On June 15, 1777, the entire population of Boonesborough, Kentucky, met at the home of Captain Luther Miller to celebrate the wedding of his daughter, Martha, to Samuel Vance. How their day of feasting and celebrating ended in tragedy is related in this paper.
The article appeared in the INDIANAPOLIS NEWS, October 19, 1898, and was signed by Edward F. Colerick. The Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society presents the story, as it appeared, hoping it will entertain the readers.
Alene Godfrey, editor
The Capture of the Bride
Boonesborough, Kentucky, the home of the renowned backwoodsmen, Daniel Boone and his brother ‘Squire Boone, was protected by a strong palisade fort, with blockhouses, designated and erected by Daniel Boone. It was regarded as safe at that time. On account of the great protection afforded by this fortification, many emigrants settled there.
A wedding was announced to take place June 15, 1777, at the home of Captain Luther Miller, three miles from Boonesborough, on the main trace. His oldest daughter, Martha, was to be married to Samuel Vance, a young man of the neighborhood. As was the custom, the entire population, old and young, was invited to be present and partake in the festivities.
About the 2nd of the month Indians made their appearance in the settlement, having killed and scalped a boy who was in the woods hunting for a cow and a calf. This created much uneasiness throughout the settlement, as it was not known how many Indians were in the vicinity. The intention of making the approaching wedding a public one was about abandoned, when it was reported that the savages, being few in number, had made a hasty retreat from the settlement. When the wedding day arrived confidence was restored and the Indians about forgotten. Yet, two of the older settlers, who, from habit, were always on the alert, came with their rifles on their shoulders and scalping knives and tomahawks in their belts, prepared for any emergency.
Retired to the cabin
In the presence of a large and joyous assembly the two were united. The ceremony consisted of the contract, with witnesses, and religious vows administered by Daniel Boone’s brother, ‘Squire Boone, who was an occasional preacher of the persuasion popularly known as “Hard Shell Baptists.” The formal license from the county court was not waited for, as the courthouse of Fincastle, of which county Kentucky was a part, was distant more than six hundred miles.
After a day of feasting and pleasure the older persons, with their children returned to their homes before nightfall, while the young folks kept up the festivities during the evening. About nine o’clock, while the dancing was still going on, the bride slipped away, accompanied by her sister Sarah, age sixteen and her aunt Eve (an elderly maiden aunt, her father’s sister), and a neighbor lad of fifteen years, went over to the Vance cabin, distant about five hundred yards, to put things to rights. The neighbors had erected them a one-room cabin, which was furnished and ready for occupancy. They swept the floor and adjusted the bed, which had been used through the day by the mothers as a place to deposit their babies while they slept, away from the noise and confusion.
Having completed the object of their visit, the four were about to join the merrymakers. Says the aunt:
Being in a hurry, I started first. The night was very dark and cloudy. I had reached about halfway between the two houses, when I saw in the darkness figures approaching ahead of me. I supposed they were some of the young folks coming after us. I stepped to one side, soon the figures came so near that I saw they were Indians. I had on a dark dress, and they did not observe me. I started in a roundabout way through the woods, screaming as I ran “Indians! Indians!” In the excitement I ran against a tree with such force it knocked me down. It was some moments before I regained my senses. As I lay on the ground I could hear the dear creatures at the cabin, shrieking in the greatest agony. Then all became as still as death. I supposed the fiends had murdered them all. I now regained my feet, and hurried in the direction of the dim lights, which I could see all the time, and soon reached the house, giving the alarm.
To be continued......