Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The Diary of John Gyles, 1689:

The Diary of John Gyles, 1689:

"My honored father took my two eldest brothers and me to a field near the river. We planned to spend the day gathering the harvest. After we had dined at noon, we went again to our labors, some in one field gathering corn, while the others went to a nearby field to gather hay. About one o'clock, we heard shots. My father expressed the hope that they had been fired by British soldiers stationed in the area to protect the inhabitants.

We retreated to our barn where, to our great surprise, 30 or 40 Indians discharged a volley of shot at us from behind rising ground. The whistling of their shot and their horrid howls so terrified me that I tried to run away. My brothers went one way and I ran another.

Looking back, I saw a stout, painted fellow after me with a gun and a cutlass, which any moment, I expected to feel crashing through my brains. I tripped and the Indian came upon me, seizing my left hand. He offered me no abuse, but tied my arm tightly, then lifted me up and led me away. The Indians also captured my brother James, but Thomas, my elder brother, made good his escape across the river.

After doing what mischief they could to the farm, the Indians made us sit with them as they ate; then we were marched eastward a quarter mile, where we halted again, and my father was brought to us.

My father stated he was a dying man and he wanted an opportunity to pray with his children. The Indians called my father a brave man, and allowed his request. Father solemnly recommended us to the protection of God, then he gave us his best advice; and finally, very weakly - he took his leave. He parted with a cheerful voice, but he looked so pale, because of his great loss of blood. The Indians led him aside, then I heard the dull blow of a hatchet, but not a shriek or groan from father."

"We left Meductic and went up the Saint John River about ten miles . . . to where there was a wigwam. At our arrival, an old squaw saluted me with a yell, taking me by the hair and one hand; but I was so rude as to break her hold and free myself. She gave me a filthy grin and the Indians set up a laugh, so the incident was passed over. Here we lived upon fish, wild grapes, roots, berries, etc., for several months."


Jane said...

That was a tragic tale,but how did the boys get away from the indians? And we think we have it rough! Blessings jane

Le Loup said...

Hi Jane. There were five children, one girl and four boys. The girl and two boys avoided capture. John was aventually purchased by a French family who later he managed to save from the British & their Indian allies. For this he was given his freedom later on when the French family's Father returned to find his family safe. When he was freed, his younger brother Tad went to claim him.
James was not so lucky, after many years with the Indians he decided to escape. He was tracked down & killed.
Regards, Keith.