Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Captivity of Jonathan Alder

The Captivity of Jonathan Alder - Read this book about his life with the Indians as dictated by him and transcribed by his son Henry.

From the site:

Jonathan Alder, son of Bartholomew and Hannah Alder, was born in the state of Maryland, September 17, 1773. In 1775 his father removed to Wythe County, Virginia. He purchased a small tract of land, erected a plain log cabin and began to make improvements. In 1779, Mr. Alder died, leaving his wife and five sons. He had been twice married, having one son John, by his first wife, and four, David, Jonathan, Mark, and Paul by his second wife. At his decease, he was possessed of several head of horses, cattle and swine, which fed upon the wild grass, herbage and nuts of the forest, and frequently strayed along the mountain valleys.

On a pleasant morning in May, 1781, Mrs. Alder awakened David and Jonathan, somewhat earlier than usual, stating that they must rise, eat their breakfast and go in search of a mare and colt that had strayed a few days before. When breakfast was ready, David seemed very despondent and did not eat much. Procuring a bridle and halter, they started in quest of the missing animals. By paths they passed into the deep woods and wandered about for several hours, without finding the horses. They finally came to a little mountain stream upon the banks of which grew several bunches of wild willows. David gave his knife to Jonathan and requested him to cut a bundle of willows, and when they returned he would make a basket. Jonathan commenced to cut willows, while David continued the search for the missing horses. He had been gone but a short time, when Jonathan began to have fears of their safety, ceased work, and seated himself upon a log a few paces from the willows and waited the return of his brother. He had been there but a short time when David called to him. He followed, exchanging helloes several times, before he came up to his brother. David had found the mare and colt, but the colt was unable to rise. It had probably eaten of the "stagger weed" which grew abundantly in that part of the country, and seemed paralyzed in its limbs. David told him to take hold of the colt by the tail, while he would lift it up by the neck, and see if they could get it upon its feet. They lifted it up several times, but it was so stiff it could not stand. They concluded to try it again, and if it did not help itself to abandon it to its fate. While in the act of stooping, David looked into the forest, and exclaimed, "See, there are Indians." He was very active and fleet of foot, and darted away like an arrow into the forest, while two Indians gave pursuit. There were five Indians and one white man in the gang. The word "Indians" so alarmed Jonathan, that he was unable to move. By the time he had raised up, an Indian stood by him, and extended his hand, which Jonathan trembling, grasped. He was greatly terrified, fearing an Indian more than the wild beasts of the forest. His captor held him tightly by the hand, while he trembled in the momentary expectation of being tomahawked or scalped.

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