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.

Leave a Comment