Historical Society of Southwest Virginia


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By Luther F. Addington


     It seems very strange indeed that an Indian boy would want to become a missionary among the white people. But there was such a boy. His name was Dale, and he belonged to the Mingo tribe which lived on the Ohio River.

     Patrick Porter, who had a fort near Falling Branch on Clinch River, went with the Clinch Valley troops to fight Cornstalk at Point Pleasant in 1774. One night after the troops were told they could go home, there came to Patrick Porter's campfire the notorious Chief Logan.

     Chief Logan, tall and reddish-brown, clad in a hunting coat, moccasins and leggins, tapped Patrick Porter on the shoulder and said, "You are Patrick Porter. You live on Clinch River. I have been to your fort. Many times I could have killed you, but I would not. You good man. You good father to children who lived near your fort."

     Patrick Porter reached out a hand. The Indian chief shook it.
     "What can I do for you, Chief Logan?" Patrick Porter asked.
     "Much," said the chief. "Not for me but for a friend of mine."
     "What is it, Chief Logan?" Patrick Porter held to his long rifle. A coon tail hanging from his cap flapped in the wind. The air was chill. Leaves rustled as they swept along over the woodland floor. It was autumn.

     Out of the dark came an Indian boy. He was naked, save moccasins on his feet and a piece of deer skin about his loins.
     "This is Dale," the Indian chief said. Patrick Porter shook hands with the boy. "Glad to know you, Dale," he said. The boy merely grunted.

     The campfire crackled. A flame leaped up, lighting Dale's tired face. Away in the woods an owl hooted.

     Chief Logan put a hand on Patrick Porter's shoulder again.
     "White people kill all of Dale's family. Kill all his kin. Now he wants to go with white men and learn to read from their books. He wants to preach the word of God."
     Patrick Porter was amazed. He said, "The white people kill your relatives, yet you want to go and live with them?"
     Dale nodded.
     "He want to go with good white people, like you, Captain Porter. And I know you are good. I pick up to take him."

     Patrick Porter stooped and threw a fresh stick of wood onto the fire. Sparks flew. Smoke twisted up in a spiral and was snatched by the wind.

     "Chief Logan," Patrick Porter said, "we white people need to do some kind deed for your people because the whites have been cruel. Especially have they been cruel to your people, Chief Logan."
     "Uh! Very cruel," Chief Logan grunted. He folded his arms across his big chest.
     "Then Patrick Porter will take Dale?"
     "I should like very much to take him" Patrick Porter replied. He paused and leaned heavily on his gun. Then he added, "But I am afraid to take him. The Mingoes are still angry with the white people. They will follow me to my home and kill me for taking the boy."
     "No, no!" said Chief Logan, shaking his head. "We will fix that someway."
     "I'm afraid we can't," Patrick Porter said. "Now you take him away before your tribesmen come. The war is over. Let's spill no more blood."

     Chief Logan and the Indian boy went away into the woods. The trees seemed to cry. Patrick Porter felt bad. He lay down by the fire, but he could not sleep. He wondered whether Chief Logan would bring Indian braves and attack his camp.

     Early next morning Patrick Porter, lying near the campfire, heard the leaves rustle. He leaped up, gun in hand, ready to shoot. But after one close look he let the gun barrel drop. There before him stood the boy Dale, alone. In his hand was a scrap of paper. He reached it toward Patrick Porter who took it, turned to the firelight, and read in English which he knew a white man had written. But to the note was Chief Logan's name. The note read:
     "Mr. Porter, I ask you again to take Dale. I have fixed it so Mingoes won't follow. I told them that Dale had been drowned in the river while crossing."

     Patrick Porter shook his head.
    "I cannot take you," he said. "I tell you the Mingoes will find you. They will kill me and all my people."
     The Indian boy reached out his hands, pleading. He did not speak.
     Patrick Porter's heart was touched too deeply for him to keep on saying no.
     "Very well," he finally said. "I will let you go. I shall risk it. Now lie down here by the fire and rest."

     Dale traveled all the way to Clinch River with Patrick Porter and lived with him at the fort on Falling Branch near the river. He was a happy lad, and he really tried to learn. Little by little he came to understand English words. Then he begged to be taught to read and write. Patrick Porter saw to it that he had a tutor.

     Patrick Porter was himself a student of the Bible, and he interested the Indian boy in its stories. After a few years, Dale was able to read for himself.

     "You need more name than Dale," Patrick Porter told him one day. "And I am giving you the name Arter. From now on you are Arter Dale."

     "Good," said Dale, thumping his youthful chest. "I like the name Arter Dale."

     The boy grew to manhood, and there on Clinch River he married a white girl. Today, many are the people who pride themselves in having in their veins the blood of Arter Dale.

     Arter became a leader in his community. He became a convert to Christianity and later joinedthe Methodist Church. For many years he served the Church as a minister preaching to the whitepeople along the river valley.


Source: History of Scott County.





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