Page images

Mrs. Slocum's Presentiments. A Foundling. Disappointment. Singular Discovery of the “lost Sister.”

and she felt assured that Frances was not in the grave. Her soul appeared to commune with that of her child, and she often said, “I know Frances is living.” At length the mother's heart was cheered; a woman (for many years had now passed, and Frances, if living, must be a full-grown woman) was found among the Indians, answering the description of the lost one. She only remembered being carried away from the Susquehanna. Mrs. Slocum took her home and cherished her with a mother's tenderness. Yet the mysterious link of sympathy which binds the maternal spirit to its offspring was unselt, and the bereaved mother was bereaved still. “It may be Frances, but it does not seem so. Yet the woman shall be ever welcome,” said Mrs. Slocum. The foundling also felt no filial yearnings, and, both becoming convinced that no consanguinity existed, the orphan returned to her Indian friends. From time to time the hope of the mother would be revived, and journeys were made to distant Indian settlements in search of the lost sister, but in vain. The mother went “down into the grave mourning,” and little Frances was almost forgotten. Her brothers had become aged men, and their grandchildren were playing upon the very spot whence she had been taken. In the summer of 1837, fifty-nine years after her capture, intelligence of Frances was received. Colonel Ewing, an Indian agent and trader, in a letter from Logansport, Indiana, to the editor of the Lancaster Intelligencer," gave such information that all doubts respecting her identity were removed, and Joseph Slocum, with the sister who carried him to the fort, and yet survived, immediately journeyed to Ohio, where they were joined by their younger brother Isaac. They proceeded to Logansport, where they found Mr. Ewing, and ascertained that the woman spoken of by him lived about twelve miles from the village. She was immediately sent for, and toward evening the next day she came into the town, riding a spirited young horse, accompanied by her two daughters, dressed in full Indian costume, and the husband of one of them. An interpreter was procured (for she could not speak or understand English), and she listened seriously to what her brothers had to say. She answered but little, and at sunset departed for her home, promising to return the next morning. The brothers and sister were quite sure that it was indeed Frances, though in her face nothing but Indian lineaments were seen, her color alone revealing her origin. True to her appointment, she appeared the following morning, accompanied as before. Mr. Joseph Slocum then mentioned a mark of recognition, which his mother had said would be a sure test. While playing one day with a hammer in a blacksmith's shop, Joseph, then a child two and a half years old, gave Frances a blow upon the middle finger of the left hand, which crushed the bone and deprived the finger of its mail. This test Mr. Slocum had withheld until others should fail. When he mentioned it, the aged woman was greatly agitated, and, while tears filled the furrows of her face, she held out the wounded finger. There was no longer a doubt, and a scene of great interest ensued. Her affections for her

* This letter was dated January 20th, 1835, a year and a half previous, and gave the following account: “There is now living near this place, among the Miami tribe of Indians, an aged white woman, who, a few days ago, told me that she was taken away from her father's house, on or near the Susquehanna River, when she was very young. She says her father's name was Slocum; that he was a Quaker, and wore a largebrimmed hat; that he lived about half a mile from a town where there was a fort. She has two daughters living. Her husband is dead. She is old and feeble, and thinks she shall not live long. These considerations induced her to give the present history of herself, which she never would before, fearing her kindred would come and force her away. She has lived long and happily as an Indian, is very respectable and wealthy, sober and honest. Her name is without reproach.” The cause of the delay in the publication of the letter, and of its final appearance and effect, was not a little singular. Mr. Ewing sent it to the postmaster at Lancaster, with a request that he would have it published in a Pennsylvania paper. The postmaster, not acquainted with the writer, concluded that it was a hoax, and cast the letter among other papers, where it remained a year and a half. One day his wife, while engaged in arranging the office, saw the letter, and, having her feelings very much interested, sent it to the editor of the Intelligencer. It so happened that the issue of his paper in which the letter was published contained an important temperance document, and a large number of extra copies were printed for general distribution. One of these was sent to a gentleman in Wyoming, who, having heard the story of the “lost sister,” and knowing Mr. Joseph Slocum, put the paper into his hands; and thus, by a series of providential circumstances, a clew to Frances was discovered.

Interview between the “lost Sister” and her white Kindred. Her Narrative. Her Condition. Children and Grandchildren

kindred, that had slumbered half a century, were aroused, and she made earnest inquiries after her father, mother, brothers, and sisters. Her full heart—full with the cherished secrets of her history—was opened, and the story of her life freely given. She said the sav. - - ages (who were Delawares), after taking her to a rocky cave in the mountains, departed for the Indian country. The first night was the unhappiest of her life. She was kindly treated, being carried tenderly in their arms when she was weary. She was adopted in an Indian family, and brought up as their daughter. For years she led a roving life, and loved it. She was taught the use of the bow and arrow, and became expert in all the employments of savage existence. When she was grown to womanhood both her Indian parents died, and she soon afterward married a young chief of the nation, and removed to the Ohio country. She was treated with more respect than the Indian women generally; and so happy was she in her domestic relations, that the chance of being discovered and compelled to return among the whites was the greatest evil that she feared, for she had been taught that they were the implacable enemies of the Indians, whom she loved. Her husband died, and, her people having joined the Miamies, she went with them and married one of that tribe. The last husband was also dead, and she had been a widow many years. Children and grandchildren were around her, and her life was passing pleasantly away. When she concluded the narrative, she lifted her right hand in a solemn manner, and said, “All this is as true as that there is a Great Spirit in the heavens !” She had entirely forgotten her native language, and was a pagan. To her Christ and the Christian's Sabbath were unknown. On the day after the second interview, the brothers and sister, with the interpreter, rode out to her dwelling. It was a well-built log house, in the midst of cultivation. A large herd of cattle and sixty horses were grazing in the pastures. Every thing betokened plenty and comfort, for she was wealthy, when her wants and her means were compared. Her an: nuity from government, which she received as one of the Miami tribe, had been saved, and she had about one thousand dollars in specie. Her white friends passed several days very agreeably with her; and subsequently her brother Joseph, with his daughter, the wife of

[ocr errors]

FRANCEs Slocum-MA-cox

[ocr errors]

* This portrait I copied from a painting of life size in the possession of her brother, Mr. Joseph Slocum, of Wilkesbarre. It was painted for him by an artist named Winter, residing at Logansport. Her underdress is scarlet, and the mantle with the large sleeve is black cloth. The Indians gave her the name of Ma-con-a-qua, a Young Bear. The names of her children and grandchildren are as follows: Eldest daughter, Kich-ke-ne-che-quah, Cut Finger; youngest daughter, O-saw-she-quah, Yellow Leaf. Grandchildren: Kip-pe-no-quah, Corn Tassel; Wap-pa-no-se-a, Blue Corn; Kim-on-sa-quah, Young Panther. A A


A Sabbath in Wyoming. Visit to Mrs. Myers. Incidents of her Life. Escape of her Father and Brother from Indians.

the Hon. Ziba Bennet of Wyoming, made her another visit, and bade her a last farewell. She died about four years ago, and was buried with considerable pomp, for she was regarded as a queen among her tribe." September 18, I passed a Sabbath in Wyoming. It was a dull and cheerless day. The 1848. mountains were hooded with vapor, and all day a chilly drizzle made the trees weep. But Monday morning dawned clear and warm, and in the course of the day I revisited Forty Fort and the battle-ground, ascended the mountain to Prospect Rock, to obtain another glorious view of the valley, peeped into the black caverns of the coal mines at the foot of the hills, and at noon took shelter from the hot sun in the shaded walks of Toby's Eddy, where Zinzendorf pitched his tent. Thence I rode to the residence of Mr. Myers, a son of the venerable lady already alluded to, where I passed an interesting hour with the living chronicle of the woes of Wyoming. I found her sitting in an easy chair, peeling apples, and her welcome was as cheerful and cordial as she could have given to a cherished friend. Her memory was clear, and she related the incidents of her girlhood with a perspicuity that evinced remarkable mental vigor. Although blindness has shut out the beautiful, and deprived her of much enjoyment, yet pious resignation, added to natural vivacity, makes her society extremely agreeable. “I am like a withered stalk, whose flower hath fallen,” she said; “but,” she added, with a pleasant smile, “the fragrance still lingers.” She was sixteen years old at the time of the invasion, and was in Forty Fort when it surrendered. Every minute circumstance there she remembered clearly, and her narrative of events was substantially the same as recorded in the last chapter. Her father's house was near the fort, and for a week after the surrender it was spared, while others were plundered and destroyed. Every morning when she arose her first thought was their house, and she would go early to see if it was safe. One morning as she looked she saw the flames burst through the roof, and in an hour it was a heap of embers. She remained two weeks in the valley after the surrender of the fort. The Indians kept her face painted and a white fillet around her head, as a protection against the tomahawks of strange savages, and she was treated very kindly by them. When Colonel Denison and others fled from the valley, she and her family accompanied them. After the savages left the valley, her family returned, and for seventy years she has enjoyed the sweets of peace and domestic happiness. Her maiden mame was Bennet, and her family were conspicuous in the events at Wyoming during the Revolution.” She has been many years a widow. One of her sons was high sheriff of Luzerne county, another was a magistrate, and a daughter is the wife of the Rev. Dr. Peck, the editor of the Methodist Episcopal Review, published at the “Book Concern,” in New York. She is yet living (November, 1849), at the ripe age of eighty-eight years, honored and beloved by all. I returned to Wilkesbarre at sunset. The evening was as pleasant as June, and the moonlight scene from the upper piazza of the Phoenix, embracing the quiet-flowing Susquehanna, with its fringe of noble trees; the sparkling of the lights at

September 20.

* When the Miamies were removed from Indiana, the “lost sister” and her Indian relatives were exempted. The affecting story of her life was laid before Congress, and so eloquently did John Quincy Adams plead her cause, that he drew tears from the eyes of many members. Congress gave her a tract of land a mile square, to be held in perpetuity by her descendants, and there her children and grandchildren still dwell.

* Her brother Solomon was in the battle. In the spring succeeding the invasion, the father of Mrs. Myers, her brother (a lad), and Lebbeus Hammond (one of the two who escaped from Queen Esther at the bloody rock) were captured by a party of Indians while at work in the field, and hurried away to the north. It was evident that they were destined for torture, and, while the Indians were drinking at a spring on the third day of their journey into the wilderness, they concerted a plan for escape. Mr. Bennet, being old, was allowed to travel unbound, but the arms of Hammond and the boy were tied. There were six Indians in the party. At night all were laid down to sleep but Mr. Bennet and an Indian. The former brought in dry wood for the fire, and kept himself busy for some time. He then sat down by the fire, and, taking up a spear, he rolled it playfully on his thigh. The Indian finally began to nod, and the others were snoring soundly. Watching his opportunity, Bennet thrust the savage through with the spear, cut the cords that bound his son and Hammond, and the three attacked the sleeping savages. Five were killed, the other one escaped. The captives returned home, bringing, as trophies, the scalps of the slain savages.

Revival of Civil War in Wyoming. Decree of Trenton. Its Effect. Injustice toward the “Yankees.” Inaction of Congress.

Kingston, and the dark outline of the Shawnee Mountains, all hallowed by historic associations, was one of great beauty and interest. Let us employ the quiet hour in reminiscences of some stirring events that occurred, within trumpet call of our presence, after the Revolution, for early on the morrow I must leave Wyoming, perhaps forever. We have considered the civil war that disturbed Wyoming before the Revolution. That great movement absorbed all lesser topics; but as soon as the storm had subsided, and private interests again became paramount, old jealousies and animosities were resuscitated, and struggled into active life. As soon as all fear of the Indians had subsided, Connecticut poured hundreds of immigrants into this paradise of the Susquehanna. The influx was regarded with jealousy by the Pennsylvanians, and it was not long before all the rancor of the Pennymite and Yankee war was reproduced. The Articles of Confederation, under which the general government of the United States was carried on, having made provision for the adjustment of difficulties that might arise between states, and Connecticut insisting upon the maintenance of its jurisdiction over Wyoming, Pennsylvania applied to Congress to appoint a commission to hear the claimants by representatives, and to determine the question in dispute. The commissioners met at Trenton, in New Jersey, toward the close of 1782, and, after a session of five weeks, decided, unanimously, that Connecticut had no right to the land in controversy, and that the jurisdiction and pre-emption of all lands belonged to Pennsylvania. The people of Wyoming appeared to be well satisfied with the decision, for, considering it a question of jurisdiction only, they deemed it a matter of little moment whether they rendered allegiance to Connecticut or Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvanians, however, did not so construe the decision, but contended not only for jurisdiction, but for the soil, and steps were immediately taken for a sweeping ejectment of the Connecticut settlers. In March ensuing, two companies were sent to garrison the fort at Wilkesbarre, under the pretext of affording protection to the people; and the name of the fort was changed to Dickinson, in honor of the President of the Council of the State. Pennsylvania had already appointed three commissioners to repair to Wyoming, to inquire into the state of affairs, and report proper measures to be adopted toward the settlers. Their report proposed an entire surrender, on the part of the Wyoming people, of their tenures, and all claim to the soil then in their possession, with their improve. ments; in lieu of which they were to receive an indefinite compensation, at the option of their oppressors, in the wild lands of some unknown region. It was a most unjust and tyrannical measure, for the right to the soil had been purchased, not only with money, but with the dreadful sufferings of those about to be driven away. This report of the commissioners, and the quartering of troops in the valley, now that the war was ended, and the spirit of tyrannical domination that characterized the soldiers, greatly exasperated the people, and they were upon the verge of open insurrection for several months. Early in the autumn two special justices of the peace were appointed, who, in concert with the military, formed a tribunal for the adjudication of all questions arising under the civil law. The real object of constituting this tribunal, sustained by military force, was obvious; it was to dispossess the Connecticut people of their farms. The tribunal became an instrument of cruelty and oppression, and a disgrace to the character of civilization. The next year, according to Chapman, “the people were not only subject to insult, but their crops were destroyed in their fields, their cattle were seized and driven away, and in some instances their houses were destroyed by fire and the females rendered victims of licentiousness.” But why this rigorous treatment 2 “It was,” says Pickering, “not only to strip the people of their possessions, but, by wearying them of their “promised land, drive them from the valley.” Although the inhabitants were greatly excited, they loved peace and order, and appealed to the Legislature of Pennsylvania for justice. Their appeal was unnoticed, and they sent a memorial to Congress. That body resolveda that a . January 23, committee of the states should hear both parties on the first Monday in June fol- 1784. lowing; but neither Congress nor a committee of the states were in session at the time des. ignated, and the people were left without redress.

1783. Great Deluge in Wyoming. Danger and Distress of the Inhabitants. Reappearance of the Soldiers. Renewal of Hostilities.

In the mean while a terrible scourge swept over the valley. The winter had been intensely cold; snow fell to a great depth, and the Susquehanna was bridged by ice of uncommon thickness. The mountains, covered with forests, treasured up vast beds of snow among their rocks and in their deep ravines, from the action of the sun. In March, a warm rain fell for nearly three days in succession. The snow melted, and every mountain rivulet became a sweeping torrent, pouring its volume into the Susquehanna. The ice in the river was broken up, and the huge masses, borne upon the flood, obstructed by trees, formed immense dams, spreading the waters of the swollen river over the plains. At length the narrow Nanticoke pass at the lower end of the valley became blocked with the ice, and the water, flowing back, submerged the river flats, and filled all the lower intervales. Houses and barns were uplifted on the bosom of the waters. The people fled to the higher points in the valley, some to the mountains. For several hours the waters continued to rise, until suddenly a dam in the mountain gorge, at the upper end of the valley, gave way, and down came the flood with fearful strength. All the ice barriers in the valley were broken up, and the ponderous masses of ice, mingled with floating houses, barns, fences, drowned cattle and sheep, stacks of hay, furniture, and agricultural implements, were scattered over the plains," or hurried forward to the broader expanse of the river below. It was a scene of fearful grandeur, and to the poor settlers, shivering in the mountains, or huddled upon the little hills in the midst of the roaring floods, the star of hope seemed forever set. The present was utter desolation—the future would unveil injustice and oppression. As soon as the floods subsided the inhabitants returned, and with them came the soldiers, who snatched from them nearly all of the little food that had been saved, for they were “quartered upon the people.” Their rapacity and oppression were greater than ever, and the settlers, anxious to retrieve their farms from the ruin of the flood, were not allowed to work in peace, but were tormented by them continually. At length the people resolved to oppose their oppressors by force, and armed for the purpose. The magistracy, indignant at their presumption, sent out the soldiers to disarm them; and in the process one hundred and fifty families, many of whom had lost portions of their household in the battle of Wyoming, were turned out of their newly-constructed dwellings, and compelled to fly on foot through the wilderness to the Delaware, a distance of eighty miles. Houses were burned, and other atrocities were committed. Ashamed of such conduct, the Legislature of Pennsylvania (which had refused to vote supplies to the sufferers by the flood), when the naked facts were known, endeavored to heal the wounds which, under its sanction, had been inflicted, and, in a measure, to wipe out the stain that rested upon the state authorities. The troops were discharged, except a small guard left at Fort Dickinson, and a proclamation was issued, inviting the people who had been driven away to return. Some of them did so, but the valley was allowed but a short season of repose. So many of the discharged soldiers joined the guard at the Wilkesbarre Fort, that the people, alarmed, garrisoned Forty Fort. A party of them, having occasion to visit their July 9, grain-fields below, were fired upon by a detachment of thirty from the other fort, and ** two promising young men were killed. The people resolved on retaliation, and about midnight marched to Wilkesbarre Fort, to take the garrison by surprise. The latter, informed of the movement, were prepared to receive them, and the settlers returned to Forty Fort with a stock of provisions. On the 27th, the people, led by Colonel John Franklin, a native of Connecticut, invested the Wilkesbarre Fort, and made a formal summons for surrender. Two hours were allowed the besieged for an answer. Before one hour had elapsed information was received that a considerable re-enforcement for the garrison was approaching. The siege was raised, and the besiegers returned to Forty Fort. It was a false alarm ; the strangers, who were supposed to be the pioneers of a large number who were approaching,


* It is said that so huge were many of the masses of ice that were lodged in different portions of the valley, that it was the last of July before they were melted away.

« PreviousContinue »