Consigned to live like a brute among savages

Posted by | March 12, 2013

On October 1, 1755, while returning home from Fort Cumberland [MD] Trading Post several miles away, white settler Jane Frazier was captured by Miami Indian warriors and taken to the Miami River in Ohio. “By a person who arrived in town last Monday from Col. Cresap’s (Oldtown about ten miles from Ivitts Creek),” reported The Maryland Gazette on October 9, “we are told that last Wednesday the Indians had taken a man prisoner who was going to Fort Cumberland from Frazier’s and had also carried off a woman from Frazier’s Plantation which is four miles this side of Fort Cumberland.”

Fort Cumberland, MD in 1755Fort Cumberland in 1755, from “History of Cumberland, Maryland”, 1878, by William Lowdermilk.

Jane Frazier miraculously escaped after thirteen months and made her way back to safety. She wrote a detailed narrative of her experience, which has been preserved by successive generations of her family: “Thus to be torn away from home and friends and all that was dear to me, and consigned to live like a brute among savages, and then to lose my only comfort, my first born, and have it buried in this wilderness, was more than my frail nature could bear, and I was nearly crazy for a time. Still the Indians were kind to me, and when they saw my child was dead, they cut a hickory tree, peeled off the bark and made a coffin, and wrapping it in some of the clothes they had stolen, they placed it in the coffin they had made and buried it near our town in their own burying ground.

“I remained with these Indians 13 months, in the summer time helping the squaws in their corn and vegetable patches and in the winter time assisting them in their cooking operations. While I was with this tribe they determined on another raid into Pennsylvania, consequently they performed their powwows and war dances, in order to give them good luck in their expedition, then left for their long trip. They took all their best warriors, leaving a few old men and some boys to hunt game and food for the squaws and papooses.

“The chief and warriors were gone about seven weeks. They returned bringing with them two Dutchmen from Pennsylvania, whom they adopted into the tribe. One of them was a tanner by trade, and they employed them to tan their skins for them. He worked a little ways from the town where there was a large spring and the other man was allowed to help him. These men were very restless in their confinement.

“A little later the Indians determined on another raid, and in a few days departed. The Dutchmen now determined to leave, and let me into their secret, so we procured an old rifle which they repaired, and we hid all the provisions we could find, and a week after the warriors were gone the game became very scarce, so the hunters had to be out nearly all the time for provisions for the squaws and children. We now concluded this would be the best time to gain our liberty, so obtaining a small amount of ammunition we gathered up our old gun and some provisions and left our new connections without stopping to say goodbye, and taking advantage of the warriors and hunters we left for home.”

Full version of her narrative here

Ft+Cumberland+MD Jane+Frazier Miami+Indians Ohio+River appalachia appalachia+history history+of+appalachia

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