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On my original tour there was then living on the Big Darby, in Canaan township, Jonathan Alder, who, when a boy in the Revolutionary war, was taken captive by the Indians and lived with them many years. He had dictated to his son Henry the history of his captivity. It comprised about one hundred MSS. pages, and I copied from it all that was of value.

Jonathan Alder died three years later. He looked like an Indian, and though not rich he lived in comfort and was much respected. His name appears among the first juries of Madison county, and his neighbors said he was a very kindly man, "honest as the sun."

We are indebted to Dr. J. N. Beach, of West Jefferson, who saw him when he was a child of five years, for the following facts, after which comes our original account:

Jonathan Alder is buried at Foster Chapel cemetery, Jefferson township, Madison county, four miles north of the village of West Jefferson. His grave is marked by a plain slab, four and a half by two feet in size, on which is the inscription as given below.

His cabin stands one mile north of the cemetery, opposite the residence of his grandson, Seth Alder, in the southwest angle formed by the crossing of the east pike by the Lucas pike. An addition, larger than the original cabin, has been built on the east side. The cabin was first built about two hundred yards east of its present location, or a little east of the present family residence. It was moved to its present location by a son of Mr. Alder and the addition made for residence purposes. I think there is no doubt but that the west half of the present structure located in the angle of the roads is the original Alder cabin, and presents much the same appearance as when it stood farther east when first built.

During his residence with the Indians, he spent one winter in a cabin on the east bank of Darby creek, just opposite where he is buried, on the farm now owned by Knowlton Bailey. While here he became disabled in some way in one of his feet, entirely incapacitating him from hunting, the only means he had for subsistence, and in consequence was reduced to almost a starving condition. Fortunately, however, two indian boys happened to stumble upon his camp just at a time when the question of food was becoming a serious one, and more fortunately the cry of a deer being torn by the wolves was just then heard. The boys sprang out to take a hand in the struggle, bur Mr. Alder said, "Boys, wait until the deer quits crying and then we will be sure of some venison." The deer became quiet, when the boys went out and, driving off the wolves, soon returned with the carcase [sic].

 

CAPTIVITY AND LIFE OF JONATHAN ALDER AMONG THE INDIANS


Jonathan Alder was born in New Jersey, about eight miles from Philadelphia, September 17, 1773. When at about the age of seven years his parents removed to Wythe county, Va., and his father soon after died.
In the succeeding March (1782), while out with his brother David, hunting for a mare and her colt, he was taken prisoner by a small party of Indians. His brother, on the first alarm, ran, and was pursued by some of the party. "At length," says Alder, "I saw them returning, leading my brother, while one was holding the handle of a spear, that he had thrown at him and run into his body. As they approached, one of them stepped up and grasped him around the body, while another pulled out the spear. I observed some flesh on the end of it, which looked white, which I supposed came from his entrails. I moved to him and inquired if he was hurt, and he replied that he was. Those were the last words passed between us. At that moment he turned pale and began to sink, and I was hurried on, and shortly after saw one of the barbarous wretches coming up with the scalp of my brother in his hand, shaking off the blood."

The Indians also having taken a prisoner, a Mrs. Martin, a neighbor to the Alders, with her young child, aged about four or five years, retreated towards their towns. Their route lay through the woods to the Big Sandy, down that stream to the Ohio, which they crossed, and from thence went overland to the Scioto, near Chillicothe, and so on to a Mingo village on Mad river.

Finding the child of Mrs. Martin burdensome, they soon killed and scalped it. The last member of her family was now destroyed, and she screamed in agony of grief. Upon this one of the indians caught her by her hair, and drawing the edge of his knife across her forehead, cried, "sculp! sculp!" with the hope of stilling her cries. But, indifferent to life, she continued her screams, when they procured some switches and whipped her until she was silent. The next day, young Alder having not risen, through fatigue, from eating, at the moment the word was given,s aw, as his face was to the north, the shadow of a man's arm with an uplifted tomahawk. He turned, and there sotod an Indian, ready for the fatal blow. Upon this he let down his arm and commenced feeling of his head. He afterwards told Alder it had been his intention to have killed him; but, as he turned he looked so smiling and pleasant that he could not strike, and on feleing of his head, noticing that his hair was very black, the thought struck him, that if he could only get him to his tribe he would make a good Indian; but that all that saved his life was the color of his hair.

After they crossed the Ohio they killed a bear, and remained four days to dry the meat for packing, and to fry out the oil, which last they put in the intestines, having first turned and cleaned them.

The village to which Alder was taken belonged to the Mingo trive, and was on the north side of Mad river, which we should judge was somewhere within or near the limits of what is now Logan county. As he entered he was obliged to run the gauntlet, formed by young children armed with switches. He passed through this ordeal with little or no injury, and was adopted into an Indian family. His Indian mother thoroughly washed him with soap and warm water with herbs in it, previous to dressing him in the Indian costume, consisting of a calico shirt, breech-cloth, leggings and moccasins. The family having thus converted him into an Indian, were much pleased with their new member. But Jonathan was at first very homesick, thinking of his mother and brothers. Everything was strange about him; he was unable to speak a word of their language; the food disagreed with him; and, childlike, he used to go out daily for more than a month, and sit under a large walnut tree near the village, and cry for hours at a time over his deplorable situation. His Indian father was a chief of the Mingo tribe, named Succohanos; his Indian mother was named Whinecheoh, and their daughters respectively answered to the good old English names of Mary, Hannah and Sally. succohanos and Whinecheo were old people, and had lost a son, in whose place they had adopted Jonathan. They took pity on the little fellow, and did their best to comfort him, telling him that he would one day be restored to his mother and brothers. He says of them, "They could not have used their own son better, for which they shall always be held in most grateful remembrance by me." His Indian sister, Sally, however, treated him "like a slave," and whn out of humor, applied to him, in the Indian tongue, the unladylike epithet of "onorary [mean], lousy prisoner!" Jonathan for a time lived with Mary, who had become the wife of the chief, Col. Lewis. In the fall of the year," says he, "the Indians would generally collect at our camp, evenings, to talk over their hunting expeditions. I would sit up to listen to their stories, and frequently fell asleep just where I was sitting. After they left, mary would fix my bed, and, with Col. Lewis, would carefully take me up and carry me to it. On these occasions they would often say – supposing me to be asleep – 'Poor fellow! we have sat up too long for him, and he has fallen asleep on the cold ground;' and then how softly would they lay me down and cover me up! Oh! never have I, nor can I, express the affection I had for these two persons."

Jonathan, with other boys, went into Mad river to bathe, and on one occasion came near drowning. He was taken out senseless, and some time elapsed ere he recovered. He says, "I remember, after I got over my strangle, I became very sleepy, and I thought I could draw my breath as well as ever. Being overcome with drowsiness, I laid down to sleep, which was the last I remember. The act of drowning is nothing, but the coming to life is distressing. The boys, after they had brought me to, gave me a silver buckle as an inducement not to tell the old folks of the occurence, for fear they would not let me come with them again; and so the affair was kept secret."

When Alder had learned to speak the Indian language he became more contented. He says: "I would have lived very happy, if I could have had health; but for three or four years I was subject to very severe attacks of fever and ague. Their diet went very hard with me for a long time. Their chief living was meat and hominy; but we rarely had bread, and very little salt, which was extremely scarce and dear, as well as milk and butter. Honey and sugar were plentiful, and used a great deal in their cooking, as well as on their food."

When he was old enough he was given an old English musket, and told that he must go out and learn to hunt. So he used to follow along the water-courses, where mud turtles were plenty, and commenced his first essay upon them. He generally aimed under them, as they lay basking on the rocks; and when he struck the stones, they flew sometimes several feet in the air, which afforded great sport for the youthful marksman. Occasionally he killed a wild turkey, or a raccoon; and when he returned to the village with his game generally received high praise for his skill – the Indians telling him he would make "a great hunter one of these days."

We cannot, within our assigned limits, give all of the incidents and anecdotes related by Alder, or anything like a connected history of his life among the Indians. In the June after he was taken occurred Crawford's defeat. He describes the anxiety of the squaws while the men were gone to the battle, and their joy on their returning with scalps and other trophies of the victory. He defends Simon Girty from the charge of being the instigator of the burning of Crawford, and states that he could not have saved his life because he had no influence in the Delaware tribe, whose prisoner Crawford was. Alder was dwelling at the Mackachack towns when they were destroyed by Logan in 1786; was in the attack on Fort Recovery in 1794, and wnet on an expedition to "Kaintucky to steal horses" from the settlers.

Alder remained with the Indians until after Wayne's treaty, in 1795. He was urged by them to be present on the occasion, to obtain a reservation of land, which was to be given to each of the prisoners; but, ignorant of its importance, he neglecte dgoing, and lost the land. Peace having been restored, Alder says, "I could now lie down without fear, and rise up and shake hands with both the Indian and the white man."

The summer after the treaty, while living on Big Darby, Lucas Sullivant made his appearance in that region, surveying land, and soon became on terms of intimacy with Alder, who related to him a history of his life, and generously gave him the piece of land on which he dwelt; but there being some little difficulty about the title, Alder did not contest, and so lost it.

When the settlers first made their appearance on the Darby, Alder could scarcely speak a word of English. He was then about 24 years of age, fifteen of which he had passed with the Indians. Tow of the settlers kindly taught him to converse in English. He had taken up with a squaw for a wife some time previous, and now began to farm like the whites. He kept hogs, cows and horses; sold milk and butter to the Indians, horses and pork to the whites, and accumulated property. He soon was able to hire white laboreres, and being dissatisfied with his squaw – a cross, peevish woman – wished to put her aside, get a wife from among the settlers, and live like them. Thoughts, too, of his mother and brothers, began to obtrude, and the more he reflected, his desire strengthened to know if they were living, and to see them once more. He made inquiries for them, but was at a loss to know how to begin, being ignorant of the name of even the State in which they were. When talking one day with John Moore, a companion of his, the latter questioned him where he was from. Alder replied that he was taken prisoner somewhere near a place called Greenbriar, and that his people lived by a lead mine, to which he frequently used to go to see the hands dig ore. Moore then asked him if he could recollect the names of any of his neighbors. After a little reflection he replied, "Yes! a family of Gulions that lived close by us." Upon this, Moore dropped his head, as if lost in thought, and muttered to himself, "Gulion! Gulion!" and then raising up, replied, "My father and myself were out in that country, and we stopped at their house over one night, and if your people are living I can find them."

Mr. Moore after this went to Wythe county and inquired for the family of Alder; but without success, as they had removed from their former residence. He put up advertisements in various places, stating the facts, and where alder was to be found, and then returned. Alder now abandoned all hopes of finding his family, supposing them to be dead. Some time after he and Moore were at Franklinton, where he was informed that there was a letter for him in the postoffice. It was from his brother Paul, stating that one of the advertisements was put up within six miles of him, and that he got it the next day. It contained the joyful news that his mother and brothers were alive.

Alder, in making preparations to start for Virginia, agreed to separate from his Indian wife, divide the property equally, and take and leave her with her own people at Sandusky. but some difficulty occurred in satisfying her. He gave hre all the cows, fourteen in number, worth $20 each, seven horses and much other property, reserving to himself only two horses and the swine. besides these was a smal box, about six inches long, four inches wide and ofur deep, filled with silver, amounting probably to about $200, which he intended to take, to make an equal division. but to this she objected, saying the box was hers before marriage and she would not only have it, but all it contained. Alder says, "I saw I could not get it without making a fuss , and probably having a fight, and told her that if she would promise never to trouble nor come back to me, she might have it; to which she agreed."

Moore accompanied him to his brother's house, as he was unaccustomed to travel among the whites. They arrived there on horseback at noon, the Sunday after New Year's. They walked up to the house and requested to have their horses fed, and pretending they were entire strangers, inquired who lived there. "I had concluded," said Alder, "not to make myself known for some time, and eyed my brother very close, but did not recollect his features. I had always thought I should have recognized my mother by a mole on her face. In the corner sat an old lady who I supposed was her, although I could not tell, for when I was taken by the Indians her head was as black as a crow, and now it was almost perfectly white. Two young women were present, who eyed me very close, and I heard one of them whisper to the other, 'He looks very much like Mark' (my brohter). I saw they were about to discover me, and accordingly turned my chair around to my brother, and said, 'You say your name is Alder?' 'Yes,' he replied, 'my name is Paul Alder.' 'Well, ' I rejoined, 'my name is Alder too.' Now it is hardly necessary to describe our feelings at that time; but they were very different from those I had when I was taken prisoner, and saw the Indian coming with my brother's scalp in his hand, shaking off the blood.

"When I told my brother that my name was Alder, he rose to shake hands with me, so overjoyed that he could scarcely utter a word, and my old mother ran, threw her arms around me, while tears rolled down her cheeks. The first words she spoke, after she grasped me in her amrs, were, 'How you have grown!'and then she told me of a dream she had. Says she, 'I dreamed that you had come to see me, and that you was a little onorary [mean] looking fellow, and I would not own you for my son; but now I find I was mistaken, that it is entirely the reverse, and I am proud to own you for my son.' I told her I could remind her of a few circumstances that she would recollect, that took place before I was made captive. I then related various things, among which was that the negroes, on passing our house on Saturday evenings, to spend Sunday with their wives, would beg pumpkins of her, and get her to roast them for them against their return on Monday morning. She recollected these circumstances, and said she had now no doubt of my being her son. We passed the balance of the day in agreeable conversation, and I related to them the history of my captivity, my fears and doubts, of my grief and misery the first year after I was taken. My brothers at this time were all married, and Mark and John had moved from there. They were sent for and came to see me; but my half-brother John had moved so far that I never got to see him at all."

 

From Historical collections of Ohio - Henry Howe [Columbus: H. Howe & Son, 1889-1891] 

 


 

About forty years ago, Jonathan Alder dictated to his son Henry the eventful story of his life, which the latter wrote out in full. It contained about one hundred pages of manuscript, and was lonaed to Henry Howe, in the preparation of his history of Ohio, who made copious extracts therefrom. it is not now known whether or not Howe ever returned this manuscript, but if he did, some other man borrowed it soon after, and it has never since been seen by the family. In subsequent years, Henry Alder prepared a second manuscript from memory, also using the extracts printed in Howe's history. These accounts conflict in some cases, and wherever they do, we have given the preference to the original accounty prepared during the lifetime of Mr. Alder. We have also obtained additional facts from his descendants, and old settlers who knew him well and give them in the general story of his life.

Jonathan Alder was born in New Jersey, about eight miles from Philadelphia, September 17, 1773. His parents were Bartholomew and Hannah Alder, and the father had been twice married. Of the first marriage one son, John, was the issue, while the second family were David, Jonathan, Mark and Paul. When our subject was about seven years of age, his parents removed to Wythe County, Va., where his father died soon afterward. They resided near the lead mines in that county, and owned a small farm of very poor land. In March, 1782, Jonathan was sent, with his brother David, to hunt up a mare and colt that had been missing for several days. They found the animals, and, while in the act of assisting the colt to rise, it having eaten a poisonous weed and taken sick, David discovered a band of savages in close proximity, and with the cry, "Indians," darted off, closely pursued. Jonathan was so frightened that he made no effort to escape, and when one of the Indians, upon reaching him, held out his hand, he took hold of it without murmur. The band consisted of about half a dozen Indians and a white prisoner, who had been with them for years. "At length," says Alder, "I saw them returning, leading my brother, while one was holding the handle of a spear that he had thrown at him and run into his body. As they approached, one of them stepped up and grasped him around the body while another pulled out the spear. I observed some flesh on the end of it which looked white, which I supposed came from his entrails. I moved to him and inquired if he was hurt, and he replied that he was; these were the last words that passed between us; at that moment he turned pale and began to sink, and I was hurried on, and shortly after, saw one of the barbarous wretches coming up with the scalp of my brother in his hand, shaking off the blood."

In the same neighborhood lived a Mr. Martin, wife and two children. The Indians shot Martin, in the timber where he was chopping, and going to his cabin, killed the youngest babe, and took prisoners Mrs. Martin and her two-year old child. Finding the child of Mrs. Martin burdensome, they soon killed and scalped it; the last member of her family was now destroyed, and she screamed in agony of grief; upon this one of the Indians caught her by the hair, and drawing the edge of his knife across her forehead cried, "Sculp! sculp!" with the hope of stilling her cries, but, indifferent to life, she continued her screams, when they procured some switches, and whipped her until she was silent. The next day, young Alder having not risen, through fatigue and want of food, at the moment the word was given, saw, as his face was to the north, the shadow of a man's arm with an uplifted tomahawk; he turned, and there stood an Indian, ready for the fatal blow; upon this he let down his arm and commenced feeling his head; he afterward told Alder it had been his intention to have killed him, but as he turned he looked so smiling and pleasant that he could not strike, and, on feeling his head, and noticing that his hair was black, the thought struck him that if he could only get him to his tribe, he would make a good Indian, but all that saved him was the color of his hair. The band traveled rapidly across the country, and on the seventh day came to Big Sandy, where they made three bark canoes and floated down that stream to the Ohio, which they immediately crossed to the north bank, and then destroyed their canoes. About two weeks had passed away ere they reached the soil of Ohio, where the Indians felt safe from pursuit, and allowed their prisoners more liberty. Traveling at leisure through the beautiful forests and prairies, they at last came to the site of Chillicothe, Ross County, where they found an Indian camp, the squaws and larger children engaged in making salt. Thence they went to the Pickaway plains and spent some time in hunting. Here they crossed the Scioto River, and traveled in a northwest direction between Big Darby and the North Fork of Paint Creek, in the vicinity of Deer Creek. Halting near the site of London, they passed most of the summer hunting in what is now Madison County, principally on the Darby plains, where all sorts of game was abundant. They camped for a time near the present location of Plain City; thence followed the Indian trace, which started from the salt lick, near Chillicothe; thence up the Scioto to the mouth of Big Darby; thence up that stream to the head-waters of the Scioto, and on to Upper Sandusky. While on this trip, Jonathan made a foolish attempt to escape, by hiding in a hollow log, but it proved a failure, and he then became resigned to his fate.

The village to which Alder was taken belonged to the Mingo tribe, and was on the north side of Mad River, which, we should judge, was somewhere within or near the limits of what is now Logan County. As he entered he was obliged to run the gantlet formed by young children, with switches. He passed through this ordeal with little or no injury, and was adopted into an Indian family. His Indian mother thoroughly washed him with soap and warm water with herbs in it, previous to dressing him in the Indian costume, consisting of a calico shirt, breechcloth, leggins and moccasins. The family having thus converted him into an Indian, were very much pleased with their new member; but Jonathan was at first very homesick, thinking of his mother and brothers. Everything was strange about him; he was unable to speak a word of their language, their food disagreed with hime, and, child-like, he used to go out daily for more than a month and sit under a large walnut tree near the village, and cry for yours at a time over his deplorable situation. His indian father was a chief of the Mingo tribe, named Succohanos, his Indian mother was named Winecheoh, and their daughters respectively answered to the good old English names of Mary, Hannah and Sally. Succohanos and Winecheoh were old people and had lost a son, in whose place they had adopted Jonathan. They took pity on the little fellow, and did their best to comfort him, telling him taht he would one day be restored to his mother and brothers. He says of them, "They could not have used their own son better, for which they shall always be held in the most grateful remembrance." Mrs. Martin was parted from him on the second day after reaching the Mingo towns, and he did not see her again for two years, when they met at the "salt-works" (in Jackson County), where she told him of her woes and each sympathized with the other. Soon afterward, she was exchanged and he never saw her more. Some time after his adoption, Simon Girty made his appearance in the village and offered to buy him, take him to Canada and teach him a trade; but the name of the English was more abhorrent to him at that time than the Indians, so he concluded to stay where he was. At the close of his second winter among the Indians, a white trader from Kentucky, with an Indian wife, made his appearance for the purpose of exchanging prisoners. Jonathan was informed of the circumstance and was delighted with the prospect of soon again seeing his mother and brothers; but his Indian boy companions, who had become much attached to him, told him terrible stories as to his future if he went with the white trader, hoping thereby to induce him to remain with them. His Indian father always told Jonathan that these tales were false. A few days prior to the time he was to start for Virginia, Succohanos took him to the agency, which was ten miles distant. The parting from his Indian friends was very affecting, for they all loved him well and wept bitterly over his departure. The same hour of his arrival at the agency, the agent, who was a rough man, began to abuse him. Jonathan resisted, and the trader's squaw came to the boy's assistance. This brought on a big quarrel, during which Jonathan "struck out" to overtake his Indian father, in which he was successful. He was joyfully received back by winecheoh, as well as the entire youth of the village, the latter of whom made him the butt of their friendly jokes on account of his short stay with the agent, whose treatment completely weaned him of any lingering desire to return to his early home.

His Indian sisters were all married. Mary was the wife of the Shawnee chief John Lewis; Hannah married Isaac Zane, the half-breed, and Sally became the wife of an ordinary Indian. Jonathan went to live with the latter as a nurse, and she was very cruel to him, abusing and whipping the boy without any provocation, and treating him "like a slave." After two years had passed in this way, one of his playmates told Winecheoh, who immediately took him away from her cross daughter, telling him, over and over, how sorry she was that he had suffered so much cruelty. He subsequently went to live with Chief Lewis, who had no children. "In the fall of the year," says he, "the Indians would generally collect at our camp in the evenings to talk over their hunting expeditions, and I would sit up to listen to their stories, and frequently fell asleep just where I was sitting; after they left, Mary would fix my bed, and, with Col Lewis, carefully take me up and carry me to it. On these occasions, they woudl often say, supposing me to be asleep, 'Poor fellow, we have sat up too long for him, and he has fallen asleep on the cold ground,' and then how softly they would lay me down and cover me up. Oh! never have I, nor can I, express the affection I had for these two persons."

Jonathan, with other boys, went into Mad River to bathe, and on one occasion came near drowning; he was taken out senseless, and some time elapsed before he recovered. He says: "I remember, after I got over my strangle, I became very sleepy, and thought I could draw my breath as well as ever; being overcome with drowsiness, I laid down to sleep, which was the last I remembered. The act of drowning is nothing, but the coming to life is distressing. The boys, after they had brought me to, gave me a silver buckle, as an inducement not to tell the old folks of the occurrence, for fear they would not let me come with them again, and so the affair was kept secret."

When Alder had learned to speak the Indian language, he became more contented. He says: "I would have lived very happy if I could have had good health, but for three or four years I was subject to very severe attacks of fever and ague. Their diet went very hard with me for a long time. Their chief living was meat and hominy; but we rarely had bread, and very little salt, which was extremely scarce and dear, as well as milk and butter. Honey and sugar were plentiful, and used a great deal in their cooking, as well as on their food." He lived with Chief Lewis until thirteen years of age, when Succohanos took him home, saying, that it was time for Jonathan to be doing something for himself, that he would not have to work but must be a brave man and a great hunter. The English gave his Indian father, annually, a keg of powder and a keg of musket-bullets, so giving the boy an old English musket, with plenty of ammunition, he said, "Now start and kill any game you see; it makes no difference what it is, so it is game." He used to follow along the water courses, where mud turtles were plenty, and commenced his first essay upon them. He generally aimed under them as they lay basking on the rocks, and when he struck the stone, they flew sometimes several feet in the air, which afforded great sport for the youthful marksman. Success attended his efforts in killing the smaller game with which the forest abounded, but when he brought home a fine, fat turkey, he would receive high praise for his skill, the Indians telling him eh would be "a great hunter one of these days." His first great feat was the killing of a large buck deer, when a big feast was celebrated over the victory, none being so proud of his prowess as his good old Indian mother. He says: "Between Col. Lewis, Isaac Zane, Sally's husband, and my father, it wsa sometimes a tussle between whose knees I shoudl sit and tell over my great deed of killing the deer. I really think I told it fifty times that evening." The next spring his father gave him a new rifle, and his whole business was to hunt. He soon was second to no Indian youth in the camp, finally becoming the hope and support of his Indian parents.

In 1786, Alder was living in the vicinity of the Mackacheek villages, when they were attacked and destroyed by Gen. Logan. He says that the news of the approach of the Kentuckians was communicated to the Indians by a deserter, but as Logan arrived sooner than expected the surprise was complete. Early one morning, an Indian runner came to the village where Alder lived, and gve the information that Mackacheek had been destroyed, and the "Long-Knives" were approaching. The people of the village who were principally aged men, squaws and children, retreated for two days, until they arrived on the head-waters of the Scioto River, where they suffered much for want of food. There was not a man among them capable of hunting, and they wer compelled to subsist on papaws, muscles and crawfish. In about eight days, they returned to Zane's town, and thence to Hog Creek, where they spent the winter of 1786-87. Their principal living, at that place, was "raccoons, and that with little or no salt, without a single bite of bread, hominy or sweet corn." In the spring, they moved back to their village, where nothing remained but the ashes of their dwellings, and their corn burnt to charcoal. They stayed here during the sugar season, and then removed to Blanchard's Fork, so as to be more secure from the whites, where, being obliged to clear the land, they were enabled to raise but a scanty crop of corn. They fared hard throughout the summer, but managed to sustain life by "eating a kind of wild potato, and poor raccoons that had been suckled donw so poor that dogs would hardly eat them," and, Alder says, "for fear of losing a little, they threw them on the fire, singed the hair off, and ate skin and all." When the crop was in and cabins built, the men scattered out to hunt, coming as far south as Maidson County, where game of all sorts were plentiful, and whence they supplied their winter stock to overflowing. Alder made periodical trips with the Indians to the salt springs, and usually came through this region of country, hunting along the Darbys, Deer Creek, Paint Creek and their tributaries. They had, he says, favorite camping places on Oak run and Paint Creek, south of the site of London, also north of London, on the head-waters of Deer Creek, and near the junction of Spring Fork with Little Darby. Some time was usually spent in making salt, as boiling the water in small kettles, which were brought along for that purpose, proved a very slow process of manufacture. All hands worked, excepting a few good hunters who supplied the camp with food. During one of these trips, while a number of the party were hunting a bear, Alder got severly injured. He had climbed a tree to assist in driving bruin from his perch, when the tree broke off and precipitated him to the ground. His comrades thought he was killed, but although he finally recovered, it was several months ere he could stir around, or regained his former strength.

In the spring of 1790, Alder went with a party of Indians into Kentucky to steal horses, "in retaliation for the destruction of our towns and property." Starting from the vicinity of the old Mackacheek villages, they passed through what is now Logan, Union, Madison, Pickaway and Ross Counties, stopping on the Pickaway plains to hunt, and taking their leisure as Indians always do. They reached the Ohio River, near the site of Portsmouth, made bark canoes and crossed to the Kentucky shore. Alder says: "This was the first time I had seen the Ohio River since I crossed it a prisoner." They secured thirty-two horses, young and old, says Alder. "I had a mare, one yearling colt and one two-year-old colt." The animals were made to swim the Ohio, and the Indians did likewise. Alder says: "I swam it with ease, it seemed as if I hardly wet my back." The whole band returned by the same route through Ohio, arriving home in safety. In speaking of his Indian parents, he says: "They thought it was a great feat for me to swim the great Ohio River. They seemed to set a high value on the horses, not because they were valuable, but beacuse they had a son who could venture out so far, and be so successful in stealing horses, and get back with his property safe." Two years later, he made a second trip to Kentucky for the same purpose, but the band was discovered and narrowly escaped capture. They resolved, during the pursuit, to murder a family whose cabin lay in their route back to the OHio, and waited until midnight, about a mile from their intended victims. On starting for the house they were unable to find the path leading thereto, and though close to the cabin, did not discover it on account of the extreme darkeness of the night, and, looking upon their failure as a manifestation of the displeasure of the Great Spirit, gave up the cruel intention. On coming to a second cabin, however, they determined to gratify their savage desire for blood, but fortunately found the house deserted. Alder says that he felt thankful then and ever afterward, that there were no lives taken during these trips. Another excursion subsequently was made into Kentucky, but it also proved a failure, as the people were on the alert for these thieving pests.

Alder speaks of meeting John Brickell with a band of Delawares, who visited their camps on the Maumee, coming from the villages, where Columbus now stands. He also knew Jeremiah Armstrong very well who lived with the Wyandots at the same place, both being prisoners with the Indians. During this time Winecheoh died, aged about eighty years, and soon afterward Alder went with Succohanos to the salt springs. The old man was very feeble, and desired Jonathan to go to Upper Sandusky and get him some tobacco, but upon his return he found that succohanos was dead and buried. He says: "I was now left alone, no one to care for me. I had lost a kind father and mother, and man as I was, I missed them both very much." He soon afterward began to pay his attention to an Indian widow named Barshaw, who was a sister of Big Turtle, and somewhat older than Alder. He concluded to find a good hunting ground for the fall, and the Darby plains was chosen. Starting from Upper Sandusky for this point, he pitched his tent near a spring, where Plain City now stands. His season proved a successful one, and selling his peltries to a trader, who was living at the Indian villages where Columbus now is, he returned to Sandusky late in the fall. During the winter he continued to pay hsi addresses to Barshaw, and early the following spring again came to this portion of the territory, locating his tent on Paint Creek, south of the site of London, where he hunted deer and trapped the valuable beaver and otter with gratifying success. Throughout that summer and succeeding winter, his camp was on Big Darby, on the farm subsequently owned by Knowlton Bailey, and here he remained hunting and trapping until Indian runners brought the news of the invasion of Wayne's army. All of the Indians were ordered north to join their brethren in the coming struggle. The Indians told Alder it was going to be an easy victory over Wayne, and that the spoils would be rich and plenty, which inducements proved too strong a temptation for him to remain away. He says: "They told me if I did not wish to fight, I need not do so. I studied over it for some time, and thought I might as well have some of the good things he had as any one, so when the army got ready to move I went along." The Indians attacked Fort Recovery June 30, 1794, and were repulsed. A number of riderless horses, belonging to the mounted force outside the fort, first attacked by the Indians, were galloping madly around, and Alder exertid himself without success, to capture one of the animals. He states that Simon Girty and the McKees, father and son, were in the fight, and that Thomas McKee killed Capt. Hartshorn of the American forces. Speaking of the battle, Alder says: "In the morning when we arose, an old Indian addressed us, saying, 'We went out last night to take the fort by surprise, and lost several of our men killed and wounded. There is one wounded man lying near the fort, who must be brought away, for it would be an eternal shame and scandal to the tribe to allow him to fall into the hands of the whites to be massacred. I wish to knwon who will volunteer and go bring him away.' 'Big Turtle,' who knew where he lay, answered that he would go; but as no one else volunteered, the old Indian pointed out several of us successively, myself among the number, saying, that we msut accompany Big Turtle. Upon this, we rose up without a word, and started. As soon as we came into the edge of the cleared ground, those in the fort began shooting at us. We then ran crooked from one tree to another, the bullets in the meanwhile flying about us like hail. At length, while standing behind a big tree, Big Turtle ordered us not to stop any more, but run in a straight line, as we were only giving them time to load, that those foremost in going should have the liberty of first returning. He then pointed out the wounded man, and we started in a straight line, through a shower of bullets. When we reached him, we were within sixty yards of the fort. We all seized him and retreated for our lives, first dodging from one side and then to the other, until out of danger. None of us were wounded but Big Turtle; a ball grazed his thigh, and a number of bulletts passed through his hunting shirt that hung loose. When we picked up the wounded man, his shirt flew open, and I saw that he was shot in the belly. it was green all around the bullet hole, and I concluded we were risking our lives for a dead man." Alder says that he did not take any active part in this fight, and when told by an Indian to shoot at the holes in the fort, replied, "I do not want to shoot," and was then advised to get out of the battle if he did not want to do any fighting.

After the attack on Fort Recovery, the Indians lingered in the vicinity for several days, finally retreating to Defiance. Alder says: "We remained here (Defiance) about two weeks, until we heard of the approach of Wayne, when we packed up our goods and started for the old English fort at the Maumee Rapids. Here we prepared ourselves for battle, and sent the women and children down about three miles below the fort; and as I did not wish to fight they sent me to Sandusky to inform some Wyandots there of the great battle that was about to take place. I remained at Sandusky until the battle was over. The Indians did not wait more than three or four days, before Wayne made his appearance at the head of a long prairie on the river, where he halted, and waited for an opportunity to suit himself. Now the Indians are very curious about fighting; for they know they are going into battle, they will not eat anything just previous. They say that if a man is shot in the body when he is entirely empty there is not half as much danger of the ball passing through his bowels as when they are full. So they started the first morning without eating anything, and, moving up to the end of the prairie, ranged themselves in order of battle at the edge of the timber. There they watied all day without any food, and at night returned and partook of their suppers. The second morning they again placed themselves in the same position, and again returned at night and supped. By this time they had begun to get weak from eating only once a day, and concluded they would eat breakfast before they again started. So the next morning they began to cook and eat. Some were eating, and others who had finished had moved forward to their stations, when Wayne's army was seen approaching. As soon as they were within gunshot the Indians began firing on them; but Wayne, making no halt, rushed on, regardless of danger. Only a small part of the Indians being on the ground, they were obliged to give back, and, finding Wayne too strong for them, attempted to retreat. Those who were on the way heard the noise, and hurried to their assistance. So some were running from and others to the battle, which created great confusion. In the meantime, the light-horse had gone entirely round and came in upon their rear, blowing their horns and closing in upon them. The Indians now found that they were completely surrounded, and all that could made their escape, and the balance were all killed, which was no small number. Among these last, with one or two exceptions, were all the Wyandots that lived at Sandusky at the time I went to inform them of the expected battle. The main body of the Indians were back nearly two miles from the battle-ground, and Wayne had taken them by surprise and made such slaughter among them that they were entirely discouraged, and made the best of their way to their respectie homes."

Alder remained with the Indians until after Wayne's treaty, in 1795. He was urged by them to be present on the occaison, to obtain a reservation of land which was to be given to each of the prisoners, but ignorant of its importance, he neglected going and lost the land. Peace having been restored, Alder says "I could now lie down without fear, and rise up and shake hands with both the Indian and the white man. As soon as that treaty was confirmed, I concluded my arrangements with Barshaw, and we were married in due form, according to the Indian custom. We immediately made arrangements to move to the Darby, as that was then the best hunting grounds in the West. We got a brood mare for each of us, packed up our goods and started for Big Darby, or Crawfish Creek, as it was then called. We stopped a little below where Pleasant Valley now is, and there commenced life in good earnest. Our cabin was built on what is since known as the Jaremiah Dominy farm, precicely where he built his house afterward. There was a fine spring of water but a few steps from the cabin." The Dominy farm is on the east bank of Big Darby, about one mile southeast of Plain City, and here, in the fall of 1795, was living the first white settler of Madison County. During the following winter, while Alder was out hunting, he discovered two white men who were lost in the forest, and they were the first he had seen in that region of country. Although not able to speak English, he took the strangers to his cabin, fed them and put them on the trace to Sandusky, showing them all the kindness in his power. He subsequently removed to the site of Plain City, on the west bank of the stream, and there was found by Benjamin Springer and Usual Osborn, in 1796, who settled on Big Darby, on land now owned by John Taylor, near the north line of Canaan Township. The summer after the treaty, while living on Big Darby, Lucas Sullivant made his appearance in that region surveying land, and soon became on terms of intimacy with alder, who related to him a history of his life, and Sullivant generously gave him the piece of land on which he dwelt; but there being some little difficulty about the title, Alder did not contest, and subsequently lost it. According to Mrs. Sarah Norton, an early settler yet living, who is the daughter of Daniel Taylor, deceased, Barshaw had two children when Alder took her for his wife, viz., Sarah and John. Mrs. Norton says that she often played with them ere Alder and his wife parted. She also says that the squaw thought a great deal of Jonathan, and was afraid that he would leave her and marry a white woman, which fears were subsequently realized. During his stay with Barshaw, she bore him two children, both of whom died in infancy, and this they believed was a manifestation of displeasure by the Great Spirit at the intermarriage of two races. This, with other causes, finally led to a separation. Usual Osborn and Benjamin Springer taught Alder to speak English, which tongue he had quite forgotten. He learned very rapdily, so that he soon was the recognized interpreter between the whites and Indians. He was now becoming civilized, and began to farm like the whites. He kept hogs, cows and horses, sold milk and butter to the Indians, horses and pork to the whites, and accumulated property. He soon was able to hire white laborers, and being dissatisfied with his squaw, a cross, peevish woman, wished to put her aside, get a wife from among the settlers, and live like them. Thoughts, too, of his mother and brothers began to obtrude, and the more he reflected, his desire strengthened to know if they were living and to see them once more. He made inquireis for them, but was at a loss to know how to begin, being ignorant of the name of even the State in which they were residing.

About this time he entered into a hunting partnership with John Moore, who afterward was one of the officials of Madison County for many years, and a leading merchant of London. Losing the land near Plain City, he removed farther down the stream and built a cabin east of where Foster's Chapel now stands, in Jefferson Township, close to the west bank of Big Darby, on the land now owned by R. C. Stuckey. When talking one day with Moore, the latter began to question him where he was from. Alder replied that he was taken prisoner somewhere near a place called Greenbrier, and that his people lived by a lead mine, to which he frequently went to see the hands dig ore. Moore then asked him id he could recollect the names of any of his neighbors; after a little reflection he replied, "Yes, a family of Gulions that lived close by us." Upon this Moore dropped his head, as if in thought, and muttered to himself, "Gulions! Gulions!" and then raising up replied, "My father and myself were out in that country, and we stopped at their house over one night, and if your people are living, I can find them." Mr. Moore, after this, went to Wythe county and inquired for the family of Alder, but without success, as they had removed from their former residence. He put up advertisements in various places, stating the facts and where Alder was to be found, and then returned. Alder now abandoned all hopes of finding his family, supposing them to be dead. Some time after, he and Moore were at Franklinton, when he was informed there was a letter for him in the post office. It was from his brother Paul, stating that one of the advertisements was put up within six miles of him, and that he got it the next day. It contained the joyful news that his mother and brothers were living. Alder, in making preparations to start for Virginia, agreed to separate from his Indian wife, divide the property equally, and take and leave her with her own people at Sandusky. But some difficulty occurred in satisfying her; he gave her all the cows, fourteen in number, worth $20 each, seven horses and much other property, reserving to himself only two horses and the swine. Besides these was a small box, about six inches long, four wide, and four deep, filled with silver amounting probably to about $200, which he intended to take to make an equal division. But to this she objected, saying the box was hers before marriage and she would not only have it, but all that it contained. Alder says: "I saw I could not get it without making a fuss, and probably having a fight, and told her that if she would promise never to trouble or come back to me, she might have it, to which she agreed." Barshaw did not keep this promise, however, but annoyed him considerably in a number of cases. "Once," he says, "she was returning from the salt works to Sandusky, and finding no one at home she stuck her butcher knife through the bottom of one of my tin cups three times, and cut to pieces a silver-mounted bridle of mine that cost me $13." At other visits she destroyed whatever she could find in the cabin, and Mrs. Norton says that she threatened to kill is white wife if she ever found her alone. Thus she displayed her jealous and venomous character by seeking revenge on the innocent. Every two years, however, Alder went to see his Indian friends, but never visited his former wife.

In November, 1804, he started for Virginia, and John Moore accompanied him to his brother's house, as he was unaccustomed to travel among the whites. They arrived there, on horseback, at noon on the Sunday after New Years's, 1805. They walked up to the house and requested to have their horses fed, and, pretending they were strangers, inquired who lived there. "I had concluded," says Alder, "not to make myself known for some time, and eyed my brother very close, but did not recollect his features. I had always thought that I should have recognized my mother by a mole on her face; in the corner sat an old lady who, I supposed was her, although I could not tell, for when I was taken by the Indians her head was black as a crow and now it was almost perfectly white. Two young women were present who eyed me very close, and I heard one of them whisper to the other, 'he looks very much like Mark' (my brother). I saw they were about to discover me, adn accordingly turned my chair around to my brother and said, 'You say that your name is Alder?' 'Yes,' he replied, 'my name is Paul Alder.' 'Well,' I rejoined, 'my name is alder, too.' Now it is hardly necessary to describe our feelings at that time, but they were different from those i had when taken prisoner, and saw the Indian coming with my brother's scalp in his hand, shaking off the blood. When I told my brother that my name was Alder, he rose to shake hads with me, so everjoyed that he could scarcely utter a word, and my old mother ran, threw her arms around me, while tears rolled down her cheeks. The first words she spoke, after she grasped me in her arms, were, 'How you have grown,' and then she told me of a dream she had. Says she, 'I dreamed that you had come to see me, and that you was a little ornary looking fellow, and I would not own you for my son; but now I find I was mistaken, that it is entirely the reverse, and I am proud to own you for my son.' I told her I could remind her of a few circumstances that she would recollect, that took place before I was made captive. I then related various things, among which wa that the negroes, on passing our house on Saturday evening, to spend Sunday with their wives, would beg pumpkins of her, and get her to roast them for them again on their return on Monday morning. She recollected these circumstances, and said she had now no doubt of my being her son. We passed the balance of the day in agreeable conversation, and I related to them the history of my captivity, my fears and doubts, of my grief and misery the first year after I was taken. My brothers at this time were all married, and Mark and John had moved from there. They were sent for, and came to see me; but my half-brother John had moved so far that I never got to see him at all." He told them of David's death, pointing out the spot where he was killed; visited the old homestead, the scene of his capture, and went with hsi friends to the place where he spent the first night with the Indians. They related to him, that about a year afterward, David's bones were found and buried. His mother had married during his long absence, and one of the young women, whom he had first seen in the house, was his half-sister.

He says: "I had intended to come back the next fall, but my mother and brother Paul got very anxious to come out with me, adn so they told me they would sell their land and go with me. I agreed to this and stayed another year. While roving around among their friends and neighbors, all of whom were glad to see me and hear my history, I fell in company with Mary Blont, and as she was a rather handsome girl, I fell in love with her, and proposed to marry her and take her back with me. She readily consented ot my proposition, and we were married in the winter of 1806. In the meantime, my half-sister had married a Mr. Henry Smith, and they came to the conclusion to come to Ohio with us. Early in the spring of 1806, we all commenced to make preparations for the long and weary journey. We bought one large wagon and harnessed six fine horses to it, and started out in the latter part of August, 1806." After a journey of eight weeks' duration, they arrived safely at the cabin previously erected by Alder and John Moore, east of the site of Foster chapel. His intention was to buy this land, but during his absence to Virginia, Rev. Lewis Foster, a Methodist preacher, came out to look up a location, and finding this land with a house already built to which no one laid claim, he went to Chillicothe, and purchased the whole tract of 1,000 acres. Alder was living in the cabin about two months, when Mr. Foster's son notified him that his father had bought the land, and thus, through his ignoracne of the white man's laws, he again lost the site of his intended home. He then went to Franklinton, and purchased, from Lucas Sullivant, the adjoining tract on the north, which is now in the southeast corner of Canaan Township, and bordering on Big Darby. With the assistance of his brother Paul, his brother-in-law Smith, and a few other friends, he soon had a good cabin erected, and was living in it inside of eight days from the time they began the work. In later years, he expressed a desire that this cabin should be preserved by his descendants as long as it would last, and it is yet standing in good repair. His brother and brother-in-law subsequently bought land on Three-Mile Run not far from his purchase, built cabins, and in short time the little settlement was comfortably quartered. The Indians occasionally came to the neighborhood and usually camped in the vicinity of Alder's cabin, as they looked upon him as one of themselves. He was always very kind to them and did much toward keeping them on friendly terms with the whites during the exciting period of the war of 1812. They consulted him as to the course they should pursue, and through his influence and advice, either took up arms for the Americans, or remained neutral.

Throughout these reminiscences, he often speaks of the Indian character; tells of their customs, feasts, games, amusements, dances, courtship, marriage, superstitions, and other phases of Indian life well known to the average student of history. He knew Simon Girty well, and says he as no such fiend as the whites make him out to be. He defends him as to the burning of Crawford, saying that as Crawford was captured by the Delawares, and Girty belonged to the Mingoes, he had no right to interfere, and no power to save him. He takes Girty's side all through; says that he was considered "a true and honest man among the Indians," and that the stories of his cruelties were exaggerations. He points with evident pride to Girty having saved the life of Simon Kenton, when everything was prepared to burn him at the stake, and says, "I had it from Kenton's own mouth." In speaking of Tecumseh, he says: "I was well acquainted with him. I sold him a keg of rum one day for a horse; the horse got sick and died, and shortly afterward I told him he ought ot give me another horse. He said he had drank the rum up and it was all gone, and he supposed I was bout as well off as he was. He said the rum was of no use to either of us, and that he ahd suffered all the bad consequences of drinking it. He reasoned that the horse had done me as much good as the rum had done him, and perhaps more, but as it was, if I was satisfied we would quit square, and so we did." Once, when Alder was present, an Indian was boasting of the number of scalps he had taken; Tecumseh turned upon him and called him a low, mean Indian, saying that half his scalps were those of women and children. Says he: "I have killed forty men with my own hands in single combat, but never have I taken the life of a woman or child." Alder says: "this great chief was a man of wonderful intellect, brave, fearless, and of pure integrity. He would do nothing but what was right, and would submit to nothing that was wrong." He further says: "I was very well acquainted with the Prophet, the chief's brother. He was no warrior, but a low, cunning fellow." All through this manuscript he sides with the Indinas, usually alluding to their prowess, bravery and honesty. He says: "During my stay with the Indians and until after the great victory of Gen. Wayne, we were frequently attacked or disturbed by the whites. In fact not a year passed without suffering some loss on our part by attacks of the white armies. The fall of the year was generally chosen as the time best suited to march against the Indians, for the reason, perhaps, that we had our crop raised and preparations made for winter, and if our subsistance was destroyed we would be reduced to a greater necessity at that season of the year than at others. Very many bitter, sorrowful and hungry seasons we endured by reason of these difficulties. When all was peace, we enjoyed ourselves freely, but these terrible troubles were attended by the loss of everything the Indian holds dear on earth. Driven from place to place, our favorite hunting-ground taken from us, our crops destroyed, towns burned, women and children sent off in the dead of winter, perhaps to starve, while the warriors tood between them and their great enemy – the whites – like a mob only to be shot down. All these things engendered animosities and encouraged retaliation. But the whites were strong and powerful, the Indians were few and feeble. This state of things will accounty for many if not all the cruelties charged to the Indians. I was getting to be an Indian in the true sense of the word, and felt sorely on these occasions and acted as they do – revengeful and hateful to the race. Robbed of their land, their sacred graves desecrated, and the whole race driven farther and farther back into the wild forest, from land that the whites never could have had any claim to whatever. Even the theory of purchase was but another pretext to rob. We had no choice left us but to sell and take what they chose to give or be driven off and get nothing. The price offered was always governed by what it would cost to drive us off, and if the latter cost the least it would always be resorted to."

Jonathan and Mary (Blont) Alder were the parents of the following children: Paul (who married Sarah Francis), Mark (died single), Lewis (married Catherine Trimble, who died, and he again married a lady unknown to us), Henry (married Elizabeth Millikin, and settled on the old homestead, where he resided through life; his second wife was Rebecca Timmons, who survives him; he held many of the township offices, and was County Surveyor from 1841-50, 1856-58, 1865-67 and 1871-73; he was also County Commissioner in 1851-54), Margaret (married a Mr. Frazell), Hannah, William foster, Rachel, Harvey Gearhart, Eliza, Simon Sager, Ann, a Mr. Jones, Mary, John Warner, Angeline, John Betts, while Ruth died unmarried. All of this family were well known and much respected. Jonathan Alder's name appears among the first juries of Madison County, so that he early began to be a useful citizen. He became comfortably well off in this world's goods, although not rich by any means. In a personal appearance, he says, when speaking of the meeting between himself and his mother: "I was a little over six feet in height, and as straight as an arrow ever was." His hair and eyebrows were "black as a coal," his complexion dark and swarthy, his face large and well formed, denoting strength of character and firmness of purpose; his eyes were bright and piercing, while his whole appearance, gait and actions were characteristic of the Indian. This will not be wondered at when we consider the many years he spent among the savages. Old settlers who knew him well tell us that "Jonathan Alder was as honest as the sun." and his whole life, while living in this county, was characterized by the most rigid uprightness and straightforward dealing toward his fellow men. In 1815, his wife's father, Adam Blont, brought his family to the settlement, and here most of them died and were buried in the Foster Graveyard. Mr. Alder's mother died in 1817, and was interred in the same ground. On the 30th of January, 1848, he, too, passed away, leaving to his children an example worthy of the strictest imitation. His remains rest beside those of his friends in Foster's Cemetery. His widow survived him several years, first removing to Iowa, and thence to Illinois, where, at the home of her daughter, Hannah Foster, she died, and was interred in that neighborhood.

 

From HISTORY OF MADISON COUNTY - W. H. Beers [Chicago, 1883]