Indian Captivities

AccessGenealogy.com. Indian Captiviy Narratives. A collection of first hand Indian captivity narratives from a variety of sources. For a list of sources, please see title page.

Narrative of Marie Le Roy and Barbara Leininger

The Narrative of Mary le Roy and Barbara Leininger. Who for four and a half years were captive among the Indians, and on the 6th May 1759 arrived happy in this city. From her own lips never written and promoted to the Press. This manuscript gives an account of the captivity and escape of these two girls, whose families lived on Penn’s Creek, in the present Union County, Pennsylvania. It also provides a lengthy list of names of other prisoners met by the two ladies in their captivity.

The Narrative of Francesco Giuseppe Bressani – Indian Captivities

The Italian Jesuit missionary Father Bressani was born in Rome, 6 May, 1612. At the age of fourteen he entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus. Becoming zealous to serve as missionary among the American Indians, he went to Quebec in the summer of 1642, and the following year he was sent among the Algonquins at Three Rivers. In April, 1644, while on his way to the Huron country, where a mission had been established, he was captured by the Iroquois, who at that time were an exceedingly fierce and even cannibal nation, perpetually at war with nearly the whole known continent. By them he was subjected to tortures, but finally was made over to an old squaw to take the place of a deceased relative. From her he was ransomed by the Dutch at Fort Orange (the modern Albany), and by them he was sent to France, where he arrived in November, 1644. Despite his terrible experiences among the savages, and his maimed condition, the indomitable missionary returned to Canada the next spring, and labored with the Hurons until their mission was destroyed by the Iroquois four years later. In November, 1650, Bressani, in broken health, went back to his native land. Here he spent many years as a preacher and home missionary. He died at Florence, 9 September, 1672. The following account of Father Bressani’s sufferings among the Indians is translated from two of his own letters in his book Breve Relatione d’alcune Missioni nella Nuova Francia, published at Macerata in 1653.

Indian Captivity Narratives

This collection contains entire narratives of Indian captivity; that is to say, we have provided the reader the originals without the slightest abridgement. Some of these captivities provide little in way of customs and manners, except to display examples of the clandestine warfare Native Americans used to accomplish their means. In almost every case, there was a tug of war going on between principle government powers, French, American, British, and Spanish, and these powers used the natural prowess of the Indians to assist them in causing warfare upon American and Canadian settlers. There were definitely thousands of captivities, likely tens of thousands, as the active period of these Indian captivity narratives covers 150 years. Unfortunately, few have ever been put under a pen by the original captive, and as such, we have little first-hand details on their captivity. These you will find here, are only those with which were written by the captive or narrated to another who could write for them; you shall find in a later collection, a database of known captives, by name, location, and dates, and a narrative about their captivity along with factual sources. But that is for another time.

Narrative of the captivity of Alexander Henry, Esq – Indian Captivities

Narrative of the captivity of Alexander Henry, Esq., who, in the time of Pontiac’s War, fell into the hands of the Huron Indians. Detailing a faithful account of the capture of the Garrison of Michilimacki-Nac, and the massacre of about ninety people. Written by himself.1 When I reached Michilimackinac I found several other traders, who …

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Narrative of Mrs. Clendenin – Indian Captivities

Narrative of the Destruction of the Settlement of Green-Brier, Virginia, together with the capture and surprising conduct of Mrs. Clendenin, who was among those Who Escaped the Tomahawk of the Indians at that Massacre.1 After peace was confirmed between England and France in the year 1761, the Indians commenced hostilities in 1763,2 when all the inhabitants …

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Narrative of the Captivity of Maria and Christina Manheim – Indian Captivities

Frederick Manheim, an industrious German, with his family, consisting of his wife, a daughter of eighteen years of age, and Maria and Christina, his youngest children, (twins,) about sixteen, resided near the river Mohawk, eight miles west of Johnston. On the 19th of October, 1779, the father being at work at some distance from his …

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Rev. John Corbly’s Narrative – Indian Captivities

If, after perusing the annexed melancholy narrative, you deem it worthy a place in your publication, it is at your service. Such communications, founded on fact, have a tendency on one hand to make us feel for the persons afflicted, and on the other to impress our hearts with gratitude to the Sovereign Disposer of …

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Narrative of the Captivity of of Mrs. Francis Scott – Indian Captivities

A True and Wonderful Narrative of the Surprising Captivity and remarkable deliverance of Mrs. Francis Scott, an inhabitant of Washington County, Virginia, who was taken by the Indians on the evening of the 29th of June, 1785. On Wednesday, the 29th day of June, 1785, late in the evening, a large company of armed men …

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Narrative of the Captivity of Capt. William Hubbell – Indian Captivities

A Narrative of the desperate encounter and escape of Capt. William Hubbell from the Indians while descending the Ohio River in a boat with others, in the year 1791. Originally set forth in the Western Review, and afterwards republished by Dr. Metcalf, in his “Narratives of Indian Warfare in the West.” In the year 1791, …

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An Account of the Sufferings of Mercy Harbison – Indian Captivities

On the 4th of November, 1791, a force of Americans under General Arthur St. Clair was attacked, near the present Ohio-Indiana boundary line, by about the same number of Indians led by Blue Jacket, Little Turtle, and the white renegade Simon Girty. Their defeat was the most disastrous that ever has been suffered by our arms when engaged against a savage foe on anything like even terms. Out of 86 officers and about 1400 regular and militia soldiers, St. Clair lost 70 officers killed or wounded, and 845 men killed, wounded, or missing. The survivors fled in panic, throwing away their weapons and accoutrements. Such was “St. Clair’s defeat.”

The utter incompetency of the officers commanding this expedition may be judged from the single fact that a great number of women were allowed to accompany the troops into a wilderness known to be infested with the worst kind of savages. There were about 250 of these women with the “army” on the day of the battle. Of these, 56 were killed on the spot, many being pinned to the earth by stakes driven through their bodies. Few of the others escaped captivity.

After this unprecedented victory, the Indians became more troublesome than ever along the frontier. No settler’s home was safe, and many were destroyed in the year of terror that followed. The awful fate of one of those households is told in the following touching narrative of Mercy Harbison, wife of one of the survivors of St. Clair’s defeat. How two of her little children were slaughtered before her eyes, how she was dragged through the wilderness with a babe at her breast, how cruelly maltreated, and how she finally escaped, barefooted and carrying her infant through days and nights of almost superhuman exertion, she has left record in a deposition before the magistrates at Pittsburgh and in the statement here reprinted.

Narrative of the Captivity of Sergeant Lent Munson – Indian Captivities

Narrative of the captivity and escape of Sergeant Lent Munson, who fell into the hands of the Western Indians at the time of Lieut. Lowry’s defeat. As Lieut. Lowry and Ensign Boyd, with about one hundred men, were escorting two hundred and fifty pack horses with provisions from fort St. Clair to General Wayne’s camp, …

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Narrative of the Escape of W. B. Thompson – Indian Captivities

John W. B. Thompson’s story of “captivity” is really a captive story about being attacked by Seminole Indians at the Cape Florida Lighthouse he manned with what appears to be his slave. Written by him to let his friends know that he was alive, though crippled, the letter to the editor of the Charleston (S. C.) Courier details the frightful event of 23 July 1836. The Seminole Indians who attacked him likely pillaged the premise for supplies as they were taking their families into the marsh around Cape Florida where they were attempting to hide from the forced migration of their tribe to Oklahoma.

Narrative of Robert Eastburn – Indian Captivities

A Faithful Narrative of the Many Dangers and Sufferings, as well as wonderful and surprising deliverances, of Robert Eastburn, during his late captivity among the Indians. Written by Himself. Published at the earnest request of many persons, for the benefit of the Public. With a recommendatory Preface by the Rev. Gilbert Tennent. Psalms 24, 6, …

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Life and travels of Colonel James Smith – Indian Captivities

James Smith, pioneer, was born in Franklin county, Pennsylvania, in 1737. When he was eighteen years of age he was captured by the Indians, was adopted into one of their tribes, and lived with them as one of themselves until his escape in 1759. He became a lieutenant under General Bouquet during the expedition against the Ohio Indians in 1764, and was captain of a company of rangers in Lord Dunmore’s War. In 1775 he was promoted to major of militia. He served in the Pennsylvania convention in 1776, and in the assembly in 1776-77. In the latter year he was commissioned colonel in command on the frontiers, and performed distinguished services. Smith moved to Kentucky in 1788. He was a member of the Danville convention, and represented Bourbon county for many years in the legislature. He died in Washington county, Kentucky, in 1812. The following narrative of his experience as member of an Indian tribe is from his own book entitled “Remarkable Adventures in the Life and Travels of Colonel James Smith,” printed at Lexington, Kentucky, in 1799. It affords a striking contrast to the terrible experiences of the other captives whose stories are republished in this book; for he was well treated, and stayed so long with his red captors that he acquired expert knowledge of their arts and customs, and deep insight into their character.

Narrative of the Captivity of Frances Noble – Indian Captivities

Narrative of the captivity of Frances Noble, who was, among others, taken by the Indians from Swan Island, in Maine, about the year 1755; compiled by John Kelly, Esq. of Concord, New Hampshire, from the minutes and memoranda of Phinehas Merrill. Esq. of Stratham, in the same state; and by the Former Gen. Tleman communicated for publication to the editors of the Historical Collections of New Hampshire.

Captivity and Redemption of Mrs. Jemima Howe – Indian Captivities

A particular account of the captivity and redemption of Mrs. Jemima Howe, who was taken prisoner by the Indians at Hinsdale, New Hampshire, on the twenty-seventh of July, 1765, as communicated to Dr. Belknap by the Rev. Bunker Gay. As Messrs. Caleb Howe, Hilkiah Grout, and Benjamin Gaffield, who had been hoeing corn in the …

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