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Reminiscence--Stories About Sam Brady

Milestones Vol 25. No. 2

Anecdotes, Told by General James Brady to Mr. M Darragh, 1891

Mr. Mattison Darragh, a well known foundryman and machinist of Bridgewater, told the following interesting anecdotes, related to him by General James Brady, brother of Samuel Brady, the famous scout and Indian fighter of early days. "About the year 1840 Mr. Frank Porter and myself went aboard a boat at Pittsburgh accompanied by an aged and military looking gentleman, also came aboard. Learning that we were bound for Bridgewater, Mr. Moorehead introduced his aged friend as General James Brady, a brother of Samuel Brady, the famous scout, whose deeds of daring and thrilling adventures have been sung by poets, emblazoned in prose and immortalized by tradition until his name is as inseparable from the history of Pennsylvania as is the name of Washington from the history of the nation." "The old general was quite feeble, and Mr. Moorehead requested us to care for him on the journey, and see him to a hotel in Bridgewater, which responsibility we cheerfully accepted."

"After the boat had passed several miles down the river, the old general suggested that we ascend to the upper or hurricane deck, saying that he wanted to see if there were any distinguishing marks left of the blockhouse and the village of Logstown. Arriving at a point almost opposite what is now Economy, he turned his face steadily toward the south side of the river, and his eyes wandered over the broad bottom land on that side of the stream. At last he turned sadly to us with the remark that the only mark left to recall the place was a delapidated log cabin still standing near the river, where once lived one of his brother's trusty scouts.

As we came closer to the episode the old general said: "Yes, there were many amusing occurrences that blended with and softened the terrors of border life. One of these occurred on a trip my brother Sam and I made in a canoe from Fort Duquesne (now Pittsburgh) to the blockhouse up the Beaver (where New Brighton now stands) when we reached the mouth of the Beaver we had scarcely proceeded a dozen yards up the stream when our canoe struck a submerged snag and capsized, throwing us both into the water. In the canoe was our guns and a jug of whiskey. Now what do you think Samuel grabbed first, held on to and carried safely to shore? 'His gun, of course,' we answered in concert. Oh, no not he. It was the jug. He knew his gun would sink to the bottom and stay there, but the jug would be lost to him, so he held onto it. He soon righted the canoe, and diving, recovered the gun. We then proceeded to the blockhouse, where we arrived wet and hungry, but in a comparatively short time, before a hot fire, our clothes were dried and we were given a veritable feast of roasted venison and the usual accompanying dishes. On this particular occasion there seemed to be an unusual supply of deer meat, and the women were busily engaged in "jerking it", a process resorted to in order to preserve the meat better by drying it. It is accomplished by jerking the meat back and forth violently, after which it is hung up and thoroughly dried. This, with a supply of parched corn, furnished the rations for the hunters and scouts and on which they would often subsist for many days at a time."

Another instance was related by the old general of his brother's courage: "One morning the call of a turkey coming from the east side of the creek, about where Bolesville is now located, attracted attention at Ft. McIntosh. Samuel quietly left the fort with his gun on his shoulder and fording down the Beaver, being absent only a short time, returned carrying the scalp of an Indian, and threw it down with the remark: 'Here's your turkey.' The Indian was using the call of the turkey as a signal but he could not fool Samuel."

During the conversation, Mr. Darragh incidentally said he had relatives by the name of Hart, who had resided somewhere near where the village of Baden is now located. The old general said that a man named Hart, who lived at this point, was one of his brother's best scouts, and had been with him once on one of the most hazardous expeditions on record in the northern part of the state. He was also acquainted with his family history, and traced it back to John Hart, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He also told a short anecdote of an adventure of Hart's wife: "One morning the baying of a pack of dogs on the south side of the river attracted her attention. Shortly afterward a deer sprang from the bushes and taking to the river, swam toward the north shore. There was no man about, so she took down the rifle and secreting herself near the river, waited the arrival of the deer. As soon as it came out of the water she fired, killing the animal. That shot had been heard by hunters nearby, who came to inquire the cause. Presently the hunters came over from the opposite side of the river and claimed the deer. She told them to take it, but as it was a rule among hunters that whoever shot a deer that was another party's game, he should receive a quarter of it, the hunters on the north side interfered and compelled the greedy ones to give Mrs. Hart her share. Women could shoot as well as men in those days, and she was one of them."

The boat finally landed at Bridgewater, the wharf being just below the west end of the toll bridge, and the old general was assisted to a hotel nearby, of which Col. Chester Bloss was the proprietor, and which still stands today, and is known as the "Red Onion," although long since abandoned as a hotel. Here the old gentleman remained for a few days, he was remembered by many who met and talked with him and his adventures as a general in the regular army, and the exploits of his brother Samuel.

Mr. Darragh's story was like listening to words from the dead, coming as they did directly from one who many years ago followed the Indians' trail or hunted the wild animals through the forest where now runs the stream and electric cars, and where the busy hum of industry is heard today. It also settles the long disputed question of the site of Logstown, as General Brady's actions and words positively locate the old blockhouse as being on the south side of the river.