Washington County Genealogy PAGenWeb Project
The Washington Observer Article from 22 October
Contributed by Deborah Grant
A Pale Face Redskin
The Story of the Capture of David Boyd, Near
and His Release After the Attack on Fort Duquesne.
We publish elsewhere in this issue an obituary of James Boyd, better
known as "Uncle Jimmy Boyd," of Independence township.
Interesting and eventful as was his long life - 99 years- his father,
David Boyd, had a still more remarkable one, and appreciating the fact
that the readers of this paper are deeply concerned in the history of the
early pioneers of Western Pennsylvania, we append a brief sketch of the
elder Boyd. In the year 1764, two cabins stood in the woods near where
Carlisle, Cumberland county now stands. They were the dwelling places of
John Stewart and John Boyd and families, and were upwards of a mile apart.
One day John Boyd was at the house of the Stewarts when marauding Indians
burned the cabin. He hurried home to give the alarm when he discovered his
own cabin in ashes, and his wife and three children, 2 boys and a girl-
missing. The red devils had annihilated the happy home he left a few hours
before. It would appear that two Indians strangled from the band which
burned Stewart's house, and surprised David and his brother, while they
were gathering bark, not far distant from the house, and with raised
tomahawks, frightened them into quietude, They then entered the cabin,
helped the" next few words illegible" what they want"
unlivable few words. It wasn't. The mother was not in a condition to
travel and the murderous fiends too her into a thicket, a short distance
from the house and butchered her. David was between six and seven years of
age, and he not only witnessed the tragedy, but the Indians compelled him
to carry the scalp of his loving and affectionate mother. He never forgot
the circumstance. It was burned into his heart. He never saw his brother
and sister after the murder of his mother, nor did the relatives ever get
a trail of them. The Indians parted after the massacre of Mrs. Boyd, David
going with one squad, and the brother and sister with another delegation.
The next thing the youthful prisoner recalled was the "Indian
Camp," where all manner of indignities were heaped upon him by the
"young braves." Running the gauntlet was one of the favorite
pastimes of the braves, and he had to go through it every morning. He soon
discovered that one of the Indian boys, in particular, laid the blows
unusually heavy, and was bent on punishing him. He was very savage in his
Smarting with pain as well as the indignity the young David resolved
that if the Indian lad continued his malicious attacks he would stop and
knock him down, and one morning he executed his design, sending the little
redskin head over heels in a twinkling. Instantly there was hilarity in
Choctaw, and the chiefs, with raised tomahawks , ejaculated, "Pale
face make good Indian." This circumstance, unexpectedly to David,
ended his gauntlet experience, and from that time forward he became a
favorite with old and young of the band.
One of the Indian chiefs, an aged man, who had lost a son by death,
agreed to adopt David Boyd. He accordingly had his head shaved until there
was only a tuft left on the top; then he was taken to a creek and ducked
three times - in order to wash out the white blood and introduce the
Indian blood, Meanwhile there were incantations and all sort of gibberish.
He was then dressed in an Indian suit and had all the privileges of the
wigwam and camp. He was in the redoubt erected by Col. Wm Grant. There
were about 73 Indians in the fort, and when they left it some of them went
up the Allegheny and others up the Monongahela river. He was with the
Indians for three years and six months and possibly would have remained
with them had it not been for the kind hearted old chief, who adopted him
as his son. Recognizing that age was creeping upon him and that he would
soon be called to the "happy hunting grounds," he resolved on
taking the lad to Cumberland county in order to ascertain if any of his
relatives were still living. He found some and delivered the lad into
their custody. David wept bitterly when he came to part with the old Chief
and would have returned with him, but the old Indian forbade it. In after
life he often referred to the redskin, and said when provender was low,
his Indian father would share his last bite with him. He lived for a while
near Carlisle, from which place he removed to what is now Washington
county, to a point three miles east of West Middletown, where old Uncle
Jimmy was born. The subject of this sketch was the grandfather of D.M.
Boyd Jr. Esq.,. merchant of West Middletown, who is now over 70 years of
ON page 2 the following was found,
Demise of a Washington County Farmer Aged 99 Years- sketch of the
Career of the Remarkable man.
James Boyd of Independence township died on Friday the 8 h inst. Mr.
Boyd was in his 99th year, having celebrated his 98th birthday in April or
May last. Up to within a period of three weeks he had been in
extraordinary health, and was one of the best posted and most intelligent
man of the county. It is thought he moved to Washington county about the
year 1805 and it is claimed he lived on the one farm for 75 years. It is
related of him that he was in Philadelphia during the war of 1812 and was
pressed into the service, his six-horse team being used in hauling cannon.
He remained in the service of the Government over three years, and made
enough money to pay for his team and farm in Washington county. He was
born in the year 1782, in Cumberland county. His first farm was about
three miles from West Middletown, in Independence township. He had a great
taste for horses. David Craig furnished him the money to buy the team,
which he used when he started wagoning, and this team he paid for in
silver on his return from the war of 1812. He first bought forty or fifty
acres of ground, and after some years sold it and bought a larger farm. He
was not brilliant, or quick but had good judgment, a clear memory and
robust health. Three weeks before he was taken sick he recalled events of
recent occurrence as vividly as he did those of seventy-five years ago,
showing that his mind was still unimpaired.
He was married three times and has nine children. The last time he was
married he was over eighty years of age. He never knew what "hard
times" meant, as his farm increased in value, and his granaries were
always well filled. He left considerable property, although poorer than
poor when he set out in life. In May or June he visited West Middletown
and on leaving the residence of D.M. Boyd, Jr., Esq,. his nephew, that
gentleman suggested that his horse be brought around to the stile. Old Mr.
Boyd laughed at the idea and jumped to the animal's back as spry as a
youth of 20. He could see to read without glasses, and was also an endless
talker- an encyclopedia of the early history of Washington county. He was
large, being over six feet high and built in proportion, weighed 230
pounds, perhaps, of fine appearance, genial temperament, sociable and
humorous, and a staunch Whig and Republican, never voted otherwise, but he
did not mingle in politics, except as to local elections. He was fond of
music and attended all the country singings of "Ye Olden Time,"
riding, horseback sometimes fifteen miles to participate in the frolic. He
sang bass, and had a voice not only musical but of great volume.
It is said of him that he never missed an election, and was very proud
when called to occupy a township office. He would entertain his friends
for hours with humorous anecdotes, incidents of pioneer life in the West
& c. In 1875 he said he could drive six horses as easy as one, and in
order to demonstrate the fact, jumped to the back of a horse with agility.
He was elder in the Presbyterian church of Upper Buffalo for nearly
fifty years. He was opposed to the use of the organ, and when he was
overruled and the organ introduced he withdrew. After two years the
instrument was taken out of the church and he returned and subsequently
consented to its use.
William McB. Perrin, Esq,. a member of the bar of Washington county,
with some friends, visited Mr. Boyd a few evenings before he died. He
became quite talkative and exacted a promise from the gentlemen that if he
was living on election day, if too feeble to be driven in a carriage to
the polls that he be carried there, in order that he might vote for Gen.
Garfield for President. He evidently anticipated his "next line and a
half unreadable" was quite weak and weary, how ever, but manifested a
desire to live to be 100 years old, but told his niece and daughters, who
were attending him that he "wanted to go home." He lived all his
life in Independence purchasing first a small farm, and adding to it as
his means allowed. Recently he removed to a large house up in the town of
independence, and when he talked of "going home," doubtless
meant the old farm where he lived for seventhly five years, and which was
so dear to him. He wanted to see the old place once more before he died,
but his wish was not gratified.
He has now gone to his last rest, and Washington county will mourn the
loss of one of the most remarkable men known in its history.
The funeral was over a mile in length and the officiating minister,
Rev. Mr. Hervey, was requested by Mr. Boyd, many years ago, to conduct the
funeral. The friendship existing between them was strong indeed, and was
only severed by death.
Our first page will be found quite an interesting sketch of Mr. Boyd's
father, David Boyd, who was captured by the Choctaw Indians near Carlisle,
in 1764, and lived among them for three years and a half.
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