||See SR18 for the beginning of this article.|
A HISTORICAL SKETCH OF ONE OF THE FISHER FAMILIES.
BY ONE OF THEM
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The expedition proceeded to a point a short distance below Cincinnati in the north east corner of the state of Indiana, where the current carried their boats near the shore Here they were ambushed by a large body of Indians. Owing to the unwieldy character of their boats, and the low stage of water, they could neither land nor escape. Out of the one hundred men, forty were killed in a few minutes, and the rest were taken prisoner—not a man escaped. The Colonel was not even wounded, but, as he was an officer, he was taken to one side and tomahawked. A small river in that part of the state of Indiana, still bears his name, Laughrey. All the prisoners who were too severely wounded to travel, were dispatched with the tomahawk. After the spoils were secured, the march began for the Shawnee towns, in central Ohio, where they were initiated into Indian life by running the gauntlet and being adopted into Indian families. At that time there was not one white man in what is now state of Ohio, except prisoners. I will describe what running the gauntlet means: When the Indians return from a war expedition on approaching a town, they sent up a far reaching war whoop, which informed their friends at home they were coming, and that they had prisoners. The town at once prepared for their reception. The squaws and boys formed two lines facing each other, the prisoners business being to run between these lines, and the squaws and boys business was to beat them with sticks and stones, and if possible to throw them down. Dexterors, swift footed prisoners generally escaped with slight damage, many, however, receiving great bodily harm. This was repeated at each town they passed and was the grand sport for the Indians. Captive life dragged heavily. Food was sometimes scarce, and always prepared in the most filthy manner. Occasionally Indians g t on a spree, which lasted until the whiskey gave out. On these occasions the squaws hid the prisoners, guns and knives. If they had had a constant supply of whiskey no prisoner could have lived amongst them. After captivity of three months, Mr. Fisher accompanied the family that had adopted him to Detroit on a trading expedition. That place was held by the British. While there he persuaded them to buy him from the Indians, which they did, by paying for him a blanket and a few t inkets. As it would have been madness to attempt to escape to the settlements in Virginia and Pennsylvania in the winter, (the English proposed to give him his liberty on condition that he furnished security for his appearance in the spring), he succeeded in finding a Frenchman who went his bond, and who sent him up to a farm he had on the border of Lake St. Clair, where he spent the winter threshing wheat.
In the spring the English gathered their prisoners and proceeded to take them down over the lakes to a prison island that they had in the St. Lawrence River. They passed near enough to Niagara to hear its roar, but the guard refused to let them see it. Arriving at their destination they found it to be a small island in the middle of the deep and rapid river. There were hundreds of prisoners here closely guarded. No boat was allowed on the island, and as usual, the prisoners were continually laying plans to escape, which generally proved abortive. At length a company of twelve devised a plan which was partly successful. The quarters of the prisoners were enclosed with pickets. Inside these were the cabins for the men. Between the pickets and the cabins was a space several feet wide. Lights were kept up all night. The sentry walked two sides of the square all night. Thus he could see each side of the square alternately. During the day the prisoners had the liberty of the island. Gathering together on the outside of the fort, under the pretense of playing cards, they succeeded in cutting a picket at the ground, so that it could be removed sufficiently for a man to pass out. At nine o’clock the prisoners had to be in their cabins and answer to roll call. On the appointed night, after the roll had been called, those who intended to escape had to come out of their huts, cross the walk, and slip out through the pickets, running the chance, of course, of being seen by the sentry. Five of them succeeded in reaching the outside, but the sixth one was discovered. A bayonet charge sent him back into his cabin. An alarm was sounded, the garrison was called to arms. They could not tell how many, or whether any had escaped till the next roll call. Those who succeeded in getting out proceeded to the upper end of the island, where they had noticed some driftwood. Of this they made a rude raft. The one that could not swim they placed on top of it, the rest lay in the water, held to the raft and shoved off. The current carried them to the Canada side, where they landed about five miles below. It was now morning, so they concealed themselves in the woods. Owing to the swift current of the river it was impossible for them to cross at that point to the American side. The next night they proceeded up the river past the fort to a point five miles above, where the river was comparatively calm. Here they hid themselves the second day. As it was necessary to procure some provisions before entering the wilderness, the next night they found a calf in a farm yard, but it did not propose to be killed without being heard. When the owner came out, of course they fled. After all became quiet again they returned and found a bullock tied head and foot. They dispatched it at once. They took off the rounds and shoulder blades without skinning, took the farmer’s boat and crossed to the American side. They then started through what is now the State of Vermont, then a dense wilderness, and on through the State of New York, till they reached the headquarters of General Washington, on the Hudson. On this journey they suffered terribly from hunger. Game and fish were abundant, but they had no way of taking them. If they had not been expert woodsmen, they certainly would have perished in the wilderness.
When Mr. Fisher arrived at his home in York, Pa., after an absence of 13 months, he was so changed by the hardship he had gone through that his mother and sisters failed to recognize him. They had never heard a word from him while he was gone. They had given him up for dead.
After the war was over, he returned with the family on the old farm near Ligonier, as was before stated.
He paid his addresses to Miss Martha Thompson, but her father being a staunch Presbyterian, objected to the match because Mr. Fisher had never been baptized. Miss Thompson, however, had no such scruples of conscience, but ran away, as they called it then; she left her father’s house and never entered it again. He soon afterwards moved to Kentucky. Mr. Fisher settled on a part of an old farm. They had a family of six children, two of their sons, John and Thomas, settled at an early date at East Brook, this county, where they were prominent citizens for many years. Some of their descendants still remain in the county. Mr. Fisher, like his brother Thomas, died suddenly in 1834, age 76 years. They both retired at night in their usual health and were found dead in the morning, apparently without having moved a muscle, passed away in a profound sleep.
And now my story draws to a close. All of the children of the first pair that came from Ireland are dead; all their grandchildren are gone; many of their great-grandchildren have passed away. Those remaining are well advanced in life. The fourth and fifth generations are now in active life, and are citizens of at least ten states and territories, and many of them have lost all knowledge of their family relationship. The first generation endured dangers, hardships–aye, and the pleasures too, of pioneer life. Their descendants now enjoy the benefits of their labor and sacrifices.
In politics the family supported Jackson and Jefferson, and some of them remain Democrats to this day, but a majority of them are now either Republicans or Prohibitionists.
In religion, the first generation was brought up according to Quaker principles, and as that people were a hundred years in advance of all others on the great moral questions that affect society, such as temperance, slavery and war, it was great advantage to them. They were total abstainers a century ago, and although not entirely exempt, yet it would be hard to find a family that has suffered less from the curse of strong drink. After settling at Ligonier, they were so completely isolated from their Quaker friends, that upon first appearance of the Methodists west of the Allegheny mountains, most of them united with them, and since then nearly all who have made any profession of religion, have been Methodists.