Saturday, February 23, 2008

David Hood, aka "The Possum"

From History of Middle Tennessee, by Albigence Waldo Putnam, published 1859, page 154:

    In the narrative of John Rains, the account of "the said Hood," or David Hood, "the Possum," is stated thus:
    "One of the most interesting incidents connected with the early history of Tennessee, is one in which a man named David Hood figured. He was coming up from 'Freclaud's Station,' below the Sulphur Spring adjoining Nashville, when several Indians [likely Chickasaws, per John Buchanan] gave chase to him, firing upon him as he ran. He, thinking there was no other chance for his life, concluded to try 'possuming it,' and so fell flat upon his face in the weeds, as if dead. The Indians ran up and gathered around him and one of them very deliberately twisted his fingers into his hair, to scalp him. His knife being very dull, he let go, took a better hold, and sawed away, until he could pull it off, poor Hood bearing it meanwhile without a groan or show of life.
    "After the deed was done, they stood around a little while, reloaded their guns, and started on towards town, (or the Bluff Fort.) One of the Indians gave him a few stamps in the back as they started away. After a while, Hood raised his head cautiously, peeped out under his arms, and at last, finding the coast clear, got up and started towards town.
    "Mounting the ridge above the Spring, what was his dismay to find himself once more in the presence of the whole gang! Again he started, but again they fired upon him as he ran. One of their bullets cut him deeply across the breast, but finally, after getting so close as to pull off one of the skirts of his coat, the Indians abandoned him. When quite spent, he dropped behind a log in the corn-field near by, after facing around to get one fire at them, and was rescued by some whites who came out at the sound of the firing."
From Jackson's Way, by John Buchanan, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2001, pp. 65-66:
    [David Hood] probably would have died had it not been for James Robertson, who could do many things: travel thousands of miles alone through perilous wilderness, establish a settlement in hostile country, treat with or fight Indians as the occasion demanded, and a myriad of things necessary for survival on a frontier. Much of what he could do was expected of a seasoned frontiersman. But few could properly treat a scalped man, which James Robertson now proceeded to do for David Hood. He had seen scalps pegged in East Tennessee, and an anonymous French surgeon had taught him how to use a shoemaker's awl to make small holes in the "outer table of the skull, pretty close together." The blood oozing out formed a protective scab under which the terrible wound healed. David Hood's scalp would never be one for a woman to run her fingers over, and as with many scalping victims who survived he may never have been the same again in mind or body, but he lived for several years.