now lifting their graceful necks, and watching with timid anxiety some spot along the shore, from which had come the suspicious sound of rustling leaves. Lying hid in the thicket is a phantom canoe. A dusky form steals cautiously through the underbrush toward the gentle denizens of the forest. He obtains a view of the lovely sight, his eye flashes, his nostril quivers, but not with admiration of the beautiful.
There is a whirring sound, as a light shaft whistles through the air. The startled deer leap toward the shadow of the forest. Too late. The arrow-head is buried in the heart of a noble buck. His leap was unto death. The crimson tide spurts forth in hot jets upon the leaves of the wild wood. His large and intelligent eye is slowly covered with a film which shut out forever the view of his forest home. His slender form stiffens. The head is partially lifted, as if to look with mild reproachfulness upon the enemy whom he had never harmed. Then it sinks back upon the spreading antlers. The agony is ended.
The dim picture quickly fades. Where stood the shadowy outlines of the forest, now stately buildings and the stony expanse of a great city's public landing, covered with vast piles of merchandise, force themselves upon the vision. Along the shore stretches a mile of stately steamers. From some just landed, streams of busy passengers pour forth over the wharf-boat. Others are about to depart. Dozens of drays thunder down the stony slope with freight for the out-going vessels. Gangs of deck-hands are hurriedly carrying aboard the last of the cargo. The voice of the master is heard above the din, incessantly urging the hands to greater exertions, now cursing them for clumsiness or abusing them for laziness, now threatening them with discharge and no pay, now promising various glittering rewards for more speed.
At last, the cargo is loaded. The last barrel is rolled aboard. The last consignment of brooms and wooden buckets is stowed away. The smoke, which has been rising from the steamer's chimneys in thin, idle currents, now rushes upward in black volumes. The gangway is hauled aboard, the hawser cast off. There is a hasty jingling of various signal bells. A heavy puff from the engines, and the roaring swash of the paddle-wheels is heard as the steamer slowly draws off from the dock.
If we turn from the din and confusion of the landing, we hear above us the roar of the Queen City. Miles upon miles of bowldered streets stretch on between tall rows of gloomy buildings. The air is heavy with the smell of groceries, and tremulous with the clangor of metropolitan activity. The street lamps are being lighted, and as we look up the long avenue their yellow flames on either side extend in a narrowing vista, until, far up on the hill, the walls of the street seem to come together.
How came the change? Whence is the marvelous transformation? Few of us think of it. The cities are here--it is enough. What care we for the struggles of our fathers? No doubt they were gentlemen, loving quiet, and, following their tastes, they left the settled towns and cities of the east to build rude homes in the peaceful valley of the Ohio. Unmolested by any disturber, we think they quietly plowed the glebe, harvested crops, reared their children, and were gathered to their graves.
What a mistake! The peace we now enjoy is the offspring of war. Our fathers were not peaceful, timid men. They were bold adventurers. They were scouts. They were Indian fighters. The Ohio valley was won from the savages only after the longest, the bloodiest struggle on record. It was a war which raged without perceptible intermission from the breaking out of Lord Dunmore's war, in 1774, to the battle of Fallen Timbers, in 1794, a period of twenty years. During that time the pioneers of the magnificent valley knew no peace. The battles of the Revolution were fought and won, but in the struggle with the savages there was no victory for the brave colonists. The independence of the New Republic was achieved by force of arms in spite of the greatest military nation on earth, but against the redskins of the Ohio the arms of the colonies prevailed not.
Peace was made with England, but with her Indian allies no armistice took place. Treaties were concluded with every European government, but the outraged red man still shook aloft the gory tomahawk. Years rolled by. Expedition after expedition was sent against the Indians of the west, only to end in rout and massacre. Children grew to be men and women, middle-aged men and women grew gray in the ceaseless conflict, yet they fought with all the zeal of the bygone years.
The prize was worth the struggle, and the combatants knew it. The region of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee is the finest part of the American continent. The Indians of the west for unnumbered generations knew it as the best hunting-ground between the oceans. The white settlers saw in it a seat of an empire for their posterity, unequaled in Europe or America. Midway between the extremes of temperature, with mild winters and cool summers, with the richest soil, moderate rain-fall, a rolling surface, and abundant forests, it is evident at this day that the pioneers did not overestimate the prospect. There is hardly any limit to the population which the region is sustaining. Delightful for residence, it is also the natural home for trade, agriculture, and manufacture.
As a nursery of great men, the Ohio valley has long since distanced any other portion of the country. Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Joseph E. McDonald, John Sherman, James A. Garfield, Rutherford B. Hayes, Hugh McCulloch, Robert G. Ingersoll, Oliver P. Morton, Stephen A. Douglas, Thomas A. Hendricks, Allen G. Thurman, Benjamin Harrison, Matthew Simpson, E. S. Ames, Tom Corwin, Thomas Marshall, George D. Prentice, Robert Dale Owen, Henry Ward Beecher, William T. Sherman, Henry Bascom, A. E. Burnsides, Stonewall Jackson--these are the men whom the valley of the Ohio has already furnished to the Republic. Where can be found any other portion of the country, which, within less than a hundred years after the first settlers found it a silent wilderness, has given to world such a constellation of statesmen, orators, military commanders, and writers?
The Ohio valley then was won by war, by twenty years of conflict. Reserving for separate chapters the stories of the different expeditions and the most famous Indian fighters, in this chapter we will collect the crumbs which fall from the table of the feast.
The greater part of the romantic stories of Indian adventures have been buried with the daring actors in oblivion. Besides, the few tales which happened to be preserved in manuscript or print, there yet linger in certain old families shadowy traditions of their ancestors' struggles and adventures. Gray-haired men are yet to be found in warm chimney corners, who can repeat many romantic stories told them by their mothers. But in another generation these dim traditions will be gone, as will be the men who tell them. Even with a recountal of the feats of which the stories have been preserved, many volumes could be filled. Here we can only outline some representative deeds and dangers.
THE ESCAPE OF McCONNEL.
People will eat. Alexander McConnel, of Lexington, Kentucky, though no philosopher, had observed this. So it came to pass that he went hunting one spring morning in 1780, and killed a fine deer. It was necessary to procure a horse to transport the game. Five Indians happened to find the fallen buck, understood the situation, and, from a neighboring thicket prepared a reception for the hunter. Presently McConnel, careless of danger and chuckling over his good luck, appeared on his horse. The Indians fired, killed the horse, but not the rider, and took the later captive.
His captors turned out to be jolly fellows, in spite of the deep melancholy which is supposed to haunt the heart of the savage. They let McConnel have his gun, and he chimed in with the fun by killing game for them with fancy shots. About the fourth evening the travelers encamped on the shore of the Ohio. McConnel concluded the fun had gone far enough. He resolved to escape before they crossed the river. He complained that the cords with which they tied him at night were painful. Being polite gentlemen, they tied him loosely, passed the ends of the buffalo tug around their own bodies, and went to sleep. McConnel lay quiet till midnight.
Then he made his right hand as small as possible, and tried to draw it out of the loop. Impossible! He tried the left hand with the same result. He attempted to reach the knot with his mouth. It could not be done. Heretofore he had borne his light captivity with considerable resignation. Now he became frantic. His veins grew swollen with rage. He strained and pulled with the energy of despair. Useless! He thought of his home, of perpetual captivity, of a death by torture, of suicide.
As he lay almost bursting with fury, something on the ground, glittering in the firelight, caught his eye. He studied it attentively. At last he made it out. It was a knife. How could he reach it? He could not move his hands two inches without waking his sleeping guards. It lay nearly two yards from his feet. He commenced to slowly move his body toward the foot of his rude pallet, under the cover of buffalo skin. As this singular movement continued, he gradually drew his hands upward, leaving them in the same relative position. Now they were over his face, now above his head; now stretched at full length toward the head of the bed. His head was covered with the buffalo robe. It could no longer be lifted. Unable to see the knife he sought it with his foot. He felt everywhere for it. He could not find it. With his great toe he made a mark on the ground. Then he drew himself up. He raised his head. The knife was there. The mark made by his toe was eleven inches this side of it. Eleven inches between liberty and a death by torture!
McConnel thought. In a little while he commenced moving his head from side to side. At each movement he seized the edge of the buffalo skin in his teeth and dragged it a little. Presently the skin was partially pulled of the savage on the right. He got cold. He turned over in his sleep to warm his cold side. This threw him much nearer McConnel. But it also gave considerable play to the prisoner's hands. Again the latter cautiously wriggled toward the foot. Again he extended his hands above his head. Again the foot sought for the precious knife.
It was reached, grasped firmly between the toes, and drawn upward. In a moment McConnel had it in his hand and severed his bonds. He rose. Instead of fleeing, he deliberately sat down by the fire. Strange conduct for a fugitive! Too well he knew that to fly without killing his captors meant certain pursuit and recapture. The trail he would leave would be as plain to their eyes as a plow furrow. He might succeed in cutting the throats of one or two. But the death rattle must rouse the rest,
At last he took all but two of the guns of the savages and hid them in the forest. Of the two he carefully examined the loads. They appeared satisfactory, for he noiselessly laid the barrels across a log, and aimed each at a savage. The flickering light of the camp fire revealed his calm but determined face. Bang! Bang! The guns were fired almost simultaneously, killing two of the savages outright. At the report the other three sprang to their feet. McConnel rushed instantly to the spot where had did the guns. As his enemies bounded towards him, he fired again. The ball passed through the body of the foremost Indian and wounded the one behind him. The fifth and last savage instantly fled. McConnel clubbed the wounded brave, shouldered his gun, and made his way home in safety.
The surviving Indian paused not till reached his people. Among them was a white captive, Mrs. Dunlap. Afterward she escaped, and told McConnel of this Indian's account of the affair to his people. He related that he and his companions had captured a fine hunter at Lexington, and had brought him as far as the Ohio; that, while there encamped, a large party of white men had fallen upon them in the night, and killed all his companions, together with the defenseless prisoner, who lay bound hand and foot, unable to either escape or resist.
A RACE FOR LIFE.
One July evening in 1781, as the tired harvesters of what in Hardin County, Kentucky, were trudging to their cabins, a war party of Indians burst into the settlement with wild yells, murdered no less than twelve persons, and withdrew as swiftly as they came. The stricken pioneers started in pursuit. In their party was Peter Kennedy, a young Indian fighter, known as the swiftest runner in Kentucky. This talent caused him to be looked on as a very brilliant fellow. In the fury of pursuit the settlers ran into an ambuscade. Better had it been for the anxious women and children, left behind in the cabins, if the brave ones had never gone from them. The savages fired from ambush, killing every white except Kennedy. He jumped behind a tree. As an Indian ran at him with uplifted tomahawk, the runner fired, killed the savage, and ran. Nine rifles were discharged. A ball in his leg disabled him. It also cost him two years' captivity in the wigwams along the Wabash River in Indiana.
He time came at last when his wound healed and his captors were off their guard. He made his way to the Ohio River, built a raft, and crossed it. He felt pretty safe. A fat deer was shot by him, and, building a fire, he proceeded to roast a delicious haunch of venison. The savory roast was just done, and the hungry man was putting the first rare morsel to his lips, when a rifle was fired from the thicket, and Kennedy felt a sharp sting on his leg. Hurt, but not disabled, he seized his gun and started at the top of his speed for the mountains. Thirty miles away was Gooden's Station. That point he must make.
The Indians started in hot pursuit. Now Kennedy summoned to his aid all the skill and endurance which had won his fame as a runner. Up-hill, down-hill, through the underbrush, over fallen logs, across stony ground, and in the midst of quagmires, he sped like an arrow. He gained on his pursuers. But they still followed. At the end of five miles he was out of gun-shot. At the end of ten miles the perspiration streamed from his brow. His face and neck were swollen till the blood seemed ready to burst forth. Still he ran on without the least abatement of speed. Fifteen miles were accomplished. He found himself at the summit of a ridge of hills, near Rolling Fort. He paused for a moment. The pursuers were no longer in sight. He leaned against a tree for the whole of a minute. This seemed to refresh him immensely.
With redoubled speed he bounded down the rugged hillside, leaping from rock to rock, momentarily planting his flying feet on spots which seemed to furnish no foothold. A vast plain was before him. He was a mile from the ridge before he heard the yells of his pursuers. He looked over his shoulder. They had paused on the summit. At the moment Kennedy saw the Indians they caught sight of him. Far away on the hill-top he saw their gestures of rage outlined against the sky. Suddenly they leaped down the slope as he had done.
Kennedy redoubled his exertions. Mile after mile was accomplished. Hour after hour he maintained his terrific speed. At times he could see his pursuers crossing the open country two miles behind him. Once, losing sight of them, he thought the pursuit was abandoned. He threw himself on the ground. His limbs trembled violently. His chest heaved up and down in convulsive respiration. In a moment more stupor would have seized him. Just then the wind bore to his ears a faint yell. They were still after him, only much nearer. He had not been able for an hour to hear their voices.
Once more he started. The speed was no longer so great. His gate was stumbling and irregular. Twice he fell headlong over trifling obstacles. Twenty-five miles were completed. Kennedy again lost sight and sound of his pursuers. Twenty-six miles--they were hopelessly in the rear. Twenty-seven miles--the flaming disk of the afternoon sun sank behind the tree-tops. Twenty-eight miles--Kennedy felt he had won the race. Thirty miles--and he sank exhausted, but victorious, on the floor of the fort. He gasped out an explanation. A party was organized. Almost within gunshot of the fort lay the savages. When discovered, they tried to run. But their strength was exhausted. They had run their race only to meet death at the end.
It was several weeks before Kennedy recovered from the effects of his fearful exertions. His race is without parallel in frontier chronicles.
A FIGHT IN THE FOG.
Bryant's Station was a fort. It was on the bank of the Elkhorn Creek, between Lexington and Maysville, Kentucky. Being exposed and liable to frequent attack, it was strongly built, containing forty cabins, in parallel rows, connected by heavy palisades. From this shelter no man dared to venture alone. The garrison of fifty men required food. But the hunting-parties never went out with less than twenty men.
It was in May, 1781, that such a party sallied forth, under command of William Bryant. The men picked their way cautiously through the overhanging branches of the forest. No enemy was seen. A ravine, which had been the site of many a bloody ambuscade, was passed in peace. What reason was there for further caution? Why not divide the party, sweep a large tract of country, and gather a heavy supply of game while they had the opportunity? Ten men, under James Hogan, took the north bank of the creek and Bryant the south bank. They were to meet and join camps at night-fall. Hogan's men were proceeding on their way, when they were startled by a loud cry of "Stop!" in good English. In their rear a party of Indians was to be seen in rapid advance.
The whites at once turned loose a pack-horse, put spurs to their animals, and galloped into the forest at a break-neck speed. After a run of several miles they reined in, and held a hurried consultation. That their flight had been premature was evident. The strength of the attacking party was unknown. Bryant's men might be in great peril. To cross the creek, and lie in ambush till the Indians came along, learn their numbers, then either fight, join Bryant, or to fly to the fort in case of overwhelming force, seemed the best way to remedy the mistake. It was three hours before the crunching of twigs across the creek announced the footsteps of the enemy.
It was already night. The starlight revealed an Indian starting to cross the stream. Hogan fired. There was a yell, and a mighty splash of waters. The bullet had made its home in his heart. At once all became still. After an hour's waiting, the hunters mounted and made their way to the fort. Bryant and his little company were still out. Long before daylight, Hogan and his men, ashamed at their flight and anxious about Bryant, started once more down the creek to join him. The morning was very foggy. Objects were invisible at a distance of ten feet.
While they were thus on their way, Bryant met with a sad disaster. He had gone into camp the night before at the appointed time, but Hogan came not. The men prepared and ate their supper. They sat around the camp fire, speculating anxiously on his absence. Usually, these hunting parties were jolly crowds. The evenings were filled with rough fun and jokes. But on this evening the men were in no humor for levity. The horses were picketed more closely than usual. The men grouped themselves in a narrower circle. They talked in anxious whispers. A dozen times Bryant left the circle and went out into the forest to listen for Hogan's approach. As many times he returned with his anxiety unallayed. It was far in the night before the men rolled themselves in their buffalo robes for sleep.
The night passed uneasily. In the morning the men rose, and were preparing breakfast. Just then the faint tinkle of a bell was heard through the fog. Every one listened. In a few moments it was heard again. This time Bryant recognized it. It was the bell of Hogan's pack-horse. Believing Hogan to have missed the camp and to be wandering in the fog, Bryant and Grant mounted their horses and rode to the spot where the bell was still giving irregular tinkles. Just as they about reached it, a dozen Indians started up in the fog and fired. Both men were wounded, Bryant mortally. The bell was the bell from Hogan's pack-horse, which the Indians had captured. But instead of being on the horse's neck, the bell was held by a savage, and shaken slightly from time to time. Both men retained their seats and managed to make their way to the fort, where Bryant shortly expired.
The Indians at once charged on the camp, killed some, and dispersed the rest. They proceeded to occupy the camp, and lounged about the fire, smoking their tobacco. At this moment Hogan's party rode upon them, unseen in the fog. The surprise was equal. Each side sought shelter, and a sharp battle was fought, lasting half an hour, at the end of which time the Indians fled, leaving several dead behind them. The camp trappings of Bryant's party were found by Hogan in the camp. His suspicions were at once aroused concerning the fate of their owners. After a vain search for them, he and his men sadly returned to the fort, to find their worst apprehensions realized. Bryant, the leader of the fort, the man for whom it was named, the hero of a hundred fights, was lying cold in death amid the corpses of the men who fell in the same attack.
A SETTLER'S SELF-DEFENSE.
Not in Kentucky alone, but throughout the length of the Ohio valley, raged the conflict with the red man. David Morgan occupied a cabin on the Monongahela River, several miles from the nearest neighbor. He was seventy years of age, but still braved the dangers of his situation.
One morning two of his younger children went to plow a field a mile away from the cabin. Morgan became uneasy from some cause, and taking his rifle, determined to go to them. He found the boys all right. Taking a seat on the top rail of a worm fence, he was giving some directions about the work, when he suddenly became aware of the fact that he and his children were not alone. In the edge of the forest he perceived two Indians gliding stealthily and rapidly upon the boys. Morgan called to the latter to fly to the house. For himself, he determined to cover their retreat. The children, having two hundred yards the start, and being fleet runners, were soon out of reach.
The old man also ran with considerable activity for a short distance, but as his strength failed, his pursuers gained on him. He turned at bay, to contend with the two powerful and well-armed savages. The woods were thin. Morgan planted himself behind the only large tree in the locality. His pursuers instantly sought cover behind some saplings, but old Morgan, seeing a little of the person of the nearest savage exposed, fired with unerring skill and killed him. The other Indian at once rushed on Morgan, whose gun of course was empty. The latter ran, but in a moment his pursuer, less than twenty steps behind him, fired. By great fortune, the ball missed its mark. Morgan again turned at bay, clubbing his musket, while the Indian raised his tomahawk. Both blows took effect, the gun stock being broken on the Indian's skull, and the tomahawk, shattered by striking the gun-barrel, having cut off two of Morgan's fingers. The savage reached for his knife, but the old man grappled with him, hurling him to the ground.
An awful struggle took place, but the youth and superior strength of the Indian availed to turn Morgan. The savage planted his knee on his opponent's breast, and again reached for his knife. Again his luck turned. He had lately stolen a woman's apron. It was tied around his waist, covering the knife handle, so he could not readily get at it. Old Morgan, however, was game to the last. He managed to get one of the savage's fingers between his teeth. This maneuver caused the Indian to howl with rage, and struggle furiously to get loose, but Morgan's jaws were locked on that finger with the grip of a steel vise.
Seizing his little advantage, Morgan reached for the Indian's knife himself. Both grasped it at the same instant, Morgan getting a small grip on the handle, savage a better one on the blade. At this juncture, Morgan gave the finger a terrific bite, and with swift dexterity twitched the knife out of his adversary's hand. Quick as thought he plunged it into the Indian's side, then into his stomach, blade, handle, and all. The latter fell over on his side.
Old Morgan rose. Greatly exhausted by the exertion and excitement of the struggle, and feebly made his way home. A party of neighbors was raised within an hour or two, who found that the old man's antagonist had crawled some little distance to a clump of bushes. When discovered, he held out his hand, and feebly uttered "Brothers!" The whites, however, failed to acknowledge this claim of relationship. He was killed, scalped, and skinned, the hide being tanned by the settlers for bullet-pouches.
AN AMERICAN MEG MERRILES.
The genius of Walter Scott has immortalized the character of old Meg Merriles throughout the world. Her character was drawn from life, the original being a certain Jean Gordon, a famous gypsy of the Scottish border. Great novelists must have appropriate subject-matter on which to base their stories. The border lore and legendry from which Scott drew his treasure, is popularly supposed to be unparalleled. Nowhere is the error of this notion, to which we have called attention in our preface, better shown than in the fact that in the conflict of the Ohio valley, there arose a woman, if such she might be called, more remarkable in career, more strange and wild in character, than Jean Gordon ever was. "Mad Ann Bailey," as she was known among the settlers, though of vastly different origin and surroundings, bears a general resemblance to the immortal Meg Merriles of "Guy Mannering."
The strange creature of whom we write was born in Liverpool, England, about 1750. Her maiden name was Hennis, her husband being Richard Trotter. Along with other adventurous spirits of the time, she and her husband emigrated to America, and, as if by instinct, sought the perils and excitement of border life. Trotter was an Indian fighter. He became a volunteer in Dunmore's war, and was killed in the bloody battle of Point Pleasant. From that day his widow lead that strange career which spread her name far and wide through the border settlements, and which will perpetuate it so long as the stories of the border struggles are read among men.
Thenceforth she followed but one pursuit--that of fighting the Indians. She unsexed herself, wore men's clothes, and instead of household tasks, she took upon herself the toilsome life of a scout. She became a dead-shot with a rifle. She learned to throw the tomahawk with all the accuracy and strength of an Indian warrior. As a hunter, she had no superior on the border. Wherever prizes were offered in contests in rifle shooting, tomahawk throwing, or other athletic sports, far or near along the border, this strange and solitary woman always appeared at the last moment as a contestant, and carried off the prize. She rode a powerful horse, called "Liverpool," after her birthplace. It was the only living creature she loved. Her horse and rifle were her constant companions.
She spent her time as other scouts, roaming the forests in search of game, or stealthily watching in ambush for some wandering Indian. Amid storms of rain and sleet, beset by the rigors of winter, followed by wild beasts, or pursued by Indians, her immense frame of iron strength knew no fatigue, her restless rancor no slumber. As she bestrode her horse, her male attire, her weather-beaten features, her black, wiry hair, cut short in men's fashion, her cold, gray eyes and grating voice, her rifle easily thrown over her shoulder, revealed the AMAZON. No service in behalf of the settlers was too arduous, no mode of injury to the savages too cruel or bloody for her fierce zeal.
The story of one incident has come down to us. She was making her head-quarters at Charleston Fort, in West Virginia, when the fort was besieged by an overwhelming force of Indians. Unable to subdue it by force, the besiegers undertook to reduce it by famine. The brave pioneers defended it resolutely until their hearts were chilled to find the supply of ammunition nearly exhausted. The nearest point from which supplies could be had was more than a hundred miles away. The way lay through dense forests, bottomless morasses, vast ranges of mountains, terrible precipices, and rushing rivers. Worse than all this, the whole country was overrun with war-parties of savages. Great as was the peril of the fort, great as was the peril of the journey, this bold woman alone would undertake the task of procuring supplies. Avoiding all trails, roads, and regular passes, she took her way directly across the mountains of West Virginia for more than a hundred miles.
Reaching her destination in safety, she procured lead and gunpowder, loaded it on a pack-horse, and commenced the fearful return journey. Followed by a raving pack of wolves, at every step beset by hissing serpents which still infest the mountains of Virginia, discovered and pursued by Indians, hardly daring to sleep a moment, she recrossed the mountains by a different route, swam her two beasts across foaming mountain torrents, and, after exposure to every conceivable peril, and escape from all, delivered her precious load to the beleaguered garrison. This service became famous throughout the border. On her return she again took her place among the resolute defenders of the fort, doing guard duty, or sharing in the fray of every attack.
At some period in her career, this strange, unsexed creature, with her disordered intellect, was actually wooed and won by a man named Bailey, but this marriage made no change in her life, except that, instead of being known as "Mad Ann," she was thereafter "Mad Ann Bailey." Her numerous services to the settlers caused her to be as much loved by the whites as she was feared and hated by the Indians. In the latter part of her life, when times had become more settled, she used at times to visit the families she had known and served in her earlier years. From such visits she never failed to return laden down with presents.
THE GREAT FIGHT OF POE AND BIG FOOT.
"No man ever took more satisfaction in hunting deer, bear, wolves, and buffalo than I have, but the greatest enjoyment I ever took was in hunting Indians." The speaker was an old man, of gigantic frame and shrunken muscles. He sat by an open fire-place, with its great andirons and blazing back-logs. Around him sat a group of younger people, his family and friends. A hush was upon the little circle. The old man was still quivering with excitement, as if he had gone through some violent exertion far beyond his strength. He had sat silent for a few moments, as if recovering his breath, and then uttered the sentence given above.
The old man was Andrew Poe, a man whose name was known in every cabin in the Ohio valley during the twenty years' conflict. His excitement and apparent exhaustion had a cause. He had just been relating to the company for the hundredth time the thrilling story of his fight with Big Foot. As he set himself afloat in the current of the story, he illustrated it by action. He went through all the fury and effort of a death-struggle with an imaginary adversary. Not a detail of the fight had been omitted. With flashing eye, tense and knotted muscles, almost choked with frothing rage, he had re-enacted the scene with all the spirit of the original conflict, for the benefit of the little group.
We have entered the room too late to hear the old man tell it himself, too late to see him reproduce the conflict in all its vividness. All we can do is learn the story from others who heard old Poe relate it.
In 1781, there stood on Harmon's Creek, twelve miles back from the Ohio River, in what is Washington County, Pennsylvania, a small settlement of white people.
Among the settlers were two brothers, Andrew Poe, then thirty-nine years of age, and his brother Adam, six years younger. The elder was a man of large build and splendid muscular development. He and his brother were both Indian fighters, and were looked upon as the chief defenders of the settlement. Andrew, especially, by his great strength, his matchless agility, and rare courage, was the pride of the valley. In the spring of the year of which we write, the settlement, in common with the rest of the valley, had suffered heavily from Indian attacks. On one occasion, while the Poes and their nearest neighbor, Kennedy, were off on a scout, a party of Indians had burst into Kennedy's house, and murdered his young wife and child.
A short time afterwards, probably in June, a band of seven bloody Wyandots stole into the settlement at midnight, in which lived William Jackson, all alone. He was an old man, sixty years of age. Having made Jackson a captive, they attempted to enter another house, but aroused the inmates, who gave the alarm. The seven Indians made off with their prisoner. The men of the settlement were quickly collected. Jackson was discovered to be missing.
Arrangements were made for pursuit. In the morning, as soon as it was light enough to see the trail of the marauders, which was tolerably distinct in the high dewy grass, the settlers set out to save their friend. Twelve of them rode at full speed toward the river. At the top of a steep descent to the river, down which the trail led, the horses were hitched, and the men pressed forward on foot. At the foot of the hill the trail turned down the river. It led across a shallow rivulet that entered the Ohio. The waters of the stream were muddied. They had been recently disturbed. Andrew Poe called the attention of the men to it, as a suggestion that the game was near. He had been convinced by the indications of the trail that the Indians were led by a person no less distinguished than the renowned "Big Foot," chief of the Wyandots, so called from the size of his feet, which, however, were not out of proportion to his immense stature and Herculean proportions.
Poe was not unwilling to measure his strength with such a famous adversary, should opportunity occur. For some reason, after crossing the rivulet, while the others followed the trail leading away from the river bank, Poe turned to his right, and kept on alone through some heavy willows along the shore. Suddenly he discovered, about twelve feet below him on the slope toward the water, two Indians, crouching behind a small bluff or elevation in the river bank. They had guns cocked and were looking intently towards a spot from which they had heard a noise. One Indian was of enormous size, and Poe at once conjectured that he was no other than Big Foot. The other, though smaller, was fully the equal of Poe, who was himself the boast of the settlements.
To take in the situation at a glance, to level his gun at the breast of Big Foot, and draw the trigger was the work of an instant. But the much vaunted weapons of the pioneers were clumsy affairs to those of to-day. The gun missed fire. The Indians yelled. Poe hastily drew back into the bushes. Just then the rest of the party had overtaken the other five Indians a hundred yards down the river. The shots momentarily attracted the attention of Poe's adversaries. He a second time attempted to fire.
A second time, as if reluctant for its task, the gun missed fire. Poe flung it down, boldly jumped over the bluff, throwing one arm around Big Foot's neck, and the other around his companion, throwing both to the ground by his weight and momentum. Big Foot fell on his back, with Poe on top of him, on his left side, his left arm around the Indian's neck. The smaller Indian fell to the right of the two, but with his head caught in the vice-like grip of Poe's right upper arm and side. From this embarrassing situation the smaller savage struggled to withdraw his head, but in vain.
Poe felt that in order to save his life he must kill one of his opponents, before either disengaged himself from him. If one of should get free while he still held down the other, he saw little hope. To kill Big Foot, however, he must get at his knife. This was in its scabbard, pressed tightly between his left side and Big Foot's body. Nor could he use more than his fore right arm to disengage it. He pulled and tugged frenziedly to get the knife out, but Big Foot's hand was also on it. While Poe and his larger antagonist tugged at the knife, the other lunged and twisted to free himself. At last Poe gave a furious wrench to the knife, and Big Foot suddenly letting go, the weapon came out suddenly. Poe's arm pulling at the knife, and unexpectedly released, jerked back, releasing the smaller Indian from its grip, the knife at the same time slipping from Poe's fingers, and flying into the river.
Almost at the same moment Big Foot threw his long arm about Poe, and hugged with all his strength. The latter struggled to free himself. The smaller Indian overlooking, or, perhaps, for fear of shooting Big Foot, afraid to use a cocked gun lying just at Poe's head, ran to a canoe, ten feet away, seized a tomahawk, and running back, gave a terrific hack at Poe's head. The latter, however, though still a prisoner in the iron embrace of Big Foot, managed, just as the Indian delivered the stroke, to give his wrist a terrific kick with his right foot, diverting the blow, and flinging the tomahawk into the river.
At this Big Foot bellowed furiously at his companion in his own tongue. The latter procured the other tomahawk, and, carefully avoiding Poe's heels, again struck at him. This time Poe threw up his right arm, received the blow in his wrist, one bone and the cords of three fingers being cut, and the hand practically disabled. Giving his arm a jerk, the tomahawk, which was caught in his sinews, was snatched from the Indian's hand, and Poe in turn threw it into the river,
At this moment Big Foot's embrace relaxed. Poe tore himself loose, snatching up the cocked gun with his left hand as he rose, and in a moment shot the smaller Indian through the body. Just as the bullet left the barrel, Big Foot, who had risen only less quickly than Poe, seized him by the neck and leg, and pitched him toward the river as if he were a chip. Poe, however, could not be excelled for activity. Though too late to prevent this, he threw his left hand back, caught the Indian's buckskin breech clout firmly, and, as he fell, dragged Big Foot with him over the bank into the river.
The water was deep. Each man struggled with unearthly fury to drown the other. The water was lashed into angry foam by their conflict. First one then the other obtained the advantage. At last, Poe got his fingers on the Indian's scalp-lock to get his knife and end the contest, the latter seized Poe, and in turn put him under.
But Poe was still full of resources; though half strangled, he managed to struggle toward deeper water. The current seized them, carried both beyond their depth, and the Indian, as well as Poe, was obliged to let go his hold and swim for life. There was yet one loaded gun on shore. To get that weapon each adversary put forth every exertion. Poor Poe, however, only one hand to swim with, saw Big Foot beating him in the race. He therefore turned again to mid-stream, intending to dive. Big Foot gained the shore, picked up the loaded gun, but in cocking it broke the hammer. Throwing it down he snatched the empty rifle, and ran to the canoe for ammunition.
At this moment Adam Poe came running down the shore, to find out what was the matter. Andrew shouted to him to "shoot the big Indian on shore." Adam's gun was empty. Just as Big Foot was loading his gun, Adam began the same act with his. Each felt that his life depended on completing the charge first. Big Foot would inevitably have been ready to fire first, had not another mishap befallen him. In withdrawing his ramrod too hastily, it slipped from his hand. The time it took to pick it up gave Adam Poe the advantage. Just as Big Foot raised his gun, Poe fired, and killed him.
The fight was ended, but not its mishaps. Another white man following Adam Poe down the bank, seeing that the latter had shot an Indian on shore, and perceiving Andrew Poe, with bloody face, swimming rapidly from the shore, mistook him for an Indian, fired and shot him in the shoulder. Adam Poe, alarmed for his brother, started to swim to his help, but the latter shouted to him to let him alone, and "scalp the Indian." Adam, however, refused thinking more of his brother's safety than of a trophy. Big Foot, mortally wounded, exerted his failing strength to roll himself into the river and keep his triumphant antagonist from winning the glory of taking Big Foot's scalp. As the two brothers started to the shore, the swift current of the Ohio swept the body of Big Foot, scalp and all, out of sight.
It may be easily understood how the story of this fight spread throughout the border settlements, and made Andrew Poe the most famous man in his part of the country.
FIVE KENTUCY BOYS AND THEIR PLUCK.
It is easy to see what sort of men the pioneers were. But what about the children? Nothing is more interesting than the influence of border life upon boys. There is something in it which summons forth all the latent heroism of the youthful heart. We yet see this trait in the boys of our Middle and Western states. Books of adventure, of pioneering, of Indian fights, of explorations, form their chosen literature. No matter how quiet and attentive they may be in school, one may be certain that stuffed away in some corner of their desk is a dog-eared book of adventure, a book in which scouts perform impossible exploits, in which one man whips a dozen red Indians. And rescues a pretty girl whom they have made captive; in which abound hair-breadth escapes, and bold adventures of boys of their own age, who either by chance or by choice live in that mysterious and wonderful region known as THE BORDER.
Many of these books no doubt are vicious. We pause not to moralize. We simply call attention to the fact that this appetite for adventure is in a boy, in such strength, that no vigilance of parents, nor instruction of teachers can prevent him from gratifying it. He will have and will read books of adventure -- the best, the worst. "The last of the Mohicans," and "Long Haired Jack, the Mountain Avenger," alike. If there is a public library in the community, it is the books of this sort which are seized and read with appalling voracity. If not, then each boy furtively lends his treasure to every other boy, until the worn volume has gone rounds, whereupon, if no other be at hand, the same book is read over and over again. Whence comes this appetite? It is not an inheritance from our fathers who fought the wars of the real border, and which is only overwhelmed and destroyed by contact with the practical side of life?
Let it be remembered that America has been colonized and populated by the boldest spirits of every clime, men and women who spurned the quiet comfort of their homes in the "old country," and chose rather the excitement and dangers of the wilderness. Then we may understand how natural it is for the American boy to love books of adventure. Then we may see whence comes the restless longing, which, unsatisfied with the quiet life of home, and the rigid discipline of school--in short, finding no scope or outlet in real life--seeks vent and gratification in imaginary adventures and exploits.
The children of the pioneers were offspring worthy of their sires. It was about 1785 that a group of five Kentucky boys afforded a splendid illustration of this. Colonel Pope was a leading citizen in a settlement hear Louisville, Kentucky. Feeling keenly the total absence of educational facilities for his two sons on the frontier, he employed a tutor for them. He generously invited several neighbor's lads to share the privileges of instruction. Among them were two sons of Colonel Linn, a famous scout, who had been killed by Indians. To them Colonel Pope sustained the relation of guardian.
Retyped and reformatted by Ray and Kathy Leigh