| || Notes for Joseph Barker:|
CAPTURED BY THE INDIANS BY JOSEPH BARKER
Mr. Barker in his life states that he was born of poor, but respectable Parents, in the town of Branford, twelve miles East of New Haven, Connecticut, on the Sea-board and after having arrived at the age of maturity, he emigrated to Brandon, Rutland County, Vermont; where he married the daughter of Capt. Solomon Tuttle, and after having settled there on a farm, he states that his father, who was advanced in years, having no family, and being in reduced circustances, also emigrated to Brandon and took up his residence with him prefering rather to spend the few remainder of his days, under the roof of his son, than with strangers--and having resided there about ten years, there was a general dread of there being an attack by the British and Indians.The country was new, but the inhabitants were on the continual look out, that they should not be taken by surprise, but it being late in the autumn, and a body of snow upon the earth, they flattered themselves they were safe, at any rate until spring.But Oh! Man, boast not of thyself tomorrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth, for Providence in his wisdom, had seen fit to ordain it otherwise.For it was in the latter part of November, in the yer 1777 or 78, a body of Indians, reached the house of Mr. Noah Strong, residing in the North East corner of the town of Brandon, distant about seven miles from my farm, but finding that Mr. Strong was confined by a very severe wound, occasioned by an axe, having nearly separated his foot from his leg, and as they could not manage for to take him along as a prisoner, on account of the wound, at that inclement season of the yer, they did not confine him, only taking what they wanted to refresh themselves with, and proceed on their march, taking all prisoners that came within their grasp.They then reached the farm of Mr. Robbins, where there were only four brothers, and two of the brothers, endeavored to make their escape, in crossing a tree that lay across a stream of water near their house, and the log being very slippery, they fell in and before they could reach the opposite side, the Indians shot them, and having taken their scalps, the other two submitted and were made prisoners.It now came my turn to suffer, and should I be spared a thousand years in this world, I could not tell my feelings at that moment.I think that it was about noon, as I went to the east door of my house, to throw out some shaving water (as I was getting ready to go to the town of Rutland, which was distant from where I resided almost twelve miles, to obtain some articles for my wife, as in those days the country was but thinly populated, and it was a considerable distance before you could reach a store, as she was in a very delicate state of health and expected every hour to be confined) and there being a rise of ground, I could see nearly one hundred rods from my door, and what was my amazement when casting my eye in that direction, I beheld a solitary Indian, leaping over a knoll, and giving a war-whoop, as soon as he discovered my residence.I closed the door as speedily as possible, and having a first rate hunting gun, I seized it with the intention of blowing his brains out, and although, much alarmed I did not cummunicate the sad tidings to my wife, until I opened the door the second time, with the purpose of giving him the contents of my gun, when horrid to relate I perceived a body of Indians and British coming like Demons, from the lower regions, sweeping destruction every step they took.As soon as I cast my eye on such a body of savages I hastened back and replaced my gun, before they had time to see that I had it or knew what my intentions were--for had they seen me with a waspon of defence, my life would have been the forfeiture immediately.I then being most frantic for the safety of my dear wife, and little daughter aged fourteen months (I recommended them to the care of that being who will not suffer a hair of our head to fall to the ground, without His notice) I exclaimed, my dear Martha, we are lost, the bloodhounds are close upon us.I then went out, and ran towards the Indians, who had raised their muskets to shoot me, when I made a humble sign with my hand that I surrendered.They then took me prisoner, and proceeded to the house, and began their deeds of cruelty by killing my horse, cows, sheep, and all the livestock that I possessed.After they had killed the cows, they cut them up, and cooked what they wanted, and refreshed themselves, all the time desplaying a demoniac character, and showing their savage propensities.After they had satisfied their appetite with what they could find, they commence their plunder, and took everything they could put their hands on and destroyed and amonst the rest they took a feather bed, and having ripped open the tick, they took the bed out of doors, and scattered the feathers to the four winds of heaven, setting up a most hideous yell, and dancing with joy at seeing the feathers taking their flight to the regions above.They even took the little articles that my dear wife had prepared for a particular occasion (already alluded to) and seemed to be delighted to think they had plundered her of them.But what could we do, we were in the power of mosters in human shape, and therefore put our trust in Him who sees and knows all things.After some time, my wife, finding that the Savages would not return them, she went to a British officer, and supplicated him with tears in her eyes, to consider the state she was in, and to make the Indians give those few articles, she stood so much in need of--after many entreaties, wherein she portrayed in the most delicate traits of the female character, to the Officer, her situation, and supposing that he had, for instance, a mother, sister, or wife, in the hands and at the mercy of unfeeling barbarians, what would be his feelings, did he know that they were treated in such a manner?Therefore she hoped, at any rate, he would fulfil the golden maxim, of "doing unto others, as he would they should do unto him"--this at last awakened him to a sense of his duty.He relented, and made the Indians restore those things to her that would not have been the least benefit to them, and were to her precious.They then set fire to my dwelling, and began to make preparations to take up their line of march--and the British officer informed my dear companion, that she could go to the lame man's house, (alluding to Strong's, seven miles distant, and for me, I was to be taken with the rest of the prisoners to Canada--therefore two of the most robust Indians were chosen to guard me, and two also to take charge of my poor old father, who was with us, when the Indians made the attack.The officer then allowed me and my dear companion to take farewell of each other.Oh! My God, what were our feelings at that moment, I am certain I cannot express, and language is too feeble to state; there we were separated by a merciless band of robbers, murderers, and I cannot express any appellation too cruel to call them--our property all destroyed, and probably never to meet again, this side of eternity--and my poor companion left to travel and but thinly clad with our little daughter in her arms, seven miles, snow on the ground, and within an hour or two of the setting sun--without a friend or protector.It almost drove me to madness, but I had reason sufficient to know that I must command my temper, or be forever lost; I therefore committed my dear companion to the care of our heavenly Father, and beseeched of her to keep up courage, and not to sink under her trials and he would support us through all our troubles, and I had no doubt but we should be spared to meet again, as His hand, and His are, were powerful and able to save to the uttermost.
I shall now proceed to give an account of the sufferings and trials that my dear companion had to endure after we were separated, previous to stating my critical situation, and in what manner through the goodness of a kind and allseeing Providence, I made my escape the second night after I had been taken into captivity.It was as I stated before within an hour or two of the setting sun, that I was torn away by these savage monsters, from my dear wife and child, they had to go in one direction, and I in another.They told my wife that she might go to the lame man's house, which was Strong's, seven miles distrant, (as I have stated before).She started with her dear babe closely embraced in her arms, fourteen months old; and in her trying situation to find the house of Strong.As she had never been there before, and the country being very new, she had no guide but marked trees, and footpaths; (and her mind being that disturbed state that few women could hardly have been expected to have borne their trouble with so much fortitude but she placed her confidence beyond this world) she proceeded on until the shades of night began to prevail, and all the world was clothed in darkenss, except what reflection the snow made, and becoming bewildered and worn out with fatigue, sad to relate, she lost her way:
"The cold winds swept the mountain's height,
And pathless was the dreary wild,
And mid the cheerless gloom of night,
A mother wandered with her child,
As through the drifted snows she pressed,
The babe was sleeping on her breast.
And colder still the winds did blow,
And darker hours of night came on,
And deeper grew the drifts of snow,
Her limbs were chill'd, her strength was gone,
O God! she cried in accents wild,
If I must perish save my child!"
But a kind Providence protected her, for during her distress, and thinking very moment she must perish, and could not get on further, she accidently (or may I more properly say providentially) reached a place where the Indians had been that day, and destroyed a house previous to reaching ours; and finding a few branches, my dear companion got into the cellar, and building a fire took up her quarters and before morning without the aid or assistance of a living soul, she was delivered of a daughter; and to show how mysterious the ways of Providence are to us poor mortals, and although thinly clad, and at the inclement season of the year, and situated as she was yet they were all preserved; and remarkable to relate that child is still living, and afterwards married Mr. Artemas W. White, in Paris, Oneida County, New York, upwards of thirty years ago; and now resides in the town of Byron, Genessee County, --and is the mother of a numberous family and when a small girl, and went to school, if any person would ask her where she was born, she would look at them, and say with a smile, "why in the woods to be sure".My dear wife remained in that situation, until the next day at noon, when Capt. Daniels, her brother-in-law, came to her rescue, and taking her, although very feeble with the child behind him, and carried them to Strong's, which was about four miles; as she got out of the path, the evening previous when we parted.The manner in which Capt. Daniels discovered her was as follows: he resided in the south-west corner of the town, and being a remote corner of the said town, the Indians did not surround that section; but he, together with the few neighbors that lived in that section, finding what devastation the Indians had committed, went to look after their friends and relatives; when distressing to relate, Capt. Daniels found that we had been amonst the sufferers, and immediately went to the house of Mr. Strong, as he understood all the women had been sent there, (whilst the men had been taken prisoners) and not finding my dear companion, he went in pursuit and found her as I have before stated in the cellar where she was delivered of her child.My companion remained at the house of Mr. Strong, until I reached there, which was within a few days after my capture.I shall now proceed to relate how I made my escape.After having bid farewell to my dear companion and embraced my child, finding that I had to go with the Indians, I concluded within my oun mind that I would pretend to be very submissive and do every thing that I could to ingratiate myself in the good graces of the two savages who had me in their custody; but I would never go to Canada, and before I would I'd suffer death.I therefore layed many plans, to see in what manner I could make my escape as I was determined to get my freedom, and at last fell upon this expedient in which I proved successful.We traveled the first evening about four miles, and camped at a place, known in those days by the name of Brown's Camp on Otter Creek, in the same township where I resided.I was at this time in the prime of life, and was considered very active, and therefore I suppose that was the reason that two athletic Indians were my guards.After having encamped and we came to lay down to rest, I was placed between these two Indians, and a cord put over my breast, and one over my thighs, and then, covered with a blanket, on which the Indians layed, so that if I attempted to stir, it would awaken them; but I intended to do everything with discretion.I now therefore, commenced the first part of my operations, so as to take my flight, as soon as circumstances would allow.The Indians being weary, shortly after we had stretched out, fell asleep, I then began to make the most hideous noise I could; I grunted, growned, twisted, turned in every shape and attitude, as if I was in a great deal of distress, and I pretended to be sick, I did not allow them to shut their eyes again during the night, and they seeing my distress, and that they could not rest, they seemed to take a little compassion and made me a kind of herb tea, thinking that would ease me, and they could rest, but it was entirely uselesss; and the more they did for me, the worse I went on, as I was determined they should not sleep, as by keeping them awake, I was satisfied they would be sleepy the next night and then I would endeavor to escape; and by this mean I did succeed.
When day dawned and they came to me, and enquired how I felt, and if I would eat something, I replied I felt much better, and eat a little, and made myself as attentive to do every thing that was wanted to be done, as I possibly could, they to try me, would send me to draw water, and do other menial offices, finding me so submissive, but at the same time to try if I would not endeavour to run away; but they kept a good watch over me, and my not showing the least dispostion, it would put them a little off their guard.We now took up our march, and nothing of any consequnce worth relating took place during the day, except we kept pretty much all together, traveling through the dreary woods, and occasionally we travelled along the banks of Otter Creek, and we encamped on this ever memorable night (to me) near Middlebury Falls, between twenty and thirty miles, (as the woods were in those days if they might be called by that name) from my former residence.I was very particular to do every thing, that was in my power to please them during the day, and after we had made camp fires, and had taken some refreshment, they prepared to lie down.But Oh! what were my thoughts, I cannot state for my own sufferings I considered them as mere ciphers when I thought of my poor wife, in her situation, and my little daughter, and not knowing to what extremity she might be driven after we parted but I put my trust in Him who is willing and ready to save all that call upon His name in sincerity, and being well satisfied that my guard would sleep sound that night, I was determined to make my escape, or forfeit my life in the attempt, another thing that distressed me much was my poor aged father.I did not dare to communicate to him my prospect, as I well knew that I could not rescue him, and therefore I kept my plans, sunk deep within my own breast none but the One above knowing my most secret thoughts and after taking off my shoes, and taking sight of a large Elm tree, that was within a rod of where we were to lay, I laid down between the two Indians with the cords around me, the same as the night previous, only that instead of laying in a straight position, I raised up both of my legs, so as to give me room, and to keep them as far off from me as possible.As I expected they were soon wrapped in sound sleep, and after I was perfectly satisfied that their sleep was reality, by their tremendous snoring, I began in a very careful manner to straighten myself from under the blanket, and clear of them; then takingmy shoes I gave one leap and got to the large Elm tree, that I spoke of, between me and the Indians; where stopping a moment and finding they did not stir, I put on my shoes, but I was in dread, as they were up at the other two camps, each side of up, and when I sprang I was fearful that I might be discovered from those Camps, and they would fire on me; but to my utter astonsihment, and overwhelming joy, I found that I had not been perceived; this was about nine o'clock, of a clear, cold, star-light night, when I once more found myself clear of those hell-hounds, but knew there was no time to be lost, for if I should be retaken, my doom was inevitable. I therefore, commended to retrace my steps, towards my family, as I did not dare to take the path we came, for fear of being pursued.I traveled this way until the day dawned, and then in the most careful manner, made for the path, that I trod the day before; but in quite a different situation to what I was then in.After some time I struck the path, and having nothing to molest me, I proceeded on until I reached where but a day before had stood my domicile, but now was nothing but a heap of ruins.I then continued making my way on to the dwelling of my brother-in-law, Capt. Daniel's, as I knew they had not been molested by the Indians, and by the protecting hand of a kind Providence, although faint and weary, having eaten but little during my captivity, and nothing since I made my escape, I reached there towards evening, and Oh! with what demonstration of joy did they receive me.I was there informed by my brother-in-law, concerning my dear companion, and the manner in which he found her after our sad calamities, and how he took her to the house of Mr. Strong, as I have given the particulars before.I was to proceed immediately to my dear wife, but being so exhusted they turned a deaf ear to my petition, (as they knew my wife was as comfortable as could be expected) and therefore I consented to tarry until the next morning, when I arose somewhat refreshed from my night's rest, having had no sleep nor appetite for the last three days, and two nights, and nature was nearly exhausted, and proceed on to the house of Mr. Strong.I had to walk, as in those days horses were scarce in that part of the country; and although it was ony a few miles, time hung heavy, and the distance seemed to be much further than what it really was; and Oh! could I have had the wings of a dove, how much sooner should I have embraced the dear companion and sufferer with me in my misfortunes, to my bosom; but I had to submit, and have patience, until I could reach the house, which was not very long after I got under way.When I arrived at Mr. Strong's, I found my dear companion as comfortable as could be expected, after she had undergone what she had, and when she first cast her eyes upon me, she screamed out, not knowing whether to believe her senses, or whether it was my apparition standing before her-but when I enfolded her in my arms, she rested her head upon my bosom and it was many minutes, before we could speak to each other, and she then bursting into a flood of tears, exclaimed my dear husband, how did you excape?I was fearful I should be left with two poor helpless orphans, a widow but thanks be to God, He has been merciful to me a sinner, having heard and answered my supplications for your welfare and safe return.I then my dear reader, related to her, what I have already stated to you.Concerning my poor old father, I never beheld him again, he reached Canada, but soon went "to that bourne from whence no traveler returns".Torn away from us by a ruthless bank, to close his eyes in a strange land, and among the enemies of his country.My little daughter who was about fourteen month old when my property was destroyed, and was with her mother on that awful night that she took shelter in the ruins of the house that she found when she lost her way in going to Strong's, grew up and married a Mr. Timothy Putman, in the town of Paris, Oneida county, New York, and had four children by her husband who is now deceased, and she remains a widow, and resides at this time in the town of Aurora, Erie County, near Buffalo.My wife had at this time two brothers, Jesse and Soloman Tuttle, in the army, and who were at the ever memorable battle of Bunker-Hill.The few settlers that were in this part of the Country, after I returned, determined to evacuate their homes, for fear of the Indians, and go into that part of the state that was more thickly populated, and for that purpose we emigrated to the South-East section of Vermont, within the vicinity of Shaftsbury, and Benington; where we remained until after the war, and then returned once more to our habitations.I then commenced work, rebuilt me a new log-house (and as the country was new we had a great many trials and difficulties to encounter).I remained for about twelve years, and improved my farm, and as the country became more thickly populated, I at last concluded I would sell my property as it would pay me well, and once more emigrate into the town of Paris, Oneida County, New York, where I resided about twenty-five years--and where my two daughters were married as I have already stated.I then sold my farm, in the town of Paris and removed to Westmoreland, Oneida county, within a few miles of Rome, where I again purchased a farm, and remained a few years, and having a good offer for the same, and getting to be advanced in years, and having children married and settled in the town of Byron, Genessee County, my companion and self thought we would prefer to settle, and spend the few remaining days that we might yet have here on earth, near them.I therefore sold out, and once more purchased another farm, in Byron, where I improved my property and resided about twelve years.
This closes the life of the Narrator, and Mr. Solomon Barker, continues the narrative by saying that his father, after residing in the town of Byron, for upwards of twelve years, departed this life, in the month of August eighteen hundred and twenty-four or five, aged abut seventy-seven and that his mother had fifteen children having lost the first born previous to the depredations committed by the Indians upon them- and after the birth of his sister in the woods, his father returned and his mother had twelve more, of which he is one--and that to the best of his knowledge there are eleven now surviving, being seven brothers, and four sisters.His mother he says, was always a pious woman, and a member of the Baptist church, ( and there is no doubt but that her firm reliance in the atoning blood of the Lamb, supported her through many trials and afflictions, in transitory world, and prepared her for a blessed immortality) and having survived the companion of her early choice, and sufferings, about eight years, was suddenly called from time to eternity, but she could in her last moments say "death has no sting, nor the grave no victory over me", my trials and afflictions which have been many, are ended, and I shall soon be at rest-and having taken farewell of those around her, she resigned her breath to Him who gave it, in the month of May or June, in the year 1831 or 1832, aged about sixty-seven, and was followed to the grave by a numberous circle of relatives and friends, who lamented their loss-but what was loss to them, was, it is to be trusted, much glory to her.Her body was deposited by the side of my father, in a burying ground, that was situated on my father's farm, as he previous to his death, granted an acre of land to the town of Byron for that purpose.
Joseph Barker the author of the above was a son of Capt. Timothy Barker and a brother of Eliabeth Barkerwho married Abraham Linsley.
The above was copied from a manuscript in the possession of Miss Etta Wilbur of Lansing Mich.Her mother was a Barker but as when or how the manuscript came possession of the family she did not know.Copied in 1931 by T.G. Foster.