- Paul David Nelson
Smith, James (1737–1814), soldier and author, was born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Little is known of his parents and early life. Apparently he received no formal education, but he did learn a great deal about woodlore and life on the frontier. At the age of eighteen he was captured by American Indians while laboring to clear a road in western Pennsylvania and was adopted into one of their tribes. For four years he traveled with them through the old Northwest, then he managed to escape. Returning to his birthplace, he settled into a life of farming. In 1763 he married Anne Wilson, with whom he had seven children before she died twenty years later. He also became an active military campaigner, serving off and on from 1763 to 1769 as commander of the “Black Boys,” a self-appointed group of irregulars that protected white settlements in his region from Indian depredations. In 1764 he joined ...