top of page

John Tanner: Crowing Up a Captive, Part XXVI

Sugar season arrived, the trees were called by the whites “River Maple,” they were large but scattered and for this reason they made two camps one on each side of the river. While John was making sugar, he killed plenty of birds, ducks, geese and beaver. Near their camp was a large brine spring where the Traders used to make salt and he reported that even with the longest poles no bottom could be found and that were many brine springs in the area.

At the Trading Post John met a gentleman who took much notice of him and tried to persuade him to accompany him to England. John was apprehensive he might leave him there and that he would not be able to reach his friends even if they were still living, he also felt attached to hunting as a business and an amusement therefore declined his invitation. Other old friends joined him at the Trading Post and as usual they expended their winter and spring hunts and their sugar for whiskey and after they had drunk all they could purchase Old Woman gave them an additional ten-gallon keg that she had hidden the year before behind the trader’s house. Their long debauch was attended by what John described as “mischievous quarrels” followed by hunger and poverty. One of the Indians after the hunger became stern proposed that a hunting match be held to see who of all that were there who could take in one day the greatest number of rabbits. John did well and surpassed a man who had been one of his early instructors but the man was far superior in taking large animals.

John’s family left the Trading House and John determined to see his brother so he left Old Woman and the family on his best horse. After a few hours he found a spot where there had been a lodge the day before and as the horse was stepping over a log a prairie hen flew from underneath it. The horse being frightened threw John and he fell on the log still holding the bridle, in the course of the excitement the horse stepped with his fore foot upon his chest. Some hours passed before he could get back on the horse, when he succeeded to mount his horse he thought that the Indians he was following were closer then returning to his own lodge, when he arrived he could not speak but they recognized he had been hurt and treated him with kindness, the injury ended up being very severe and he never did entirely recover.

John was determined to leave the Old Woman and go to the Red River by himself searching for his brother. John had four horses on of which one was very fleet and beautiful, it was considered the best out of one hundred eighty a war party had recently brought back. In this excursion the war party which had been absent seven months had destroyed a village and taken one hundred fifty scalps besides prisoners. Ten days after he arrived at the Mouse River Trading House he was shown the road to the Pembinah River where he found a Trader who he was acquainted with and one days journey from his house he found a lodge but saw nothing of his brother. He was not received kindly, perceiving that something was not as he had wished, he spent the night with an old Cree whom he had seen before, in the morning the old man said to him “I am afraid they will kill your horse, go and see how they are abusing him”. John went as directed and found that a parcel of young men and boys had thrown his horse on the ground and were beating him as some were holding him by the head while one man was standing on his body beating him. To this man John said “my friend you must come down”, he said “I won’t” and John replied “I shall help you down” and pushed him off. John took the bridle from those who held him and led his horse away but he had received an injury from which he could never recover from. John later learned it was on account of a past family quarrel, and as he was alone he feared that they might follow him and try to injure him, he departed finally reaching his brother who was surprised that he had come such a great distance.


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page