And the saga continues . . .

It was early morning and James had two helpers cutting wheat, while he gave his horses their daily salt. John Simpson was lying in the loft of the cabin, too sick to work. Margaret was fixing breakfast; two of the children, Rebecca and William, were returning from the spring with the morning's supply of water.

With a shout, two raiding parties of Indians burst into view. One party headed for the house, and the other rushed to the field where the men were working. The first party shot Rebecca and William, approximately 7 and 5 years old, as they returned from the spring, after which they shot little Alexander, about 3 years old, near the house.

Mary ran into the house, and Margaret and Martha Ivans, a young member of the Moore's extended family, barred the door. James, running from the field toward the house, was shot seven times. The two men harvesting wheat, seeing what was happening, escaped unharmed and initiated the rescue effort.

Martha Ivans grabbed two of the guns and ran upstairs to get John Simpson to help defend the cabin. Unfortunately, he was already dead, having been accidentally killed by a raider's bullet. The family's two dogs ferociously defended the cabin until they were shot.

Martha Ivans and Mary hid under the floor with the tiny baby, Margaret, but the baby cried so hysterically that it was impossible to remain hidden. Mary had the choice of placing the baby on the floor and returning to her hiding place, or leaving Martha Ivans alone under the house and facing sure death at the hands of the Indian warriors.

Unable to abandon her baby sister, she chose the latter. The warriors began chopping the door and threatening to burn the cabin. (Whether they spoke English is not mentioned, but many Indians did. At any rate, the family understood everything they said.) Margaret, knowing that her guard dogs, John Simpson, her beloved husband and three of their children were already dead, collected her four remaining children (Joseph was away at school) around her. Kneeling to pray, she committed them to God, then rising, unbarred the door.

The Shawnees took Margaret Poage Moore and her children, John, Jane, Mary and baby Margaret, captive. After plundering the buildings, they burned the house. Martha Ivans, Mary's cousin, who was hiding under the house, crawled away to escape the flames. Thinking she had been seen, she arose and allowed herself to be taken captive by an astonished warrior. Captors and captives left immediately on a long march to the Shawnee towns in Ohio. The raiders, hurrying their captives, killed John who was too feeble to travel quickly.

During the trip they told Margaret her husband, who had been shot and scalped, would have survived had he run away, but, "His affection for his family was stronger than his desire for personal safety. He was a brave and tenderhearted man and would not desert his family to save
himself from a danger his perseverance and daring had brought upon them all."

Each captive spent the night tied to a warrior, who slept with tomahawk in hand. Their intent was to kill the captives, rather than allow them to be retaken by the rescue party, but the march was so rapid the rescuers failed to catch them.

On the third day, baby Margaret, whose neck had been injured in the attack, began to fuss. The Indians had taken turns helping Margaret and her daughters and Martha Ivans carry the baby, but her crying irritated one of the raiders, and grabbing the infant, he dashed her head against a tree and threw her into the bushes. Margaret, Jane, Mary and Martha stoically continued their march.

After twenty days of hurried travel they reached the Scioto river. Margaret's captors showed her what she called hieroglyphics carved into a tree, representing three Indians and a captive white boy. They told her it was her son, James, whom they had captured two years before, and that he was still a captive.

The prisoners reached an Indian town where they received kind treatment. They arrived in time to hear a tribal elder making a lengthy speech to the warriors in an attempt to persuade them to cease their bloodthirsty acts of war, but his pleas were being ignored. The elders, having lost control of their society, were no longer able to restrain the younger men's lust for blood.

The elderly gentleman took young Mary to his wigwam, where he treated her with great kindness (and saved her life, as it turned out). He appeared to feel great distress over the terrible things she and her family had suffered. As time went by, he often asked Mary to read to him from her Bible (she had brought two Bibles, but the warriors had taken one from her). He seemed to find great joy in her reading.

Shortly, a party of Cherokees stopped by the Shawnee town. Having been on an unsuccessful raid, and seeing Margaret and her daughter, Jane, they decided to take revenge on these two whites for the deaths of their warriors during their raid. The Shawnees were lax in the care of their captives because they were indulging in drunken partying, and it cost Margaret and Jane their lives.

I am going to quote the record word for word at this point. The story is so terrible that I have great difficulty abridging it, as I have been doing: "The Cherokees seized mother and daughter, condemned them to 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 Indians. The Shawnees never approved of this gratuitous act of cruelty and always expressed unwillingness to converse about the circumstances, charging the deaths upon the Cherokees. They evidently felt dishonored by the deed." Although the Shawnees readily committed extremely gruesome murders, they felt oddly shamed when the Cherokees tortured and burned Margaret Moore and her daughter, Jane, to death. The record doesn't say whether the young warriors felt shamed or whether that reaction was reserved to the elder statesmen. We do know from the record that the tribal elders had lost their influence over the younger men, and the resulting cost in lives, both white and Shawnee, was terrible.

To be continued . . .

Return to the Neighborhood!

This entry was posted on 8:00 AM and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.