Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Baby Bootie Incident: The First Pioneer Child

John and Mary Hamlin built the first log cabin east of the Scioto River (later, the site of Hoster’s brewery). Here, on October 16, 1804, their daughter Keziah was born.

A tribe of Wyandots lived nearby and were friendly with the Hamlins. They were especially fond of Mrs. Hamlins’s freshly baked bread. On bread-baking days they would come to the cabin, enter and help themselves to some bread, without asking or saying a word. Upon leaving they would throw a hunk of venison or other game on the floor as compensation and silently take their departure.

One day, while the infant Keziah was sleeping and Mrs. Hamlin was elsewhere attending to her tasks, the Wyandots entered the cabin and silently made away with the child, as if she were a loaf of bread. Mrs. Hamlin was beside herself with fear and anxiety for her daughter. As the hours passed, she was heartbroken until the return of the Wyandots with the infant wearing a beautiful pair of beaded moccasins on her feet, the work of which had obviously been done during the day to insure a perfect fit.

Miss Keziah Hamlin married December 19, 1822 to David Brooks of Princeton, Mass., and died on Feb. 4, 1875, having five children of her own. One of these children, Mr. David W. Brooks, a banker, told this anecdote to the contributor of this article in Henry Howe’s history.

If only we could rewrite the history of Native Americans and pioneers in the Ohio country with the spirit of this anecdote. The smell of baking bread could summon peace in the hearts of most anyone.

Christine Hayes

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