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Tales my Father Told

Submitted by Kay Alexander 

I wonder how many of the present generation, think or can realize what their 
parents and predecissions had to undergo, to get this beautiful land at its 

present state 
of cultivation.  Seventy five years ago, the greater frontier of this section of 

was wilderness, with the expectation of here and there a house, strongly built, 

loop holes round the house, on a line were joist or “jists” as they were called in 

days.  The houses were built of logs, and covered with boards, and the cracks 

the logs, ceild with the same kind of boards, “clafrboards” as they were called 

those days, or else logs were hewed and dove tail together, thus making a good 

wall, without its necessity of ceiling the windows were placed higher up than 

windows, and finished off with good, strong wooden shutters, and door shutters 

just marvels of strength and durability, and the inevitable look out holes were 

around the wall, just above the door.
Once in a long while, you would see a framed house but it was exception, and 
not the rule; only the very wealthy, could afford the expense, for all the lumber 

in those days, were done with a whip-saw, run by hand.
There was (at the time of which I write) a strong hold at the Suwannee 
Sulpher Springs where the women and children were sent in times of danger.  It 

a beautiful country, with its lofty times, and magnificent magnolias and its live 

with their limbs festooned with grey moss, waving to and fro, in the passing 

the orange trees, in their wide state added to their evergreen beauty to aid the 

of loveliness, and myriads of wild flowers, of all colors of the rainbow, 

perfumed the air 
with their fragrance, and it really looked as though nature meant that the “land 

flowers”, should be the fairest land God’s sun shined on.  It was early in the 

1840’s and nearly all the farmers had come to their little “clearings”, to start 

crops, and make provision for another year.
Some of them brought their families from the springs to their own little cabins, 
thinking that the good wife and children could greatly assist in the lighter part 

of the 
field work, and make their little home happy and cheerful, when the days work 

done.  The wife always had her “patch” of cotton, which she cultivated and 

herself, out of which she spun “warp and filling” to make family clothing.  

good people thought all danger of Indian depredations were past, for that year, 
and felt comparatively safe in returning to their homes, and going on with their 

work, but 
people were never more mistaken.
One day just after 12 o’clock, Capt. Mc., dent his Wagoner out after some 
lumber (he was building a framed house) which had gotten out close to a little 
“branch”.  Never thinking of danger, when in a very few minutes, the Wagoner 

and a 
small colored boy ran home, calling as loud as they could, “Indians, Indians”!  

course every person on the place, White and Black, bond and free, made a rush 

the “big house” as the houses occupied by white people.  Who owned slaves 

called Capt. Mc., and my father being the only white men present held a 

council of 
war: in the mean time the women and children were first into the house, with 

to stay there; Capt. Mc., called up the old Wagoner, and asks him how many 

he saw, he told him seven.  The fleet of horses in the stables was saddled, and 
runners sent to the springs for help.  In a short while a man by the name of 

rode up to Capt. Mc’s. And when he heard the news, he said yes and Dick is 

from home. And his wife and children are there, by themselves, and all the men 

the community are at the Orange Pond at a log rolling. “We must see after 

folks”, “Yes” Capt. Mc. “But we must exercise a great deal of caution, in our 
movements, for we do not know how many Indians are around us. I think we 

better wait until we, get more help”. That sounds reasonable eneough, Capitan, 

my father.”  “But what will the helpless women and children do, with the men 

and the Indians all around us?” 
The words were scarcely out of his mouth, when they heard a loud “halloo,” 
and looking down the road, they saw a horse man coming in a gallop and calling 

them, like one frantic; when he came up to the small group he said,” Friends 

Neighbors,” I believe my sister and her children are murdered by the Indians,  

Indians are all around the house, and they have made a big fire in the house, 

and I 
believe they are cooking dinner, and I think I saw my sister lying in the yard 

I did not get up close eneough to see very well, but I know the Indians are in 

house, and gentleman, ‘I believe my sister is dead.”  With that he burst into 

and cried like his heart would break.
“Nell” said Capt. Mc. “We must see to that; Wilson you go to Orange Pond, 
and tell your father and brothers about it.” My father saw that Mr. Wilson 
Carver did not want to go, and he said “Wilson I will go back with you, and 

you look after your sister; let Davis here go, and alarm the neighbors.”
“No,” said Davis, “let Wilson go on and I will go with you to see about 
dicks folks.”  
“No, boys,” said Capt. Mc.  “Don’t go by yourselves; don’t go off now, 
to be shot down like dogs, wait until we can get more help.” 
“Go, Wilson, said my father,’ and get help, me and Davis will scout ‘round 
and see after Dick’s folks, too.  “I am not so much afraid of being shot down 

like a
dog, as I am some helpless family will be butchered, if we don’t look around.  

on Davis lets go.”  
They went back to the house, and loaded their guns, looking well to their 
priming, and seeing that their horns were filled with powder, and their pouches 

shot, they mounted their horses and rode away, on their errand of mercy and 

They rode briskly along, keeping an eye out for any trouble, they might have to 
encounter, till they came insight of the Tillis house.  They saw there was still a 
large fire in the house, and concluded they would not venture up to close, 
when suddenly Mr. Davis said, “Andy, yonder is an Indian, do you think I can 

him from here with my musket?”  “No, Davis save your shot and powder, that 

is not 
an Indian that is a wounded woman, let us go to her,” “Yes” was all Davis said; 
and sprung their horses, they galloped over to where the woman was; when got 

to her 
she, had her face covered up with a little child apron, and begged them not to 

kill her.  
When she found out they were not Indians, she uncovered her face and ask for 

this was Martha Kiett, help and companion to Mrs. Tillis.  She said when Mr. 
Tillis left home this morning, they all went to work as usual, not dreaming of 

danger, still they noticed the little dog kept barking around back of the house, 

where a 
lot of fine trees had been cut down; after a good little while. Mrs. Tillis heard a 

cackling, and went on out of the house, saying “I will go back and make that 

hen a 
nest.”  She had been out but a few minutes when she cried out, “O; The 

Indians, the 
Indians; Mahala, took the baby and ran, terror lending wings to her feet, she 

a gun fired, but did not wait to see who was shot, she was knocked down, with 

a fine 
limb, as she ran, and stabbed under both arms and left for dead they did not 

hurt the 
little infant, but left it lying by Mahala’s side, where it cried itself almost to 

death, it 
could not make any noise at all, and was as bloody as Mahala was, she told 

them the 
Indians were all gone, and begged them not to leave her, they said they would 

leave her; after wrapping their saddle blankets around Mahala and the baby to 

them warm, they started to the house, to make further invitations, they found 

Tillis laying dead in the yard, with an egg in one hand and some straw in the 

she had been killed instantly, and two of the children were killed outright, and 

all the 
rest were wounded with arrows.  The Indians had ransacked the whole place 

had taken everything they could carry off, had emptied the feather beds so they 

have the ticks to make frocks of, and the feathers were flying all over the 

house, and 
yard, the woods, they even cut off the dress skirts of the two women to pack 

bounty? On; they had broken and torn up everything they couldn’t carry off.
The two men gathered the children all together. And got Mahala and the 
baby with them and with their saddle blankets, and a few old garments, made 

them as 
comfortable as possible. 
The children were all crying for water, and they could not find anything for 
them to drink from, so Mr. Davis pulled off his new brogan shoes, and let the 

from them.  Mr. Davis gave the children water, and my father stood by with his 

ready to shoot in case an Indian appeared.  
By this time Mrs. Tillis’s father and brothers had come, they put the dead 
woman and children in the house and barred it up.  Mr. Sampson Carver was 

home after a conveyance to carry in wounded, and Mr. Davis was sent to Mr. 

for a doctor, and he took the baby with him, and left it with his wife.
Old Mr. Carver and Mr. Wilson Carver and my father, stayed with the 
wounded.  Hunting around they found the old broken pictures, they filled with 

and gave it to Mr. Carver to give to the children, and Mr. Wilson carver went 

fifty yards on one side and my father about fifty yards on the other side and sat 

to watch the course of events, until help could come, and take the wounded 

children in.  
They sit there till midnight, listing to the crys and moans of the children, and 

of Owl’s and thinking all things together, it was a most dismal watch.
After helping with the wounded, my father called for his horse, and started for 
his boarding place: Mr. Carver objected to his going, said “Andy you are just 

off to be shot, the woods are full of Indians don’t go.” “My Father said.” “If 

get me it will be on the wing.”  Several armed men attended him to his horse, 

when mounted, he struck off in a gallop, and never looked up till he dashed into 

Mc’s yard, just at good daylight; there he found a good many men assembled 

for orders, to start in pursuit of the Indians.  There was general rejoicing when 

father got back, for they had given he and Mr. Davis up for dead; Judge Doyle 

“I got Andy and I am glad you are back, for I was afraid them danged injuns
Had shot you, ‘and as he spoke tears rolled down his face.  My father told all 

that he 
occurred, and Capt. Mc. Gave orders to march immediately.  My father was 
detailed to make coffins for the Tillis family, for he was the only man, in the 

community that was a carpenter, he said he never worked under so much 

in his life.  He would work a while and run to the doors of the shop to see if 

there was 
any news. But the indians that murdered the Tillis family were never caught, 

Tillis was the only one of the wounded children that lived.  And the arrow that 

taken out of his shoulder was given to my father, as a memento of that time that 

men’s souls.  I have that arrow now, but-it-is broken into, it still has the iron 

on it, but the feathers are gone, and the deer sinews they were wrapped on 

with.  The 
little infant lived only a few months after its mother was killed.  
The frief of Mr. Tillis can better be imagined than written, let every man ask 
himself how he would feel under those circumstances, my father lived to a good 

age, and died honored and respected by all who knew him.

Written by:
Mussie Nan