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Samuel Brady the Ranger: the Captain of Spies, the Hero of Western Pennsylvania--he indeed was a famous frontier fighter in the years following the Revolution, when the Indians were determined that "no white cabin shall smoke beyond the Ohio."  The struggle to keep the settlers out of present Ohio and Indiana (the Northwest Territory) proved long and bloody.

In western Pennsylvania and northern Ohio the name Captain Samuel Brady ranks with that of Daniel Boone in Kentucky and Kit Carson in the Far West.  Up the Allegheny River above Pittsburgh there are Brady's Bend and East Brady, to remind people of his deeds; near Beaver, Pennsylvania, at the Ohio River below Pittsburgh, there are Brady's Run, Brady's Path and Brady's Hill; in Portage County, northeastern Ohio, over toward the Pennsylvania line, there are Brady's Leap and Brady's Lake.  So Captain Samuel Brady left his mark upon the map.

He came of fighting Irish stock.  He was born in Shippensburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1756, during the French and Indian War.  His father, John Brady, was out upon the battle trail at the time.

When he was nineteen, or in 1775, he joined the volunteers from Pennsylvania, to march for Boston.  The War of the Revolution was just bursting into flame, and he intended to be in the thick of it.  The next year, 1776, his father and his younger brother, James, enlisted with the Pennsylvania troops, also to fight for liberty.

The men of the Brady family did well.  Father Brady was appointed a captain; James Brady was wounded at the battle of Brandywine, soon after he had enlisted, and had to quit for a time; Sam was appointed a first lieutenant when he was twenty, and became captain.

Then, in 1778 his brother James was killed by a band of Senecas under Chiefs Bald Eagle and Corn Planter.  He fought bravely, single-handed, against them all.  They tomahawked him five times in the head, and scalped him, but he crawled to safety and even used a rifle.  That was the Brady way.  He told the story, and died.

In the nest year, 1779, old Captain John Brady, the father, was ambushed and murdered, by other Indians.  Captain Samuel Brady had vowed vengeance for his brother James; now he vowed vengeance also for his father; he swore never to suffer torture, but to kill right and left, and henceforth, as the chronicles say, he "made Indian killing his business."

When he had the opportunity to be captain of spies against the Indians, he accepted gladly.  This was in 1780, and by orders of General Washington.

The Indians of the upper country, above Pittsburgh, or Fort Pitt, were threatening trouble.  General Washington decided to reconnoiter them. He directed Colonel Daniel Brodhead, commanding at Fort Pitt, to send out scouts, locate the Indians and count them.  Colonel Brodhead well knew that for this kind of a job there was no better man than Captain Samuel Brady; and Captain Brady went.



The renowned Captain Brady of Pennsylvania.  (From an Old Print)The renowned Captain Brady of Pennsylvania.  (From an Old Print)

He took with him John Williamson, Martin Wetzel, and several Chickasaws.  The three whites dressed as Indians, in paint and feathers.  Captain Samuel spoke the Wyandot tongue.  They set their trail for the great Wyandot Huron town of Upper Sandusky, in north central Ohio.

This was the heart of the Indian country.  The sound of a white man's voice, the print of a white man's foot, in all that region, would call the rifle, the tomahawk and the stake.  It was forbidden ground.

When near the town, the Chickasaws deserted, taking part of the ammunition with them.  Likely enough they had gone on, to the Wyandots, with their news.  But the three white Indians did not turn back; they continued, until at dusk one evening they reached the Sandusky River, close to the Wyandot town.

Captain Brady made his arrangements.  He left Scout Wetzel, and taking John Williamson waded the river to an island separated from the town by only a narrow channel.  Here he and John hid themselves in the brush, and waited for morning.

The morning dawned in such a fog that they could not see a rod. Captain Samuel fidgeted.  He hated to waste time.

"If it does not clear, I shall go into the village and see what I can see at close quarters," he said.

However, about eleven o'clock the fog lifted.  All the great town, of hundreds of lodges, lay spread before them, with thousands of Indians hastening to and fro, preparing to race horses.

It was a gala day for the savage Wyandots.  A war party of them had returned from the south, bringing a fine bag of Virginia and Kentucky blooded animals.  The starting post of the races was squarely in front of the two spies' hiding place; they could have thrown a stone to it. For several hours they watched.  There was one gray horse that won every race, until two Indians together mounted him, as a handicap; and then he barely lost.  Captain Brady's fingers itched to grasp that gray champion's bridle thong--and he was the kind of a man to do so, with half a chance.  But it was not to be, this time.

At dusk that night he boldly entered the town.  He did not find the horse; nevertheless he slipped about, as much an Indian as any Wyandot--and his heart was in his throat at every step.  The air fairly bristled with danger.  One false move on his part, and another Brady would have fallen to the hatchet.

He strolled carelessly--he gained the edge of the town again and away he went, to John Williamson on the island.

"Did you make it, Sam?"

"Yes; but be quick.  We must cut loose.  They suspicioned me--they smelt a mouse."

They lost no time in joining Scout Wetzel.  All this night they traveled hard, to the southward.  At daylight they sighted the sign of Indians, on their trail.  They set out again.  Now it was Indian against Indian, for they three were up to all Indian tricks.  They took to the streams, they stepped from dry log to dry log, and from rock to rock.  On the afternoon of the third day they thought that they had out-witted their pursuers, and halted to rest.

John Williamson stood guard.  Captain Brady had only one fault, on the trail: he was a prodigious snorer.  He began to snore so loudly that the very trees quivered.

"You're enough to alarm all the Indians betwixt here and Sandusky," John Williamson complained; and got up and turned him over, hoping to quiet him.

John sat down again by the fire.  Then he heard a twig crack, and looked, and amidst the forest aisles he saw an Indian cautiously stealing forward.

He did not move; he pretended to have heard and seen nothing.  The Indian stole on, rifle and tomahawk ready.  John seemed to be nodding--until, just at the right time, he whirled, leveled his own rifle, it cracked sharply, and with a single bound the Indian crumpled, dead.

Up sprang Captain Brady and Scout Wetzel, their own guns in hand.

"What's that?"

"A dead Injun.  Get out o' here.  There may be more--drat your confounded snoring!"

They dived for shelter; but evidently the warrior had been alone, for no others were seen until they had arrived at the Big Beaver, not far north of Fort McIntosh which is to-day Beaver City.

By this time they were out of food.  Captain Brady shot an old otter, but the flesh was so musty that they could not eat it.  Now the charge in his reloaded gun was the only ammunition they had.  He found a fresh deer track in a narrow trail, and left them eating strawberries while he followed the track.

"I'll bring back meat, or my name's not Brady," he promised.

He trailed the deer, and came upon it standing broadside while it browsed.  Good!  He took aim, but the rifle flashed in the pan.  Off ran the deer.

"Tarnation!" muttered Captain Brady, and sat down to prick the touch-hole.  Then he determinedly set out after the deer.

He had gone only a little way, when at a bend in the trail he saw, before him, a large Indian, horseback, with a white baby held in front and a white woman on the horse's rump, behind.  There they were, coming, the three on one horse, the baby tied fast to the warrior.

Captain Brady sank down, out of sight.  His quick eye had taken it all in.  The woman's face was bruised; her arm broken; her hair was flowing loosely--she was a captive, and he _knew_ her!  The baby's head was rolling from side to side.  It was asleep!  Close following the Indian, there rode in single file a full company of other Indians.  They were a returning war party, laden with spoils.

Captain Brady raised his rifle.  He had only the one load, but he did not hesitate to use it.  He waited; he must take care not to harm the baby or the mother.  Presently he had fair show.  The rifle spoke; off from the horse plunged the big Indian, bringing the baby and mother with him.

"Why did you risk your one shot?" Captain Brady was afterward asked.

"Well," he grinned, "I figgered on getting plenty more powder off the Injun."

At the rifle's crack the file of warriors bolted hither-thither, scattering like quail for covert.  Captain Brady rushed forward, shouting loudly.

"Surround 'em, boys!  Kill the rascals!  At 'em, at 'em!  Give 'em Brandywine."

The Indians would think that he had an army.  He ran to the fallen brave and the struggling woman and baby.  First he grabbed at the powder-horn--but he could not tear it free.

The woman glared at him wildly.  He looked like an Indian, himself.

"Why did you shoot your brother?" she cried.  She did not understand.

"Jenny Stupe (or did he really say: "Jenny, stoop!"?), I'm Sam Brady. Quick, now!  Come with me and I'll save you both."

The Indians dared not charge, but they pelted him with bullets as he dashed through the brush, carrying the baby and dragging Jenny by the hand.  Never a ball touched them.

They gained the strawberry patch.  It was vacant--for his whoops had alarmed Rangers Williamson and Wetzel as well as the Indians; and being without ammunition they had legged it.  Sam Brady had stirred up a hornets' nest.  There was no use in their staying.

The next day he and Jenny Stupe and the baby, tired and hungry, entered Fort McIntosh on the Ohio River at the mouth of the Big Beaver.  His gun was still empty, but that had not mattered.

As an expert at leaving a blind trail or no trail at all, Captain Sam Brady had no equal.  Nothing pleased him more than to lose himself to his own men; while to deceive the Indians, and lure them on, was his constant joy.  Consequently when, along in 1781, they captured him, quite by accident, in his lone camp up the Beaver, they gladly hustled him northward for a jubilee.

All the Wyandot town of Sandusky welcomed him with clubs and shrieks. He was painted black--the paint of death--and tied loosely to the stake by the ankles and the waist, so that he might squirm.  He had been pretty well beaten, and seemed so exhausted that they had no fears of his escaping.

The next year the Wyandots ceased to burn prisoners.  But now they heaped the fagots around Captain Brady, and applied the torch for a slow fire.

"We got you, Sam Brady," they jeered.  "You no lose Injun; Injun no lose Sam."

They danced about him, awaiting his agonies.  He said no word, but he had his wits keenly sharpened.  He was not a "gone coon" yet.  The squaws were worse than the men.  There was one squaw, a chief's squaw, with a baby in her arms, especially aggravating.  She darted in, to strike him.  Instantly his two hands flew out, tore the baby from her and dropped it into the blaze.

She screamed; she and the warriors dived to rescue it--and on the second Captain Brady had snapped his bonds and was plunging at top speed for freedom.  He knocked down two warriors, and cleared a way, then he was into the open, and out and on like a deer, with the town in pursuit.

Bullets and hatchets missed him.  He bounded into the nearest brush; won the river, first; wading and swimming crossed it, and a wide country lay before.

He knew better than to turn south for Fort McIntosh.  That was expected of him, but only in the unexpected might he find safety.  So he headed eastward for the Pennsylvania border.  He ran steadily, using every trick in his pack.  Up hill and down he ran, day and night, scarcely pausing to rest; a party of the Indians continued to press him closely, and at the end of one hundred miles he was being forced to the Cuyahoga River in present Portage County, northeastern Ohio.

He knew of a ford there--the Standing Stone, it was called.  But when he had almost arrived, naked and torn and bleeding, he found himself out-guessed.  The Indian whoops sounded; the enemy were there before him--they held the ford and they hemmed him in on either flank.

Straight onward, in front, the river had cut a gorge, thirty feet deep and some twenty-five feet in width: a sheer up-and-down.  That was the trap laid for him; and just a moment he despaired.  Had he come so far, merely to be taken at last?

No!  Not yet.  He increased his speed, and set all his muscles.  The Indians were yelling triumphantly.  They had Sam Brady again.  But their yells suddenly died.  What was that?  They had witnessed a marvelous sight.  From the brink of the gorge the figure of Sam Brady had launched itself into the air; arms and legs extended it had been out-lined for an instant, in space, then had landed--Crash!--amidst the thin bushes clinging to the opposite edge, had scrambled, recovered, hauled itself a few feet, and was disappearing.

Their rifles cracked hastily.  But with a bullet in his leg Captain Brady ran on.

The Indians clustered for just a moment, to stare with amazement.

"White man jump; Injun no jump," they jabbered, excited.  So they crossed by the ford, and striking his blood spatters easily followed his trail.

Captain Brady was about all in.  His wounded leg bothered him, his great leap had shaken him.  But he knew of a lake, ahead, and made for it.  It was his last resort.  He got there, in time, and like a mad thing surged neck deep among the pond lilies.  By quick work (he heard the yells coming nearer) he snapped a lily stem; and sinking to the bottom he held himself down, with the hollow stem in his mouth and the other end at the surface.  He might stay there, and breathe!

The broad leaves of the pond lilies covered his hiding place; the stem gave him air.  The Indians reached the pond, and saw his tracks leading in.  He faintly heard them splashing about.  All that day they searched and waited; they were there until late into the night; soaked and cold and cramped, he felt as though he could not stand it much longer; but he gritted his teeth and determined that he would die, of himself, rather than yield them his scalp.

At last, having heard no muffled sounds through the water or through the hollow stem for some time, he risked rising to the surface.  All was quiet.  The darkness concealed him.  He might straighten his limbs and breathe freely.  By thunder, he was safe!

Several days afterward, Captain Sam Brady limped into Fort Pitt.  For a long time the Indians believed that he had drowned himself.  They never quite understood how he had managed to leap that gorge.  Even the exact spot of the famous Brady's Leap is disputed.  One gorge, claimed to be the place, measures twenty-five feet across.  Another measured twenty-seven feet and a half.

Here the Indians, traveling to view it, carved a turkey foot in a rock.

"Sam Brady no man; he turkey.  No jump; flew," they declared.

None of them ever managed to capture Sam Brady and keep him.  He defied them and lived on.  In 1786 he married the lovely Drusilla Swearingen--daughter of another noted soldier and Indian fighter, Captain Van Swearingen who was called "Indian Van."

Captain Swearingen did not favor the match.

"It will only make Dru a widow," he said.  "I do not wish her to mate with a man who is always on the trail."

They were married, just the same; and to state the truth, the young wife did suffer "untold miseries" while waiting for her daring Sam to return from his long forays.  He was lame, from the wound in his leg; and partially deaf from his plunge beneath the pond; but he hated to leave the Injun trail.

Finally he was worn out, and consented to spend a few years at home, in West Liberty, West Virginia.  Here he died, aged about forty-four, or in 1800, an old man before his time, but with his years crammed to over-flowing with brave memories.