Surviving a Scalping

Robert McGee scalped

Scalpings on the frontier were legendary, often thought of in terms of Indians scalping Europeans.  While that certainly did happen, they didn’t have exclusive right to scalping.  Frontiersmen did it too, as did Scythians and European tribes such as the Alans.  In fact, the Massachusetts Bay Colony paid a $60 bounty for each Indian scalp.  They weren’t alone either.  In 1756 the British Scalp Proclamation was issued, and is, amazingly, still on the books today, although in the Nova Scotia government has states that it is no longer in effect.

As gruesome and final as scalping was, some people did survive scalpings.

Kentuckian Robinson was scalped in the Ohio Valley Indian Wars and wore a scarf around his head.

Robert McGee, pictured above, was scalped by the Brule Sioux.

Josiah Wilbarger was scalped by Comanche and said that the entire thing was relatively painless, the removing of the scalp sounded like the ominour roar and peal of distant thunder.

Robert Thompson attempted to have his scalp reattached, and then made a living showing his scalped head, his scalp and telling the story.

Robert Thompson scalped

In the fall of 1755, in Tulpehocken, Pennsylvania, the entire Kobel family was massacred and scalped, probably by the Iroquois, but possibly the Mohawk.  Two children who survived, one a female of 11 years of age.

Claiborne Osborn, scalped in 1841 by the Comanche in Texas, died in 1899.

Mary Louisa Gagnier was scalped in 1827 by the Ho-Chunk, at the age of 2.  As she was being prepared for burial, it was realized that she was still breathing.  She survived, married, had children and grandchildren, and told the story

Louisa always wore a cap to cover the back of her scalped head.

Mary Gagner scalped cropped

About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
This entry was posted in Brule, Comanche, Ho-Chunk, Iroquois, Mohawk, Sioux. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Surviving a Scalping

  1. summer says:


  2. Pam Thompson says:

    it’s hard to imagine any normal human scalping a baby :/

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