Chronicles of Border Warfare
In North Western Virginia, the frequent inroads of small parties of savages in 1778, led to greater preparations for security from renewed hostilities after the winter should have passed away; and many settlements received a considerable accession to their strength, from the number of persons emigrating to them. In some neighborhoods, the sufferings of the preceding season and the inability of the inhabitants, from the paucity of their numbers, to protect themselves from invasion, led to a total abandonment of their homes. The settlement on Hacker’s creek was entirely broken up in the spring of 1779, -- some of its inhabitants forsaking the country and retiring east of the mountains; while the others went to the fort on Buchannon, and to Nutter’s fort, near Clarksburg, to aid in resisting the foe and in maintaining possession of the country. When the campaign of that year opened, the whole frontier was better prepared to protect itself from invasion and to shield its occupants from the wrath of the savage enemy, than it had ever been, since it became the abode of white men. There were forts in every settlement, into which the people could retire when danger threatened, and which were capable of withstanding the assaults of savages, however furious they might be, if having to depend for success, on the use of small arms only. It was fortunate for the country, hat this was their dependence. A few well directed shots even from small cannon, would have demolished their strongest fortress, and left them no hope from death, but captivity.
In the neighborhood of Pricket’s fort, the inhabitants were early alarmed, by circumstances which induced a belief that the Indians were near, and they accordingly entered that garrison. It was soon evident that their fears were groundless but as the season was fast approaching, when the savages might be expected to commence depredations, they determined on remaining in the fort, of a night, and yet prosecute the business of their farms as usual during the day. Among those who were at this time in the fort, was David Morgan, (a relation of General Daniel Morgan,) then upwards of sixty years of age. Early in April, being himself unwell, he sent his two children—Stephen, a youth of sixteen, and Sarah, a girl of fourteen—to feed the cattle at his farm, about a mile off. The children, thinking to remain all day and spend the time in preparing ground for water melons, unknown to their father took with them some bread and meat. Having fed the stock, Stephen set himself to work, and while he was engaged in grubbing, his sister would remove the brush, and otherwise aid him in the labor of clearing the ground; occasionally going to the house to wet some linen which she had spread out to bleach. Morgan, after the children had been gone for some time, betook himself to bed, and soon falling asleep, dreamed that he saw Stephen and Sarah walking about the fort yard, scalped. Aroused from slumber by the harrowing spectacle presented to his sleeping view, he enquired if the children had returned, and upon learning that they had not, he set out to see what detained them, taking with him his gun. As he approached the house, still impressed with the horrible fear that he should find his dream realized, he ascended an eminence, from which he could distinctly see over his plantation, and descrying from thence the objects of his anxious solicitude, he proceeded directly to them, and seated himself on an old log, near at hand. He had been there but a few minutes, before he saw two Indians come out from the house and make towards the children. Fearing to alarm them too much, and thus deprive them of the power of exerting themselves ably to make an escape, he apprized them in a careless manner, of their danger, and told them to run towards the fort—himself still maintaining his seat on the log. The Indians then raised a hideous yell and run in pursuit; but the old gentleman showing himself at that instant, caused them to forbear the chase, and shelter themselves behind trees. He then endeavored to effect an escape, by flight, and the Indians followed after him. Age and consequent infirmity, rendered him unable long to continue out of their reach; and aware that they were gaining considerably on him, he wheeled to shoot. Bot instantly sprang behind trees, and Morgan seeking shelter in the same manner, got behind a sugar, which was so small as to leave part of his body exposed. Looking round he saw a large oak about twenty yards farther, and he made to it. Just as he reached it, the foremost Indian sought security behind the sugar sapling, which he had found insufficient for his protection. The Indian, sensible that it would not shelter him, threw himself down by the side of a log which lay at the root of the sapling. But this did not afford him sufficient cover, and Morgan, seeing him exposed to a shot, fired at him. The ball took effect, and the savage, rolling over on his back, stabbed himself twice in the breast.
Having thus succeeded in killing one of his pursuers, Morgan again took to flight, and the remaining Indian after him. It was now that trees could afford him no security—his gun was unloaded, and his pursuer could approach him safely. The unequal race was continued about sixty yards, when looking over his shoulder, he saw the savage within a few paces of him, and with his gun raised. Morgan sprang to one side, and the ball whizzed harmlessly by him The odds was now not great, and both advanced to closer combat, sensible of the prize for which they had to contend, and each determined to deal death to his adversary. Morgan aimed a blow with his gun; but the Indian hurled a tomahawk at him, which cutting the little finger of his left hand entirely off, and injuring the one next to it very much, knocked the gun out of his grasp, and they closed. Being a good wrestler, Morgan succeeded in throwing the Indian; but soon found himself overturned, and the savage upon him, feeling for his knife and sending forth a most horrifick yell, as is their custom when they consider victory as secure. A woman’s apron which he had taken front he house and fastened round him above his knife, so hindered him in getting at it quickly, that Morgan, getting one of his fingers in his mouth, deprived him of the use of that hand, and disconcerted him very much on continuing to grind it between his teeth. At length the Indian got hold of his knife, but so far towards the blade, that Morgan too got a small hold on the extremity of the handle; as the Indian drew it from the scabbard, Morgan, biting his finger with all his might, and thus causing him somewhat to relax his grasp, drew it through his hand gashing it most severely,
By this time both had gained their feet, and the Indian sensible of the great advantage gained over him, endeavored to disengage himself; but Morgan held fast to the finger, until he succeeded in giving him a fatal stab, and felt the almost lifeless body sinking in his arms. He then loosened his hold and departed for the fort.
On his way he met with his daughter, who not being able to keep pace with her brother, had followed his footsteps to the river bank where he had plunged in, and was then making her way to the canoe. Assured thus far of the safety of his children, he accompanied his daughter to the fort, and then, in company with a party of men, returned to his farm, to see if there were any appearance of other Indians being about there. On arriving at the spot where the desperate struggle had been, the wounded Indian was not to be seen; but trailing him by the blood which flowed profusely from his side, they found him concealed in the branches of a fallen tree.—He had taken the knife from his body, bound up the wound with the apron, and on their approaching him accosted them familiarly with the salutation, "How do do broder, how do do broder" Alas! Poor fellow! Their brotherhood extended no farther than to the gratification of a vengeful feeling. He was tomahawked and scalped; and, as if this would not fill the measure of their vindictive passions, both he and his companion were flayed, their skins tanned and converted into saddle seats, shot-pouches and belts.—A striking instance of the barbarities, which a revengeful spirit will lead its possessors to perpetrate.
The alarm which had caused the people in the neighborhood of Pricket’s fort, to move into it for safety, induced two or three families on Dunkard creek to collect at the house of Mr. Bozarth, thinking they would be more exempt from danger when together, than if remaining at their several homes. About the first of April, when only Mrs. Bozarth and two men were in the house, the children, who had been out at play, came running into the yard, exclaiming that there were "ugly red men coming." Upon hearing this, one of the two men in the house, going to the door to see if Indians really were approaching, received a glancing shot on his breast, which cause him to fall back. The Indian who had shot him, sprang in immediately after, and grappling with the other white man, was quickly thrown on the bed. His antagonist having no weapon with which to do him any injury called to Mrs. Bozarth for a knife. Not finding one at hand, she seized an axe, and at one blow, let out the brains of the prostrate savage. At that instant a second Indian entering the door, shot dead the man engaged with his companion on the bed. Mrs. Bozarth turned on him, and with a well directed blow, let out his entrails and caused him to bawl out for help. Upon this, others of his party, who had been engaged with the children in the yard, came to his relief. The first who thrust his head in at the door, had it cleft by the axe of Mrs. Bozarth and fell lifeless on the ground. Another, catching hold of his wounded, bawling companion, drew him out of the house, when Mrs. Bozarth, with the aid of the white man who had been first shot and was then somewhat recovered, succeeded in closing and making fast the door. The children in the yard were all killed, but the heroism and exertions of Mrs. Bozarth and the wounded white man, enabled them to resist the repeated attempts of the Indians, to force open the door and to maintain possession of the house, until they were relieved by a party from the neighboring settlement.—The time occupied in this bloody affair, from the first alarm by the children to the shutting of the door, did not exceed three minutes. And in this brief space, Mrs. Bozarth with infinite self possession, coolness and intrepidity, succeeded in killing three Indians.
On the eleventh of the same month, five Indians came to a house on Snowy creek, (in the now, county of Preston,) in which lived James Brain and Richard Powell, and remained in ambush during the night close around it. In the morning early, the appearance of some ten or twelve men, issuing from the house with guns, for the purpose of amusing themselves in shooting at a mark, deterred the Indians from making their mediated attack. The men seen by them, were travellers, who had associated for mutual security, and who, after partaking of a morning’s repast, resumed their journey, unknown to the savages; when Mr. Brain and the sons of me Powell when to their day’s work. Being engaged in carrying clapboards for covering a cabin, at some distance from the house, they were soon heard by the Indians, who, despairing of succeeding in an attack on the house, changed their position, and concealed themselves by the side of the path, along which those engaged at work had to go. Mr. Brain and one of his sons being at a little distance in front of them, they fired and Brain fell. He was then tomahawked and scalped, while another of the party followed and caught the son as he was attempting to escape by flight.
Three other boys were then some distance behind and out of sight, and hearing the report of the gun which killed Brain, for an instant supposed that it proceeded from the rifle of some hunter, in quest of deer. They were soon satisfied that this supposition was unfounded. Three Indians came running towards them, bearing their guns in one hand, and tomahawks in the other. One of the boys stupefied by terror, -- and unable to stir front he spot, was immediately made prisoner. Another, the son of Powell, was also soon caught; but the third, finding himself out of sight of his pursuer, ran to one side and concealed himself in a bunch of alders, where he remained until the Indian passed the spot where he lay, when he arose, and taking a different direction, ran with all his speed and effected an escape. The little prisoners were then brought together; and one of Mr. Powell’s sons, being discovered to have but one eye, was stripped naked, had a tomahawk sunk into his head, a spear ran through his body, and the scalp then removed from his bleeding head.
The little Powell who had escaped from the savages, being forced to go a direction opposite to the house, proceeded to a station about eight miles off, and communicated intelligence of what had been done at Brain’s. A party of men equipped themselves and went immediately to the scene of action; but the Indians had hastened homeward, as soon as they perpetrated their horrid cruelties. One of their little captives, (Benjamin Brain) being asked by them, "how many men were at the house?" replied "twelve". To the question, "how far from thence was the nearest fort," he answered "two miles." Yet he well knew that there was no fort, nearer than eight miles, and that there was not a man at the house, -- Mr. Powell being from home, and the twelve travellers having departed, before his father and he had gone out to work. His object was to save his mother and the other women and children, from captivity or death, by inducing them to believe that it would be extremely dangerous to venture near the house. He succeeded in the attainment of his object. Deterred by the prospect of being discovered, and perhaps defeated by the superior force of the white men, represented to be at Mr. Brain’s they departed in the greatest hurry, taking with them their two little prisoners, Benjamin and Isaac Brain.
So silly had the whole affair been conducted (the report of a gun being too commonly heard to excite any suspicion of what was doing,) and so expeditiously had the little boy who escaped, and the men who accompanied him back, moved in their course, that the first intimation given Mrs. Brain of the fate of her husband, was given by the men who came in pursuit.
Soon after the happening of this affair, a party of Indians came into the Buchannon settlement, and made prisoner, Leonard Schoolcraft, a youth of about sixteen, who had been sent from the fort on some business. – When arrived at their towns and arrangements being made for his running the gauntlet, he was told that he might defend himself against the blows of the young Indians who were to pursue him to the council house. Being active and athletic, he availed himself of this privilege, so as to save himself from the beating which he would otherwise have received, and laying about him with well timed blows, frequently knocked down those who came near to him – much to the amazement of the warriors, according to the account give by others, who were then prisoners and present. This was the last certain information which was ever had concerning him He was believed however, to have been afterwards in his old neighborhood in the capacity of guide to the Indians, and adding them by his knowledge of the country, in making successful incursions into it.
In the month of June, at Martin’s for on Crooked Run, another murderous scene was exhibited by the savages. The greater part oft he men having gone forth early to their farms, and whose who remained, being unap-prehensive of immediate danger, and consequently supine and careless, the fort was necessarily, easily accessible, and the vigilance of the savages who were lying hid around it, discovering its exposed and weakened situation, seized the favorable moment to attack whose who were without. The women were engaged in milking the cows outside the gate, and the men who had been left behind were loitering around. The Indians rushed forward, and killed and made prisoners of ten of them. James Stuart, James Smally and Peter Crouse, were the only persons who fell, and John Shiver and his wife, two sons of Stuart, two sons of Smally and a son of Crouse, were carried into captivity. According to their statement upon their return, there were thirteen Indians in the party which surprised them, and emboldened by success, instead of retreating with their prisoners, remained at a little distance from the fort ‘till night, when they put the captives in a waste house near, under custody of two of the savages, while the remaining eleven, went to see if they could not succeed in forcing an entrance at the gate. But the disaster of the morning had taught the inhabitants the necessity of greater watchfulness. The dogs were shut out at night, and the approach of the Indians exciting them to bark freely, gave notice of impending danger, in time for them to avert it. The attempt to take the fort being thus frustrated, the savages returned to the house in which the prisoners were confined, and moved off with them to their towns.
In August, two daughters of Captain David Scott living at the mouth of Pike Run, going in the meadow with dinner for the mowers, were taken by some Indians who were watching the path. The younger was killed on the spot; but the later being taken some distance farther, and every search of for proving unavailing, her father fondly hoped that she had been carried into captivity, and that he might redeem her. For this friendly purpose he visited Pittsburgh and engaged the service of a friendly Indian to ascertain where she was and endeavor to prevail on them to ransom her. Before his return from For Pitt, some of his neighbors, directed to the spot by the Buzzards hovering over it, found her half eaten and mutilated body.
In September, Nathaniel Davisson and his brother, being on a hunting expedition up Ten mile, left their camp early on the morning of the day on which they intended to return home; and naming an hour at which they would be back, proceeded through the woods in a different directions. At the appointed time, Josiah went to the camp, and after waiting there in vain for the arrival of his brother, and becoming uneasy lest some unlucky accident had befallen him, he set out in search of him. Unable to see or hear anything of him he returned home, and prevailed on several of his neighbors to aid in endeavoring to ascertain his fate. Their search was likewise unavailing; but in the following March, he was found by John Read, while hunting in that neighborhood. He had been shot and scalped, and notwithstanding he had lain out nearly sic months, yet he was but little torn by wild beasts, and was easily recognized.
During this year, Tygarts Valley, which had escaped being visited by the Indians in 1778 again heard their harrowing yells; and although but little mischief was done by them while there, yet its inhabitants were a while, kept in fearful apprehension that greater ills would betide them. In October of this year, a party of them lying in ambush near the road, fired several shots at Lieut. John White, riding by, but with no other effect than by wounding the horse to cause him to throw his rider. This was fatal to White. Being left on foot and in open ground, he was soon shot, tomahawked and scalped.
As soon as this event was made known, Capt. Benjamin Wilson, with his wonted promptitude and energy, raised a company of volunteers, and proceeding by forced marches to the Indian crossing at the mouth of the Sandy fork of Little Kenhawa, he remained there nearly three days with a view to intercept the retreat of the savages. They however, returned by another way and his scheme, of cutting them off while crossing the river, consequently failed.
Some time after this several families in the Buchannon settlement, left the fort and returned to their homes, under the belief that the season had advanced too far, for the Indians again to come among them. But they were sorely disappointed. The men being all assembled at the fort for the purpose of electing a Captain, some Indians fell upon the family of John Schoolcraft, and killed the woman and eight children, -- two little boys only were taken prisoners. A small girl, who had been scalped and tomahawked ‘till a portion of her brains was forced from her head, was found the next day yet alive, and continued to live for several days, the brains still oozing from the fracture of her skull.
The last mischief that was done this fall, was perpetrated at the home of Samuel Cottrail near to the present town of Clarksburg. – During the night, considerable fear was excited, both at Cottrail’s and at Sotha Hickman’s on the opposite side of Elk creek, by the continued barking of the dogs, that Indians were lurking near, and in consequence of this apprehension Cottrial, on going to bed, secured well the doors and directed that no one should stir out in the morning until it was ascertained that there was no danger threatening. A while before day, Cottrial being fast asleep, Moses Coleman, who lived with him, got up shelled some corn and giving a few ears to Cottrial’s nephew with directions to feed the pigs around the yard, went to the hand mill in an out house, and commenced grinding. The little boy, being squatted down shelling the corn to the pigs, found himself suddenly drawn on his back and an Indian standing over him, ordering him to lie there. The savage then turned towards the house in which Coleman was, fired, and as Coleman fell ran up to scalp him. Thinking this a favorable time for him to reach the dwelling house, the little boy sprang to his feet, and running to the door, it was opened and he admitted. Scarcely was it closed after him, when one of the Indians with his tomahawk endeavored to break it open. Cottrial fired through the door at him and he went off. In order to see if others were about and to have a better opportunity of shooting with effect, Cottrial ascended the loft, and looking through a crevice saw them hastening away through the field, and at too great distance for him to shoot with the expectation of injuring them. Yet he continued to fire and halloo; to give notice of danger to those who lived near him.
The severity of the following winter put a momentary stop to savage inroad, and gave to the inhabitants on the frontier an interval of quiet and repose extremely desirable to them, after the dangers and confinement of the preceding season. Hostilities were however, resumed upon the first appearance of spring, and acts of murder and devastation, which had of necessity, been suspended for a time, were begun to be committed, with a firm determination on the part of the savages, utterly to exterminate the inhabitants of the western country. To effect this object, an expedition was concerted between the British commandant at Detroit and the Indian chiefs north west of the Ohio to be carried on by their united forces against Kentucky, while an Indian army alone, was to penetrate North Western Virginia, and spread desolation over its surface. No means, which could avail to ensure success and which lay within their reach, were left unemployed. The army destined to operate against Kentucky, was to consist of six hundred Indians and Canadians, to be commanded by Col. Byrd (a British officer) and furnished with every implement of destruction, from the war club of the savages, to the cannon of their allies. Happily for North Western Virginia, its situation exempted its inhabitants from having to contend against these instruments of war: the want of roads prevented the transportation of cannon through the intermediate forests, and the difficulty and labor of propelling them up the Ohio river, forbade the attempt in that way.
While the troops were collecting for these expeditions and other preparations were making for carrying them on, the settlements of North Western Virginia were not free from invasion. Small parties of Indians would enter them at unguarded moments, and kill and plunder, when ever opportunities occurred of their being done with impunity, and then retreat to their villages. Early in March (1780) Thomas Lackey discovered some moccasin tracks near the upper extremity of Tygarts Valley, and thought he heard a voice saying in an undertone, "let him alone, he will go and bring more," Alarmed by these circumstances, he proceeded to Hadden’s fort and told them what he had seen, and what he believed, he had heard. Being so early in the season and the weather yet far from mil, none heeded his tale, and but few believed it. On the next day however, as Jacob Warwick, William Warwick and some others from Greenbrier were about leaving the fort on their return home, it was agreed that a company of men should accompany them some distance on the road. Unapprehensive of danger, in despite of the warning of Lackey, they were proceeding carelessly on their way, when they were suddenly attacked by some Indians lying in ambush, ear to the place, where the moccasin tracks had been seen on the preceding day. The men on horse back, all got safely off; but those on foot were less fortunate. The Indians having occupied the pass above and below, the footmen had no chance of escape but in crossing the river and ascending a steep bluff, on its opposite side. In attempting this several lost their lives. John McLain was killed about thirty yards from the brow of the hill. – James Ralston, when a little farther up it, and James Crouch was wounded after having nearly reached its summit, yet he got safely off and returned to the fort on the next day. John Nelson, after crossing over, endeavored to escape down the river; but being there met by a stout warrior, he too was killed, after a severe struggle. His shattered gun breech, the uptorn earth, and the locks of Indian hair in his yet clenched hands, showed that the victory over him had not been easily won.
Soon after this, the family of John Gibson were surprised at their sugar camp, on a branch of the Valley river, and made prisoners. Mrs. Gibson, being incapable of supporting the fatigue of walking so far and fast, was tomahawked and scalped in the presence of her children.
West’s fort on Hacker’s creek, was also visited by the savages, early in this year. The frequent incursions of the Indians into this settlement, in the year 1778, had caused the inhabitants to desert their homes the next year, and shelter themselves in places of greater security; but being unwilling to give up the improvements which they had already made and commence again in the woods, some few families returned to it during the winter and on the approach of spring, moved into the fort. They had not been long here, before the savages made their appearance, and continued to invest the fort for some time. Too weak to sally out and give them battle, and not knowing when to expect relief, the inhabitants were almost reduced to despair, when Jesse Hughes resolved at his own hazard, to try to obtain assistance to drive off the enemy. Leaving the fort at night, he broke by their sentinels and ran with speed to the Buchannon fort. Here he prevailed on a party of the men to accompany him to West’s, and relieve those who had been so long confined there. They arrived before day, and it was thought advisable to abandon the place once more, and remove to Buchannon. On their way, the Indians used every artifice to separate the party, so as to gain an advantageous opportunity of attacking them; but in vain. They exercised o much caution, and kept so well together, that every stratagem was frustrated, and they all reached the fort in safety.
Two days after this, as Jeremiah Curl, Henry Fink and Edmand West, who were old men, and Alexander West, Peter Cutright and Simon Schoolcraft, were returning to the fort with some of their neighbor’s property, they were fired at by the Indians who were lying concealed along a run bank. Curl was slightly wounded under the chin, but disdaining to fly without making a stand he called to his companions, "stand your ground for we are able to whip them." At this instant, a lusty warrior drew a tomahawk from his belt and rushed towards him. Nothing daunted by the danger which seemed to threaten him, Curl raised his gun; but the powder being damped by the blood from his wound, it did not fire. He instantly picked up West’s gun (which he had been carrying to relieve of part of his burden) and discharging it at his assailant, brought him to the ground.
The whites being by this time rid of their encumbrances, the Indians retreated in two parties and pursued different routes, not however without being pursued. Alexander West Being swift of foot soon came near enough to fire, and brought down a second, but having only wounded him, and seeing the Indians spring behind trees, he could not advance to finish him; nor could he again shoot at him, the flint having fallen out when he first fired. Jackson (who was hunting sheep not far off) hearing the report of the guns, ran towards the spot, and being in sight of the Indian when West shot, saw him fall and afterwards recover and hobble off. Simon Schoolcraft, following after West, came to him just after Jackson, with his gun cocked; and asking where the Indians were, was advised by Jackson to get behind a tree, or they would soon let him know where they were. Instantly the report of a gun was heard, and Schoolcraft let fall his arm. The ball had passed through it, and striking a steel tobacco box in his waistcoat pocket, did him no farther injury. Cutright, when West fired at one of the Indians, saw another of them drop behind a log, and changing his position, espied him, where the log was a little raised from the earth. With steady nerves, he drew upon him. The moaning cry of the savage, as he spring from the ground and moved haltingly away, convinced them that the shot had taken effect. The rest of their Indians continued behind trees, until they observed reinforcement coming up to the aid of the whites, and they fled with the utmost precipitancy. Night soon coming on, those who followed them, had to give over the pursuit.
A company of fifteen men went early next morning to the battle ground, and taking the trail of the Indians and pursuing it some distance, came to where they had some horses (which they had stolen after the skirmish) hobbled out on a fork of Hacker’s creek. They then found the plunder which the savages had taken from neighboring houses, and supposing that their wounded warriors were near, the whites commended looking for them, when a gun was fired at them an Indian concealed in a laurel thicket, which wounded John Cutright. The whites then caught the stolen horses and returned with them and the plunder to the fort.
For some time after this, there was nothing occurring to indicate the presence of Indians in the Buchannon settlement, and some of those who were in the fort, hoping that they should not be again visited by them this season, determined on returning to their homes. Austin Schoolcraft was one of these, and being engaged in removing some of his property from the fort, as he and his niece were passing through a swamp on their way to his house, they were shot at by some Indians. Mr. Schoolcraft was killed and his niece taken prisoner.
In June, John Owens, John Juggins and Owen Owens were attacked by some Indians, as they were going to their cornfield on Booth’s creek; and the two former were killed and scalped. Owen Owens being some distance behind them, made his escape to the fort. John Owens the younger, who had been to the pasture field for the plough horses, heard the guns, but not suspecting any danger to be near, rode forward towards the cornfield. As he was proceeding along the path by a fence side, riding one and leading another horse, he was fired at by several Indians, some of whom afterwards rushed forward and caught at the bridle reins; yet he escaped unhurt from them all.
The savages likewise visited Cheat river, during the spring, and coming to the house of John Sims, were discovered by a Negro woman, who ran immediately to the door and alarmed the family.—Bernard Sims (just recovering from the smallpox) taking down his gun, and going to the door, was shot. The Indians, perceiving that he was affected with a disease, of all others the most terrifying to them, not only did not perform the accustomed operation of scalping, but retreated with as much rapidity, as if they had been pursued by an overwhelming force of armed men, -- exclaiming as the ran, "small pox, small pox."
After the attack on Donnelly’s fort in May 1778, the Indians made no attempt to effect farther mischiefs in the Greenbrier country, until this year. The fort at Point Pleasant guarded the principal pass to the settlements on the Kenhawa, in the Levels, and on Greenbrier river, and the reception with which they had met at Col. Donnelly’s convinced them that not much was to be gained by incursions into that section of the frontiers. But as they were now making great preparations for effectual operations against the whole border country, a party of them was dispatched to this portion of it, at once for the purpose of rapine and murder, and to ascertain the state of the country and its capacity to resist invasions.
The party then sent into Greenbrier consisted of twenty-two warriors, and committed their first act of atrocity near the house of Lawrence Drinnan, a few miles above the Little Levels. Henry Baker and Richard Hill, who were then staying there, going early the morning to the river to wash, were shot by them: Baker was killed, but Hill escaped back to the house. When the Indians fired at Baker, he was near a fence between the river and Drinnan’s, and within gun shot of the latter place. Fearing to cross the fence for the purpose of scalping him, they prized it up and with a pole fastening a noose around his neck, drew him down the river bank and scalped and left hem there.
Apprehensive of an attack on the house, Mr. Drinnan made such preparations as were in his power to repel them, and dispatched a servant to the little Levels, with the intelligence and to procure assistance. He presently returned with twenty men, who remained there during the night, but in the morning, seeing nothing to contradict the belief that the Indians had departed they buried Baker, and set out on their return to the Levels taking with them all who were at Drinnan’s and the most of his property.—Arrived at a fork of the road, a question arose whether they should take the main route, leading through a gap which was deemed a favorable situation for an ambuscade, or continue on the farther but more open and secure way. A majority preferred the latter; but two young men, by the name of Bridger, separated from the others and travelling on the nearer path, were both killed at the place, where it was feared danger might be lurking.
The Indians next proceeded to the house of Hugh McIver, where they succeeded in killing its owner, and in making prisoner his wife; and in going from thence, met with John Prior, who with his wife and infant were on their way to the country on the south side of the Big Kenhawa. Prior was shot through the breast, but anxious for the fate of his wife and child, stood still ‘till one of the Indians came up and laid hold on him. Notwithstanding the severe wound which he had received, Prior proved too strong for his opponent, and the other Indians not interfering, forced him at length to disengage himself from the struggle. Prior, then seeing that no violence was offered to Mrs. Prior of the infant, walked off without any attempt being made to stop, or otherwise molest him: the Indians doubtless, suffering him to depart under the expectation that he would obtain assistance and endeavor to regain his wife and child, and that an opportunity of waylaying any party coming with this view, would be then afforded them. Prior returned to the settlement, related the above incidents and died that night. His wife and child were never after heard of, and it is highly probably they were murdered on their way, as being unable to travel as expeditiously as the Indians wished.
They next went t a house, occupied by Thomas Drinnon and a Mr. Smith with their families where they made prisoner of Mrs. Smith. Mrs. Drinnon and a child; and going then towards their towns, killed, on their way, an old gentleman by the name of Monday and his wife. This was the last outrage committed by the Indians in the Greenbrier settlements. And although the war was carried on by them against the frontier settlements, with energy for years after, yet did they not again attempt an incursion into it. Its earlier days had been days of tribulation and woe, and those who were foremost in occupying and forming settlements in it, had to endure all that savage fury could inflict. Their term of probation, was indeed of comparatively short duration, but their sufferings for a time, were many and great. The scenes of murder and blood, exhibited on Muddy creek and the Big Levels in 1776, will not soon be effaced from the memory; and the lively interest excited in the bosoms of many, for the fate of those who were treacherously perished, unabated by time, still gleams in the countenance, when tradition recounts the tale of their unhappy lot.
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