Don Norman


     Captain Bull, the Delaware chief whose name is perpetuated in

Bulltown on the Little Kanawha river in Braxton County, WV, came to

the hills of northwest Virginia as an exile from his homeland on the

upper Susquehana in New York State.  In 1764, when he led his twenty

relatives to the site of the present town, he was fleeing the wrath of

the English-Indian Commissioner, Sir William Johnson, who had become

incensed against the Delaware after discovering Captain Bull's

role in the Pontiac conspiracy.

     Johnson had organized a band of English settlers and friendly

Indians and in March of 1764 this group captured Bull and a number of

his adherents.  Bull was led in irons to New York City.  After a short

imprisonment, however, he had been released on his promise to leave

the territory.

     Captain Bull was the son of Teddyuscung, the last chieftain of

the Delaware tribe, to whom a monument has been erected in Fairmont

Park in Philadelphia, representing him, bow and spear in hand, plume

of eagle feathers on his brow, stepping forth on his journey toward

the setting sun.

     Teddyuscung, born at Trenton, New Jersey about 1705, had been

chosen Chief of the Delawares at about 50 years of age.  He was once

baptized by the Moravians as brother Gideon and was an Indian advocate

of peace. Once General Braddock was defeated, Teddyuscung became an

enemy of white settlers.  He was burned to death on the night of April

16, 1764, when enemy Indians, either Seneca or Mohawk, set fire to

his lodge in the Indian village at Wyoming in New York while he lay


     After his father's death, Captain Bull led a band of dissatisfied

Delaware braves into the hostile camp of Pontiac.  His arrest and

exile prevented him from becoming the Great Chief of the Delaware.


                         PONTIAC'S CONSPIRACY


     At the time of the Conspiracy, small English garrisons occupied

the forts along the shores of the Great Lakes and in the territory

drained by the Ohio River and its tributaries, and the French held

posts on the Wabash and Mississippi Rivers and had a considerable

settlement at New Orleans.  Discontent smoldered amongst the Indians,

since most of the Indians preferred the more casual French to the

English, believing that the English would drive them from their

hunting grounds and treat them with neglect and injustice.

     French traders from St. Louis and Montreal worked on their fears

and fomented disaffection and the result was an uprising under the

leadership of Pontiac, Chief of the Ottawa warriors, who was

determined to restore the supremacy that the French and Indians had

enjoyed before the fall of Quebec and DeVaudreuvil's capitulation at


     In 1763, Sir William Johnson estimated that Pontiac's forces were

not more than ten thousand warriors from the Delaware, Iroquois,

Shawnee, Guyandotte, Miami, Kickapoo, Ottawa and Ojibwa tribes.

Captain Bull led about 600 Delawares who were included in Pontiac's

plan and Bull was as deeply involved in the scheme as any other


     Eagle's "History of Pennsylvania", "The Pennsylvania Gazette",

"Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania" and Miner's "History of Wyoming

Valley" give details of two marauding raids of Captain Bull's

followers.  On October 8, 1763, the Delawares burned farms and houses

and killed at least 23 people, men, women and children, and wounded

many more.  On another raid in the Wyoming Valley on October 15, 1763,

the Delewares killed at least twenty people and destroyed many houses.

     Early in 1764, Andrew Montour led a force of about 200 Iroquois

and a few whites against a Delaware raiding party on the upper

Sesquehanna in Steuben County New York.  Twenty nine prisoners were

captured, including Captain Bull.  A 1764 letter from Commissioner

William Johnson to Thomas Gage relates the story of Bull's capture and

imprisonment and comments on his character and activities.


Dear Sir:


"I have the pleasure to acquaint you that the prisoners arrived here

on the 15 of March & were yesterday sent down under a Guard of a Capt

and 50 Provincials to Albany....The number of prisoners I have sent to

Coll Elliot are 14 men, with Capt.Bull, a villian of the first rank,

the manner of their being taken disagrees with what I first heard,

Except that one of them was wounded, as he made a good deal of

resistance when they Tyed him up, but it is with particular

satisfaction I inform you that they are all of Kanestio and have many

prisoners amongst them which Bull offered for his ransom, he told the

party that took him that he had with his own hands killed 26 English

since Spring & it appears that their design was to come here, make

offers of peace, beg for a little ammunition & on their return destroy

Cherry-Valley or some other of our settlements, they insulted the

Indians of 2 or 3 Small Friendly villages & shot down their cattle, &

took away their provisions by force.  Capt Bull did not attempt to

deny his behavior, and on my asking him on what account he became so

inveterate an Enemy, he told me, he did not know, that he was advised

to do it, & his party followed his example; he is a fellow of great

address, but feigns ignorance &is full of prevarication, he is very

likely and remarkably active as are several of the others with him,

which makes me dread their escaping, altho' I told him if he attempted

to escape, those in our hands would be put to death immediately."


     Captain Bull was released from the New York prison on condition

that he leave the State and never return.  This he did, with more than

forty Delewares, men, women and children appearing at Frederick Ice's

settlement on the Cheat River in VA in the summer of 1764.  They

remained until the late Fall, when they moved up the Monongahela River

and camped at the site of present day Fairmont, WV.

     In the Spring of 1765, the Delewares moved to the site of present

day Weston, WV and camped for a while before moving to the Bulltown


     No one knows how or why Bull chose his next home along the Little

Kanawha in what was to become Braxton county WV. Nevertheless, the

location was ideal.  Game was plentiful, rich ground grew good crops

and there was a salt spring.

     Although the saline waters of the spring at the Indian village

were not very salty and about 800 gallons of water had to be

evaporated by the primitive method of gathering the brine in wooden

trough and heating it by dropping in hot stones to yield a bushel of

salt, they were able to make enough for their own needs, with a small

quantity for trade. Salt was a precious commodity in those time and

whites came from Randolph County to trade for salt as early as 1770.

     The Indians hunted, fished, made salt and visited pioneer

settlements in the country farther north, and according to Withers'

"Chronicles of Border Warfare", the settlement had grown to more than

a hundred persons by 1772.  Withers' number of inhabitants is at

considerable variance with a head count detailed in a letter from

Captain James Booth to Zackwell Morgan. Booth stated that the town

consisted of Captain Bull, sixteen warriors, fifteen squaws, eight or

more children and twenty cabins.  Since Booth was a contemporary of

Captain Bull and Withers was writing more than fifty years after the

events, Booth's figures seem more likely to be accurate.

     Captain Bull, after coming to western Virginia, was a different

character; during they years that he and his people inhabited the

Little Kanawha valley, he was peaceful toward the whites with whom he

came in contact, often hunting with them.  His tepee was always open

to the hunter and the pioneer and he was their friend. However, Bull's

attitude was not typical of the times.

     In other areas of the trans-Allagheney territory, Indian raids

were committed with ever increasing frequency and by 1772 the threat

of an Indian war occupied all minds.  Tension between the western

settlers and the Indians became constantly greater.  The pioneers

desired a final settlement and when they began laying plans for

forcing the issue, war was assured.

     Stories that the Indians at Bulltown were massacred by whites

have appeared in a number of books, papers and journals and the

following story from the WPA Writers Project can be accepted as



                       STROUD FAMILY MASSACRED


     "Shortly after the 1768 treaty with the Indians, Adam Stroud, a

German, and his family, settled on whit is now Stroud's Creek, near

its junction with the Gauley River in what is now Webster County. 

Here he erected a crude log cabin and in the course of time cleared

some land and planted crops.  For four years he and his family enjoyed

the freedom of the frontier unmolested.  Then, in the month of June

1872, while Stroud was absent from his home, a party of Indian

warriors, supposed to have been of the Shawnee tribe, murdered the

entire German family of seven children and the mother.  They also

plundered the house and drove off what livestock the Strouds


     "Because the Shawnees, who were guilty of the Stroud massacre,

left a false trail leading in the general direction of the Delaware

village, suspicion at once fell upon Captain Bull and his warriors;

even Stroud himself expressed the belief that the Bulltown Indians

were responsible for the massacre.  When he arrived home that June day

and found his entire family murdered, Stroud sped to the Hacker's

Creek settlement in Lewis County and spread the alarm."

    "An immediate cry went up to avenge the deed at once.  Many,

however, doubted that Bull or any of his band had any part in the

killing. They held back because on frequent visits to the Little

Kanawha village they had found the leader of the Bulltown Indians very

friendly and were slow in being convinced of his guilt."

     "Five men, Jesse Hughes, William White, John Cutright, William

Hacker and a man by the name of Kettle, who would believe nothing but

that the Bulltown Indians were guilty announced their intention of

proceeding against the Little Kanawha village. Jesse Hughes, like

Lewis Wetzel, had a great hatred for the Indians -- whether friendly

or not, and nothing delighted him more than an opportunity to kill a

redskin.  It is therefore possible that Hughes, because of his feeling

towards the Indians, and because he lived only a short distance from

their settlement, instigated the action against Captain Bull's


     "Hughes and his party went to Bulltown, and returned a day or two

later.  They denied having as much as seen an Indian, telling the

Hacker's Creek settlers that Bull and his people had left the country. 

What really did occur at the Indian village was not disclosed until

several years later.  On his death bed in 1852 when 105 years old,

John Cutright told the true story of the disappearance of Captain Bull

and his fellow Delawares."

     "Cutright said that as Jesse Hughes and the four other men left

the Hacker's Creek settlement, and made their way toward the Bulltown

colony, they became more and more embittered against the Indians.

Hughes, it appears, goaded the men on, and planned the best way to

attack the Indian village.  With his usual cunning, Hughes planned to

take the Indians completely by surprise."  "He succeeded, and falling

upon the Delawares before they were aware that and danger was near,

the Hughes party killed every member of the Indian settlement, men,

women, and children alike.  Realizing the extent of their malefaction,

the men, fearful of possible unpleasant consequences when their deed

became known, removed the last evidence of their crime by throwing the

bodies of the Indians into the Little Kanawha River. Thus ended the

career of the notorious Delaware chieftain whose name will not be

forgotten so long as Bulltown exists."

     This massacre was first reported in A.S. Withers' "Chronicles of

Border Warfare", published in 1831.  Withers was not certain that the

story was true and gave the names of only two of the alleged assassin,

William White and William Hacker.  He further explained

that White and Hacker had planned to go to Bulltown to see if they

could find evidence that the Delawares had participated in the Stroud

massacre.  The two men were reported to have returned to Hacker's

Creek and reported that the entire Bulltown village was vacant.  The

men were alleged to have inadvertently said something in following

years that indicated that they were guilty of the massacre.

     L.V. McWhorter, in a footnote to the Withers story, added the

death bed confession story and the names of Jesse Hughes and John

Cutright.  The name Kettle is from an unknown source.  Other

manuscripts substitute Adam Stroud for Kettle.

     Although these accounts have been accepted as fact for many

years, other authors doubt its truth. An anonymous writer of an

article in "Awhile Ago Times", reprinted in "The Hacker's Creek

Journal" states that Chief Bull and his Delawares were moved from

Bulltown by the Indian Affairs Commissioner in May 1772 and references

a number of documents proving that the Delawares moved south to the

lower Mississippi, where Chief Bull died after 1810.

     Robert B. Smith states that in 1772, Captain Bull and his people

moved to the White River in Indiana, about eighteen miles from present

day Wabash.  In 1778, after the capture of English General Hamilton,

they removed to the Mississippi.  Smith cites Simon Kenton's "Notes",

Draper's "Manuscripts" and private documents is support of his


     According to Smith, traditional Hacker history states that

Withers "stole" the manuscript for "Chronicles of Border Warfare"

from William Hacker.  The fact that William Powers and William Hacker

advertised the sale of a forthcoming "History" in a Morgantown

newspaper lends credence to the story.  The book was to be published

in 1825, if sufficient subscriptions were obtained.

     The "Hacker's Creek Journal" Vol.10 Issue 2, p.23, states that

Withers was hired by Clarksburg, VA (WV) publisher Joseph Israel to

rewrite chronicles by Hacker and Powers that "... are said to have

been published in the 1820's by a newspaper in Morgantown."

    If these things are not enough, let us examine the stories

rationally.  Withers was writing 59 years after the event and was not

sure that the story was true.  McWhorter was writing more than a

hundred years after the event.  The alleged "deathbed confession" of

John Cutright was supposed to have occurred in 1852, 80 years after

the event, and more than 20 years before McWhorter's writing.  Any

deathbed statement of a person 105 years old probably owes more to the

questions and perceptions of the hearer than of the dying person.  And

any verbal report of such a confession 20 years in the past is highly


     A history of the Hughes Family, published in "The Hacker's Creek

Journal", states:

     "In 1786, a party of Indians murdered Jesse's father, Thomas

Hughes and in 1787, another party of Indians led by the white

renegade, Leonard Schoolcraft, captured Jesse's daughter. Although

Jesse was able to purchase his daughter's freedom the following year,

the two incidents turned Jesse and his brother Elias into implacable

enemies of the Indians."

    Note that Jesse and his brother were not turned into "implacable

enemies of the Indians" until four years after the Bulltown massacre

is alleged to have occurred.

     Killing more than forty persons and throwing them in a river

would be quite a warm days work for five men, even if the victims were

totally passive.  Considering that the Indians were experienced

warriors, albeit somewhat out of practice, and given the rather

primitive weapons of the period, the slaughter of so many by so few

seems highly unlikely, if not impossible.

     The Little Kanawha River at Bulltown is a rather small and

shallow affair and throwing a hundred bodies in such a river in June

is not quite the same as throwing a handful of pebbles in the

Mississippi at Memphis.  It is doubtful that a hundred bodies could be

thrown in such a river by five men in "a day or two", the time frame

from the WPA paper, in such a manner that they would not be visible. 

And even if the bodies were sunk in the river, they would not stay

sunk.  The writer of this sketch has participated in several body

recovery operations and has ample experience to know that bodies sunk

in a shallow river in warm weather usually surface within 48 hours. 

If the Bulltown massacre did occur as alleged, someone should have

commented to some author or other about the disproportinate number of

dead Indians in the Little Kanawha at a specific period.

     The WPA paper mentions the coming of John and Benjamin Conrad to

Bulltown in 1800 and mentions that Adam O'Brien blazed a trail from

Sutton to Bulltown in 1792 and says that "many 'squatters' came to the

Bulltown Country before the Conrad brothers, but only for the purpose

of hunting and obtaining salt from the springs."

    From these statements, we must conclude that the village site was

regularly visited in the years following the alleged massacre, but

there have been no reports of bones and other traces that one would

expect to find on the site of such a massacre.

     The writer of the "Awhile Ago Times", article terms the entire

story "A Ridiculous Tale."   Perhaps Smith's statement describes

such a situation best:


"If these five men could attack Bulltown, where sixteen warriors were

fortified in twenty cabins and they being in the open and fighting

behind trees, the Squaws were no doubt loading weapons for the

warriors and they all being aware of the approach of the white men, it

would be a feat unheard of and unsurpassed in all history of the

frontier, to believe that they could kill all sixteen of the warriors,

the fifteen squaws and eight children, dump their bodies in the Little

Kanawha River and never suffer wound or casualty themselves.  This

unbelievable and much too much to comprehend."




Withers, "Chronicles of Border Warfare", 1831

WPA Writers Project, "Bulltown Country", 1940

Smith, Robert B., "Hacker's Creek Journal", Spring 1988

"Hacker's Creek Journal" Spring 1992  P.23