The story of the Thompson family and capture of Mrs.Caffrey in early Alabama is mentioned several times by early Alabama Historians. Here is another account of the events that transpired before 1852 from an interview with eighty-two-year-old John Davis, Esquire when he was questioned about the Native Americans.
Warning: The exact words and spellings have been transcribed from the original so harsh language may be in the narrative. Please remember the times in which it was written and make allowances.
Ten miles from Nashville, and some three quarters of a mile off from the Charlotte Turnpike, at the head of a snug little valley, resides one of those old pioneers who in early times experienced the various perils of the warpath in endeavoring to protect the lives and property of his fellow citizens from the inroads of the fierce red man; and of the few who have survived the perils of those times, and the onward march of time, few bear their years more lightly, with a more active form, and cheerful spirit, than John Davis, Esq.
To reach his residence, our way, after leaving the high-road, meandered up a long valley, until finally climbing a sharp ridge, almost in its primitive condition of forest garniture, we suddenly looked down upon the farm buildings clustered together around some gushing springs right under the sheltering brows of the hills around.
We were pleasantly welcomed by the old gentleman now in his eighty-second year, yet so active, still, that he came briskly walking towards the house with his surveying instruments in his hands, having been out, not withstanding his years, following an occupation which for the greater portion of his life has claimed his attention. Tall and rather slender in form, his white hair gives him a most venerable appearance, whilst the fire and fun almost of youth, still sparkles in an eye, bright with the many evidences of a cheerful spirit, the best sustaining influence against the inroads of years.
To our request that he would favor us with the narration of his various adventures in early times, he readily complied, we taking notes of the conversation, and we have therefore the satisfaction of again laying before our readers one of those interesting stories of frontier life, which like the “Sibylline books,” are becoming more precious, the fewer there remains of them.
Excerpt from the narrative of John Davis, Esq.
The Thompson family were murdered within a year or two afterwards—I think it was in ’90. (1790) Thompson, was an old man, who lived about one and a half miles from where Gen. Harding’s residence now stands, and near where the Page family at present reside. It was cold weather, there being snow on the ground, and the old man had gone out to bring in firewood.
He had procured his load, and was in the act of throwing it over the fence, when the Indians fired upon and badly wounded him. He however got into the house and barred the door; but the Indians pulled out the “chinking” and shot those inside. Mrs. Thompson and her husband were killed, and one daughter was severely wounded.
The Indians took her and an older sister and a Mrs. Caffrey away with them, but the poor girl being too severely hurt to keep up with the party, the wretches tomahawked and scalped her, and left her behind. Although she lay out all night in the snow, yet she was living when found by the neighbors the next morning, and survived, although unconscious, until she had been carried about one mile from the spot to a house.
The sister and Mrs. Caffrey were carried off to the Creek nation, where they remained in captivity several years. The man, Caffrey, happened to be out feeding the stock when the attack was made, and so escaped. Miss Thompson, on her return from amongst the Creeks married a Mr. Collinsworth, and became the mother of James Collinsworth, a very talented lawyer of this vicinity, as many will recollect.
- Transcribed from The South-western Monthly, Volumes 1-2 Wales & Roberts, 1852
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