Margaret Sleeth Hacker
The Remarkable Recovery & Life of Margaret Sleeth Hacker
On December 5, 1787, young Margaret Hacker, age 11, was visiting in the home of her newly-married sister, Mary Ann (Hacker) West. A younger brother of Edmund West, Mary Ann's husband, was also there. Suddenly, two Shawnee Indians, accompanied by the renegade Leonard Schoolcraft, forced open the door and entered the cabin. One of them immediately tomahawked Mary Ann. The boy, who had been taking some corn from under the bed, was dragged out by his feet and tomahawked twice in his forehead, a gash being made directly above each eye. Margaret had been standing behind the door. One of the Indians aimed a blow at her, which she tried to evade, but she was struck on the side of her neck. Although the force of the blow was not enough to knock her down, she fell to the floor and lay quite still, as though she had been killed.
The Indians and Leonard Schoolcraft then proceeded to take some milk, butter, and bread from the press, placed the food on the table, and calmly sat down to eat. Meanwhile, Margaret was silently watching all that they did. Following the meal, the group scalped Mary Ann and the boy and plundered the house. They even emptied feathers from pillows and carried off the ticking. When they left the cabin, they dragged Margaret some forty or fifty feet by the hair, threw her over a fence and scalped her. She was still alive, and the renegade Schoolcraft said, "That is not enough." One of the Indians then thrust a knife into her side and left her. Fortunately the point of the knife came into contact with a rib, and did not injure her much.
The next day Margaret was found in bed at the house of "old Mr. West," her sister's father-in-law. She was able to tell what had happened at her sister's home and said she "went to sleep" after being thrown over the fence, but was awakened by the scalping. After she had been stabbed and the Indians had left, she tried to cross the fence and go back to the house, but as she was climbing the fence she again "fell asleep" and fell back. She then walked into the woods, sheltered herself as best she could in the top of a fallen tree and stayed there until morning.
She remembered that no one had been left alive at her sister's house, so she proceeded to old Mr. West's. She found no one at home and the fire was nearly out. However, the hearth was still warm, so she lay down on it. The heat soon gave her a sickly feeling which caused her to get up and go to the bed. Mrs West and two of her daughters had gone to Jesse Hughes' house the day before to ask for help in finding "old Mr. West," who had not come home. Jesse Hughes' daughter Martha had not returned home, either. Jesse Hughes and the two West girls went to Edmund's and Mary Ann's cabin, discovered what had happened, and Jesse returned to his own home to defend his family, as it was too late in the day to mount a search for the Indians. It is likely that Mrs. West and her daughters remained at the Hughes' home overnight.
"Old Mr. West," (Edmond West, Sr.) was bringing in his fodder when Leonard Schoolcraft and the Indians came upon him. He was killed by the savage party. They had already captured Martha Hughes; however, she was ransomed by her father in 1790.
Margaret Hacker survived her injuries, grew to womanhood, married Peter Hardman in December of 1797 in Harrison County, Virginia. The family moved 260 miles west, to Greene County, Ohio in 1808. Peter and Margaret had eleven children. She reportedly wore a wig to hide the loss of her hair. She died July 20, 1815, at the age of 39. Her death is reported to have been caused by a nasal hemorrhage, which may have been a consequence of the blow from the Indian tomahawk years earlier.
Portions of this account were found in the 1881 publication, “From "The History of Greene County" (Ohio) by R.S. Dills* and and "The Border Settlers of Northwestern Virginia" by Lucullus Virgil McWhorter (1915)