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WILLIAM VAN BURKELOW
1783-1867

This is a document that I received from Helen Walts of Hurst, TX. The story is about, William Van Burkleo, one of her ancestors. His age is approximately the same as Isaac D. Van Burkelow. Isaac came to western Kentucky about the same time that William ventured down the Ohio to Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri. His travels are related in the following text. In the papers Helen Walts sent me there is mention of an Isaac as a witness on some probate documents. William Van Burkleo is from Kent county in Delaware. Isaac also listed Delaware on Kentucky census records as his place of birth. I suspect very strongly that they are related to each other.

The following text is from the State Historical Society of Missouri. The story was originally published by the Banner News. It is William's own account of his travels as a 10 year old boy from the headwaters of the Ohio river to Kentucky and eventually his home near St. Louis.

>>>You can read a version with editied text also - Click Here<<<

This is a small sketch of my life and of ancient times from 1794, at which time I was 10 years old. I was born in the state of Deleware, Kent Co. in June 11, 1784. When I was about 4 years old my father moved to the Monongahela (Valley?) where he stayed two years and then moved to Kentucky in the hottest Indian times. Three families of us inbarked in a flat boat for Limestone, which is now in Mason county, Kentucky. When we arrived there I saw the first (example of) Indian barbarity. There were three flat boats just landed which started a day before we did. (We?) had been delayed by a large number of Indian canoes. The boats were well made. The atttack was made in the night. The Indians attempted to land the boats but were bravely resisted by all in the boats. Men, women and children they fought with guns axes knives. The Indians, after a long fight and loss of a great many men, retreated and the boats floated on until they came to Limestone where they got help to land. They had just landed when we got there (and) the scene was so alarming that I never will forget it. I think there was about 60 souls big and little amongst which there was but one man and two women that was killed or wounded. My father went on board the boats and I went with him. Of all the horrid sites I have ever witnessed it was the worst. Some dead and dying, some crying, some mourning. There were horses, cattle and people lying dead all over the boats.

We then moved out amongst on the waters of Licking (River) to Miles Station where times were pretty warm. The first night we got there the Indian stole all our horses from the wagons which was within a few steps of the block house. (So for the while we stayed in Kentucky.)

On the first Sunday morning after we got to the station a young man went out to get his horse and the Indians had tied the horse in the brush with the bell open. (They) killed the young man and scallped him in sight of the block house. We stayed there and lived on wild meat and homney bread pound in a morter until the war was over.

The year (Wayne) whip (with?) my father volunteered and went to Ohio and joined the Army as a spy. As soon as (Wayne's?) last battle was over he returned home, which was the first Indian scalp I ever saw. He brought 2 or 3 scalps, a tomahawk (and) some other trinkets which was a great test in the station. He then moved to Ohio. We arrived at Cincinnati a few days after (Wayne's Treaty) with the Indians. Cincinnati was a smawl village. We remained their until the fall of 1798 when old David Dust returned home from his country on visit to see his brother who was taken prisoner by the Indians and brought to this country.

David Dust was a close neighbor to us. He brought such great news about the Spanish country. My father fixed up and we started with his family in one small flat boat and his cattle in a large boat. The ohio was so that we could not get along. We then turned the cattle out on the Indian side and drove them along the bank and lay with the boat that had the family every night which was very bad. The buffalo and bear often scared the stock and gave us much trouble.

We got to the 6 mile island, which was 6 miles above Louisville (the) last of november where we put up for winter . We wintered finely (as game) was plenty.

Aas soon as they broke he bought a flat boat and put the cattle aboard and set out again and floated until we come to Ft. Massac (Illinois) where there was a garrison of soldiers. There we had to stop and get a passport. We then floated on until we got to the mouth of The Ohio (River) where we stopped to kill bear meat to do us through the summer. Intending to make a "pevogue" (might be a type of raft or boat) to come up in but accidently there was a keele boat come along going to the solen after salt. We got the family in that and crossed the cattle over the mississippi through swamps and marshes which was a sever job. I waded many times to my waist through (Cypress weeds) and falling over them in the water until I was half drowned until we got (to)Cape Girardeau which was the first settlement. We found there was Laramore which was an Indian chief and comident (Commandant?)

When we got there we hadn't eaten anything for 2 days . Hhe gave us some homney and dry venison which was great nourishment. We then drove on through the shone (Shawnee or Shoshone?) and dilawar (Delaware) town where we found a great deal of friendship. They gave us dry venison to last us misear as was cold then which is where we found the family.

Father rented a house for the summer picked out his in bobveeta bottom (and) moved into it in the fall and became neighbors to the Indians for their own town was only 4 miles from us. He became so dissatisfied that he determined to leave the country and sold out intending to get it all in salt and take it to Nashville, (TN?) Salt was worth 4 dollars a bushel then in Tennesee and intended buying cotten and taking it up the ohio. He moved to (salenes?) to collect it. He (there?) got his debts all turned over on (Speners?) and left have books they was carrying on the slat (salt) works. He stayed there a year trying to collect it and the (broke) and he lost it all but abought hundred bushels. He then moved to St. Charles , (MO) which was called petit coat and stayed their one year. Being still dissatisfied took what he had in salt and went to Tennesee (and) sold it for cotten and started up the ohio. I was 14 years old. He gave me (the) choice to go. (I) thought it best to come back here. I got back about the last of September.

When I got to St. Charles, (MO) there was 2 men by the name of Garder that was fitting out for a expedition up the Missouri (raping?) I joined them and went along. We went abought 5 hundred miles up the Missouri (river) and when we got amongst the hostile Indians there I learned my first lesson about Indians. We were in a canoe and had to dodge from side to side of the river to keep out of their way. Sometimes we would slip up some of the small rivers where he was afraid to shoot and then we would live on beaver meat when there was plenty of buffalo and deer all around us we. We was 7 months that we saw no white man nor had neither bread nor salt. In the spring we come down the river lamen. We met 2 hunters.

About the last of may we come down to mak e arrangements to start up again the next fall. When I got to St. Charles their was a man waiting for me with tidings from my mother that father was dead as she wished me to come to her assistance. I started the young man and myself in a bark canoe which I brought down with me to the mouth of (the) Ohio. Then walked up the Ohio killing our meat as we went till we got to the volking cave (could be "Cave-in-rock" IL) on the Ohio where I found my mother with 7 children. I then bought a large pevouge and hired 2 young men and started back . Before we got to the mouth of the Ohio 2 of my little brothers died. But we come on taking us pretty near all summer to get to portage desoux (Portage De Souix, MO). I stayed with her til (she) married old Mr. Gatey and since that time I have been strugling for myself.

In 1811 I was married. I then bought 100 arponds of land at 1 dollar per arpond. It join hisen (his) and overall, in the point I paid for it with 200 bushels of corn.

The next fall I was in debt to old James Mongon. 75 dollars for my wedding suit which consisted of a hat, coat, shirt and pants of a cheap quality which I paid for the same fall in venson and poultry. Then said to my wife we are out of debt and got a good peace of land. I ask no odds of the world.

I then worked on at home and abroad having good luck until the fall of 1812 when the Indian war broke out when my god look turned to bad luck. Some time about the first of october in the night I was warned to be at portage desoux the next morning by sun up armed and equipped for their was a great body of Indians at the south of Illinois. I started before day the next morning and was there by day light.

The company met and was mustered by Capt. Samuel Griffith and was ordered up the Mississippi near the mouth of Illinois (just north of St. Louis) where we stood guard that day and night and the next day without any thing (to) eat except a few apples we got at portage.

That evening we was called in and sent home after provisions to return (the) next morning which was good luck for me. If it had not been so my family wold have all been murdered for the Indians attacked my house that night. They fired a platoon in the bed where my wife and myself was asleep. (It) broke my wife's leg and hit me with 7 buck shot in my thigh which awoke me. I knew what was up and sprung to my gun which was hanging in the rack over the head of my bed. But just as I got my gun from the rack one stepped in the house my wife said (and) pointed his gun at me and fired and sprung out of the house. The powtder burned me and blinded me so that I never got to see them for they doged round the house. A ball hit me in the hip but I did not fall. I got behind the foot of the bed that stood behind the door intending to make the best fight I could. I set waiting for them to break I for some time with my gun cocked in my hand and the butcher knife in my mouth. (I) hailed them but no answer. I spoke in french and Indian and told them to come in but they made no answer. I told my little brother in law who was waiting at my back to shut the dorr which he did. At that moment they attempted to burst the back door. I got there as soon as I could and held it too until the boy secured it.

I then, by help of the boy and a hand ladder that was in the house, got up in the loft where I opened holes so that I could see out but never got sight of them. They found out I was there and left. I lay there all night and watched with great difficulty when I wold raise up to look out I would faint before I could lay down. My wife lying below bleeding but never moaned. She told me that her leg was broke.

When day light came the boy took a horse and went for assistance which came as soon as possible. We was taken to St. Louis County to her brother doctor fallises (Fallis) whare we stayed until the next spring. I got so that I cold walk with crutches. I then came back to the point to Squier Syrses for my house was burned down in the night.

In the night after we was shot they burned down my house with everything that we had and from that my fence took fire and burned one hole string of it and I lost my hole crop which was 30 acres of corn and all my truck they shot one horse and stole two. I then moved where I now live and was determined to see them out. I made strong doors and made port holes all around the house but they never tryed me again.

When they had the fight at the sink hole I could hear the guns so plain I expected it would be my turn next. When they killed Dreling in Gore Sealy's yard standing talking to Sealy in the door they fired 21 guns at the door Sealy shut the door and got his gun. They come running from the brush some stopped to scalp Reling and the rest come running to burst the door when they got (with)in a few feet of the door.

George was at a port hole and let the foremost one have it. He fell with his head against the door stop (where) several of them gathered him and packed him off and they left. There (were) to be two rangers staying the there that night but had no guns. One of them had just stepped out on his business and had just returned and set down as he saw an Indian slipping (up) on him. He sprung with his britches in his hand at that moment the guns all fired and the Indian took after him but soon lost sight of him. Charley run to white fort which was about 2 miles from there. They gathered about 10 or 12 men and put out for Sealy's. Before they got there they saw the Indians in a parara careing for the dead Indian. They hurried on to the hous found Sealy unharmed but David Realing Killed and scalped. They immediately pursued (them) to the bank of river where the Indians took water.

Realing was a ranger he had his gun broke in a battle and was to home doctring it. The next was Elick sensor near Looka Spring. He was on a horse hunting the Indians(and) was (caught) in (an) ambush . (They) shot him off of his horse and scalped him. He was a fine young man. I never was able to do (militia) duty again but had many scouts after them on the settlement.

Governor Clark sent me 3 men to stay with me all the time and my brother in law stayed. All brave fellows we made it a rule to never open the door until sun up then we would scout round a little to see if there was any signs. One morning we found a trail in the woods so fresh that the dew was knocked off the weeds. There appeared to be 10 or 12 of them about a half a mile back to a smawl parara. I went about 50 yds. ahead on the trail. The rest followed each one about 25 steps behind another so that the could not get much advantage of us. I went abought 100 yds. and then I discovered a smawl patch of trash (?)

I bakned to the boys to stop when I got to the little pach I bakned to them to come on the indiens had stoped thare and had been eating lying down, they had bent the bushes and vines togather mad a sort of a flind we then followed them across the little prara in to the brush we then turned back and rased some men and porsued them but they scattered and we cold not find them we had maney such chases as that have run them several times till they tuck weater for the river was all over the prara in 15. I will say something abought the battles and defeats the time that Capt. James Callaway was defeated their was a large boddey of indiens come into this settlement near luter iland and did some mischief Capt. Callaway rased a company and porsued then he was a corages and experienced fellow rushed along without a spy and when they come near the narrows on luter whare the bluf come close to the to the bank old Capt. Wm. Ramsey porposed to go up the bluf and go round he said there was danger in following thru the pas Callaway laghed at him and told him he was a coward Ramsey was a old exspranced indien fighter said he you may cawl me what you pleas I shall go round and before he went near enough to ascertain he hole fact then made their retreat with the nuse that Callaway was defeated they fought to the last but the indiens killed defeated then all Capt. Ramsey's battle on the mississippi near the mouth of salt river he com on a boddy of (indiens) camped on the bank the river he sent his brother allen Ramsey and 3 other men as spies they crawled so neare up behind the camps one old indien having a looking glass in his hand saw them, throw the glass sprung to his (feet) allen Ramsey being fore most shot him the five then commenced the spies treed themselves and fought some time til their was several killed and in both sides til at length the indiens retreated one by one sliping under the bank of the river Ramsey left at the same time knowing that their was a large boddy of indiens way lade the on they a hot battle there several killed and on both sides so gut in tuck more men went back to take care of the dead and wounded the time of the battle at sinque hole the indiens attacted fort bouward by fiering on some men that went out of the fort to a old huse that was near they lay in the brush by the road side as the men was on their return to the fort over a slue of back water whare the men had their conoe in site of the fort the indiens fired on them and killed them all at the same time the indiens fired on the fort from a nother quarter Capt. Crage leaving a few men in the fort raleyd on them whare the killing the boys but haveing to go round the slue the indiens retreated to the brush Crage soon over tuck them abought the same number that atact the boys they fired and run and in a short distance their armey was placed they fired kiled Capt. Crage as he was foremost and wounded several more they retreated and fought back ontil they come to the mout of a holow that heads near the sinque hole luetenent Spere tuck command of the men porsued them the indiens got across the holow on the hill sid whare they had the advantage of the ground their they made a stand Spears pushed on them they kept retreating up the holow til at length Spears got on the other hill side their they fought for some 2 or 3 hours ontil Capt. D. Musac got thare with a part of his men after some time the indiens began to scatter and finely retreated and the wounded and such as cold not make their escape run in the sink hole Spears atented to charge on them but they was so well conseled that he found he cold do nothing with them after making maney attempts and had several men kiled and wounded they sent and got a pare of cart wheels and made a battry on them against they got that done it was getting dark Musick tuck a part of the men and went round the other side and the battry was to move down at the same time Spears rushed to fast was shot in the head old saint Scoot shot the indien in the head the same momet it was dark and the left--when they went back next morning the indiens had put the dead indien on Spears had cut off Spears head from the sine (spine) the indiens had fixt the sink hole for that purpose had dug with their tomahake so they cold hide their was a grate deal of blood
(Maher collection)

The text ends here, as the rest of it was lost over the years

 

 
   
 
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