John E. Scott

Sketch of J. E. Scott
Early Settler of Pike
Bowling Green Times, BOWLING Green, MO.
March 30,1916

The following history of John E. Scott, a pioneer of Missouri and the West, is based on a story written by Col. Broadhead about 60 years ago, and is a reminiscence of interest to Missourians. Mr. Scott was the great grandfather of T. Berry Smith, of Fayette, and Mrs. Ben Bankhead of this city.

Mr. John E. Scott was born in 1755 and lived to be 100 years old. He was just 26 years old when Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown. He was a native of York County, Pa.. Part of his early life was spent in the northern part of Virginia. His parents moved back to Pennslyvania near Ft. Pitt, now Pittsburgh, but then a frontier settlement. Upon one occasion, when living near Ft. Pitt, in his early youth, he went out on a hunting expedition; by some accident he got lost in the wilderness of western Pennslyvania; his ammunition became exhausted; he got out of provisions; the weather was extremely cold; and when night came on he laid down upon the ground to sleep. His clothes soon froze to the ground, but he fell asleep; and in the next morning when he awoke, he found himself covered with snow. For several days he subsisted on acorns. His mother was quite young, with three children. Upon the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, his two brothers enlisted in the army, leaving him her only support. At what period he moved to Kentucky is not exactly known, but he was in that unfortunate expedition under General Harmar, known as Harmar's defeat, and that occurred in1790. In 1722 [sic] shortly after his marriage, he had built himself a cabin and had become comfortably fixed when his home was invaded by a band of Indians. His family had been engaged in making sugar, and had sat up late at night. The savages were nineteen in number and made their attack between midnight and day break just after the family had gone to sleep. They broke into the house, some coming in at the door, and some down the chimney. His wife and her brother were struck in the head with a tomahawk, her brother being instantly killed. She being but slightly wounded, was taken prisioner. Scott made for his gun but before he could reach it, the savages had seized him. They then tied him and carried hm and his wife off as captives. They were taken across the Ohio River, and many days journey into the wilderness, now the State of Indiana, to the old Maumee village on the Wabash; thence they were taken across the St. Joseph River. There he saw the celebrated Simon Gurty, the terrior of early western settlements. Upon inquiry of him, he learned he had been taken captive by a band of Pottawatomies, and when asked what they would do to him, Gurty's reply was that he would suffer hell. His prediction was too true. He suffered all the tortures that savage barbarity could invent. One cold day in February he was stripped naked and painted. The Indian boys then switched him with switches, and he was made to crawl upon his hands and knees upon the frozen ground. The Indians then kindled a large fire and marched him around it. They, in the meantime flourished their tomahawks over his head, and he expected every moment to be cut to pieces, or thrown on the fire and burnt alive. The squaws then sacrifice him on all parts of his body, they next took him down to a pond of water, broke a hole in th ice, washed the paint off him and gave him such clothes as they had, that he might dress himself up after the Indian fashion. After many hardships, he made his escape about the time General Wayne came to redeem frontier settlements from destruction and to inflict vengeance upon the savage tribes for the outrages they had committed. Finally Scott and a fellow prisoneer, Samuel Cleves, by the aid of an old squaw, were able to elude the vigilence of the Indians and make their escape. The old squaw furnished Scott with a blanket, a new pair of moccasins, and leggens,eight ears of corn, a tomahawk and a coon dog. They set off in the night, concealing themselves in the daytime and traveling at night. They soon got short of provisions and had to kill their dog and eat him. They were five days without any food, other than some turtles which they procured from the creek. Even the shells of the turtles were roasted and eaten. Cleves finally gave out from hunger and exhaustion and said he could go no farther. Scott went on and told him he would return when he found provisions. He had gone but a short distance when he came on a drove of cattle.He killed a cow, made a fire, skinned it, cut off and roasted some of it. They remained there some time feasting on the meat, hearing occasional firing of guns by whites. Scott insisted upon finding out about the firing, but his friend said, "No, let us stay until we have eaten up this cow". They, however, cut off 20 or 30 pounds of the meat, put it in their knapsacks and started on. At length after many days of toil and hunger and apprehension of being overtaken and captured by the Indians, they reached the Ohio River and hailed a boat manned by some whites and were rescued.

About the year 1819 he removed from Kentucky to Pike County, Mo. where he continued to reside up to the time of his death, beloved and respected by his numerous friends. To him and and such as him are we indebted for having opened before us the pathways of civilization and terminated the contest with the British Government carried on through her savage allies long after that government had nominally made peace with the United States. Those Indian Wars were but a continuation of the Revolutionary struggle, and were carried on by the pioneers of the West through long years of toil and suffering.. The memories of those men should be dear to us all and grow in value with the passing years. 


This biography was photo copied from a micro film in the library of the State Historical Society of Missouri at Columbia, MO. by Daryl Ann Rogers.
Note from contributor: Bowen A. Rogers:
The Draper Manuscripts by Lyman C. Draper contains separate interviews with two individuals in 1855 who lived in Scott Co., KY at the time of the capture of John and Nancy Scott. They both confirm the facts, as far as they pertain to the capture of this couple, to those outlined in the Broadhead article. They give the date of occurrance as Feb.. 1792 and state John and Nancy newly married at the time.

Nancy Scott was released from captivity as the result of the victory of Gen. Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers (Ohio) Aug. 20, 1794 and the Treaty of Greenville signed Aug. 3, 1795.

John and Nancy Scott both buried at the Scotts Spring Cemetery. John's grave marked by only a small granite boulder brought up the hill from the nearby creek. Nancy's grave site originally marked an engraved stone with this enscription:
          Nancy wife of John Scott Died Dec 15,1827
          One of the Pioneers of Kentucky and Missouri
          and suffered as a prisoner among the Indians

Nancy's stone has been destroyed by someone some 20 or 25 years ago by an individual carrying it to a back corner and apparently repeatedly slamming it into three Burks stones. Nothing left of the four stones other than small chunks strewn over the ground. This cemetery overgrown with brush, briers, vines and weeds. Absentee owner keeps entry gate to his property padlocked.

Also, read about Scott's Spring...




2000 Rhonda Stolte Darnell