Excerpt from "Ruddle-Riddle Genealogy and Biography"

by Pauline Ruddle Harman

Posted on Shawhan.com

Return Home:
Source: "Ruddle-Riddle Genealogy and Biography" by Pauline Ruddle Harman, L.C. #84-52275, pp. 21-26


Isaac (2), the fifth son (of John Ruddell), has probably had more written about him than all the other Ruddell brothers. In 1769 he disposed of 900 acres in Frederick County, Virginia and moved to Washington County on the Virginia-North Carolina border where he organized a company of Militia and attained the rank of Captain.

Captain Isaac Ruddell's company was paid to fight the British and Indians under Colonel George Rogers Clark in Kentucky and Illinois. Possibly while in Kentucky, he discovered the land was cheap and good, so he moved his family and a number of relatives to what is today the rich bluegrass region of Kentucky and established Ruddell's Station, also called Ruddell's Fort. A station was a cluster of cabins arranged for defense against Indians. Ruddell's Station also had a stockade to which the whole settlement could flee for protection when threatened.

Built in the spring of 1779, it was located on the east bank of the South Fork of the Licking River, about 7 miles from present-day Paris, the County Seat of Bourbon County. In June of 1780 the fort was attacked and captured by British Colonel Henry Bird along with Simon Girty and a force of 600 Canadians and Indians. Ruddell's Fort was built of wood and could only withstand rifle fire, not the 6 cannons the enemy possessed, so the only thing Captain Ruddell could do was surrender having made the condition that the prisoners would be under the protection of the British and not turned over to the Indians. The agreement was made, but once the gates were open the Indians rushed in and Colonel Bird lost control. Many were killed on the spot, but 470 men, women, and children were made captive and forced to march 800 miles to Detroit, where they were divided among their captors, some being taken on to Canada.

The records of the War Department show that Captain Isaac Ruddell' was released two years later in an exchange of prisoners and returned to the colonies in October 1782. He was treated well while in captivity in Detroit because of his association with the British officer in charge, due to the fact that they were both members of the Masonic Fraternity.

Two of Isaac's sons, Stephen (3), age 12, and Abraham (3), age 6, (also called Abram) were captured and grown up as Indians. They did not see their father again until 1795, 15 years later.

Stephen (3), although having married an Indian squaw, returned to civilization, received some education and became a minister. He was a missionary to the Indians and founded a church in Illinois, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1983. His Indian wife returned to her people and Stephen (3) had two other marriages. The movie Brave Warrior was the story of his life.

Abram (3), because of his younger age when captured, never gave up his Indian ways, but was very useful as a spy and interpreter in the War of 1812. He married, and in his later years settled first in Missouri and then in Arkansas.

Although there are variances in the story as told by different authors, it is "a true life drama of as absorbing interest as is to be found in fiction." It is copied in part from Collins' History of Kentucky:

"In the summer of 1780, a formidable military force, consisting of 600 Indians and Canadians, under the command of Colonel Bird, an officer of the British Army, accompanied by six pieces of artillery, made an incursion into Kentucky. Such a force, accompanied by artillery was resistless to the stockards of that state which were altogether destitute of ordinance. The approach of the enemy was totally undiscovered by our people until on the 22nd day of June, 1780, the report of one of the field pieces announced their arrival before Ruddle's Station. This station had been settled the previous year on the easterly bank of the south fork of Licking River, three miles below the junction of Hinkston and Stoner's branches of the same stream. A summons was immediately made by Col. Bird; to which demand Capt. Ruddle answered that he could not consent to surrender, but on certain conditions, one of which was that the prisoners should be under the protection of the British, and not suffered to be prisoners of the Indians. To these demands Col. Bird consented and immediately the gates were thrown open to him. No sooner were the gates opened than the Indians rushed into the station and each Indian seized the first person he could lay his hands upon and claimed him as his own prisoner. In this way the members of every family were separated from each other, the husband from the wife, and the parents from their children. The piercing screams of the children when torn from their mothers, the distracted throes of the mothers when forced from their tender offspring, are indescribable. Ruddle remonstrated with Col. Bird against this barberous conduct of the Indians, but to not any effect. Bird confessed that it was out of his power to restrain them, their number being so much greater than the troops over which he had control, that he himself was completely in their power.

"It may be said without hesitation that Isaac Ruddle acted with perfect discretion and showed sound judgment in surrendering the fort without a fight on being guaranteed the protection of the British. It must be remembered that the stockade of Ruddles Station was built entirely of wood and was made to withstand rifle fire only. Huddled within its walls were not only the men but also all the women and children of the settlements. Capt. Ruddle, besides being vastly outnumbered by the British and Indians, had no cannons, whereas the enemy had six. To use the words of Collins, 'Such a force accompanied by artillery, was resistless to the stockades of Kentucky.' To have held out against such odds would have courted certain disaster because Col. Bird with his six cannons would have reduced the fort in almost no time and brought needless slaughter to the women and children. No one knew this better than Capt. Ruddle. As it turned out, however, even this might have been preferable to the awful fate which overtook them after the fort's surrender.

"The number of prisoners taken at Ruddle's Station is reputed to have been 470 in men, women and children. Most of the children and a large number of adults were slaughtered by the Indians, but a few of the most promising boys were adopted into the tribe. Of the fate of two of these boys you will presently learn.

"It is at times very difficult to determine whether to regard the men taken at Ruddle's Station as soldiers or as merely settlers in that region. But that the British regarded them as Revolutionary soldiers is clearly shown by the fact that they were held prisoners by the British till the close of the war, some of them, including Capt. Isaac Ruddle himself having been released earlier in an exchange of prisoners. It appears therefore that the affair at Ruddle's Station may safely be regarded as an engagement of the Revolution. As one historian puts it, at Ruddle's and Martin's Stations both of which were taken at the same time, 'was waged the War of the Revolution on Kentucky soil.' And this was only five years after the first permanent white settlement had been made in Kentucky, at Herrodsburg.

"In all fairness to Col. Bird who commanded the British and Indians, it must be admitted that he did all in his power to restrain his savage allies. He did manage to recover a large number of the captives, including all of the Ruddles, except Isaac's two young sons, Stephen and Abraham, whom the Indians adopted. These he sent to Detroit and some of them across the border into Canada. Col. Bird personally saw that they were treated kindly and he himself married one of the captive women.

"The records of the War Department show that Capt. Isaac Ruddle was released two years later in an exchange of prisoners and returned to the Colonies, in October, 1782, from Canada by way of Lake Champlaine, Many of the others did not gain their freedom till after nearly four years."

Following the treachery of Ruddle's Station the Indians decided to adopt such of the boys as should prove to have the nerve and endurance of Indian boys. So they rolled the captive white children one at a time down a steep bank. If one cried, he was rejected as being unfit to become a member of the tribe and was consequently put to the tomahawk. If he did not cry, he was adopted. Subsequent events proved that at least two of Capt. Isaac Ruddle's children, Stephen, then twelve years of age, and his Younger brother, Abraham, had enough of the Ruddle hardihood and frontier prowess to make them the equal, if not the superior of any Indian boy. They were consequently accepted and became the regular members of the Indian tribe. What eventually became of them I shall let Colonel Daniel Trabue, a contemporary, acquaintance, and eye witness to many of the events connected with them, tell you in his own words, just as he wrote it down in his journal.

"In the summer of 1795 I was with General Wayne at Grunsvil at the Indian Treaty. General Wayne hired some of the first Indians that came to the Treaty to go to the other towns and get the Indians to come to the Treaty.

"The Indians were hard to persuade to bring in the prisoners, but gradually they came in, and brought a large number of prisoners. A number of men and women that came to the Treaty had been captured when children and they now looked like Indians. I was at Fort Jefferson about six miles from Grunsville and at a distance, in the parade we saw an Indian riding up toward the Fort, and when he got to within the distance of about 200 yards, he halted.

"Captain McColester beckoned to him, and told him to advance; so he came up some higher and stopped. Captain McColester went out to meet him, and I went with him. We took no arms with us, and the Indian told us he was a Chief and he was willing to talk about the treaty.

"He could speak broken English. When he told us what Nation of Indians he belonged to, Captain McColester asked him if he knew Stephen Ruddle and Abraham Ruddle. He said he did, so Captain McColester told him that the Father of these Ruddles was then at Grunsville, and wanted very much to see his children. The old Captain Ruddle had given many presents to other Indians to go to his children, and persuade them to come in.

"Captain McColester invited the Indian when he first came up, to come in to the Fort and Drink some Whiskey. He refused, and after talking some time, and asking more particularly about the Ruddles, he said "Me" and struck his hand against his breast saying, "Me, Stephen Ruddle. "The Captain and I immediately shook hands with him, and told him how glad we were, and we knew his Father was not far off, and that he, the Captain, would send a message for old Captain Ruddle.

"Captain McColester then went with the Indian Chief to where his company were, and there found Abraham among them, Abraham Ruddle and Abraham's adopted brother. They all alighted and came in, and all had the appearance of Indians; silver trinkets hanging about their necks, and breasts, and some brooches in their breech cloths and beads in the leggins and moccasins, they were painted and very Dirty. I suppose they thought themselves fine.

"We gave them something to eat, but none could speak English, but Stephen, and he, in a very broken manner. He and his brother, Abraham Ruddle had been taken prisoners at his Father's Fort in June, 1780. Stephen's squaw was old and ugly.

"In the fort several of the soldiers had their wives with them, and gathered together to see these Indians.

"When Capt. Ruddle came, Capt. McColester conducted him to his children. Old Captain Ruddle cried out aloud, and fell down on the floor crying, and bewailing his condition. Said he, "My children are Indians." Stephen took hold of his Father, and said, "Hold your heart, Father, hold your heart." The Indians, the white women, and some of the soldiers cried aloud, and Capt. Ruddle continued crying aloud whenever he would look at his children.

"The next morning Capt. Ruddle gave his sons clean clothing, and got them to wash off the Paint, and put on the clothes. I gave Abrams adopted Brother a shirt, and he was very glad to get it. We told Capt. Ruddle he ought to give Stephen's wife something, but he refused. As there was a Store in this Fort, some of the soldiers got some calico and the white women in a little time sewed it up, and when this was given her, she was highly pleased.

"The next day Old Capt. Ruddle and his children, and the Indians who were with him all went to Greensville, and after two or three days, old Mr. Ruddle told me he knew I could be of benefit to him. He said his son, Stephen, thought a great deal of me, and he wanted me to talk with him, and persuade him to leave his squaw and go home with his Father. But Stephen told me that although he was willing to go home he would not give up his squaw for any woman in the world, she would do anything for him and was mighty good to him.

"One night at Greenville, Stephen said that all of his company's horses had run away. I asked him if we were going to hunt them, and he said no, his squaw would go after them alone. After two or three days she brought them all back from a distance of forty miles, five horses in number. I then thought that she was worth all the rest of the company together."

John W. Wayland in his History of Shenandoah Count has the following to say of Stephen:

"The Rev. Stephen Ruddle was born (in Frederick County, Va.) in 1768. He met Tecumseh when both were 12 years of age and grew up in the same village with him. Stephen was with the Indians in several fights against the whites. After his return (from Indian captivity in 1795), he was converted to Christianity, given some education, and became a Baptist preacher. From 1805 to 1811 he made yearly missionary visits to the Shawnees and Delawares and introduced Christianity among them. He acted as interpreter for John Johnson, Indian agent at Upper Piqua, during the War of 1812. He preached in Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, Indiana, and Illinois, dying in the last named state in 1845. Rev. Stephen Ruddle's son, John M. Ruddell, represented Adams County, in the Illinois House of Representatives, 1846-48. The people of Bourbon County, Kentucky, remembered with respect Rev. Stephen Ruddle."

Eckert, in his book The Frontiersmen writes:

"Sinnanatha - Big Fish - was in actuality Stephen Ruddell. It was in 1780 that he was taken and adopted into the Shawnee tribe. Since he was only 12 at the time, the same age as Tecumseh, they became extremely close companions. Ruddell adapted to Indian life well. A bright, cheerful youngster, he held his own with the other boys in the tribe. Stephen and Tecumseh taught each the others language and by the end of their first year together Tecumseh could speak English unusually well and Sinnanatha was nearly as good in the Indian tongue."

Because of the fact that Abram was six years younger than Stephen when they were adopted into the Indian tribe, the influence of the Indian association was much more in evidence in him than in his brother. Wayland says that he never became "civilized", but was always in manner an uncouth Indian. Wayland further states that Abram was a spy and interpreter for Gen. Harrison in the War of 1812.

Judge Asa C. Jeffrey of Batesville, Arkansas, a life long friend and acquaintance of the Arkansas Ruddells wrote -1 short account of the family which was published in the Melbourne (Arkansas) Clipper in 1877. He had the following to say of Abraham:

"Old Abe Ruddell was captured by the Indians in the settling of Kentucky while a small boy and was not changed or given up till nearly grown. He talked very brokenly and always had a decided Indian appearance. He shunned people except his intimate acquaintances. On one occasion he went to witness a ball and when some compliments were paid to a young lady's dainty foot and ankle while dancing, old Abe said, "Yes, looks jes like pins stuck in a pumpkin seed."

Old Abe may not have been a connoisseur of dainty ankles and he may have been in manner and mien an "uncouth" Indian, as contended by Wayland, but he was a "grand old man" according to Trent Noland and he blazed the trail of civilization in the State of Arkansas. He was among the very earliest settlers in that territory and played no small part in wresting it from its wildernes state."

On his release, Isaac (2) went back to Virginia to collect a debt of several hundred pounds in order to get a fresh start, as he had lost everything except his land in Kentucky. He gave his friends Colonel Abraham Byrd and Captain Isaac Bowman, power of attorney in September 1783 so he could go immediately to Kentucky. Here he located on his property and built a gristmill, sawmill, and later a tobacco warehouse. Ruddell's Mills is a small village today with a highway marker telling of the mills.

Isaac (2) lived to be 81 and died in February 1812. He is buried in the Stonermouth Presbyterian Churchyard at Ruddell's Mills, for which he deeded the land. His simple stone is lettered "Isaac Ruddle - Va. Mi. - Rev. War."

According to Transylvania Presbytery records, the Stonermouth Presbyterian Church at Ruddell's Mills was first mentioned in October 1786, but it was one year later that Isaac Ruddell deeded to Stonermouth Presbyterian Church two acres of land in the forks of Stoner Creek. Hinkson Creek, and the South Licking River for the purpose of building a meetinghouse and establishing a cemetery. The sale was made for a price of five shillings. Stonermouth was the oldest Presbyterian Church in Transylvania Presbytery and Andrew McClure, pastor from 1786-1793, is believed to have organized the church.

Isaac's wife was Elizabeth Bowman, daughter of George Bowman and Mary Hite, and his will states in addition to other grants, that her grain is to be ground toll free.

The names of his sons follow the pattern of his brothers: John (3), Isaac, Jr.(3), George (3), Cornelius (3), Stephen (3), and Abraham (3). The girls were Margry (3) and Elizabeth (3). The first two sons died without heirs, so are not included in his will. Cornelius (3) was also deceased, but left daughters, Polly (4) and Nancy (4) and they are given their father's share, which is also true of Margry's (3) two sons.

Isaac (2) left many descendants in the west, some of whom are listed in the work done by Dr. Barb. This branch of the family retain the Ruddell spelling.

The following story about Isaac, Jr.' was found in a by Ridlon:

"Isaac was a great hunter and Indian fighter. He had a revolving rifle before Colonel Colt, the celebrated inventor of the revolver, was born. When hunting with a companion named Martin, on Kingston Creek, Isaac took the right hand of a hill and Martin the left, to meet on the table-land above, where they expected to see some bison or buffalo. Martin had proceeded cautiously about a quarter of a mile when he heard the report of Ruddle's rifle, and in a few seconds another report from the same direction. He immediately ran to the top of the hill, and down to where Ruddle was, and found him scalping an Indian. He asked Martin to load his rifle while he scalped another Indian below. He had just time to get the second scalp and grasp his rifle when he was hotly pursued by two Indians. Ruddle knowing of a large oak ran round and through its forks where he stopped and watched his pursuers. An Indian swung round a dogwood to look for his victim, when Ruddle sent a ball through his feathered head. The other Indian came running with raised tomahawk when Ruddle drew a heavy horse-pistol from his belt, which caused the Indian to fly to the thick woods below. It is said the lone Indian was asked by his tribe where his companions were, and replied that they had seen the devil, who killed three of them and would have shot him had he not run. This was the same tribe that captured Daniel Boone."

As Cornelius (3), son of Isaac (2), was one of the subjects of Harriette Simpson Arnow in two of her books, Seedtime On The Cumberland and Flowering Of The Cumberland, it seems appropriate to give a few paragraphs to the story at this point. Arnow's books show how an old, old culture shaped in Europe British Colonial became American and built a culture and a society that would in time influence much of the southwest.

Cornelius (3) served 3 years during the Revolution and was not at Ruddle's Station when it was captured in 1780, as he was on duty at the Falls of the Ohio. In 1782 when he was 23 and she was 21, he met and married "the beautiful Jane Mulherrin". Her brother, John, later married his sister, Elizabeth; they were children of James Mulherrin. The wedding is described in Guild's Old Times In Tennessee. Four couples were married at the same time in what is now the city of Nashville and the ceremony was performed by a trustee of the colony. The description, in part, follows:

"The colony was then in its infancy and the settlers were not supplied with the means or appliances necessary to make a wedding occasion brilliant, either in the way of gorgeous dresses, a table laden with rich viands and luxuries to tempt the fastidious appetite, and a fine band to furnish music while the guests' tripped the light fantastic toe' as the older settlements could do, but there was not wanting the disposition on the part of those more immediately interested to make the affair as grand and imposing as circumstances would admit, especially as it was among the first weddings in the new settlement. They were well supplied with game of almost every description, with which to prepare the most savory and tempting dishes, but there was neither flour nor meal in the whole colony with which to make bread, nor had there been for six months. In this emergency two of the settlers were mounted on horses and hurried off to Danville, Kentucky, for a small quantity of corn to supply the wedding table with bread. Only a few days elapsed before the couriers returned, bringing with them each one bushel of corn, which soon found its way to the mortar and pestle, where it was speedily converted into excellent meal, and from it was baked the first 'bride's cake' of which this new colony boasted. It was made with pounded corn meal, with no other ingredients than a little salt and water. Amid the dangers that environed the settlement, the hearts of this band of pioneers grew happy while celebrating the wedding with song, dance, and feast, rendered exquisitely delightful by the introduction of the wedding 'pound cake' and perhaps no cake on a similar occasion, before or since, was enjoyed with more zest."

Two little girls were born (Polly, Aug. 1784) and (Nancy, March 1786). In November of 1786 Cornelius (3) went turkey hunting and was ambushed by Indians. An inventory of his estate was made January 1787 and is on record in Davidson County, Tennessee, Will and Inventory Book 1784-1794. From this inventory Arnow, whose books are a study of the first settlers weaves a story showing the Ruddles to be an example of a Cumberland pioneer family.

The inventory follows:

A horse about 14 hands or near 4 years old, 5 cows and calves, one two year old heifer, one bed and furniture, two bedsteads, half dozen pewter plates, two pewter basons, one pewter dish, 4 tin cups, half a dozen pewter spoons, half a dozen knives and two forks, one dutch oven, two water pails, two coolers, one wash tub, a box iron and one heater, one pair of cotton cards, an iron candlestick, two saddle trees wt ye irons, one briddle, a hand saw, one ax. Two beaver traps, a table and chest, a frying pan two chairs, a lead ink stand, a razor, two small horses, looking glass, a chiles bed, a weeding hoe, a small ball, a saw sett, a pair bullet moles, a common prayer book, a spur, a pair of knitting needles, a little spinning wheel, a cotton gin, a lock and key, about 130 lbs. of flax, two 31 lb. of cotton in yeseed, about 50 bus. of Indian corn.

Arnow wrote that "Ruddle was the only first settler found who had even a small bed, for his trundle bed was referred to as a 'chile's bed'."

Cornelius' widow, Jane, married his first cousin, James Ruddell (3), on December 8, 1788. (*James and Jane were married "Ruddell, James Ruddell, Jane 29 Dec 1788 (L) Durrett, Rev. Richard "Bourbon Marriage Book 1 (1786-1801) correction by Robert & K.Perry) James (3) was the son of Archibald (2), brother of Isaac (2), Cornelius' father. Jane and James were parents of ten children and the youngest was named Cornelius. James (3) had been captured at Ruddle's Station and was a prisoner for 2 years and a half.