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The following article was copied verbatim from the newspaper Cist's Weekly Advertiser, Vol 1, No. 13, Cincinnati, Tuesday, June 15, 1847, Page 1, Cols. 5 and 6, as follows:
TACKET'S FORT: An Historical Fact
The winds swept fitfully along the deep, narrow valley of Elk river, and howled mournfully as they tossed the giant branches of the mountain oak. The light of day had faded from the highest snow-clad peak of the Alleghanies. In a small cottage immediately upon the bank of the river, fifteen miles above its junction with the Great Kanawha, blazed a bright fire, around which was gathered a happy family, in which I was a guest.
Old age, with all its attendant infirmities was upon them. Their lives had been spent in the wilds of western Virginia, a place replete with bold adventure and hazardous enterprise. I select from their own lips, a single event and those immediately connected with it--the capture of Tacket's Fort.
In the month of January, 1789, the smoke of the white man's cabin arose for the first time, mid the forest trees that graced the beautiful valley of the Great Kanawha, immediately below the mouth of Coal river. The tide of emigration had come slowly down from"Camp Union," now Lewisburg, Va., having its entire course stained with blood until it reached "Fort Clendenin," now Charleston, where it was stayed for several years by the strong arms of Indian warriors, fighting bravely and desperately to retain possession of "the beautiful river of the woods," but the mandate had gone forth --
"On to the West, dark Indian, go!"
and, yielding to destiny, they slowly and sullenly retired, while in close proximity the "pale faces" followed, to spoil their temples and desecrate the graves of their fathers.
"In January, 1789," said Mrs. Young, "my father Lewis Tacket, and his brother Christopher with their families, settled at the mouth of the Coal river, and built what was called Tacket's Fort, a little in the rear of the present residence of Mr. John Capehart. This fort was a double log cabin, enclosed by a strong stockade, which was ordinarily a sufficient protection from the Indians. They were soon joined by others as fearless as themselves. And we numbered in fifteen months, seven families -- in all, thirty-one persons. The dense forest was gradually yielding to the axe--the wilderness was becoming a fruitful field; and long exemption from Indian excursions, had beguiled us into a degree of carelessness incompatible with our safety. On the 27th of March, 1790, my mother and brother Lewis, being in a field some distance from the fort, were seized and carried off by a party of Indians. Pursuit was made, but without success. They were carried to Huron, in Michigan, where my mother was purchased from her captor by a squaw who had known her when a girl, sent to Detroit and set at liberty. The officers at Detroit interested themselves for my brother, obtained his release, and sent them down the lake to Erie, whence they passed across the country to Camp Union, where they arrived early in September. News of their release had been brought to us at the fort, with the further determination that they would come from Erie to Pittsburg, and thence descend the Ohio river to Point Pleasant.
"My father and Charles Young left the fort on the 26th of August, and descended the Kanawha river to that place, for the purpose of bringing them home; but they had gone the other route. That day I became a joyful mother. As these were the only persons that had been taken by the Indians for a long time, and their release following soclose upon their captivity, it did not produce that circumspect vigilance which would have saved the fort. The people commenced building outside of the picket; and some of them (we among others) were living on Coal river, some distance from the fort. But we were not afraid. We thought that the war whoop would startle us no more. Alas! 'we know not what a day may bring forth.'
"The 27th of August, 1790, dawned upon the fort. The sun shone from an unclouded sky. The men were busy building a house on Coal river. John M'Elhany was sick in the fort, and my uncle, Christopher Tacket, was there to guard it. About 4 o'clock, p.m., some of the children were out on the bank of the Kanawha, playing ball, and my uncle was keeping tally for them. Some Indians, who had approached them under cover of the banks of the river, showed themselves but a few yards from the boys, and raised the terrible cry of their nation. Tacket and the boys fled with the utmost precipitation. He reached the gate; but waiting for the children to get in before he made it fast, the Indians rushed upon, and forced it open. He then started to the house, where he had left his gun; but was shot down and tomahawked in the yard, as were all the children.
"John M'Elhany, hearing the cry without, closed the door; but in doing it, had three of his fingers shot off. Unable to defend themselves, and the Indians promising protection if they would surrender, Mrs. M'Elhany prevailed with her son to open the door and admit them. There were in the fort, John M'Elhany, his mother, wife, Hannah Tacket (wife of Christopher), Betsy Tacket, Samuel Tacket, and Samuel M'Elhany (little boys). Having secured these, the Indians bound up M'Elhany's wounded hand, and taking what plunder they could, retreated on to the hill, some half mile or more, where they stopped to divide the spoils, which being done, they left the prisoners under a strong guard, and the main party returned to the fort, to secure more prisoners, but they were disappointed; for when the people on Coal river heard the shooting at the fort, Robert M'Elhany and his son Robert ran to ascertain the cause of it; and the rest of us took refuge in the house of Thomas Alsbury.
"Oh, it was an awful moment! We knew not at what moment the foe might be upon us; and should they come, we had no hope of deliverance. The M'Elhanys finding the fort in possession of a large party of Indians, gave up all for lost, and without returning to us, passed throught the woods, crossed Coal river at the falls, and reached Clendenin next morning at daylight. We soon ascertained that the Indians had retired from the fort, and were sufficiently acquainted with their mode of warfare, to believe that they had only retired a short distance, and would return before dark. We therefore, took canoes instantly, and started for Clendenin. "Just after dark there came up a heavy thunderstorm. The rain fell in torrents, filling the canoe in which I was, half full of water and it did seem that we had only escaped the fury of the savage to find a watery grave. How I shielded my child in that long night of alarm and terror, I know not; but we all arrived safely at Clendenin next morning about sunrise. The Indians finding that we had fled, killed what cattle they could find, burned all the houses, and returning to the prisoners, told them that they had killed all the people in the neighborhood. Sometime after, however, they told them the truth, stating that those little rivers had saved them. And so it was; for if the rivers had not been swollen by the recent rains, they would have pursued and cut us all off, or taken us prisoners.
"About sun-down they were ready to move; but, as a preliminary, wished to bind John M'Elhany. He told them it was useless; for his mother and wife being with them, he should not think about making his escape. Feigning satisfaction with this answer, one of them threw down a blanket, and bade him take it up. As he stooped to execute the order, the tomahawk was buried in his head; and he rolled upon the ground a lifeless corpse! Leaving him there a prey to wild beasts and the vultures of the air, they hurried away with the mother and wife, whose apprehensions for the future were too painful to allow them to realize, to the full extent, the desolation of the present moment, or to give to the bitterness of their anguish the luxury of tears. It was one of those moments of high wrought intense excitement, in which the tide of feeling can only roll back upon itself, and freeze the heart with horror!
"They confined their march to a late hour of the night. The elder Mrs.M'Elhany, beside being infirm with age, was very corpulent, and hence travelled with difficulty, retarding the progress of the entire company. Betsy Tacket was walking immediately behind her, the last of the captive train. Observing the Indians in close consultation, she guessed their fatal determination, and said, "Grandmother, it is time for you to pray -- they are going to kill you!" Without making any reply, she fell upon her knees and cried, "lead me to the rock that is higher than I!" and as the words trembled upon her lips, the tomahawk of the savage bade 'The weary wheels of life stand still.' The silver cord was loosed, the golden bowl broken, and her spirit passed away to the land of the blest. "Soon after her death they encamped for the night. Next morning the Indians disagreed about something, and one of them, taking Hannah Tacket, separated from the others, and, turning up Guyandotte river, passed on to the Holston. He, several times, made her steal corn and other things necessary to their subsistence. She at length asked him if the Indians stole from each other. "No," said he, "the Great Spirit would be angry with them." "You make me steal from my people, and do you not think the Great Spirit will be angry with me for doing so?" Unable to answer her, he was content after that, to do the stealing himself. He treated her with great kindness and affection, and, some eighteen months or two years after her captivity, he released her, and she returned to her friends. The others crossed the Ohio river, and went to some of their towns on the Muskingum, where the prisoners were separated, Jane M'Elhany remaining, while Betsy Tacket and the two little boys were carried to Huron.
"Jane M'Elhany's captivity was short, and the manner of her escape so remarkable, as to warrant our calling it providential. The man who owned her sent her, early one morning, to a neighboring wigwam for a basket, in which he wished to wash some lye hommany. Though well acquainted with the path, she lost her way. Utterly bewildered, she could neither find the hut to which she was sent, nor any other. In this condition she wandered all day. Late in the evening she came to an Indian village, but she saw no person. She passed several huts without even an inclination to stop. At length, as she approached one, some person seemed to say to her, "stop here!" Yielding to the suggestion, she stepped to the door, and, to her great joy, found the hut was occupied by a white man, whose name, as she subsequently learned, was Zane. He asked her if she was a prisoner, where taken, and if she desired to return to her friends. Having answered his inquiries, he told her that, if she would consent to be concealed for a few weeks, and assist his wife in preparing his winter clothes, he would restore her to her friends. With these conditions she cheerfully complied. --Taking her some distance from his house, he concealed her beneath a pile of logs, where she remained for six weeks. The hunting season as length arrived, when he conveyed her to Wheeling, whence she returned to Clendenin.
"Betsy Tacket was stolen from the Indians by a Mr. M'Pherson, who was trading with them, and carried to Detroit, where she subsequently married Robert Johnson, who purchased Samuel Tacket, and then returned with them to Kanawha.
"The fate of Samuel M'Elhany is not known; but it is supposed that he was killed at the time of General St. Clair's defeat, as we never heard of him afterwards."
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