A Journal Of An Indian Captivity During Pontiac’s Rebellion In The Year 1763, By Mr John Rutherfurd, Afterward Captain, 42nd Highland Regiment


At day-break the next morning we were called up, and in a formal solemn manner walked up to the grave, near which a little fire was made. Having seated ourselves around it, each with our dish in our hand, my master arose and made a long speech, during which he often pointed to the grave and to me alternately. At every pause we joined in a sort of chorus by way of approving of what he said. When he had finished his speech he divided the broth and meat among us, and after saying a few words over the grave put a piece of the fat of the bear into the fire and directed us to do the same.

This, I was told, was to appease the spirit of the deceased, who might be offended at my being adopted in his place. He then told me I was as much their son as if I had sucked these breasts (showing me those of his wife), telling me at the same time to look upon the boys as my brothers, and that my name should be no more Saganash, or Englishman, but Adclick, which signified a white elk. Notwithstanding this, I was generally called by my master’s name, which was Peewash. I had three brothers, Mayance, Quido, and Quidabin.

My master, or rather my father now, frequently took me out hunting with him, which was an amusement I was very fond of. Although this was not the season for killing deer, he was under the necessity of taking a few to subsist his family upon when at the camp with the rest of the warriors. We accordingly set out for the camp when we had cured a few carcasses of venison, which we did by smoking; them, having no salt.

In crossing Lake St. Clair it happened to blow pretty hard, so that our little frigate was in danger of going to the bottom with Peewash and all his family. To appease the evil spirit, he cut some handfuls of tobacco small, and threw it into the lake, at the same time making a long speech. Whether owing to the tobacco or not I shall not pretend to determine, but we got safe upon terra firma; and as the rain had wet our shirts and blankets we hung them on trees and ran about naked till they were dried. They likewise make use of that plant (tobacco) in thunder storms, throwing a quantity of it into the fire; and while it is burning a squaw drums with a piece of iron on the bottom of a kettle. This, they pretend, prevents any mischief from being done to the family by the lightning.

By this time our corn was grown up about a foot high, so that it became necessary to have it hoed and weeded, which was a severe task upon my mother and me for six days. I flattered myself that my being adopted into the family would have exempted me from this kind of drudgery, as was the case with most of the other prisoners; but Peewash, having a particular regard for his wife, chose that I should still assist her on many occasions, and she, being fond of ease, laid the most of it on my shoulders. She frequently made me pound or bruise corn in a large mortar till there was scarcely any skin upon my hands. When I showed them to her she only laughed arid told me I should soon be better used to it, and that my hands would become hard like hers, which indeed were neither soft nor fine.

The men think it beneath them to do anything but fish or hunt for the support of their family, and in this they take no more trouble than is absolutely necessary. They frequently kill the game and leave it till they can send their squaws to carry it home, directing them how to find it by breaking off branches and marking the trees for miles from where the game was killed. Having found it, she brings home the choicest pieces and dresses them for her Lord and Master, who generally sleeps till he is called to get up and eat. When he has finished his repast he regales himself with a pipe of tobacco mixed with the leaves of the sumac shrub.

In the meantime the rest of the family are busy roasting fish or broiling steaks, each one for himself. The steaks are broiled or toasted upon the end of a stick as we toast bread, and in my opinion this is the most delicious way of eating roast meat. Sometimes our mother roasted a large piece for the whole family. As the outside becomes a little done, everyone with his knife falls upon it and slices away as it roasts, by which means the pleasure of eating (which is one of their chief gratifications) is prolonged. When soup is made, or rather when they boil their fish or meat, they hang the kettle up out of the reach of the dogs, for every one in their turn to drink as they choose. The want of salt made me for some time think whatever I ate was very insipid and tasteless. However, hunger and custom prevailed over prejudice and I soon came to eat as heartily as Peewash himself.

About the 8th of June Lieutenant McDougall with a Dutch trader made their escape into the fort,∗ which caused them to look more strictly after us that were left with them, particularly Captain Campbell, who was shut up in a garret in a Frenchman’s house. I frequently visited him with Peewash. One evening he told me he felt unwell, and was prepossessed with a notion that he was to die very soon. I endeavored to persuade him not to encourage a thought so melancholy and dispiriting, but to my great grief and sorrow the first thing I heard next day was that he had been killed.

∗ Actually, McDougall escaped the night of July 1; Captain Campbell was murdered but three days later.