Washington County Genealogy PAGenWeb Project

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The Washington Observer Article from 22 October 1880
Contributed by Deborah Grant

A Pale Face Redskin

The Story of the Capture of David Boyd, Near Carlisle, 
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 attacks.

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 age.

ON page 2 the following was found,

James Boyd.

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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