Daughter of Pioneer Kidnaped by Indians Has 89th Birthday
Mrs. Jessie Medcalf observed her 89th birthday at her home, 237 West 2nd street, Monday April 20, and will celebrate the big event with a family gathering on Sunday, April 26.
Mrs. Medcalf was born in a cabin on the shore of Lake Sibley April 20, 1875 the daughter of E. O. Brooks and Sarah C. White Brooks. Her mother, Sarah White was captured by the Cheyenne Indians on Aug. 13, 1868 and held captive by the Indians for six months before being rescued by General Custer and his men.
Mrs. Medcalf said that her mother would never talk about the horrible "day the Indians came." She said the event had been seven years before she was born but, Mrs. Medcalf said, "I must have been five years old before I heard about it." She recalls that when she asked her mother if it was true her mother would reply that it was true but it was over and there were no more Indians. Mrs. Medcalf recalls vividly the day her mother's words of comfort were proved wrong. The family had to come to Concordia shopping and Mrs Medcalf said, "Mother had put blankets on the floor of the wagon for us (three children) to ride on. She and Papa were riding on the seat up front." As they rode along, she declared, a horseman came riding hard toward them and said that US soldiers had rounded up every Cheyenne Indian in the country and were moving them to a reservation. Mrs. Medcalf said her mother turned pale as she whirled around on the wagon seat, ordered the children to sit close to the back of the seat with their hands in their laps. They were told not to make a sound. The mother pulled her bonnet down low over her face and the family continued their way to Concordia. Mrs. Medcalf declares she was never so frightened in her life as they rode right through the Indian band. She said she does not recall seeing any women or children but the Indian men on horses were so numerous they pushed against the wagon.
Mrs. Medcalf said that E. O. Brooks, the man who married Sarah White and is the father of Mrs. Medcalf, had been discharged from the army only a short time before and arrived at the scene where her grandfather, Ben White, was killed by the Cheyennes only a short time after Mr. White's death. The White home was in shambles after the raid and there was none of the small amount of clothing and furniture left. After the funeral Mrs. Medcalf said Mr. Brooks joined the search for the missing 16-year-old Sarah, and the men were able to follow the Indians to the banks of the Republican river where they met other settlers who had gone after the Cheyennes immediately following the massacre. Sarah White was held captive by the Indians until the following March when she was rescued by G. Custer.
Mrs. Medcalf declared she heard the story time and again from her grandmother, Mrs. Ben White and from her uncles who were older and were with their father at the time of the Indian raid. She said, "Grandma White, after the Indians had gone, carried her daughter, Jane White, who was then four years old, four miles to another pioneer home. Those four miles were made barefooted and much of the way was through brush and over rough ground. For many years, Mrs Medcalf said, strangers used to come to our house and asked mother if she knew them. When she replied no they would insist they were members of Custer's party and had helped rescue her." Mrs. Medcalf said she recalled her mother telling one fellow, "No, you're not one of Custer's scouts. They were all older men and if you were a scout you'd be in a rockin' chair."
"You know my grandmother, Sarah White Brooks, taught school at the Wilcox school. She won a scholarship at the age of 15. She went to Shelsberg college in Racine, Wis." Mrs. Medcalf says with pride.
There's another thing that brings out a bit of pride in the pioneer woman. She says she doesn't owe anyone a penny, and she still does her own work. Last week she mixed and spread commercial fertilizer over her yard and planted grass seed in the bare spots.
Mrs. Medcalf and her son, Virgil live at the home here. Her daughter, Mrs. Marshall Lee lives in Glasco and another son, Roscoe lives at Sacramento, Calif. She had eight grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren. Her only living brother is Walter O. Brooks who lived on the "old home place" 77 years, but sold the hold home last summer and moved to Jamestown, and her only living sister, Mrs. Della M. Flitch is now 83, and living in Gardenia, Calif.