JTRs Colorful Families

BRANSON'S CLOSE CALL

The following Branson tale was told in "Chronology of the Beals Family" by John Beals, but it was written by Gersham Perdue. Another source names John Branson as the young, captured Quaker. In 1780, a Thomas Branson is granted a certificate to travel with Rev. Thomas Beals in the Ohio territory. I would assume there is a connection between the two (possibly John is the son of Thomas). Please let me know if you or others can identify the Branson clan he came from.


In about the year 1781, while Thomas Beals was living at Blue Stone, Giles Co., Virginia, there was a company of six or seven men, connection of Thomas Beals, his son-in-law, James Horton, and a young man by the name of Branson were among the hunters who were camped out towards the Ohio River. A squad of hostile Indians attacked them and the hunters scattered and ran, each man for himself. Horton had rheumatism and did not go far until he went into some thick underbrush and as Branson came by Horton raised his gun to shoot an old Indian chief, but missed fired. He then said to Branson, "You're not going to leave me, are you?" He said "No," and stopped. The chief came up and took them both prisoners.

They were not allowed to see each other after their capture. James Horton was taken to Old Chillicothe, now Frankfort, Ohio, and there put to death. Young Branson was taken further north and ordered burned to death; but the old chief stopped it after the dry splinters and wood were prepared for the execution. The dry splinters were to stick in the flesh, so they would cook the flesh before death, but the old chief, whose prisoner he was, appealed to a higher council and he was taken further north and the council ordered him put to death by shooting. He was tied to a tree to be shot; the chief then appealed to a council of chiefs. He was then taken to the shores of Lake Erie and there ordered put to death.

The old chief, who had been befriending him, said he could do nothing more for him, but if he would look at his feet that night after all was still he would see something bright and if he got loose to meet him at a certain large tree outside the camp.

Branson's hands were tied together, also his feet and he was tied between two braves with leather thongs. After all was still, he looked at his feet and saw a knife. He worked his hands and got hold of the knife. He cut his hands loose first, then cut himself loose from the two braves, crawled out of the camp, got to his feet and went to the tree designated. There he found the old chief, who had Branson's gun and all that he had when captured, also a sack of provisions. The chief told him to go towards the moon (for it was nearly in the south) until he struck a branch, then to follow it until it came to a larger one, then follow it until it came to a large river and follow it home.

Branson followed his directions and reached home. His folks did not recognize him at first, but after a few hours they recognized him but he was broken down in health and mind. He had been a prisoner three years and had been prepared for execution twice and ordered for the third time. He only lived a few years after his return.

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