A strange thing happened on Western Frontier. During the days of Wild West, American pioneers were moving out into untamed and treacherous land. They were building their homes in a virtual war zone, on land stolen from the natives, and that meant that their lives—and the lives of their children—were constantly at risk.
Pioneer children, in the days of the American frontier, would often be kidnapped by raiding warriors. When Native American tribes lost their own children in wars with the settlers, they would even the score. They would raid a white village, take their children, and carry them back to their homes as hostages. But when their families tracked them down and tried to rescue them, sometimes, the children didn’t want to go home.
It was a strange phenomenon the settlers of America struggled to understand. Even Benjamin Franklin commented on it. “They become disgusted with our manner of life,” he once wrote about the white children captured by native tribes, “and take the first good opportunity of escaping again into the woods, from whence there is no reclaiming them.”
10. Frances Slocum
In 1835, a trader named George Ewing met an elderly woman of the Miami tribe named Maconaquah. She was in her sixties and a respected woman among the tribe, a widowed grandmother whose husband had been their chief. And so you can imagine his surprise when this old woman told him she had born to white parents.
As a child, he soon found out, Maconaquah’s name had been Frances Slocum, the daughter of a Quaker family who had been stolen away from home by Seneca warriors when she was five years old. A Miami family had bought her for a few pelts, and they’d raised her as their own.
57 years had passed since her capture. She’d grown up among the Miami, gotten married, seen her husband rise to chiefdom, given him four children, and raised them until they had children of their own.
Frances’s brothers hadn’t stopped looking for her since the day she was captured. When word got out that she was still alive, her brother Isaac met with the sister he’d lost decades ago and begged her to come home.
Frances, though, had forgotten how to speak English. Communicating through an interpreter, she told him, “I do not wish to live any better, or anywhere else, and I think the Great Spirit has permitted me to live so long because I have always lived with the Indians.”
True to her word, she stayed with her captors until the day she died—and she was buried next to the man who had been her husband.