Jones, was born in Union county, Pa., in 1818, were he learned the
art of printing, and while an apprentice wrote “Simon Girty, The
Outlaw.” The legacy of this first known biography on Girty is a
bittersweet one. On the one hand, without this book, much of the
information known about Simon Girty might have been lost to history;
but with it, you have a romanticized historical narrative written
in the style of many of today’s modern day writers. Fortunately
for us, a century later, editor A. Monroe Aurand in 1931 reviewed
and updated Jones’ original version to amend some of those facts
that makes this book both fun, easy to read and historically correct.
Born Simon Girty Jr. in 1741 near present-day Harrisburg, PA, his
life would become something of a romantic tragedy. At age 10, his
natural father was murdered by the Indians and during his 15th year,
his stepfather was burned at the stake before his very eyes. His
next decade was spent living among the Senecas of northwestern PA,
by whom he was adopted, introducing Girty to the language and culture
of the natives.
In 1771, Girty eventually resurfaced near Fort Pitt, where he began
to make a name for himself as a capable frontier scout, interpreter
and eventual spy for the Americans.
His official military career began as a frontier scout during Lord
Dunmore’s War, the 1774 conflict between Virginia, Pennsylvania,
and the Shawnee. Two defining episodes would abruptly change the
course of Girty’s life, career and reputation. His career first
took a turn in March 1778 with his serving as an interpreter for
General Edward Hand’s infamous “Squaw Campaign.” On their return
march to Fort Pitt, Hand lost control of his troops, resulting in
an unprovoked killing of women and children in a nearby Indian village.
Girty, disgusted by the savagery of the Americans, soon defected
to the British. His ascent into infamy would be forever notarized
with his participation in the second event, the graphic account
of the 1782 torture and death of American militia Colonel William
Crawford at the hands of Delaware Indians. Suddenly, the legend
of Girty the Savage took on a life of its own.
Employed in the British Indian Department at Ft Detroit after the
Revolutionary War, Girty would continue to help resist American
advances into the Ohio country by leading countless Indian excursions
against the Americans. When Detroit was ceded to the United States
in 1796, Simon Girty fled to Canada, eventually to settle on his
farm, where his health slowly declined. He died blind and destitute
All students of early American History will enjoy this first explanation
of the life of the white savage turned outlaw known simply to us
as “Girty”. 192 pp., limited edition hardback, $39.95.