(The following was written by Bill Howison, and is reprinted from “Reflections”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)
Starting in Logan County and winding its way through present day Union, Madison and Franklin Counties, to empty into the Scioto in Pickaway County, the Darby extended from the vicinity of McKee’s Station, the wilderness post of the British Indian Agent Alexander McKee, on McKee’s Creek to its terminus at the Scioto near Kispoko, the village of Black Fish, war chief of the Shawnee and just north of the villages of Cornstalk and Nonhalema, the Grenadier Squaw.
Along its course, it passed through broad plains of tall prairie grass, tall enough to hide a man on horseback, to plunge into dark forest whose trees had stood since glaciers, only to re-emerge into the bright sunlight and lush grasses of the Pickaway Prairie before rushing to its destiny with the Scioto, where its waters, mixed with those of the Scioto, flow to the mighty Ohio.
The Wyandot, Shawnee, Mingo and Delaware fished its waters and stalked the elusive deer in the dark forests, and made their homes along the banks. Two villages were located near present State Route 665, and two more just south of the Franklin County line, Puckshenoses and Shawnee Town.
Along its banks passed the famous and infamous. Tecumseh, Blue Jacket, Cornstalk, Nonhalema, Jonathan Alder, and Col. James Smith passed this way as they made their way into the Ohio history books.
Simon Girty and Alexander McKee passed this way as they made their way from McKee’s Station to the Shawnee towns along the Darby and Scioto to work their treachery among the Kishpokothe, Thawakila and Chillicothe Shawnee, in the name of General Hamilton and His Royal Majesty, King George of England.
Also passed the victorious war parties of painted warriors, reeking scalps hanging from their belts, and trudging behind, their bound and helpless white captives, on the way to be sold at Detroit, or some other less pleasant fate along the way; and off the the east, the skies of western Pennsylvania and Virginia were black with the smoke of burning forest homes; and the little farm fields ran red, with the blood of the German and Scot-Irish farmers.
James Smith is the first white man that we know, who lived along the Darby in the winter of 1758, with his Wyandot captors. Jonathan Alder was here during and after the revolution.
While we have these two names, it is certain there were many more white captives living in the area.
A list, dated November 15, 1764, showed the number of white captives still in the hands of the Delaware and Shawnee as follows:
Newcomerstown – 50; New Town – 15; Old Town – 7; Salt Lick Town – 5; Bulls Head Town – 1; and at Grenadier Squaw’s Town – 6, a total of 84.
Another list addressed to Colonel Bouquet without date, but likely in 1764, showed eighty-two white prisoners at the Lower Shawnee Town.
Between October 25th and November 9th, 1764, messages were sent to the various Indian villages; and white captives were brought daily to the camp of Colonel Bouquet, at the fork of the Muskingum. There were classed as follows:
Virginians- Males 32
Females and Children 58
Pennsylvania – Males 49
Females and Children 67
This left a total of 166 white captives, most along the Scioto and Muskingum Rivers. Bouquet took Indian hostages for the return of these, in the spring of 1765.
We have no lists of those who met death at the slow burning geen stake of Nonhalema’s burning ground on Scippo Creek, and the other Shawnee towns in the Scioto valley.
The first raids on the western frontier took place in 1752, and the above figures were supplied by the Indians themselves, in 1764, and probably listed only the captives that the Indians thought that Bouquet could prove.
(The continuation of this story in the next blog entry.)