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Elizabeth Graham captured by the Indians

When the morn­ing dawned upon the Graham [93] home, it was found that their ten-year-old boy, John; their neigh­bor and friend, McDonald (or Caldwell); and their faith­ful ser­vant, Sharp, were dead and that their seven-year-old daugh­ter, Elizabeth, was miss­ing. The feel­ing of despair, gloom and sad­ness, doubt­less mixed with a desire for revenge, that now rested upon the hearts of these sturdy pio­neers can bet­ter be imag­ined than told. There could be no spec­u­la­tion or guess­ing about the fate of those who lay dead. Their suf­fer­ing was over; but the miss­ing one! Where was she? Dead or alive? Was her man­gled form float­ing down the river, or was it left in the deep for­est to be devoured by wild beasts? or, per­chance, was she liv­ing, half naked, with bleed­ing limbs, tread­ing through brier and bram­ble at the mercy of some unfeel­ing sav­age? These must have been the thoughts that crowded the minds of the half dis­tracted par­ents; but unre­lent­ing search and untir­ing efforts finally dis­closed the fact that she had been car­ried off a prisoner.

During the night of this mas­sacre, William, the [94] old­est son, a lad of about twelve years, was not well, and being rest­less, had come in from the out house and, on his com­ing in, his mother remarked to him that he “had bet­ter go back to bed with the other chil­dren”. He replied that as it was nearly day­light he would lie down on the floor till morn­ing, which, luck­ily for him, he did. oth­er­wise, he no doubt, would have met the same sad fate of his younger brother. A few years after this occur­rence an Indian skele­ton was found about two miles from the scene of the tragedy, on a small run near where E. D. Alderson now lives, called Indian Draft, which was believed to be the same Indian killed by Graham. Graham secured the jaw bone of this skele­ton and used it for a gun­rack for a num­ber of years.

After becom­ing thor­oughly con­vinced that Elizabeth had been car­ried into cap­tiv­ity, the next task of Col. Graham was to locate her where­abouts and, if pos­si­ble, secure her return. Months of anx­ious and unceas­ing search located her among the Shawnee tribes, whose wig­wams were [95] sit­u­ated at what is now Chillicothe, Ohio. She had been adopted by a squaw of one of the chiefs of the Cornstalk fam­ily of that tribe and, while it was doubt­less a source of great jo’.y to those fond par­ents to find their long-lost child alive and well and well cared for, though in the home of a sav­age chief, yet a new anx­i­ety awaited them, but lit­tle less ter­ri­ble than that which they had already expe­ri­enced, the work of res­cu­ing and see­ing her once more around the hearth­stone of their own home. To this task Col. Graham directed his ener­gies and sev­eral times vis­ited the Shawnee towns and as often met with new obsta­cles and dis­ap­point­ments, none of which were prob­a­bly more heart-rending to him than to know that his child had learned to love her sav­age home, and that in turn she was loved and doted on by her adopted mother. As the ten­der twig is eas­ily bent and made to grow in new direc­tions, so were the incli­na­tions of this inno­cent child read­ily diverted from the scenes of the past and made to love the pass­ing events which sur­rounded [96] her, and she being well cared for and never mis­treated by the Indians, it was but nat­ural that she loved them. It is also said that before her return a love more pas­sion­ate than that for her adopted tribe or mother had seized her youth­ful breast and that a young war­rior would soon have claimed her for his “white” squaw. As to the truth of the story, that she had an Indian lover, we do not vouch, but hav­ing learned it from her own descen­dants, we think it wor­thy of men­tion. After fruit­less efforts and at least two con­tracts, which were vio­lated and backed down from by the Indians, Col. Graham finally suc­ceeded in 1785 in ran­som­ing and bring his daugh­ter back home, after an absence of about eight years. The price paid for her release was the release of an Indian pris­oner whom the whites held, thirty sad­dles and a lot of beads and other trin­kets, and, accord­ing to the sum­ming up of the var­i­ous tra­di­tions, about $300 in silver.

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