The first story this prompt brought to mind was that of a first cousin, four times removed on my dad’s side of the family.
As a young bride, Sarah Jane Hall John’s farm near the Jacksonville area was attacked by Native Americans. Her story is told in a book called “A Narrative of the Life and Sufferings of Mrs. Jane Johns: Who Was Barbarously Wounded and Scalped by Seminole Indians in East Florida.”
Sarah Jane Hall was the daughter of John Hall and Mary Silcox. Mary was the sister of my 3rd Great-Grandfather Wade Warren Silcox. The author credits a third sibling, Lucretia Silcox Carter with sharing details of Sarah’s early life and birth in the wake of another Native American attack.
Sarah grew up, and in January 1936, she married William Johns. A few months later, they found themselves face to face with another group of Native Americans. According to the book, John survived long enough to get to the house, but the Indians burst through the door and shot him again. Sarah was shot in the arm and neck, scalped, and set on fire. The published account says she waited until the attackers left the home, then used her own blood to put out the fire. She crawled to a nearby pond and waited there in the water for several hours, until her father-in-law and other men arrived.
The book was published in 1837, as a way of raising money to help poor Sarah, who had lost everything that day.
I grew up hearing stories that my mom’s side of the family had a Creek Indian ancestor. While I do have a smidge of indigenous blood, per my DNA results, that ancestor is much further back than I was led to believe in my childhood. Still, the stories I was told, as wrong as they might have been, instilled in me a measure of compassion and anger on behalf of the Native Americans who were forced from their homes and lands, their forests razed, their wild food sources slaughtered.
The film I’d like to see would not only tell the story of Sarah and the other European pioneers in Florida, but would also showcase the victimization of the Seminoles. We’ve seen so many films about the Wild West, but in the first half of the 19th century, the South was also wild and untamed, filled with danger and conflicts that have not yet been explored by filmmakers.
I agree with you that these stories need to be told and with some balance that has previously been lacking. I have a relative who fought in the Seminole wars of that time period. I’m also reading “Last of the Mohicans” right now. I think Cooper offered a nuanced portrait of the Native Americans, but certainly not wholly sympathetic.