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Return to Milestones Vol. 4, No. 2

 

DID SAM BRADY JUMP?

by James Raymond Warren

Milestones Vol. 4. No. 3--Summer 1978

 

"DID SAM BRADY JUMP?- This West Virginia Hillbilly front page headline (January 28, 1978) prompted me to investigate the colorful story of the legendary hero of the frontier.

Henry Howe, an artist and historian, toured every county in Ohio in 1846 interviewing officials and older residents and did it again in 1886-90. He is credited with first publishing the account of Brady's Leap across the Cuyahoga River at Kent, Ohio in 1780, and his hiding in Brady's Lake nearby breathing through a reed under a fallen tree.

The Indians marveled at the 22 foot leap and they carved a turkey foot in the rock ledge from where Brady jumped. "He no jump, He fly!" The drop down to the stream in the narrow gorge was over 20 feet.

To allow the "Crosscut" Canal to pass through Kent in the 1830's, the gorge had to be widened, so later measurements were incredulous. The piece of rock with the turkey foot became a souvenir "saved" by a Pittsburgh doctor.

When I visited Kent I found Brady's Leap Park and found there a bronze plaque on a boulder erected by the Ladies Auxiliary of the American Legion. A mile west of Kent, Ohio is beautiful Brady Lake surrounded by trees, homes and roadway. On the southern rim is a polished oval marker: BRADY'S LAKE erected by the DAR chapter in that area.

William Young Brady who lived in Pittsburgh, Pa. (and later Washington, D.C.), an architect, became the Brady family genealogist and historian for forty years and in 1950 published the biography CAPTAIN SAM BRADY.

In the fifth BRADY ANNALS which William Young Brady published (January 1924) is the following quotation attributed to Brady's son John: "Captain Samuel Brady was in height 6 feet 1 inch, straight as a rush black hair, blue eyes, fair skin, weight 175 pounds, in manners mild as a lamb, a perfect gentleman in intercourse with his neighbors but quick to resent an insult."

Simon Girty was raised in Harrisburg, Pa., where his father had a tavern. Sam Brady was raised in Sunbury, Pa. on a farm some forty miles up the Susquehanna River.

Fort Pitt was a British Fort until the Revolutionary War and soldier Simon Girty was among those who became English agents and "white renegades" living among the Indians with headquarters in Sandusky, Ohio and under General "Hair Buyer" Hamilton in Detroit.

"Dirty Girty" once saved the life of Simon Kenton but he played a major role in Colonel Crawford's defeat and death by torture. Brady and Girty never met in combat but Girty was too well disguised as an "Indian Chief".

After Wayne's victory at Fallen Timbers (1794) and the surrender of Detroit, Girty fled to Canada where his reward in old age was poverty in exile.

Later Sam Brady's brother Hugh Brady became territorial governor in Detroit.

The Brady family lived around Muncy, Pennsylvania, where Captain Sam was conditioned to a lifetime of Indian hatred. A Pennsylvania state marker marks the ambush where his father John was killed by Indians (1779) but not scalped. Fort Brady was his home where people took refuge during uprisings.

Another Pennsylvania state marker at BRADY'S BEND tells of Brady killing Chief Bald Eagle (1779) in ambush but does not mention Bald Eagle and his friends "ganged up" on Sam's 17 year old younger brother James while a crew was harvesting grain. Bald Eagle "had to have" James' beautiful head of red hair, but James lived for five days and became conscious long enough to tell them who did it.

The first large expedition from Fort Pitt into the Northwest Territory ended in a disaster and the torture death of the leader Colonel Crawford. It was renegade Girty who personally gloried in Crawford begging him for a mercy killing. Girty made jokes for the Indians by saying he didn't have a gun.

An entire generation of young men from Virginia and the frontier were squandered when St. Clair started out to take Detroit from the British. The Indians massacred thousands in ambush.

Captain Brady and his two trusted scouts "Sandy" McGuffey and Duncan MacArthur came back from Indian land in time to warn St. Clair to not go. It is only nine years since Crawford and all the tribes are united and "fired up". Brady said it was "suicide".

"Sandy" McGuffey in later life was father of the boys who wrote the McGuffey readers and MacArthur became Governor of Ohio.

The escape Brady made by throwing the- Indian baby in the fire was not in Ohio. The Brady family historian places it at Brady Run and Brady Hill in what is now Beaver County, where the Indians came for "confrontation".

In the confusion Brady ran up along the cliff and hid while the braves ran past. He then returned to the camp fire to start terror all over and then swam the Beaver River naked to find refuge in the Blockhouse in New Brighton, Pa. The Indians did not dare cross the river into the settlement.

Beaver County and Ohio were not born yet when the state line was surveyed north from the Mason and Dixon terminus to form a western boundary for Pennsylvania and Allegheny County which extended from Pittsburgh to Lake Erie.

The new border was only a few years old when Captain Brady and his Virginia Rangers followed an Indian raiding party back over the Ohio River and in "hot pursuit" over the new state line to Brady's Run and the Beaver River.

Twenty-five armed Rangers fired on twelve Delaware Indians trading at the Big Beaver Blockhouse, killing four men and a squaw.

William Wilson who owned the RED FRONT trading post and his friend John Hillman came to their defense and accused Brady and his friends of plundering, then returning over the state line to Virginia. The "raid" was on March 9, 1971 and eventually became the earliest of court trials in Pittsburgh. The Judge in his wig came by stage coach all the way from Philadelphia.

There were proclamations and correspondence between Governor Mifflin of Pennsylvania and Governor Randolph of Virginia. Rewards of $300.00 and $1000.00 were posted for Brady's "capture". Two bounty hunters lost their guns in a West Virginia tavern where Brady claimed them as "souvenirs".

Anthony Wayne was recruiting troops for his Indian campaign and he wanted his long time friend Brady as his chief scout. Van Swearingen (his father-in-law in Wellsburg) and many friends persuaded Brady to stand trial in Pittsburgh (defended by James Ross). Chief Justice McKean (a Quaker) accompanied the judge from Philadelphia to sit on the bench with him. He later became state governor. Ross was elected Senator.

A silent witness for Brady at his trial in Pittsburgh when courts were exclusively all male was Jennie Stupes whom Brady rescued along with her son while tied to an Indian on horseback near Brady's Hill in Beaver County thirteen years before.

So everyone could observe her friendly gesture she walked around the entire court room up to the defendant's chair and placed a pitcher of water and a flask of brandy under it for his personal refreshment.

Guyasuta, Brady's Indian friend, testified that the Indians rode white men's horses and were not friendly. The backwoods jury never left their seats but said "not guilty but pay the costs".

Wayne sought out Brady and restored his commission, made him chief over sixty scouts and conferred an ensign's commission on his younger brother Hugh.

Sam Brady died of pleurisy and is buried in West Liberty, West Virginia, the same year as Wayne died of gout on a ship on Lake Erie coming from the British surrender at Detroit. George Washington died at Mount Vernon three years later.

Anthony Wayne's son journeyed on horse back 400 miles to his father's grave, boiled the meat off his bones and carried them back to the Quaker family burial plot in Chester, Penna. where an impressive monument was erected.

BRADY APPENDIX: Brady's Marriage

Alice McGuffey Ruggles in her 1950 book THE STORY OF THE McGUFFEYS described "Sandy" McGuffey and Duncan McArthur (buddies) who served under Captain Brady for five years around 1790.

"They served as Indian spies and scouts--the eyes and ears of the frontier".

Candidates had to be perfect physical specimens and outstanding in character, brains, and energy. Mediocre men might be licked into soldiers, but scouts were born, not made, the darlings of the frontier, admired by men, adored by women. On them depended the safety of the settlements, the lives and happiness of women and children, and the freedom of other men to clear the forest, till the ground, and keep open the lines of trade between the backwoods and the East".

A man of that character was Captain Samuel Brady who was always welcome in the home of Captain Van Swearingen in Strabane Township of Washington County--now south side Beaver County.

Unknown to the father Brady won the heart of his daughter Druscilla Van Swearingen in 1784. Druscilla (Lucy) had been to school "out east" and her father had other boys in mind.

Lucy was ready when Captain Sam returned one night with an extra horse and they eloped for a private wedding in Washington County. The bride's father later forgave them and planned a formal Episcopal wedding with his blessing, and built a home for them on his plantation.

Samuel and Druscilla Brady had two sons: John Brady (1790 - 1872) who married Nancy Ridgeley (1802 - 1839) and Van Swearingen Brady (1786 - 1859) who married Elizabeth Ivess. Druscilla Brady died in 1823.

BRADY MARKERS:

BDADY'S RUN

Where Brady threw an Indian baby into a fire and escaped down the valley and across the river to safety at the fort in New Brighton.

BRADYISLAND

From the island opposite Samuel Brady, one of Washington's scouts sent from Fort Pitt, watched the Indians. On the second trip he was captured but escaped from his burning pyre. (Near Fremont, Ohio)

BRADY LAKE

In Memory of Captain Samuel Brady who hid from Indians under a fallen tree in the waters of this lake 1780.

BRADY'S LEAP

Marking the site of Captain Samuel Brady's famous leap when pursued by the Indians in 1780.

BRADY'S BEND

Named for Capt. Samuel Brady, famed Indian scout and hero of many legends of Western Pennsylvania. Near here, in 1779, he defeated a band of Senecas and Munsees, and killed Chief Bald Eagle.

CAPT. JOHN BRADY

The famed Indian fighter and hero of the colonial wars and the Revolution was killed in ambush by Indians near here April 11, 1779. He commanded Fort Brady at present Muncy at the time.

WEST LIBERTY

First organized town in the Ohio Valley. Formed in 1787. First court of Ohio County met at Black's Cabin here in 1777. Nearby is grave of Captain Samuel Brady, hero of the Pennsylvania and Virginia frontiers.