David Ward is my 5th-great grandfather (b. 9 Apr 1785 Virginia – d. 25 Nov 1879 Ohio). The events below probably took place in the 1790s:
David's father, George Ward, did not live a great while after his marriage, dying in mid-life, leaving a widow and three children, George, David and Mary. This mother, who lived in one of the border counties of Virginia, on a certain evening went to the home of a neighbor with her children expecting to remain for the night. The neighbor was busy making a powder horn, his good wife was churning and the visitors were happy in the enjoyment of the hospitality of their friends. Roaming Indians came to the door, and when the neighbor extended the hand of friendship and peace, the savage yell was given, and the marauders sought to destroy the entire party. The neighbor and his son were shot to death, the wife made a prisoner and little Mary Ward fell a victim to the tomahawk. Mrs. Ward seized her two small sons and with them escaped through a small window in a rear room, but not until David had received a wound from a tomahawk, the scar of which he carried to his grave. The three fugitives fled in terror for a distance of five miles, wading a river twice in order to evade their pursuers. The mother of the family with whom they had expected to spend the night, saw her husband and son murdered and her home destroyed, and was herself carried away a captive of the Indians, although she afterward made her escape and returned to the white settlement.
Google books (books.google.com) is a great resource for genealogists. There are tons of old books out of copyright and which are fully searchable and viewable. I’ve used Google books in a few ways:
Finding old family histories. The above story is from “Historical sketches and record of the Elleman and Ward families and their Descendants”. Another example from my wife's family tree is “The English Emersons”.
Local histories. I have a branch of the family tree from Darke Co., Ohio, and there are multiple books about the history of the county. Other books on the early history of Baltimore have provided me with valuable information.
Agricultural surveys, law book, the list goes on and on.
I know of errors in the Historical Sketches book. Besides that, a fellow researcher told me that the copy of the book Google had scanned was missing a couple of key pages that were in a physical copy that researcher owned. As always, use typical discretion when relying on these sources since most will not be primary.
On a philosophical note, it's amazing to think that but for a window in the back of a colonial cabin my ancestral line might have come to a end (or rather have never existed)…