Autumn of 1755 bestowed to the Leiningers’ world not only its rich beauties, but also a rewarding harvest. On this particular day, the whole valley seemed to rejoice in the fullness of the season—but suddenly Barbara and Regina’s peaceful frontier life is changed forever.
General Braddock and his army had been defeated and soon the Pennsylvania settlers would suffer the bloody effects of the French and Indian War. On October 16, 1755, a band of Indians, led by Allegheny warriors, stormed through Buffalo Valley, burned the Leiningers’ log cabin, and captured the sisters. Few survived the Penn’s Creek Massacre and even fewer lived to tell the story. Regina makes a promise to her older sister just before they are unwillingly separated—each to endure different fates. Barbara is taken deep into the wilderness, but holds on to the hope that she will find her little sister. Though she is adopted into the Indian tribe, there is a longing deep inside that cannot be denied. She must escape—but the penalty if caught is certain death.
No one expresses Barbara’s apprehensions better than her own words, written in 1759: “If one could not believe that there is a God, who helps and saves from death, one had better let running away alone . . . The extreme probability that the Indians would pursue and recapture us, was two to one compared with the dim hope that, perhaps, we would get through . . . even if we did escape the Indians, how would we ever succeed in passing through the wilderness, unacquainted with a single path or trail . . .”