A wedding gift to Mrs. Nathan (Rebekah Wells) Heald (1776-1857), 1811. The comb was stolen by Native Americans at the time of the Fort Dearborn Massacre and later found by Colonel John O'Fallon, a friend of the family in a St. Louis, Missouri shop, where it had been sold by Native Americans or by white traders who had gotten it from the captors.
This broken comb came from one of the few settlers to survive the brutal attack on Fort Dearborn. Rebekah Wells Heald grew up in Kentucky, the daughter of a prominent Louisville family and on May 23, 1811, she wed Captain Heald , commanding officer at Fort Dearborn. The Healds escaped with the help of Topenebe and Pokegan, Potawattomi chiefs who took them to St. Joseph, Michigan and helped them find safe passage to Mackinac, a secure U.S. government outpost. During the attack, some of the Healds' personal items were stolen, such as Rebekah Wells' comb. When a friend saw some of their belongings, including this distinctive hair comb, on sale in St. Louis, he assumed they were dead. He sent the items to Rebekah's family in Louisville. Months later, the Healds were released and made their way to Rebekah's family home. The comb remained among Rebekah's possessions until her death.