Stratton House Inn :: Little Home Histories, Part 19 -- 'Kidnapped Doudna' Tradition.
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by Doudna, Joseph H.

See previous entry: Little Home Histories, Part 18 -- Knowels and Knowis.

Different versions of the same tradition are quite common. Therefore it seems desirable that when the facts are no longer known, except by tradition, we should not dismiss or ignore either but a record should be kept of both because either one might be true. There could be confused understanding in later years when both a kidnapping and an attempted kidnapping, so similarly described, are believed to have occurred.

A Kidnapping Incident

Many years ago, while at the wharf of England, a little boy who had accompanied his father with a load of vegetables to trade with the sailors was induced to go aboard a ship, which furnished ample amusement for him until sometime after the ship had left the shore. But as soon as the boy realized his situation, he burst into an agonizing fit of tears which was kept up until he cried himself to sleep.

The next morning he awoke to find himself very lonesome without his parents, but ere long forgetting his troubles, he became helpful as a sailor boy, and quickly learned to climb to the top of the ship's mast. He also learned the meaning of the words sailors used.

He would often ask his master where his parents were, but would be put off by a promise that he would some day tell him. All that the little fellow could remember was that his name was John Doudna, that his father's name was Henry, and his mother's was Elizabeth.

John grew rapidly and soon became a trusty sailor, but as a sailor's life is a very rough one, no attention is given to education except in the line of managing a ship and learning all they can about storms which influence sailors lives very much. John Doudna was kept by the same sea captain for twenty years, in all that time, never once heard from home. The captain had not yet told him where his home was. He had reached his 26th year, when it was noticed one day that a great storm was arising. It proved to be a great ocean windstorm, which finally wrecked the ship. But providentially our ancestor, John Doudna, with two others of the crew got astride some boards which served as a raft and succeeded in reaching a very small island on which they took refuge.

As soon as the storm abated, they began to realize their situation. They were on a small island in the great Atlantic, with nothing to sustain life except a little rain water they found in the chinks of a rock which was the island. They waited patiently to meet their fate with some hope, however, that the morrow would bring them good tidings in the form of another ship. But alas! their hopes were in vain.

The morning dawned, but no ship came to view. They now began to long something to appease their hunger, but their longing for this also was in vain. The second and third days came and still no tidings and it became apparent that they would starve to death if relief did not come.

They were tempted to throw themselves into the sea, to shun such a death, but they waited on, with higher hopes for deliverance growing weaker without food or shelter for eight days. But on the eight day one of them sighted a ship, but being too weak to stand up, they in turn raised a hand or waved a hat to the ship. Soon they observed the ship had changed its course and was coming toward them.

They were taken on board and were only allowed one teaspoon each of broth without any salt in it. This began to bring back their appetites again and they almost went crazy with hunger. At the end of two hours they were given two teaspoonsful each and at the expiration of every two hours the quantity increased until their severe hunger was satisfied, and in three or four days the ship reached port, and John Doudna was landed in North Carolina without a cent of money in the world.

According to a vow he had made, never to sail on the ocean again if he ever reached land, he started out to find a place to work for his board, until he learned how to manage farming implements. He had not proceeded far, until he met a girl on her way to school; her name was Sarah Knowis. This was the first girl he had met in this strange land and her kind words and sympathies made a deep impression on John, not soon to be forgotten. She directed him to her fathers house, and after working there less than two years, John Doudna and Sarah Knowis were united in marriage.-- John being 28 and she being 14 years of age. John took his young wife and settled in Edgecomb County, North Carolina, there to spend his time in peace and happiness.

But in the year 1804, he with his wife and most of their children migrated to Belmont County, Ohio. Here he remained the rest of his days, and in all probability helped to build the first meeting house that was ever erected in Warren Township for the public worship, near where Stillwater meeting house now stands.

His wife survived him several years, being over 80 years of age at the time of her death. At which time there were 450 people who called her mother, grandmother, or great grandmother. The above account was taken mostly from an article written by J. H. Edgerton, a great grandson of the "Kidnapped Boy" and a descendent of his daughter Zilpha who married John Edgerton.

In connection with this, an article written by my father, Joseph W. Doudna, another great grandson, says "Our great grandfather settled about one and a quarter miles east of the Stillwater meeting house, on the farm that afterwards became the home of his son Hosea, who lived there until his death in 1888, aged 95 years and about 80 years after the death of his father. His oldest son Henry settled on a farm farther down Sandy Ridge, on or near the home of William H. Sears, where he built a barn before the days of cut nails. The roof was put on with wooden pins instead of weighing it down with poles, log cabin fashion.

John Doudna, the second son, settled on a farm in the Ridge neighborhood, near two miles south of Barnesville. He was the father of William, John Jr., Isaac and Elisha (and grandfather of the writer) where he lived until his death in 1863 at the age of 90. Another son Knowis, settled at Leatherwood, where he raised a large family, which, with his oldest sister Mary's family, composed most of the Friends settlement there. Mary married Isaac Hall and was the one from whom my mother Rosetta (Hall) Doudna was a descendant.

Another son, James, died in boyhood before they left North Carolina, as did a little girl, Peggy (Margaret), who was between eight and nine years of age. Joel, the youngest son, remained within the limits of the Society of Friends at Stillwater. Anna and Elizabeth, two other daughters, both married and lived at Stillwater. Asenath settled within the limits of Ridge and Zilpha -- who was the grandmother of the writer of the early part of this History -- married John Edgerton, and moved to Morgan County, Ohio, where she lived until her death in 1858 at 62 years of age. We have never understood that any of these 450 descendants ever trace their ancestry farther back than the particulars given in the foregoing account.

Source: Written by: Joseph H. Doudna, Barnesville, Ohio, Son of Joseph W. Doudna and 4th generation of the "Kidnapped Boy".

See next entry: Little Home Histories, Part 20 -- Historical Data Concerning Joel and Rebecca Doudna and Family: The 'Old Brick House'.

For the table of contents and first entry in this series, please see: Little Home Histories, Part 01 -- Table of Contents and Introduction.


This entry is adapted from Little Home Histories in Our Early Homes, Belmont County, Ohio, which was published in 1942. Its publication was coordinated by Robert D. and Beulah Patten McDonald. This entry has been reedited for inclusion in the Pierian Press Fulltext eBooks database, and is included on the Stratton House Inn Website by special permission. This entry is licensed for use ONLY on this Website. It may be used for educational purposes and personal pleasure under fair-use provisions via this Website. Please note that the Stratton House Inn iteration of this entry does NOT include the subject headings assigned each chapter for use in the Fulltext eBooks database.

DATABASE: Fulltext eBooks: Copyright (c) 2002 The Pierian Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved
ENTRY NUMBER: EBK30013719

 

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