The Low Dutch Company

HEART-RENDING TRIAL OF MRS. ANNA [Duree] BANTA

This famous woman was first married to S. (Peter, Jr. See Collins' History of Kentucky, page 422) Duree, in the State of Virginia, in the year 1771, and remained in that State till 1777-8, when Duree and his wife joined a small company of emigrants and "struck" for the territory -- Kentucky -- and landed safely at a place then called Lime Stone, now Maysville, Mason County. Remaining here a short time, they broke ground for a settlement about eight miles from the fort. Having made the necessary preparations, Duree, his wife and three children, and an unmarried sister and two young brothers of his wife, attended by a small guard, went ahead of the other families to build a cabin. As soon as they reached the location selected they went to work, and at the end of three days had a cabin up and finished, which was to answer for dwelling- house and fort. The guard now returned to Lime Stone to conduct out the other families. On the fourth morning Duree and his two brothers-in-law went a short dis- tance from the house to cut a clock to make a mortar to "bruise" their corn in, and were attacked by the savages; at the first fire one of the young men was killed on the spot, and Duree himself received a ball through his chest, inflicting a mortal wound, notwithstanding he ran to the cabin door before he fell. The other young man was cut off from the cabin by a fleet-footed Indian and tomahawked. Duree's sister, hear- ing the fuss, ran to the door and was shot dead. Duree's wife saw the whole tragedy through a port hole, with her three little children at her side. The Indians, either be- coming alarmed at something or supporing they had killed all the "pale faces," dis- appeared without breaking into the cabin. Duree's wife dragged her dying husband into the house and used every effort in her power to stop the blood which was flowing copiously from the wound; every other remedy failing, she literally corked the artifice of the wound with her handkerchief. Duree revived sufficiently to entreat his wife to take the children and flee to the fort, telling her that he was bound to die and that she could be of no further service to him. As the poor woman stood gazing at her dying husband, surrounded by death on every side, her three little children clinging to her, and he pointing to the door and uttering with feeble voice: "Save yourself and the children, go, go!" -- the conflict was short but terrible -- the awful decision was made. Now let us drop the curtain while the sad parting take place, while the faithful wife turns her back on her dying husband forever - not for her own life, but for her children. Having made up her mind to try to reach the fort, she mounted one child on her shoulders, taking another in her arms and the third at her side, was soon flying with all possible speed along the blazed way towards Lime Stone, distance about eight miles. A blind- ing storm of rain and sleet setting in, she soon lost the trace and wandered in the trackless wilderness till late in the evening, when she again discovered the blazed track, and although she had traveled all day she found herself not more than a mile from the bloody scene from which she was fleeing. She had gone but a short distance, however, when she met the other families coming out to join them, and told them the sad story. While they were parleying over what was best to be done the Indians raised the war whoop in the distance. It appears they were on the track of Duree's wife, and in a few minutes more she would have been murdered with her helpless babes, without mercy. The men saw the situation at a glance; to make stand there in the wilderness with the women and children was out of the question, hence they cut their packs from the horses and let them fall to the ground, and mounting the women and children, the race back to the fort commenced in good earnest; the horses, maddened by the fierce yells of the redskins, went tearing through the thick undergrowth, lacerating the lower limbs of their riders badly, besides which no accidents occurred, and they all reached the fort safely. The next morning they sent out a force sufficiently strong to drive back the Indians and bury their dead. A few years afterwards the brave and somewhat reckless Capt. Dan Banta met the widow Duree; having heard of her fame, she exactly suited him. It is enough to say he courted and married her, and bravely did she stand by him while he played a con- spicuous part in reclaiming Shelby County from the wildness of nature. Daniel Banta died Dec. 15, 1827.

    By G.W. Demaree; Shelby Courant; Shelbyville, Ky.; 1873, May 15 and 22.
    Repeated: Historical Sketches of Kentucky; Collins, Lewis; pg. 422;
    Reprinted: The Banta Genealogy; T.M. Banta, page 95-96.

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