The following is a very condensed account, from my manuscript which is about 25 pages at this writing.
It has taken me nearly 50 years to find all this information, and if anyone is seriously interested in the
story of Capt Heald, contact me.
CAPT. NATHAN HEALD, WAR OF 1812, FORT DEARBORN MASSACRE
In 1779 Jean du Sable, French-Canadian trapper, established a trading post on the Chicago river, where he stayed until
1800, when he sold the post to Jean LaLime
In 1803, under orders from Secretary of War, Henry Dearborn, Capt. John Whistler and a company of 40 men arrived and started construction of a fort.The first part of the fort was a simple stockade, and by the time the fort
was completed in 1808, there was a second outer wall, a parade ground, Officer's quarters, barracks, stable, two blockhouses and a secret tunnel that went under the wall to the river.
In 1804, John Kinzie acquired the trading post and soon became the civilian leader of the area.
In 1810, Capt Whistler was relieved by Capt. Nathan Heald, from Fort Wayne, an experienced office, and Lt.Linai Helm, another officer with frontier experience. Helm married
John Kinzie's step daughter, and in 1811, Heald returned to
Fort wayne, and married Rebecca Wells.
She was the daughter of Col.Samuel Wells, and the niece of
Capt. William Wells, who would figure prominently in the massacre the following year.
At the outbreak of the War of 1812, Captain Nathan Heald, First Regiment of Infantry, Commandant of Fort Dearborn, recieved orders on August 9th, to evacuate the fort, and take his troops to Fort Wayne.
Capt. Wells, with about 30 Miami warriors, left Fort Wayne for Fort Dearborn, arriving there on the 13th of August.
On the 14th, Heald gave all the contents of the trading post (factory store), and provisions that they could not carry on the march, to the Indians. That night they destroyed all the surplus muskets, gunpowder and whiskey.
On the 15th, at 9 o'clock in the mornign, they left the fort, heading south along the lakeshore, with part of the Miamis in fromt, and the rest in the rear with Capt Wells to act as quards.
The column consisted of wagons with provisions and baggage, and 14 civilian men, 9 women, 18 children, and was guarded by 12 militiamen.
The troop consisted of 4 Officers, 51 NCO's and regular soldiers.
The Indian force of mostly Potowatomi warriors, numbered around 500, with about 180 women and children encamped.
With in half an hour, the Miami warriors had all run off,all
the militia men were dead, both doctors, 13 of the male civilians, 2 of the women and 12 children, 26 soldiers and Captain Wells.
The twelve children were all savagely tomahawked to death by one young indian warrior, and Captain Wells was knifed in the back, scalped, his head cut off and his heart cut out and eaten.
Captain Heald survived, badly wounded, as did Rebecca Heald, also wounded, Lt. Helm, Mrs Helm, John Kinzie and his family, 7 women and 8 children and some of the soldiers
The Indian losses were thought to only be about 15.
Nathan and Rebecca Heald were rescued by several of the Indian chiefs, put aboard a canoe and sent across Lake Michigan to St Joseph River. After a short rest they went by canoe north to Fort Mackinac. There Heald surrendered to the British fort commander, who provided him with a small sailboat, and he was taken to Detroit. There the British
commandant, transported Nathan and Rebecca to Buffalo and into the hands of the Americans.A voyage of nearly 1200
miles, and over 2 months.
Nathan Heald was shot thru the hips during the battle and never fully recovered, while Rebecca was shot at least 6 times, thru the arms.Nathan was promoted to Major, and in 1814 was discharged for disability and granted a pension of $ 20 a month.
They lived with Rebecca's father in Fort Wayne until 1817, when they moved to O'Fallon, Missouri,and purchased Fort Zumwalt from Jacob Zumwalt, Sr.
Nathan and Rebecca had 3 children; Mary, Darius and Margaret.
Nathan was born 24 September 1775, in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, the son of Thomas Heald and Sybil Adams. He died 27 April 1832, at the age of 56, and was buried at Fort Zumwalt.
He was a descendant of John Heald of Concord. (1 John, 2 Sgt. John, 3 Lt John, III, 4 Timothy, 5 Thomas, 6 Nathan)
Rebecca died in 1857, at the age of 67, and was also buried at Fort Zumwalt.
Later they were both re-intered at Mt Zion Cemetary.
As an interesting footnote, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, went to Peoria after he left Chicago. He died, and is buried, in St.Charles, Missouri, which is only 8 miles from