Published in 1903, "Publications of the Buffalo Historical Society - Volume VI" includes a brief yet spirited biography of Moses Van Campen followed by superb story telling of the 1780 and 1782 capture of Moses Van Campen by the Indians; both of which lead to his initial meeting of and resulting life-long friendship with the renowned Horatio Jones.
Publications Of The Buffalo Historical Society
Frank H. Severance
Secretary Of The Society
Buffalo, New York:
Buffalo Historical Society
II. The Old Council House
Of all the many captives of those bloody years, who ran the gauntlet at Caneadea,—and who may now tell their number!—no story is so well-remembered and so oft-repeated as that of Moses Van Campen, that famous old Indian fighter and pioneer, the hero of so many fireside tales of thrilling border warfare; a Jersey lad, born in 1757, but living in Pennsylvania and in the strength of early manhood when the war of the Revolution began. He was a man of mighty prowess and daring, unacquainted with fear, and had made his strong arm felt in many a fierce encounter with the painted redskins in the northern wilderness of the Pennsylvania frontier.
Once before he had been captured by an Indian war party and had made his escape after a deadly struggle in which he had slain five of his captors with his own hand and with a tomahawk which he had wrested from their leader, John Mohawk. In March, 1782, he was a lieutenant of the Pennsylvania line in the Continental Army, commanding a company ordered to rebuild a fort at Muncey in Northumberland Co., Pa., which had been destroyed by the Indians in 1779.
While on a scouting expedition with a small force up the west branch of the Susquehanna he was surprised by a war party of Senecas led by Lieutenant Nellis of Butler's Rangers in the British service, and after most of his soldiers had been killed or disabled, Van Campen surrendered and was carried captive to Caneadea. Fortunately he had not been recognized or his life would not have been spared.
As they approached the village with echoing war-whoops, old and young came to meet the victorious warriors and preparations for the savage ordeal of running the gauntlet were speedily made. At a distance of thirty or forty rods stood the council house with its open doors and on either side of the running course thereto were lines of men and women armed with hatchets, knives and sticks with which to strike the victim as he ran. There was but slight chance of escape, but as the word came and the captives dashed forward, Van Campen followed and dexterously avoided the many blows aimed at him until he saw directly in his path two young squaws with uplifted whips who blocked the way. With quick thought he gave an unexpected leap into the air, striking both squaws with his feet and sending both to the ground. He fell with them, but before they or the warriors around could recover from their astonishment, he quickly picked himself up and reached the council house unharmed. His life was saved, and having been taken thence to Fort Niagara and finally to Montreal and New York, he was released on parole before the end of the year.
VIII. Van Campen's Capture And Escape.
Among those whose lives were intimately associated with Horatio Jones was Moses Van Campen,* who was born in 1757 in Hunterdon Co., New Jersey. Soon after his birth the family moved to Northampton Co., Pennsylvania, and located on the Delaware River; but in 1773, in company with a brother they moved to Northumberland Co., to the present town of Orange, about eight miles above the mouth of Fishing Creek. This stream enters the north branch of the Susquehanna, near the present town of Rupert, Columbia Co., the Fishing Creek country being one of the points where were the earliest settlements of the North Branch.
The Indian trail from the West Branch to Nescopeck crossed the divide several miles above Jerseytown, and an Indian town was located where Lycoming, Montour, and Columbia counties meet. Even after the whites began to occupy the soil in considerable numbers the savages clung tenaciously to that region which had been a favorite hunting ground. Among the pioneers of the Lower Fishing Creek were James McClure, Thomas Clayton, Peter Melick, Joseph Wheeler, Joseph Salmon, the Van Campens, Aikmans. McHenrys and others whose names have long been conspicuous in history.
"In 1775, two years subsequent to the advent of the Van Campens," says Bates, "George Whitmoyer,+ Michael Billimer and Daniel Welliner came from that region on the Delaware in New Jersey opposite Northampton Co., and crossing Eastern Pennsylvania to Harris' ferry, followed the Susquehanna and Frozen Duck, or Chillisquaque, to the Jerseytown valley.
"Whitmoyer settled a short distance above Jerseytown, Billimer located on Muddy Run, and Welliner fixed his residence on Whetstone Run."
Surrounded by these pioneer families, in a comfortable log cabin, Moses Van Campen matured into a sturdy young man, innured to the hardships of border life, skilled in woodcraft, and with a considerable acquaintance among the Indians, who frequented the region. He was a natural leader of men engaged in desperate enterprises. In 1776 he entered the Continental army as an ensign in the I2th Pennsylvania regiment, commanded by Col. Wm. Cook, and the following year became orderly sergeant of Capt. Gaskin's company in Col. Kelley's regiment. In 1778 he was a lieutenant of a company of six-months' men and in April built Fort Wheeler, on Fishing Creek, about three miles above its mouth. In 1779 Moses Van Campen was appointed quartermaster of General Sullivan's army, held that position during the expedition to the Genesee valley, and at the close of the campaign returned to Fort Wheeler, where his father and several neighbors still remained.
The Indians had been so completely routed by Sullivan that the Americans had little fear of further invasions, so in the spring of 1780 the Fishing Creek settlers determined to re-occupy their farms. Late in March Moses Van Campen's father and uncle left Fort Wheeler for their farms about two miles up the creek. They were accompanied by Moses, a young brother, a cousin also a lad, and Peter Pence, one of the most noted hunters and Indian fighters of the Susquehanna region. Establishing a camp on each farm the parties began the work of reconstructing their houses. Not fearing any danger they were not armed, having with them but two rifles, one at each camp.
One of the first results of Guy Johnson's efforts to hasten the red men upon the warpath in the spring of 1780 was an expedition headed by Joseph Brant, that left Niagara in March. Proceeding to the Genesee, a number of people remained there, while the chief and forty-three Indians, and seventy Tory rangers, crossed the summit at the head of the Canaseraga and descended the Chemung to Tioga Point, where they joined detachments under John Mohawk and English, two noted chiefs, departing from there to ravage the Pennsylvania settlements. They continued in company down the Susquehanna to Meshoppen Creek, where the two bands separated. English, with six warriors, proceeded to the upper end of Wyoming valley, capturing Libbeus Hammond, a man named Bennett, and his young son. Retreating to Meshoppen Creek the party camped to await the return of the other detachment.
Chief English could talk with the prisoners in their own language; during the evening he began a conversation with Hammond. Among other matters he asked the latter if he had ever known Lieut. Boyd of Gen. Sullivan's army. Hammond replied that he was once intimately acquainted with that officer. English then produced a sword and drawing a blade from the scabbard handed it to Hammond with a smile of exultation, saying, "There is Boyd's sword." Hammond examined the weapon closely and discovered the initials T. B. stamped on the side near the hilt. English said he commanded the Indians lying in ambush for the advance of Sullivan's army the night Boyd was sent on as a scout. After describing in detail the capture of Boyd, Chief English continued: "We took Boyd prisoner and put him to death. We cut off his fingers and toes and plucked out his eyes, but Boyd neither asked for mercy nor uttered a complaint. Boyd was a brave man and as good a soldier as ever fought against the red men.'' After the recital of English the prisoners were securely bound and the warriors lay down to sleep. At daylight a cold wind caused the Indians to loosen the prisoners, with orders to build a large fire. Six of the warriors again went to sleep, leaving one on guard. The prisoners determined to escape and watching their opportunity Hammond suddenly caught up a spear and thrust it through the body of the guard with such force that the breast bone closed on the spear head holding it firmly. The Indian fell forward on the fire with a yell and Hammond tugged at the spear to withdraw it. English sprang to his feet with a "Chee-whoo, chee-whoo." Bennett seized a tomahawk, buried it in the head of the chief and instantly followed up the blow by braining three others. Hammond now abandoned his spear and as the remaining two Indians had fled into the woods, he threw a tomahawk, severely wounding one in the shoulder. During the fight Bennett's 'son tried to shoot, but found the guns empty. The whites gathered up such things as they desired, including Boyd's sword, threw everything else into the fire and set out for their homes, where they arrived three days later.#
After the departure of English and his party from Tioga Point, Mohawk with nine warriors went down the Susquehanna to the vicinity or Shawnee Flats, where they killed Asa Upson, and captured a boy named Jonah Rogers. Advancing to Fishing Creek the Indians killed the uncle of Moses Van Campen, captured the young son of the latter and Peter Pence. Shortly after they surprised and captured Moses Van Campen and killed his father and young brother. Continuing up Fishing Creek to the head of Hemlock Creek they captured a man named Abraham Pike, with his wife and child. "These," says Hubbard, "they stripped of all their clothing except a thin garment. One of the savages took the little one by the heels and swung it around with the intention of dashing out its brains against a tree. The infant screamed and the mother with a frantic shriek flew to its relief, catching hold of the warrior's arm. Chief Mohawk seeing the situation came up, took the child from the cruel wretch and gave it to the agonized mother. He then returned the clothing that had been torn from her and taking out his paint box painted his mark upon her face, pointed in the direction he wanted her to go, saying, 'Joggo, squaw.' She departed and arrived safely at Wyoming."
The Indians with Van Campen, Pence, Pike and the two boys continued their retreat to Meshoppen Creek, where 'they discovered the fate of English and his party. The faces of the warriors suddenly lighted up with passion and every move indicated their desire for revenge. Mohawk alone retained his composure; his utmost efforts were required to prevent the savages from immediately avenging their comrades by the torture of the prisoners. On reaching a point about fifteen miles from Tioga Point the party camped to wait the arrival of Brant.
Knowing they were doomed to torture and death Van Campen arranged with Pence and Pike to attempt escape. They planned to disarm the warriors while asleep. Pence was to take possession of the guns and fire, while Pike was to kill two on the left with a tomahawk and Van Campen the three on the right in a similar manner. That night the prisoners were bound as usual. "About midnight," says Van Campen, in his petition to Congress, "I got up and found them in a sound sleep. I slipped to Pence who arose; I cut him loose and he did the same by me; then I cut Pike loose; in a minute's time we disarmed the Indians. Pence took his station at the guns. Pike and myself with tomahawks took our stations. At that moment Pike's two awoke and were getting up. Here Pike proved a coward and lay down. It was a critical moment. I saw there was no time to lose; their heads turned up fair; I despatched them in a moment and turned to my lot as agreed. As I was about to dispatch the last one on my side of the fire, Pence shot and did good execution. There was only one at the off wing that his ball did not reach, a stout, daring fellow named Mohawk. At the alarm he jumped off about three rods from the fire; he saw it was the prisoners who made the attack; giving the war-whoop he darted for the guns; I was quick to prevent him. The contest was then between him and myself. As I raised my tomahawk he turned quickly to jump from me; I followed and struck at him, but missing his head my tomahawk struck his shoulder, or rather the back of his neck. He pitched forward and fell; at the same time my foot slipped and I fell by his side. We clinched; his arm was naked; he caught me round my neck; I caught him with my left arm around the body and gave him a close hug, at the same time feeling for his knife, but could not reach it. In our scuffle my tomahawk dropped out. My head was under the wounded shoulder and I was almost suffocated with blood. I made a violent spring and broke from his hold; we both rose at the same time and he ran. It took me some time to clear the blood from my eyes. My tomahawk had got covered and I could not find it in time to overtake him. He was the only one of the party who escaped. Pike was powerless; he was trying to pray and Pence was swearing at him, charging him with cowardice, saying it was no time to pray, he ought to fight. We were masters of the ground. I then turned my attention to scalping them and recovered the scalps of my father and brother and others; I strung them on my belt for safekeeping. We kept our ground till morning, built a raft and set sail for Wyoming. . . . The following day I went to Sunbury. ... I was received with joy, my scalps were exhibited, the cannons were fired, etc."
After the departure of English and Mohawk from Tioga Point the main expedition under Brant proceeded to the head waters of the Delaware, where Capt. Alexander Harper and thirteen militia on April 7th were surprised in a sugar camp. Harper told Brant there was a large force of troops at Schoharie and so impressed the war chief that the latter decided to change his course and at once began a retreat. Descending the Delaware to Cook House flats where Jasper Parrish had previously been located, the expedition crossed over to Oquago, constructed rafts and floated down the Susquehanna to the Chemung where they were to meet the detachment of seventeen men. "Mohawk," says Sims, "was occupying a little hut near Tioga Point, where the Minnesink party were to await Brant's arrival, trying to heal his wound." "As the party under Brant drew near the place the war-whoop was sounded and soon answered by a pitiful howl—the death yell of the lone Indian." "The party halted in mute astonishment when Mohawk, with nine pair of moccasins taken from the feet of his dead comrades, came forward and related the adventures of himself and friends and the terrible disaster that had overtaken them all." "The effect upon the warriors who gathered in a group to hear the recital," says Stone, "was inexpressibly fearful. Rage and desire for revenge seemed to kindle every bosom and light every eye as with burning coals. They gathered round the prisoners in a circle and began to make unequivocal preparations for hacking them to pieces. Harper and his men gave themselves up for lost . . . but at this moment deliverance came from an unexpected quarter, … the only survivor of the murdered party rushed into the circle and interposed in favor of the captives. With a wave of the hand as from one entitled to be heard, for he was a chief, silence was restored and the prisoners were surprised by the utterance of an earnest appeal in their behalf."
Capt. Harper knew enough of the Indian language to understand its import. In substance the chief appealed to his brother warriors in favor of the prisoners upon the ground that it was not they who murdered their brothers; to take the lives of the innocent would not be right in the eyes of the Great Spirit. His appeal was effectual; the passions of the incensed warriors were hushed; their eyes no longer shot forth burning glances of revenge and their gesticulations ceased to menace immediate and bloody revenge. "True … the chief who had thus thrown himself spontaneously between them and death knew all the prisoners, he having resided in the Schohara canton of the Mohawks before the war. He doubtless felt a deeper interest in their welfare on that account; still it was a noble action worthy of the proudest era of chivalry and in the palmy days of Greece and Rome would have insured him 'an apotheosis and rites divine'. … The prisoners were so impressed with the manner of their deliverance that they justly attributed it to a direct interposition of the providence of God."
Brant conducted the prisoners to Fort Niagara and delivered them to Col. Butler. The feat of Van Campen and Pence was noised abroad and all the Indian nations in the service of the King condemned them as national enemies. Their names were repeated from lip to lip and lodge to lodge and with the view of discovering one or both of them every white prisoner taken by the Indians for many months was subjected to a rigid examination.
Besides the expedition headed by Brant, a second warparty composed entirely of Indians and including warriors from several nations, was organized on the Genesee in March, 178o. Leaving Little Beard's Town prior to the arrival of Brant's expedition and descending to the Susquehanna by a more westerly route, the party reached the lower Fishing Creek valley on the same day that Mohawk's band captured Moses Van Campen and his friends. Billimer and Welliner, who early realized their exposed situation, in good time retreated to one of the forts, but George Whitmoyer either continued to reside at his farm, or had returned to it, before the arrival of the war-party. It was Easter morning. The Whitmoyers awoke unconscious of the terrible danger that menaced them. Two girls, Catharine and Ann, aged fourteen and twelve, started out before daylight to secure the sap flowing in a sugar bush. Philip, the eldest son, partially dressed, was kneeling on the hearth of the great fireplace endeavoring to kindle the smoldering embers into flame. Suddenly the door was thrown open and a yell rent the air. The half-dazed boy turned his head to learn the cause and, as he glanced over his shoulder, the painted form of a half-naked savage with uplifted tomahawk, met his horrified gaze. Mr. Whitmoyer comprehending the situation, sprang out of bed and reached for his rifle to shoot the intruder, who stood for one moment undecided whether to strike the father or son; but a shot through the half open door stretched the brave pioneer lifeless on the floor; before Philip had time to move the keen tomahawk of the savage was buried in his brain; his scalp was torn off and his mother tomahawked in her bed.
Meeting no resistance, the savages searched the house and secured Sarah, aged seventeen; Mary, ten; Peter, eight; George, six; John, four years, and an infant. Taking such plunder as they desired the Indians emptied the beds upon the fire and the humble homestead was speedily enveloped in flames. The smoke from the burning cabin and the whoop of the savages warned the children in the sugar bush of the loss of home and relatives. Realizing that their own safety was threatened, and that they were utterly unable to render assistance to the dear ones, they hastily concealed themselves.**
Knowing that an avenging force would speedily follow them, the savages gathered up their plunder, thrust each captive child upon a horse in front of a warrior and hurriedly retreated northward. The children, being mounted, were saved the fatigue of travel and the Indians were thus enabled to journey at a more rapid rate than was usually maintained in a retreat with prisoners. The eldest girl, Sarah, or Sally as she was familiarly called, had secured the babe at the death of the mother, and, clasping it closely in her arms, soothed it to rest. When placed on a horse Sally still held the child, which became frightened and began to cry, whereupon the Indian with whom they were riding struck it a heavy blow that only increased its cries.
Becoming enraged, the savage seized the child by one of its feet, swung it about his head and brained it on the nearest tree. Sally struggled to save the babe or to rescue its lifeless body hastily thrown upon the ground. She received brutal warning to desist if she wished to escape a similar fate. For the sake of the other children whom she considered her own charge, she stifled the agony in her heart and endeavored to obey. Being well mounted the Indians pushed forward, distancing any pursuers, and making only the briefest stops until they passed the borders of New York. Then they halted for a rest and assembled in council to settle the fate of their captives. It being the policy to increase their numbers by prisoners, especially by the adoption of children, Mary and Peter were assigned to their Mohawk captors and taken to Brant's town at Niagara; George and John were claimed by Senecas, who had established homes at Tonawanda, while Sarah was separated from the others and sent to a family living at Deonindagao, or Little Beard's Town.++
IX. Pigeons and Prisoners—Van Campen Again.
Soon after Horatio's return from Niagara his mother decided to visit her brother, Gy-ant-wa-chia, or Cornplanter, who had settled on the Allegheny River. In order to obtain supplies, the family first journeyed to Fort Niagara and thence to their old camping ground at Devil's Hole. After leaving this camp the hunter's family returned to Buffalo Creek, and continued on through Cattaraugus to Cornplanter's town, on the Allegheny. Soon after their arrival a runner came in shouting, "Yu-ak-oo-was, yu-ak-oo-was!" ("Pigeons, pigeons!") He said the birds had roosted in a wood on the Genesee River, about two days' journey above Caneadea village.
All was now bustle and confusion, and every person in the village who could bear the fatigue of travel at once set out for the Genesee. On their arrival at the place designated by the runner, Jones beheld a sight that he never forgot. The pigeons, in numbers too great to estimate, had made their temporary homes in a thick forest. Each tree and branch bore nests on every available spot. The birds had exhausted every species of nesting material in the vicinity, including the small twigs of the trees, and the ground was as bare as though swept with a broom. The eggs were hatching and thousands of squabs filled the nests. Every morning the parent birds rose from the roost, the noise of their wings sounding like continuous rolls of distant thunder, as flock after flock soared away to obtain food. A little before noon they began to return to feed their young; then arose a deafening chorus of shrill cries as the awkward younglings stood up in the nests with wide open mouths uttering their calls of hunger. Soon after noon the old birds departed again to return about sunset, when they came in such dense flocks as to darken the woods. All night long the sound of breaking branches caused by overloading the roosts, and the whir and flutter of falling birds trying to regain their foothold, disturbed the usual silence of the forest.
As the annual nesting of the pigeons was a matter of great importance to the Indians, who depended largely upon the supply of food thus obtained, runners carried the news to every part of the Seneca territory, and the inhabitants, singly and in bands, came from as far east as Seneca Lake and as far north as Lake Ontario. Within a few days several hundred men, women and children gathered in the locality of the pigeon woods. Among those who came were a dozen or more captive whites, with several of whom Jones had some acquaintances. One of these captives, a Dutchman named Smith Houser, was a simple-minded fellow whom Jones had befriended on various occasions, thus winning his friendship. For their temporary accommodation the people erected habitations of a primitive style, consisting mainly of huts constructed by setting up two crotched stakes on top of which a pole was laid. Other poles were placed against the ridge, three or four on each side, with the lower ends resting on the ground. One or two poles were then tied across the others parallel with the ridge-pole and to these were fastened long over-lapping sheets of bark forming tent-shaped huts with one open end that was closed at night by curtains of skins and blankets. This form of cabin was easily erected in a short time, and afforded a fair shelter to the occupants during the brief period of their stay.
The Indians cut down the roosting trees to secure the birds, and each day thousands of squabs were killed. Fires were made in front of the cabins and bunches of the dressed birds were suspended on poles sustained by crotched sticks, to dry in the heat and the smoke. When properly cured they were packed in bags or baskets for transportation to the home towns. It was a festival season for the red men and even the meanest dog in camp had his fill of pigeon meat.
In addition to the families at the pigeon woods, forty warriors on their way from Fort Niagara southward, halted there for a few days to enjoy the sport and obtain a supply of cured birds for food on their journey.
Upon his return to Northumberland after the massacre of Mohawk's band, Moses Van Campen reentered the service as lieutenant in a company commanded by Capt. Thomas Robinson. On the 16th of April, 1782, while out on Bald Eagle Creek with twenty-five men, Van Campen was attacked by eighty-five Indians under Hudson and Shongo, assisted by Lieut. Nelles and a platoon of Butler's Rangers. Nine of Van Campen's men were killed, three escaped, and the rest, including Van Campen, surrendered to Nelles. The savages then began to murder the wounded prisoners, killed two and assaulted a third, when Van Campen interfered and struck a warrior a blow that knocked him senseless. Some of the Indians at once attacked the lieutenant, but others who admired his courageous act interposed to save him; a terrible struggle took place between the two factions; the admirers of Van Campen saved his life.
The surviving soldiers were stripped of all clothing but their pantaloons. Van Campen's commission containing his name and rank was in a silken case suspended from his neck by a ribbon. The Indians secured the case and tore off the ribbon but as none of them could read and neither Nelles nor his men happened to see it, it was left upon the ground, so none of the party was aware that their long-looked-for enemy was in custody. Placing heavy packs of plunder upon the prisoners, the savages crossed the Susquehanna at Big Island, made their way across the hills to Pine Creek above the first fork, which they followed up to the third fork, took the most northerly branch to its head, crossed the Genesee, and in two days' journey down that stream arrived at the pigeon woods, where they camped a short distance from the huts of the Indians with whom was Horatio Jones. The prisoners were naked, except their pantaloons, but Van Campen had in addition an old blanket given him by one of the warriors. His name was still unknown to his captors, but the band had scarcely halted before he noticed that the attention of all the people was upon himself. He was soon taken to the camp of the outgoing war-party for examination.
"Upon coming up to the warriors," says Hubbard, "Van Campen was made to sit on one side of the fire between the rows of cabins where he could be seen by all who wished to gratify their pride or curiosity in beholding him as a trophy of their awful warfare. But he was no less curious than they in surveying the forms that met his eyes, for he was interested in knowing whether among those that were before him there could be the Indian with whom he had a severe encounter when making his escape in April, 1780; yet he nowhere saw anything of the warrior Mohawk and he began to feel a little more at ease."
Upon the arrival at the pigeon woods of Nelles and his party, with Van Campen and his men, Jones was at a distance and while coming leisurely to camp ran upon Houser, who was talking aloud to himself in an excited and unguarded manner: "Vot for dot Van Camp vot killed the Injuns comes among us! Now we'll all be burnt every tarn bugger of us. Yes, we will, dots vot, oney way!"
''Tut, tut," said Jones, in a low voice. "What's the matter, Houser?"
"Vy, Van Camp what killed the Injuns is here and we'll all be burnt to the stake, so sure as my gun was a firelock, oney vay!"
"Stop, stop," said Horatio, looking cautiously about to see if others were near. "How do you know that the man who killed the Indians is here?"
Houser answered that a party had just come in with prisoners, that he went to see the captives and recognized one as an old acquaintance named Elisha Hunt. That he spoke to "Lish," who said that he belonged to Van Campen's company and that that officer was now among the prisoners. Jones was astonished at the information. He was familiar with the story of Van Campen's marvelous escape and by direction of the chiefs had occasionally asked questions of prisoners regarding the redoubtable frontiersman, but of late the topic had not been mentioned. As he stood a moment in deep thought, Houser said: "Dat's Lish Hunt vot stands by der dree yonder," at the same time pointing to one of the groups of prisoners, surrounded by men, women and children, all staring at the wretched militiamen.
"See here, Houser," said Horatio, with an earnestness that startled the Dutchman, "Don't you stir a foot nor speak a word till I come back." Then he walked over to the group and approached Hunt, who was a little apart from his comrades. There was nothing in the appearance of Jones to distinguish him from the Indians about him. He was clad in full Indian costume and his bronzed features were about as dark as the faces of many of his red associates. Without seeming to notice the soldier he spoke to the latter in a low voice.
"Elisha Hunt, if you men do not wish to be burned alive at once, do not tell any one of the name of your captain. Caution your comrades."
Before the militiaman could speak, Jones disappeared in the crowd, then returned to Houser. The latter was in great fear and Horatio purposely increased his distress. "I don't believe the man who killed the Indians is here, Houser," he said, "but if our people once get that idea in their heads they will surely kill us all. Now if anyone speaks to you about these men you must lie like the deuce, and stick to it too, or you will be tortured to death by fire; you keep close to me where I can see you every moment, and when the Indians ask you any questions answer 'Te-qua' ("I don't know")## and do not speak another word; and Houser," continued Jones, stepping close to the Dutchman and speaking in a stern tone that caused the unhappy fellow to start as though struck by a blow, "If you ever tell a person of this conversation I will kill you." The desired effect was produced upon the simple-minded man, who promised strictly to obey Jones in every particular. This incident had occupied but a short time and without attracting the attention of others, and Horatio, closely followed by Houser, proceeded directly to the camp where "the man who killed the Indians" had previously been taken.
"During the time Van Campen was sitting by the fire," continues his biographer, "the warriors were standing in a group not far distant, engaged in earnest conversation, the subject of which he supposed to be himself. Presently the conversation ceased, the crowd opened and a person of noble proportions came slowly forth. In color and garb he was an Indian, but these were all that gave him claim to be a savage warrior. He came to Van Campen and commenced questioning him concerning that part of the frontier from which he had been taken, inquired about the number and condition of the inhabitants, the manner in which they were defended, the number and vigilance of their scouts, etc." "The captive officer gave correct answers to all of these questions except the one respecting the strength of the force guarding the settlements; this he represented as being much greater than it was, to discourage them, if possible, from visiting the frontier. He said the country about Northumberland was very strongly garrisoned with troops and that large numbers of scouts were sent in every direction to discover and waylay any Indians who might be sent against them. He was next directed to mark out with a coal, upon a piece of bark, the course of streams emptying into the Susquehanna, the situation of forts and the paths pursued by scouts. In marking down the courses of streams and the location of the forts Van Campen observed accuracy of statement for he knew that the Indians were as well acquainted as himself with these matters. He expected that his exactness in this would lead them to give more credit to that part of his story in which he desired to exaggerate. Executing his work promptly and correctly he showed them on his little bark map the situation of the forts and routes of the scouting parties, again giving them a very large idea of the number of soldiers and preparations of the settlers to receive an attack." In the questions asked him Van Campen observed that the subject of his identity was not broached. This fact was not surprising as it was a custom of the Indians never to inquire the name of a person of himself. When the examination was ended a chief asked the interpreter if he knew of the officer. He threw a careless glance at Van Campen and replied in an indifferent manner, "I never saw the man before." Houser was standing near watching the proceedings. At that instant Jones caught the eye of the Dutchman and the latter blubbered out "Te-qua, te-qua." His distress was so evident and his weakness so well understood that the warriors laughed at his needless fears. Every other white captive was called forward to look at the prisoner. Fortunately all were strangers and unable to identify him. "Immediately after the examination," says Hubbard, "the Indian interpreter by whom Van Campen had been questioned, came up to him and said in a rather low voice, ‘There is only one besides myself in this company that knows anything about you.' Van Campen replied rather sternly, 'And what do you know about me, sir?' 'Why, you are the man who killed the Indians!' Van Campen's thoughts were then turned to the fire and tomahawk, supposing that since he was known he would certainly fall a victim to savage barbarity. He enquired the name of the one who was standing by his side and was answered 'Horatio Jones.' The interpreter then spoke, 'Do not be discouraged, sir, for I too am a prisoner and a white man in blood and sympathy. You can be assured of my silence and friendship.' Van Campen quickly looked up; stern warrior that he was, the moisture came to his eyes as he exclaimed with heartfelt fervor, ‘Those are the sweetest words I ever heard spoken.' As the interpreter gave renewed assurances of secrecy promising to use his influence in behalf of the other prisoners, Van Campen felt his courage revive. Jones told him that the Tories and Indians were well informed concerning the destruction of Mohawk's men and the slightest suspicion of his identity would certainly result in his torture. If he could pass through to Niagara undiscovered and be consigned to the British there was hope for him, otherwise there was none. He must trust in Providence and be brave."
This language and the earnest manner of the interpreter inspired Van Campen with the belief that he was in the presence of a friend in whom he could repose perfect confidence. Yet he was not then aware of the extent of his obligations to Jones, nor of the decided action the latter had taken to suppress the report of his presence in camp; a fact that he soon after learned of Elisha Hunt.
The party remained at the pigeon woods only two days, their departure being hastened through some stratagem of Jones, known only to himself. During that time he was cautious in his communications with the prisoners lest his actions arouse suspicion; yet he managed to hold considerable conversation with Van Campen who parted from him with deep emotion. "Under Providence, Sir," he said, wringing Horatio's brown hand, "I owe my life to you, and so long as I live I shall bear your kindness in earnest remembrance."
Continuing down the Genesee to Caneadea Van Campen and all his men were then compelled to run the gauntlet to the same house where so many others had sought refuge in similar trials. Caneadea being the home village of the expedition the prisoners were divided there. Elisha Hunt and one or two others were taken by their captors to Little Beard's Town. The warriors claiming Van Campen under escort of Nelles and his rangers, took the trail to Niagara where the American officer was delivered to the British.
Jones remained at the pigeon woods with the company from Cornplanter's settlement and part of the war-party lingered engaged in the sport of catching pigeons. One day an Indian, travel-stained and exhausted arrived in camp. The warriors were hastily summoned to his presence and recognized the brave chieftain Mohawk. He informed them that while on an expedition near Bald Eagle Creek he had learned of the defeat of Van Campen's company and the capture of that officer and several of his men. Leaving his own band Mohawk started on the trail of Nelles and with the briefest possible stops for food and rest had followed the party to the pigeon woods.
Standing up before the astonished warriors Mohawk related the thrilling story of the massacre, described the struggle between Van Campen and himself, and striding back and forth like a caged tiger, his black eyes glowing with anger, he tore the blanket from his back, pointed to a deep scar in his left shoulder saying, "This was made by Van Campen with my own ax and this"—holding a tomahawk up to view—"is the weapon." The warriors were greatly enraged at Mohawk's recital and furious on learning that the man they so fervently hated had passed safely through their hands. Their first thought was that he could have escaped detection only by the assistance of some one among themselves. As communication with Van Campen had been held mainly through Jones, the latter was brought before the chiefs and sternly questioned regarding his knowledge of the prisoners. As he saw the glowering faces about him his heart grew heavy and he fully believed he was doomed to death. Knowing the general good feeling of the people towards himself and their confidence in his word he determined to face the matter boldly and not make a direct reply unless forced to a positive answer. "You were all present when the prisoner was examined and heard the talk," said he quietly. "I told you what the man said and you heard it." "But did you not know that the officer you examined was Van Campen who murdered our brothers?" they said. "How should I know?" retorted Jones with an air of surprise. "I never heard of Van Campen until after I came among you, now going on two summers; and I told you truly at the time the man was examined that I had never seen him before. How should I know any better than you who the prisoner might be? Did any of you think to ask the officer his name? If I had known Van Campen do you think I would now tell and have you kill me? Do you want me to lie?" Pausing a moment to observe the effect of his words Horatio proceeded to greater lengths. Straightening up and looking the chiefs full in the face with the manner and tone those who knew him feared he demanded, "Who says I knew the prisoner?" Captive though he was Jones' reputation as one not only physically able to defend himself but also as one who never hesitated to swiftly avenge an insult, now aided him greatly. His calm manner and determined attitude silenced all open expression regarding his knowledge of the prisoner. If not entirely satisfied the Indians were prompt to announce their confidence in his integrity. "Hoc-sa-go-wah speaks like a man," said the head chief. "His tongue is not forked; his words are full of reason. How should he know Van Campen any better than we? Hah-ne-go-ate-geh *** placed a spell before our eyes." Fleet runners were sent to Caneadea and others sent on the north-western trail with instructions to bring Van Campen back to the Genesee. The messengers reached Niagara only to learn that the object of their hatred was safe within the walls of the fortress and that Col. Butler had adopted him into his own family.
The news spread through all the Indian camps. They assembled in large numbers about the fort and offered to exchange fourteen other white captives, then held in the Genesee towns, for Van Campen. Col. Butler refused the offer and sent Van Campen to Montreal where he was exchanged.
Mohawk was too exhausted by his forced march from the Susquehanna to the Genesee to proceed farther than the pigeon woods. There he remained in camp several days awaiting news from the runners sent to Niagara. Jones talked with the chief regarding his struggle with Van Campen, obtained his version of the affair and ingratiated himself into Mohawk's good graces. The tomahawk that had borne so fearful a part in the massacre possessed a peculiar fascination for the interpreter and as the handle was broken he finally induced Mohawk to sell it. The weapon was of French manufacture, had been obtained by Mohawk in the old French war and carried through many a bloody fray. Unlike the usual form of Indian belt axes it was of the knife blade pattern. The top was hollow forming the bowl of a pipe and the handle bored to serve as a stem. Jones replaced the handle with a new one and thereafter the noted war ax adorned his own belt.+++
No further reference was made to the part taken by Jones at the examination of Van Campen and the interpreter congratulated himself upon his success in evading the questions addressed to himself; but the Indians determined to test his sincerity in a manner wholly unexpected. To his astonishment they proposed that he accompany the outgoing expedition to the Susquehanna. Horatio fully understood the reason of the proposition and as he had decided to remain with the Indians he was pleased with the opportunity to demonstrate his loyalty to them, and what was of greater importance in his view, the probable opportunity to assist such of his countrymen as might fall into the hands of the savages. With the concurrence of his family he promptly accepted the proposal and joined the ranks of the war party.
XVI. Anecdotes—Death of Horatio Jones.
From the restoration of peace in Western New York until the end of his life Horatio Jones lived in comfort, though frequently called from home to serve as interpreter. He was welcomed wherever he went. At his own home he was ever a cordial host, to his Indian friends as well as to his white neighbors. There are many family traditions of these visits. Old Judy, and her husband, Tom Cayuga, a relative of the Jemisons, were warm friends of Horatio Jones, and often camped at Sweet Briar. But no friend had a warmer welcome than Moses Van Campen. Once a year the veteran came to visit Capt. Jones, and once a year the Captain journeyed to Dansville to see Van Campen. It is told that "the two old friends would sit down on the steps of the old Eagle tavern, drink grog and recall reminiscences of their early forest life, while crowds of friends gathered round to listen."+++
Horatio Jones died at Sweet Briar farm, near Geneseo, September 18, 1836, aged 72 years and 9 months. Five days later the Livingston Republican contained a sketch of his career, in which occurs the following just tribute:
"Possessed of uncommon mental vigor and quick perception, he was enabled to form a just estimate of character and determine with readiness the springs of human action and thus made himself useful to the early settlers of the valley as well as to the Indians. His bravery, physical energy and decision gave him great control over the Indians, and the perfect confidence they reposed in him afforded him the opportunity of rendering invaluable aid to the General Government in our subsequent treaties with the northern and western tribes. This confidence was never betrayed. ... In the full possession of his mental faculties until the last moment of his life, he has gone down to his grave full of years and with a character above reproach." He is buried in Temple Hill Cemetery, Geneseo, where a monument bears a simple inscription to his memory, and also to Elizabeth, his last wife, who died March 4, 1844, aged 66 years.
His grave stone at Geneseo, New York, bears the following inscriptions: "Horatio Jones, Died August 18, 1836, aged 72 years and 9 months." On another side: "H. J. Esq. Honored in life, lamented in death."
"The patriot whose dust endears this spot,
In boyhood for a bleeding country fought,
Thus early in the cause of truth embarked,
By kind ennobling deeds his life was marked.
Age could not dim the sunshine of his breast—
Beloved the most by those who knew him best.
Such men have hearts for tablets when the bust,
Triumphal arch and obelisk are dust."
* "Life of Moses Van Campen" by J. N. Hubbard, B. A., Dansville, N. Y., 1843; revised and re-published at Fillmore, N. Y., in 1893 by John S. Minard; Also "Petition of Van Campen to Congress" with affidavits of Horatio Jones; Bates' "History of Columbia Co., Pa.," by C. F. Hill, Hazelton, Pa.; Stone's *'Life of Brant," Sims' "History of Schoharie Co." and "Pioneers of the Genesee Valley."
† The earliest form of this name that we find is "Witmer"; it was so spelled by the emigrant from Switzerland who reached Philadelphia in 1733. It has since had various forms. Mr. Harris usually wrote "Whitmoyer," as it is Ru-en in many records; the more modern form, "Whitmore," is used by Sarah Whitmore's granddaughter, Mrs. Sarah E. Gunn, in her narrative of the captivity, printed later on in this volume.
# "Hubbard's "Life of Van Campen," Stone's "Life of Brant," "Annals of Binghamton" by J. B. Wilkinson, and statements to the writer by Asa P. Bovier of Elmira, a grandson of Hammond. While at a treaty at Elmira in 1790 Hammond saw the Indian whom he wounded with the tomahawk at Wyoming. Several years later Hammond gave the sword to Col. John Boyd, the former commander and fellow captive of Horatio Jones.
** The following day a party of rangers visited the ruins and buried the dead; the graves on the old road from Jerseytown to Washingtonville being still pointed out by descendants of the early settlers. Three days later some friends searched the sugar bush and discovered the two girls safe in their place of concealment.
†† For an account of her captivity, see the narrative by Mrs. S. E. Gunn. a great-granddaughter of Sarah Whitmoyer and Horatio Jones, in this volume.
## Allen's narrative.
*** The evil-minded spirit.
††† MS. memorandum among Mr. Harris's papers. H. C. Sedgwick of Dansville, N. Y., has described his emotions as a boy on seeing Captain Horatio Jones and Major Moses Van Campen riding together in a carriage heading a Fourth of July parade.