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William Smalley (1767 - 1838)

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William Smalley
Born in Cumberland, New Jersey, British Colonial Americamap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, USAmap
Descendants descendants
Died in Vermilillion, Illinois, USAmap
Profile last modified | Created 14 Sep 2010 | Last significant change: 1 Dec 2018
15:13: Rebecca Mitchell edited the Status Indicators for William Smalley (1767-1838). [Thank Rebecca for this]
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15. Salome3 Swallow (John2, George1) was born ABT. 1795 in Delaware. She married John R. Smalley 19 Jul 1812 in Clinton County, OH, son of William Smalley and Prudence Hoel. John was born 1792 in Columbia, Hamilton, Ohio, and died 19 Aug 1834 in Vermillion County, Illinois.

Biographical Sketch of William Smalley:


History of Warren Co., Ohio. Chicago- W.H. Beers & Co. 1882

SKETCH OF WILLIAM SMALLEY On account of the eventful career of Wm. Smalley, and the fact that he was the first settler of Washington Township and played a prominent part in the history of it's settlement, we give him this extended notice.

Opinions differ as to the date and place of his birth, but the most probable account obtained by much research, is, that he was born in New Jersey about the year 1759 or 1760, and lived with his father's family in the state until 1764, when they moved to Western Pennsylvania, where a number of families had settled near Fort Pitt (now Pittsburgh). When the time came for planting and cultivating the crops, in the sixteenth year of his age, he and the aged men, women and boys of the fort were placed as pickets to notify the settlers working in the fields of any approaching danger from the Indians, who were then very hostile. Despite their watchfulness, the savages crept between the fort and laborers, and in the excitement that followed, young Smalley and others were captured by the Delaware Indians.

He was made to witness horrible and revolting scenes; he saw his father cruelly tomahawked by an Indian and most of the prisoners taken ruthlessly butchered. He, with a few others, were retained and carried into captivity. They were taken to the Indian town on the Maumee River, and there confined in a hut built for the purpose, on the outskirts of the village. They were afterward taken into the town and forced to "run the gauntlet," through which young Smalley passed alive. His ears were bored, cut and otherwise lacerated until they hung in strips of marks of cruelty which he carried to his grave, being well remembered by many of the old citizens now living. He remained with the Indians five years, in that time learning to speak their language with great fluency. After the unfortunate incident with the Indians and Col. Crawford, in which the whites were routed and many taken captive, he witnessed the burning of Col. Crawford and the torture and death of others.

At this time, the Indians were unable to dispose of their furs and other articles of trade, on account of their violation of their treaty with the French, and being anxious to renew their intercourse with the whites, they deputized Smalley (who spoke English, French as well as Indian) to visit the French post and negotiate terms of peace, promising him his liberty if he succeeded. He undertook the mission, in which he was successful, and immediately thereafter returned to his people in Pennsylvania, where soon afterward married Prudence Hoel.

While with the Indians, he saw several prisoners burned and on one occasion, saw an infant snatched from it's mother's breast and thrown into the flames.

Soon after his marriage, he removed with the surviving members of his father's family to Columbia, near Fort Washington (now Cincinnati), Ohio. During part of the time prior to the treaty of Greenville, probably about 1788, Smalley was engaged by Gen. Lytle as a hunter and guide to his surveying party, at 75 cents a day. He was also in Harmar's campaign and St. Clair's defeat, in the latter engagement discharging his rifle thirty-five times, twenty one of which it is said took effect. When Col. Truman and Maj. Lynch were commissioned by the Government to make peace with the Indians,Smalley was employed as their guide and interpreter. While on the Auglaize River on their way to the Indian country, they met three Indians with whom they agreed to camp for the night, the day being far spent and the savages making a profession of friendship. The party had six guns, all empty exceptSmalley's . In the night the treacherous savages murdered the two brave officers, but made no effort to injure Smalley . The two officers were scalped and Smalley forced to dry their scalps before the fire. On the following morning, Smalley with the three Indians, commenced their march to the Indian town, where upon their arrival, Smalley was put on a stump and forced to make a speech and explain his absence from them.

At the expiration of a year and seven months in captivity, he was enabled with the assistance of an Indian friend, to escape from his second captivity. He returned to his home in Columbia, where he remained but a short time. About the year 1791, he engaged with Gen Wayne as a guide and interpreter in his expedition against the Indians Smalley's knowledge of the paths, roads and Indian trails, as well as his acquaintance with the Indian manners and habits, made him well calculated to act in this capacity. He remained with the army until after the treaty of Greenville, when the soldiers were discharged.

Smalley returned to his home and devoted his remaining years to a life of less danger. He located lands on Todd's Fork of the Little Miami River, ten miles above the mouth of the stream, in a survey patented to William Lytle, William T. Barre and Duncan McArthur; he and his brother built a double cabin in 1797 and cleared a considerable tract of the finest land in that locality. Mr. Smalley erected a saw-mill and grist-mill about 1805 or 06; he also built a small distillery.

At this time the country was sparsely settled and their nearest neighbor being James Miranda, who lived at the mouth of Todd's Fork, where the flourishing village of Morrow is now situated. Mr. Smalley was the father of ten children, six sons and four daughters, named: Benjamin, Freeman (a Baptist minister), John , Rachel, William, Mary, James, Jesse, Martha and Prudence; all married in Warren County, and lived for a time, on their father's land, which lies in Warren and Clinton Counties. Rachel married William Nelson and died in 1824, being the first person interred in the graveyard near the depot at Clarksville; her mother was buried at the same place one month later. William died some years previously. Mary married Zara Stearns and moved West; Prudence the youngest, married Jonas Stump, and now lives near Harveysburg in her seventy-second year. The brothers all moved West in or before 1831. Mr. Smalley, the father married the widow of Thomas Kelsey, moved West in 1832 and settled in Vermillion Co., Illinois, where he died in 1840, well advanced in years and possessed of a comfortable estate.

EARLY SETTLEMENTS The first settlement, or rather the first cabin as a nucleus, around which the pioneers began to locate, was built by William Smalley and his brother Benjamin Smalley, in 1797, on the Southeast bank of Todd's Fork, where Charles E. Hadley now lives, one mile West of Clarksville. A double cabin was erected. The cabins were in the verge of extensive bottom lands, the Little East Fork on the South and extending up Todd's Fork many miles. These cabins were about fifty rods West of the Clinton County line, through Warren County, until 1810, extended East to Wilmington. The two brothers hacked a road from somewhere near Columbia and brought their families and a few household necessities they were possessed of the cabins, arriving in the early morning. They unpacked their goods, placed them in the huts and returned to the Columbia for the remainder of their property, leaving their wives and children in the wilderness with strict injunctions to show NO signs of fear if the Indians came. That night, eight Indians came to their cabin to stay all night; their request was granted and it was so arranged to let them as far as possible occupy one of the cabins. One of the men, a stalwart fellow, took his position in the part occupied by the two Mrs. Smalley's, laid on the earthen floor, his motions being very restless and suspicious. Mrs. William Smalley (Prudence Hoel) kept herself awake by rocking a rude cradle all night while lying on her bed. Late in the night, the Indian got up, stirred the fire, lit his pipe, took a long leisurely smoke, lay down and slept quietly the remainder of the night. In the morning, they departed. If there is any truth in the old adage that it is an omen of good luck to have visitors the first day on moving to a new house, it was surely verified in this case!

EXCERPTS FROM A LETTER WRITTEN APRIL 19 1936 by Mr. Fremont Miars William Smalley was adopted into the family of the Indian Chief who had lost a son. The chief's at that time were Captain Pipe, Wingenund and Killbuck. Mr. Smalley and his wife, children and another woman came down the Ohio river in a dug out canoe. On the way, the canoe sprung a leak. Grandma (Prudence Hoel) told the other woman to caulk the boat. She began to cry and said that they would all drown. Grandma boxed her ears and said, "go to work". The woman caulked the boat in a short time!

William Smalley bought his land from Gen. Lytle of Cincinnati, who refused to make him a deed after getting his money. Smalley later went to Cincinnati to the land office, dropped his rifle into the hollow of his left arm, told Lytle, he had come for his deed. William Smalley said he would go out into the hills to hunt for three days and then return for the deed. When he returned, Lytle handed him his deed without any argument. He knew of Smalley's life and character!

Also see; Warren County Local History by DallasBogan: William Smalley - Indian Captive, Woodsman, Guide And Pioneer On Todd's Fork


William Smalley writes "Awakened and quickened to a realization and appreciation of refined and beautiful womanhood, to which I had been unaccustomed in my savage life, I saw and appreciated tributes that made one of the fair Caucasian maids not only useful as a member of society, but indispensable to my own particular welfare. As I have been ever ready to strive for that which I have believed good for my own personal benefit, no matter how unequal the contest, I determined to enter into a contest with my rival for the hand and heart of the fair Prudence Newman. Knowing that my words will be inadequate to describe her charms and worth, I shall not attempt to do so. Suffice it to say she was as good as beautiful, and beautiful beyond comparison. No maid was ever more lovely than she..........

I was unskilled in etiquette, know little of letters or courtship, but I knew I loved her and I did not hesitate to tell her so. One evening we were returning to her home from my mother’s, where she had been visiting, and we walked through the woodland intervening. I then said to her: “The flowers that bloom about your feet are beautiful, but you, in my sight, are more lovely than they. Their fragrance is delicious but insignificant in comparison to the incense your presence exhales. The birds are singing about us, but the sounds of their songs are not so full of melody as the music of your soft, gentle speech. The birds are mating now, for it is spring time, the time for love and wedlock. From the first moment that we met my heart, hitherto untouched by love, has thrilled with rapture whenever my eyes rest upon you, for Prudence, you are not only fair, but you are kind and sympathetic. I am rude and have not yet learned the soft and gentle speech of my race and kindred from whom so long I have been apart, but I will, for your sake, learn them, for I love you. My words are true and I love none other.” -------

His Rival Was There - -At first the maiden made no reply. She turned her eyes from mine, which were gazing eagerly into hers, and bowed her head, while a crimson blush suffused her fair face. Just then there was a rustle among the leaves, & my practiced ear detected that there was something present. Instinctively I felt that we were being watched. We had reached a point in our journey where some large rocks rested beside our pathway. Behind one of these some one was concealed. Naturally I reached for my hunting knife and had my hand upon it. She heard the noise, but had not noticed it as I did and was all unsuspecting until she saw me grasp the hilt of the knife and my attitude change from love for her to suspicion. Then she turned to me and placed her hand upon that one of mine which grasped the knife. At that instant my rival moved and I saw him crouching behind the stone.

Then I spoke to him. I said: “Miserable coward, I once spared your life; ever since then you have dogged my footsteps and sought my life, which you have not had the courage to try to take openly. You hide along my trail to hear my words and creep like the snake instead o walking upright as a man and a warrior should. If you are a man, step forth, & fight like one and you will die an honorable and decent death. If not, sneak away like the serpent, and when next I see you I will kill you like I do the adder. You are not even as good as the rattlesnake, which always gives warning of his presence and an opportunity to avoid a fight with him. You creep and hide behind rocks like the adder. Come forth and fight.”

The maiden spoke. She said to me: “William, he is unworthy of your steel. Let him creep away, as you say -- like the snake. Harm him not. If you do, I can never love you. I can not give my heart to one shoes hand is stained with blood. Let him go.” She pointed in the opposite direction to that in which our way led and turning to my rival, said to him: “If you have any self respect left go away from this vicinity and never return. I know your true character and pity your faults, but don’t want to see you again, ever. Your life has been spared twice. Don’t place it in peril a third time. Go.” He turned and slowly walked away. I then resumed my suit with the maid. To her I said: “This man’s life again I have spared for your sake alone although I know that he loves and wished to wed you. I will not promise to spare him longer unless you tell me you love me and will be my bride.” Smalley Wins His Bride...Prudence then said simply: “From the first I have loved you and I am yours only, but do not stain your hands with human blood.” I then put my strong arms around her & she did not attempt to evade my caress. I kissed her cherry red lips and she returned my kiss. In rapture we walked to her humble cottage and far into the night I staid at its portal, where we arranged for our wedding. I built me a log cabin of my own on land which I had purchased with the proceeds of my toil. It was between the homes of my mother and her parents. With my own hands I fashioned most of its furnishings, which were made for comfort. I was skilled in woodwork and made my chairs large and strong and my beds long and wide. My mother and my sisters placed their offerings in my new home and my mother rejoiced at my choice and success, for she loved my bride even as a child of her own............. In the same little chapel where I first saw by bride, and where my paleface friends first saw and laughed at me, we were wedded and I could not help feeling sensations of pride and triumph as I stood at her side in front of the kind soul who with a few simple words made us man and wife. From the little church to our home we went and there commenced our peaceful and joyful life that we both had hoped was destined to be unattended by any interruption or separation. Here we spent five years of uninterrupted happiness and prospered. My mother and my sisters and her people were often with us in our home and when we could we went to theirs. My wife added to our mutual joy by presenting me with two children. They, like myself, were robust and active. Like the little lake which was beside our home our lives were as placid and as undisturbed as human tranquility can be. My rival and enemy had gone away.


United States Census, 1830," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 11 August 2017), William Smawley, Vermilion, Illinois, United States; citing 104, NARA microfilm publication M19,

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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with William by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with William:

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William is 22 degrees from Sharon Caldwell, 17 degrees from Burl Ives and 18 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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