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Title: A Mighty Man of Valor
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In order to perserve it for future reference for myself and those of my family who may be interested I am including in this bound volumethe following incidents. They do not properly belong here because they occurred in Virginia and can be of value in their relation to the Wabash Valley only as tending to show from what stock came the families that settled here and carved out of the primeval wilderness the glorious country which we now enjoy. They concern a Virginia pioneer named Bingaman, a daughter of whom was my great-grandmother, and they first came down to me as family legends. Recently I found them in a old volume by Col. Triplett entitled, "Pioneer Heroes and Heroines," and he quotes an older Virginis historian named Kercheval:

When a child about 13 years old, Bingaman had been taken a prisoner by the savages and treated with their usual unkindness and brutality. He and an older companion had been out in a canoe, and returning to the short, they were dragging the canoe up the sand, when two savages rushed out of the bushes. These quickly tomahawked and scalped the young man. Then, one leading and one driving the thirteen year old boy, with threats and blows, they struck out into the forest. and rapidly pushed on toward their villages. By night they had made a distance of twenty-five miles, and the boy, who had been terribly abused on the march, was utterly worn out.

Even at that age he possessed a determined courage, and while the Indians were making their preparation to camp, he was endeavoring to form some feasible plan of escape. Halting about half an hour before sunset, one of the savages had immediately started out in quest ofgame, while the other, having made a fire, lay down upon his blanket, leaving his rifle standing against a tree near by. Seeing that his captor anticipated no danger, young Bingaman at first determined to posses himself of the rifle, slay the Indian and flee, but reflecting that, even if the absent one did not hear the report of the rifle and hasten back, it would be a short time until the savage would be upon his trail, and feeling his inability to cope with this warrior, he gave up the idea, and determined to wait until they had fallen asleep before attempting anything.

He knew he must kill both of them if he hoped to make good his escape. On his return to camp, the hunter was equally as unsuspecting as his companion, but after supper he proceeded to bind the lad tightly, and then pass one end of the boy's body and tied it to his own wrist. Thus secured, and with an Indian on each side of him, the lad almost regretted not having carried out his first intention. After awhile both of the savages were sound asleep, and Bingaman began tugging at his bonds. It seemed to him that he had been thus engaged for two or three hours, and had just succeeded in freeing one hand, when the hunter awoke. Feigning the soundest sleep, the boy held the cord tightly in his hand, and the Indian satisfied by the groans of the lad, as he jerked the cord, that his captive was still firmly bound, turned over and was soon once more snoring away.

Releasing his other hand, the boy arose, and after rubbing his arms and wrists to restore their circulation, he matured his plan. Fearing that if he used a tomahawk its blow upon one might awaken the other, he secured the two rifles, and aiming one at each of the sleepers, he secured them in rest with the pieces of rotten wood lying around. Taking a final sight over the guns, he laid a tomahawk near at hand and touched the trigger of each rifle. Just as the explosion occurred one of the savages turned and the load intended for his head took effect in his shoulder, while the other was instantly killed.

The wounded one promptly comprehended the situation, and seizing the boy endeavored to draw him to him. The prudence of young Bingaman in providing the tomahawk was now rewarded, for seizing it, the lad laid blow after blow upon the yelling Indian, thus revenging the kicks and cuffs of hte latter, for this one had been extremely cruel in goading the youthful captive. The savage was at last dispacht, and taking a tomahawk, one of their rifles and all of their ammunition, the lad scalpt his enemies as well as he was able, and made his way home in safety.

Another incident of the prowess of Bingaman is given: A party of the whites were pursuing a number of marauding savages, and had come upon them just as they were going into camp for the night. It was hurriedly determined not to attack until the savages had gone to sleep, as by that means it was hoped that all of them might be killed. The whites dismounted, and Bingaman was ordered by the captain to hold the horses, while the others went ahead to reconnoiter the camp. Disregarding these orders, Bingaman pushed on with the rest. The action was prematurely brought on by an impetuous young man firing at an Indian who was approaching him rather closely.

All was now confusion. The savages started to flee, and Bingaman, dropping his rifle, dashed forward in this pursuit. Singling out a gigantic Indian, he passed unnoticed several smaller ones, and reaching his victim, split his skull with a well-aimed blow. As the others began to reach him, he cut them down one by one, and the other white having closely followed the flying enemy, there were none left, and the combat ceased. At this point, the captain of the company, an enemy of Bingaman, came up to hom and thundered out "Why are you not with the horses, sir? I ordered you to stay with the horses." "I know you did," said the giant, scowling upon him with his terrible eyes; "and I knew your object was to disgrace me, and if I hear one more word of your insolence, I'll serve you like that Indian there," and he pointed to one of his victims.

In the year 1758, this gigantic Virginian, Bingaman, was the actor in a savage combat, without a parallel in the annals of border warfare. At this time he was living with his family in a detached cabin, on the present site of the flourishing little city of Petersburg. His cabin was at some distance from the nearest settlement, and Bingaman was often warned by his neighbors of the great peril to which his family was exposed. He was, however, a man of the greatest strength and activity, and was absolutely without fear. He averred that he was perfectly able to repel any number of the savages that were likely to assail him, and that he intended to remain where he was at all hazards.

His ability to defend himself was put to it full test that fall, for one night a party of Indians made a desperate effort, and forced the door of the cabin., before Bingaman was aware of their presence. The cabin consisted of two rooms, one on the first floor and the other upstairs. In the lower room slept Bingaman, his wife, little son, and his aged parents; the upper was occupied by a hired man. When the savages entered they fired a volley into the room, wounding Mrs. Bingaman slightly in the left breast, but the heroic woman would not cry out or complain, for fear it might disconcert her husband. Calling to his family to get under the beds, and the hired man to come to his aid, the former promptly obeyed, but the latter did not stir.

Discharging his gun at random, for the room was very dark, he stript off his only garment, so that the Indians might not be able to hold him, and clubbing his gun, began to use it with terrible effect. Certain that his family had obeyed his command, he struck savagely at every moving form, and so powerful were his blows and so great his activity, that out of the eight assailants, seven were soon stretched dead, or dying upon the floor of the cabin, which now looked like a slaughter house, piled with its bloody victims. Several times the Indians grappled with him during his terrific struggles, but, owing to his precaution in removing his shirt, were unable to hold him. The eighth Indian, glad to escape the blows of the giant borderer, fled howling from the scene.

When morning came, Bingaman discovered that his wife had been wounded, and so great was his anger at the craven part played by the hired man that it was with great difficultu he could be prevailed on, by his wife, not to shoot him.

Date: 1/1/1916
Origin: Historical Sketches of the Wabash Valley
Author: J. Wesley Whicker
Record ID: 00001099
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Entered By: Amber M Knipe

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