|Birthplace:||Chambersburg, Lancaster County (Present Franklin County), Province of Pennsylvania|
|Death:||Died in Malden, Essex County, Upper Canada (Present Ontario), British North America (Present Canada)|
|Occupation:||Outlaw and traitor to the American cause.|
|Managed by:||Howard William Henry Sheldon|
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About Simon Girty
Simon Girty (1741 – February 18, 1818) was an American colonial of Scots-Irish ancestry who served as a liaison between the British and their Native American allies during the American Revolution. He was portrayed as a villain in many early history texts of the United States.
Born in Pennsylvania, Girty and his brothers were taken prisoners when still children by the Senecas and adopted by them. It would be seven years before Girty returned to his family, during which time he had come to prefer the Native American way of life. During the American Revolution, he first sided with the colonial revolutionaries, but later served with the Loyalists and thus was viewed by American frontiersmen as a renegade and turncoat.
On October 1, 1779, Girty and Alexander McKee with the aid of a large force of Native Americans attacked and killed American forces returning from a trip to New Orleans. The ambush occurred near Dayton, Kentucky, opposite Cincinnati. Only a handful of the Americans survived, among them Colonel John Campbell and Captain Robert Benham.
Girty was present during the torture and execution of Continental Army Colonel William Crawford by Native American leader Captain Pipe. Two witnesses of this torture and execution survived and were later interviewed regarding these events. One suggested that Girty was a pitiless instigator. The other claimed that Girty pleaded with the Native Americans on Crawford's behalf until threatened with death himself. The former account was popularized and served to vilify Girty during and after his lifetime.
Girty is also credited with saving the lives of many American prisoners of the natives, often by buying their freedom at his own expense.
After the end of the war, Simon Girty settled in Canada. He retired to his farm near Fort Malden (present-day Amherstburg, Ontario) prior to the outbreak of the War of 1812. Girty's son was killed in that conflict, reportedly while trying to rescue a wounded British officer from the battlefield. Despite popular myths to the contrary, Simon Girty had no part in that war, except as a refugee when the British retreated from Fort Malden. Nor was he killed with Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames, as was widely reported. Over sixty years old, he was increasingly infirm with arthritis and had failing eyesight. Girty returned to his farm after the war and died completely blind in 1818 in Canada.
- Simon Girty along with his sisters, are vilified with hints of compassion for white men in Zane Grey's frontier trilogy series, Betty Zane, Spirit of the Border and The Last Trail.
- Simon Girty served as one of the jury members in Stephen Vincent Benet's short story "The Devil and Daniel Webster" and in the 1941 movie of the same title. In that story, he is described as "the renegade, who saw white men burned at the stake and whooped with the Indians to see them burn". Benet uses Girty's popular image for the story's dramatic purposes; all members of the jury are called by Satan and are supposed to be the worst villains in American history.
- Hugh Henry Brackenridge took and edited the detailed recollections of one of the survivors of Crawford's execution, which were published under the title Dr. Knight's Narrative, and had a considerable impact on the reputation of Simon Girty as a renegade. The most detailed research into this publication to date clearly calls into question the motives of Brackenridge in his published account. See the article by Parker B. Brown entitled The Historical Accuracy of the Captivity Narrative of Doctor John Knight, which appeared on pages 53–67 of The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, vol. 70, no. 1 (January 1987). (ref. Allan W. Eckert, That Dark and Bloody River).
- Simon Girty is featured in Julius de Gruyter's novel Drum Beats on the Sandusky, which is a fictional account of one of Crawford's young volunteer soldier's reprieve from Indian capture and subsequent adventures while under Girty's custody. "Against this colorful and historically accurate background, de Gruyter has fashioned a gripping novel of Indian fighting, ambush, miraculous escape and pursuit." (Published 1969, Carlton Press, Inc, New York, N.Y.)
- The American novelist, Joseph Altsheler, makes Simon Girty a turncoat and villain in several of his "Young Trailer Series" of eight juvenile fiction fiction books from 1907-1911.
- Canadian playwright Ed Butts wrote a play entitled The Fame of Simon Girty.
- Simon Girty, the outlaw. An historical romance, Jones, U. J. (Uriah James), Philadelphia: G. B. Zeiber, 1846 (fiction)
- Girty. Historical fiction in prose and poetry, by Richard Taylor. Wind Publications
- Girty appears as a character in the fictional novel The Dakota Cipher by William Dietrich.
- Girty appears as an ambiguous renegade character in Hugo Pratt's graphic novel Fort Wheeling (Buenos Ayres, 1962). In his drawings, Pratt gave Girty his own features.
- Girty makes also an appearance in Deerfoot novels by Edward S. Ellis.
From the City Observer of Lake Helen, Florida:
Posted By: Jim Sellars
- Subject: Re: SIMON, PETER AND POLLY
- Post Date: June 18, 2001 at 10:49:29
- Message URL: http://genforum.genealogy.com/malott/messages/238.html
- Forum: Malott Family Genealogy Forum
- Forum URL: http://genforum.genealogy.com/malott/
This is from Joseph Munger Jr., son of Joseph and Sarah Girty Munger, and grandson of Simon and Catherine Malott Girty. This is family recollection, so take it for what its worth. Joseph got the stories straight from Catherine Malott Girty herself.
Draper MSS 10E:143-150
From letter dated Jan. 17, 1849.
8. He [Simon Girty] was married near Amherstburgh Fort Malden to Miss Catherine Malott, who was born 5 miles from Hagerstown Md. – was taken prisoner on the Ohio River one day and night sold below Fort Wheeling by the Delawares then taken to the Muskingum River rested 3 days and then to there village on Mad River remained with the Indians 4 years and 3 months.
He was partially blind 2 years, and one year quite blind before he died in 1818, his age about 85. Was generally healthy even in old age, died suddenly, perhaps brain fever.
He had five children, some old papers but of little service though there is some that show he sustained a loss of about $30,000 in land property, in leaving the Americans when he did.
Joseph Munger's reply to further questions Feb 9, 1849:
- Lyman Draper: What is your grandmother’s age? – in what year, and at what age, was she taken prisoner? – and what connections and others were taken with her, and who commanded the boat? – who was it captured them, and was Simon Girty of the party? When was she married?
- Joseph Munger: Her age is about 85-88 thinks she was 12 or 15 the year of Independence – was a prisoner at that time says Simon her husband was old enough to be her Father. Her mother and 7 children taken the same time – Capt Runald’s the commandant of them was shot in the boat, a child also shot in her lap while in the boat – 20 in all that were taken alive. There was another boat in where the rest of her family were, that was not taken, one brother William Malott and a sister that afterwards settled on St. Louis. The brother’s account from her brother Wm Malott says he is some place up the Missouri river, about Council’s Bluff or further west – the name of the chief was Neshash on [your?] was about 50 – Simon was not of the party.
Draper’s Interview with Catherine (McKenzie) Girty, August 5, 1863, DM 17S:191-192
Mrs. Malott was in Detroit and Simon Girty got her daughter Catherine from the Shawanoes by pretending to only wish to take her to see her mother, and promising then to take her back, but instead he married her – she about 18.
Mr. Joseph Malott (father of Mrs. Girty) had started from Maryland with his family to migrate to Kentucky. On the Monongahela united with a Mr. Reynolds and got two boats – Mr. Malott (of French descent) had the cattle and horses placed in one, and the family in the other, Reynolds having charge of this boat – and Mr. Malott of the stock boat. They descended the river and somewhere on the Ohio in March (abt. 1778 ) while near shore in a bend or elbow of the river, concealed Indians fired, killed Reynolds, a small child and captured the family boat and about twenty prisoners altogether. There were Ralf Nailor and one Dowler, young men, and a Mr. Hardin and wife whose child was killed. Nailor said before giving up, he would have one shot, and shot killed an Indian. Mr. Malott had his cue shot off, and an eye of one of his horses shot out, but finally escaped with his boat and stock. He and his wife had besides Catherine (afterwards Mrs. Simon Girty) Theodore, Keziah, and Peter – Keziah married Robert Forsyth, who died at St. Louis in Indian trade agency. Peter and Theodore settled in Canada, and left many descendants.
Mrs. Reynolds had a black woman, and the Indians, by same freak, constrained the Negro woman to put on the best of Mrs. Reynolds’s clothing, and made Mrs. Reynolds act as her waiter.
Catherine Malott when taken was 14 years old, and was four years and four months in captivity. She died in January 1852, aged 88, thus born in 1764 – captured in 1778 – married in 1782 –
- 1. oldest child died in infancy, about 1783,
- 2. John died in infancy about 1784,
- 3. Ann, born about 1786, married Mr. Govro [Peter Geauvreau,]
- 4. Thomas Girty about 1788, died in 1812 from overheat and exhaustion in carrying a wounded British officer from Masuago – Girty a fine man, and class leader in the Methodist Church.
- 5. Sarah born in 1791 married Joseph Munger,
- 6. Prideaux Girty born Oct. 20th 1797, and died at Dayton, Ohio. – Jan. 1853.
Draper’s interview with John Girty and Simon Munger, September 8- 9, 1846, DM 3S:122-124.
Girty married a white woman, Miss Catherine Malott, who with her mother and two sisters and a brother were captured by the Indians – and Girty obtained her and their release, took them to Detroit, and married her. Major Prideaux Girty, is Major of militia, acted as such in suppressing the [?] of 1837 and is a magistrate. He has seven or eight children, and resides at Gosfield P.O., Essex County, Canada West – about 48 years old.
Draper’s interview with Sarah (Girty) Munger, December 15-16, 1864, DM 20S:195-218.
The Malott Captivity, and Girty’s marriage – Peter Malott, (not Joseph Malott, as some have stated) wife and four children, Mr. And Mrs. Runnels and three children and another family with five children were in one boat descending the Ohio, while Mr. Malott and two other men occupied another boat, in which was the stock – the stock boat went ahead – and seeing bushes cut and blinds made on shore, ordered the rear boat to push out farther from shore – when instantly the Indians rose up from behind their blinds, and fired – Mr. Malott had his wig shot off, but he and his boat escaped. In the family boat, Mrs. Runnel’s little girl, four or five years old (not her husband) was killed by a fatal shot – when one of the men in the boat made signs of going to shoot, when Mrs. Malott tried to dissuade him from it – he declared he would, and shot and killed an Indian. One of the Indians now jumped into the water, and seized the boat, and with others, soon had the possession.
The Indians, every night as they camped, held councils to decide the fate of the man who had killed one of their number; they finally saved him for the sake of getting the large reward offered by the British for prisoners, but loaded him heavily with plunder and compelled him to carry the weary burden.
Mrs. Sarah Malott was taken and sold to the British at Detroit, but her children were distributed among the Indians – but all were eventually rescued. Catherine, her daughter, was adopted in a chief’s place, by an old squaw, who had children grown, and was used well. Simon Girty became acquainted with, and attached to, her, and stole her away, she promising to marry him if he would rescue her from savage life. They were married at the mouth of Detroit river, by a German preacher named Vatsbaugh.
Mrs. Malott’s son Peter grew up, several years after – and went back to the old home region in Maryland, to see if he could learn any thing of the father, who supposing all his family had been killed, returned, re-purchased his old housestead , and married a young wife. When Peter came, and revealed the real state of affairs, the young Mrs. Malott sent word back by him to his mother, that if she would come, she should have her prior place as wife, and she the younger would leave. But the elder Mrs. Malott was a woman of great industry, had raised her family well for a new country, and had too much spirit to return under the circumstances – and declined going, and never more heard any thing concerning her husband, and she soon after died. She settled in Canada, and died early – about 1796 – Mrs. Munger does not personally remember seeing her.
Joseph Malott, the oldest of the descendants, about 70 years old, residing in Canada, lives near Kingsville – a younger brother, Peter, near there. [... Jim Sellars]
Catherine MALOTT and SIMON GIRTY , Traitor were married in 1784 in Malden Twp., Essex, Ontario, Canada.
SIMON GIRTY was born in Northwestern Pennsylvania. His father was an Irishman. "The old man was beastly intemperate. A jug of whisky was the extent of his ambition.' 'Grog was his song, and grog would he have.' His sottishness turned his wife's affection. Ready for seduction, she yielded her heart to a neighboring rustic, who, to remove all obstacles to their wishes, knocked GIRTY on the head, and bore off the trophy of his prowess."
There were four children at the time of the father's death: Thomas, Simon, George, and James.
During the old French war the three last were taken prisoners by the Indians. Simon was adopted by the Senecas, and became an expert hunter. His Indian name was Katepacomen. It must be passed to his credit that his early training as a savage was compulsory, not voluntary, as has generally been supposed. His tribe roamed the wilderness northwest of the Ohio; and when the expedition under Colonel Henry BOUQUET, at the close of Pontiac's war in 1764, marched into the western wilderness to punish the Ohio Indians, one of the hostages delivered to that commander by the latter was GIRTY. He escaped, however, soon after, and returned to his savage life. But, as one of the conditions of peace was the yielding up by the Senecas of all their captives willing or unwilling, GIRTY was compelled to return to the settlements, making his home in the vicinity of Pittsburgh.
GIRTY took part in DUNMORE'S war in 1774, on the side of Virginia, during which time he was the bosom friend and companion of Simon KENTON. He was intimately acquainted with Colonel CRAWFORD, taking sides with the latter in opposition to Pennsylvania rule, in the boundary controversy. He was frequently a guest at CRAWFORD'S hospitable cabin, on the banks of the Youghiogheny.
On the 22nd of February, 1775, he was commissioned an officer of the militia at Pittsburgh, taking the test and other necessary oaths upon that occasion. He aspired to a captaincy in the regular army; but in this he was disappointed; which, it seems, was the reason of his deserting to the enemy, early in the year 1778. It is probable, however, that his early education among the Senecas had much to do with his desire and resolution again to return to the wilderness. Much of his time previous to this had been employed in interpreting, as he was well skilled in Indian lore.
General HAND was commandant at Fort Pitt when GIRTY deserted to the enemy. The greatest consternation was produced at Pittsburgh when the event became known, as with him went a squad of twelve soldiers and the notorious ELLIOTT and MCKEE. From this defection the worst might reasonably be expected, as they would certainly have great power for mischief in persuading and assisting the Indians to murder and pillage.
The now assured hostility of this ignoble trio of desperados to the government of the United States-GIRTY, ELLIOTT, And MCKEE-made at this time a dark outlook from the border across the Ohio. Their evil designs might be calculated on with certainty. And, as was feared, they went directly to the principal town of the now vascillating Delawares, situated upon what is the present site of Coshocton, Ohio, where they came very near changing the neutral policy of that tribe, as has already been observed, into one of open hostility against the Americans.
They represented that the white people were embodying themselves for the purpose of killing every Indian they should meet, be he friend or foe; that the American armies were all cut to pieces by the British; that General WASHINGTON was killed; that there was no more Congress; that the English had hung some of the members, and taken the rest to England; that the whole country beyond the mountains was in possession of their armies; and that a few thousand Americans on this side were all that were left in arms; and that these, as just stated were determined to kill all the Indians in the western country-men, women and children.
Thus did Simon GIRTY signalize his return to the savages; but the Delawares still remained firm; and he and his two noted associates moved on to the westward, among the Shawanese upon the Scioto. However, the principal chief of the Delawares sent word to that tribe not to put confidence in their representations: "Grandchildren! (for so ran the message), "ye Shawanese! Some days ago, a flock of birds, that had come on from the east, lit at our village, imposing a song had come on from the east, lit at our village, imposing a song of theirs upon us, which song had nigh, proved our ruin! If these birds, which, on leaving us took their flight toward Scioto, endeavor to impose a song on you likewise do not listen to them, for they lie!"
GIRTY now started for Detroit. On his way thither he was captured by the Wyandots. Recognized, however, by some Senecas, the latter demanded him as their prisoner, stating at the same time the nature of their claim; that he had been adopted by them, and had afterwards joined their white enemies and taken up arms against them. But Leatherlips, a distinguished Wyandot chief, ignored their claim to the prisoner. "By your own showing," said,he, "he only returned to his own country and people. Ever after then you can have no claim upon him as one of your own. He is now found in our country bearing arms. He was captured by our warriors. He is our prisoner."
This argument was unanswerable, and the Senecas yielded the point. But GIRTY stated to his captors, in the Seneca language, that he had been badly treated at Fort Pitt, by his own people, on account of being true to the king and his cause, and was therefore forced to leave the country; and that he was on his way now to Detroit to take up arms against the Americans. He was thereupon set at liberty.
Arriving at Detroit, GIRTY was welcomed by HAMILTON, the commandant of the post, very cordially, and immediately employed in the Indian department, at sixteen York shillings a day, and sent back to the Sandusky, to assist the savages in their warfare upon the border. He took up his residence with the Wyandots. His influence soon began to be felt in the Indian Confederacy-sometimes with the Shawanese and again with the Wyandots on their murderous forays into the border settlements; he was always a leader with them.
His name became a household word of terror all along the border from Pittsburgh to the falls of the Ohio. With it was associated everything cruel and fiendlike. To the women and children in particular; nothing was more terrifying than the name of Simon GIRTY. Although he called himself "Captain GIRTY," yet whether he ever received a commission from the British government, as did his associate, ELLIOTT, is a mooted question. His lack of education was probably the cause, if he was not commissioned; he could not write his name. I am certain, however, that he was in the regular pay of Great Britain.
Strangely enough, one of GIRTY'S first exploits, after becoming fairly domiciled among the Indians, was highly creditable to him. Mention has been made of his intimacy, during DUNMORE'S war, with Simon KENTON. The latter was brought a captive to the Mac-a-chack town, in September, 1778, at which time GIRTY also happened to be in the Shawanese villages. KENTON was under sentence of death, and was to be burned at Wapatomika, just below the site of the present village of Zanesfield, Logan county, Ohio, where he was now awaiting his doom. GIRTY came to see the prisoner, and, as the latter had been painted black-a custom among the Indians when captives are to be burned-did not recognize his old associate. A few words between them, however, was enough for a recognition; whereupon GIRTY threw himself into KENTON'S arms, calling him his dear and esteemed friend. "Well," said he to KENTON, "you are condemned to die; but I will do all I can-use every means in my power to save your life."
GIRTY immediately had a council convened, and made a long speech to the Indians, in their own language, to save the life of their prisoner. This they consented to, and KENTON was placed under the care and protection of his benefactor, by whom he was well cared for. The Indians, however, again condemned him to death, but GIRTY induced them to take him to Sandusky, when, at the interposition of a captain in the British service, he was sent to Detroit, and finally effected his escape.
GIRTY now began his wild career against the border settlements. General MCINTOSH wrote from Fort Pitt, under date of 29th January following, that Captain CLARK, of the Eighth Pennsylvania regiment, while returning from Fort Laurens with a sergeant and fourteen men, was attacked three miles from that post, by Simon GIRTY and a party of Mingoes, who killed two of his men, wounded four and took one prisoner. From this time onward, to the approach of CRAWFORD and his army against Sandusky, his career is mostly known by his cruel visitations of the frontier. His headquarters were at Sandusky, where he exercised great influence over the Half King, head chief of the Wyandots. He was frequently at Detroit; and DE PEYSTER, the commandant, who had succeeded HAMILTON upon the capture of the latter at Vincennes, on the 25th of February, 1779, by George Rogers CLARK, found him ready for any undertaking, either against the Americans or the missionaries and their converts upon the Muskingum, as his hostility to the latter seemed as unbounded as to the former. Sharing with him in his hate were his associates, ELLIOTT and MCKEE.
In the early part of July 1779, a party of Indians, led by GIRTY, attempted to kill or capture David ZEISBERGER, one of the missionaries, who was then at Lichtenau, a Christian Indian village on the east bank of the Muskingum, two and a half miles below the site of the present town of Coshocton, Ohio, but which was deserted soon after. The missionaries, having received timely information of the design by the arrival of Alexander MCCORMICK, the trader living at Sandusky, were on the alert; and although the Moravian teacher came near being captured or killed, yet the assailants were so warmly received by the Delawares, who showed a determination, upon this occasion, to protect ZEISBERGER by all means in their power, that GIRTY was forced to retreat, "gnashing his teeth in impotent rage."
Upon the arrival of the Christian Indians and their teachers in the Sandusky country, in October 1781, they were brought almost face to face with their arch-enemy at the Half King's residence. GIRTY was one of the plotters of the scheme which resulted in the breaking up of the missionary establishments upon the Muskingum. He seemed to take delight in rudely treating the missionaries while in their winter quarters near Sandusky. The Moravian Heckwelder says: "At one time, just as my wife had set down to what was intended for our dinner, the Half King, Simon GIRTY, and another Wyandot entered my cabin, and seeing the victuals ready, without ceremony began eating."
In the final removal of the missionaries from the Indian country to Detroit, resulting in the entire disbanding of the Christian Indians, GIRTY was one of the chief instruments-a willing tool in the hands of the Half King-the power behind the throne.
Pomoacan was determined to drive the Moravians from the Sandusky. In April, just previous to the advent of CRAWFORD'S army, GIRTY tried to induce MCCORMICK, who was still a resident of the Half King's town, to write a letter to DE PEYSTER, at Detroit, for the Wyandot chief, implicating the missionaries as his enemies. But the trader refused. However, someone was found to write for him as he and GIRTY desired; and a response was soon received, ordering the Moravians to leave the country, and asking the Half King to give GIRTY assistance in bringing them and their families to Detroit.
On Mar. 1, a messenger, sent by the Half King and GIRTY, arrived at the rude cabins of the missionaries, ordering them to appear before them the next morning to hear the letter read. Accordingly, two of them, ZEISBERGER and HECKWELDER, although the order was for all to go, started for the residence of the chief, nearly eight miles down the river, where they finally arrived after a toilsome walk through the deep snow, and found GIRTY and the Half King already waiting for them at the house of MCCORMICK. At the meeting GIRTY insulted the Moravians, giving them the letter to read, with a string of black wampum to intimidate them. He extorted a written pledge from these teachers to meet him at Lower Sandusky in two weeks, with all the missionaries and their families, to be conducted by him to Detroit.
On the morning of Mar. 13, a Frenchman named Francis LEVALLIE, from Lower Sandusky, informed the missionaries that GIRTY had gone, with a war-party of Wyandots, against the border settlements upon the Ohio, and that he had been deputed to take his place. He told them, also, that GIRTY had ordered him to drive them before him to Detroit the same as if they were cattle, and not make a halt for the purpose of the women giving suck to their children; and that he should take them around the head of Lake Erie, and make them foot every step of the way. The humane Franchman saw fit, however, to disobey orders. He treated them kindly; and in four days journey brought them to Lower Sandusky, where they were hospitably received by ARUNDLE and ROBBINS, traders from Detroit, while LEVALLIE wrote DE PEYSTER to send boats for their transportation thence to their place of destination.
Awaiting the arrival of the boats from Detroit, the missionaries became uneasy lest GIRTY should return from his murderous foray against the Americans and find his orders disobeyed; in which event they would have the worst to fear. "He did return," is the testimony of HECKWELDER, "and behaved like a madman on hearing that we were here, and that our conductor had disobeyed his orders, and had sent a letter to the commandant at Detroit respecting us. He flew at the Frenchman, who was in the room adjoining ours, most furiously, striking at him, and threatening to split his head in two for disobeying the orders he had given him.
"He swore the most horrid oaths respecting us, and continued in that way until after midnight. His oaths were all to the purport that he would never leave the house until he split our heads in two with his tomahawk and made our brains stick to the walls of the room in which we were! I omit the names he called us by, and the words he made use of while swearing, as also the place he would go to if he did not fulfill all which he had sworn he would do to us. He had somewhere procured liquor, and would as we were told by those who were near him, at every drink renew his oaths, which he repeated until he fell asleep.
"Never before did any of us hear the like oaths, or know any one to rave like him. He appeared like an host of evil spirits. He would sometimes come up to the bolted door between us and him, threatening to chop it in pieces to get at us. No Indian we ever saw drunk would have been a match for him. How we should escape the clutches of this white beast in human form no one could foresee.
"Yet at the proper time, relief was at hand; for, in the morning, at the break of day, and while he was still sleeping, two large flat bottomed boats arrived from Detroit, for the purpose of taking us to that place. This was joyful news! And seeing the letter written by the commandant to Mr ARUNDLE respecting us, we were satisfied we would be relieved from the hands of this wicked white savage, whose equal, we were led to believe, was perhaps not to be found among mankind."
GIRTY afterwards returned to Sandusky and plotted against the Christian Indians, who after their teachers were gone, disbanded, most of them proceeding to the Scioto, while others, as before mentioned, stopped for a while in the neighboorhood, at Pipe's town-all intending to meet together, after some time, on the Maumee and there establish themselves-when, CRAWFORD's army approaching, a few, as already intimated, took up arms and joined the Delawares, under Captain PIPE. Shortly after the Christian Indians were thus scattered, news arrived of the probable invasion of the Sandusky country by the Americans and GIRTY now busied himself in assisting the gathering was as great with the war-chiefs of the Delawares as with Zhaus-sho-toh or the Half King. ELLIOTT, therefore, upon his arrival at Sandusky, as before stated, found GIRTY full of excitement and ferocious zeal.
Passing over the events of the few days following the advent of ELLIOTT to the Indian lines, wherein GIRTY, as we shall hereafter see, played a notable part, we lose trace of him to August following, when the 16th of that month, we find him the leader of a large Indian force against BRYANT'S Station, five miles from Lexington, Kentucky. The Kentuckians made such a gallant resistance that the Indians become disheartened and were about abandoning the siege, when GIRTY, thinking he might frighten the garrison into a surrender, mounted a stump within speaking distance and commenced a parley.
He told them who he was; that he looked hourly for reinforcements with cannon, and that they had better surrender at once, if they did so, no one should be hurt; otherwise he feared they would all be killed. The garrison were intimidated; but one young man named REYNOLDS, seeing the effect of this harrangue, and believing his story, as it was, to be false, of his own accord answered him: "You need not be so particular to tell us your name, we know your name and you too. I've had a villanous, untrustworthy cur-dog this long while, named Simon GIRTY, in compliment to you; he's so like you-just as ugly and just as wicked. As to the cannon, let them come on; the country's roused, and the scalps of your red cut-throats, and your own too, will be drying on our cabins in 24 hours."
This spirited reply produced good results. GIRTY in turn was disheartened, and, with his Indians, soon withdrew. The country was indeed aroused. The enemy were pursued to the Blue Licks, where lying in ambuscade, the Kentuckians, three days after, suffered a cruel defeat. This, it is believed, was the last battle GIRTY was in during the Revolution, as peace was soon after declared, and comparative tranquillity was restored along the western border.
During the next seven years but little is recorded of the noted desperado. He, however, remained in the Indian country, employed it is believed, most of the time, in trading with the savages. Certain it is that he lost meanwhile none of their confidence or esteem, for, when war again broke out between the United States and the Indians of the Northwest in 1790, rendered famous by the campaign of HARMAR of that year; of ST CLAIR, in 1791; and of Wayne , in 1794; GIRTY again became a famous character.
After ST. CLAIR'S defeat, a grand council was held at the confluences of the Maumee and the Auglaize, by nearly all the Northwestern tribes; to take into consideration the situation of affairs. Simon GIRTY was the only white man permitted to be present. His voice was for a continuance of the war. Another conference was held in 1793, and it was determined, mainly through the exertions of GIRTY, to continue hostilities. But the decisive victories of the next year, gained by WAYNE, forever destroyed the power of the Indians of the Northwest, and the famous treaty of Greenville brought about an enduring peace, in 1795.
In this second war against his countrymen, GIRTY made his first appearance in the attack on Dunlap's station, early in 1791- a point on the east side of the Great Miami river, eight miles from the spot where the town of Hamilton now is, in Butler county, Ohio, and seventeen miles from Cincinnati. The station was most gallantly defended, and GIRTY was compelled to retire without effecting its capture. The last battle in which he was known to be actively engaged was at St Clair's defeat, on Nov. 4, 1791, 23 miles north of the present town of Greenville, county-seat of Darke county, Ohio. Among the dead he found and recognized the body of General Richard BUTLER, second in command of the American army.
On the retreat and general rout of our army, GIRTY captured a white woman. A wyandot squaw who accompanied the warriors of her nation, perceiving this, demanded the prisoner, on the ground that usage gave all female captives to the women accompanying the braves. GIRTY refused and became furious, when some warriors came up and enforced a compliance with this rule of the Indians, to the great relief of the prisoner. The woman was afterward sold to a respectable French family in Detroit.
After this GIRTY was engaged in the Indian trade at Lower Sandusky, going thence to "GIRTY'S town," on the St. Mary's where he established a trading-house on the site of the present town of St Mary's, in Mercer county, Ohio, which he must have abandoned while General WAYNE was marching his army to the victory of the "Fallen Timbers" on the 20th of August, 1794, for he was present upon that occasion with his old associates, ELLIOTT and MCKEE, though they kept at a respectable distance from the contest, near the river. After the treaty of Greenville, GIRTY sold his trading establishment at GIRTY'S town to an Irishman named Charlie MURRAY, and removed to Canada, where he settled on a farm just below Malden, on the Detroit river.
GIRTY married in the neighborhood and raised a family. In vain he tried to become a decent citizen, and command some degree of respect. The depravity of his untamed and undisciplined nature was too apparant. He was abhorred by all his neighbors. In the war of 1812, GIRTY, being then nearly blind, was incapable of active service.
After the capture of the British fleet on Lake Erie, in 1813, and upon the invasion of Canada immediately after, he followed the British army on their retreat, leaving his family at home. He fixed his residence at a Mohawk village on Grand river, Canada, until the proclamation of peace, when he returned to his farm below Malden, where he died in 1818, aged over seventy years.
"The last time I saw GIRTY," writes William WALKER, "was in the summer of 1813. From my recollection of his person he was in height 5'6" or 5'7"; broad across the chest; strong, round, compact limbs, and of fair complexion. To any one scrutinizing him, the conclusion would forcibly impress the observer that GIRTY was endowed by nature with great powers of endurance."
SPENCER, a prisoner among the Indians, who saw GIRTY before he left the Indian country, was not favorably impressed with his visage: "His dark, shaggy hair; his low forehead; his brows contracted, and meeting above his short flat nose; his gray, sunken eyes, averting the ingenious gaze; his lips thin and compressed; and the dark and sinister expression of his countenance, to me seemed the very picture of a villain."
No other country or age ever produced, perhaps, so brutal depraved and wicked a wretch as Simon GIRTY. He was sagacious and brave; but his sagacity and bravery only made him a greater monster of cruelty. All of the vices of civilization seemed to center in him, and by him were ingrafted upon those of the savage state, without the usual redeeming qualities of either. He moved about through the Indian country during the war of the Revolution and the Indian war which followed, a dark whilwind of fury, desperation and barbarity. In the refinements of torture inflicted on helpless prisoners, as compared with the Indians, he "out-heroded Herod." In treachery, he stood unrivaled.
There ever rankled in his bosom a most deadly hatred of his country. He seemed to revel in the very excess of malignity toward his old associates. So horrid was his wild ferocity and savageness, that the least relenting seemed to be acts of positive goodness-luminous sparks in the very blackness of darkness! "I have fully glutted my vengeance," said the Mingo Logan, when he had taken a scalp for each of his relations murdered; but the revenge of Simon GIRTY was gorged with numberless victims, of all ages and of either sex! It seemed as insatiable as the grave itself. And what is the more astonishing is, that such insatiety could arise in any human breast upon a mere fancied neglect!-for it will be remembered that he deserted to the enemy because of not being promoted to the command of a company!
Of GIRTY'S fool-hardiness, there is ample testimony. He got into a quarrel at one time with a Shawanese, caused by some misunderstanding in a trade. While bandying hard words to each other, the Indian, by an innuendo, questioned his opponent's courage. GIRTY instantly produced a half-keg of powder, and snatching a fire-brand, called upon the savage to stand by him. The latter, not deeming this a legitimate mode of settling dispute, hastily evacuated the premises!
Upon one subject, however, GIRTY seemed to be ill at ease. He was curious to know of prisoners what was in store for him should he be captured by the Americans. The idea of falling into the hands of his outraged countrymen, was, in short, a terror to him. In the summer of 1796, when the British surrendered the posts of the northwest to the United States, GIRTY was at Detroit. When the boats laden with our troops came in sight, he became so much alarmed that he could not wait for the return of the ferry-boat, but plunged his horse into the river, at the risk of drowning, and made for the Canada shore, which he reached in safety; pouring out a volley of maledictions as he rose up the opposite bank upon the United States government and troops mingled with all the diabolical oaths his imagination could coin.
The grandfather of Rev. J. B. JOHNSTON, of St. Clairsville, O., who, during the Revolution, had command of a block-house in Westmoreland county, Pa., on one occasion held Simon GIRTY as a prisoner, but the date of the event we are unable to obtain. He effected his release by pretending to be friendly to the Americans.
Simon GIRTY was little, if any, less cruel and bloodthirsty than his brothers, but his restless activity and audacity, and his conduct in first pretending friendship for the American cause, and afterwards deserting to the British, made him the most notorious and hated of the family. He was cunning, unscrupulous, and almost constantly engaged, after his desertion from Fort Pitt, in some raid, or murdering, or plundering expedition. His shrewdness and daring, well fitted him for a leader in such enterprises.
There are many localities that have become historical by some tragic scene, or other notable event in this man's career, some of which bear his name. There is, near the Ohio, on the north side of Short creek, an abrupt termination of one of the river ridges, known as "Girty's point." It was his favorite place for striking into the interior. The path first used by the Indians is still used by the people of the neighborhood.
He left a family with a name execrated wherever he was known. [History of Northern WV Pan-Handle, by J.H. Newton, org. pub. 1879]
SIMON GIRTY , Traitor6,9,10 (son of Simon GIRTY and Mary NEWTON) was born in 1741 in Chambers Mill, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.8 Between 1778 and 1796 he was an interpreter for the British Indian Department.11 He died on 18 Feb 1818 in Malden Twp., Essex, Ontario, Canada.7
"Famous Traitor Simon Girty Was Here"
by Glenn D. Lough
Fairmont Times-West Virginian, May 14, 1972
Here is a story about Simon Girty, famous traitor and renegade, and his visiting this area as an old man in 1805. It comes from Peter Malotte, of Los Angeles, Calif., a descendant of Girty's brother-in-law, Peter Malotte, whose wife's father, a pioneer in our valley, was a long-time resident of old Monongalia County (the part now Taylor County), and lies buried near Knottsville a short distance from Grafton. For reasons too numerous to mention, I accept this story as true and expect to republish it, with certain genealogical data, in the forthcoming edition of "Awhile Ago Times."
Sometime prior to 1805, Girty, now suffering terribly from arthritis, heard that a Dr. Jehu Lash, living some 20 miles south of Morgantown, had, using certain herbs, cured his brother-in-law's father-in-law, Jacob Jones, of a "most severe case of rheumatism." The news gave Girty hope.
(Dr. Jehu Lash was many years a resident of the Prickett Settlement, Marion County area. His common-law wife was Phebe Morgan; their son, Jehu Lash, Jr., was first to purchase a lot in old Middletown, now Fairmont).
Later, in the summer of 1805, Girty and his brother-in-law, Peter Malotte (the name is sometimes spelled Malott), set out "a-horse-back" for the region at the mouth of Three Forks Creek (now Grafton) where, they had learned through correspondence with Malotte's relatives, the Jacob Joneses, Dr. Lash was then living. (Dr. Lash died at the Prickett Settlement, now Marion County, in 1816, and supposedly, was buried in the Prickett cemetery.) The journey of Girty and Malotte, that began at Girty's farm near Malden, Canada, and ended at present Grafton, was slow and (for Girty) very painful. It was mid- August when the two men finally arrived at the Lash cabin on Three Forks Creek.
Waited for Doctor
Here they were disappointed by the information that the doctor had gone into the mountains "herb-diggin" and might not return for weeks. Girty and Malotte went on, then, to Malotte's father-in-law's homestead near present Knottsville, and here, with Girty using the name of a first cousin, Simon Eckerlin, they remained for several days, until word came that the doctor was at "the Davisson farm" on Simpson Creek, treating a child for "horse-kick in the head."
In a day or two the doctor returned home, to the mouth of Three Forks Creek, and Girty stayed with him there for "some days," taking treatment.
No one anywhere around is known to have even so much as suspicioned that the old, gray-haired, arthritic man, hobbling about with a cane, was the once infamous "White Savage," Simon Girty, tall, lithe, astonishingly athletic. Certainly the Jacob Joneses did not have such suspicion or being total patriots, they would not have permitted him to enter their house. And Dr. Lash, had he even surmised the true identity of his patient, no doubt, would have shot him or fed him poison.
Whether the doctor's "cure" was effective is not known; but, if it was, the results were only temporary, for in his "Our Western Border," McKnight says that for several years before his death, in 1815, Simon Girty was stricken almost helpless by rheumatism and was totally blind. Girty died at his home near Malden, Canada.
Concerning his marriage to Katherine Malotte, sister to Peter Malotte, who accompanied Girty on his visit to our valley in 1805, McKnight says: "In March, 1779, a family of French descent, by the name of Malott (Malotte), left Maryland for Kentucky. At Fort Redstone (Brownsville, Pennsylvania.), on the Monongahela, where it was general for all emigrants to take arks or boats for Kentucky, they were joined by some other families, and embarked in two boats, one of them a stock boat under charge of Peter Malott, the head of the family. Mrs. Malott and her five children were in the rear of the boat, commanded by Capt. Reynolds. Mrs. Reynolds and seven children, and others, were also in the boat.
The Reynolds boat was attacked and captured by about 25 Indians, (in the Ohio River) some 40 miles below Wheeling. Capt. Reynolds was shot dead in the first onset, and another man and a child of Mrs. Hardin were also killed. The Indians secured much booty and no less than 19 prisoners.
Catherine Malott, the oldest child of Peter Malott, was 15 years old at the time of the capture, and was carried to one of the Shawnees towns on Mad River. Here Simon Girty came across her; and fell violently in love with her. This happened about three years after her capture, and while her mother was known by Girty to be in Detroit trying to collect her family from captivity.
The Indians refused to give the girl up, but on Girty's promising to return her to them after she had seen her mother in Detroit, they let her go with him. Once in 'Detroit, Girty married her. They had several children, and she survived her husband many years and died at a very advanced age.
Mrs. Malott died soon after her daughter's marriage to Girty, and her husband, Peter Malott Sr., returned to Maryland, his old home, and (Draper says) there married again.
His son, Peter, Jr., in 1790, married an Indian captive, Mary Jones, daughter of Jacob Jones, then living in Detroit in the home of Gen. McCoombs. She and her husband settled on their own farm on Grosse Isle, and later moved to Kingsville, Ont., after living for a short while near Malden.
It was while they lived near Malden that Mary Jones' husband, Peter Malott. Jr., accompanied his brother-in-law Simon Girty to the site of Grafton, Taylor County, W. Virginia., for Girty to take "the herb cure for arthritis" from Dr. Jehu Lash, a pioneer physician in the Marion County area.
He was buried at Near his cabin on private property owned by descendants.
By Dan Beard
Every Son of Daniel Boone should be familiar with the story of Simon Girty, so that he may avoid any act which would give occasion to his companions for giving him that name.
Boys who give away the secrets of their clubs or societies outsiders, boys who join a club or Fort of the Sons Daniel Boone and then desert it, are called Simon Girtys. though the Society was founded by the author four years ago, so far there has been no reported; but some boys do not seem to have a fair chance in this world; their surroundings in childhood and boyhood are such as to give them a wrong impression of life. These surroundings often serve as a kindergarten training for evil in place of good. There appears, however, to have been nothing remarkably bad about Simon Girty's father, and from all accounts his mother seems to have been a very estimable woman. Thousands of just such people inhabited our old frontier and their children and descendants often made the best type of American citizens.
Simon Girty, the renegade, Simon Girty, the savage, was the son of old Simon Girty, the packer, an Irishman who drove pack-horses through the wilderness and saved enough money from his wages to start himself as an unlicensed Indian trader. He married an English girl by the name of Mary Newton and they had four children. Tom, who was the eldest; Simon, born in 1741; then came Jim in 1743 and George in 1745.
In 1748 old Girty became a regular licensed Indian trader. The four Girty boys were good, wholesome children and under proper conditions might have become fine types of men, but they lived in the most notorious of backwoods settlements, known as Chambers-in-Paxtang, now known as Fort Hunter, in Dauphin County within walking distance of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Chambers-in-Paxtang was a place where the whites and Indians had many boisterous revels. One day old man Girty became quarrelsome and was killed by "The Fish," an Indian. According to the unwritten law of the backwoods it was the duty of the dead man's dearest friend to continue the quarrel.
Old Girty's most intimate friend was a fellow named Turner, who lived in the same house with Girty. Turner, upon the first opportunity, killed "The Fish," after which he married Mrs. Girty and thus became the stepfather of Simon and his brothers Tom, Jim, and George. But the old backwoods law was still in working order and some time afterward the Indians and children they subjected him to horrible tortures and finally took his life.
Such was the kindergarten training which young Simon Girty received, and it is not strange that he grew up to be more savage than the savages and became a cruel, unprincipled man, a traitor to his country, a renegade and leader among our Indian foes, a coarse, low type of a Benedict Arnold-the most hated man on the border. There is no doubt about his treachery and blood-thirsty cruelty or that he led the red man under orders from the British, yet he was not totally bad at heart, for he was true to his former comrade, Simon Kenton, and showed kindness to other prisoners, but to personal enemies he was brutal and cruel in the extreme.
Many of the stories and legends about him are untrue, and outrages and acts committed by other people have been laid at his door; still the fact remains that during the Revolutionary War, after first enlisting with the Americans, he went over to the British and was used by them as interpreter, scout, and also for the purpose of leading and inciting the Indians against the American settlers. He was present at the terrible torture of Col. William Crawford, and, if he took no part, he made no effort to help him. He threatened and used most terrible language to the captive missionaries. Girty led a number of forays, scalping the white settlers after the manner of the Indians, and wreaking a most terrible vengeance upon his former neighbors.
Girty was a brutal character. He could see women and children killed without disturbing his tough conscience, and could even take part in the forays where these acts were committed, and it is not improbable that he himself had a hand in them. But he was not always unkind.
On one occasion he patted a boy prisoner on the head and took him on his knee, as I have seen even a low type of criminal do. Neither was he always profane and threatening in his language in the presence of prisoners, although he seldom went out of his way to be kind to them; but as a rule the boy prisoners were better treated by Girty than any others, and this may have been because he himself remembered the time when, a little fellow, a prisoner among the Indians, he was compelled to witness the terrible scenes when white captives were brought in.
According to the written and verbal accounts that have come down to us, Simon Girty looked his character. He had very dark hair, dark eyes, a livid scar on his forehead, a short neck, and a heavy frame. He was by no means an Indian in character. He was much worse than the savages, for he lacked their many noble traits.
Girty was simply a mean type of a very bad white man. He is described on various occasions as being dressed as an Indian, but this was, probably, not his usual custom. We must remember that in those days all the backwoodsmen wore practically the same garb as the natives, omitting, of course, the feathered head-dress, which was replaced by the white pioneer's bearskin and coonskin caps. Girty sometimes wore a brace of silver mounted pistols in his belt, which were probably furnished him by the British.
He was an excellent hunter and woodsman. At times he became very abusive, quarrelsome, and noisy.
We must remember that Simon Girty was by no means one of the buckskin knights of American chivalry. He is the villain in the story of these old times, and, because his name is mentioned so frequently in story and legend, it becomes necessary to give a short account of him along with those of our grand old pioneers, for he lived at the same time as Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton, and Jonathan Chapman, affectionately known on the border as "Appleseed Johnny." (This brief sketch of Girty is useful, if for no other purpose than as a shadow, or dark side, of a picture, which is always necessary to give greater luster to the high lights.)
After the war of the Revolution was over Girty went to Canada and settled there. He was not killed in war, as many of the accounts declare, but lived to be a half-blind, rheumatic old man, and at length died, in Canada, from natural causes, February 18, 1818.
The Morris Massacre
Henry Morris was the first settler on Peter's Creek, which is now in Nicholas County. In the fall of 1791, a man came to his house and introduced himself as Mr. Allen and asked if he could stay with him all winter and hunt. There was a lot of bear, deer, elk, buffalo and small game in the area at that time. Mr. Allen said he had been with the Indians and had learned to hunter from them. Mr. Allen moved in with Henry and his family and they hunted together that winter and killed a lot of game.
Henry had a good bear dog at that time which he called Watch. Together they had caught several bears that winter. Henry had his dog with him when he was scouting for Indians, while in the Kanawha Valley, and the dog had learned to distinguish the scent of an Indian from any other scent. When he smelled the scent of an Indian, Watch would run around Henry, with his hair raised as if he were afraid.
During the last of March or first part of April 1792, Henry Morris traveled to the Kanawha Valley on business. While he was there he stopped to visit friends and relatives. He was talking with a group of friends and telling them about the man who had stayed with him and his family all winter. He told them Mr. Allen had learned to hunt from the Indians and was a very good hunter. A man who was listening asked Henry what Mr. Allen looked like and Henry described him. The man then said the description matched Simon Girty, who had murdered numerous women and children. He told Henry that he had been acquainted with Girty before he deserted the white people. Henry didn't believe it.
The man then continued to describe Simon Girty. Henry said he couldn't have described Mr. Allen any better if he had been looking at him. He said Girty had a scar on his head at his hairline. He told Henry which side of his head the scar was on and advised him to look when he got home.
It was late that evening when Henry got home. When he saw Mr. Allen, he knew he was in fact Simon Girty. When confronted he denied it. Henry then pushed the man's hair up and there was the scar as the man had described it.
Henry told him he was going to kill him. Girty still denied his identity and began to plead for his life promising he would leave in the morning. Henry was still determined to kill him but Henry's wife, Mary, asked him not to kill him because he might not be Girty and he had promised to leave the next morning. Henry relented but sat guard all night with his gun on his lap.
The next morning Girty left. When leaving, Girty tried to take the Morris's dog, Watch, with him. Two of Henry's daughters, Margaret "Peggy", 14 and Betsy, 12, called the dog back. Girty got angry, cursed the girls and said he'd get even with them.
About two or three weeks after the incident with Girty, Henry was returning home one evening, and at the head of Line Creek, which adjoined Peter's Creek, Watch began to growl and circle around Henry, behaving as he did when Indians were close. Henry continued home without seeing the Indians, but by the actions of the dog he knew they followed him closely. They were afraid to attack Henry for he was very good with a gun and he could load his rifle as he ran.
When Henry got to his house, John Young was there. He asked his wife where the girls were. Mary said she had sent them to the other side of the farm to get the calves. Henry told her Indians had followed him home.
Henry asked John if his gun was loaded and he said it was. Henry said he would reload his gun and they would go after the girls. As he stepped into the yard he heard the girls scream. He ran in the direction of the scream and yelled for John to follow. Henry beat John to the first girl, Peggy. She had outrun the Indian for fifty or sixty rods and would have gotten away, but she tripped. She had been tomahawked, scalped and her back was broken but she was alive and able to talk.
Henry asked her who did this to her and she said a red man and the man that stayed at their house last winter killed Betsy.
Henry asked her which way the Indian went. She told him and he started after the Indian but Peggy begged him not to leave her. When she finally agreed to let him go after the Indian he ran the way Peggy said the Indian had gone and finally saw him. He was setting sight on him and was about to pull the trigger when the Indian jumped over the bank of the creek behind some laurel. If he had been a few seconds earlier he would have gotten him. He went back to where Peggy was and he and John Young looked and found Betsy. She was dead, murdered by Girty. She was scalped and stabbed four times with a large butcher knife. The knife had gone entirely through her body three times making seven places.
Henry and John carried the two girls to the house. Peggy died before morning. The next day the neighbors gathered and buried the two girls in the same grave. The coffin was made of puncheons, a heavy, broad piece of roughly dressed timber with one side hewed flat. One was laid in the grave and the bodies of the two girls were placed side by side on it. Smaller pieces were cut and placed at each end and another puncheon placed over them.
The day after the girls were buried, Henry, his family and the other settlers went back to the Kanawha Valley. This was the second or third time Henry had to leave Peter's Creek because of the Indians.
The militia of Greenbrier was then raised. There were about one hundred men in the company. It was two weeks or more before they were ready to trail the Indian and Girty. They searched but were unable to find them so they returned to the Kanawha Valley. Henry and the settlers brought their families back to Peter's Creek. The Indians never again bothered them.
About ten years after the massacre an Indian came up the Kanawha River on his way to Lewisburg. He stopped at a settlement in the Kanawha Valley where people were gathered for a log-rolling event.
Whiskey was plentiful and soon the old Indian began telling his war tales. He told about killing “an old pale-face up the river here.” That man was Walter Kelly, who was killed at the mouth of the creek now named after him, Kelley's Creek. He also told how he and Simon Girty had killed the two Morris girls up the river. He said one of them ran so fast she would have got away if she had not been tripped by a grapevine and thrown down. He said the Morris girls were the only red scalps he had ever gotten.
Henry's brother, Ben Morris, was there and he wanted to kill the Indian at once, but the other men would not permit it. When the men had finished their day's work they returned to their homes and the Indian stayed there until the next morning at which time he started on his way to Lewisburg. Not long after he left a gunshot was heard up river. It was given no thought, as it was a common thing in those days to hear the sound of shooting.
There was a mail route from Lewisburg to the Kanawha Valley by which mail was brought through once every week or two. The mail carrier came through a day or two after the Indian left. The mail carrier was asked whether or not he had seen the old Indian. He replied that he had not met him. They began to suspect that Ben Morris had killed him and they began looking for him. About a quarter of a mile from where he stayed that night, they found him in a pawpaw bottom, shot through the heart by a large bore gun. They examined the bullet hole and decided that he had been shot with Ben Morris' hunting gun.
When and where Simon Girty died is not known. Henry Morris died in 1826, and was buried beside his two daughters. Their graves are located at Lockwood, Nicholas County, West Virginia.
THE CRUELTIES OF GIRTY
For the traitor there has been erected in every age and country a pillar of historic infamy. By whatever name he is known, renegade, turncoat, or Tory, mankind have for him one universal expression of contempt. His name, of all historic characters, is buried the deepest in the mire. He becomes a by-word, a hissing, a reproach among the nations of the earth. For him no curse is bitter enough, no oblivion black enough. He lives in the midst of the fiercest passions which darken the human heart. He is a hater and the hated. The rage which he excites among the followers of the cause which he has deserted is only equaled by the disgust and secret loathing which he inspires among the partisans of the cause which he has joined.
Of all enmities, that of the apostate is most bitter. Of all hatreds, that of the renegade is most bloody. Within him rage storms of wrath, without him storm tempests of calumny. When the occasion for his shame has passed, and he is no longer useful to the ranks of which he became the dishonored recruit, he is sent without the camp. He is spurned as a viper. He is shunned as a leper. He is despised as a devil.
Another man fights and falls in the cause of wrong, yet to him mankind accords the laurels of heroism. Upon his tomb the historians inscribes the legend, "He was mistaken, but he was great." From that time on his error is forgotten. His name is inscribed among those of the heroes and the martyrs. The philosopher moralizes upon his career. He points out the fact that the dead was in the grasp of immutable laws; that he was not his own master; that ancestry, birth, place, temperament, surroundings, fortune, accident, and circumstances are the powers which have controlled him, in whose Titanic grasp he was but a puppet. This is the charity of history. This is the kindness of philosophy. This is the imperial task to which the human mind of after ages devotes herself, the task of preserving and immortalizing Truth, heroism, and Honor, where-ever found.
Not so with the renegade. He is the abhorrence of all future generations. He may have fallen fighting in the ranks of the brave and true. No matter. Above his grave rises the black shaft of shame he may have made fearful sacrifices. He may have deserted one cause and joined another from an honest intellectual conviction. It is nothing. For him men have but epithets of shame, sneers of derision. He is disowned and dishonored. For him there is no charity. His virtues pass into oblivion. His solitary crime of apostasy becomes over-shadowing and colossal. Philosophy refuses to inquire into the origin and reasons of his infamy. He, to, may have been a puppet, moved by invisible wires from remote agencies. Yet for his sin there is no atonement, no mercy-seat. His name is inscribed with those of Benedict Arnold and Brutus, of Julian and Judas Iscariot.
Concerning such characters the real truth is never known. The whirlwinds of abuse, which overwhelm their lives, throw dust in the eyes of the historian. He sees only a vast mass of slanders, invectives, reproaches, and vilifications. There seems to have been no good in the man. Passion, it may be, has exaggerated his vices. Enmity may have lied about his virtues. But the exact truth can never be obtained. He may have been worse than he seems; he may have been better than he seems. Concerning these things it is impossible to judge.
To the ranks of traitors of which we have been speaking belongs Simon Girty, the renegade, or the White Savage. It is not impossible that he has been slandered. We can not tell. The story of his life is certainly a black one.
Among all the Tories of the Revolution Simon Girty was the most notorious. He was born in north-western Pennsylvania. His father was an Irishman. "The old man was beastly intemperate. A jug of whisky was the extent of his ambition. Grog was his song, and grog he would have. His scottishness turned his wife's affection. Ready for seduction, she yielded her heart to a neighboring rustic, who, to remove all obstacles to their wishes, knocked old Girty on the head, and bore off the trophy of his prowess."
The murdered man had been an Indian trader. He left four boys, Thomas, Simon, George, and James. During the Old French war the three younger boys were taken captive by the Indians. Inheriting the nature of savages, their surroundings only developed them. Each was adopted into an Indian tribe. Each became a blood-thirsty ruffian, and during long careers of violence inflicted every cruelty upon the persons and families of the white settlers.
Of the three brothers Simon became the most notorious, as he was the most wicked. At the close of Pontiac's war, Girty was delivered to Bouquet as a hostage for the good behavior of the Senecas, of which tribe he was a member. The savage propensities of the young ruffian were so strong that he escaped from his civilized companions, and sought again the wild and wicked life of the wigwams. Strangely enough his appetite for barbarism was at this time forced to remain unsatisfied. The Senecas, being bound by the condition in the treaty of peace, deliberately took Mr. Girty by force, and dragged him back to Pittsburgh.
Of course, when Dunmore's war broke out in 1774, Girty's natural taste for scenes of violence led him to take an active part. Here he met Simon Kenton, for whose life he afterwards interceded with the Wyandots. Here, too, he met Colonel Crawford, at whose hospitable cabin on the Youghiogheny he was a frequent guest. In attempting to account for his subsequent treachery and desertion, the border writers mention incidents, which tradition reports as having transpired about this time.
One story goes that he aspired to the hand of one of Crawford's daughters. The refusal, with which his advances were met, poisoned his malignant heart with a sleepless longing for revenge. This account is supposed to furnish some reason for Girty's awful inhumanity to Colonel Crawford some years later.
Another story runs to the effect that Girty and another scout, having rendered some two or three months' service in the militia, without receiving their pay, repaired to the headquarters of General Lewis, and insolently demanded that the arrears of salary be made up. The military discipline of the time seems to have been a little singular, for General Lewis not only received the application with a storm of curses, but proceeded to exercise himself in bloodying the heads of the two scouts with several severe blows from his cane. Strangely enough this style of reception and military etiquette displeased the untutored scouts. Girty picked himself up, and shaking his fist at the general, with a fearful oath, threateningly said, "Sir, for this your quarters shall swim in blood."
On Feb. 22, 1775, a day which, at that time, was not yet celebrated as the birthday of the Father of his country, Girty became a commissioned officer in the militia at Pittsburgh. In accordance with English laws, he took the necessary oaths of allegiance to the king and his abhorrence of papacy.
Here, again, the ingenious border writers find a reason for Girty's faithlessness. They say he aspired to a captaincy, but was only made an orderly-sergeant. This affront his sensitive soul could by no means endure. He remained, however, in the service at Fort Pitt until the early part of 1778. That his real sympathies, if such his inclinations might be called, were with the Indians, among whom he had been raised, and not with the struggling cause of the colonial patriots, is natural, and easy to believe.
A savage seeks the society of savages, just as surely as a gentleman seeks that of a gentleman. Accordingly we find Girty, together with a pair of precious scoundrels, McKee and Elliott, and twelve followers, one day making up their packs and deserting from Fort Pitt. The news spread far and wide over the agitated frontiers. Wherever the ruffians went, they spread lies about the defeat of the American forces, the triumph of the British, and the intention of the colonists to avenge their defeat by the murder of every Indian in the Ohio valley. The settlers trembled for the safety of their families. The mischief which the white scoundrels might work among credulous and excitable savages was incalulable. Their evil designs were looked upon as a matter of certainty.
Nor did the fears of the settlers exaggerate the real dangers of the situation. The Indians were made to believe that George Washington was killed, and that the members of Congress were hung in the very chambers where they had been accustomed to deliberate. As poor Heckewelder said speaking of the renegade's visit to Gnadenhutten: "It was enough to break the hearts of the missionaries."
Girty started for Detroit. On the way he was captured by the Wyandots. Some Senecas demanded that he be delivered up to them to them, on the ground that he was an adopted member of their tribe, and had taken arms against them. In fact, Girty's national allegiance was a little mixed. Was he a traitor to the Senecas, or to the Americans, or to both, or to neither? For this enigma, the Wyandot chief had a solution. "He is our prisoner." Such logic won the day. By shrewd explanations that he was now devoted to their cause Girty procured himself to be set at liberty, and proceeded to Detroit. Here the commandant, Hamilton, gave him a hearty reception. He was at once employed by the British upon a salary to incite the Indians to warfare upon the unprotected settlers of the border.
Girty was now in his element. To the instinctive ferocity of his own nature, he added the relentless zeal of the renegade. His name became a household word of terror all along the border, from Pittsburgh to Louisville. About it hung every association of cruelty and fiendishness. Dressed and painted like an Indian, he seemed, as he really was, the very incarnation of fierceness and brutality. Inheriting from his Irish ancestry a capacity for rude eloquence, with which the children of the Emerald Isle are often gifted, his terrible voice rose high and commanding above all the hideous clamor and savage din of every Indian council-house. Convulsed with fury, a human volcano in eruption, he awed the savages themselves by the resistless torrents of his rage, and excited their admiration and emulation by his infinite thirst for blood and infernal schemes of vengeance.
The picture of the man, as it is preserved for us in the tales of the borders, represents him as a monstrosity in human form. We can fairly hear him yet, as he stalked through the village, or galloped through the forest, filling the air with an awful din and roar of oaths and curses. He it was who inspired and directed the many attacks on the settlers of the Ohio valley. It was the diabolical brain of Girty which tormented the Christian Indians of the Moravian settlements, drove them from spot to spot, and placed them in that ambiguous position which the pioneers mistook for treachery or hostility, and which resulted in the slaughter of more than ninety of their number.
One, among many instances of his cruelty toward them, must be related. Shortly after the massacre at Gnadenhutten, Heckewelder, Zeisberger, and two other missionaries were ordered by Girty to meet him on the lower Sandusky. Here they were hospitably received by some traders. The traders told them that Girty had commanded them to proceed to Detroit forthwith. But exhausted by their toilsome journey of foot, the missionaries availed themselves of the kind invitation of the trader to remain at this point for a week or so.
Here, for the first time, they learned of the awful tragedy on the Muskingum. Their minds were greatly uneasy, not only by reason of the fearful news, but also from as apprehension that Girty might return from a terrible expedition against the frontiers and find his orders disobeyed with regard to their being taken to Detroit.
The two missionaries were quartered in different houses, separated by some distance. Between them lay the restless and filthy town of the Wyandots. For the missionaries to pass through the village and visit one another was an undertaking of considerable danger. Nevertheless, it was attempted a time or two. One day, when the Indian village seemed all quiet, Heckewelder ventured to cross it to the house where his friends were lodged. He reached the place in safety.
While engaged in conversation, the missionaries were horrified and startled by two scalp-yells from different directions. Two war-parties were just returning. Heckewelder at once started from the house, which stood on a lofty ridge of ground, to make his way back to his quarters. The elevated ground prevented the people of the village from hearing the scalp-yell of the war-party approaching from the rear of the house in which Heckewelder was talking. The savages all ran in the opposite direction to meet the other party. Heckewelder followed in their rear, and passed the deserted village in safety.
But the missionaries' troubles were not ended. Girty returned, and behaved like a madman on learning that they were there. "He flew at the Frenchman," says Heckewelder, "who was in the room adjoining ours, most furiously, striking him, and threatening to split his head on two, for disobeying the orders he had given him. He swore the most horrid oaths respecting us, and continued in that way until after midnight. His oaths were all to the purport that he would never leave the house until he split our heads in two with his tomahawk, and made our brains stick to the walls of the rooms in which we were! I omit the names he called us by and the words he made use of while swearing, as also the place he would go to if he did not fulfill all which he had sworn he would do to us. He had somewhere procured liquor, and would, as we were told by those who were near him, at every drink renew his oaths, which he repeated until he fell asleep.
"Never before did any of us hear the like oaths, or know any one to rave like him. He appeared like a host of evil spirits. He would sometimes come up to the bolted door between us and him, threatening to chop it in pieces to get at us. No Indian we ever saw drunk would have been a match for him. How we should escape the clutches of this white beast in human form no one could foresee."
The poor missionaries passed a miserable night, within the sound of the fearful ravings of the monster. When morning dawned they were fortunately enables to leave the place in a boat which was going to Detroit.
The wicked and devilish part which Girty played in the execution of Colonel Crawford is given in another chapter, as is also the incident of a different character, in which he attempted to save Kenton's life. Toward the close of the Revolutionary War a thread of romance is twisted like a skein of gold through the dark web of Girty's career.
In March 1779 a family of immigrants named Malott embarked on the Monongahela in two flat-bottomed boats for a voyage to Kentucky. Mrs. Malott and her five children, with Captain Reynolds, were in the rear boat. Mrs. Reynolds, several children, and a Mrs. Hardin were in the forward boat. Some forty miles below Wheeling the little fleet, in which there were also some canoes, was attacked by Indians.
Several of the voyagers were killed, and no less than nineteen of them taken prisoner to the squalid villages of the Delawares and the Wyandots. Among these was Catharine Malott, then fifteen years old. Some three years afterward, when Mrs. Malott had obtained her liberty at Detroit, she seems to have employed Girty to trace her children. He found Catharine, a very pretty girl, adopted into an Indian family. The people being very proud of her, refused to give her up. Girty's influence, and a well-timed promise, which was never intended to be kept, that she should be returned after visiting her mother in Detroit, secured her release.
Once at Detroit, Girty married her. During the next seven years, Girty softened somewhat by his new relations, remained comparatively quiet, leading the life of an Indian trader. For a while he was tolerably quiet. In time, however, he became a hard drinker, and was separated from his family.
When the Indians of the west, after some years of comparative quiet, following the close of the Revolutionary War, combined in one last and furious effort to drive the white man from the territory of their fathers, an attempt which was met by the memorable and unfortunate expedition of General Harmar in 1791, by the no less tragic campaign of St. Clair in 1791, and finally, by the triumphant and overwhelming blow inflicted by General Wayne in 1794, Simon Girty again became prominent among the savages. At every council his voice was lifted in the support of bitter, relentless, and continued war. He was present, animating the Indian forces by his reckless courage, at each important battle of these campaigns. One incident early in 1791 has been preserved.
A party of hunters from Cincinnati were startled by the discharge of fire-arms from the neighborhood of Dunlap's Station. This was a settlement on the Great Miami River, eight miles from Hamilton. Here the settlers had erected several block-houses, connected by a stockade, fronting southward on the river at a point where the water is deep. The hunters beat a hasty retreat for Cincinnati, 17 miles away. No one doubted that the station had been attacked by Indians.
Before daylight seventy men left Cincinnati for the relief of the station. On arriving at the fort, they learned that the Indians had withdrawn. One man had been killed by a shot fired through a crack between the logs. Not far from the fort they found the body of Abner Hunt. It was mangled, the brains beaten out, and two war-clubs lain across the breast. Hunt had been out with three companions named Wallace, Sloan, and Cunningham, exploring the country. Cunningham was killed on the spot by an ambuscade of Indians; Hunt was captured only to be subsequently put too death. Wallace took to flight. Two fleet Indians pursued. In his flight Wallace had the misfortune to be tripped and thrown by the loosening if his leggins. He pluckily tied them up, and escaped in spite of the mishap. Sloan and Wallace carried the news of the Indians' approach to the fort.
Before sunrise on the Jan. 10, the women of the fort, while milking the cows, raised an alarm cry that the Indians were upon them. Before the fight was begun, Simon Girty strode forward toward the fort, driving Abner Hunt before him by means of a rope, with the prisoner was bound. Within speaking distance of the fort was a large stump. This Girty compelled Hunt to mount and to urge the surrender of the fort in the most earnest manner. Lt. Kingsbury, in command at the station, replied that he would not surrender if he were surrounded by 500 devils and persuaded to do so by Demosthenes himself. An Indian shot at him, and struck off the white plume from his hat. Girty, to revenge himself for this disappointment, drove poor Hunt back to a spot on the plain, which, though out of range of the guns, was in full view of the garrison. Here he proceeded to torture the unhappy wretch, and finally put him to death.
This scene over, the Indians began a desperate attack. They fired from behind stumps, trees, and logs. A pile of brush near the stockade was soon in flames. The Indians then rushed forward with fire-brands to burn the block-houses, but they were driven back by a whirlwind of bullets. All day long the attack was continued. Night brought no relief. The entire number in the fort was about 30 men, and as many women and children. Girty conducted the attack with great boldness and ingenuity. But the stubborn resistance of the defenders of the station successfully met him at every point. Both men and women teased the savages by momentarily exposing themselves above the pickets and inviting a shot.
That night, at 10 o'clock, John S. Wallace attempted to leave the fort, in order to make his way to Cincinnati and procure relief. So vigilant were the besiegers, that he was unable to pass through their lines. For three hours he continued his attempts. Driven back each time, he next turned his attention to the river. The night was very dark. There were no indications of the presence of savages on the opposite bank.
About 3 o'clock in the morning, Mr. Wallace and a soldier named William Wiseman, got into a canoe, and silently paddled across the river. They then made their way on foot through the river bottoms for a couple of miles. An attempt to cross the river on the floating ice proved unsuccessful. At the spot where New Baltimore stands, they at last did get across, and early in the day met the relief party from Cincinnati, of which we have already spoken.
Another battle in which Girty was known to be engaged was that which resulted if St. Clair's defeat, twenty-three miles north of Greenville, Ohio. During the rout of the American army, Girty captured a white woman. A Wyandot squaw once demanded that the female captive be given to her, in accordance with the Indian custom. Girty refused, and became furious. The decline of his influence, a thing which has been experienced by every renegade, is shown by the fact that the warriors came up and forced Girty to give up the captive.
After this we hear of Girty establishing a trading-house on the site of the present town of St. Mary's, Mercer County, Ohio. Girty was also present at the famous battle of Fallen Timbers, in 1794, after which he moved to Malden, Canada. He was perpetually haunted by the fear of falling into the hands of the Americans. In 1796, when Detroit was upon the point of a final surrender by the British, he happened to be in the city. Some boat loads of American troops were coming into sight. Girty would not wait for the ferry-boat, but excitedly plunged his horse into the Detroit River, and made for Canada shore, pouring out volleys of curses upon the Americans all the way.
In 1813, a Mr. Workman, of Ohio, stopped at a hotel kept by a Frenchman in Malden. Sitting in the bar-room in a corner by the glowing fire-place was a blind and gray-headed old man. He was about 5'10" in height, broad across the chest, and of powerful and muscular build. He was then nearly 70 years old. The old man was none other than the notorious Simon Girty. He had been blind for four years, and was afflicted with rheumatism and other intolerable diseases, a perfect sot, a complete human wreck. He lingered on through two more years of misery, and, at last, died without a friend and without a hope. [Retyped and reformatted by Ray and Kathy Leigh]
Catherine MALOTT and SIMON GIRTY , Traitor had the following children:
- 1. 14 i. John GIRTY was born in 1785.
- 2. +15 ii. Nancy Ann GIRTY.
- 3. 16 iii. Thomas GIRTY was born in 1788.
- 4. +17 iv. Sarah GIRTY.
- 5. +18 v. Prideaux GIRTY.
Simon Girty's Timeline
Chambersburg, Lancaster County (Present Franklin County), Province of Pennsylvania
February 10, 1788
Malden, (Present Essex County), (Present Ontario, Province of Quebec (Present Canada)
April 18, 1792
Malden, Essex County, Ontario, Canada
October 20, 1796
February 18, 1818
Malden, Essex County, Upper Canada (Present Ontario), British North America (Present Canada)