The First White Child in Ohio
by the Late A. T. Goodman - 1871

- continued -

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hope that this paper will be the "opening wedge" for others on the subject more clear, comprehensive, and decisive.(a)

     For many years, indeed until recently, it has been generally stated and believed that Miss Johanna Maria Heckewelder was the first white child who saw the light of Heaven in Ohio.  That belief made Miss H. the object of unusual attentions; visitors from all parts of the country resorted to her residence, to see and converse with the first white child born in the wilderness of Ohio.  Historians sought her acquaintance, antiquarians her photograph and autograph; learned societies her correspondence through complimentary memberships, in fact everybody who knew her history honored and respected "Aunt Polly Heckewelder," as she was familiarly called at Bethlehem, where she lived and died.  Until the year 1848 Miss Heckewelder's claim remained undisturbed; that is to say, no one publicly denied her right to appear in the role of the "first white child."  Mr. Howe, in his "Historical Collections of Ohio," first put a doubt on her claim, in a brief statement of the birth of a Frenchman, named Millehomme, which we shall notice hereafter.  At a later period the investigations of Judge Blickensderfer, of Tuscarawas county, Ohio, and Rev. Edmund De Schwemitz, Bishop of the Moravian Church, among the archives of the early mission station at Guadenhutten, revealed the interesting fact that a white child named Roth, son of a missionary, had been born there nearly eight years before Miss Heckewelder's birth at Salem.

     The birth of Roth occurred one year before that of the Frenchman, Millehomme, mentioned by Howe.  Here, therefore, are two instances of the birth of white children prior to Miss Heckewelder.  These are all the cases we have, except one occuring in 1753, which is deserving of attention and investigation.

     We have already stated that no known white child was born in Ohio before the close of the French and English War (1763).  The information we have of the birth of one during the year 1764, is perhaps not definite enough for acceptance by the historical reader and critic, but we have gathered in the facts, such as they are, and place them upon record in connection with the other statements on the subject.  But we think there is reasonable ground for asserting that the first known birth of a white child, occurring within the limits of Ohio, was that belonging to a white woman from Virginia, who had been taken prisoner by the Delawares in April, 1764.  This woman was, at the time of her capture, far advanced in pregnancy, and during the month of July, 1764, gave birth to a child at or near the Indian town of Wakatomaka, near the present site of Dresden, Muskingum county, O.  Let us examine into the matter.

     When Colonel Bouquet advanced with his army into the Ohio country, in October, 1764, he was met by the principal chieftains of the Senecas, Delawares, and Shawnees, who sued for peace.  In answer to their overtures, Bouquet, who was a stern, fearless and resointe man, made a dignified reply.  He said: "I give you twelve days from this date to deliver into my hands at Wakatomaka all the prisoners in your possession without any exception - Englishmen, Frenchmen, women, and children - whether adopted in your tribes, married or living amongst you under any denomination and pretence whatsoever; together with all negroes.  And you are to furnish the said prisoners with clothing, provisions and horses to carry them to Fort Pitt.  When you have fully complied with these conditions, you shall then know on what terms you may obtain the peace you sue for."

     This bold answer made a profound impression upon the savages.  An only alternative was left them - peace upon these conditions, or war.  They judiciously resolved to give up the white and black captives under their control, and on the 9th of November brought to Bouquet's camp all the prisoner's within the Ohio country, except a few held by a Shawnee tribe, who were absent hunting.  Those delivered numbered 206: Virginan - males, 32; females and children, 58.  Pennsylvanians - males, 49; females and children, 67.

     Among the Virginians was the white woman and her child heretofore alluded to.  Her situation is thus noticed in the history of "Bouquet's Expedition," page 79.

     "Among the captives a woman was brought into the camp, at Muskingum, with a babe about three months old at her breast.  One of the Virginia volunteers soon knew her to be his wife who had been taken by the Indians six months before.  She was soon delivered to her overjoyed husband, who flew with her to his tent, and clothed her and his child in proper apparel.  But their joy, after the first transports, was soon dampened by the reflection that another dear child of about two years old, captured with the mother, and separated from her, was still missing, although many children had been brought in.

(a) Since the date of Mr. Goodman's paper, the Hon. R. M. Stimson, of Marietta, Ohio, has put himself in communication with the descendants of Conner, who live at Connersville, Indiana.  C. M. Michener, Esq., of New Philadelphia, Ohio, has obtained evidence that there were children born of parents purely French, at Fort Junundat, on the south side of Sandusky Bay, prior to 1754.

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