The Italian Jesuit missionary Father Bressani was born in Rome, 6 May, 1612. At the age of fourteen he entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus. Becoming zealous to serve as missionary among the American Indians, he went to Quebec in the summer of 1642, and the following year he was sent among the Algonquins at Three Rivers. In April, 1644, while on his way to the Huron country, where a mission had been established, he was captured by the Iroquois, who at that time were an exceedingly fierce and even cannibal nation, perpetually at war with nearly the whole known continent. By them he was subjected to tortures, but finally was made over to an old squaw to take the place of a deceased relative. From her he was ransomed by the Dutch at Fort Orange (the modern Albany), and by them he was sent to France, where he arrived in November, 1644. Despite his terrible experiences among the savages, and his maimed condition, the indomitable missionary returned to Canada the next spring, and labored with the Hurons until their mission was destroyed by the Iroquois four years later. In November, 1650, Bressani, in broken health, went back to his native land. Here he spent many years as a preacher and home missionary. He died at Florence, 9 September, 1672. The following account of Father Bressani’s sufferings among the Indians is translated from two of his own letters in his book Breve Relatione d’alcune Missioni nella Nuova Francia, published at Macerata in 1653.
Ransom Clark escaped from an attack initiated by the Seminole Indians in southern Florida between Fort Brooke and Fort King. This attack occurred on 28 Dec 1835, and this account relates his experiences.
John W. B. Thompson’s story of “captivity” is really a captive story about being attacked by Seminole Indians at the Cape Florida Lighthouse he manned with what appears to be his slave. Written by him to let his friends know that he was alive, though crippled, the letter to the editor of the Charleston (S. C.) Courier details the frightful event of 23 July 1836. The Seminole Indians who attacked him likely pillaged the premise for supplies as they were taking their families into the marsh around Cape Florida where they were attempting to hide from the forced migration of their tribe to Oklahoma.
James Smith, pioneer, was born in Franklin county, Pennsylvania, in 1737. When he was eighteen years of age he was captured by the Indians, was adopted into one of their tribes, and lived with them as one of themselves until his escape in 1759. He became a lieutenant under General Bouquet during the expedition against the Ohio Indians in 1764, and was captain of a company of rangers in Lord Dunmore’s War. In 1775 he was promoted to major of militia. He served in the Pennsylvania convention in 1776, and in the assembly in 1776-77. In the latter year he was commissioned colonel in command on the frontiers, and performed distinguished services. Smith moved to Kentucky in 1788. He was a member of the Danville convention, and represented Bourbon county for many years in the legislature. He died in Washington county, Kentucky, in 1812. The following narrative of his experience as member of an Indian tribe is from his own book entitled “Remarkable Adventures in the Life and Travels of Colonel James Smith,” printed at Lexington, Kentucky, in 1799. It affords a striking contrast to the terrible experiences of the other captives whose stories are republished in this book; for he was well treated, and stayed so long with his red captors that he acquired expert knowledge of their arts and customs, and deep insight into their character.
Captain Jonathan Carver’s narrative of his capture, and subsequent escape from the Indians, at the Bloody Massacre Committed By them, when Fort William Henry fell into the hands of the French, under Gen. Montcalm, in the year 1757. Written by himself.