Sunday, February 9, 2014

Every Captive Has A Story and There Are Many Good Ones Here

Several of us joined NetGalley and review advance copies of books. From time to time we've shared some of the ones we like. Our scribe does a lot of genealogy and was really excited about Ian Stone's book, Setting All the Captives Free. After listening to her, we are too as we think about the amazing stories each captive had to tell.

Anyone whose ancestors were part of the fight for and settlement of the Allegheny country should read this book to gain a good understanding of the risks they took, the challenges they faced, and the impacts in the already settled areas. By that, I mean everyone from French Canada to the Carolinas and even further south.

The book is very readable, well-written and easily understood by the layman. I particularly liked the explanation of the Warrior's Path traveled for centuries by the Iroquois raiding Shawnee and other southern tribes. No wonder there were conflicts when settlers cleared out fields and built homes on it.

The author tried to identify every person taken captive in the Alleghenies. By every person, he means just that. There were a lot of different kinds of people wandering around the area: traders from French Canada and Pennsylvania, Iroquois Indian raiding parties as well as settlers, plus soldiers from France Britain and the American colonies. Everyone was was taking captives and some of those poor folks traveled long distances before they were released-even to Europe! I can't imagine being captured in the wilderness and released in France or England with no easy way to get home.

Every person the author identified is listed in the appendices, along with information about each one: where and when he/she was captured and his/her ultimate fate. In many cases the author searched land and marriage, birth and death records trying to identify what happened to the person. Each person has a story, and to me each one was interesting. Sometimes several members of a family were captured at the same time and separated. I can't help wondering how a parent felt as one or two children came home and other's chose not to, becoming White Indians instead.

This book also has useful maps that actually show locations discussed in the book. All too often historical works don't have clear maps. I've been told that's because the author, not the publisher, has to pay someone to create them. If that is indeed the case, many thanks to Mr. Steele for caring enough to pay for good ones.

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