Thursday, October 3, 2019

Aborigines of South Carolina - 4

A book by Robert Mills, published in 1826, offers some unusually detailed insights on the native people of the Palmetto State, and especially the Catawba Indians.  Following is a passage from Statistics of South Carolina: Including a View of Its Natural, Civil, and Military History, General and Particular:

Among; the Catawbas at the present day, some adults no doubt may be found, exhibiting an intelligent mind, and an aptness to receive instruction. Should this even not be the case, we may be assured that their children can be taught.

It is truly to be desired, that our legislature should institute an inquiry into this momentous subject, and direct a commission to go into the nation, (composed of such men as are known to be respected by the Indians,) and consult with the chiefs, and such influential individuals, as may be among them upon the best plan to be pursued to effect the object under consideration, and report the same to them at an early day, so that the interesting work of instruction may be commenced and carried on with vigour and perseverance, under the auspices of the state.

What an honour to South Carolina would it be, to rescue this last remaining of the numerous and powerful tribes of the aborigines of this state, from total annihilation! The act would shed a lustre on the character of the state, rescue its honor from the minutest stigma, connected either with the claims of justice or gratitude, which this nation have upon it.

The Catawbas, in the zenith of their glory, were a noble race. In war they were fearless of enemies—in address surpassed by none. Their warriors often traversed the Blue ridge of mountains in all its difficulties, to wreak their vengeance upon the Six Nations in the northern parts of America. An instance or two of their heroism and address, will suffice to exhibit the character of this people.

A party of Seneca Indians, came to war against the Catawba; bitter enemies to each other. In the woods, the former discovered a sprightly Catawba warrior, hunting, in their usual light dress. On his perceiving; them, he sprung off for a hollow rock, four or five miles distant, as they intercepted his running homewards. He was so extremely swift, and skilful with the gun, that he killed seven of them in the running fight, before they were able to surround and take him.

They carried him to their country in sad triumph; but though he had filled them with uncommon grief and shame, for the loss of so many of their kindred, yet the love of martial virtue, induced them to treat him, during their long journey, with a great deal more civility, than if he had acted the part of a coward.

The women, and children, when they met him, at their several towns, beat and whipped him, in as severe a manner as the occasion required, according to their law of justice, and at last he was formally condemned to die by the fiery tortures. It might reasonably be imagined from what he had for some time gone through, being fed with a scanty hand, a tedious march, lying at night on the bare ground, exposed to the changes of the weather, his arms and legs extended in a pair of rough stocks, and suffering such punishments on his entering into their hostile towns, as a prelude to those sharp torments for which he was destined, would have so impaired his health, and effected his imagination as to have sent him to his long sleep, out of any more sufferings.

Probably this would have been the case with the major part of the white people, under similar circumstances; but I never knew this with any of the Indians. And this cool-headed, brave warrior, did not deviate from their rough lessons of martial virtue, but acted his part so well, as to surprise and sorely vex his numerous enemies

For when they were taking him unpinioned in their wild parade, to the place of torture, which lay near to a river, he suddenly dashed down those who stood in his way, sprung off, and plunged into the water, swimming underneath like an otter, only rising to take breath, till he made the opposite shore.

He now ascended the steep bank; but though he had good reasons, to be in a hurry, as many of the enemy were in the water, and others running every way like blood-hounds in pursuit of him; and the bullets flying around him from the time he took to the river, yet his heart did not allow him to leave them abruptly, without taking leave of them in a formal manner in return for the extraordinary favors they had done, and intended to do him; after moving round, and exhibiting several signs of contempt, he put up the shrill war-whoop, and darting off in the manner of a beast broke loose from its torturing enemies, he continued his speed so as to run, by about midnight of the same day, as far as his eager pursuers were two days in reaching.

There he rested till he discovered five of those Indians who had pursued him, and he lay hid a little way off their camp, till they were sound asleep. Every circumstance of his situation occurred to him, and inspired him with heroism. He was naked, torn, and hungry, and his enraged enemies were come up with him. But there was everything now to relieve his wants, and a fair opportunity to save his life, and get great honor, and sweet revenge, by cutting them off. Resolution, a convenient spot, and sudden surprise, would effect the main object of all his wishes, and hopes.

He accordingly creeped towards them, took one of their tomahawks, and killed them all on the spot. He then chopped them to pieces, in as horrid a manner, as savage fury could excite, both through national and personal resentment. He stripped off their scalps, clothed himself, took a choice gun, and as much ammunition and provisions as he could well carry in a running march, set off afresh, with a light heart, and did not sleep for several successive nights, only when he reclined, as usual, a little before day, with his back to a tree.

As it were by instinct, when he found he was free from the pursuing enemy, he made directly to the very place where he had previously killed seven of his enemies. He digged them up, scalped them, burned their bodies to ashes, and went home in safety, with singular triumph. Other pursuing enemies came on the evening of the second day, to the camp of their dead people, where the sight gave them a greater shock than they had ever known before. In their chilled war council, they concluded that as he had done such surprising things in his defence before he was captivated, and since that, in his naked condition, and was now well armed, if they continued the pursuit he would spoil them all, for he surely was an enemy wizard. And therefore they returned home.

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Shawnees Come to the Carolinas

Let’s examine the migrations of the Shawnee Indians through the American Southeast in the 17th century and consider their impact on this region.


The Ohio Valley is considered the ancestral homeland of the Shawnee, but in the centuries prior to their removal to Kansas (in the 1830s), various divisions of the Algonquian-speaking ethnic group inhabited a wide range of territory, from Pennsylvania to Georgia. 

The prehistory of the Ohio Valley is extraordinarily rich, notably the extensive earthworks and artwork associated with the Hopewell Culture beginning approximately 2000 years ago.  The culture arising 1000 years ago, typified by advances in agriculture and the construction of effigy mounds is called the Fort Ancient culture.  Fort Ancient shared some characteristics of the Mississippian culture that flourished to the west and the south of the Ohio Valley, but the linkages (if any) in the development of those two cultures are unclear.

Also unclear are connections between the native groups encountered by early European explorers in the mid-16th century and the so-called “tribes” that colonists interacted with in the late 17th to early 18th centuries and thereafter.  The Spaniard Hernando de Soto was exploring the Southeast ca. 1540, simultaneous with the Frenchman Jacques Cartier’s exploration of the St. Lawrence River.  De Soto encountered numerous “chiefdoms” in the course of his travels, and there is no neatly delineated, one-to-one correspondence between those chiefdoms and the tribes known to early colonists 150 years later.   Although the De Soto expedition crossed the Southern Appalachians, there is no definite evidence that any of the people he encountered were distinctly “Cherokee” (an appellation that did not come into use until the 18th century).

Similarly, the first known use of the word “Shawnee” was in 1728.  The people we now identify as Shawnee had a word in their language - ša·wano·ki – that (might have) meant “southerners.”  And we are told that is the basis for the term Shawnee.  However, at least 50, and perhaps 75 different words have been applied to the Shawnee or to the smaller bands of the Shawnee people.  Various Shawnee groups that traveled south were identified as Shawano and Savannah, just to mention two.

The list of unanswered (and very likely, unanswerable) questions about ethnogenesis, etymology and other aforementioned issues only gets longer and longer.  Coming across little clues makes the quest for answers more tantalizing, and also more frustrating.  Here’s just one example relating to the origins of the Shawnee:  The story is told that Chief Opechancanough (who led the Algonquian-speaking Powhatans in a massacre of Jamestown, Virginia settlers on March 22, 1622) had a son named Sheewa-a-nee, who resettled a Powhatan party to the Shenandoah Valley where their descendants became a part of the Shawnee tribe.

Maybe.  Maybe not.

Early in the 17th century, the French traders were orchestrating the fur trade in the Great Lakes region and dealing with native people for pelts.  The French tended to insinuate themselves into native culture (more so than their Spanish or English counterparts) and this helped to extend their range of business dealings.  Before long, the fur trade became a complex web of interactions among the French and the native groups of the Great Lakes region and beyond.


Beginning in the 1630s, the Iroquois set out to displace other native groups (particularly Algonquians).  Game in the original Iroquois domain had been depleted by overhunting, and so they sought to overtake the richer hunting grounds of the Algonquians.  The so-called Beaver Wars, or French and Iroquois Wars, dragged along from 1642 – 1698.  Pressure from the Iroquois prompted the Shawnee to start abandoning the Ohio Valley in the 1660s.  At least four groups of Shawnee dispersed to other locations: two of these groups moved southward toward the Cherokee, with one group (Chillicothe and Kispoko Shawnee) settling on the Cumberland in the Cumberland Basin and another (Hathawekela Shawnee) moving to the upper Savannah River.  These groups had the blessing of the Cherokee (or were at least tolerated) because they served as a buffer against Cherokee enemies (the Chichasaws and Cartawbas, respectively).

Meanwhile, the Piqua Shawnee moved east and found refuge with the Delaware people in southern Pennsylvania and another group moved west towards the Illinois country, where they became known to the French as the Chaouesnon.

The Shawnee arrived on the Savannah River at about the same the British establish Charleston, South Carolina as a center of trade with the back country.  As did most other tribes, the Shawnee (or “Savannah” Indians) were active in trading deerskins and slaves captured from rival tribes for whiskey and guns. The Westo, also recently arrived in South Carolina, were fierce trade partners and posed a threat to the frontier colonists, so in 1680 the British armed the Savannahs for a successful attack on the Westo.  But then, relations between the Savannahs and the British unraveled.


Relations between the Savannahs and the Cherokees also soured.  One item keeps showing up in numerous books and other sources, stating that during the winter of 1692, the Shawnee raided a Cherokee village while its warriors had gone on a hunting trip and sold the women and children into slavery.   

This factoid, and the references to the welcome mat rolled out by the people we know today as “Cherokee” caught my attention.  Where is the documentation to support the claim that Cherokees welcomed the Shawnee refugees from the Ohio Valley?  Where, precisely, was the village attacked by the Shawnee in 1692?  Where is the evidence for this incident?

Here is a start.  “An Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of the Colonies of South Carolina and Georgia, Volume 1” was published in 1779 and it contained this passage:

In the year 1693, twenty Cherokee chiefs waited on Governor Smith [in Charleston], with presents and proposals of friendship, craving the protection of government against the Esaw [Catawba] and Congaree Indians, who had destroyed several of their towns, and taken a number of their people prisoners. They complained also of the outrages of the Savanna [Shawnee] Indians for selling their countrymen, contrary to former regulations established among the different tribes; and begged the governor to restore their relations, and protect them against such insidious enemies. Governor Smith declared to them, that there was nothing he wished for more than friendship and peace with the Cherokee warriors, and would do everything in his power for their defence: that the prisoners were already gone, and could not be recalled; but that he would for the future take care that a stop should be put to the custom of sending them off the country.

Likely, if one would dig deep enough into the colonial records, details of this meeting could be recovered.  Chances are, you would not find “Cherokee” mentioned in the minutes of that meeting.  As is so often the case, “Cherokee” was adopted in accounts published long after the events described. 

One example of this is the so-called “Treaty of 1684.” As a recent history text puts it: “In 1684 the Cherokee chiefs made their first treaty with the English of Carolina…”

Well, sort of.

Actually, the agreement involved representatives from two Indian villages, Keowee and Toxaway.  One of the older sources describing this treaty was a 1901 book, “Indian Territory, Descriptive, Biographical and Genealogical” by D. C. Gideon:

The colonial records of South Carolina show that a treaty was entered into with the Cherokees as early as 1684. The names affixed to this treaty appear below, and each, instead of the usual cross-mark, signed with a hieroglyphic peculiarly his own, or that of his clan. This treaty was made when the Cherokees were supposed to hold as hunting grounds almost the whole of Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee and Kentucky. The names attached to this treaty are: Corani, the Raven of Toxawa; Canacaught, the great conjurer of Keowa; Sinnawa, the Hawk, head warrior of Toxawa; Nellogitihi, of Toxawa; Gohom-a, of Keowa; Gorheleka, of Toxawa.

Again, it would help to find the actual documentation from the colonial records, which almost 
certainly did NOT contain the term “Cherokee.” The exact terms of this treaty would be an interesting read.

James Mooney, in “Myths of the Cherokee” [1900] described one of the first mentions of the Shawnee newcomers in the colonial records:

In 1693 some Cherokee chiefs went to Charleston with presents for the governor and offers of friendship, to ask the protection of South Carolina against their enemies, the Esaw [Catawba], Savanna [Shawnee/Shawano], and Congaree, all of that colony, who had made war upon them and sold a number of their tribesmen into slavery. They were told that their kinsmen could not now be recovered, but that the English desired friendship with their tribe, and that the Government would see that there would be no future ground for such complaint. The promise was apparently not kept, for in 1705 we find a bitter accusation brought against Governor Moore, of South Carolina, that he had granted commissions to a number of persons "to set upon, assault, kill, destroy, and take captive as many Indians as they possible [sic] could," the prisoners being sold into slavery for his and their private profit. By this course, it was asserted, he had "already almost utterly ruined the trade for skins and furs, whereby we held our chief correspondence with England, and turned it into a trade of Indians or slave making, whereby the Indians to the south and west of us are already involved in blood and confusion."

Later, we will look at the ongoing strife between the Shawnee and the Cherokee.


…long before there is an Asheville, of course.

Some evidence suggests that during this time period, the turn of the 18th century, the Shawnee were residing near the confluence of the Swannanoa and French Broad Rivers in present-day Asheville.  Foster A. Sondley, in his 1922 history, ASHEVILLE AND BUNCOMBE COUNTY, discusses the toponymy bearing on this matter:

The Indians had no name for the Swannanoa River. That by which it is known is due to white men. Numerous origins have been given as those of the word, Swannanoa. Sometimes it is said to be a Cherokee word meaning "beautiful"; sometimes a Cherokee word meaning "nymph of beauty"; sometimes a Cherokee attempt to imitate the sound made by the wings of ravens or vultures flying down the valley; sometimes a Cherokee attempt to imitate the call of the owls seated upon trees on the banks of the stream; and one writer, J. Mooney, says that the word Swannanoa is derived, by contraction, from two Cherokee words, Suwali Nun-nahi, meaning "Suwali Trail," that, is trail to the country of the Suwali, Suala, or Sara Indians, who lived in North Carolina at the eastern foot of the Blue Ridge, and that this trail ran through the Swannanoa Gap. None of these is correct.

"Swannanoa" does not mean "beautiful" or "nymph of beauty" and does not resemble the sound made by a raven or vulture in flying or any call of any North Carolina owl, and is not a Cherokee word and could not be produced by any contraction of "Suwali' Nun-nahi." It is merely a form of the word "Shawano," itself a common form of "Shawnee," the name of a well-known tribe of Indians. These Shawanoes were great wanderers and their villages were scattered from Florida to Pennsylvania and Ohio, each village usually standing alone in the country of some other Indian tribe. They had a village in Florida or Southern Georgia on the Swanee or Suanee River, which gets its name from them. Another of their towns was in South Carolina, a few miles below Augusta, on the Savannah River which separates South Carolina from Georgia. This was "Savannah Town," or, as it was afterwards called, "Savanna Old Town." The name of "Savannah," given to that river and town, is a form of the word "Shawano," and those Indians were known to the early white settlers of South Carolina as "Savannas." The Shawanoes had a settlement on Cumberland River near the site of the present city of Nashville, Tennessee, when the French first visited that region. From those Indians these French, who were the first white men who went there, called the Cumberland River the "Chouanon," their form of Shawano. Sewanee in the same State has the same origin.

These Shawano Indians had a town on the Swannanoa River about one-half mile above its mouth and on its southern bank, when the white hunters began to make excursions into those mountain lands. Between 1700 and 1750 all the Shawanoes in the South removed to new homes north of the Ohio River where they soon became very troublesome to the white people and were answerable for most of the massacres in that region perpetrated in that day by Indians, especially in Kentucky, it being their boast that they had killed more white men than had any other tribe of Indians. Their town at the mouth of the Swannanoa River had been abandoned before 1776, but its site was then well known as "Swannano." At that time the river seems not to have been named; but very soon afterwards it was called, for the town and its former inhabitants, Swannano, or later Swannanoa River. One of the earliest grants for land on its banks and covering both sides and including the site of the present Biltmore, calls the stream the "Savanna River."


If you accept this timeline, it means the Shawnee had moved away from the French Broad years before any white pioneers began to settle the area. However, some local histories suggest otherwise.  Joseph Marion Rice came to the Swannanoa Valley in the early 1780s.  We are told that he stayed with Shawnee Indians on a tributary of the Swannanoa River, and subsequently purchased 200 acres of land from them. Details of the transaction are sketchy.  The Swannanoa settlement had been abandoned by the Shawnee, and it seems likely that Rice’s companions were a Shawnee hunting party encamped temporarily up the mountain from the French Broad River.  Unfortunately for Rice, the new state government would not recognize an Indian land grant, and Rice had to purchase the land a second time, from the state.  He became a well-known farmer, hunter, trapper and operator of a stock stand, and was the namesake for a Buncombe County community called Riceville.
His notoriety is preserved on a marker at the Bull Creek Overlook of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Rice was known as the man who, in 1799, killed the last buffalo seen in the area.


In John Swanton’s standard reference book on the Indian tribes of North America [1953], he discusses the Saluda Indians, likely a band of the Shawnee who lived in central South Carolina during the latter part of the 17th century:

Saluda. Meaning unknown.  Connections.- These are uncertain but circumstantial evidence indicates strongly that the Saluda were a band of Shawnee, and therefore of the Algonquian stock.  Location.- On Saluda River.

History.- Almost all that we know regarding the Saluda is contained in a note on George Hunter's map of the Cherokee country drawn in 1730 indicating "Saluda town where a nation settled 35 years ago, removed 18 years to Conestogo, in Pensilvania." As bands of Shawnee were moving into just that         region from time to time during the period indicated, there is reason to think that this was one of them, all the more that a "Savana" creek appears on the same map flowing into Congaree River just below the Saluda settlement. 

Population.- Unknown.  Connection in which they have become noted.- The name Saluda is preserved by Saluda River and settlements in Saluda County, S. C.; Polk County, N. C.; and Middlesex County, Va.


In Myths of the Cherokee, James Mooney has an extensive discussion of the ongoing war between the Cherokee and the Shawnee.  But this is just a very incomplete list of the documented conflicts between the two groups:

Among the most inveterate foes of the Cherokee were the Shawano, known to the Cherokee as Ani'-Sawänu'gï, who in ancient times, probably as early as 1680, removed from Savannah (i.e., Shawano) river, in South Carolina, and occupied the Cumberland river region in middle Tennessee and Kentucky, from which they were afterward driven by the superior force of the southern tribes and compelled to take refuge north of the Ohio. On all old maps we find the Cumberland marked as the "river of the Shawano." Although the two tribes were frequently, and perhaps for long periods, on friendly terms, the ordinary condition was one of chronic warfare, from an early traditional period until the close of the Revolution. This hostile feeling was intensified by the fact that the Shawano were usually the steady allies of the Creeks, the hereditary southern enemies of the Cherokee. In 1749, however, we find a party of Shawano from the north, accompanied by several Cherokee, making an inroad into the Creek country, and afterward taking refuge among the Cherokee, thus involving the latter in a new war with their southern neighbors (Adair, Am. Inds., 276, 1775). The Shawano made themselves respected for their fighting qualities, gaining a reputation for valor which they maintained in their later wars with the whites, while from their sudden attack and fertility of stratagem they came to be regarded as a tribe of magicians. By capture or intermarriage in the old days there is quite an admixture of Shawano blood among the Cherokee.

According to Haywood, an aged Cherokee chief, named the Little Cornplanter (Little Carpenter?), stated in 1772 that the Shawano had removed from the Savannah river a long time before in consequence of disastrous war with several neighboring tribes, and had settled upon the Cumberland, by permission of his people. A quarrel having afterward arisen between the two tribes, a strong body of Cherokee invaded the territory of the Shawano, and, treacherously attacking them, killed a great number. The Shawano fortified themselves and a long war ensued, which continued until the Chickasaw came to the aid of the Cherokee, when the Shawano were gradually forced to withdraw north of the Ohio.

At the time of their final expulsion, about the year 1710, the boy Charleville was employed at a French post, established for the Shawano trade, which occupied a mound on the south side of Cumberland river, where now is the city of Nashville. For a long time the Shawano had been so hard pressed by their enemies that they had been withdrawing to the north in small parties for several years, until only a few remained behind, and these also now determined to leave the country entirely. 

In March the trader sent Charleville ahead with several loads of skins, intending himself to follow with the Shawano a few months later. In the meantime the Chickasaw, learning of the intended move, posted themselves on both sides of Cumberland river, above the mouth of Harpeth, with canoes to cut off escape by water, and suddenly attacked the retreating Shawano, killing a large part of them, together with the trader, and taking all their skins, trading goods, and other property. Charleville lived to tell the story nearly seventy years later. As the war was never terminated by any formal treaty of peace, the hostile warriors continued to attack each other whenever they chanced to meet on the rich hunting grounds of Kentucky, until finally, from mutual dread, the region was abandoned by both parties, and continued thus unoccupied until its settlement by the whites.

According to Cherokee tradition, a body of Creeks was already established near the mouth of Hiwassee while the Cherokee still had their main settlements upon the Little Tennessee. The Creeks, being near neighbors, pretended friendship, while at the same time secretly aiding the Shawano. Having discovered the treachery, the Cherokee took advantage of the presence of the Creeks at a great dance at Itsâ'tï, or Echota, the ancient Cherokee capital, to fall suddenly upon them and kill nearly the whole party. The consequence was a war, with the final result that the Creeks were defeated and forced to abandon all their settlements on the waters of the Tennessee river.

Haywood says that "Little Cornplanter" had seen Shawano scalps brought into the Cherokee towns. When he was a boy, his father, who was also a chief, had told him how he had once led a party against the Shawano and was returning with several scalps, when, as they were coming through a pass in the mountains, they ran into another party of Cherokee warriors, who, mistaking them for enemies, fired into them and killed several before they discovered their mistake.

Schoolcraft also gives the Cherokee tradition of the war with the Shawano, as obtained indirectly from white informants, but incorrectly makes it occur while the latter tribe still lived upon the Savannah. "The Cherokees prevailed after a long and sanguinary contest and drove the Shawnees north. This event they cherish as one of their proudest achievements. 'What!' said an aged Cherokee chief to Mr Barnwell, who had suggested the final preservation of the race by intermarriage with the whites. 'What! Shall the Cherokees perish! Shall the conquerors of the Shawnees perish! Never!'"

Tribal warfare as a rule consisted of a desultory succession of petty raids, seldom approaching the dignity of a respectable skirmish and hardly worthy of serious consideration except in the final result. The traditions necessarily partake of the same trivial character, being rather anecdotes than narratives of historical events which had dates and names. Lapse of time renders them also constantly more vague.

On the Carolina side the Shawano approach was usually made up the Pigeon river valley, so as to come upon the Cherokee settlements from behind, and small parties were almost constantly lurking about waiting the favorable opportunity to pick up a stray scalp. On one occasion some Cherokee hunters were stretched around the camp fire at night when they heard the cry of a flying squirrel in the woods--tsu-u! tsu-u! tsu-u! Always on the alert for danger, they suspected it might be the enemy's signal, and all but one hastily left the fire and concealed themselves. That one, however, laughed at their fears and, defiantly throwing some heavy logs on the fire, stretched himself out on his blanket and began to sing. Soon he heard a stealthy step coming through the bushes and gradually approaching the fire, until suddenly an enemy sprang out upon him from the darkness and bore him to the earth. But the Cherokee was watchful, and putting up his hands he seized the other by the arms, and with a mighty effort threw him backward into the fire. The dazed Shawano lay there a moment squirming upon the coals, then bounded to his feet and ran into the woods, howling with pain. There was an answering laugh from his comrades hidden in the bush, but although the Cherokee kept watch for some time the enemy made no further attack, probably led by the very boldness of the hunter to suspect some ambush.

On another occasion a small hunting party in the Smoky mountains heard the gobble of a turkey (in telling the story Swimmer gives a good imitation). Some eager young hunters were for going at once toward the game, but others, more cautious, suspected a ruse and advised a reconnaissance. Accordingly a hunter went around to the back of the ridge, and on coming up from the other side found a man posted in a large tree, making the gobble call to decoy the hunters within reach of a Shawano war party concealed behind some bushes midway between the tree and the camp. Keeping close to the ground, the Cherokee crept up without being discovered until within gunshot, then springing to his feet he shot the man in the tree, and shouting "Kill them all," rushed upon the enemy, who, thinking that a strong force of Cherokee was upon them, fled down the mountain without attempting to make a stand.

Another tradition of these wars is that concerning Tunâ'ï, a great warrior and medicine-man of old Itsâ'tï, on the Tennessee. In one hard fight with the Shawano, near the town, he overpowered his man and stabbed him through both arms. Running cords through the holes he tied his prisoner's arms and brought him thus into Itsâ'tï, where he was put to death by the women with such tortures that his courage broke and he begged them to kill him at once.

After retiring to the upper Ohio the Shawano were received into the protection of the Delawares and their allies, and being thus strengthened felt encouraged to renew the war against the Cherokee with increased vigor. The latter, however, proved themselves more than a match for their enemies, pursuing them even to their towns in western Pennsylvania, and accidentally killing there some Delawares who occupied the country jointly with the Shawano. This involved the Cherokee in a war with the powerful Delawares, which continued until brought to an end in 1768 at the request of the Cherokee, who made terms of friendship at the same time with the Iroquois. The Shawano being thus left alone, and being, moreover, roundly condemned by their friends, the Delawares, as the cause of the whole trouble, had no heart to continue the war and were obliged to make final peace.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

"The Sole Necessity of Earth and Heaven!"

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) was inspired to write the Prelude to Among the Hills in the late summer of 1867. 

 It opens with a scene that one might find in the Carolina mountains at this very time of year. Whittier prefaced the poem with this note:

This poem, when originally published, was dedicated to Annie Fields, wife of the distinguished publisher, James T. Fields, of Boston, in grateful acknowledgment of the strength and inspiration I have found in her friendship and sympathy. The poem in its first form was entitled The Wife: an Idyl of Bearcamp Water, and appeared in The Atlantic Monthly for January, 1868. When I published the volume Among the Hills, in December of the same year, I expanded the Prelude and filled out also the outlines of the story.


ALONG the roadside, like the flowers of gold

That tawny Incas for their gardens wrought,

Heavy with sunshine droops the golden-rod,

And the red pennons of the cardinal-flowers

Hang motionless upon their upright staves.

The sky is hot and hazy, and the wind,

Vying-weary with its long flight from the south,

Unfelt; yet, closely scanned, yon maple leaf

With faintest motion, as one stirs in dreams,

Confesses it. The locust by the wall

Stabs the noon-silence with his sharp alarm.

A single hay-cart down the dusty road

Creaks slowly, with its driver fast asleep

On the load’s top. Against the neighboring hill,

Huddled along the stone wall’s shady side,

The sheep show white, as if a snowdrift still

Defied the dog-star. Through the open door

A drowsy smell of flowers-gray heliotrope,

And white sweet clover, and shy mignonette–

Comes faintly in, and silent chorus lends

To the pervading symphony of peace.

No time is this for hands long over-worn

To task their strength; and (unto Him be praise

Who giveth quietness!) the stress and strain

Of years that did the work of centuries

Have ceased, and we can draw our breath once more

Freely and full. So, as yon harvesters

Make glad their nooning underneath the elms

With tale and riddle and old snatch of song,

I lay aside grave themes, and idly turn

The leaves of memory’s sketch-book, dreaming o’er

Old summer pictures of the quiet hills,

And human life, as quiet, at their feet.

And yet not idly all. A farmer’s son,

Proud of field-lore and harvest craft, and feeling

All their fine possibilities, how rich

And restful even poverty and toil

Become when beauty, harmony, and love

Sit at their humble hearth as angels sat

At evening in the patriarch’s tent, when man

Makes labor noble, and his farmer’s frock

The symbol of a Christian chivalry

Tender and just and generous to her

Who clothes with grace all duty; still, I know

Too well the picture has another side,–

How wearily the grind of toil goes on

Where love is wanting, how the eye and ear

And heart are starved amidst the plenitude

Of nature, and how hard and colorless

Is life without an atmosphere. I look

Across the lapse of half a century,

And call to mind old homesteads, where no flower

Told that the spring had come, but evil weeds,

Nightshade and rough-leaved burdock in the place

Of the sweet doorway greeting of the rose

And honeysuckle, where the house walls seemed

Blistering in sun, without a tree or vine

To cast the tremulous shadow of its leaves

Across the curtainless windows, from whose panes

Fluttered the signal rags of shiftlessness.

Within, the cluttered kitchen-floor, unwashed

(Broom-clean I think they called it); the best room

Stifling with cellar damp, shut from the air

In hot midsummer, bookless, pictureless,

Save the inevitable sampler hung

Over the fireplace, or a mourning piece,

A green-haired woman, peony-cheeked, beneath

Impossible willows; the wide-throated hearth

Bristling with faded pine-boughs half concealing

The piled-up rubbish at the chimney’s back;

And, in sad keeping with all things about them,

Shrill, querulous-women, sour and sullen men,

Untidy, loveless, old before their time,

With scarce a human interest save their own

Monotonous round of small economies,

Or the poor scandal of the neighborhood;

Blind to the beauty everywhere revealed,

Treading the May-flowers with regardless feet;

For them the song-sparrow and the bobolink

Sang not, nor winds made music in the leaves;

For them in vain October’s holocaust

Burned, gold and crimson, over all the hills,

The sacramental mystery of the woods.

Church-goers, fearful of the unseen Powers,

But grumbling over pulpit-tax and pew-rent,

Saving, as shrewd economists, their souls

And winter pork with the least possible outlay

Of salt and sanctity; in daily life

Showing as little actual comprehension

Of Christian charity and love and duty,

As if the Sermon on the Mount had been

Outdated like a last year’s almanac

Rich in broad woodlands and in half-tilled fields,

And yet so pinched and bare and comfortless,

The veriest straggler limping on his rounds,

The sun and air his sole inheritance,

Laughed at a poverty that paid its taxes,

And hugged his rags in self-complacency!

Not such should be the homesteads of a land

Where whoso wisely wills and acts may dwell

As king and lawgiver, in broad-acred state,

With beauty, art, taste, culture, books, to make

His hour of leisure richer than a life

Of fourscore to the barons of old time,

Our yeoman should be equal to his home

Set in the fair, green valleys, purple walled,

A man to match his mountains, not to creep

Dwarfed and abased below them. I would fain

In this light way (of which I needs must own

With the knife-grinder of whom Canning sings,

“Story, God bless you! I have none to tell you!”)

Invite the eye to see and heart to feel

The beauty and the joy within their reach,–

Home, and home loves, and the beatitudes

Of nature free to all. Haply in years

That wait to take the places of our own,

Heard where some breezy balcony looks down

On happy homes, or where the lake in the moon

Sleeps dreaming of the mountains, fair as Ruth,

In the old Hebrew pastoral, at the feet

Of Boaz, even this simple lay of mine

May seem the burden of a prophecy,

Finding its late fulfilment in a change

Slow as the oak’s growth, lifting manhood up

Through broader culture, finer manners, love,

And reverence, to the level of the hills.

O Golden Age, whose light is of the dawn,

And not of sunset, forward, not behind,

Flood the new heavens and earth, and with thee bring

All the old virtues, whatsoever things

Are pure and honest and of good repute,

But add thereto whatever bard has sung

Or seer has told of when in trance and dream

They saw the Happy Isles of prophecy

Let Justice hold her scale, and Truth divide

Between the right and wrong; but give the heart

The freedom of its fair inheritance;

Let the poor prisoner, cramped and starved so long,

At Nature’s table feast his ear and eye

With joy and wonder; let all harmonies

Of sound, form, color, motion, wait upon

The princely guest, whether in soft attire

Of leisure clad, or the coarse frock of toil,

And, lending life to the dead form of faith,

Give human nature reverence for the sake

Of One who bore it, making it divine

With the ineffable tenderness of God;

Let common need, the brotherhood of prayer,

The heirship of an unknown destiny,

The unsolved mystery round about us, make

A man more precious than the gold of Ophir.

Sacred, inviolate, unto whom all things

Should minister, as outward types and signs

Of the eternal beauty which fulfils

The one great purpose of creation, Love,

The sole necessity of Earth and Heaven!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

In Search of Madoc - 8

Evidence of prehistoric giants in America?  Or evidence of Prince Madoc’s journey through the continent many centuries ago?  An article published in the October 26, 1912 issue of the Cincinnati Enquirer raises as many questions as answers about mysterious events near the Falls of the Ohio:

Curse of Yellow Hair – Recent Murder Recalls Strange Indian Legend of Prehistoric White Race on the Ohio

The last connecting link with a prehistoric race was destroyed when George Kelly murdered his poor old grandmother and then killed himself at Jeffersonville Ind., a few months ago. The aged woman had $75, and the eighteen-year old boy got it, spent it and then took his own life when his brother accused him of having committed the crime.

The victim was the widow of Valentine Kelly, who was run over and killed by a train many years ago, but she was known among the savants of Indiana as Mary Kelly, the direct descendant of Black Hawk Stewart, a famous Shawnee Indian Chieftain, whose title dated back to the conquest of the land from a prehistoric race that inhabited it.

The little farms that lie close to the banks of the Ohio Falls are to this day fertilized with the bones of these people, and the only clew to their identity was a fragment of song that Mrs. Kelly remembered to have heard her mother sing. Mrs. Kelly told the writer it had been handed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years and that she believed it to be true. In fact, there is much to this day to bolster up this belief.

At the time of the permanent peace established by General George Rogers Clark, Black Hawk, who was one of the most ferocious of all the Indian chieftains, washed the war paint from his face, buried the hatchet and resolved to devote his talents to the arts of peace. By an arrangement with General Clark, a deed of title from the United States Government was secured for him to a plot of land on the falls, and on the very land for 300 years the tepees of his forefathers and stood. He was born there and has bones are buried there. The land never passed out of the family, and it is still held under the original title. This, it should be explained, was not the Black Hawk who figured in the war in Northern Illinois.

“But there is a curse on the place.” said Mrs. Kelly to the writer, who knew her very well in the long ago, when her memory was much better than it was in her later years.

“Yellow Hair cursed it, and none of my people ever die a natural death. One after another I have seen them go, and I have always wondered if it will extend to me.”

“If there is anything in it,” said old Valentine Kelly, her husband, “it will reach me, too.”

“The next night he was walking on the railroad track when a train hit him and killed him. Several of the family has been drowned in the water of the falls, and now Mrs. Kelly is dead at the hands of her beloved grandson, who also slew himself. A few years ago the old house erected by Black Hawk himself, when he determined to adopt the ways of the pale face, was destroyed by fire of a mysterious origin.

There was apparently no way for it to have caught fire, and as she sat in the roadway at the front gate, viewing the smoldering ruins, Mrs. Kelly said, solemnly:

“It is the curse of Yellow Hair.”

And her sons believed her and the neighbors believed her-and it may have been as she said.

For three miles the Beautiful River (Ohio in the Indian tongue) makes a bend between Jeffersonville, Ind., and Louisville, Ky., and rushes westward with a terrific roar. Inspired by a fall of about 25 feet. In the center of the cataract is what has long been known as Corn Island.  On the Indiana side the big eddy whirls past Wave Rock, the graveyard of many proud steamboat. In low water the place is dotted with the dismantled hulks. And just below the whirlpool lies the Kelly property. There is a big spring bubbling out of the side of the path that leads down to the rocky shore that is said to have been dug by Yellow Hair. To the right of it, going up the bank, is a graveyard, where hundreds of prehistoric people lie buried, and to the left is the Kelly farm, on the river edge of which are 50 tombs of the same mysterious people. 

The first cemetery is undoubtedly that of the common people. They were of medium stature, and were all buried facing the rising sun. Their bones fertilize the cornfields of the farm of Edward Commines on land that was originally settled by William Beach. Occasionally a skull or a portion of a skeleton is dug up by the plow, but the matter-of-fact farmer tosses it back and the next furrow covers it from sight. Every man who has ever owned the Commines land has met with a violent death. Commines’s father was killed by a train a few years ago.

The other cemetery contains the bones of 50 dead Kings. The tombs are made of rough hewn stone and the occupants were all men, not one of whom was less than six and one half feet high. They were buried in sitting posture, with their faces turned toward the rising sun and their weapons must have been buried with them, evidently placed in their laps. But the peculiar coincidence is that the left temple of each had been crushed in by some blunt instrument. 

Whether it was as religious rite or a precaution against burying them alive is a matter of surmise. The writer, who opened one of the graves with Prof. Green, the eminent geologist and at one time State Geologist of Indiana, believes it was a religious rite. The school history of Kentucky says when the first white settlers arrived at Louisville they found piles of human skeletons on Corn Island and some are found there now. To the early settlers it appeared that there had been a great battle fought and that one tribe had been entirely wiped out. All of the skeletons were those of people of medium stature, save one, that of a man, and he must have been seven feet high. 

On the banks of the falls to this day are found thousands of Indian arrows and spear heads, with an occasional battle ax, and once a stone owl was found that had probably been fashioned by one of the prehistoric people. This description represents the concrete facts and is the corroborative evidence of the weird tale told by Mrs. Kelly and her ancestors in their mystic chant of the vanishing of a strange race of people. 

The story had better be given in her own words to the writer of this narrative.

“When I was a wee bit of a girl,” said Mrs. Kelly, “my mother sang me to sleep with the words of this song. It was a sort of a chant in the Indian tongue, and I do not remember it all. Translated so you will understand it, it was to the effect that a white people lived here on the falls and that they were mighty. A tall Chief with yellow hair ruled over them and for ages they fought off the redmen and held the fisheries of the falls and the hunting grounds for their own. The sun was the god they worshipped, and he appeared to have blessed them with peace and plenty. Yellow Hair our people called the Chief, who was a giant. The Chiefs or Kings must have maintained the great stature by intermarrying in the royal family, probably killing all the females except just enough to perpetuate the race. 

"My mother thought they saved the best developed girls for the wives of the Chief in order to perpetuate the governing race. I did not ask her why she formed this opinion, and it may have been part of the legend. But our people had long viewed the land from afar and they determined to possess it. The Chief at that time was Hawk Wing, the line through which I come. He sent spies to make overtures to the strange white people and they visited Yellow hair and told him the Shawnees wanted to share with them the fisheries and the hunting grounds. 

"Yellow Hair listened to their statements and then told them that there was just enough for the white people and that he and his people preferred to live by themselves. Then the Ambassadors of the Shawnees said that if the white people would not submit peacefully to having them for neighbors they would slay them and take their possessions. At this Yellow Hair laughed disdainfully and said the sun god would destroy his enemies with fire from heaven and that every man who took part in such a bloody and unprovoked massacre would die a violent death and that the curse would have the effect as long as one of the offending race remained on earth.

“But Hawk Wing had faith in the Great Spirit, that he and his tribe worshiped, and he collected his warriors and set out for the home of Yellow Hair. In some way, the scouts of Yellow learned of their near approach, and he and his people leaped into their canoes and went to Corn Island. The dangerous whirlpools and the treacherous eddies, with which they were familiar, they thought would protect them from the less skilled Shawnees. But they did not know Hawk Wing. He and his braves had been accustomed to the water from infancy and they were almost as much at home in the torrent as Yellow Hair and his people. 

"So that night while Yellow Hair was peacefully sleeping in fancied security. Hawk Wing and his braves were making canoes and getting ready for battle. Just as the sun was breaking through the murky sky of the east the canoes of Hawk Wing reached the shores of the island. Yellow Hair and his people were awakening from sleep and were falling on their knees in prayer to their sun god. They were in this position when the yells of my people burst upon them. Many were slain as they knelt, but Yellow Hair was a warrior, and though taken by surprise, he seized his battle-ax and valiantly defended his subjects. With his single-hand he slew more than a score of our people. Then when he was weary from fighting Hawk Wing confronted him. Behind Yellow Hair were his wives and children kneeling in prayer and in front of him were Hawk Wing and his warriors. The two chieftains sprang at each other with their battle-axes. My ancestor was used to war and familiar with all the tricks. As a result, after a terrible encounter, during which both were covered with wounds, Yellow Hair sank exhausted and hawk Wing’s battle ax was buried in his brain.

“Maddened by the conflict, Hawk Wing turned upon the kneeling women and children and slew them. He and his men kept up the slaughter until not one of the white race remained. Every single one of them had been killed and the scalp lock of Yellow Hair dangled at the belt of Hawk Wing. Till his death he kept it and it was buried with him.

“Then the Shawnees took possession of the houses and lands of the vanquished people and the Kelly’s are the last of the victims, for the Shawnees have all gone to the happy hunting grounds, and they have but a remnant of the original blood in them.

“There is one other little bit of information I can give you on the subject, but I do not know how I learned it. On the island in the falls is a small cave, which was once known as ‘Yellow Hair’s Bath,’ but which is now always referred to as the Crystal Bath,’ It is said Yellow Hair bathed in this every day after he prayed to the sun. The cave is of solid stone and a small stream of water trickles through the top, making a natural, shower bath, where the fisherman to this day often bathes.

“Finally, the last of the habitations of the strange people was torn down and 300 years later, when General Clark came here and found Black Hawk in possession, nothing remained save the bones of the murdered people on the island.

“One after another I have seen my people killed in some manner and misfortune has stricken them from the face of the earth. Do you blame me for thinking that the curse of Yellow Hair is upon us?”

Valentine Kelly, who was a Spiritualist, told the writer that he was once standing in a shed near the royal tombs when a gigantic white man with yellow hair peered in at the window. He said he saw him, as clearly as could be, for it was broad daylight and he could not have made a mistake. However, Mr. Kelly was a firm believer in ghost and hobgoblins, and it may be that he did not actually see Yellow Hair, but he believed to the time of his death that he had seen him. He permitted Prof. Green and the writer to open two of the graves on his farm, but stopped further excavating, as he said the scientist would soon dig up the best part of his farm if he permitted them to do so. But there were originally 50 of the tombs and now more than 40 remain. The high water washed away some of them, and two were opened by man.

One of the best-known archaeologists of Indiana, Dr. W. F. Work, of Charlestown, Ind., found seven similar stone tombs 13 miles from the scene, and he noticed that the left temple of each dead man was crushed in and that the bones were those of men of gigantic stature. Dr. Work spent much time in exploring the habitations of the cliff dwellers of Arizona and has written much on the subject. He believes Yellow Hair’s people were the Mandan Indians. 

Orlando Hobbs, also an archaeological authority of Indiana and a man known widely for his learning and research, holds this opinion.

There is a rich field for science on the falls of the Ohio, and may be that when the distant fields are thoroughly explored those at home will be given the attention they deserve. In this connection it may be stated, by way of parenthesis, that adjoining the farm of the Kelly’s are 1,000 acres of land that are still in Virginia, although it is surrounded by Indiana and cut off from the state to which it belongs by Kentucky. Yet Virginia gave this land to George Rogers Clark and his heirs forever with-out taxes in reward for his services in ridding the section of the Indians.” And it is not on the map of Indiana, through a mistake in drawing the outlines. It is governed by three trustees, one appointed by Clark County, another by Floyd County, and the third perpetuates himself by naming someone who is to succeed him when he dies. But this is another story.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

How to Raise a Giant

The native people of North American told dozens, if not hundreds, of stories about giants that once roamed the continent. 

One of the first such stories to be shared with European adventurers originated on the Carolina coast.  In 1521, the Spanish explorer Vasquez de Ayllon landed at Winyah Bay near the mouth of the Pee Dee River, a region that the native people called “Chicora.”

One extraordinary native was converted and baptized as “Francisco de Chicora” and he accompanied Ayllon on a voyage back to Spain, where Ayllon solicited support for the establishment of a Spanish colony in Chicora.  While on that visit to Spain, “Francisco” became a sensation, one of the first native Americans to attain celebrity status in the Old World.

From “A Spanish Settlement in Carolina, 1526,” J. G. Johnson wrote of Francisco:

As a spinner of extraordinary stories history does not record his superior. Considering the credulity of his audience one can understand how the quick-witted but homesick savage perceived a method of ending his forced exile by exciting the curiosity and cupidity of the Spaniards. He recounted that in his country the natives were white, that the kings and queens were giants — elongated in their youth by rubbing their bodies with ointments concocted from strange herbs   — then stretched like wax until they were of enormous height. He also told of a race of men in Chicora with marvellously long tails; that they bored holes through their seats through which the tails dangled when they were seated; that the people of Chicora made cheese from the milk of their women; that deer were kept in enclosures and sent out with shepherds.

In “De Orbe Novo” (1530), Peter Martyr wrote of his encounters with Francisco and Ayllon.  Following is his report on the giant king, Datha, who ruled the Duhare district near Chicorana:

They are governed by a king of gigantic size, called Datha, whose wife is as large as himself. They have five children. In place of horses the king is carried on the shoulders of strong young men, who run with him to the different places he wishes to visit. . . .I now come to a fact which will appear incredible to Your Excellency. You already know that the ruler of this region is a tyrant of gigantic size. How does it happen that only he and his wife have attained this extraordinary size? No one of their subjects has explained this to me, but I have questioned the above mentioned licenciate Ayllon, a serious and responsible man, who had his information from those who had shared with him the cost of the expedition. I likewise questioned the servant Francisco, to whom the neighbours had spoken. Neither nature nor birth has given these princes the advantage of size as an hereditary gift; they have acquired it by artifice.

While they are still in their cradles and in charge of their nurses, experts in the matter are called, who by the application of certain herbs, soften their young bones. During a period of several days they rub the limbs of the child with these herbs, until the bones become as soft as wax. They then rapidly bend them in such wise that the infant is almost killed. Afterwards they feed the nurse on foods of a special virtue. The child is wrapped in warm covers, the nurse gives it her breast and revives it with her milk, thus gifted with strengthening properties. After some days of rest the lamentable task of stretching the bones is begun anew. Such is the explanation given by the servant Francisco Chicorana.

Ayllon secured the royal go-ahead to establish the Chicora colony, the first Spanish colony in the Southeast, but the effort met with misfortune, failure, and, by 1526, Ayllon’s death.  Of Francisco, nothing more is known of his life after he returned to America.