Elizabeth Graham captured by the Indians

When the morning dawned upon the Graham [93] home, it was found that their ten-year-old boy, John; their neighbor and friend, McDonald (or Caldwell); and their faithful servant, Sharp, were dead and that their seven-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, was missing. The feeling of despair, gloom and sadness, doubtless mixed with a desire for revenge, that now rested upon the hearts of these sturdy pioneers can better be imagined than told. There could be no speculation or guessing about the fate of those who lay dead. Their suffering was over; but the missing one! Where was she? Dead or alive? Was her mangled form floating down the river, or was it left in the deep forest to be devoured by wild beasts? or, perchance, was she living, half naked, with bleeding limbs, treading through brier and bramble at the mercy of some unfeeling savage? These must have been the thoughts that crowded the minds of the half distracted parents; but unrelenting search and untiring efforts finally disclosed the fact that she had been carried off a prisoner.

During the night of this massacre, William, the [94] oldest son, a lad of about twelve years, was not well, and being restless, had come in from the out house and, on his coming in, his mother remarked to him that he “had better go back to bed with the other children”. He replied that as it was nearly daylight he would lie down on the floor till morning, which, luckily for him, he did. otherwise, he no doubt, would have met the same sad fate of his younger brother. A few years after this occurrence an Indian skeleton was found about two miles from the scene of the tragedy, on a small run near where E. D. Alderson now lives, called Indian Draft, which was believed to be the same Indian killed by Graham. Graham secured the jaw bone of this skeleton and used it for a gunrack for a number of years.

After becoming thoroughly convinced that Elizabeth had been carried into captivity, the next task of Col. Graham was to locate her whereabouts and, if possible, secure her return. Months of anxious and unceasing search located her among the Shawnee tribes, whose wigwams were [95] situated at what is now Chillicothe, Ohio. She had been adopted by a squaw of one of the chiefs of the Cornstalk family of that tribe and, while it was doubtless a source of great jo’.y to those fond parents to find their long-lost child alive and well and well cared for, though in the home of a savage chief, yet a new anxiety awaited them, but little less terrible than that which they had already experienced, the work of rescuing and seeing her once more around the hearthstone of their own home. To this task Col. Graham directed his energies and several times visited the Shawnee towns and as often met with new obstacles and disappointments, none of which were probably more heart-rending to him than to know that his child had learned to love her savage home, and that in turn she was loved and doted on by her adopted mother. As the tender twig is easily bent and made to grow in new directions, so were the inclinations of this innocent child readily diverted from the scenes of the past and made to love the passing events which surrounded [96] her, and she being well cared for and never mistreated by the Indians, it was but natural that she loved them. It is also said that before her return a love more passionate than that for her adopted tribe or mother had seized her youthful breast and that a young warrior would soon have claimed her for his “white” squaw. As to the truth of the story, that she had an Indian lover, we do not vouch, but having learned it from her own descendants, we think it worthy of mention. After fruitless efforts and at least two contracts, which were violated and backed down from by the Indians, Col. Graham finally succeeded in 1785 in ransoming and bring his daughter back home, after an absence of about eight years. The price paid for her release was the release of an Indian prisoner whom the whites held, thirty saddles and a lot of beads and other trinkets, and, according to the summing up of the various traditions, about $300 in silver.

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