Tis late before
The brave despair.

Samuel Daviess was an early settler at a place called Gilmer’s Lick, in Lincoln county, Kentucky. In the month of August, 1782, while a few rods from his house, he was attacked early one morning by an Indian; and attempting to get within doors, he found that his house was already occupied by other Indians. Pursued by his foe, he ran into a cornfield and lay concealed till the savage gave up the chase and returned to the house. He then ran to his brother’s station, five miles off, gave the alarm, and was soon returning with five stout, well armed men.

Meanwhile the Indians -four in number -who had entered the house while the fifth was in pursuit of Mr. Daviess, routed Mrs. Daviess and the children from their beds, and they soon understood that they must take up a line of march – they knew not whither. As soon as she was dressed, Mrs. Daviess “commenced showing the Indians one article of clothing and then another, which pleased them very much; and in that way delayed them at the house nearly two hours. In the mean time, the Indian who had been in pursuit of her husband returned, with his hands stained with poke berries, which he held up, and with some violent gestures and waving of his tomahawk, attempted to induce the belief, that the stain on his hands was the blood of her husband, and that he had killed him. She was enabled at once to discover the deception, and instead of producing any alarm on her part, she was satisfied that her husband had escaped uninjured.

“After the savages had plundered the house of every thing that they could conveniently carry off with them, they started, taking Mrs. Daviess and her children -seven in number- as prisoners, along with them. Some of the children were too young to travel as fast as the Indians wished, and discovering, as she believed, their intention to kill such of them as could not conveniently travel, she made the two oldest boys carry them on their backs. The Indians, in starting from the house, were very careful to leave no signs of the direction they had taken, not even permitting the children to break a twig or weed as they passed along. They had not gone far before an Indian drew his knife and cut off a few inches of Mrs. Daviess’ dress, so that she would not be interrupted in traveling.

“Mrs. Daviess was a woman of cool, deliberate courage, and accustomed to handle the gun, so that she could shoot well, as many of the women were in the habit of doing in those days. She had contemplated, as a last resort, that if not rescued in the course of the day, when night came on and the Indians had fallen asleep, she would deliver herself and children by killing as many of the Indians as she could – thinking that in a night attack as many of them as remained would most probably run off.” *

Mr. Daviess and his comrades reaching the house and finding it empty, hastened on in pursuit of the Indians. They had gone but a few miles before they overtook the retreating party. Two Indian spies in the rear, first discovered the pursuers, and running on, overtook the three others, with the prisoners, and knocked down and scalped, though they did not kill, the oldest boy. At that moment the pursuers fired at the Indians, but missed. The latter were now alarmed and confused, and Mrs. Daviess, taking advantage of this circumstance, jumped into a sink hole with her infant in her arms; and the Indians fleeing, every child was saved.

“Kentucky, in its early days, like most new countries, was occasionally troubled by men of abandoned character, who lived by stealing the property of others, and, after committing their depredations, retired to their hiding places, thereby eluding the operation of the law. One of these marauders, a man of desperate character, who had committed extensive thefts from Mr. Daviess, as well as from his neighbors, was pursued by Daviess and a party whose property he had taken, in order to bring him to justice. While the party were in pursuit, the suspected individual, not knowing any one was pursuing him, came to the house of Daviess, armed with his gun and tomahawk-no person being at home but Mrs. Daviess and her children. After he had stepped into the house, Mrs. Daviess asked him if he would drink something and having set a bottle of whiskey upon the table, requested him to help himself. The fellow, not suspecting any danger, set his gun up by the door, and while drinking, Mrs. Daviess picked up his gun, and placing herself in the door, had the gun cocked and leveled upon him by the time he turned around, and in a peremptory manner ordered him to take a seat, or she would shoot him. Struck with terror and alarm, he asked what he had done. She told him he had stolen her husband’s property and that she intended to take care of him herself. In that condition she held him a prisoner, until the party of men returned and took him into their possession. *

• Collins’s Historical Sketches of Kentucky

” Collins.


Excerpted from Noble Deeds of American Women
(Patriotic Series for Boys and Girls)
Edited by J. Clement
With an Introduction by Mrs. L. H. Sigourney
BOSTON: Lee and Shepard, Publishers
Entered by Act of Congress, in the year of 1851,
by E. H. Derby and Co., in the Clerk’s Office of the Northern District of New York

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