Thursday, October 23, 2014

Treasure Chest Thursday: Eva Wampler Kinsey

Eva is my 7th great-grandmother. I first learned about her story from an oral history passed down to my grandfather. He told me one of our ancestors had been captured by Indians. The story had always fascinated me, but I could find nothing to substantiate it, beyond word of mouth.  Until I was sent a history of the Caylor family by a relative, but it did not give the full name of my ancestor, only a few details:

"The life of his (Johannes Kohler/Caylor) grandmother on his mother's side, whose name was Kinzie, was as romantic as are some of the characters of Cooper. When she was a girl about six years of age and living in Virginia, her father and mother left her and a younger brother and a baby in the house while they went out a short distance to pull flax. During the parents' absence a party of Indians came to the house after demolishing its contents took the children and started for their camp. The parents and neighbors took the trail and found the baby with its head crushed against a tree. They followed the Indians for some time but losing their trail were compelled to return home, knowing that their other two children were either captives or had been killed. Ten years passed and some friendly Indians who visited the place told about knowing of a white girl who was with another tribe and the father being hopeful that it was his daughter offered the peaceful natives a handsome reward if they would secure the girl for him. They did and a large crowd of citizens were present when the girl was brought into the community, but she immediately knew her father from them."

Armed with knowing this mystery ancestor was from the Caylor branch of my tree, and her last name was Kinzie, I hit and did some searching. It didn't take me long to find her: Eva Wampler. She was from a Dutch family, and was born in 1739 in Pennsylvania or Virginia, making her abduction in the mid to late 1740s. I then did some google searching of her name, and another version of her story surfaced. It said she was indeed left alone with her siblings in the cabin, around 7 years old. She was inconsolable and would not eat, so the Indians had her feed sweet cakes to the "papooses" and she was overcome with hunger and finished off the cakes. She was adopted by the tribe and became a favorite of the chief, and around age 14 was promised to be his bride. But it was about that time that the U.S. government settled with the Indians and offered rewards for settlers' children to be returned, and she was stolen away from her tribe. When she returned to her family she couldn't understand a word of English. They tried to no avail, but finally encircled her and sang an old familiar hymn, which she was able to sing along to, but still could not speak English. Until one day she was out with her father who was building a fence. She stood there watching him, and as he was going for another rail suddenly blurted out, "I will fetch that rail!" And after that her silence was broken.

Eva married to Henry Kinsey when she was around 23, and had six children with him. They moved to Ohio territory around 1800, and there she lived the remainder of her days. I don't know much more about Eva, and I wish I did. It would be interesting to hear her account of her capture and life with the Indians, but it is amazing nonetheless that 200 some years later, my grandfather heard of her story. Keep those stories alive, and history will be all the more colorful. Maybe some day I can write more of her story.