Patricia Craig Johnson --- Searching for My Ancestors --- Sharing My Life Stories

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Monday, June 13, 2011

The Adventures of the McLaughlin Brothers In 1795

The following is a story written by William Gilbert Lafayette McLaughlin. He is the nephew of William and Berriman McLaughlin. Berriman is my 4th great grandfather. Although it is mostly about his brother William, I know Berriman was there and it gives me insight to his life before he became a husband and father -- in other words when he was a young, single, carefree man. This is what I love about genealogy -- learning what the people were like and what their lives were like. I hope you enjoy a sneak peek into 1795. I will take editorial license in shortening the story.

"Uncle William and Berriman after they became to years of maturity, [probably ca. 1795] went over to the Ohio River and engaged in flat boating as far down as Louisville, KY. In those days there were many hostile tribes of Indians, all along the river, there had to be army posts at intervals along the river to look for them.

Uncle William went first to work on flat boating; his boat stopped at the Indiana shore opposite Louisville near what is now Jeffersonville. There was an army post at that place; the Indians were making a good deal of trouble at that point. They had to send out scouts to watch them and keep the post advised as to their whereabouts. The flatbioat was tied up at this point, and the hands had not much to do; they would go out and camp and spend time with the soldiers. The principal scout was Washburn a very fleet footed man. One day the officer in command ordered chief scout(Washburn) to go out and reconnoiter and find out the locality of the Indians. Washburn asked if anyone would volunteer to go with him, Uncle Wm told him he would go. So Washburn looked him over and says "Do you think you can run fast enough to get away from Indians if they should give us chase?" he says "I don't know but I am willing to try."

So they started out cautiously through the thick forest and underbrush until mid afternoon when suddenly they came upon Indians that started shooting at them. Washburn's powderhorn was hit and exploded. The two men ran even faster and soon Uncle William was passing Washburn. Uncle William was starting to fire his gun and Washburn told him not to as the indians then would know his gun was not loaded and he would be a target. Washburn hid in the brushes and yelled at Uncle Willliam to run back to the camp and get help. Washburn spent the night lying perfectly still to avoid being spotted by the Indians.

Uncle William got back to camp but they wouldn't believe his story. Finally the post sent a squad out to see, and it was led by Uncle William. He led them to the spot and they shot a few Indians and routed the rest. Washburn crawled out and he was hungry and thirsty. The soldiers had brought food and water nad he ate at last. The boat crew bragged that they had a man that could run so fast no one could beat him. They wanted to entertain a bet but Uncle William wanted no part of it. Perhaps he knew motivation had to be there --- like running for your life?

In those days they had to get upstream by what was called a cordell. A strong cable was run upstream and made fast and the boat was pulled by a windlass on the bow of the boat and others would push with their pike poles if they could reach the bottom; this was slow traveling. Some would walk home. No steam boats in those days."

Berriman McLaughlin later married Catherine French and was the father of 11 children. He must have liked what he saw along the Ohio River as he later migrated to Scioto County. He served in the War of 1812.

William McLaughlin later married Laney French and was the father of 15 children. He never migrated from the Maryland and Virginia area where he was born. He served in the War of 1812.

Both were sons of Revolutionary patriot Daniel McLaughlin and Mary Key.

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