Collection: Indian Captivities

Narrative of Marie Le Roy and Barbara Leininger

The Narrative of Mary le Roy and Barbara Leininger. Who for four and a half years were captive among the Indians, and on the 6th May 1759 arrived happy in this city. From her own lips never written and promoted to the Press. This manuscript gives an account of the captivity and escape of these two girls, whose families lived on Penn’s Creek, in the present Union County, Pennsylvania. It also provides a lengthy list of names of other prisoners met by the two ladies in their captivity.

Read More

The Narrative of Francesco Giuseppe Bressani – Indian Captivities

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Narrative of the captivity of Alexander Henry, Esq – Indian Captivities

Narrative of the captivity of Alexander Henry, Esq., who, in the time of Pontiac’s War, fell into the hands of the Huron Indians. Detailing a faithful account of the capture of the Garrison of Michilimacki-Nac, and the massacre of about ninety people. Written by himself. 1Mr. Henry was an Indian trader in America for about sixteen years. He came to Canada with the army of General Amherst, and previous to his being made prisoner by the Indians experienced a variety of fortune. His narrative, as will be seen, is written with great candor as well as ability, and to the discriminating reader needs no encomium. He was living in Montreal in 1809, as appears from the date of his preface to his Travels, which he published in New York that year, with a dedication to Sir Joseph Banks. Ed. When I reached Michilimackinac I found several other traders, who had arrived before me, from different parts of the country, and who, in general, declared the dispositions of the Indians to be hostile to the English, and even apprehended some attack. M. Laurent Ducharme distinctly informed Major Etherington that a plan was absolutely conceived for destroying him, his garrison and all the English in the upper country; but the commandant believing this and other reports to be without foundation, proceeding only from idle or ill-disposed persons, and of a tendency...

Read More

Narrative of Mrs. Clendenin – Indian Captivities

Narrative of the Destruction of the Settlement of Green-Brier, Virginia, together with the capture and surprising conduct of Mrs. Clendenin, who was among those Who Escaped the Tomahawk of the Indians at that Massacre. 1Whether the following narrative was ever in print, except as it stands in Mr. Martin’s Gazetteer of Virginia, I have never learned. It would seem from the following note accompanying it in that work, “that it was extracted from memoirs of Indian wars on the western frontiers of Virginia, communicated to the Philosophical Society of Virginia, by Charles A. Stuart, Esq., of Augusta Co.” Ed. After peace was confirmed between England and France in the year 1761, the Indians commenced hostilities in 1763, 2 Hostilities had not ceased between the whites and the Indians, as will be seen by a reference to the Chronicles of the Indians for this and the preceding years. Ed.  when all the inhabitants in Greenbrier were totally cut off by a party of Indians, headed by the chief warrior Cornstalk. 3 The life and barbarous death of this great chief are given at length in the Book of the Indians, v. 42, 44. Ed  The principal settlements were on Muddy Creek. These Indians, in number about sixty, introduced themselves into the people’s houses under the mask of friendship, where every civility was offered them by the people, providing them with victuals...

Read More

Narrative of the Captivity of Maria and Christina Manheim – Indian Captivities

Frederick Manheim, an industrious German, with his family, consisting of his wife, a daughter of eighteen years of age, and Maria and Christina, his youngest children, (twins,) about sixteen, resided near the river Mohawk, eight miles west of Johnston. On the 19th of October, 1779, the father being at work at some distance from his habitation, and the mother and eldest daughter on a visit at a neighbor’s, two hostile Canasadaga Indians rushed in and captured the twin sisters. The party to which these savages belonged consisted of fifty warriors, who, after securing twenty-three of the inhabitants of that neighborhood, (among whom was the unfortunate Frederick Manheim) and firing their houses, retired for four days with the utmost precipitancy, till they were quite safe from pursuit. The place where they halted on the evening of the day of rest was a thick pine swamp, which rendered the darkness of an uncommonly gloomy night still more dreadful. The Indians kindled a fire, which they had not done before, and ordered their prisoners, whom they kept together, to refresh themselves with such provisions as they had. The Indians eat by themselves. After supper the appalled captives observed their enemies, instead of retiring to rest, busied in operations which boded nothing good. Two saplings were pruned clear of branches up to the very top, and all the brush cleared away for several...

Read More

Experience Bozarth’s Heroic Stand – Indian Captivities

Signal Prowess of a Woman, In a Combat with Some Indians. In a Letter to a Lady of Philadelphia Westmoreland, April 26, 1779. Madam, I have written an account of a very particular affair between a white man and two Indians. 1 Reference is probably made to the desperate encounter of one Morgan and two Indians. Ed.  I am now to give you a relation in which you will see how a person of your sex acquitted herself in defense of her own life, and that of her husband and children. The lady who is the burthen of this story is named Experience Bozarth. She lives on a creek called Dunkard creek, in the southwest corner of this county. About the middle of March last, two or three families, who were afraid to stay at home, gathered to her house and there stayed; looking on themselves to be safer than when all scattered about at their own houses. On a certain day some of the children thus collected came running in from play in great haste, saying there were ugly red men. One of the men in the house stepped to the door, where he received a ball in the side of his breast, which caused him to fall back into the house. The Indian was immediately in over him, and engaged with another man who was in the...

Read More

Rev. John Corbly’s Narrative – Indian Captivities

If, after perusing the annexed melancholy narrative, you deem it worthy a place in your publication, it is at your service. Such communications, founded on fact, have a tendency on one hand to make us feel for the persons afflicted, and on the other to impress our hearts with gratitude to the Sovereign Disposer of all events for that emancipation which the United States have experienced from the haughty claims of Britain a power, at that time, so lost to every human affection, that, rather than not subdue and make us slaves, they basely chose to encourage, patronize and reward, as their most faithful and beloved allies, the savages of the wilderness; who, without discrimination, barbarously massacred the industrious husband man, the supplicating female, the prattling child and tender infant, vainly sheltered within the encircling arms of maternal fondness. Such transactions, as they come to our knowledge well authenticated, ought to be recorded, that our posterity may not be ignorant of what their ancestors underwent at the trying period of our national exertions for American independence. The following account was, at my request, drawn up by the unfortunate sufferer. Respecting the author, suffice it to say, that he is an ordained minister of the Baptist faith and order, and held in high estimation by all our associated churches. I am, sir, yours, &c., William Rogers Muddy Creek, Washington County,...

Read More

Narrative of the Captivity of of Mrs. Francis Scott – Indian Captivities

A True and Wonderful Narrative of the Surprising Captivity and remarkable deliverance of Mrs. Francis Scott, an inhabitant of Washington County, Virginia, who was taken by the Indians on the evening of the 29th of June, 1785. On Wednesday, the 29th day of June, 1785, late in the evening, a large company of armed men passed the house on their way to Kentucky, some part of whom encamped within two miles. Mr. Scott’s living on a frontier part generally made the family watchful; but on this calamitous day, after so large a body of men had passed; he lay down in his bed, and imprudently left one of the doors of his house open; the children were also in bed and asleep. Mrs. Scott was nearly undressed, when, to her unutterable astonishment and horror, she saw rushing in through the door, that was left open, painted savages, with their arms presented at the same time, raising a hideous shriek. Mr. Scott, being awake, instantly jumped from his bed, and was immediately fired at. He forced his way through the midst of the enemy, and got out of the house, but fell a few paces from the door. An Indian seized Mrs. Scott, and ordered her to a particular place, charging her not to move. Others stabbed and cut the throats of the three youngest children in their bed, and...

Read More

Narrative of the Captivity of Capt. William Hubbell – Indian Captivities

A Narrative of the desperate encounter and escape of Capt. William Hubbell from the Indians while descending the Ohio River in a boat with others, in the year 1791. Originally set forth in the Western Review, and afterwards republished by Dr. Metcalf, in his “Narratives of Indian Warfare in the West.” In the year 1791, while the Indians were yet troublesome, especially on the banks of the Ohio, Capt. William Hubbell, who had previously emigrated to Kentucky from the state of Vermont, and who, after having fixed his family in the neighborhood of Frankfort, then a frontier settlement, had been compelled to go to the eastward on business, was now a second time on his way to this country. On one of the tributary streams of the Monongahela, he procured a flat-bottomed boat, and embarked in company with Mr. Daniel Light and Mr. William Plascut and his family, consisting of a wife and eight children, destined for Limestone, Kentucky. On their passage down the river, and soon after passing Pittsburgh, they saw evident traces of Indians along the banks, and there is every reason to believe that a boat which they overtook, and which, through carelessness, was suffered to run aground on an island, became a prey to these merciless savages. Though Capt. Hubbell and his party stopped some time for it in a lower part of the river,...

Read More

An Account of the Sufferings of Mercy Harbison – Indian Captivities

On the 4th of November, 1791, a force of Americans under General Arthur St. Clair was attacked, near the present Ohio-Indiana boundary line, by about the same number of Indians led by Blue Jacket, Little Turtle, and the white renegade Simon Girty. Their defeat was the most disastrous that ever has been suffered by our arms when engaged against a savage foe on anything like even terms. Out of 86 officers and about 1400 regular and militia soldiers, St. Clair lost 70 officers killed or wounded, and 845 men killed, wounded, or missing. The survivors fled in panic, throwing away their weapons and accoutrements. Such was “St. Clair’s defeat.”

The utter incompetency of the officers commanding this expedition may be judged from the single fact that a great number of women were allowed to accompany the troops into a wilderness known to be infested with the worst kind of savages. There were about 250 of these women with the “army” on the day of the battle. Of these, 56 were killed on the spot, many being pinned to the earth by stakes driven through their bodies. Few of the others escaped captivity.

After this unprecedented victory, the Indians became more troublesome than ever along the frontier. No settler’s home was safe, and many were destroyed in the year of terror that followed. The awful fate of one of those households is told in the following touching narrative of Mercy Harbison, wife of one of the survivors of St. Clair’s defeat. How two of her little children were slaughtered before her eyes, how she was dragged through the wilderness with a babe at her breast, how cruelly maltreated, and how she finally escaped, barefooted and carrying her infant through days and nights of almost superhuman exertion, she has left record in a deposition before the magistrates at Pittsburgh and in the statement here reprinted.

Read More

Narrative of the Captivity of Sergeant Lent Munson – Indian Captivities

Narrative of the captivity and escape of Sergeant Lent Munson, who fell into the hands of the Western Indians at the time of Lieut. Lowry’s defeat. As Lieut. Lowry and Ensign Boyd, with about one hundred men, were escorting two hundred and fifty pack horses with provisions from fort St. Clair to General Wayne’s camp, (six miles in advance of Fort Jefferson,) they were furiously assailed by about half their number of concealed Indians, and totally defeated. They had encamped four miles on their journey on the night of the 16th of October, 1793, and were sufficiently warned during the whole night of what they had to undergo at early dawn. However, no attack was made until the detachment was about ready to march on the morning of the 17th. At this juncture the Indians rushed upon them with great fury, and after a short but bloody engagement the whites were dispersed in every direction. In this onset Lieut. Lowry and Ensign Boyd both fell mortally wounded, and about twenty of their men were among the slain. The rest of this unfortunate escort, excepting eleven, who were taken prisoners, got back to Fort St. Clair. To the smallness of the number of the Indians is to be attributed the escape of any. Sergeant Munson was one of the eleven prisoners, and was hurried off with his companions towards the...

Read More

Narrative of the Escape of W. B. Thompson – Indian Captivities

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.

Read More


Free Genealogy Archives

It takes a village to grow a family tree!
Genealogy Update - Keeping you up-to-date!
101 Best Websites 2016

Pin It on Pinterest