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


The next memorable circumstance that happened to me was my being sold to Monsieur Cuillerier, with whom I had been well acquainted before my captivity, and during it had been frequently at his house (which was only two miles from Detroit) with Peewash in order to get a little bread and salt. In these visits I proposed to Monsieur Cuillerier to endeavor to purchase me from Peewash, who I knew was covetous and fond of riches in the Indian way of estimating wealth, which consists of possessing a profusion of trinkets, such as wampum, beads, bracelets, and silver gorgets.

This gentleman, on account of Mr. Sterling, with whom he was very intimate (and who afterwards married his daughter), was much my friend. He made several offers to Peewash for me, by bringing with him a horse and a cow, thinking they would do, as he had often said that he liked the white people’s manner of living and enjoying such comforts; but he had a greater liking for me than to part with me at so small a price. However, he agreed to let me go for certain merchandise, such as he should choose, to the value of £40, upon condition that I was always to live with Monsieur Cuillerier and not to be allowed to go back to the English.

This we both promised, although we only intended to keep it so long as it would be attended with no risk to my benefactor to break it, for rather than that he should suffer, I was resolved to live with him, although at the risk of being again seized by the savages. My mother and brothers took a very affectionate leave of me, and went home loaded with the goods they had got for me, leaving me overjoyed with my change of situation. I immediately threw away my dirty, greasy, painted shirt, which I had worn for two months without ever being washed. I scrubbed myself for two hours with soap and warm water to get the grease and paint off. Then dressing myself en Canadian with a clean French shirt and long ruffles, a new breech clout, with a mantlet exactly like our lady’s bedgown, and a pair of new leggings, I began to feel somewhat comfortable.

This Frenchman being a brother to the former French commandant, and a very great favorite of the Indians, they had favored him a little by not killing all his stock, such as cattle, poultry, Sec. So I got a good supper genteelly served up, went to a good bed which was provided for me, and slept better than I had done for a long while before. I awoke next morning happy in the thought of being out of the hands of the savages and once more, as I imagined, restored to liberty, thinking there was no doubt I would soon be among my friends in the fort. At the worst, to live with such a good family till the war ended would be but a slight hardship. But how fleeting are the joys of this life, and how uncertain are we weak mortals of what it may please the Almighty that we shall suffer in this state of trial and probation. I was happy at this moment beyond expression, and in the next I was doomed to misery.

Before sunset, as I was enjoying the company of the amiable Mademoiselle Cuillerier, lamenting together the miserable situation of many poor captives that were still in the hands of the Indians and contriving methods for the deliverance of some of them, a party of armed Indians entered the house—all of them Ottawas and consequently strangers to me—and without saying a word to me or any of the family seized me in a rude manner and brought me down stairs. Then, indeed, my situation wore a very gloomy appearance. I was hurried away from that good family without having time to say more than farewell to them who, on their part, were as much amazed as myself.

They dared not interpose in my behalf, nor attempt to save me. The ladies of the family burst into tears, crossed themselves several times, and, I believe, fervently prayed for me. All that Monsieur Cuillerier could say to me was to desire me to keep up my heart, and trust en le Bon Dieu. As we passed by the French houses, all the inhabitants were pitying me, saying what a sad thing it was to behold so young a lad come to so untimely an end; others were calling to me to keep up my spirits, saying there were still hopes, &c, &c. As for myself, I own I was at first much shocked when they seized me; but by degrees I became more resigned, and began to think seriously that my time was at last corne, and the dangerous escapes I had made were as so many warnings to me to prepare for that change which we must all undergo sometime or other.

They carried me to Pontiac’s hut—the chief of the Ottawas—who, after leaving me in suspense for some hours, procured a French interpreter who informed me the reason he took me from Monsieur Cuillerier was because several Dutch traders had got Frenchmen to buy them, or rather ransom them, as I had done, and if he suffered that trade to go on they would soon have no captives; therefore he was resolved either to keep us all, or else our scalps, for which reason he had ordered all that had been so bought to be taken from them that had purchased them, and that he had resolved to keep me for himself.