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Little Girl Becomes Indian Captive and Escapes

This story of an Indian captive has been handed down in
my husband’s family for years. It is about the miraculous escape from death at
the hands of the Indians of the little girl who became my husband’s great-grandmother.

The pioneer family lived in a
sparsely settled country where roving bands of Indians often stole stock and
food. Supplies were low, and the father knew he must leave his family and make
the long trip to the nearest town for groceries.

Even though he pushed the team hard
all day, it was a long day’s journey. The heavily loaded wagon was even slower
on the return trip. It was very late the second night when he returned.

To his horror, he saw that where
his cabin had stood now lay only a pile of glowing embers. He ran here and
there frantically calling for his wife and children. One by one, he discovered
the bodies of his wife and boys, cruelly murdered with their scalp locks torn
away. The Indians had found his home unguarded, had burned and murdered, and
had driven his horses and cattle away.

A long, tedious search revealed no
sign of his two little girls. So, as dawn broke, revealing the trail the
Indians had taken, a broken-hearted father started out to try to find some
trace of his two missing children. One of the little girls had fought and cried
until she became such a nuisance that the Indians killed and scalped her before
her sister’s frightened gaze. They threw her body beside the trail where her
father later found it.

The other little girl wisely went
along, putting up no resistance and biding her time. They traveled all that day
and part of the night and then stopped for a short rest. The next day they
pushed on, and the Indians became wary about covering their trail. After the
second day’s travel, they were very tired and stopped to sleep. One Indian was
set to watch, and the others soon were fast asleep.

The little girl watched closely,
though she pretended to be asleep. When the guard’s head fell forward on his
chest, she slipped quietly out of camp. Every step she took, she expected to
feel a cruel hand press her shoulder. But when she was safely out of camp, she
ran wildly, frantically, paying no attention to direction. Her only thought was
to put as many steps between herself and her captors as possible. Finally,
exhausted, she fell to the ground, gasping for breath.

Just as we teach our children what
to do in case of fire, those pioneer children had been taught to go eastward if
they were lost. Westward was wilderness; but to go eastward meant that one
would eventually find a settlement. As she collected her wits, this is what the
little girl did. She traveled mostly at night. She found a few patches of wild
berries; she drank from streams. Weary and footsore, she stumbled into a friendly
settlement at last.

Her father had lost the trail and
finally had turned sorrowfully back to bury the other members of his family.
Means of communication were very slow in those days, and it was quite a long
time before he was reunited with his little daughter.

Mrs. F. J. Testerman
Vera, Oklahoma

Back in 1955 a call
went out from the editors of the then
CAPPER’s
Weekly asking for readers to send
in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early
settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from
grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were
received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first
My
Folks title – My Folks Came in a
Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine
other books have since been published in the
My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from CAPPER’s readers, and we are proud to
make those stories available to our growing online community.