Jonah Rogers

March 28, 1780 , while he was still a boy, Jonah Rogers was captured by Indians. According to "The Annals of Luzerne County", " Asa Upson and Jonah were making sugar a short distance above the mouth of Hunlock's Creek, when a party of ten Indians rushed down from the mountain, killed and scalped Upson, and took Rogers prisoner. Thence they proceeded to Fishing Creek, near Orangeville. Here they took Moses Van Campen, his father, and Peter Pence, prisoners. They killed and scalped the old Mr. Van Campen, and then set off through Huntington, where Captain John Franklin, with four men, gave them battle, but was compelled to retire. On the the head waters of Hunlock's Creek, in Ross township, they found Abraham Pike and his wife boiling sugar. The Indians wrapped Mrs. Pike's child in a blanket and threw it on the roof of the cabin. Taking Pike with the other prisoners, they hastened forward. After proceeding about two miles, an old chief painted Mrs. Pike, saying "Joggo squaw"--go home, woman. She returned, got her child, and went to Wilkesbarre. Arriving at the Susquehanna, below Tioga, on the first day of April, they encamped for the night."

Jonah Rogers' own narrative of this exploit is found in Bradsby's "History of Luzerne County Pennsylvania 1893". "In the afternoon of the day before we reached the place of encampment we came to a stream. I was tired and fatigued with the journey; my feet were sore and I was just able to proceed. Pike told the chief of the gang that he would carry me over on his shoulders. The old chief, in a gruff voice, said: 'Well.' Pike whispered in my ear as we were crossing the stream: 'Jonah, don't close your eyes to-night. When they sleep take the knife from the chief and cut the cords with which I am bound.' I was the only one of the prisoners who was not bound every night--the old chief took me under his blanket. The nights were raw and cold, and though protected in this way I thought I should perish. This much of the project was communicated by Pike to the other prisoners. Toward nightfall they halted, kindled a fire, partook of their evening meal, and were soon stretched on the ground. In a few minutes the old chief was asleep, and in the course of half an hour the savages were all snoring; but Pike knew his friends were awake, from the occasional half-suppressed cough.

Pike was the nearest to me and not over two feet in distance. It was a terrific effort for me to make up my mind to perform my part of the business, for I knew that instant death would be the penalty in case of failure. But, as time passed on, and the snoring of the savages grew louder and louder, my courage seemed to gather new strength. I had noticed where the old chief lay down; the knife in the belt was on the side next to me. I peered out from under the blanket, and I saw the embers of the fire still aglow and a partial light of the moon. I also saw the hands of Pike elevated; I thought the time had come, and these two hours of suspense I had passed were more terrible than all the rest of my life put together. I cautiously drew the knife from the scabbard in the chief's belt, and creeping noiselessly out from under the blanket, I passed over to Pike and severed the cords from his hands.

All was the silence of death save the gurgling noise made by the savages in their sleep. Pike cut the cords that bound the other prisoners. We were all now upon our feet. The first thing to do was to remove the guns of the Indians--the work for us to do was to be done with tomahawks and knives. The guns were carefully removed out of sight, and each of us had a tomahawk. Van Campen placed himself over the chief and Pike over another. I was too young for the encounter and stood aloof. I saw the tomahawks of Pike and Van Campen flash in the dim light of half smouldering flames; the next moment the crash of two terrible blows followed in quick succession, when seven of the ten arose in a state of temporary stupification and bewilderment, and then came the hand-to-hand conflict in the contest for life. Though our enemy were without arms they were not disposed to yield. Pence now seized one of the guns, fired and brought one down; four were now killed and two dangerously wounded, when the others, with terrific yells, fled at the report of the gun. As they ran, Van Campen threw his tomahawk and buried it in the shoulder of one of them. This Indian, with a terrible scar on his shoulder-blade, I saw years after, when he acknowledged how it came there."

In Hendrick Wright's book about Plymouth he writes "Even in my day, Col. Ransom, Abraham Nesbitt, Jonah Rogers or Abraham Pike would have shot down an Indian if they had met him, as unhesitatingly as if he were a wolf or panther."

Jonah lived in Plymouth until about 1824 when he and his son, Simeon Ford Rogers, bought from James & Mary Nisbitt and Henderson & Bethia Gaylord, Lot # 47 of the 1st division in Huntington twp.

Back to Pat's Pat's Home Page

Copyright © 1997 Pat Krivak