Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Captives' Ordeal

In writing the story of our ancestors, I’m now at the point in where Jakob and his sons are being carried away from their home by the Indians who killed their family members and burned their farm. According to the account Jacob gave the British after he escaped from the village where he was held captive for seven months, quoted in Our Flesh and Blood by Beth Hostetler Mark, they were taken on a 21-day journey from his home near present-day Shartlesville, Pennsylvania, to the French stronghold Fort Presque Isle on the shore of Lake Erie.

The following vivid account of the ordeals Indian captives suffered is taken from The Descendents of Jacob Hochstetler.

A Captive's Ordeal
Prisoners were always subject to many abuses on arriving at Indian Villages: every old squaw or young Indian would hit them with switches and sometimes clubs and tomahawks. This was known to Hochstetler, who had saved some of the peaches from his home. He now with his sons approached the chief and those near him and presented them some peaches. This so pleased the chief that he immediately ordered the abuses stopped. It also saved them from what is called running the gauntlet, which was as follows: All Indians in the village or camp, both sexes, young and old, would stand in two rows facing each other, armed with switches, sticks and sometimes tomahawks or other implements and the unfortunate captive was made to pass through between the two columns, every one striking and some endeavoring to impede their progress by throwing sand or dust into their eyes, and woe unto one that was slow in running; such a one was beaten unmercifully. At the end of the row stood the guardhouse, where the prisoner for the time was free; but some indeed never reached it.

The details gleaned from recent research all indicate that our ancestor Jacob must have been a strong, intelligent, resourceful, and persistent man to have endured what he did, found a way to escape and return home, and then pursue efforts to locate until finally his sons were returned to him. More important is the faith he demonstrated throughout his ordeal that serves as an example to us all. 

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