Mary Moore’s Captivity
William Henry Foote
From Sketches of Virginia, Historical and Biographical (1850).
In the burying ground of New Providence, in Rockbridge County, Virginia, there is a grave, surpassing in interest all surrounding graves. It is by the side of the resting place of Rev. Samuel Brown, a man among the first in his own generation, and a man amongst men of all generations, long the pastor of the people that worshipped in the neighboring church. Its inhabitant once walked by his side a cherished one, through life overshadowed by his greatness, — wept over his grave the tears of a widow and mother of orphans, — and now lies, where of all places on earth she chose to lie, by his side, — overshadowing in death, him in whose shade she used to live, and on whom, in true affection, she used to lean for support. His deep, blue, sunken eye, that flashed so fiercely in moments of indignation or anger, always beamed sweetly into her full jet black orbs, that could do nothing but smile or weep. But those smiles and tears charmed equally the savages in the wilderness, and Christian people of Providence.
The way to this grave can never be forgotten till another people, with other hearts than now beat in American bosoms, take possession of this beautiful valley. The maiden name of this woman was Mary Moore. The melancholy romance of her early days, and the Christian excellence of her mature and closing years, make her memory immortal.
A certain James Moore, of Scottish ancestry, born in Ireland, emigrated to America with his brother about the year 1726, and took residence in Pennsylvania. His father-in-law having removed, with the rest of the family, to Rockbridge county, Virginia, Mr. Moore removed his wife and four children and took his residence with them. Here six more children were added to his family, which consisted of five sons and as many daughters. The sixth child, named after himself, was the father of Mary Moore, the wife of Rev. Samuel Brown.
This James Moore, the sixth child of the emigrant James, was married to Martha Poage, by whom he had nine children, five sons and four daughters. His fifth child, and second daughter, he named Mary. After his marriage Mr. Moore resided for some years at a place long known as Newell’s Tavern, a few miles south of the Natural Bridge, where his first four children were born, viz. John, James, Jane, and Joseph. His cousin, Mr. Samuel Walker, on his return from an excursion to the south-western part of the state, to gather ginseng, gave a glowing account of the beauty and fertility of the valleys, and their supposed great adaptedness to grazing. Mr. Moore, dissatisfied with his location, and thinking some of his connections were less affectionate to him than became neighbors and relatives, visited the country in company with his cousin, and charmed with its beauty and solitude, resolved to remove his family to the lonely mountains of Tazewell [County, in southwestern Virginia]. Accordingly, in company with an English servant, John Simpson, he sought a valley on the waters of the Blue Stone, a branch of New River, cleared a few acres of land, put up a log cabin; and in the fall of the year 1775 removed his family to their lovely, and ultimately bloody home. His chosen home was App’s Valley — so named from Apps (Absalom) Looney, a hunter, supposed to be the first white man who disturbed the solitude, or beheld the beauty of the narrow low grounds luxuriating in the pea vine and sweet myrrh, — extending some ten miles in length, by about forty or fifty rods in breadth, and admirably fitted by its position and production for pasturage. The surrounding, and distant scenery partook both of the grand and beautiful. To Mr. Moore the valley was enchanting; and being out of the track of the savages in their war incursions eastward, it seemed secure equally from the vexations of the civilized and the savage man.
Mr. Looney, the hunter, built his cabin about a mile lower down the creek; Mr. John Poage took up his residence about two and a half miles above; and a number of cabins were scattered about as convenience or fancy dictated. Mr. Moore’s highest expectations in raising stock were realized. Assisted by Simpson he soon became possessor of a hundred head of horses, and a large number of horned cattle, which found pasturage sufficient for both summer and winter, with little aid or care from man. His dream of safety was broken. The wily savages discovered the white man’s track, and the white man’s cabin west of those Alleghenies they resolved should be an everlasting barrier between their residence in Ohio, to which they had fled, and the hated whites that held the corn fields and hunting grounds, of their fathers and their race, between those great mountains and the Atlantic shores.
To revenge this encroachment on their wished for solitudes, the savages commenced their depredations, and compelled these isolated families, summer after summer, to betake themselves to forts and stockades for mutual defence. On one occasion a number of men being at the house of Mr. John Poage, one of them, on stepping out after night-fall, observed to his companions, that a good look out ought to be kept for Indians that night, for he heard an unusual noise, as of the hooting of owls, which he supposed to be the signal of Indians approaching the house from different quarters. About midnight the house was surrounded by savages; but finding the doors secured and the inmates on the watch, the Indians retired without committing any depredations. Mr. Poage and most of the families now retired from his advance position to the more secure neighborhoods in Rockbridge, Botetourt and Montgomery, while Mr. Moore and a few others remained.
Mr. Moore was a man of courage; he fought bravely in the battle of Guilford; he loved the solitude and sweetness of the valley, and would not retreat through any fear of the hostile Indians. He feared God, and worshipped him in his family; his wife was devoutly pious, and contented to share his lot. They trained their children in the doctrines and truth of the gospel; to live righteously before God. They trusted in God’s providence; and looked to him for protection. Perhaps they tempted him in their boldness and security. Five children were added to their family in this valley, making the number nine. Of these Mary, the fifth child, was born in the year 1777, and passed the first nine years of her life in alternate solitude and alarms. When seven years old she mourned the sudden disappearance of her second brother, not knowing whether he had gone to captivity or a premature grave by savage hands. On the 7th of September, 1784, James, then fourteen years of age, was sent to Mr. Poage’s deserted settlement to procure a horse for the purpose of going to the mill about twelve miles distant through a dreary wilderness. He did not return. The anxious search discovered trails of savages. And in time the hopes that he had hidden in the woods or fled to some distant habitation gave way to the sad conviction that his fate, for life or for death, had been committed to the hands of barbarians. This bereavement grieved, but did not subdue the heart of the father; perils by day and by night lost their power to alarm by their frequency. The children slept in security while their parent resolutely, almost stubbornly, maintained his position in the midst of exposure and loss. After some time a letter was received by the anxious father, from Kentucky, giving him information of his lost son, then supposed to be in or near Detroit. Before any effective steps could be taken for his recovery, another and more mournful scene was acted in App’s Valley, on a fair summer’s morning, awfully contrasting with the grandeur and beauty of surrounding nature, and the domestic peace and piety of Moore’s dwelling.
The morning of the 14th of July, 1786, was the last that dawned upon that dwelling. The sun went down upon Moore’s dead body, the ashes of his cabin and the captivity of his wife. A party of Indians came up Sandy River, crossed over to the head of Clinch, passed near where Tazewell Court House now is, murdered a Mr. Davison and wife and burned their dwelling, and passed on to App’s Valley hastily, before any alarm could be given, and lay in ambush for the family of James Moore. A little spur puts out from the mountain, and gradually sloping towards the creek, about three hundred yards before it sinks into the low grounds, divides; at the extremity of one division stood Moore’s house, and near the other the trough at which he was accustomed to salt his horses. At the time of the greatest peril all seemed most secure. It was harvest time; and there were two men assisting Mr. Moore in his harvest. The guns were discharged on the preceding evening, to be reloaded sometime in the morning. Simpson lay sick in the loft; the men had repaired early to the wheat field, to reap till breakfast time; Mr. Moore was engaged in salting his horses; his wife was busied in her domestic concerns; and two of the children at the spring. Suddenly the savage yell was heard, and two parties rushed from their hiding places on the ridge, the one down the slope to the house and the other towards Mr. Moore. All at the sudden alarm started for the house. Two children, Rebecca and William, were shot dead near the salt block, on their return from the spring; and the third Alexander, near the house. Mary rushed in, and the door was shut and barred against the approaching savages by Mrs. Moore and Martha Ivans, a member of the family, just in time to prevent their entrance. Mr. Moore finding himself intercepted by the Indians, at the house, ran on through the small lot that surrounded it, and on climbing the fence paused, and turned, and in a moment was pierced with seven bullets. Springing from the fence he ran a few paces, fell and expired. The two men in the harvest field, seeing the house surrounded by a large company of savages (the party consisting of about thirty) fled, and escaped unharmed. Martha Ivans seized two of the guns and ran up stairs to the sick man, Simpson, calling on him to shoot through the crevices; but the poor man had already received his death wound, in his head, from a bullet aimed from without the house. Two stout dogs defended the door most courageously, till the fiercest was shot. Martha Ivans and Mary Moore secreted themselves under a part of the floor, taking with them the infant Margaret; but the sobbings of the alarmed child forbade concealment. Should Mary place the child upon the floor, and conceal herself? — or should she share its fate? She could not abandon her little sister even in that perilous moment, and left her hiding place and her companion. The Indians were now cutting at the door, and threatening fire. Mrs. Moore perceiving that her faithful sentinels were silenced, Simpson expiring, and her husband dead, collected her four children, and kneeling down, committed them to God; then rose and unbarred the door.
After all resistance had ceased, the Indians, satisfied with the blood that had been shed, took Mrs. Moore and her four children, John, Jane, Mary, and Margaret, the fifth, Joseph, being in Rockbridge at school, prisoners; and having plundered to their satisfaction, set fire to the dwelling. Martha Ivans crept from the approaching flames, and again concealed herself beneath a log that lay across the little stream near the dwelling. But captivity awaited her. While catching a few of the horses, one of the Indians crossed the log, under which she was secreted, and sat down upon the end of it. The girl seeing him handle the lock of his gun, and supposing that he had discovered her, and was about to fire upon her, came out, to the great surprise of the savage, for he had not seen her, and to his great apparent joy delivered herself a captive. In a short time the Indians were on their march with their captives, and their plunder, to the Shawnee towns in Ohio, to which they belonged. The two men that escaped, hastened to the nearest family, a distance of six miles, and as soon as possible spread the alarm among the settlements. Before the armed men could reach the spot the ruin was complete, and the depredators far on their way to Ohio. Mr. Moore was found lifeless — scalped — but his body unabused, — and was buried where he fell. His grave may be seen at this day. The Indians told the captives he might have escaped, had he not paused on the fence. Of this he was probably himself well aware, as it was not the habit of the Indians to shoot at a person in rapid motion. But the affection for his family was stronger than the desire for personal safety. He was a brave, and tender hearted man; and would not desert his family to save himself from a danger his perseverance and daring had brought upon them all. He had retired from the society of relatives and acquaintances, and what was life to him among the smoking ruins of a much loved home and murdered family!
The morning of July 14th, 1786, saw the family in App’s Valley full of life and cheerfulness; the sun went down that day on smoking ruins, the dead bodies of the father and four children — and the journeying of the mother with three children, helpless captives, to — they knew not what in the western forest. After the horrible event of the morning, perhaps the mother wept not, when the captors, dissatisfied with the delicate appearance and slow traveling of her weak-minded and feeble-bodied son John, dispatched him at a blow and hid him from the sight of pursuers. The hours of night passed slowly and sorrowfully as the four captives, all females, lay upon the ground, each tied to a warrior, who slept tomahawk in hand to prevent a recapture should they be overtaken by the pursuing whites. Of this however there was no danger; the rapidity of the retreat forbade all prospect of a recapture. But on the third day, a new cup of sorrow was put in the mother’s hand. The little infant Margaret, that Mary could not part with, was spared to the mother. The Indians even insisted in carrying it. On the third day, the little one became very fretful from a wound it had received on its cheek; irritated by its crying a savage seized it, and dashing its head against a tree tossed it into the bushes without a word. The company moved on in silence; the sisters dared not, the mother would not, lament the fate of the helpless loved one; perhaps they pitied the living, reserved for, they knew not what, more than the dead whose last bitter cup on earth was drained.
After some twenty wearisome days of travel down the Sandy and Ohio rivers, they came to the Scioto; here the Indians showed Mrs. Moore some hieroglyphics representing three Indians and a captive white boy; this boy, they told her, was her son, they had captured on their expedition, two years before, who had been here with them, and was still a captive. The prisoners were then taken on to their towns called Wappotomatick and Major Jack, near where Chilicothe now stands, and were kindly received. After a few days a council was called, and an aged Indian made a long speech dissuading from war; the warriors shook their heads and retired. This old man took Mary Moore to his wigwam, treated her with great kindness, and appeared to commiserate her condition. In a short time, a party of Cherokees, who had made an unsuccessful expedition in the western part of Pennsylvania, on their return home, passed by the Shawnee towns, and stopped where Mrs. Moore and her daughter Jane were. Irritated at their ill success, and the loss of some of their warriors, the sight of these prisoners excited an irresistible thirst for revenge. While the Shawnees were reveling with spirituous liquors, the Cherokees seized the mother and daughter, condemned them to the torture, by fire, and death at the stake. Their sufferings were protracted through three days of agony. The uncomplaining mother comforted her poor dying child with gospel truth and exhortation, and died with a meekness that astounded the savages. The Shawnees never approved of this gratuitous act of cruelty, and always expressed unwillingness to converse about the circumstances, charging Mrs. Moore’s death upon the Cherokees. They evidently felt dishonored by the deed. About the captivity and death of other people, and about the burning of Mr. Moore’s house, and the massacre of himself and children, they spoke freely and with the exultation of savages.
When Mrs. Moore and her children, as captives, left their habitation in App’s Valley, Mary took two New Testaments, which she carried through all her wearisome journey to the Scioto; one of them was taken from her by the young savages, and the other was her companion through the days of her bondage. The old Indian that showed his kindness on arriving at the towns, would often call her to his side and make her read to him, that he might hear “the book speak”; and when any of the young Indians attempted to hide the book from her, as they often did, he interposed with sternness, and compelled them to restore it, and finally to desist from such attempts. Whether he gained any knowledge from hearing the child read, or whether curiosity to hear “the book speak” in English words was alone gratified, must remain unknown till the great day.
The two girls remained with the Shawnees till the fall of the year 1788. In respect to their food, clothing, labor, conveniences and discomforts, their situation differed little from that of the young Indians. They were kept as property of value, without any very definite object. Contentions sometimes arose amongst the Indians about the right of ownership; and in times of intoxication, death was threatened as the only means of ending the quarrel. Whenever these threats were made, some of the sober Indians gave the girls the alarm, in time for their secreting themselves. While free from the influence of strong drink, the Indians expressed great fondness for the girls, particularly for the little black-eyed, golden-haired Mary.
The Shawnees continuing to be very troublesome to the frontiers, in the fall of 1788 an expedition was fitted out to destroy their towns on the Scioto. The Indians were informed by the traders, of the design and the departure of the expedition; and watched its progress. On its near approach, they deserted their towns, secreting their little property, and carrying their wives and children and aged ones beyond the reach of the enemy. Mary Moore revolved in her mind the probable chances of concealing herself in the forest until the arrival of the forces, and thus obtained her liberty; and was deterred from the attempt by the reflection, that the season was late and possibly the forces might not arrive before winter, and perhaps not at all. Late in November the American forces reached the Scioto, burned the Shawnee towns, destroyed their winter provisions as far as they could be found, and immediately returned home. After the departure of the forces the Indians returned to their ruined towns; and winter setting in upon them, deprived of shelter, their extreme sufferings compelled them to seek for aid in Canada. On the journey to Detroit they endured the extremes of hunger and cold. It was the time for the falling of the snow, which came storm after storm upon these shelterless people. Martha Ivans and Mary Moore, with few garments, traversed the forests with deerskin moccasins, the only covering for their feet in these deep snows. Not unfrequently they woke in the morning covered with the snow that had fallen during the night; once the depth of their snowy covering was twelve or fourteen inches; their only bed or protection, besides the bushes heaped together being their single blanket. On reaching Detroit, the Indians gave themselves to riotous drinking; and to indulge this appetite sold their young captives. Mary was purchased, for half a gallon of rum, by a person named Stogwell, who lived at Frenchtown, near the western end of Lake Erie. Martha was purchased by a man in the neighborhood of Detroit, and being soon after released, took up her residence with a wealthy and worthy English family by the name of Donaldson, and received wages for her services. The purchaser of Mary neither liberated her, nor expressed any kindness to her, but employed her as a servant, with poor clothing and scanty fare. The circumstances of her redemption and return to her friends in Virginia are related by her brother James Moore, in the narrative of his own captivity and redemption. This gentleman was living in App’s Valley, the scene of his childhood and his father’s catastrophe, and a few years since (1839) gave the narration to the Rev. James Morrison, the son-in-law and successor of Rev. Samuel Brown.
From the Narrative of James Moore
My captivity was the first incident in the disasters of my father’s family. It took place on the 7th of September, 1784. I was in the fourteenth year of my age. My father had sent me to a waste plantation, about two and a quarter miles up to the Valley (Mr. Poage’s) to get to a horse to go to the mill. We being situated twelve miles from the mill, and that in a dreary wilderness, — I frequently had to go to the mill, — and often came home a good part of that distance in the night, when it was often so dark that I could not see my hand before me. Notwithstanding I had been so accustomed to traveling in these lonely circumstances, by myself, I had not proceeded more than half way to the place where the horses were, before a sudden dread or panic came on me. I thought some wild animal in human shape would devour me. I was so alarmed that I went on trembling, frequently looking back, expecting to see it. I would willingly have turned back and gone home, but I knew it would not do to go home with such an excuse.
I came within a few paces of the waste field, where the horses were, when suddenly the Indians sprung out from behind a large log, — and being before alarmed with the apprehension of being devoured, I screamed with all my might. The Indian that took me laid his hand on the top of my head, and uttered the words chit, che, chack in a quick manner, which I understood to mean hush. I then looked him in the face, and perceiving he was an Indian, immediately felt relieved of my former dread and spoke out loud — “it is an Indian, why need I be scared”; and I said to myself — “all that is in it is, I will have to go to the Shawnee towns.” There were three Indians only in the company. Their leaders, Black Wolf, a middle aged man, of the most stern countenance I ever beheld, about six feet high, having a long black beard, was the one who caught hold of me. The other two Indians were young, and one of them the son of Black Wolf, about, I suppose, eighteen years of age. They were of the Shawnee tribe, and I belonged to Black Wolf.
I supposed it was about one o’clock, P.M. when I was taken. In a few moments we started on our journey. The Indians went up into the thicket where their kettle and blankets were hid, covered up in the leaves, and took them. We traveled down a creek called Tugg, the north fork of Sandy, that afternoon about eight miles. The walking was very laborious on account of the high weeds, green briers, logs, and the steep and mountainous character of the country. At night we lay down in a laurel thicket, without fire or anything to eat. The night was rainy. I lay beside Black Wolf with a leading halter round my neck and tied very tight, and the other end wrapped round his hands so as to make it very secure, and so that I could not get away without waking him. He had also searched me very carefully to see that I had no knife. Gloomy and distressing as were my circumstances I slept some that night. During the afternoon the two young Indians walked before; I next to them; and Old Wolf followed; and if any sign was made, he would remove it with his tomahawk, so that there might be no marks or traces of the way we had gone. I frequently broke brushes, which he discovered and shook his tomahawk over my head, giving me to understand that if I did not desist he would strike me with it. I then would scratch the ground with my feet. This he also discovered and made me desist; and showed me how to set my feet flat so as not to make any special marks. It then became necessary for me to cease any efforts to make a trail for others to follow. About sun-down Old Wolf gave a tremendous war-whoop; and another the next morning at sun-rise. This was repeated every evening at sun-down, and every morning at sun-rise during our whole journey. It was long, loud and shrill, signifying that he had one prisoner. The custom is to repeat it as frequently as the number of the prisoners. This whoop is different from the one they make when they have scalps.
Once on my journey, I was sent off a considerable distance to get water, under a steep bank, where I was concealed from view; here I gave vent to my feelings and wept abundantly. The old Indian however had watched me, and when I returned, he showed me with his fingers, on my cheek, where I had been shedding tears, shaking his tomahawk over my head, and letting me know that I must do so no more.
We arrived (September 29) at the towns over the Ohio, on the head waters of Mud River, called Wapatomatick, which took us about twenty-two days traveling. I traveled the whole route barefooted; and had at one time three stone bruises on each foot; my sufferings from them were very great. I frequently walked over large rattlesnakes, but was not suffered to kill or interrupt them, the Indians considering them their friends. We crossed the Ohio between the mouths of Guyandotte and Big Sandy, on a raft made of dry logs tied together with grapevines.
When we were within a short distance of the towns, the Indians blacked themselves, but not me. This was an omen of my safety, for if I had been blacked, it would signify that I was doomed to be burned to death. I was not taken directly into town, but to the residence of Wolf’s half-sister, to whom he sold me for an old gray horse. The reason I was not taken directly to the town was, I suppose, because it was a time of peace. Shortly after I was sold, my mistress left me in her wigwam, for several days, entirely alone, leaving a kettle of hominy for me to eat. In this solitary situation, I first began to earnestly to pray and call upon God for mercy and deliverance; and found great relief in prayer. I would rise from my knees and go off cheerful, having cast my burdens on the Lord. I had been taught to pray. My father used to pray in his family. I now found the benefit of the religious instruction and examples I had enjoyed.
Among the Indians there is a religious society called the Powow, composed of warriors of the best character. No mean Indian is allowed to become a member; nor is a woman allowed near the place where they hold their meetings. The husband of my mistress belonged to this society. Shortly after my return from the winter hunt, the Powow Society held this meeting at Wapatomatick. My mistress’s husband attended. On his return home, I saw something awful on his countenance, which much alarmed me. After a fire was kindled, he took his seat in the wigwam, and his wife beside him. She calmly asked him what was the matter with him. He told her, that, at the Powow meeting, from the medicine proceeded a spirit, at first, about as large as his hand, — holding it out, — and it grew until it became the size of a boy, — holding his hand to the height of a boy about twelve years old; — it then addressed the Powow Society, denouncing judgments on them for their sins, and reproving them for their wickedness; — that the Great Spirit was angry with them, for they had become proud and lazy, and brotherly love had departed from among them; — that the time had been when their paths were marked with no footsteps but those of men and dogs, but now their paths were marked with no other tracks but those of horses; – that if a brother should come requesting that a brother should walk with him, he would say that he could not, that his horse was at a distance, — that formerly if a brother came destitute of garments when they had no other clothing but skins, it was immediately given to him, without his paying for it, but now if he came naked and destitute, that he must pay for it, or go away without getting anything; — that the Great Spirit was about to chastise them for their wickedness; — that Wapatomatick, Major Jack, and Kismagogee were all to be destroyed; — and you Wapeuttequah, — addressing himself to his wife, — will be punished for your pride. She was very rich, and could clothe herself with garments so full of silver broaches that they would almost stand alone. I was present in the wigwam, and heard the above conversation between my mistress and her husband.
These predictions were all literally fulfilled in the course of three years. Logan from Kentucky made an incursion on account of the thieving and murders of these Indians, and the above mentioned towns were all destroyed. She who had been my mistress fled into the woods almost naked and was reduced to the most abject poverty. She came to the place where I was living, near Detroit, told me her sufferings and asked for a piece of bread. I told Mrs. Ariome that she who had been my mistress, and had been good to me, was begging a piece of bread; she sent her a loaf, which was received with the strongest expressions of gratitude.
Sometime in April there was a large dance held at a town called Major Jack, which was about two miles from where I lived. I went to the dance in company with the Indian to whom I belonged; and there met with a French trader, from Detroit, named Baptiste Ariome, who took a fancy to me on account of my having a resemblance to one of his sons, and bought me for fifty dollars paid in Indian money — to wit, in broaches, crapes, and the like. I also fortunately met with a Mr. Sherlock, a trader from Kentucky, who had been a prisoner with these same Indians; and was the man who had rescued a young man by the name of Moffit, captured by the Indians on the head of Clinch, whose father, an intimate acquaintance of mine, had removed to Kentucky, and was at that time living there. I requested Mr. Sherlock to write a letter for me to my father, and give it to Mr. Moffit, to let him know that I had been purchased by a French trader, and was gone to Detroit. Father, I have reason to believe, received this letter; this I consider a very providential circumstance, in giving comfort to my friends, and particularly to my father and mother.
Mr. Ariome treated me like one of his sons. I eat at his table and slept in a good feather bed with his son. In him and his wife I met with a father and mother indeed. They always gave me good counsel, and advised me, particularly Mrs. Ariome, not to abandon the idea of returning home, but to try and accomplish it. I wrought on his farm with his sons, and occasionally assisted him in his trading expeditions with the Indians. On one of these occasions four young Indians began to boast of their bravery, and amongst other things said — “one Indian could whip four white men”; — this provoked me, and I told them that I could whip all four of them myself. They immediately attacked me; but Mr. Ariome hearing the noise came and took me away. On another of these trading expeditions I first heard of the destruction of my father’s family from a Shawnee Indian with whom I had been acquainted when I lived with them, and who was one of the party on that occasion. This information was given me the latter part of the same summer the event occurred. While I was at Detroit, and before I heard of the destruction of the family, I frequently dreamed that I met my mother, sisters Jane and Polly traveling northward, their frocks being cut off at the knees; but after I heard of the disaster I never met them in these nightly visions.
Some time in the winter after the destruction of my father’s family, I heard of my sister Polly’s being purchased by a Mr. Stogwell, an American by birth, but unfriendly to the American cause, in short he was a man of bad character and an unfeeling wretch. He treated her badly indeed. At that time he resided a considerable distance from me. I was preparing to go to see her, but I was told by himself that he intended in the spring to remove within a few miles of where I lived. It was then in the dead of winter, and I declined the undertaking. In the spring I heard that Mr. Stogwell had removed into the neighborhood where I lived, and immediately went to see my sister Polly. I found her in a most abject condition, almost naked, clothed in a few dirty tattered rags, an object of pity indeed. It is impossible for me to detail my feelings; sorrow and joy were combined; and I suppose her feelings on that occasion were similar to my own. Having found my sister in so disagreeable a situation, I was advised to apply to the commanding officer at Detroit, informing him of her treatment, in order to effect her release. I went with Mr. Simon Girty to Colonel McKee, superintendent for the Indians, who had Stogwell brought to trial to answer the complaint against him; but I could not get her rescued from him. It was however decided, that when an opportunity should occur for our return home, she should be released without any remuneration. This was punctually performed on application of Mr. Thomas Ivans.
Mr. Thomas Ivans, a brother of Martha, was induced to seek his lost sister and the members of Mr. Moore’s family that might be still living. Clothing himself in skins, and securing some money about his person, with rifle in hand, he proceeded to the tribes in whose possession the captives had been, and traced their wanderings to their several places of abode. His sister was living with a Mr. Donaldson, receiving wages. Mary Moore was delivered up by Mr. Stogwell, and James Moore by Mr. Ariome. All being at liberty, we immediately prepared to go to our distant friends, and as well as I remember, set out some time in October, 1789; it being about five years from the time I had been taken prisoner by the Indians, and little more than three from the captivity of my sister.
[After being held over at Pittsburgh, the party began the final stage of the journey to Virginia.] A day or two after we set out, having called at a public house for breakfast; whilst it was preparing, my sister took out her Testament and was engaged in reading. Being called to breakfast she laid it down her Testament, and when we resumed our journey she forgot it. After we had proceeded several miles, she thought of her Testament and strongly insisted on turning back; but such were the dangers of the way, and such the necessity of speeding our journey, that we could not turn back. Being connected in association with so many trials, and having been the source of so much consolation, the loss of the book was greatly regretted.
Thus far the narrative of James Moore; — and before we proceed to the relation of the succeeding history of Mary Moore, it is proper to state — that James Moore, the first captive, and the author of the preceding narrative — a few years after his return from Indian captivity, sought the scenes of his youth in Tazewell, and there passed a long life of irreproachable morality and religion. He reared a large family, most of whom, with himself, become members of the Methodist Church; and closed a long life in the year 1848, noted for his tenacious memory, conscientious regard for truth, and love of the gospel of Christ. Martha Ivans married a man by the name of Hummer, moved to Indiana, and reared a large family. Two of her sons became Presbyterian ministers.
The return of the captives to Rockbridge was a matter of intense interest to the numerous relatives and the public at large. There were smiles and there were tears; — there was gladness and there was sorrow. Those who had loved the parents, and mourned their untimely end, rejoiced over the children rescued from the barbarians, to which they were fast becoming assimilated. Shortly after her return, Mary Moore went to live with her uncle, Joseph Walker, in Rockbridge county, about six miles south of Lexington, at the place afterwards known as Donihoo’s Tavern, now in possession of Mr. Moffit. At the age of twelve years she was baptized and admitted to the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, in the Presbyterian church, by Rev. Samuel Houston, pastor of High Bridge and Falling Spring.
In mature years she became the wife of Rev. Samuel Brown, pastor of New Providence, and passed the days of her womanhood in the affections and sympathies of her husband’s charge. Of the eleven children, of which she became the mother, one died of infancy, another at the age of fourteen, giving pleasing evidence of piety; the rest survived her. Through life she retained a strong attachment for the wild people of the forest, which no sense of injury, or memory of wrong, could eradicate or blunt. Her children hung with devotion on her lips, when she could be induced to narrate the history of her early life, and wept with her over the melancholy end of her mother and sister, whose death by fire she did not witness, but whose unburied ashes were pointed out to her by the significant signs of a savage. Her patience, self-denial, and self-possession, acquired in part in her captivity, were preeminent through life. A pious and dutiful child, she was blessed with pious and dutiful children. As they came to years of discretion, they made a credible profession of religion. The sudden death of her husband left her a widow with ten children, the youngest but an infant. The moderate means left for herself and family were, by economy and good management, under the kind providence of God, sufficient to rear and educate her children. She was taken from them before the fruit of her maternal care and solicitude were fully ripened; but while the blossoms were fair.
Upon being asked some little time before her death, how it came, that her children so generally as they came to mature years made profession of faith in Christ; she replied, with some hesitation, — that besides the instruction given usually in pious families, and the means used for the conversion of children, she had added but one worthy of notice, and that was — that she and her husband, after her little ones were disposed in their little beds to sleep, used, in the quietness of the night, to bow the knee at their bedside and beg of God to make them his children and faithful servants, — and ministers of the gospel. The former part of this petition was answered before her death, the latter part after she had gone to see her Saviour in heaven. Of her seven sons, all professors of religion, five entered the ministry in the Presbyterian Church; all licensed by Lexington Presbytery. A son-in-law was the successor of her husband, the comfort of her widowhood, and the guide of her young children. She saw her youngest daughter and child resign its delicate frame to the arms of death, in Christian composure; and then passed herself, with overcoming faith, to see her God.
Perhaps, in her modesty, she did not see the power of her own example, and the force of her own character, formed as it had been by peculiar providences and moulded by strange circumstances. Perhaps the strangeness of the circumstances, in which she came out upon the stage of life, made her undervalue the excellence they formed, and let her doubt that one so different from others in all her training could possess even common excellence. And when her cheering success in training her household was brought up to view, she attributed it to means open to all and used by many. These means are blessed of God abundantly; and the success in times past encourage men to use them in succeeding times with hope. Yet these common means receive much of their power from the habits, and more from the character of those who use them. And the peculiar influence of any individual, in any given place and course, can be fully understood only by acquaintance with the physical, mental, moral and spiritual training, by which the character has been formed, and the capabilities exercised for that peculiar end. Mary Moore was eminently fitted to be the wife of such a minister as Samuel Brown; her friends saw it; the congregation of New Providence felt it. And her fitness was the consequence of trials and sufferings that fall to the lot of few. Her early life was passed in seclusion from the world. In App’s Valley she saw nature in her grandeur, and beauty, and wildness; and her fellow creatures in the endearing relation of connections and neighbors in the wilderness. There was little for her to love in the world but its simplicity, and in the living beings around her, but their kindness and their piety. Of the pomp and splendor of the luxurious life she knew literally nothing. The double log cabin was the only dwelling she knew, and the plain food of the mountains all her taste desired. Her clothing was made beneath her father’s roof. The employment of Martha Ivans was to assist Mrs. Moore in clothing the family; and Mary knew how to use her fingers for the same purpose. Her education was of a religious character and for a religious end. God was worshipped in her father’s family, day by day; and she was taught to read, that she might worship God understandingly, and know how to serve Jesus Christ in a life of faith. Her parents’ example taught her to turn away from society to nature and to God; to live secluded and seek for heaven as her abode, when earth and skies have passed away. While the Indians were plundering the house of Mr. Moore, of whatever they wished to preserve from the flames, each of the captives seized on something to bear away with them in their wanderings. Mary took up two New Testaments; one of which was a companion of her three years captivity and through her lips spoke to the Indians the unsearchable riches of Christ. In cold, hunger and fatigue, in the wigwam and the travel through the wilderness, she clung to this relic of her father’s residence, this copy of the gospel of Christ.
Her tender affections manifested the law of kindness written on her heart. She had been the companion of her infant sister, and probably, as the family was situated, her little nurse. When the hour of peril came she would have hidden it with herself and Martha Ivans beneath the floor of one of the rooms of the cabin; but the wailings of the little one, from a wound made in its neck, by some missile from savage hands, threatened to prevent all concealment. Rather than abandon the babe to the barbarians, she left her hiding place, and met the catastrophe in its company in the open room. Her heroic kindness was ill rewarded by the Indian, whose heart was filled with fear by the wailings of the same infant from the same cause. Lest its cries should betray their line of march, he dashed it against a tree; and taught Mary to lose in silence what she had bought with self-denial.
Her forgiveness of injuries according to the law of the gospel was manifest by the feeling she ever exercised towards the Indians from whose hands such multiplied miseries had been dealt out to her early years. She always pled for mild measures towards these poor lost barbarians, whose sufferings in this life were great, and whose prospects in futurity were dismal; and every movement for civilizing and Christianizing them met her hearty approbation. The news of the conversion of any of the sons of the forest filled her heart with gratitude to God, who forgets not the outcasts. She could talk to her little ones about her captivity, and relate all she knew of her mother’s death, without bitterness of feeling, though in tears.
Soon after her return to her friends, at the early age of twelve years, she asked for the privileges of the church on profession of her faith in Christ. Through sufferings the orphan had been led to God, her refuge and her treasure. What words were — our Father which art in the heavens — dropping from her lips in the wilderness and at the mercy-seat of her ancestors! The word of God says — They that seek me early shall find me, — and, when my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up. It has not pleased God to give us the record of her Christian experience in the wilderness, nor to reveal to us the manner in which the Spirit lead her into all truth; he has only shown us the desolate place and the forlorn outward circumstances of her seeking God and finding peace. But the event, — the peace she found, the good hope through grace, and the devoted heart, were seen all through her life; her record of experience is found in her family and in the congregation to which her husband ministered; in her keeping a good conscience both toward God and toward man, in her self-denial for the good of others and of her own soul, in her maintaining a godly walk, in her evidently not living for this world, but for God. Alas! how often is it the case that we desire the fruits of godliness, rather than be willing to pass through the sanctifying process by which they are obtained.