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Indian Captivity Narratives

This collection contains entire narratives of Indian captivity; that is to say, we have provided the reader the originals without the slightest abridgement. Some of these captivities provide little in way of customs and manners, except to display examples of the clandestine warfare Native Americans used to accomplish their means. In almost every case, there was a tug of war going on between principle government powers, French, American, British, and Spanish, and these powers used the natural prowess of the Indians to assist them in causing warfare upon American and Canadian settlers. There were definitely thousands of captivities, likely tens of thousands, as the active period of these Indian captivity narratives covers 150 years. Unfortunately, few have ever been put under a pen by the original captive, and as such, we have little first-hand details on their captivity. These you will find here, are only those with which were written by the captive or narrated to another who could write for them; you shall find in a later collection, a database of known captives, by name, location, and dates, and a narrative about their captivity along with factual sources. But that is for another time.

History of the Indian Wars

Our relations with the aboriginal inhabitants of this continent form a distinct and very important, and interesting portion of the history of this Republic. It is unfortunately, for the most part, a history of bloody wars, in which the border settlers have suffered all the horrors of savage aggression, and, in which portions of our colonial settlements have sometimes been completely cut off and destroyed. Other portions of this thrilling history, evince the courage, daring, and patience of the settlers, in a very favorable point of view, and exhibit them as triumphing over every difficulty, and finally obtaining a firm foothold on the soil. In all its parts, this history will always possess numerous points of peculiar interest for the American reader.

The Tribes West of the Mississippi – Indian Wars

By treaties concluded by the agents of the United State government at different periods, nearly all of the Indian tribes have been induced to remove west of the Mississippi. Those who remain in the haunts of their fathers are chiefly converts to Christianity, and in a half civilized state. Many of the tribes have dwindled into insignificance, yet the few who remain are proud to maintain their distinctive appellation, and support the independence of their old clan. The most powerful and numerous tribes in the northwest are the Sioux, or Dacotahs, the Blackfeet, Crows, and Pawnees. A few of the celebrated Delaware tribe still remain, and are a source of terror to their numerous enemies. The Blackfeet Indians occupy the whole of the country about the sources of the Missouri, from the mouth of the Yellow Stone to the Rocky Mountains. Their number is between forty and fifty thousand, and their general bearing is warlike and ferocious. Their enemies are numerous, yet they maintain their ascendancy. The Crows are a much smaller tribe than the Blackfeet, with whom they are always at war. They are fearless warriors, and seek their enemies wherever they are to be found. In number they are about six thousand. The following is an account of one of their battles with the Blackfeet Indians. Fight Between the Crow and the Blackfeet Indians In June, 1845, a party of about seven hundred Crow Indians were driven from their own country by the Sioux, to the vicinity of Fort F. A. C., near the Falls of the Missouri. On the 17th they encountered a small party of Blackfeet warriors,...

The Cherokee Revolt – Indian Wars

From the removal of the Cherokee Indians from Georgia and Tennessee to Arkansas and their establishment upon the reservation allotted to them by treaty with the Government in Arkansas, they have, until the period of this outbreak to the narrative of which this chapter is devoted, been considered as among the least dangerous and most peaceable of the tribes in that region. But through various causes, chief among which has been notably the introduction among them of a horde of those pests of the West the border ruffians; these half wild, half-breed Nomads were encouraged by these Indians, as it appeared, for the sake of the liquor traffic. According to the official accounts of this attempt to reopen hostilities, it appears that on the 11th of April, 1872, it originated with a man named J. J. Kesterson, living in the Cherokee nation, near the Arkansas line, about fifty miles from Little Rock. On that day he went to Little Rock, and filed information against one Proctor, also a white man, married to a Cherokee woman, for assaulting with intent to kill him while in his saw mill, on the 13th of February. Proctor fired a revolver at Kesterson, the ball striking him just above the left eye, but before he could fire again Kesterson escaped. Proctor, at the time, was under indictment in the Snake District for the murder of his wife, and was at that time on trial for the crime. A writ was issued at once, and the Deputy Marshals were ordered to proceed to “Grimy Snake” Court House, remain until the trial was over, and arrest him, if...

The Illinois Indians – Indian Wars

Some years ago there was deposited in the Archives of the “Historical Society” of Chicago a record in reference to the history of the Illinois Indians, a portion of which is interesting as connected with this matter. It was deposited by Judge Caton, who became a citizen of Chicago thirty-nine years ago, when the whole country was occupied as the hunting grounds of the Pottowattomie tribe. Their chief, Shabboni, died in 1849, the only remnant of this once powerful tribe. Of him it could be truth-fully said he was the last of his race. Comparatively not long since the surrounding country was mainly occupied by the Illinois tribe, an important people, ranging from the Wabash River to the Mississippi, and from the Ohio to Lake Superior. They lived mostly in Northern Illinois, centering in La Salle County. Then near Utica stood the largest town ever constructed by Northern Indians, and their great cemeteries attest the extent of the populous hordes of Indians who roamed the forests and prairies at will. La Salle, the Pioneer, discovered them before the great Iroquois Confederation had reached them, after their battle-fields had strewn their victims all along from the Atlantic Coast to the Wabash and from the lakes, and even north of them to the Alleghanies and the Ohio. The Iroquois or Six Nations, with a great slaughter, defeated this hitherto invincible people, laid waste their great city, and scattered them in broken bands over their wide domain. They never recovered from this blow. For a century they struggled, but were finally exterminated by the Pottowattomies and Ottawas at Starved Rock, on the Illinois...

The End of the Florida War, The Fate of the Seminoles – Indian Wars

The close of the troubles with the Florida Indians resulted in their removal to a reservation almost within the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. The tribe, the Seminoles, lost much of their prestige, and became discouraged upon the death of Osceola. The last battle of those terrible swamp skirmishes could be called by the legitimate term of regular pitched battles and occurred December 8th, 1842. The first conflict occurred on the 19th of July, 1835. This second war followed closely upon the treaty which was supposed to have removed beyond any possibility the chance of another outbreak. But only with his total extinction will the Indian forget a wrong either fancied or real. They still brooded over their fancied wrongs. For them, as is told of those who wanted opportunity, the opportunity was made. A settler, newly arrived, and who had located near one of the largest of the Seminole towns, lost two or three of his horses, and entertaining the idea that the Indians were naturally thieves, at once proceeded to the nearest military post and made complaint with such additions and exaggerations to his story as he thought necessary to insure a prompt reprisal and rescue of his property from the depredators. This fermented the ill-feeling of the Indians, who in reality had not taken the horses, for they were afterwards found in a swamp some miles away from their owner’s house, whither they had strayed. One night the settler’s house was fired by a band of about thirty Indians, his wife murdered, and he himself escaping by the merest chance from a similar fate. Thus began...

General History of the Western Indian Tribes 1851-1870 – Indian Wars

Up to 1851, the immense uninhabited plains east of the Rocky Mountains were admitted to be Indian Territory, and numerous tribes roamed from Texas and Mexico to the Northern boundary of the United States. Then came the discovery of gold in California, drawing a tide of emigration across this wide reservation, and it became necessary, by treaty with the Indians, to secure a broad highway to the Pacific shore. By these treaties the Indians were restricted to certain limits, but with the privilege of ranging, for hunting purposes, over the belt thus re-reserved as a route of travel. The United States, also, agreed to pay the Indians 850,000 per annum, for fifteen years, in consideration of this right. The boundaries assigned, by these treaties to the Cheyennes and Arrapahoes, included the greater part of the present Colorado Territory, while the Sioux and Crows were to occupy the land of the Powder River route. After a few years gold was discovered in Colorado, upon the Indian reservation, settlers poured in, and, after the lands were mostly taken up by them, another treaty was made, February 18th, 1861, to secure them in peaceful possession. By this compact the Indians relinquished a large tract of land, and agreed to confine themselves to a small district upon both sides of the Arkansas River and along the northern boundary of New Mexico; while the United States was to furnish them protection; pay an annuity of $30,000 to each tribe for fifteen years, and provide stock and agricultural implements for those who desired to adopt civilized modes of life. Until April, 1864, no disturbances had...

War With The Modoc – Indian Wars

Early April 16th, the Modoc had a big fire in their camp. Major Thomas dropped a shell directly into it, provoking a frantic war whoop, and causing the sudden extinguishing of the fire. Another shell was dropped in the same locality, and was followed by yells of pain and dismay. The Modoc then appeared and challenged the soldiers to come out and fight. Another shell was the answer, and they were driven back. At 4 o’clock A. M. , after another fight, the Modoc gave up the attempt to break through the line and retired. Scattering shots were fired on the men who attempted to advance on them. At 9 o’clock Gen. Gillem‘s command moved forward from the position gained on Tuesday, and soon occupied the ledge next to Jack’s camp. Col. Mason moved the right forward as rapidly as possible to form a junction with Gen. Gillem‘s left, cutting off the Modoc from the lake, their only source of water supply. The junction was affected at noon. At 2 p. m. the mortars were throwing shells within excellent range. Col Greene fell back behind the ledge, awaiting the Modoc, should the shells drive them out. After the firing the Modoc replied with yells. After the fifth shell there came a raking fire and a small party of men sprang out of the chasm and came into the lines amid a shower of bullets. The falling back was caused by the Modoc flanking and opening a crossfire. Col. Miller, attempting to form a junction with the Warm Spring Indians, missed them as he swung down into the great chasm with thirteen men, whereupon Miller...

William Cody – “Buffalo Bill” His Life and Adventures – Indian Wars

One of the best known, and since the death of the renowned Kit Carson, probably the most reliable guide on the Western frontier, is William Cody, otherwise known as “Buffalo Bill.” His exploits have been the theme of a dozen novelists, and in the year just past (1870-72) his movements have been as accurately and frequently chronicled by the daily press throughout the country as they would have been had he been an official magnate of the highest degree. There is something especially attractive in the romance attending the career of one of these noted hunters, which never palls upon the reader. The picturesque surroundings, the distance from us of their scene of action, the wild, nomadic life of the frontiersmen, all have their charms. Of all the hunters now in the service of the United States, either on the Atlantic or Pacific Slope, or to the southward, Buffalo Bill has attained the most permanent celebrity. Of his boyhood but little is known, save that he was of Western birth and that his parents were of the humble class and were much respected in the sparsely settled district where “William” was born, and where for many years they resided. When quite young like Carson he imbibed a fondness for the life of adventure, which the profession of a hunter and trapper opened out, and finally he started out on his “own hook,” rifle in hand, to seek his own livelihood. For a few years nothing of importance marked his career. He, of course, underwent the usual perils and dangers which beset those who day after day permeate the trackless...

Kit Carson, His Life and Adventures – Indian Wars

The subject of this sketch, Christopher “Kit” Carson, was born on the 24th of December, 1809, in Madison County, Kentucky. The following year his parents removed to Howard County, Missouri, then a vast prairie tract and still further away from the old settlements. The new home was in the midst of a region filled with game, and inhabited by several predatory and hostile tribes of Indians, who regarded the whites as only to be respected for the value of their scalps. The elder Carson at once endeavored to provide for the safety of his family, as far as possible, by the erection of that style of fortress then so common on the frontier, a log block house. In this isolated spot, surrounded by dangers of every sort, the little Christopher imbibed that love of adventure and apparent disregard of personal peril, which made him so famous in after years. When he was only twelve years old, being out one day assisting in the search of game, his father sent him to a little knoll, a short distance off, to see if a certain curious looking, overhanging cliff there might not possibly shelter a spring of water. Instead of the spring, however, he found a shallow cave, and in it, sleeping quietly on their bed of moss and leaves, lay two young cubs. With boyish exultation he caught them in his arms and hastened as fast as possible toward his father. In spite of their squirming he had borne them half way down the hill, when the sound of a heavy footfall and a fierce panting of breath warned him...
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