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A Desperate Leap

A Desperate Leap image
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During the carlicr years of the country, the Ohio river was the scène of many ohivalrous and darirg adventures and cxploits ; and many were the ganguinary struggles which took place upon iti banks bctweon tho brave pioneerB of tlie settlamonts and the red enemies, who were juslly iealous of tho growing encroachments 'of the restless whites. On tho aoutheru bank of the river, and a hule bclow the mouth oí the Kanawha, wherc now stands the vi'lago of Point Pleasant, is a high precipice, woll known to the passing boatman as Ulin's Leap, f rom the following incident which oocurred there : During the Revolutionary war, the present site of the villngc abnve uamcd, waa occupied by a small stockade fort, as a proteetion to the surrounding settlein.ents against the attaoks of the savao-es in tho interest of the British. The people, on the alarm of danger, would leave their fields, and gathering up thetr families and stock, would seek shelter in the fort where always was stationed a smal force of müitia. Here they rcmained till the threateuing danger was removed, when they wero agaiu returned to their oceupatioii3. ,M „ , One day ra the Spring of i i 8, ol. Booue, who was in command of the stoekade, inissed one of his saddlo horses, which had straycd froin tho enclosurc and called to oue of his men to go out in the direction of the river, and bring the animal back to the fort. The man was Benjamin Ulin, a non-commissioned officer. For several weeks there had been discovered no nigns of hostile Indians in the vieinity; and contrary to elders, the tnau left the stoekade without anus, not doeming it necessary to go beyoud tho cover of the place in search of tho missing horsü. But on coming to the margin of the Kanawha he í'ound, by the tracks upon tho shorc that the horee had crossed over to tho other eide of the stream. Procuring a boat Ulin crosscd the stream and followed the tracks, which led down a little path along a high bank of tue Ohio. This he followed ior some distance, till at length he carne to the animal quietly feeding upon the scarcely unfolded leaves oí the hazel bushes, growing along the margin of the bluft'. He now cautiously approached the runaway, with a bridle in hand, and liad almost laid bis hand upcm his mano wheu a fieree vrar-whoop, aceompanied by a discharge of fire arma, burst upon his Btartled ear and cauaed the fnghtened animal to spring from him and disappear n the forest. The next instant Ulin found himself surrounded by a party of Wyandotte Indians, who knowing that orne one would je in search of the horse had laid in ambush, awaiting his arrival. The savages wore occupying the south and west ; and eing eutirely without arma, the white man of course could raake no defense, and sought by flyiug in the direction of the Kanawha to elude them. But searcely had he run a hundred yards in that dircctiou when he pereeived the path filled with oneniies, who agaiu opened a fire upon him from that point. Thus surrounded by his enemies he saw no possible way of eseaping from their hands but degtroying his own life by leaping froni the fearful precipice. "At all oveuts, as he said, afterwardg relatiug the adventure to his comrades, I thought the least I could do would be to cheat the cussed red skins out of my scalp, and that would be some satisfaction." So bracing himself for the terrible death which he was certain was inevitable, the brave fellow sprung upon the verge of the eliff, whero could look down the dizzy depth beneath him, with the shiniug river breaking softly at the rocky base. Scarcely a tree or biush intereepted his visión for nearly fifty feet ; but at about that distanoe a scrubby and gnarled ash tree had fouud a roothold in the crevico of the cliff, and reached out ragged limbs over the rocky margin of the streaui, while below this he could discover one or two rough ledges, which raust roooive him before liis body should find its 'mal grave in the deep water of the Ohio. The time occupied in tliis desperate aurvey was scarcely a dozen seconds - the laborious breathing of his pursuera, who were close upon, varned him of the great danger in the roar - and he sprang far out over the roeks into the chasni below. Down- down he shot through the yieldiüg air. Yet the brave man rotained all his thoughts? and with wonder ful presenoe of mind uianaged to keep in a perpendicular position. As he struck itito the top of the ash, he clutched to the yielding limbs, which broke his fall to the lirst ledge some fifteen or twenty feet below. llore, fortunately, he feil upon his feet upou a bank of crumbliug shale, which again partially brcaking the shock of the fall let him down to the nest ledge, eighteen feet further, from whenco he leaped- first six and then twelve feet, to the edge of the water ; inaking in all an almost perpendicular height of about one hundred feet ! This measurement was made by Col. Eooue, and some otber officers, the day after this extraordinary performance. Findinghimself still able to move, al though seriously injured by the terrible shock he had received. Corporal Uliu threw himself into the river, with theinteution of swimming to the opposite side, but finding the current too strong for his already overtasked limbs, he drew himsclf again to the shore, and being unpursued by the Indians, kept along under the cliff, until ho reachcd the mouth of the Kanawha, and then along the beech of that stream till he again feil in with the canoe in which he had crossed befure, and safely reachcd the stockado.


Old News
Michigan Argus