Louisa St. Clair (1772-1840)
A legend about General Arthur St. Clair's daughterFrom: rhuseth <email@example.com>
Date: Mon, 07 Jun 1999 14:17:09 -0500
While researching another surname in Tuscarawas county, Ohio, I came across an item about Louisa St. Clair, the daughter of General Arthur St. Clair. Since there have been discussions about the general, and the article was quite interesting, I thought I would share it with the group.
From Historic Events in the Tuscarawas and Muskingum Valleys, and in other portions of The State of Ohio edited by Charles Howell Mitchener, 1876.Richard Huseth
Legend of Louisa St. Clair, the Governor's DaughterWhen General St. Clair came to Marietta, in 1788, as governor of the North-west Territory, he left his family at home in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Louisa, a daughter of eighteen years, educated at Philadelphia, and his son Arthur, came out soon after on a visit, and in 1790 the family moved out, except Mrs. St. Clair, who remained at home some time longer.
The proposed Indian treaty at Duncan's falls, in 1788, being postponed and adjourned to Fort Harmar, the Indians prepared for peace or war, and were hostile to holding a convention to adjust peace measures under the guns of Harmar, and Campus Martius.
Brandt, son of the Six Nation's chief of that name. came down the Tuscarawas and Muskingum trail, with two hundred warriors, camped at Duncan's falls, nine miles below Zanesville, and informed Governor St. Clair, by runner, that they desired the treaty preliminaries to be fixed there.
The governor suspected a plot to get him to the falls, and abduct him, yet nothing had transpired of that import. He sent Brandt's runner back with word that he would soon answer by a ranger. Hamilton Kerr was dispatched to Duncan's falls to reconnoiter, and deliver St. Clair's letter.
A short distance above Waterford, Kerr saw tracks, and keeping the river in sight, crept on a bluff, and raised to his feet, when hearing the laugh of a woman, he came down to the trail, and saw Louisa St. Clair on a pony, dressed Indian style, with a short rifle slung to her body. Stupefied with amazement, the ranger lost his speech, well knowing Louisa, who was the bravest and boldest girl of all at the fort. She had left without knowledge of any one, and calling "Ham"--as he was known by that name--to his senses, told him she was going to Duncan's falls to see Brandt. Expostulation on his part only made her laugh louder, and she twitted him on his comical dress, head turbaned with red handkerchief, hunting shirt, but no trowsers, the beech-clout taking their place. Taking her pony by the head, he led it up the trail, and at night they suppered on dried deer meat from Ham's pouch; the pony was tied, and Louisa sat against a tree and slept, rifle in hand, while Ham watched her. Next morning they pursued their way, and finally came in sight of the Indian camp. She then took her father's letter from the ranger, and telling him to hide and await her return, dashed off on her pony, and was soon a prisoner. She asked for Brandt, who appeared in war panoply, but was abashed at her gaze. She handed him the letter, remarking that they had met before, he as a student on a visit from college, to Philadelphia, and she as the daughter of General St. Clair, at school. He bowed; being educated, read the letter and became excited. Louisa perceiving this, said she had risked her life to see him, and asked for a guard back to Marietta. Brandt told her he guarded the brave, and would accompany her home. In the evening of the third day they arrived with Ham Kerr at the fort, where she introduced Brandt to her father, relating the incidents. After some hours, he was escorted out of the lines, returned to the falls, and went up the valley with his warriors without a treaty, but crazed in love with Louisa St. Clair.
In January, 1789, he returned, took no part in the Fort Harmar treaty, was at the feast, and asked St. Clair in vain for his daughter's hand.
In the fall of 1791, Brandt led the Chippewas for a time during the battle at St. Clair's defeat, and told his warriors to shoot the general's horse, but not him. St. Clair had four horses shot under him, and as many bullet-holes in his clothes, but escaped unhurt. Louisa's beauty saved her father's life, but sacrificed his fame; and after his downfall she left Marietta with him and the family, loaded down with sorrow for life.
Professor Hildreth thus describes Louisa at Marietta in 1791:
'Louisa was a healthy, vigorous girl, full of life and activity, fond of a frolic, and ready to draw amusement from all and everything around her. She was a fine equestrienne, and would mount the most wild and spirited horse without fear, managing him with ease and gracefulness, dashing through the open woodlands around Campus Martius at full gallop, leaping over logs or any obstruction that fell in her way. She was one of the most expert skaters in the garrison. She was also an expert huntress. Of the rifle she was a perfect mistress, loading and firing with the accuracy of a backwoodsman, killing a squirrel from the highest tree, or cutting off the head of a partridge with wonderful precision. She was fond of roaming in the woods, and often went out alone into the forest near Marietta, fearless of the savages that occasionally lurked in the vicinity. She was as active on foot as on horseback, and could walk with the rapidity of a ranger for miles. Her manners were refined, her person beautiful, with highly cultivated intellectual powers, having been educated with much care at Philadelphia. After the war she returned to her early home amidst the romantic glens of the Legonier valley.'
Had St. Clair given his daughter to young Brandt, the alliance would have averted war. His father, Joseph Brandt, highly educated and the most powerful chief of the time, was the originator of the western confederation of Indians in 1786. It is reasonable, therefore, to suppose that had a family connection existed in 1789 with the governor of the North-west territory, neither Harmar or St. Clair would have suffered defeat in 1791, nor would Anthony Wayne have had to whip the confederated nations in 1794.
Last changed: Sun Oct 21 10:45:16 CDT 2001