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A History of Jonathan Alder

His Captivity and Life with the Indians

By Larry Nelson

Publication Year: 2002

A History of Jonathan Alder: His Captivity and Life with the Indians is one of the most extensive first person accounts to survive from Ohio’s pioneer and early settlement eras. Nine year-old Alder was captured and taken to Ohio by Indians in 1782. Adopted by a Mingo warrior and his Shawnee wife, Alder lived as an Indian until 1805. After he left the Indians, Alder became one of the first European settlers to live in central Ohio. Alder composed his memoirs in the 1840s. His account chronicles his life for fifty years, from the time of his capture to 1832. The narrative, therfore, provides a unique perspective on fronteir Ohio and its transformation from wilderness to statehood and the continuing evolution in the relationship between Ohio’s Indians and whites from the Revolutionary War-era to a time when many of the state’s Native peoples had been removed. Alder’s recollection provides an exceptional look at early Ohio. His portrait of his captors is revealing, complex, and sympathetic. The latter part of his narrative in which he describes his experiences in central Ohio is an extraordinary rich account of early pioneer life. Further, Alder was fortunate in that he encountered many of the persons and took part in many of the events that have become touchstones in Ohio’s pioneer history, including Simon Kenton, Simon Girty, and Col. William Crawford. He participated in the Battles of Fort Recovery and Fallen Timbers, and his recollection of these actions are among the few extant accounts that describe these events from a Native American perspective.

Published by: The University of Akron Press


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pp. vii-viii

Out of the dim past comes the romantic story of Jonathan Alder, so engrossing, so improbable as viewed from our twentieth-century standpoint, that we may be prone to feel that the narrator has drawn upon his imagination in dealing with the life of this remarkable man, or that possibly, he has selected him as a romantic...

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p. ix

Many people assisted me as I prepared Alder’s narrative, and it gives me great pleasure to acknowledge their hard work on my behalf. Louise Jones, Durea Kemp, and Tom Starbuck at the Ohio Historical Society’s Library/Archives Division responded promptly to numerous requests for reference materials and...

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pp. 1-25

On a brilliant spring morning in May 1782, nine-year-old Jonathan Alder and his older brother David set out to find a mare that had wandered from their isolated cabin in southwest Virginia and into the rugged mountains and dense forests of the surrounding countryside. Later in the day, the boys found their horse, but as they struggled to lead the reluctant animal....

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A History of Jonathan Alder: His Captivity and Life With the Indians

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pp. 27-178

Ahistory of the life and captivity by the Indians of Jonathan Alder, who was born the son of Bartholomew and Hanna Alder on September 17, 1775, in the state of Maryland, not far from Philadelphia (in New Jersey, about eight miles from Philadelphia, September 17, 1773. Howe, Beers).36 When I was two years old,...


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pp. 181-205


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pp. 207-215


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pp. 217-222

E-ISBN-13: 9781935603108
E-ISBN-10: 1935603108
Print-ISBN-13: 9781884836985
Print-ISBN-10: 1884836984

Page Count: 222
Illustrations: none
Publication Year: 2002

OCLC Number: 606815746
MUSE Marc Record: Download for A History of Jonathan Alder

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Indian captivities -- Ohio.
  • Shawnee Indians -- Social life and customs.
  • Mingo Indians -- Social life and customs.
  • Alder, Jonathan, b. 1773.
  • Frontier and pioneer life -- Ohio.
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