HISTORY OF THE CAPTURE AND CAPTIVITY
OF DAVID BOYD
Donated by Tim Waugh
(Note: The narrative here given is on the authority of Mrs. Hester Boyd Jones, a granddaughter of Mr. Boyd. Mrs. Jones was a very intelligent lady, with an uncommonly good memory, and in her youth she often heard her grandfather relate the story of his adventures and perils. /s/ Joseph Waugh) ( The paper that I have copied this from was old and some parts are blank. gh)
In 1902, William Waugh had numerous copies of this narrative printed so the story could be passed down the family line. I assume his father, David Boyd Waugh (1801-1881) is the source of the narrative, who would be the grandson of David Boyd, the subject of the story. William Waugh, my great-great-grandfather, was born in Washington Co., PA 15Feb. 1836. He married Rebecca Hamilton in the same county 26Oct. 1865 and died 04Jan. 1911 in Valley, NE and was returned to Mt. Pleasant, IA for burial beside his wife.
Here I copy the contents, exactly as he has relayed them, including his margin notes and original title.
A Thrilling Narrative.
My only excuse for publishing this little volume is that succeeding generations may know something of the thrilling adventures of our ancestors, and how easily, only for the intervention of a kind and loving Heavenly Father, our family history would have been obliterated with the subject of this narrative. To my own knowledge there are four of David Boyd's grandchildren living at this date, February, 1902.
">Margin Note: The subject of this narrative was my great grandfather. Wm W. ------------------------------------------------------------------
The Story of David Boyd.
In the early part of the eighteenth century John Boyd, of Scotch-Irish ancestry, emigrated from the north of Ireland, at the age of eighteen, and settled in Northumberland County, Pa. There he married Miss Nancy Urie. The Urie family was prominent among the pioneers of that day. They suffered untold hardships from the Indians, and being prompt to avenge their injuries, they knew no rights in that race that they were bound to respect. They became known all over Western Pennsylvania in the forays common to those times. Two names, Thomas and Solomon, were very common among the Uries. David Boyd, oldest son of John Boyd, was born in Northumberland County in 1743. Later John Boyd and a neighbor, John Stewart, moved to Cumberland County, Pa., and settled near where Shippensburg now stands, then an unbroken wilderness or forest. Their cabins stood more than a mile apart. John Boyd was a farmer; John Stewart a weaver.
On the 10th of February, 1756, John Boyd went over to Stewart's to get a web of cloth. After he left the house the mother sent David to the "clearing", as it was called, a short distance from the cabin, to get some dry wood to build a fire in an out-oven. It was on Saturday, and that was devoted among Presbyterians of that time to preparation for the Sabbath, on which no work strictly necessary could be done. His brother John, then six years of age, went with him. David took his hatchet with him, and while cutting the brush, heard no sound of approaching footsteps. John, being a short distance away, screamed, and David looking up saw a frightful being standing beside his brother. He had heard of ghosts and thought that this must be one. But there were several of them, and he was not long left in doubt. The big fellow exclaimed, "Ugh-ugh", caught David by his belt, and threw him over his shoulder. Another Indian took John in the same style, and they went off at a fast trot. A band of eight Indians had left the main body and surrounded the settler's little home. They soon all came to the rendezvous, bringing the mother, two sisters, Sallie and Rhoda, both older than David, and the youngest brother, who was but two and a half years old. The mother being in a very delicate state of health, was not able to travel; she sat on a fallen tree. They took her children except the youngest away from her one at a time. David looked back and saw her hands lifted towards heaven as she prayed, "O God, be merciful to my children going among savages." He said that prayer was ever present with him; he never spoke of it without shedding tears.
As soon as they got the children away the Indians killed the mother and the youngest boy. They deputed two of their number to execute the deed, and when they returned, with a refinement of cruelty that is almost incredible, they gave the two scalps to Sallie and David, and forced them to carry them in turn for an entire day. The house was pillaged and burned, but they missed the father on his way home from the weaver's. Stewart and his wife were both killed; they had no children. The savages on these raids went rapidly and stealthily through a settlement. When John Boyd came in sight of his home it was burning slowly. He said he could easily have put it out, but when he found his wife and children gone, he paid no attention to the house, but hurried off to alarm the settlers, collect a party for pursuit, and if possible, to overtake the marauders and rescue his family. But the Indians moved with great rapidity, traveling day and night till they were far from the settlements. The pioneers were few and far between, and it took some time to organize a party. After the band started, it was not long until they found pieces of Mrs. Boyd's dress clinging to the bushes, which led them to the ravine, where they found the mutilated bodies. The pursuit was kept up for days, but with no result. By the time the Indians reached their village the children were almost nude, having neither clothing nor shoes. There was no halting to take food; they ate as they ran. The evening of the third day they stopped, built a fire, and toasted a little bear's meat which they offered to the children, while the Indians enjoyed the cheese and other provisions which they had stolen from the settlers. David had no appetite for bear meat and did not take any. He was planning to escape from them that night, but was secured between two Indians, and the children were not allowed to speak to each other. John cried a great deal; he was too young to know his danger.
The next morning they rose very early. While preparing to start, the old Indian, by whom David was afterwards adopted, took a sharp stick, put a piece of meat on it, held it in the fire a moment, pushed the piece back, and so on until he had filled the stick, and then secretly handed it to David. He ate the cooked edges as he ran along, for he had to run to keep up with them. This was the beginning of a long series of kindnesses on the part of the old chief during the captivity. When they reached the Indian village in Ohio, the children were separated, the booty was divided, and David saw the money which his father had taken to the weaver's to pay for the web of cloth, counted in the division of the spoils. In this way he learned the Stewarts had been killed. He supposed for a long time that his father had been killed also, but the old chief told him after his adoption that they had missed the father on the way between the two houses.
The raiding party belonged to the Iroquois. The Delawares were a tribe of the Iroquois, and David was claimed by them, the Delawares. The sisters and the younger brother were claimed by some of the other tribes. Of John, there is no further account. Being young, he may have succumbed to the hardships of barbarous life, or possibly, adopting their customs and habits may have lived and died an Indian. The next year David met his sister Sallie with a party of Indians, but was not allowed to speak to her. He never saw his sisters again until they came home in 1763. They were held as prisoners seven years, and were exchanged at Detroit, but not at the same time. They were never together during their captivity. When Col. Boquet was bringing in two hundred white captives from the Indians to Fort Pitt, Rhoda Boyd and Elizabeth Studebaker escaped and ran back to their wigwam friends, but were again gathered up and taken to Detroit.
RUNNING THE GAUNTLET
David was subjected by his captors to a discipline that was intended to make a great brave of him or a fit subject for their amusement. For some time he had to run the gauntlet, which amusement (for the Indians) consisted in running a prescribed limit between lines made up of vindictive squaws and young savage rogues, armed with sticks and stones, or whatever suited their purpose for touching up the pale-face boy. This amusement David greatly despised. He set his wits to work to devise some plan to stop it. His old friend imparted to him the fact that if he should catch one of the boys separately, where he would have an even chance, and succeed in giving him a sound thrashing, the ceremony would be dispensed with in the future. He determined to try the experiment on one boy who was especially ingenious in inflicting torture on him. In any event, he expected death in a short time; every morning, when he awoke, he though they would put him to death that day. Every change he noticed in their countenances he thought indicated some determination to torture him. Life in such circumstances, one should think, would have but little charm; but to a boy of fourteen, "hope springs eternal."
The Indians had gone out to gather haws, nuts, etc., for their winter use. Mr. Boyd often said that he believed he had eaten fruit from every haw, hickory, and walnut tree in the state of Ohio. While they were in the woods at this time, this boy was very insolent to David, and the latter thought that now or never was the time to avenge himself. He sprang upon his tormentor; they had a rough-and-tumble fight, but at last, the pale-face found himself on top, and he redressed his wrongs as only an infuriated boy could. Soon a noise attracted his attention, and looking up, he saw the squaws and braves running towards him, with tomahawks uplifted. "It was sure death now" he thought, and, as it was his last chance, he redoubled his blows. The Indians coming near and seeing his determination, dropped their weapons, and patted him on the back, saying, "Make good Indian, make good Indian." That was the turning point with him; the boys had a wholesome regard for him, and he was no longer the target for the squaws' vengeance.
The first year of his captivity was now drawing to a close. He still belonged to the tribe in common; he must come and go as ordered by anyone. It had been a dreadful year to him; he had suffered greatly from want of clothing and exposure. Towards the end of January 1757, he missed his old friend from the camp and was greatly troubled on account of his absence. When the chief had been absent about two weeks, one morning two warriors came to him tricked out in all the finery and paint of the warpath. Commanding him to follow, they took him about two miles to a river. There they stripped him entirely of whatever tatters he had on him and dipped him three times in the water, saying each time, "Go down white man, come up red man." Then they shaved his head, leaving a small tuft of hair on the crown, painted him in the most approved style, put a hunting shirt on him, and fastened the same belt on him that he had worn when captured. They then led him to a pool of water to look at himself in nature's mirror. The two warriors jumped and danced around him, seeming delighted with their handiwork. On the contrary, David was horror-struck with his appearance. He looked so much like an Indian that he thought he must really be one, and that was the way they were made.
They next took him back to the village, which was all in commotion. The warriors were dressed in war costume, painted and in file, ready to march. He was put in front, and with indescribable noise, which they call music, they set out. As often as my grandfather related this to me he would say: "Child, I cannot describe my feelings as I marched along; I could not conceive what they were about to do with me, but supposed they were going to put me to death, as there was nothing else that they would make such a parade about. I had never seen anything like it among them before, and they never gave me any intimation of what they were about to do." They traveled about six miles, in close file, when they reached an open space or natural meadow. There was a great gathering of the tribe formed into a large circle. When the procession came up the circle opened and he was ushered in. There he saw standing in the center an old brave with a knife in his hand, looking very stern. David had never seen this man, and of course took him to be the executioner. The man advanced, knife in hand, and inserted it under the boy's belt and cut it apart. David was sure he had received his death-blow; he imagined he felt the warm blood trickling to his feet, and expected to see it on the ground. At that moment his old friend took him into his arms, exclaiming in the Indian language: "My son, my son, my son."
David then recognized his friend, who made an oration to the assemblage, saying that he called them to witness that he took this boy to be his son in the place of one he had lost on the war trail. He then took the belt that had been cut off and divided it into many pieces, giving the largest to his nearest friend. He gave David an Indian name and presented him with the hatchet with which he was cutting brush when he was captured. This was followed with great feasting and dancing, with plenty of fire-water. While they were all engaged in their amusements the old chief quietly withdrew, and taking David with him sought his own wigwam; he feared that in the drunken carousal some accident might befall the now-made Indian. The old wife welcomed and claimed him for her own, bathed his feet, removed the thorns, applied some healing salve, and made life seem worth having again. From this time on he could make no complaint of his treatment; he shared the good and evil times of his surroundings. His Indian father was a man of influence in the tribe, and his son enjoyed the advantages of his position. The chief took him to his heart, and always called him "my son." My grandfather always said that the chief was a good and noble man. He worshipped the Great Spirit in truth, recognized a "Superior Power" that regarded the actions of men, and whenever he ate his food he invoked the Spirit by raising his hand heavenward three times, crying "Ho! Ho! Ho!"
As time passed on, David began to be content with his lot, or at least, to be reconciled to his fate. He gave up all hope of getting home, and at his age a boy would be pleased with the desultory life of the savages. He retained his love of hunting during life, and was an expert with the rifle until age dimmed his sight. One day while hunting haws, which seems to have been a favorite pursuit with him, he came upon a white man sitting on a log, looking as if in great terror and apprehension. The man said he thought the Indians were going to burn him. On looking around David saw a party of Indians arranging a fire. He was powerless to rescue the man, and hurried away in horror. He never learned what was done with the prisoner.
In the autumn of 1757 a great hunt was organized to procure provisions for the ensuing winter. The squaws were taken along to relieve the men of all drudgery, such as caring for the game, carrying the stores, etc. One old squaw had charge of the ammunition, and one day, as they were camping about noon, she remembered that the powder had been left at the camp of the previous night. There was great consternation, as on the powder depended the supply of meat for the winter. The braves decided to send back tow of their fleetest boys for the powder, and, much to David's disgust, he was chosen as one of the two. His father positively refused to let him go, but, as it was a matter of grave importance, he finally consented. He and a young Indian of his own age set out with all great speed, but when they came near the former camp, they heard a great explosion. The wind had started up the expiring fire and the powder was ignited.
It was now near sundown, and the boys concluded to stay there that night and rejoin the party the next day. Seeing a drove of turkeys they secured one, and soon had it dressed and toasting before the fire. But the appetizing odor attracted a pack of wolves, and the boys had to seize their turkey and run for their lives. They were very hungry and tore off bits of the half -roasted turkey as they ran, but as the wolves were gaining on them, they soon had to throw the bird to them to detain them for a time. It did detain them until the boys had time to climb into a tree. Here they were besieged all night by the ravenous brutes that snarled and yelped, gnawed at the trunk of the tree, and tried to jump into the branches to capture the young hunters. He said they did not get sleepy; the music was not soothing. When the wolves left they resumed their journey and regained their former camp about noon. Some of the Indians met them a little way out and were greatly troubled over the disaster. Of course their wrath fell on the head of the old squaw, who in turn tried to wipe out her indignities on the boys; she sought to kill them, saying they could have reached the place in time to avoid the misfortune. The old chief interposed his authority, but told David to keep out of sight of the infuriated woman until her anger burned out.
The captive boy, to all appearance, had now cast in his lot with the red man. He had no idea that any member of his family was living. Although, in his farthest wanderings, he had never been what would now be more than a few hours' ride from his old home, he was more really separated from it than he now could be in the most distant part of the country, if not of the world. The French and Indians were still at war with the English. The winter of 1757 and 1758 was spent in hunting, fishing and idling about the village. In the spring of 1758 there was great commotion in the camp; messengers came and went, war councils were held, orations made, dancing indulged in, and finally, they set out on the warpath. The end of their journey found them, French and Iroquois together, at Fort Duquesne. During this campaign these united forces ambuscaded and utterly defeated Grant, who led an English force against the fort. The story is perpetuated in the street and hill that still bear his name in Pittsburgh.
After the defeat of the English, the allies quarreled over the division of the spoils. The Indians grew so angry that they retired across the river and returned to their villages. The French, abandoned by their allies, evacuated the fort, and when General Forbes came west to retrieve Grant's disaster, he found no enemy. The Indians, now disgusted with the French, made overtures to Forbes for peace. They returned once more to the fort, then in the possession of the English and called Fort Pitt. When they crossed the river they marched up to the stockade between two lines of bayonets. As David Boyd passed between those lines of soldiers, no one suspected his white parentage. Bronzed by the exposure of years, with dark complexion, black eyes and straight hair, he readily passed for an Indian. The man who had adopted him felt that he should surrender him, yet such was his love for the boy that he hesitated. He questioned David in regard to his wishes, holding out inducements to him to return to the wilderness and stay a little while longer, and then he the chief, would take him to his father's own door. He now, for the first time, revealed to David that the father had been missed at the time of the massacre. The chief then paid an Englishman two dollars to write and forward a letter to Mr. Boyd, telling him that his son was still living, and assuring him that he should be returned in safety to his friends. The letter was delivered according to contract, but the father was incredulous; he had never, since that fateful morning, heard one word from any of his children. He believed that the messenger had forged it in order to impose on him in some way, and that surely his son would have availed himself of such and opportunity to return to his people. It is difficult for us, at this time, to understand the limitations of that day.
David's benefactor became anxious to know something of the white man's learning. When the boy was captured he chanced to have the two or three leaves of an old Psalm book in his pocket. These he carried with him and read daily while he had a pocket, and when the pocket was gone, he put the leaves in the recesses of an old tree. As often as he passed that way he took them out and read them over, until there was no longer a legible word on them. He read them to his foster father, who became quite interested in the Psalm. So the chief asked to be taught, at least, the alphabet. With a small bit of board and a piece of red keel, David set about his task. He had a willing pupil, and the alphabet was soon mastered. About this time a Bible in some way fell into their hands, and the young teacher soon had the satisfaction of hearing his learner read. A year had now passed since their return from Fort Pitt. The winter had been spent in trapping for furs, and they had been very successful. The furs had been carefully stored, no sale being made at the usual time. With the taciturnity common to his race, he made no explanation of his plans to David, but it began to be evident to him that the old man was much agitated. One evening, as the sun was about setting, they were sitting in their wigwam, which was a little distance from the village. The chief said: "Do you see how swiftly the sun is going down? My sun will soon set too; then I shall be in the happy hunting grounds where my son is, and I want to restore you to your own father before I go."
Grandfather thought that he wanted, as far as in him lay, to atone for the great wrong that had been done. He was the very Indian who had snatched him from his family and left his father childless and homeless. But the savage had great misgivings about venturing on the journey; the time had been too short to allay the enmity between the races. He would ask David how he thought his father would receive him when he brought his long lost son back, then walk back and forth, looking very sad. He was deeply attached to the boy, but he felt that the red man's fortune was waning, and so was anxious for his son's future. The old wife was dead and he had no kindred; declining years hung heavily on the old man, and the young captive was loth to leave him. As the spring opened the old man made his preparations slowly but steadily. Selecting the best ponies, they packed the furs on them and started eastward in a different plight from that in which they made their forced march westward in the gloomy winter of 1756. The chief said he would see to their safety while in the Indian Territory, but he must look to David when they got among the pale-faces. They traveled with a white cloth borne aloft as a flag of truce. They traveled without special incident until they reached Carlisle, arriving in the afternoon. It was soon noised through the place that an Indian had brought in a white boy. Thomas Urie was soon on the spot, anxious to learn whether it might be one of his murdered sister's family, and made a furious attack on the old man. But cooler heads intervened and he was prevented from wreaking his fury on the creature standing under his flag of truce. It was a bitter thought to a Urie that this of all Indians should go unpunished. The chief, in his own dialect, bade David beware of such a man; that he might not be a relative at all; but the boy recognized his uncle. Refusing to hold any parley with an Indian except at the muzzle of a rifle, Urie took his nephew home with him. The old Indian felt it was a cruel return for all his kindness. When David recounted to his uncle the unvarying kindness of his old friend, he became more reasonable and consented to his return, the next morning, to the Indian, but, when he wished the Indian to meet his father, Urie utterly refused to allow the chief to go any farther. This was a great disappointment, as it was the Indian's desire to take the boy to his father's own door. Finding the feeling so hostile against him, the old man set about making preparations for his return. He sold the ponies for a considerable sum, bought clothing for the boy, so that he would be presentable, and gave him the balance of the money, retaining only enough to carry him, with a single pony back to his people. From my grandfather's account it was a very sad parting to both; he would look sorrowful whenever he spoke of it. He never saw or heard of him again. It is very possible that the chief reached the happy hunting grounds before he crossed the Ohio.
John Boyd still lived near Shippensburg, on the farm from which his son had been taken. But things were greatly changed. The father had married again; neither mother, sister, nor brother was there to welcome the returned captive. He had grown fond of the wild, free life, and was greatly dissatisfied with his new surroundings. He determined to rejoin his Indian friends, and live and die among the people of his adoption. He had to be watched for several weeks before he relinquished his scheme. He was in his seventeenth year when he came back to civilized life. In 1771 David Boyd married Elizabeth Henderson, of a wealthy and influential family. Hon. Jere Black was descended from the same family. My grandmother has told me that when she first met my grandfather she was afraid of him, because he looked so much like an Indian, for in those days people were very much afraid of them. She also said that the first night they were under their own roof they erected the family altar, and that worship had never been omitted, morning or night, during all those years, which numbered then more than fifty.
Mr. Boyd was a soldier of the Revolution, serving continuously throughout the war, having enlisted three times. He was engaged on the bloody field of Brandywine, saw the crossing of the Delaware and the surprise at Trenton. He was at Valley Forge during that terrible winter, when the blood from the bare feet of the soldiers marked the frozen ground. He told of the elation of the army on the arrival of Lafayette, bringing hopes of succor from France. He was present in the army of Gates when Burgoyne surrendered at Saratoga in 1777, and was also with Washington when Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown. He had the rank of lieutenant. Though he could forgive the red race and justify many things that they did on account of the wrongs they suffered, such was his hostility to the British that in 1828, when every son he had voted for John Quincy Adams, he cast his vote for Andrew Jackson, saying that if he whipped the British he could be trusted to govern the United States. His boys, as children will, said "Father is growing old."
Grandfather early united with the Presbyterian Church, under the ministrations of Rev. Samuel Waugh, at Silver Springs, Cumberland Co., PA. He was one of the straightest of the sect. He believed in the doctrines and usages of the Church; in the Westminster Confession of Faith; thought it embodied the truths taught in the Old and New Testaments. Sacramental occasions were times of great spiritual comfort to him. He observed the fasts, neither eating or drinking during the entire twenty-four hours of Thursday preceding the communion. In the county where he was captured ten children were born to him, the five older being daughters, the five younger, sons. On account of his large family he decided to move West, and accordingly, in the autumn of 1794, came to Washington County. He purchased a farm nine miles west of Washington, on the West Middletown road. This farm is now, 1893, owned by Mr. W.W. Dinsmore. He felt that he was in the "Far West." A church of his choice, Upper Buffalo, was soon organized; in whose welfare he was always warmly interested. His house was immediately on one of the chief thoroughfares of the county, and the hospitality of those days was unbounded. Many old soldiers, crippled by the hardships they had undergone, and many enslaved by the vicious habits they had contracted, passed to and fro, eking out, some of them, a precarious living by peddling wooden hayforks, shovels, ladles, and other specimens of their handicraft. These men he invariably entertained without money and without price. They would enjoy a happy hour, shouldering their crutches and fighting over their battles, and when they were ready to pass on he would advise with them, adding, according to their wants, a little money to help them on their way. He was delighted when the government passed a pension act, meager as it was, because it would bring aid to many veterans disabled by age or poverty. He positively refused to make application for aid in his own case, as he had been fortunate in escaping the vices which are almost inseparable from army life, and had for his simple wants a competence. He was very lenient towards the failings of his old comrades, his heart and purse being ever open to their wants. He was a great reader and loved books. History, politics and theology were well represented in his library.
His eldest daughter, Nancy, married Thomas Gilson, and settled near Carlisle, where some of her descendants still live. The second daughter married Thomas Christy, and moved to Ohio. The third daughter, Sally, married William Waugh, and they came west with her father. Her eldest son, Richard Waugh, was born in her father's house before they were established in their own home. The fourth, Nellie, married Hugh Lytle, some of whose descendants live near Steubenville. The oldest son, James, married Mary Buchanan, and brought up a large family near Independence, Washington County, where he died in 1881, in his 99th year. John, the second son, married Asenath Williams, and settled in West Middletown, PA, where, having brought up a large family, he died at an advanced age, respected by all who knew him. Thomas married Miss Scott, inherited the old homestead, but late in life, settled in Hayesville, Ohio. The fourth son, David, married, but died while still a young man. The youngest son, William married Miss Barclay, of Kentucky, and settled near Maysville, where his posterity may still be found.
In the year 1831 the subject of this sketch, having been preceded six years by his wife, was laid to rest in the cemetery adjoining the church that he had helped to rear and long supported, realizing to its fullest extent the efficacy of the prayer of his mother on that fateful evening in his early life, for "God has been merciful to him."