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The Point: "Glow of Dawn"


From The Pittsburgh Bulletin, 11 December 1915. By J. M. Miller.
The Block House at the Point, preserved through the efforts of the Daughters of the [American] Revolution, is the best known structure in the Pittsburgh district remaining from pioneer days. A wealth of stories illustrating the strange adventures of men and women who braved the perils of the wilderness in search of homes and profitable trade cluster about the old building erected by Col. Bouquet as a part of the defenses of Fort Pitt and occupied by himself as a home for some time.

In the spring of 1765, a few months after the construction of the Block House, hundreds of settlers had gathered in the open space at its entrance to welcome friends and relatives who were being returned from captivity by the Shawnee Indians as a result of a treaty which had ended an aggressive campaign by Col. Bouquet in the valleys of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers during the preceding year. Many of the men and women thus freed had been prisoners for a number of years and in some instances had become warmly attached to their captors, having adopted the Indian style of dress and being tanned by constant exposure to the sun until they resembled the Indians in appearance.

With those in the throng which waited in the hope of meeting long lost, loved ones among the returned prisoners was Mrs. William Reynolds, whose daughter, Zelia, had been captured twelve or fourteen years before when the cabin home of the Reynolds had been destroyed and the husband and father killed by the savages. Zelia was less than five years old when she was carried away and although she would have grown from a baby into a young woman of 18 years during her absence, the mother believed that she could not fail to recognize her daughter. But a keen scrutiny of all the young women returned by the Indians failed to reveal the presence of Zelia and at last when each one had been identified and claimed Mrs. Reynolds sank on the step of the Block House and buried her face in her hands, her body shaking with sobs.

Daniel Arnett, the son of a neighbor of Mrs. Reynolds, who was Zelia's playmate before she had been stolen, helped the mother in the search, and he at last learned of a girl in a far away Shawnee village, whom some of the returned prisoners declared was a white girl although she passed as the daughter of an old chief, wearing the Indian dress and following the Indian mode of life. This girl was called Aldara, Glow of Dawn, and was about 18 years of age, according to the reports. She was possessed of unusual beauty and intelligence it was said.

The Shawnee warriors, however, who had brought the prisoners to Fort Pitt, declared that Aldara was an Indian and the daughter of the chief, Alpurgis. Despite the denials of the Indians Arnett was persuaded by Mrs. Reynolds to return with the Shawnee warriors and attempt to find Zelia.

After a journey of several weeks through the forest, the Muskingum valley was reached, and Arnett found the village in which Chief Alpurgis lived with his wife and Aldara, Glow of Dawn. Alpurgis declared positively that Aldara was his daughter. The girl, who could speak no better English than Alpurgis, declared she had never lived anywhere except in the chief's wigwam and that the only parents she remembered were the Indians.

The difference in appearance between Aldara and the other girls of the Indian village was so slight that Arnett in the face of her own assertions could not well insist that the mature Indian maiden was the little white girl with whom he had played years before. Nevertheless, he insisted that she should visit Fort Pitt in order that Mrs. Reynolds might have an opportunity to see if she was the missing Zelia. After some argument Chief Alpurgis, on account of the treaty with Col. Bouquet, agreed that Aldara should accompany Arnett to the fort, stipulating, however, that several other members of the tribe should go with them for the purpose of taking Aldara back to the Indian village in case of failure to identify her as a white girl.

At the end of the long journey through the wilderness Aldara and her escort were met in the Block House by Mrs. Reynolds in the presence of Col. Bouquet. At first Mrs. Reynolds could see no resemblance between the mature Indian maiden and her lost baby. But as she continued to look into the soft, blue eyes of Aldara, the white woman began to tremble. Her face flushed and then with a cry of joyful recognition she clasped the girl in a passionate embrace. Smiling sadly Aldara stroked Mrs. Reynolds' hair with gentle fingers, but still persisted that she was of Indian parentage and that she had never before seen the woman who now claimed to be her mother.

"The daughter I have sung to sleep so often on my knee has forgotten me!" sobbed Mrs. Reynolds.

"Sing the song you used to sing when she was a child," said Col. Bouquet.

Mrs. Reynolds in a faltering voice obeyed. The girl listened for a few moments in silence then with a flood of tears flung herself into the white woman's arms, exclaiming: "My mother, my mother!"

Chief Alpurgis then admitted that Aldara had been stolen when a baby and adopted into his family, adding that inasmuch as the girl had forgotten her white parents and learned to love the Indians he had considered it no violation of the treaty not to send her to the fort with the other prisoners. Aldara, or Zelia rather, learned rapidly the ways of her white kindred under the tutelage of her mother assisted by Daniel Arnett, her former playmate, and at length she became Arnett's wife. For many years thereafter her cabin home was visited each summer by the old chief, Alpurgis, who came loaded with gifts for the adopted daughter whom he still loved.


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