In a scetch of the History of Morvarian Congregation at Gnadenhutten on the Mahoning plublished by the Morvarian Historical Society in 1886, reference is made to the kidnapping by the Indians in 1780 of Abigail Dodson, great Aunt of Weston Dodson, founder of Weston Dodson & CO., Dodson Service to retail coal merchants in Bethlehem, PA.The following original account of that incident, taken from old records, gives some idea of hardshipa undergone by our forefathers and the fortitude with which they met them.

Abigail Dodson, second child of Samuel and Elizabeth Rhodes Dodson, was captured by the Indians at Gilbert's Mill on the Mahoning Creek, Leigh Co., PA, on 29 April,1780. The Gilbert and Peral families, with some others, in all fifteen persons were taken captive at the same time. Abigails's family lived a short distance up the Mahoning Creek from the mill. She was sent to the mill very early in the morning, soon after daylight on horseback. She was nearly fifteen years of age. The first person to greet her upon arriving there was an Indian, who came out of the house and at once commanded her to dismount. She soon perveived that all the people living near were either captives or dead, and none left to assist her to escape, Soon another Indian came with his tomahawk, held threateningly before her, while the first one took her from the saddle and bound her to prevent escape. They loaded the horses with goods taken from the house, which was soon fired, as was also the mill and other out buildings.

The families captured were Quakers and non-residents in principle, for this reason, probably their lives were saved. Having seized all the horses near, the Indians were enabled to carry off clothing and provisions for their journey. They started at once for the Susquehanna River, up which by Indian paths, avoided settled portions, they hastened. They reached the River at or near Shickshinny, crossed over and passed through and burned the buildings and saw mills there, from which the Austin family had been driven by the Indians two years previous. And thence by a well known Indian path some distance back of the river they made their way to the Genesee Valley. They remained there for three years. During the period of their captivity , Abigail lived with five different tribes and learned their languages. The tribe she was last with moved from the Genesee Valley to Grand River in Canada. The suffering and hardships endured during the first five years of her captivity were very severe, sometimes nearly starved, at one time being without food for three days. This told on her future life, becoming a cripple from rheumatism because of exposure.

She was sold to an Indian or half breed of another Nation named Ed DeGoyer, with whom she fared much better.Her new master had corn fields, orchards and cattle.In the summer the cattle were taken to pasture land near Niagra Falls where Abigail was sent to take care of them. Here she was betrothed in 1785 by her adopted parents to a young Indian, but she was fortunate enough to meet some fur traders, to whom she was able to make known her name and that of her parents and brgged them to try and let her friends know and rescue her. This they faithfully preformed and Thomas Dodson who was either her uncle or cousin, undertook the mission of her rescue, and after danger and difficulity succeded in finding her. DeGoyer claimed her as his purchased property and refused to give her up, finally demanding a ransom in gold, but finally compromised by accepting the horse, saddle and bridle which was provided for her journey home. So , with one horse for both, which was a borrowed one, after a capativity over five years, in her Indian costume, she started with her rescuer and faithful guide to home and friends.They reached the Sesquahanna River at Towanda. there they disposed of or returned the borrowed horse, procured a boat and paddled down the river to Shichshinny, , and there again borrowed a horse and passed over the mountains to their home in the Mahoning Valley, reaching it in December, 1785, after an absence of five years and eight months.

She was then eighteen years of age and was placed for some time in the Moravian School in Bethlehem. Monday, April 17, 1786, she was received into the Moravian Society. she with the other children after the father's death , settled in Luzern County. she married Peter Brink and was respected and belioved by all who knew her. She lived to a ripe old age , esteemed of her amiability and Christian graces.

Descendants of Abigail in this vicinity are ; PRESTON MINGUS, O, C. COTTERMAN, MRS. ELIZA BELLES, the late MRS. JOHN MILLER of Shickshinny, MRS. GRACE HOCKENS of Huntington Mills and MRS. VIOLA BAKER of Register.

This information was submitted by Rose Vosler.

1997-2018 by Mary Ann Lubinsky for the PAGenWeb Project, and by Individual Contributors

 Mary Ann Lubinsky
County Coordinator

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