Courage alone can save us.

The account of the Indians’ attack on the Innis settlement, near Frankfort, Kentucky, in April, 1792, has been differently related by different writers. The most reliable account is doubtless that given by the Rev. Abraham Cook, a minister of the Baptist denomination and the brother of Jesse and Hosea Cook, whose wives were the heroines of the settlement. The attack was made on the twenty-eighth of the month, by about one hundred Indians, and at three points almost simultaneously. The first onset was upon the Cooks who lived in cabins close together, and where was displayed a degree of intrepidity rarely matched.

“The brothers were near their cabins, one engaged in shearing sheep, the other looking on. The sharp crack of rifles was the first intimation of the proximity of the Indians; and that fire was fatal to the brothers – the elder fell dead, and the younger was mortally wounded, but enabled to reach the cabin. The two Mrs. Cook, with three children – two whites and one black -were instantly collected in the house, and the door, a very strong one, made secure. The Indians, unable to enter, discharged their rifles at the door, but without injury, as the balls did not penetrate through the thick boards of which it was constructed. They then attempted to cut it down with their tomahawks, but with no better success. While these things occurred without, there was deep sorrow, mingled with fearless determination and high resolve within. The younger Cook, mortally wounded, immediately the door was barred, sank down on the floor, and breathed his last; and the two Mrs. Cook were left the sole defenders of the cabin, with the three children. There was a rifle in the house, but no balls could be found. In this extremity, one of the women got hold of a musket ball, and placing it between her teeth, actually bit it into two pieces. With one she instantly loaded the rifle. The Indians, failing in their attempts to cut down the door, had retired a few paces in front, doubtless to consult upon their future operations. One seated himself upon a log, apparently apprehending no danger from within. Observing him, Mrs. Cook took aim from a narrow aperture and fired, when the Indian gave a loud yell, bounded high in the air, and fell dead. This infuriated the savages, who threatened -for they could speak English – to burn the house and all the inmates. Several speedily climbed to the top of the cabin, and kindled a fire on the boards of the roof. The devouring element began to take effect, and with less determined and resolute courage within, the certain destruction of the cabin and the death of the inmates, must have been the consequence. But the self possession and intrepidity of these Spartan females were equal to the occasion. One of them instantly ascended to the loft, and the other handed her water, with which she extinguished the fire. Again and again the roof was fired, and as often extinguished. The water failing, the undaunted wo men called for some eggs, which were broken and the contents thrown upon the fire, for a time holding the flames at bay. Their next resource was the bloody waistcoat of the husband and brother-in-law, who lay dead upon the floor. The blood with which this was profusely saturated, checked the progress of the flames -but, as they appeared speedily to be gathering strength, another, and the last expedient . . . . proved successful. The savage foe yielded, and the fruitful expedients of female courage triumphed. One Indian, in bitter disappointment, fired at his unseen enemy through the boards, but did not injure her, when the whole immediately descended from the roof.

“About the time the attack conmenced, a young man named McAndre, escaped on horseback, in view of the Indians, who, it was supposed, would give the alarm to the older neighboring settlements. As soon as they descended from the house top, a few climbed some contiguous trees, and instituted a sharp look out. While in the trees, one of them fired a second hall into the loft of the cabin, which cut to pieces a bundle of yarn hanging near the head of Mrs Cook, but without doing further injury. Soon after, they threw the body of the dead Indian into the adjacent creek, and precipitately fled.”


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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