George Baker Family Captured

Family legend and historical documents have indicated that George Baker, aroused from sleep one night, heard noises outside the cabin. He rushed and bolted the door. As he did, an Indian who slid down the chimney, attacked him with a large knife. George Baker fought with the Indian and was severely cut on the fingers of both hands. Although badly wounded, he overpowered and killed the warrior but was himself overpowered by the other Indians who had knocked down the bolted door.

George Baker, his wife and five (5) children were marched to Detroit where they were sold to British officers. During the march the Indians threatened numerous times to kill the youngest child because of his crying but the frantic pleas of the parents saved the child. The march was made even more difficult by an Indian custom. It is said that each family member was required to sleep BETWEEN two (2) Indian warriors as was the case with all Indian prisoners. Based on documented birth dates of the children, their ages at the time of capture would be: Michael, 17 years; George, 15 years; Henry, 14 years; John, 12 years; and Daniel, 9 years. Beaver County records attest to the fact that all five sons lived to adulthood.

A letter, written by Colonel John Gibson to General Edward Hand, Commander of Fort Pitt, and dated July 31, 1777, documents the Baker family capture by the Indians and notes finding three letters, written at Detroit, laying before the cabin door. His scouting party saw six Indians crossing the river to the Indian side "near the mouth of the Beaver Creek", the place where they tied Baker's family with bark, and where they crossed the river.

This capture should be properly explained within the context of British military strategy during the Revolutionary war. Three expeditions were sent out to "cut off New England" from the rest of the country. To promote the success of these expeditions, it was decided to enlist the Indians in the armies and to use them to create a diversion on the frontiers of Pennsylvania and Virginia with the hope of weakening the main American Army. On July 15, 1777, Lieutenant-Governor Henry Hamilton, at Detroit, sent out fifteen bands of Indians, each ACCOMPANIED BY ONE OR TWO WHITE MEN. These parties planted printed proclamations inviting " all such as are inclined to withdraw themselves from the tyranny and oppression of the rebel committees"  and take refuge at Detroit. They also offered bounties of 200 acres of land for services "against rebels and traitors till the extinction of this rebellion". The letters found by Colonel Gibson's scouts near the Baker cabin were undoubtedly these printed proclamations. The George Baker Family was the unwilling victim of the British military strategy.