Discover your family's story.

Enter a grandparent's name to get started.

Start Now

Indian Wampums

The Indians, having no written language, preserved and handed down their history to future generations through tradition, much of which could have been obtained a century and a half ago, and even a century ago, which was authentic and would have added much to the interest of the history of the continent of which we boast as our inheritance, though obtained by the extermination of a race of people whose wonderful history, had it been obtained as it once could have been, would have been very interesting and beneficial to future generations, throwing its light back over ages unknown, connecting the present with the past. The traditions of all Indians had been preserved for ages back by carrying them from one generation to another by the means of careful and constant repetition. The ancient Choctaws selected about twenty young men in the jurisdiction of each chief, who were taught the traditions of the tribe, and were required to rehearse them three or four times a year before the aged men of the nation, who were thoroughly posted, that nothing might be added to or taken from the original as given to them. Besides, it is well known to all who are acquainted with the known history of the North American Indians, that before the whites had commenced the war of extermination upon them they all aided the memories of those to whom were entrusted the preservation of their traditions by symbols, called by the whites, wampum, and which they regarded, judging from their own standpoint, as the Indians money. The Indians had no money, but they held their wampum in...

Mohawk Warrior Uncas

Who that has read Cooper’s “Last of the Mohicans,” but remembers Uncas, the young Mohawk warrior, and jointly with that of his white friend Leather Stocking, the hero of the story? It is said his Indian name was Tschoop; but if it is corrupted as badly as all other Indians names when put in print by the whites, it is as foreign from his true name as that by which he figured in the “Last of the Mohicans.” However, he has been handed down as a noted warrior among his people the once powerful and warlike Mohawks who inhabited the now State of New York in the years of long past famous for his daring exploits in war, and his fiery eloquence in the councils of his Nation. In 1741, he was often visited at his home by a Moravian missionary, named Christian Rauch, who often spoke to him upon the subject of religion during their frequent social conversations; and finally asked him if he had any desire to save his soul. “We all desire that,” responded Uncas. The good missionary, in his zeal, became persistent in urging upon him the importance and great necessity of his becoming a Christian, praying and pleading with him often with tears; and after many months of prayer and entreaty, the pious Rauch was delighted to see his forest pupil a changed man a truly pious Christian, whom he baptized under the name of John. In a letter Uncas afterwards sent to the Delaware Indians, he said: I have been a bad, very bad, man. But a white preacher told me there is a God. I said:...

The Discovery Of This Continent, it’s Results To The Natives

In the year 1470, there lived in Lisbon, a town in Portugal, a man by the name of Christopher Columbus, who there married Dona Felipa, the daughter of Bartolome Monis De Palestrello, an Italian (then deceased), who had arisen to great celebrity as a navigator. Dona Felipa was the idol of her doting father, and often accompanied him in his many voyages, in which she soon equally shared with him his love of adventure, and thus became to him a treasure indeed not only as a companion but as a helper; for she drew his maps and geographical charts, and also wrote, at his dictation, his journals concerning his voyages. Shortly after the marriage of Columbus and Felipa at Lisbon, they moved to the island of Porto Santo which her father had colonized and was governor at the time of his death, and settled on a large landed estate which belonged to Palestrello, and which he had bequeathed to Felipa together with all his journals and papers. In that home of retirement and peace the young husband and wife lived in connubial bliss for many years. How could it be otherwise, since each had found in the other a congenial spirit, full of adventurous explorations, but which all others regarded as visionary follies? They read together and talked over the journals and papers of Bartolomeo, during which Felipa also entertained Columbus with accounts of her own voyages with her father, together with his opinions and those of other navigators of that age his friends and companions of a possible country that might be discovered in the distant West, and the...

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.

Life and travels of Colonel James Smith – Indian Captivities

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.

Map of Zwaanendael

Nautical chart of Zwaanendael (“Swanendael”) and Godyn’s Bay in New Netherland. Zwaanendael was a patroonship founded by Samuel Godyn, a director of the Dutch West India Company, in 1629. Godyn made his land claim to the West India Company under jurisdiction of the Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions. After a short time, the initial 32 inhabitants were murdered by local Indians and Godyn sold his land back to the West India Company. The West India Company kept the names of the local area, including Godyn’s Bay, which eventually became Delaware Bay. The text in Dutch at left side of the map reads: The nations at the South River are Great Sironese at the Hoerenkil, Sewapois, Remkokes, Small Sironese, Minquaen also named Machaorikyns, Naraticonck, Atsayonck, Mantaes, Rechaweygh, Armewamix, Matikongh, Momakavaongk, Sankikans. These above described nations have friendships with each other. And are mostly one people with one language, with the exception of the Machaoretijns that are named like this because of their language that is Minquaens and is as much similar as with us old Dutch or Wallonian. The life of these people is totally free. Their soothsayers or devil preachers have nothing to say over them, their shamans can’t order them and have no authority to give someone a death penalty. The marriages are not fixed, most have one wife, the chief more than one. And they leave their women easily, and these will go from one to another like a whore, usually women are disowned after having a child and as a result the population remains low. Translation of the tribal names: Sironese – Ciconicine Sewapois – Sewaposees,...

Captivity of Elizabeth Hanson – Indian Captivities

God’s Mercy Surmounting Man’s Cruelty, Exemplified in the Captivity and Surprising Deliverance of Elizabeth Hanson, Wife of John Hanson, of Knoxmarsh, at Kecheachy, in Dover Township, who was Taken Captive with her Children and Maid-Servant, by the Indians in New England, in the Year 1724. – The substance of which was taken from her own mouth, and now published for general service. The third edition. Philadelphia: reprinted; Danvers, near Salem: reprinted and sold by E. Russell, next the Bell Tavern, MDCCLXXX. At the same place may be had a number of new Books, &c., some of which are on the times. Cash paid for Rags. This edition of Mrs. Hanson’s narrative is copied from that printed at Dover, N. H., in 1821. These editions correspond, and I have discovered no disagreements in them. From a MS. extract, in the hand-writing of Mr. John Farmer, upon the cover of a copy of the Dover edition, it seems there was some doubt in his mind about the exact date of the capture of the Hanson family; for in that memorandum above mentioned, purporting to have been taken from the Boston News-Letter of 1722, it is stated to have happened on the 27th of August of that year. I have not been able to refer to the News-Letter, but I find the event noticed in Pemberton’s MS. Chronology as happening on the 7th of September, 1724. I have doubt of the correctness of the date in the narrative, myself, but mention the fact, that some brother antiquary may have the pleasure which may accrue from an investigation. Ed. Remarkable and many are...

John Gyles Captivity Narrative – Indian Captivities

John Gyles captivity narrative provides a stunning display of Abenaki culture and lifestyle, as it was in the 1690’s. John was 10 years old when he was taken captive in the attack on Pemaquid (Bristol Maine) and his narrative provides an accounting of his harrowing treatment by his Indian captors, as well as the three years exile with his French owners at Jemseg New Bruswick. His faith in Christ remains central in the well-being of his mind throughout his ordeal.

The French and Indian War from 1754 to 1759 – Beaver Wars

After the peace, concluded between France and England in 1748, the French, excluded from the Atlantic coast of North America, designed to take possession of the country further west, and for this purpose, commenced to build a chain of forts to connect the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi rivers. The English, to prevent this scheme from being carried into action, formed an Ohio company, to whom a considerable extent of country was granted by the English government. Upon hearing of this, the governor of Canada notified the governors of New York and Pennsylvania, that if the English traders came upon the western territory, they would be seized or killed. This menace did not divert the Ohio company from prosecuting its design of surveying the country as far as the falls in the Ohio river. While Mr. Gist was making that survey for the company, some French parties, with their Indians, seized three British traders, and carried them to Presque Isle, on Lake Erie, where a strong fort was then erecting. The British, alarmed at this capture, retired to the Indian towns for shelter; and the Twightwees, resenting the violence done to their allies, assembled, to the number of five hundred or six hundred, scoured the woods, and, finding three French traders, sent them to Pennsylvania. The French determined to persist; built a strong fort, about fifteen miles south of the former, on one of the branches of the Ohio; and another still, at the confluence of the Ohio and Wabache; and thus completed their long projected communication between the mouth of the Mississippi and the river St. Lawrence. Thus...

The Wars of the Five Nations – Indian Wars

Although the confederacy known as the Five Nations were the allies of the English in the war against the French, and joined them in many of their principal expeditions, their history deserves a separate notice, as they afford us a complete example of what the Indians of North America were capable of. Their great reputation as warriors, and their wisdom in council, have been so often alluded to by those interested in the history of the Indians, that we shall be pardoned for giving a somewhat extended description of their confederacy, and an account of their wars. The Five Nations, by their geographical position, formed a sort of barrier between the French possessions in the northwest, and the middle colonies of the English. The confederacy is said to have originated in remote antiquity; and, as the name implies, comprehended five Indian tribes, of which, the Mohawks were the most powerful, and the most celebrated. These tribes were united on terms of the strictest equality, in a perpetual league, offensive and defensive. The principles of their alliance and government display much more refinement than might have been expected of “savages.” Each nation had its own separate republican constitution, in which rank and authority were only attainable by the union of age and merit, and enjoyed during the public will. Each nation was divided into three tribes, distinguished by the names, the Tortoise, the Bear, and the Wolf. The confederacy had adopted the Roman policy of increasing their strength by absorbing the conquered tribes; and the effect was the same in both cases, though, in the latter, it was on a...

Pin It on Pinterest