Reminiscences of Bureau County : in two parts.
Matson, N.. Princeton, Ill.. Republican Book and Job Office. 1872.

Online Version Transcribed By Nancy Piper


Chapter XVI

Page 146-153

Captivity of Sylvia and Rachel Hall

The following account of the captivity of the two Miss Halls, was principally taken from statements made to the writer by one of the captives (Rachel Hall), a short time after the Black Hawk war. Although this account differs in many particulars from others heretofore published, it will, nevertheless, be found correct in the main. It is given in language as though narrated by the captive, and in some instances her own words are uses:

"After being placed on horseback, and guarded by two Indians, who rode by our side, holding on to the reins of the bridles (as narrated in the preceding chapter), we commenced our long, tedious journey. We rode most of the time on a canter, and the Indians frequently looked back, as though they were afraid of being followed by the rangers, who were at that time roaming through the country. We continued to travel at a rapid rate, until near midnight, when we halted to rest our horses. After resting about two hours, we continued our journey, traveling all night, and next day until noon, when we again halted. Here our captors turned out their horses to graze, built a fire, scalded some beans, and roasted some acorns, of which they offered us some to eat, but we declined tasting. We remained in camp a few hours; during that time the Indians were engaged in dressing the scalps, by stretching them on small willow hoops. Among these scalps I recognized my mother's, by the bright color of the hair - the sight of this produced in me a faintness, and I fell to the ground in a swoon, from which I was soon after aroused, in order to continue our journey. After leaving the camp we traveled more leisurely than before, until about nine o'clock at night, we reached the camp of Black Hawk, after having rode near ninety miles in twenty-eight hours.

We found the Indian camp on the bank of a creek, surrounded by marshy ground, over which were scattered burr oak trees, being, as we afterwards learned, near the Four Lakes (now Madison City, Wisconsin). On our arrival in camp, a number of squaws came to our assistance, taking us from our horsed, and conducted us into a wigwam. These squaws were very kind to us, and gave us some parched corn and maple sugar to eat, it being the first food that we had tasted since our captivity.

Our arrival in camp caused great rejoicing among the Indians. A large body of warriors collected around us, beating on drums, dancing and yelling, at the top of their voice. Next morning our fear of massacre or torture had somewhat subsided, and we were presented with beans and maple sugar for breakfast. They also offered us coffee to eat, which had been taken out of Daviess' house, not knowing that it required to be ground and boiled before being used. About ten o'clock, the camp was broken up, and we moved five or six miles, crossing a creek, and encamped on high ground, which was covered with timber. We were provided with horses to ride, and behind us was packed camp equipage, which consisted of tents, kettles, provisions, &c. On arriving at our new camp, a white birch pole was stuck into the ground, on which were hung the scalps of our murdered friends, being exhibited here as trophies of war. About fifty warriors, who were divested of clothing, and their faces painted red, danced around this pole to music of drums and rattling gourds. Every day during our stay with the Indians, this pole containing the scalps was erected, and the dance repeated.

One morning, a party of warriors came to our lodge, and took us out, placing in our hands small red flags, and made us march around the encampment with them, stopping and waving the flags at the door of each wigwam. After this we were taken to the dance ground, by the side of the white pole containing the scalps, and by the side of which a blanket was spread. After painting our faces, one half red, and the other black, we were made to lay down on the blanket, with our faces to the ground. The warriors then commenced dancing around us, flourishing their tomahawks and war clubs over our heads, and yelling like demons. We now thought our time had come, and we quietly awaited our fate, expecting every moment to be our last. When the dance was over, we were taken away by two squaws, who we understood to be the wives of Black Hawk. By these squaws we were adopted as their children; although separated, we were allowed to visit each other frequently. Each day our camp was moved a few miles, always traveling in a circular route. Along the trail, at short intervals, the Indians would erect poles, with tufts of grass tied on one side, showing to the hunters in what direction the camp could be found. Our fears of massacre had entirely disappeared, being adopted into the families of these squaws, not being required to do any work, but watched closely in order to prevent our escape.

Some days after our arrival in Black Hawk's camp, we were told that we must go with two Winnebago chiefs, who had come for us. The squaws with whom we lived, were greatly distressed at the thought of parting with us. The Winnebago chiefs tried to make us understand that they were about to take us to white people, but we did not believe them. Thinking that they intended to take us further from home and friends, we clung to the squaws and refused to go. Contrary to our wish, we were placed on horses, behind each of the chiefs, and with us they galloped away, traveling twenty miles that same night. The chiefs said that they were afraid of being followed by some of the Sacs and Foxes, who were displeased at our departure. Every few moments the chiefs would look back to see if they were pursued, then whip their ponies again into a gallop. Some time after dark, we arrived at the Winnebago camp, where we remained over night. Early next morning we continued our journey, traveling all day, when we arrived at an encampment on the bank of Wisconsin river, where there were about one hundred warriors. During next day a party of Sac Indians, dressed in the clothes of murdered white men, came into camp. The Indians commenced talking to us, but the Winnebago chiefs told us to turn away from them, and not listen to what they said, which we did."

It was afterwards ascertained that a petty chief, who had captured the girls, was off on a hunt at the time they were given up to the Winnebago chiefs, and not receiving his portion of the ransom, immediately started with a party of warriors to retake them, or kill them in the attempt. These warriors did not overtake the girls until they arrived safe at the Winnebago camp.

"One of the chiefs asked us if we thought the whites would hang them if they took us to the fort, to which we replied they would not, but would give you many presents for your trouble. Next morning the two chiefs who had us in charge, accompanied by about thirty warriors, started with us. Crossing the river, we traveled southward all day until after dark, when we camped for the night. Early next morning, as soon as it was light, we continued our journey, and in the afternoon we reached the fort, at Blue Mounds. Before our arrival thither, we were convinced that our protectors were taking us to our friends, and we had done them great injustice. About three miles from the fort, we came to a halt, and the Indians cooked some venison, and we all set down on the ground and eat it. After dinner, one of the Indians took a white handkerchief which I wore on my head, tied it on a pole and proceeded to the fort. We followed after this Indian until we came within a half-mile of the fort, when we were met by a Frenchman, on horseback. The Indians formed a circle, and the Frenchman rode into it, and had a talk with them. The chiefs were unwilling to give us up until they had seen Mr. Gratiot, the Indian agent, who was then absent. After being assured by the Frenchman that we would be well treated until Mr. Gratiot's return, we were delivered up to the Frenchman, and taken to the fort."

A few days after the capture of the two Miss Halls, their oldest brother, John W. Hall, went with a regiment of volunteers, marching from Fort Wilburn north to join the army in pursuit of Black Hawk. On arriving at the lead mines, and informing Mr. Gratiot and Gen. Dodge of his sisters' captivity, Mr. Gratiot employed two friendly Winnebago chiefs, named Whirling Thunder and Fit-o-poo, to buy the prisoners from the Sacs and Foxes; and the chiefs left for Black Hawk's camp, on their mission of mercy.

It was agreed that the prisoners should be delivered up on the payment of two thousand dollars in cash and forty horses, besides a large number of blankets, beads, &c. After buying the girls, a difficulty arose, which came nigh defeating their plans. A young chief claimed Rachel as his prize, intending to make her his wife, and was unwilling to give her up, saying that he would tomahawk her rather than let her go. The matter was finally compromised, by giving him ten additional horses; but on parting with her he drew forth his scalping knife and cut off a lock of her hair, to keep as a trophy of his warlike exploit.

A short time after this affair, Major, now Colonel Dement, of Dixon, while in command of a spy battalion, was attacked by a large body of Indians at Buffalo Grove. The troops retreated into a block house, where they held the Indians at bay. A young chief, while leading his warriors forward to storm the block house, was shot by the Rev. Zadoch Casey, who was afterwards Lieutenant Governor of Illinois. On the head of this young chief was a wreath of laurels in acknowledgment of his bravery, and around his neck was a lock of braided hair, which was afterwards found to be the same taken from the head of Rachel Hall.

When the girls arrived at the fort, their clothes were torn almost into rags, and having no protection for their heads, except handkerchiefs, they were badly sunburned. The women at the fort furnished the girls with clothes, and they were greatly rejoiced to meet their brother, John W., whom they supposed was killed at the time of their captivity.

An account of the captivity of these girls was heralded throughout the United States, and there was great rejoicing at their rescue. The girls were much lionized by the people at the fort, and received from them many presents. Nicholas Smith, now of West Bureau, being engaged in teaming for the army, took the girls in his wagon, and carried them to a fort near Galena, at which point they were put on board of the steamboat Winnebago, and carried to St. Louis, where they were received and entertained by Gov. Clark. While at St. Louis they were met by the Rev. Erastus Horn, an old friend of their father, who frequently preached on Bureau while president of the Protestant Methodist Church. Mr. Horn took the girls to his home, in Morgan county, and acted the part of a father to them. Soon after, their brother John W., married and settled on the Seaton place, now in the town of Selby, and the girls came and lived with him. The legislature gave them a quarter section of canal land at Joliet. Congress also voted them money as a donation.

Sylvia married the Rev. William Horn, a son of their protector, and now lives at Lincoln, Nebraska. Rachel married William Munson, and moved to Freehold, La Salle county, at which place she died a few months ago.

Rachel Hall, at the time of her captivity, was sixteen years of age instead of fourteen, as previously stated.

Chapter XVII

Page 154-161

Girty's Band Visit Fox River Settlement

Shaubena had sent his nephew, a young brave by the name of Pyps, to Fox river settlement to warn the settlers of their danger.* On being notified of their danger, George Hollenback, Mr. Ackley, Mr. Harris, and others, left immediately for a place of safety. Mr. Hollenback, with his family, left in a wagon; but Mr. Ackley, having no wagon, himself, wife and two children, fled on horseback. It was about sundown when the settlers fled from their cabins, and made their way across the prairie, in the direction of Plainfield.

*For this act of kindness in giving notice to the settlers, young Pyps lost his life at the hands of those savages who were robbed of their victims. Those who have visited Shaubena's camp, most have noticed two young Indians of remarkably fine appearance, and whose physiognomy showed more than ordinary intellect. One of these young Indians was Pyps, a nephew, and the other Pyp-a-gee, a son of Shaubena, - the latter known among the settlers by the name of Bill Shaubena. Pyp-a-gee had a great desire to marry a white squaw, as he termed it; for that purpose he frequently visited the cabins of settlers and on different occasions, attempted to make love to white girls.

In the fall of 1836, Pyps and Pyp-a-gee went west with their band, and soon afterwards these noble young Indians were hunted down and shot like wild beasts, by those savages who were prevented by them from murdering the settlers of Fox river and Bureau.

After going about one mile, Hollenback's wagon stuck fast in a slough, and he went back to his house to get a pair of double-trees, so that Ackley's horses could be hitched on to the end of the wagon tongue. It was quite dark when Hollenback reached his house, and as he came nigh he saw a bright light shining through the cracks in the clapboard door. A moment afterwards a person was seen coming out of the house, with a blazing torch in his hand, the light of which showed that the door yard was full of Indians. Mr. Hollenback being within a few yards of the Indians, was discovered by them, and he fled at the top of his speed, followed by the savages, yelling at the top of their voice; but being smart on foot, and acquainted with the ground, he succeeded in making his escape. Mr. Hollenback, in his flight, lost his reckoning, and after rambling about for some time, he came to the house of his brother, Clark Hollenback. As he came nigh the house, he saw three men approach it on horseback; not knowing whether they were friends or foes, he secreted himself so as to watch their movements. These three men proved to be Kellogg, Cummings, and Holderman, settlers at Holderman's Grove, who had heard of Indians being seen in the settlement, and had come to Clark Hollenback's (who was an Indian trader), to inquire about it. As the men rode up to the house, they holloed, when they were answered by some seventy shots from the Indians, who were lying in ambush. Although at short range, their shots took no effect on the party, except slightly wounding one of their horses. On receiving the fire, they wheeled their horses about and fled, followed by the Indians, who were on foot. The Indians in pursuit of the fugitives, passed within a few feet of where Hollenback was lying, but in their anxiety to capture their prey, did not discover him.

It has already been stated that the Ament family settled at Red Oak Grove, in the spring of 1828; and with one exception, they were the first settlers of this county. About two years afterward, John L. and Justus Ament built cabins on Bureau, while Edward, with his mother and younger brothers, went to Fox river. Soon after going there, Edward married a daughter of Mr. Harris, above referred to, and old Mr. Combs, Mrs. Harris's father, was living with them. When the settlers were notified of their danger by young Pyps, as previously stated, Mr. Harris and his two sons were off hunting their horses, which had strayed away the day before; and the family had no means of escape except on foot. At that time, old Mr. Combs was confined to his bed with inflammatory rheumatism, and was therefore left behind. The family regretted to leave him, but the old man's reply was, "Flee for you lives and leave me to my fate; I am an old man, and can live but a short time at any rate."

Soon after the family left, a party of Indians entered the house, and instead of killed Mr. Combs, as might have been expected, they administered to his wants, and for nearly a week, they visited him daily, supplying him with food and drink, as though he was their friend. Some days afterwards, a company of rangers visited Harris's cabin, where they found old Mr. Combs, much improved in health, and they took him with them to Plainfield, and from there to Chicago, where his friends had previously fled.


Adam Paine, The Missionary

The Rev. Adam Paine, a missionary among the Indians, whom we introduced at the commencement of this story, had been stopping two days in Chicago, on his return from Ohio. At that time the commander of Fort Dearborn was pressing horses, in order to mount part of the garrison as rangers. Paine having a horse, which he prized very highly on account of his good qualities, was afraid of its falling into the hands of the government, and to avoid it he left Chicago for the home of his brother Aaron, who lived near Hennepin. Paine was warned of the danger of traveling through a country which was in the possession of savages, but he believes the Indians would not molest him, as he had been preaching among them for many years, and was known by most of them as Buzee, Cha-mo-co-man, which means a hairy white man.

On the morning that the Rev. Adam Paine left Chicago, he mounted a store box which was standing at the further end of the military parade ground, (now the corner of Water street and Michigan Avenue), and commenced singing a hymn.  His loud and musical voice soon brought forth a large crowd of listeners, including most of the people then living in Chicago, and for about two hours they were held spell bound by the eloquence of the speaker. This was Paine's last sermon, and it is described by an eye-witness as exceeding in eloquence and power anything that he had ever before heard. The whole audience, consisting of traders, soldiers, citizens, and Indians, at the conclusion of the sermon were left in tears.

About six weeks previous to the Indian war, the writer heard Paine preach to a large audience, on the public square of a town in Ohio, and his peculiar imagination which never can be erased. His long wavy beard, as black as a coal, reached to his waist, and covered his breast, while the hair of his head, equally long, hung down over his back, together with his high, marble-like forehead, and tall, manly form, gave to him a very imposing appearance. His words and manner of address had a magic effect on his hearers, and a number of hardened sinners were converted under his preaching. Although nearly forty years have passed away since hearing Paine preach, his sermon is as fresh in the mind of the writer as though it was only delivered yesterday.


Murder of Adam Paine

It was about two o'clock in the afternoon of a bright May day, as the Rev. Adam Paine was slowly pursuing his way along an Indian trail, and through a grove of timber, humming a favorite tune, unconscious of danger, when all of a sudden the report of guns were heard, and on looking around, he saw three Indians approaching him with uplifted tomahawks, while yelling at the top of their voice. One of the balls had entered Paine's shoulder, and another had pierced the lungs of his horse. The horse was put into a gallop, and for a time was fast leaving the Indians behind. But from loss of blood, the horse soon stopped, staggered and fell dead.

In a moment the savages, with deafening yells, and uplighted tomahawks came up with him; Paine, with his bible in one hand, and the other pointing heavenward, appealed to the Indians for mercy. Two of them moved by this appeal, lowered their tomahawks, saying that his life should be spared, but the third one coming up behind, struck him on the head, and he fell to the ground and expired in a few moments.

One of the Indians cut off Paine's head, and taking the beard, which was abut two feet in length, in his hands, throwing the head over his shoulders, and in this way it was carried into camp. The Indians were greatly delighted with their trophy, and they placed the head on a pole, around which they commenced to dance.

Girty with some twenty other warriors, were at that time off on a scout, and on returning to camp they found their comrades rejoicing over their late success. This was food for their savage nature, and imbibing the spirit of the other warriors, they too took part in this barbarous exercise.

Around the pole they danced and yelled, and yelled and danced, while the woods rang with their wild whoops, the sound of which were re-echoed back from the surrounding bluffs. Girty had supposed the head on the pole to be that of a woman, mistalking the long beard for the hair of the head. But on making an examination, he recognized the head of Adam Paine, his old friend, with whom he had traveled years before. On making this discovery nothing could exceed the grief of Girty; with loud sighs and groans he beat his breast with his hands, and for a few moments gave himself up to feelings of remorse, then grasping his tomahawk he was about to slay the murderer of his friend, but was prevented from doing so by the interference of the other warriors.  Girty ordered the head of Paine taken down from the pole, and with the body buried on a knoll near where the murder was committed, and over the grave he burned a sacrifice, which consisted of his most valuable articles, in order to appease the wrath of the Great Spirit.

The murder of Paine was at the time heralded by newspapers throughout the Union, as he had been known to be the leading spirit among the missionaries of the west, and for his death a missionary paper of Boston appeared in mourning.* His brother Aaron who lived east of Hennpin, on receiving the sad news, although a man of wealth and a minister of the gospel, left everything to avenge his death, shouldering his gun, and serving as a soldier in a company of volunteers. While in pursuit of Black Hawk, he was shot in the shoulder by a small Indian boy, and from this wound he still remains a cripple. Paine with tohers of his company, while pursuing the retreating Indians came up with a squaw and a small boy, who had crouched behind a fallen tree, but they passed by without molesting them. After the rangers had passed, the boy raised his rifle, and shot Paine from his horse; and in return, the boy and the squaw were riddled with balls. Paine was thought to be mortally wounded; and when intelligence of his fall reached his family, they mourned for his death. About three months after this event, Paine, pale and emaciated, rode up to his cabin door, and was hailed by the family and friends as one risen from the dead. Aaron Paine is now living in Oregon, and for a number of years has been a member of the legislature of that new state.

*The accounts relating to the murder and burial of the Rev. Adam Paine are contradictory, and all efforts of the writer to harmonize them have been a failure. One account says Paine's family, at the commencement of the war, was living at Holderman's Grove and with others, fled to Ottawa for protection. Paine being on his way to Ottawa, stopped at Plainfield on the day that the block house was abandoned and the settlers fled to Chicago. The people tried to prevail on Paine to accompany them to Chicago; but believing that the Indians would not molest him continued on his way. Six days after Paine disappeared, Gerton S. Hubbard, in command of a company of Col. Moore's rangers, found a dead body on the prairie, near Holderman's Grove and some distance off the head was found stuck on a pole. These remains were thought at the time to be those of Adam Paine, as they answered his description, having long black beard. But it is now believed that the body found by the rangers was that of a Dunkard, who lived in Fulton conty, being on his way home from Chicago, but never reached it. The body found and buried by Hubbard's company of rangers, answers the description of the missing Dunkard, as well as that of Adam Paine, which makes it quite probable that it was his remains, and the Indian tradition in relation to the burial of Paine as correct.

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