- Original Source:From a letter dated Tullahoma, Tenn, 3 April 1895, by JB Cowan to an unnamed relative.
- Intermediate Source:Source:Fleming, 1971
- Indian Captivity Stories of the Cowan Family
- Analysis:Captivity Stories for Ann Walker Cowan, and Mary Walker Cowan
"I stated in my other letter that Major John Cowan, my great grandfather was killed by Indians, and his wife and son, my grandfather, were taken prisoners. My great grandmother was carried by the Shawnee Indians to the Lakes on the north for several years.
"She was the slave of the squaw that captured her. At last a half breed and his wife took compassion on her and planned to rescue her. He left his canoe with his wife for the French Trading post in Kentucky, somewhere north of the Cumberland Gap, on the Kentucky River, I believe.
They concealed the fugative under the furs in their boat, an deluded the Indians in their pursuit and reached the French Trading Post in safety. Knowing however, that they would be pursued they succeeded in getting the men at the post to conceal the refugee in the cellar of the Store, and a messenger was sent in haste to notify the settlement in (I believe) Blount County, Tennessee. The messenger rode night and day, and the people were all at church (it was a great camp meeting). The messenger rode up to the stand where the preaching was going on, and called out:
Is there a man here named Russell, Major Russell, or Colonel Walker, or any man named Cowan?
Major Russell responded, and said:
What do you want?
There is a woman at the French Trading Post makng her escape from the Indians. Her name is Mary Cowan, and the Indians are in pursuit to recapture her, and I am sent to tell her friends to come as quickly as possible to rescue her.
You can imagine the scene that followed. In an hour a hundred picked men were in the saddle and were off. The excitment in the community was intense. It was the coming back from the grave.
There was a forced march by day and night. The Indians were there first, but had not foud their victim. Late in the evening a large string of cavalry was seen approaching. The Indians fled, and my great grandmother was rescued. My father recollected to have seen her years afterwards when he was but a child. My grandfather was in the rescuing party to save his mother.
Had I the time I would love to weave these and may other thrilling facts into a romance or write them and leave them to my children. I am feeling very close to you now, as I have been hunting back into our kin who have crossed over and are resting in the shade.
God's blessing upon you and your family
Your friend and kinsman,