And we come to the end . . .

Now let's leave Mary in these appalling circumstances, and find James, the brother whom the Shawnees kidnapped on Sept. 7, 1784. Mary's life depends on him, so let's pull him off the pages of history, and get him into this story. We'll begin with James' own account: His father sent him to the Poage property, which had been abandoned because of Shawnee raids, to catch a horse. It was his regularly scheduled task to take their home-grown wheat 12 miles to the mill, have it ground and return with the flour, often arriving long after dark.

James says that before he had walked half the distance to the Poage place, an overpowering sense of dread enveloped him. He wanted desperately to turn and run home, but he knew his father would not accept his fear as adequate reason for failing to get the needed flour. As he
approached the field where the horses were kept, three Shawnees, one adult and two teens, sprang from hiding.

Suddenly, James understood the dread that had pervaded his being.

He says he screamed with all his might, causing the Shawnee man to put his hand on his head and warn him, in Shawnee, to be still. I will let James report his own reaction: (Remember, James had not experienced a ruthless slaughter such as was to be perpetrated on his family two years later, so he reacted differently than he would had he been kidnapped after a bloody attack.) He said he spoke aloud, saying, "It is an Indian, why need I be scared?" and I (James) said to myself, "All that is in it is, I will have to go to the Shawanee (He spells this name differently than others.) towns." In that instant James became the slave of Black Wolf, a middle-aged Shawnee warrior. Black Wolf ordered James to catch the horses, but he failed, the horses being spooked by the presence of the Shawnees. Failing to get mounts, the four left immediately, on foot, for the Shawnee towns. The two Indian youths walked first in line, James second, and Black Wolf last.

Though he was barefoot, James tried to leave a trail for rescuers, but Black Wolf repeatedly removed all sign and, finally threatening him, made him abandon his efforts. They slept without a fire though it was rainy and cold, with James tied to Black Wolf by a rope around his neck.
The relationship between James and his captors was astonishing; he was a slave, but he didn't hesitate to stand up for himself. Black Wolf's trip was a slaving expedition, with the hope of stealing some of the settlers' horses, and James seems to have known that he was not to be killed.

Whatever the reason, he was a pretty brassy kid, as we will see by the following:

On the second day, Black Wolf went into the brush and brought out a dutch oven. He made James carry it, fastened to his back, which James decided was too uncomfortable. Shortly, he set the oven down and refused to carry it further. Black Wolf put down his own pack and ordered James to carry that instead; James tried, but couldn't even pick it up. He says that softened him a little, and slightly humbled, he picked up the oven, put it on his head and moved on.

That night it rained again, and Black Wolf's 18 year-old son took James' hat off his head; James grabbed it and punched the boy in the stomach. The boy then spoke to James in signs, explaining that he wanted to cover the "gunlock" of the rifle with the hat. James let him have the
hat, which the boy promptly returned the following morning. On the third day the Shawnees killed a bear but didn't eat it, because it was so lean. They went several days without food, only drinking a tea made of poplar bark, taken from the north side of the tree. James says it helped the hunger pangs.

On the fourth day they killed a buffalo, cut up the stomach and cooking it with a little meat, ate the stomach, leaving the meat. James says the Shawnees never ate meat after they had fasted. Leaving the rest of the buffalo untouched, they moved on. Several days later, they killed
a cow buffalo and cooked as much meat as they could carry.

Sometime during the trip, James was sent for water. Thinking he was hidden and having privacy to consider his circumstances, he burst into bitter sobs. When he returned Black Wolf, who had been watching him, instructed him never to cry again.

It took the party 22 days to reach the Ohio river. On arrival, James' captors carved pictures of three Shawnees and one white boy into a tree. These pictures were shown to James' mother and sisters two years later, when they were brought to the same place.

Nearing the Shawnee towns, his captors painted themselves black, leaving James unpainted. Had he been painted, James says it would have signified he was to be burned to death. Instead, Black Wolf sold James to his own half-sister, for an old gray horse. James' Mistress was kind to him, and left him completely alone at first, during which time he says he, in his extremity, began to follow his father's pattern of earnest prayer.

His Mistress' husband was a member of a religious society James calls the Powwow. Only men of highest character were admitted into membership. Women were not only excluded, they weren't even allowed to come near the meeting place.

The husband attended a meeting of the Powwow, and upon his return, the look on his face alarmed his wife; she asked him what was wrong. He said the Great Spirit had spoken to them and pronounced judgements on the Shawnees for their wickedness. Three towns, including the
one they lived in, would be destroyed. The Great Spirit had also denounced their wealth, pride and laziness, saying that brotherly love had departed from them. He said that she, his wife, would be humbled because of her pride in her riches. (James says, "She was so rich that she could clothe herself in garments so full of silver broaches that they would almost stand alone.")
These predictions were all fulfilled within three years.

We already know of the burning of the three towns because that was the cause of Mary's being in Canada. Let's observe the fulfillment of the other prediction: James was taken to a dance by his Mistress where he met a French trader named Baptiste Ariome. Monsieur Ariome bought
James because he resembled his own sons. He and his good wife treated him with love and kindness, becoming his parents in fact, if not in blood. (Although they actually owned him, they encouraged him to strive to return home.)

While James lived with them, his past Mistress, reduced to starvation, came begging for bread, which Mrs. Ariome gave her. She had, indeed, been humbled, as the Great Spirit had decreed. At the previously mentioned dance, James met a Mr. Sherlock, by whom he sent a message to
his father.

An incident occurred during James' time with the Ariome's, proving that boys will be boys:

Monsieur Ariome took him on trading trips. On one trip, four young Indians (no tribe mentioned) boasted of their bravery, declaring,

"One Indian could whip four white men."

James says, "This provoked me, and I told them that I could whip all four of them myself. They immediately attacked me; but Mr Ariome hearing the noise came and took me away." Monsieur
Ariome probably saved James from a beaut of a whipping. On another trading trip in the summer of 1786, James was told by a Shawnee acquaintance of the massacre of his family. He learned that Mary was still alive, but a captive. The Shawnee acquaintance had been one of the
raiding party.

In the winter of 1788-89, James heard of his sister's being sold to Stogwell, whom he describes him as a man of foul reputation. The following spring Stogwell moved closer to where James lived, and finally, James was able to visit his beloved little sister. He says of her, "I found her in a
most abject condition, almost naked, clothed in a few dirty, tattered rags, an object of pity indeed."

He went to the commanding officer at Detroit, informing him of Mary's treatment and condition. A Colonel McKee had Stogwell brought to trial, but was unsuccessful in getting Mary freed. (Remember, slavery was legal.)

Strangely, it was decided that if an opportunity to return home should arise, she would be released without cost. Martha Ivans' brother, Thomas, searching for Martha and any surviving Moores, traveled to the Shawnees and, doggedly following the three year old trail, finally found the three. According to arrangement, Mary was released and the four headed home. The trip was extremely dangerous, so they traveled with friendly Indians, a necessary protection against a large party of unfriendly Indians. On the trip Mary lost the Bible that had been her comfort
throughout her period of bondage. Her distress was so great that she begged to be allowed to return for it but was denied, the danger being too extreme.

Mary Moore eventually married a Rev. Samuel Brown, and bore him 11 children. Her husband adored, indeed, revered her, as did her children, all of whom honored her by the lives they lived. She was beloved of all for her sweetness and compassion, for her unwavering goodness and her unfailing and unrestrained love for her fellow man.

She, who had been so hideously abused, could have chosen a life of dissipation, indulging in alcohol and promiscuous sex, conveniently blaming her behavior on her horrifying experiences, but she didn't. She could have fomented a massacre of the Cherokees for burning her mother and sister at the stake, but she didn't. She could have instigated a campaign against the Shawnees for killing her father, three brothers and two sisters, but she didn't. She, who had been enslaved, could have indulged in terrorism in an effort to end slavery, but she didn't. She could have sought retribution from Stogwell for treating her far worse than her Indian captors had, but she didn't.

How do I, a stranger, know she was a noble lady? Though we have rejected it, it can and will extract its pound of flesh in self-hatred, as it has with Madonna.

Return to the Neighborhood!


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1 comments:

    Candace E. Salima said...

    It's really interesting to learn about Mary Moore and the strength of character and courage she showed in the most severe of consequences. I cannot imagine the trauma, sorrow and pain she endured and to have triumphed over that is truly amazing. Thanks for sharing about her.

  1. ... on May 12, 2008 at 7:41 PM