Jeremiah Jack was among the first settlers on the Potomac River where they were forted. Jeremiah Jack had been born in Ireland in 1689 and married Anne Swaine from Yorkshire , England on July 17th, 1724 in the First Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia. I believe they both from previous marriages but something could have happened to them on the voyage to the new world. In 1739 he was granted 175 acre of land by George II of England on which the town of Williamsport, Maryland was later built. He would go on to get another land grant from George Washington for his participation in the French and Indian War.
COMING TO COLONIAL AMERICA - Turn right from Williamsport onto Clearspring Road crossing the old stone Conococheague Creek Bridge, one tenth of a mile to the site of Jeremiah Jack’s cabin, then left six tenths of a mile on the Byron Tannerry property, you will come upon the home of Jeremiah Jack who had been granted a tract of 175 acres in 1739, built a substantial log cabin near the much traveled Indian path. In 1750 some Delaware’s met and slaughtered all but one of a band of Catawba near here. He according to legend, sought refuge with Jack, who sheltered him and persuaded the Delaware’s to let him depart unmolested.
THE BRITISH AND FRENCH INDIANS - There is a rocky cliff overhanging the Potomac above Williamsport, Maryland, which was pointed out as a place whence a man named Jeremiah Jack escaped form pursuing Indians by leaping into the river and swimming across. During the dreadful time many were carried into captivity and were never heard from again. In 1755 many families were so terrified of the Indians that they forsook their plantations to seek refuge at Fort Frederick, (Pictured below) all through the year 1756 the terrible work of butchery went on.
THE CAPTURE OF JEREMIAH JACK - On 13 April 1757, Indians, most likely Shawnee, took Jeremiah prisoner while at the same time killing his second son John and other members of the family. It was also reported in a Philadelphia newspaper that two of his sons and several other members of his party were killed in this raid by wither drowning or murder, but we were able to find only one son that died, maybe it was Anne Swaine’s son. Jeremiah was an old man my this time. Son John Jack that was killed was the brother of my direct ancestor, James Jack. At the same time the French and Indian war was in full swing. Even though the local Delaware Indian chief and recently made peace with the British colonies, there were many tribes making raids and there were many reports of killings or abductions by Indians during that period.
BRITISH INDIANS JOIN IN THE FIGHT FOR JEREMIAH - A few weeks after the attack on the Jack Family the Governor of Maryland received a letter from the Cherokee chief of Keeway (South Carolina) offering the help of his people to avenge the deaths of our brothers the English ‘hearing they had kill’d some of our brothers, not knowing when we set off...but the murder was committed in Virginia’ and specifically mentions in the side letter to the Catawba tribe that Jeremiah had helped some years earlier. “I expect in a few day to overtake the party of the enemy that has committed the murders here: They kill’d 9 white men since they kill’d the Jacks. “asking the Catawba to join the Cherokee against the French Shawnee. It appears that the Cherokee held the Jack family in some esteem, as they knew them by name. The band of Cherokee came to protect Fort Frederick (shown) and allied themselves with the British fighting other Indians. The Cherokee considered themselves trading partners of England as they had direct treaties and had more commercial ties to England rather than the Colonies. They were also able to parley their military help for concessions including a fort to protect their families while the warriors were fighting for the British. A transcribed section and a copy of the actual assembly letters are shown below.
Jeremiah was taken away by the Indians and lived to tell the story, but there are many stories of white captives, some of which were published during the time period. For the captives, scared, grieving, sometime wounded and in shock, the transition from their old way of life was swift, they were often given moccasins to wear, marched and driving up to 30 miles a day with little food, comfort, warmth, or sleep. The children were treated less harshly and had a much easier time than adults. Once the prisoners arrived at a village, the captives were made to run a gauntlet, beaten, forced to sing and dance for the Indians. Many captives were taken for profit by the Indians of the northeast and sometimes other Indians as well. The Indians would then ransom their captives to the British in Quebec. These captives were usually forced on a long road to Canada and the trip itself was very difficult to survive.
Most the older prisoners were separated from the rest and often severely tortured, often burned alive, or just killed. But the your captives was selected to replace members of the tribe that had been killed. It was difficult to say why Jeremiah was allowed to live instead of killed, but sources say it was because of his demeanor that was an important factor, as confidence and bravery were respected. Also he was a registered Indian trader and took loans for that purpose with the Ohio Company between 1750 and 1763 and that in an attack the Indian knew his daughter’s name and the Cherokee appeared to hold him in esteem as they specifically brought up the Jacks in their letter to a neighboring tribe about helping the English fight the Delaware and Shawnee.
At the same time it appeared that the British was not doing very well, and it was the Catawba and Cherokee who changed to course of the war into a British victory. If it wasn’t for the respect of the Jack family, they would not have joined the war and would have assured a British defeat.
After about 2 years after the end of the war there was a party that came to the home of Anne Jack and saying that there was a man across the river (Potomac) who wanted to see her. Upon he going to the river, the man said he wanted to buy the farm. She told him that she could not sell it, that it belonged to her husband who had been carried off by the Indians several years ago and she did not know whether he was alive or dead. It was then he made himself known, he being Jeremiah Jack and had changed so much that his wife didn’t even know him.