A focus on Simon Girty, the white savage

Jadon Gibson

Simon Girty was one of the most hated men in early America, disliked more than the warring Indians. In the mid 1700’s he became a white leader of Indians, a traitor to his own white race. He was a liaison between the British and the Native American tribes during the American Revolution.

In author Stephen Vincent Benet’s fictitious work “The Devil and Daniel Webster” and in the movie with the same name, Simon Girty is said to be “the renegade who saw white men burned at the stake and whooped with the Indians.” In the story he was a member of Satan’s jury, comprised supposedly of the worst characters in American history.

Girty was born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, about forty miles north of Gettysburg, in 1741. At 10 years of age he was present as his father got drunk with Indians who he thought were friendly. As time progressed the Indians weren’t as friendly as the senior Girty thought. There was a fight and it ended with a tomahawk sunk in the white man’s head.

Just five years later young Girty was captured by Delaware Indians along with his mother, stepfather and siblings. Simon again witnessed a hideous death as his stepfather was tortured and scalped. His three brothers and mother became slaves of the Delaware Indians. Simon was traded to the Senecas.

He remained with the Senecas for three years and then was returned to his white race. He worked for several years around Fort Pitt as an interpreter between traders and the local Indian tribes as he spoke English, some French, in addition to several Indian languages.

Simon Girty became a recruiter for the Continental Army at age 37, with pretense and hopes of becoming a captain. With the passage of time this became less likely so he trekked to Detroit and offered his services to the British.

Soon two of his brothers joined him in Detroit. They had been raised by Indians but recently returned to the white civilization. The British sent the three brothers among the Shawnees, Wyandots, Mingos and other tribes to incite them to war against the Americans. Simon began dressing in Indian attire, delivering guns and ammunition while inciting them to a fever pitch.

Simon was among the Indians during the torture and execution of Col. William Crawford. A witness of the event survived and claimed that Girty was “a pitiless instigator.” To his credit, on another occasion Girty is said to have saved the life of Simon Kenton, famous pioneer and Indian-fighter, in the nick of time as he arrived in the Indian village just as Kenton was being tortured. Earlier in life Kenton had saved Girty’s life and must have felt some obligation to do the same.

Girty was so despised it became extremely dangerous for him to remain in America. He quietly retired on his farm near Fort Malden in Ontario following the war. The name has since been changed from Fort Malden to Amherstberg.

His body became increasingly wracked with arthritis and his eyesight slowly dimmed. A descendant of his brother-in-law writes that in the early 1800’s, Girty, then suffering terribly from arthritis, set out on horseback with his brother-in-law to the area of Fairmount, West Virginia, about 20 miles south of Morgantown. He had heard of a Dr. Jehu Lash in that area who “used certain herbs” to cure a distant family member’s “most severe case of rheumatism.”

Upon their eventual arrival they were disheartened that Dr. Lash was absent, having gone “herb-diggin” in the mountains. They waited for several days before learning the doctor was returning home when he was detained and was treating a child for “horse-kick to the head.”

A day or so later Dr. Lash returned and began treating Simon Girty who was traveling under the name of a cousin, Simon Eckerlin. It was written that had Dr. Lash known it was Simon Girty he “would have shot him or given him poison.”

Girty’s condition continued to worsen. He became almost helpless with rheumatism and was completely blind when he died at his home in Canada in 1818. Copyright 2017 Jadon Gibson

A voice for good… a voice for God

Our Good Lord in Heaven has been so good to me. We lived in Rolla, Missouri, about 90 miles southwest of St. Louis, the last five years before moving back to the tri-state area of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia in 1985. Our home was on 30 wooded acres with several large oak trees nearby.

There was an electrical storm in the summer of 1983 and lightning hit and killed one of our large oaks about sixty feet in the front of our home. I was a novice somewhat with the chain saw but began cutting down the huge oak.

The tree probably weighed two tons or more and was over five feet around. It was so large, after sawing in one area it became too difficult so I began sawing from the other side. After sawing from another direction I had to pause for a few minutes, sat down and rested my feet at the base of the tree.

After sawing on the tree for a while longer I had seemingly cut around the whole tree but the center of the tree was intact and it kept the tree from falling. Instead of sitting at the base of the tree like before I stepped back 15 feet or so.

Suddenly the weight of this huge oak snapped the center part of the tree that held it up. Instead of coming straight down in the normal manner, after falling about 30 degrees, the tree slid across its base and plunged off. The tree was so heavy it tamped a large indentation in the ground next to the tree stump…. right where I previously rested my legs. Had I still been sitting in that position my injuries would have been catastrophic. I probably couldn’t have survived.

It could have ended so differently….so tragically. God has been so good to me! He’ll help watch over you and your family as well.

Begin telling your youngsters about Jesus from a young age and take them to Sunday School. Tell them about things to be wary about at different stages in their life. It’s so much better to discuss such matters before than after an unfortunate event. Encourage your youngsters to make the most of their schooling. Begin the preparation of their future now.

One thought on “A focus on Simon Girty, the white savage”

  1. Attn Jadon Gibson:
    I lived 18 years near a Simon Girty landmark , GIRDYS NOTCH, along the Susquehanna river, 20 miles north of Harrisburg,pa on route 11 & 15, and 1 mile north of New Buffalo and 1/2 mile south of Montgomery’s ferry.
    It consisted of a cave where Simon hid in waiting to attack the traders passing by on the river and a cliff with a natural 10 foot high detailed formation of a mans face and called a likeness of Simon.
    The State of Pa made a scenic pull off with picnic tables under Simons likeness with history sign and somewhere around 1980s the state closed down the rest stop and let the cliff trees cover Simons face.
    Around 1960, you could craw back into the cave a short distance, but guessing about 1975 the state cemented the cave closed , because it was not safe.

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