Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 2001-05 > 0990324512
From: Mac McCutchan <>
Subject: [Scotch-Irish] Re: Ireland 1729
Date: Sat, 19 May 2001 22:08:32 -0400
Knut Barde wrote, in part: "One needs only to look at the Quakers in PA to
realize that there were real live options to the $1,000 per Indian scalp
rewards that the SI clamored for. I have read they dug up dead Indians
just so they could get the scalp money."
I have read fairly extensively the history of the Scotch-Irish, German,
and Quaker settlers in the colonies of the 18th century. I know that the
French paid for settler scalps during the French and Indian War. I know
that the British paid for settler scalps during the Revolution (and that
George Rogers Clark captured the British Lieutenant Colonel called "the
Hairbuyer"). And I know that many of the Scotch-Irish settlers, my own
ancestors included, adopted the Indian practice of taking scalps. In the
18th century, with the ratio running at 10 settlers killed for every Indian
killed, scalping actually had a deterrent effect that killing did not, due
to the Indian beliefs associated with it.
I have never, however, run across a reference to any settler,
Scotch-Irish or otherwise, being paid for Indian scalps, or "clamoring" to
be paid. I have read Chalkley's Chronicles from cover to cover - it being
probably the most exhaustive source available - and it ain't there. I'm not
saying it didn't happen - but I'd be interested in knowing when and where it
did, and what the documentation is.
Knut also wrote that "...one would think they (the SI immigrants) must
have had a sense of justice and injustice, at least as regards their own
position. When that sense failed to be applied to the treatment of the
Indians, especially with the Quaker example at hand, one must wonder whether
the term self-righteousness wouldn't be more appropriate than justice."
We're coming dangerously close here to the "noble red man/evil white man"
crap that Hollywood has been foisting on us in recent years. While this
stuff has a grain of truth, it is truth based on the 19th century. In the
18th century, the shoe was, if not on the other foot, at least firmly on
both feet. Two comments seem appropriate:
1. When the Indians finally rose against the Quakers of western
Pennsylvania (and they did), a slaughter was imminent. The Quakers had
failed to organize a militia, or to erect forts, and were essentially
defenseless. Two hundred riflemen (Scotch-Irish) from Virginia essentially
saved their bacon. The legal fight that subsequently ensued between the
colonies of Virginia and Pennsylvania over who would pay for the force makes
2. The Shawnee, Mingo and Wyandot had every right to consider the
Shenandoah Valley their own. They had hunted it for centuries, used the
Great Warrior Trail through it, and burned it every autumn to keep the trees
down, so the buffalo would come. Similarly, the Scotch-Irish had every
right to consider the land theirs. They had worked off their indentures,
saved money for land and implements, made their way down the Great Wagon
Road, and bought the land, fair and square, from English land developers
named Beverly, Benjamin Borden, and others. There is a "bad guy" in this
equation, in my view, but he is neither Indian nor Scotch-Irish.
Please, please, please let's not fall into the old trap of applying 20th
century social judgements on an 18th century society and situation. My 5th
great grandfather was killed by Wyandots - in his home, defending his family
(unsuccessfully). He was neither "hunting scalps" nor clamoring for
bounties. His sons were captured, but his daughter (my 4th great
grandmother) survived. Her first husband was killed by Shawnee and Mingo.
For her second husband she chose a seasoned Indian fighter. One need hardly
wonder why. He most certainly engaged in scalping (and tomahawking),
learned from the Indians - but was never paid for scalps, or asked to be.
He was with George Rogers Clark when they captured the Hairbuyer. He
commanded a fort on the Ohio until 1785, when the Indians were finally
defeated, and he could return to farming, which is what he wanted to do all
along. I visited his grave recently. I honor him. He deserves it.