George Hooker Colton.

The American review : a Whig journal of politics, literature, art, and science (Volume 15) online

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voyagers continued their descent, rejoicing
in the happy omen which the friendship of
the Chickamanga chieftain opened for their
future. The next day, the 9 th of May, the
solitary perogue or flatboat of the pioneer
Brown had passed several Indian villages,
and had come in view of the towns of Run-
ning Water and Nickajack, the last Cherokee
towns where there was any considerable
body of Indians. The voyagers began to
rejoice in their happy deliverance from the
principal dangers which had threatened their
journey. They would in a few hours be
through the passes of the mountains, on the
wide bosom of a noble river, where they
would be comparatively free from the am-
buscades of lurking Indians.

But suddenly four canoes, with white
flags raised, and naked savages kneeling in
them as rowers, ghde out into the river and
rapidly approach ; fearing some mischief.
Brown immediately turned his cannon upon
the approaching canoes, and, with lighted
match, bade them keep oflf at the peril of
their lives.

Struck with astonishment at the bold
threat, they pause, and pull their frail canoes
a little out of the range of the big gun. A
man by the name of John Vaun, a well-
known half-breed, who spoke good English,
was the leader of the party, but he was un-
known to Brown. Vaun spoke to Brown,
and said that his party came in friendship ;
that, as an evidence of that, they had raised
a white flag ; that they came as his friends
to trade with him. Brown, who was a bold
and fearless man, and dared to face a thou-
sand savages, still kept them off; but at
last, confiding in the assurances of Vaun
that he was a white man, and that the
Indians would respect the persons and
property of his party, in an unguarded
moment consented that a part of the Indians
might come on board. A dozen Indians
now came on board, and lashed their canoes
to the side of the boat. As they came near
the town, hundreds of Indians dashed out
into the river in their canoes, and came
alongside of the boat. Having thus secured
possession of the boat, the leading men,



1852.



Historical Traditions of Tennessee.



239



more especially Vaiin, assured Brown that
no harm was intended. In the mean time,
each Indian seized upon whatever he fancied
and threw it into his canoe. In this way
several boxes and trunks were instantly
rifled. Vaun pretended to order his follow-
ers to abstain, but they paid no attention to
him. A bold warrior now demanded of
Brown the key to a large chest, which con-
tained his most valuable stores, which he
refused to give, telling the Indian that Mrs.
Brown had it. The Indian now demanded
it of Mrs. Brown, but she boldly refused to
give it up.

The Indian then split the top of the chest
open with his tomahawk, and his example
was immediately followed by the other
Indians, who broke open and rifled every
box and package on the boat. While this
was going on, an Indian rudely took hold
of Joseph Brown, a lad fifteen years old, and
the old man seized the Indian and forced
him to let the boy go. An instant after,
the Indian seized a sword which was lying
on the boat, and while the old man Brown's
back was turned to him, struck him on the
back of the neck, almost severing his head
from his body. Brown turned in the agony
of death and seized the Indian, and in the
struggle Avas thrown overboard into the
river, where he sank to rise no more. The
boat was now turned into the mouth of a
little creek, in the town of Nickajack, and
the whole party taken on shore, in the midst
of several hundred warriors, women and
children. In the mean time, Vaun continued
to tell the sons of Brown that all this was
a violation of the treaty of Hopewell, and
that Breath, who was the chief of Nickajack
and Running Water, who was expected there
that night, would punish the marauders, re-
store their goods, and send them on their
voyage. But at this very moment, several
leading warriors of the upper towns had seized
upon Brown's negroes as lawful spoil, and had
dispatched them in canoes to their several
homes. Whatever may have been Vaun's
true motives, his interference on this occasion
had the eSect to place the whole party at
the mercy of the Indians, without a particle
of resistance. If he acted in good faith, lie
was shamefully deceived by his followers ;
but if he only used his address to disarm
the voyagers, that they might the more
easily fall victims to savage ferocity, his con-
duct exhibits the climax of perfidy.



A party of Creek braves, who were en-
gaged with the men of Nickajack and Run-
ning Water in this outrage, having seized
upon their share of the plunder, and having
taken possession of Mrs. Brown and her son
George, ten years old, and three small
daughters, immediately began their march
to their own nation. While the Chero-
kees were deliberating upon the fate of the
prisoners and a division of the spoils, they
adroitly withdrew from the council, on the
plea that this all belonged to the head men
of Nickajack. Thus, in one short hour, de-
prived of husband, sons, friends, liberty, and
all, this devoted woman, with her five
smallest children, begins her sad journey on
foot, along the rugged, flinty trails that lead
to the Creek towns on the Tallapoosa river.

At the time of this outrage, there was
living at or near Nickajack, a French trader
named Thomas Tunbridge, who was married
to a white woman, who had been taken
prisoner near Mobile, when an infant, and
raised by the Indians. After she was
grown, she was exchanged, but refused to
leave the Indians, distrusting her abilities to
adapt her habits to civilized life. She had
been married to an Indian brave, by whom she
had a son, now twenty-two years old, who was
one of the boldest warriors of the Cherokee
towns. He had already killed six white
men in his forays to the Cumberland settle-
ment. Having all the versatility of his
mother's race, as well as the ferocity and
courage of his father, he was fast rising into
distinction as a warrior, and bade fair to
reach the first honors of his nation. His
praises for daring and chivalry were in the
mouths of all.

His mother was now growing old, and
having no young children, her son de-
sired to present to her some bright-eyed
boy as a slave ; for, according to the
savage code of the times, each captive be-
came a sJave to his captor. This woman's
son, whose name was Kiachatalee, was one
of tie leaders of the marauding party who
had seized upon Brown's boat, and from the
jSrst knew the fate of the party. Before the
boat landed, he tried to induce Joseph, a
boy then fifteen years old, but quite small,
to get into his canoe, with the intention of
withdrawing him from the general massacre
that was soon to take place, but the boy
would not go with him. When the boat
landed, Kiachatalee took Joseph to his



240



Historical Traditions of Tennessee.



March,



step-father, Tunbrldge, who in good English
told the boy that he lived a mile out of
the town, and invited him to go and spend
the night with him. This the boy did, after
asking the consent of his older brothers.
Tunbridge seized the boy by the hand and
hurried him away. They had scarcely gone
out of the town before they heard the rifles
of the savage braves, who were murdering
his brothers and friends. What were the
feehngs of this poor boy at this moment?
His father slain by an Indian brave ; his
brothers and friends weltering in their blood,
amidst the yells of savage assassins ; and his
mother, and brother, and sisters borne off, he
knew not whither, by a band of lawless
Creek marauders ! To add to his agony at
such a moment, an aged Indian woman,
with hair disheveled, and her round, fat face
discolored with excitement, followed them to
the trader's house, caUing upon Tunbridge
to produce the white men, exclaiming, with
a fiendish air of triumph, "All the rest are
killed, and he must die also !"

The trader calmly replied to her, " He's
only a little boy. It's a shame to kill
children. He shall not be killed."

The old hag was excited, and vowed that
the boy should be killed. She said, " He
was too large to allow him to live. In two
or three yeai*s he would be a man ; he
would learn the country, its towns and its
rivers ; would make his escape, and come
back with an army of white men to destroy
us all." She said her son, Cutty-a-toy, was a
brave chief, and that he would be there in a
few minutes to kill the boy.

In a few minutes, Cutty-a-toy, followed by
many armed warriors, rushed upon the
trader's house, and demanded the white
boy. The chief said the boy was too large,
that he would soon be grown, would make
his escape, and bring back an army to de-
stroy their town.

The trader stood, with cool courage, in
the door of his lodge, and refused to surren-
der the prisoner, saying it was not right to
kill children, and also warning the angry
chief that the boy was the prisoner of Kia-
chatalee, his son, and, if he was injured or
slain, Kiachatalee would be revenged for it.
As Kiachatalee was only a young warrior,
and Cutty-a-toy a chief and a gray-beard, this
threat of revenge greatly incensed him. In
an instant he raised his tomahawk, and, with
the air of a man who intends a deed of mur-



der, demanded of the trader, "And are you
the friend of the Virginian ?"

Answering the look rather than the words,
the trader stepped out of his door, and said
to the bloody brave, " Take him."

Cutty-a-toy then rushed into the trader's
lodge, seized the boy by the throat, and was
about to brain him with his tomahawk, when
the wife of Tunbridge interposed, in a tone
of supplication which at once succeeded.

" Will the brave chieftain kill the boy in
my house ? Let not the boy's blood stain
my floor."

The appeal of the woman reached the
savage's heart. He dropped his weapon,
and slowly dragged the boy out of the lodge
into the midst of a crowd of savages, who
waved their knives and hatchets in the poor
boy's face, in order to enjoy his terror.

In the path which led from the house, the
boy fell upon his knees while the savages
were tearing off his clothes, and asked the
trader to request the savages to give him
one half hour to pray. The trader roughly
replied, " Boy, it's not worth while ; they'll
kill you." As the boy stood in momentary
expectation of his fate, the trader's wife
again interposed, and begged the savage
chief not to kill the boy in her yard, or in ,
the path along which she had to carry water, j
but to take him out into the mountains, *
where the birds and wolves might eat up his
flesh, where she could not see his blood !

The appeal of the woman was again
heard, and, giving the boy his pantaloons,
they held a short talk, and agreed to take
the boy down to the Running Water, saying
to the trader's wife, " We will not spill this
boy's blood near your house ; but we will
take him to Running Water, where we will
have a frolic knocking him in the head."

Having gone about three hundred yards,
they halted and formed a circle around the
boy, and with their tomahawks seemed to
be on the point of killing him. The boy
again fell upon his knees, and, with his face
upturned towards heaven, and his hands
firmly clasped on his breast, remained in
prayer, expecting at each moment the fatal
blow. At this dreadful moment the boy
thought of Stephen, to whose vision the hea-
vens were opened at the moment of his
death, and was happy. As the savage braves
stood around him, young Brown saw their
stern brows of revenge suddenly relax, and
a smile of sympathy and pity succeed. They



1852.



Historical Traditions of Tennessee,



241



called the trader, told him to take the boy,
that they would not kill him ; and Cutty-a-toy
said he loved the boy, and would come back
in three weeks and make friends with him.
It was afterwards ascertained that Cutty-a-toy
had taken some of Brown's negroes, and
claimed them as his prisoners, and that his
fear lest Kiachatalee might retaliate by
killing his negro prisoners, was the thought
which suddenly turned Cutty-a-toy to mercy
and pity. So thought his own followers;
for when he said he loved the boy, and would
not kill him, his savage followers replied:

" No, no, he does not love the boy ; it's
the boy's negro he loves."

When Catty-a-toy's mother saw that the
boy's life would not be taken, she seemed
displeased ; went up to the boy and cut off
his scalp-lock, and kicked him so rudely in
the side as almost to kill him, exclaiming,
" I've got the Virginian's scalp." i

The Tuskegee chief, Cutty-a-toy, led his \
party away, leaving the boy in the hands of
the trader and his wife. In two or three
days, the boy was taken into Nickajack, and
the kind old chief. Breath, who greatly
regretted what had taken place in his ab-
sence, took Joseph by the hand, calmly
heard a narrative of his situation from the
trader's wife, and then told the boy that he
must be adopted into his tribe, and become
an Indian, if he would save his life ; that there
was no other way in which his life could be
saved. To that end, the chief adopted him
into his own family, and told Joseph that
he was his uncle, and that Kiachatalee was
his brother. His head was then shaved,
leaving only a fillet of hair on the top, in
which a bunch of feathers was tied, his ears
pierced for rings, and his clothes taken off;
the flap substituted for trowsers, and a short
shirt substituted for a coat, shirt, and vest,
and his nether vestments consisting of a pair
of deer-skin moccasins. In this condition he
was pronounced an Indian, with the excep-
tion of a slit in each ear, which the kindness of
the chief deferred making until cold weather.

The trader's wife took him to see his two
sisters, Jane, aged ten, and Polly, aged five
years, who had just been brought back to
Nickajack ; a party of Cherokees having pur-
sued the Creek braves, and recaptured" from
them these two small girls, after they had been
taken some distance toward the Creek towns.
From his sister Jane, Joseph learned the
destination of the party who had carried off



his mother, his brother George, and sister
Elizabeth. These children were now in the
same town, adopted into different families,
and it was a source of consolation to them
to be allowed to see each other occasionally.
In the various toils which were imposed
upon these captive children, such as carrying
water and wood, pounding hominy, and
working corn in the fields, and, on the part
of the boy, in looking after the stock, nearly
a year passed off, without many incidenia
worthy of note. Hostile parties of savages
came and went, and tales of barbarous deeds
done by them on the distant frontiers wera
often told in the hearing of these children, but
none of them brought deliverance for them.
Yet in but few instances did the savage
neighbors of these captive children treat
them unkindly. Three or four times the
boy's life was in danger from lawless braves,
whose bloodthirsty natures panted for the
blood of the white man. The good old chief
Breath, hearing of these things, caused young
Brown to be armed, and declared that it
should be lawful for him to slay any Indian
who should mistreat him.

In a few months Joseph was allowed a
rifle and a horse, and permitted to go into
the woods to hunt. He "might often have
availed himself of the kindness of his savage
friends, and made his escape to the frontiers,
but he loved his little sisters, and his love for
them restrained his desire for freedom, lest
his escape might add to the rigoi's of their
slavery, or perhaps for ever prevent their
deliverance.

In the mean time, an open war had been
going on between the Indians and the people
of Cumberland and East Tennessee. Two
thousand warriors, principally Cherokees, of
whom four or five hundred were horsemen,
dressed as white men, made an irruption
into East Tennessee, killing every thing before
them.

During this invasion, the Indians, sending
forward their mounted men, dressed as white
men, were enabled to surprise many, and
thus to make a havoc which they could not
have done otherwise. This irruption of the
Indians was caused, they alleged, by the
murder of Tassel, their chief, when he had
gone under a white flag to General Sevier,
to hold a talk. In this foray, the Indiana
took Fort Gillespie, murdered the garrison,
and carried off Mrs. Glass, the sister of Cap-
tain Gillespie.



in



Historical Traditions of Tennessee.



March,



The whole country was aroused. General
Joseph Martin and General John Sevier
headed a large army, marched into the In-
dian nation, burnt their towns, and carried off
their women and children. Amongst other
prisoners taken at this time, was the daughter
of Turkey, the chief of the Cherokees.

In the spring of 1789, an exchange of
prisoners was agreed upon, at a talk held
with General Sevier. It was agreed that
the Cherokees should make an absolute
surrender of all the white prisoners within
their borders, and runners were sent to each
of the head men, to send their captives to
the Little Turkey for an exchange. When
these runners came to Nickajack, young
Brown was on a trading trip down the river
with his Indian brother Kiachatalee, and did
not return until Mrs. Glass and all the other
prisoners had gone up to Running Water,
where the chief was awaiting their arrival.

When young Brown got home, he was
sent with one of his sisters to Running
Water, in order to be sent up to the treaty
grounds to be exchanged. His little sister
would not leave her Indian mother, who had
ever treated her kindly, but wept and clung
to her neck, declaring that it would break
her Indian mother's heart if she left her.
This tender feeling was a tribute to savage
kindness, but young Brown finally took his
sister in his arras, and carried her some dis-
tance, before he could reconcile her to go
with him. His eldest sister belonged to a
trader, who said he had bought her with his
money, and would not let her go. Young-
Brown had to leave her behind, being wholly
unable to redeem her.

At Running Water, young Brown heard
Turkey, the head chief, stating to his chiefs
around him the terms of the treaty he had
made ; and in doing so, his followers upbraid-
ed him for agreeing to deliver so many pri-
soners without any ransom.

To tliis the chief replied that " Little
John (meaning Governor Sevier) would have
it so ; that he was a very mean man вАФ a dog ;
but he had my daughter a prisoner, and he
knew I would have to agree to any terms, to
get her back."

The next morning, when the Indian chief
was about to start his prisoners forward,
young Brown refused to go, and was taken
to the chief to give his reasons. Ho then
stated that one of his sisters was left in
Nickajack, and that he never would consent



to be set at liberty without his sister. The
savage chief immediately sent for the girl,
and after some dslay. Colonel Bench, the
chief of the mounted regiment of Indians,
went himself, and brought the girl to Run-
ning Water. Thus, about the first of May,
1789, young Brown and his two sisters were
once more restored to liberty. Being reduced
to poverty, these now orphan children were
sent into South Carolina, to sojourn with
some relatives until their elder brother, who
was in Cumberland, could go after them, or
until their mother should be released from
her captivity amongst the Creeks.*

In order to keep up the thread of our nar-
rative, we must now return to the 9th of
May, 1788, and continue the narrative of
Mrs. Brown's captivity. Having seen her
husband fall by the hands of savages, she
was hurried away by her captors, and took
the road southward, just as she heard the yells
and rifles of the cruel savages who also mur-
dered her sons and their companions. What
must have been the feelings of horror and
agony of this poor woman, herself a prisoner
in the hands of she knew not whom, and
borne she knew not whither ! To add to
the horror of her situation, she soon saw two
of her sweet little daughters torn from her
side by a party of Cherokees, and borne
back, she knew not whither, nor for what
end!

Driven forward on foot for many days and
nights, she continued to bear up under the
bodily fatigues and mental anguish by which
she was tortured, her feet blistered and
swollen, and driven before the pack-horses,
along a flinty path, every moment expecting
death if she failed, and every moment ex-
pecting to fail ! She yet accomplishes many
days' travel, and finally reaches one of the
upper Creek towns on the Tallapoosa, far
down in the wilderness, the prisoner and
slave of a savage brave. Arrived at the
town of her captor, she finds she is a slave,
doomed to bear wood and water, and to



* During the Creek war of 1812, Joseph
Brown, then a colonel, met a French trader who
lived at Nickajack, who told him he had his father's
library, taken from his boat on the 9th of May,
1788, which he had bought from the Indians, and
generously offered to restore it to Brown at cost
Although the books were valuable. Colonel Brown
never succeeded in obtaining them, and they are
now in all probability in some Cherokee Library
in the West.



1852.



Historical Traditions of Tennessee.



243



pound hominy, and to do all the servile
offices of her savage mistress. To add to
her distress, her son, nine years old, and her
daughter, seven, are taken to different towns,
and she is left indeed alone in her sorrow.

At the period of Mrs. Brown's captivity,
Alexander M'Gillevray, a half-breed Creek,
of Scotch descent, was the head chief of the
Muscogee Indians, and actually assumed the
high-sounding title of Commander-in-chief
of the Upper and Lower Creeks and the
Seminoles ; being the military as well as
the civil governor of all the Indians of
Florida, Alabama, and Lower Georgia. He
was a man of letters, of keen sagacity,
forest-born and forest-bred, combining the
shrewdness of the savage with the learning
of the civilized man. Fortunately for Mrs.
Brown, her cruel captor took her to a town
in which lived a sister of M'Gillevray, who
was the wife of a French trader by the name
of Durant. Her age and dignified bearing
under the toils which were imposed upon
her, excited the sympathy and compassion
of this kind-hearted Indian woman. Several
weeks passed before she found an opportu-
nity, but when Mrs. Brown's savage master
was absent, the wife of Durant spoke to her
kindly, told her that she pitied her for her
sorrow, and would, if she could, relieve her.
She told that her brother, the chief of the
Creeks, did not approve of his people making
slaves of the white women ; and that he
was a liberal, high-minded man, who had a
soul of honor, and could never turn away
from a helpless woman who flew to him for
succor. " Why do you not fly to him ? "
asked the simple-hearted woman.

Mrs. Brown explained to her her total
ignorance of the country, and her inability
to reach the residence of Col. McGillevray.
The Indian woman listened to her, and then
said, " It is true ; but if you will, there is my
horse, and there is my saddle. You are
welcome to them; but you must take them.
I cannot give them, but my husband shall
never pursue. You can take them without



dani



It was arranired. On a certain



morning the Indian woman sent an aged
Indian to a trader's house, who was to act
as the guide of Mrs. Brown that far, and
from that point the trader was to procure a
guide and a horse.

At the appointed time, Mrs. Brown, mount-
ed upon her friend's horse and saddle, start-
ed on in pursuit of her Indian guide, who



traveled on as though he was entirely un-
conscious of her existence. She arrived in
safety at the trader's lodge, and was by him
furnished with a guide and horse to the
chieftain's residence. Full of gratitude for
intended kindness, yet she approached the
Creek chieftain with many feelings of doubt
and misgiving. He received her kindly,
heard her story attentively, and, after con-
sidering it well, gave Mrs. Brown a cordial
welcome to his house, and bade her stay with
his wife, as a member of his family. He
explained to her that, according to the usage
of his people, she belonged to her captor,
and that he had no right to take her from
him.

He said, however, that he could no doubt
reconcile her master by some presents, when
he should follow, as he no doubt would
before long. He told her she could make
shirts or other garments for the traders, and
soon provide herself with every thing neces-
sary for her comfort. In the mean time, he
would furnish her with whatever she needed.



Online LibraryGeorge Hooker ColtonThe American review : a Whig journal of politics, literature, art, and science (Volume 15) → online text (page 46 of 109)