The First White Woman to Live in the Upper Miami Valley

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This is article was written by Ruth Averill Clauson and published in the Maryland Historical Magazine in March 1953, concerning Jane Frazier, the Allegany County Heroine. 

 

https://archive.org/details/marylandhistoric53brow_0/page/n6  (page 83)


Jane Bell was born at Winchester Virginia about 1735.  At age 16, she married a British officer.  He died sometime thereafter.  In 1754, Jane Bell McClane then married John Frazier (Fraser).  Frazier was a guide and interpreter for Colonel George Washington on the trip to Fort Duquesne as an emissary of Governor Dinwiddie.  


After building a log dwelling (destroyed by fire in 1960) which still stood just beyond the southeastern city limits of Cumberland, Maryland on Oldtown Rd, John decided to build a shop for his gunsmithery.  His neighbors gathered in October 1755 to help him.  After Jane had served dinner and the builders were again at work, she asked to take the Frazier’s hired hand and the horses to buy supplies at the storehouse of Fort Cumberland.


Scarcely out of sight of her home, they were attacked by a group of Indians who killed and scalped her attendant, then hurried away with Jane and her horse.  Jane said the Indians were kind, let her ride her horse, and they protected her from other Indians encountered during the three week journey.  


The raiders returned to their village on the Great Miami River in Ohio with the captive white woman.  It  caused great excitement.  A council was held and Jane was adapted into a tribal family.  They also treated her well when she gave birth to a son (she was pregnant prior to being captured) and made the child a coffin when he later died.  

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Jane remained with the Indians over a year.  She helped plant corn and cook, learned their ways and taught them hers, learned their language and told them stories from the Bible.  During this time she witnessed preparations for another raid, the collection of food for those who remained at home, powwows, and war dances and dances to insure the success of the undertaking.  The Indians brought back a Pennsylvania tanner and his son whom they adopted and appointed to tan skins.


While preparations for a third raid were being made, Jane and the two tanners escaped amid the hysterical excitement.  The three traveled together for a week –then Jane, fearing capture, went on alone, living on what vegetation she could find, climbing trees or sleeping in hollows at night.  After 11 days, she came to Oldtown.  There she found friends.


Jane learned that her husband had searched and mourned for her for several months and had concluded she was dead.  He had married a neighbor girl and they lived in his house.  The friends suggested she stay with them, would get her some nice clothes, put her on a horse, and take her to her husband John, whom they felt would rejoice at her return.  


The next morning, a procession formed, fifty men, women, and children, carrying two flags, singing, and blowing horns, dogs barking, surprised neighbors along the way joining the party.  

John Frazier heard the approach of the party.  His delight at the return of his wife was boundless as he snatched her from the horse shouting, “The lost is found… the dead is alive!”    Frazier descendants say the second wife withdrew from the home and when her child was born, she brought the child to Jane, stating she wanted none of him.  Jane received the child, rearing and loving him as her own.


In 1758, when Colonel Washington marched north to join Forbes Army, John and Jane Frazier went with him.  They did not return to Maryland but remained in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.  After the death of John Frazier, Jane married Richard DeKapt (Dunlap).


Piqua historian Leonard Hill believed that the village that Jane was taken to was located on the west side of the Miami River near the mouth of Loramie Creek.  Hill claimed that there were no other known Indian villages along the river at that time. 


If that is correct, Jane Frazier was the first white woman to live in the upper Miami Valley….