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A History of The Middle
New River Settlements
and Contiguous Territory.

By David E. Johnston (1906).

  
 

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CHAPTER II.  1753 - 1766 (Part 1)

Exploring the Mississippi Valley--French and Indian War--Washington on the Ohio--Virginia Raises Troops--Colonel Fry Sick and Command Devolves on Washington--Fort Necessity--General Braddock Defeated on the Monongahela--Depredations on the Virginia Border--Destruction of Drapers Meadows Settlers--Mrs. Ingles a Prisoner--Phillip Barger Killed-- Mrs. Ingles Escapes--Captain William Ingles and Governor Dinwiddie Plan an Expedition Against the Ohio Indians--Major Andrew Lewis Ordered to raise a force for the destruction of the Indian Towns on the Ohio--Lewis Marches in February, 1756, Crosses New River, North Fork of the Holstein, through Burke's Garden, over the head of the Clinch and on the Sandy--Vaux's Fort Destroyed--1756 Settlements West of New River--Joseph Howe and Others on Back Creek West of New River, 1760--Indian Marauding Party Near Ingle's Ferry Attacked by Ingles, Harman and Others--Captain Henry Harman, Adam Harman--Herrman--One Branch of the Family from North Carolina and the Other from Virginia Valley--New River Lead Mines Discovered by Colonel Chiswell--Indian Incursion into Jackson's River, Roanoke and Catawba Settlements--Pack, Swope and Pitman on the New River--Captain Audley Paul on Lower New River in 1763--Massacres by Indians in Greenbrier Section in 1763--Butler, Carr and Others, Hunters on head of Clinch, 1766--This Year Family of John Snidow Settle at Mouth of Sinking Creek on the New River.

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The Mississippi Valley was first explored and settled by the French. They had a line of forts extending from New Orleans to Quebec, one of which being Fort du Quesne, where Pittsburg now stands. The English were jealous of these movements, which jealousy at last ripened into open hostility, but before proceeding to open acts of war, the English sought to gain possession of the Western country by throwing a large white population into it by means of land companies, to whom large grants for land were made. The Ohio Company with a grant of 500,000 acres on the south side of the Ohio between Monongahela and the Kanawha; the Greenbrier Company, at the head of which was John Lewis of Augusta, obtained authority to locate 100,000 acres on the Greenbrier and its waters, and the Loyal Company, with a grant of 800,000 acres with authority to locate the same from the North Carolina line north and west.

Each of these land companies proceeded to locate their lands, and in 1751 Colonel John Lewis and his son, Andrew, afterward a distinguished General, surveyed the Greenbrier tract, including "Marlinton's Bottom," on the Greenbrier River, on which is now situate the town of Marlinton, the County seat of Pocahontas County, where they found Jacob Marlin and Stephen Sewell. The Loyal Company surveyed a large part of the lands granted to it, even extending its surveys into what is now Giles County, Virginia, about one of which tracts a controversy arose and was decided by the Supreme Court of appeals of Virginia in July, 1834. French vs Loyal Company, 5th Leigh's R. 680.

The movements of the English were closely watched by the French, who, understanding their design, determined to defeat them.

They accordingly crossed Lake Champlain, built Crown Point, and fortified certain positions on the waters of the upper Ohio. In the year of 1752, on the Miami, a collision occurred between some of the French soldiers and the English traders and Indians, in which some of the Indians were killed and some of the whites were taken prisoners. This was the beginning of what is known as the French and Indian War, which resulted in the loss to France of all her territory east of the Mississippi.

Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia, arrived in that Colony in 1752, and viewing with alarm the encroachments of the French, dispatched George Washington on a commission to the French Commandant on the Ohio.

Washington left Williamsburg on the 31st day of October, 1753, and proceeded by way of Romney, in Hampshire County, where he remained one night, and finally reached the French post on the Ohio, made known his commission to the French Commandant, who replied that it "did not become him to discuss civil matters." Washington returned immediately to Williamsburg and reported the failure of his mission. Under instructions from the English government to raise a force of men to build and occupy two forts on the Ohio, the House of Burgesses voted 10,000 pounds and the raising of a regiment of men, the command of which was given to Colonel Joshua Fry as Commandant, with George Washington as Lieutenant-Colonel. Fry was taken sick on the journey and the command devolved upon Washington. These troops left Alexandria, Virginia, in April, and arrived at Will's Creek on the 20th of the same month, and on the 28th of May reached a place called Redstone, where they encountered a French and Indian force, which they attacked, killing ten and taking the rest prisoners. From these prisoners Washington learned that a large force of French and Indians were in his front; nevertheless he continued his march to the Great Meadows, where he halted and built a fort, calling it "Fort Necessity." On the third day of July, at 11o'clock a.m., the enemy assailed Washington's works with vigor, and attempted to carry them by assault, but were repulsed with loss. The battle however, continued with great fury until well into the night. At the end of a nine hours engagement and after severe loss to the enemy, the French Commandant Count de Viliers, sent in a flag of truce, praising the gallantry of the Virginians, and offering to treat for a surrender of the works on honorable terms. His proposals were accepted, and the next morning the treaty was concluded, and the Virginians took up their line of march for their homes. The French and Indians numbered 1,000 men. (Peyton's Augusta.)

It seems that Washington on his march to the Great Meadows was joined by a Company of soldiers from South Carolina, who were  with him at the surrender of Fort Necessity.

Being now fully satisfied that war was inevitable, the British cabinet encouraged the Colonies to unite for defense or aggression, as might be necessary, and a plan to this effect was duly signed in 1754.

In the Spring of 1755 the colonial forces attacked the French at four different points, Nova Scotia, Crown Point, Niagara, and on the Ohio River.  Against the French on the Ohio, operations were conducted by General Braddock, who arrived from England in February of that year with two regiments.  Virginia raised eight hundred men to join Braddock, who arrived at Alexandria, then called Bellhaven, and appointed Washington his aide-de-camp.  Braddock dispatched one company of colonial troops under Captain Thomas Lewis of Augusta, to the Greenbrier country to build a stockade fort and prevent Indian raids on the white settlements in that region.

The captains commanding companies in the Virginia troops, which served under Braddock in his march to the Monongahela were Waggener, Cock, Hogg, Stephens, Poulson, Pemronny, Mercer and Stuart.

Braddock with his command of about twenty-two hundred men, left Alexandria on the 20th day of April, and crossed the Monongahela River on the 9th day of July, 1755, where he fell into an ambuscade of French and Indians.  He was mortally wounded, and his army after sustaining fearful loss was routed and put to flight.  But for the courage and bravery of Washington and his Virginians, Braddock's whole force would have been annihilated.  The Colonial and British loss in this engagement was seven hundred and seventy-seven (777) killed and wounded.

This defeat spread wide alarm throughout Virginia, and aroused the people to renewed energies for the defense of the border.

It may here be noted that among the Virginians who survived this battle, and were afterwards distinguished in our annals, were Washington, Andrew and William Lewis, Matthews, Field, and Grant.

Following this disaster of Braddock and his army, devastations and inhuman murders were perpetrated by the French and Indians during the summer on the western borders of Virginia and Pennsylvania.

As a result of Braddock's defeat, the whole frontier of Western Virginia was thrown open to the ravages of the Indians, who crossed the Alleghanies and pushed into Augusta, the lower Valley and New River settlements, torturing and murdering men, women and children.  Such was the distress occasioned by these butcheries that Washington in one of his letters to Governor Dinwittie says, "The supplicating tears of the women and the moving petitions of the men melt me into such deadly sorrow, that I solemnly declare that if I know my own mind I could offer myself a willing sacrifice to the butchering enemy, provided that it would contribute to the people's ease."

During all the years, beginning with the year 1753 to 1763 the Indians continued their barbarities along the Virginia border.  We must now turn to events transpiring in the New River valley.

Notwithstanding that Drapers Meadows settlement was far from the Ohio, and apparently safe from any probability of attack from any quarter, and although these settlers must have been aware that war was then being waged by the Indians against the whites, they took no reasonable precaution for their safety, but on Sunday, the 8th day of July, 1755, the day before Braddock's defeat on the Monongahela, they permitted themselves to be surprised by a band of marauding Shawnees from North of the Ohio, who killed, wounded and captured every person present.  The killed were Colonel James Patton, Mrs. George Draper, Casper Barrier, and a child of John Draper, James Cull; wounded, Mrs. William Ingles, Mrs. John Draper and Henry Leonard, captured.  After putting their plunder and the women and children on horses, they set fire to the buildings, and with their prisoners began their retreat to the Ohio, passing on their way, and not far from the scene of the tragedy, the house of Philip Barger, an old white haired man, whose head they cut off, put in a bag, and took it with them to the house of Philip Lybrook at the mouth of Sinking Creek,and where they left it, telling Mrs. Lybrook to look in the bag and she would find an acquaintance.

The morning of the attack upon the settlers of Drapers Meadows Colonel Patton had sent his nephew, young William Preston, over to Philip Lybrook's, on Sinking Creek, to get him to come over and help next day with the harvest, which was ready to cut.    Preston and Lybrook instead of following the river, crossed the mountains, probably by the place where Newport, in Giles County, is now situated, and thus doubtless escaped death or capture.  Of the facts and circumstances attending the attack on this settlement, the killing, wounding and capture of all present, of the journey of the prisoners to Ohio, the escape and return home of Mrs. Ingles, the writer is largely indebted to the authentic, pathetic account by the late Dr. John P. Hale, of Charleston, West Virginia, in his book "Trans-Alleghany Pioneers."

Just why the Indians did not disturb the families of Adam Harman and Philip Lybrook, whose settlements were immediately on the river and along the trace the Indians must have traveled in going to and returning from Drapers Meadows, cannot well be explained.  These Indians with their prisoners passed down New River, crossing at the ford above the mouth of Bluestone, thence across what is called White Oak Mountain, the northeastern extension of the Flat Top, by way of where Beckley, in Raleigh County, is now situated, the old Indian trail passed at what is now the junction of the principal streets of the town, and on to the head of Paint Creek and down to the Kanawha.  Thus it will be seen that they passed over the territory of Mercer County.  This trail up Paint Creek, and either by Pipe Stem Knob or mouth of Big Bluestone, was on of their frequently traveled ways to the East River and New River settlements.Paint Creek took its name from several trees standing thereon painted by the Indians as one of their guides or land marks on their marauding expeditions into the white settlements  and on their return they by marks on these trees would indicate the number of scalps taken.

Governor Dinwiddie had on August 11th, 1755 been informed of the death of Colonel Patton and the destruction of the Drapers Meadows settlement, as he refers to same in a letter of that date to Captain Andrew Lewis.

Mrs. William Ingles who was captured by the Indians at Drapers Meadows, and carried by them to their town North of the Ohio, and later to Big Bone Lick, in Kentucky, escaped in the fall of the same year with an old Dutch woman, and they made their way up the Ohio, Kanawha and New Rivers to the settlements.  Evidently, from what subsequently happened, Captain William Ingles, the husband of Mrs. Ingles, very shortly after her return, went to Williamsburg to lay before Governor Dinwiddie the situation of affairs on the border.  Governor Dinwiddie writes on December 15th, 1755, to Colonel Stuart and to Captains Hogg, Preston, Smith, Richard Pearis and Woodson, of the intention to take the Shawnee towns on the Ohio River, and in his letter to Preston and Smith he refers to the bearer thereof as Mr. Ingles, who evidently was Captain William Ingles, who, while at Williamsburg with the Governor, originated and planned the Sandy expedition against the Shawnees whose towns were situated on the lower side of the Scioto on the North bank of the Ohio opposite the present city of Portsmouth.  In about 1767 a great flood in the Ohio overran their towns and they moved up to Chillicothe.

Governor Dinwiddie in a letter to Major Andrew Lewis, dated February 6, 1756, and which seems to have been written but a few days before the starting of the Sandy expedition , says:  "The distance by Evans' map is not two hundred miles to the upper towns of the Shawnees, however, at once begin your march."  This map was made by Lewis Evans, a copy of which can be found in the Library of Congress, and the distance estimated by Governor Dinwiddie from the farther settlements to the Shawnee towns on the Ohio River, at the mouth of the Scioto, was not far from correct.

Richard Pearis was a captain of militia of Augusta County and further had charge of a company of friendly Cherokee Indians.  He is often referred to in the letters of Governor Dinwiddie.  On page 266 of "The Dinwiddie Papers,"    note 161, Richard Pearis is described as an Indian trader, located  on Holstein River, who acted as interpreter, and was afterwards commissioned a captain to command a company of Indians.  The name is spelled in other instances, "Paris", and has respected representatives in Augusta County today.  In a letter of Governor Dinwiddie's to Major Andrew Lewis, dated February 16th, 1756, he says: "I am glad the Cherokees are in so high spirits.  I desire that you show proper regard and respect to the High Warrior and take care that Mr. Pearis behaves well and keeps sober."

It is undoubtedly true that Mrs. Ingles on her return from captivity in November, 1755, made known  to her husband and others, the position of the Indian towns on the Ohio and of the expressed determination of the savages to destroy the white settlements along the New River valley.  This led to Captain Ingles' visit to the Governor at Williamsburg to forestall the Indian plans by sending a force of troops to destroy them before they could strike a blow at the settlements.

Mrs. Ingles was not willing to remain on the New River nor even at Vaux's fort, on the Roanoke, nearby where Shawesville now stands, but insisted that her husband should carry her to a place of greater safety for she was well aware that the Indians would repeat their visits to the settlements and that she and her friends would again be exposed to danger of death or capture.

The fears of Mrs. Ingles were well grounded, for on the very next day after the departure of herself and family from Vaux's fort, in the summer of 1756, it was attacked by the Indians, and the inmates were destroyed or captured and carried away, but two or three afterwards escaped.

The incursions made by the Indians into the frontier settlements and their depredations immediately after Braddock's defeat, led to the organization of the Sandy expedition, under the order of Governor Dinwiddie, and suggested and planned by Captain William Ingles, who accompanied the expedition.  Colonel Washington sent Major Andrew Lewis from Winchester to take charge of the forces, which were to attack the Indian towns on the Ohio.  Major Lewis' forces rendezvoused at Fort Prince George on the Roanoke, near where Salem, Virginia, now stands.  The force consisted of about 340 men.    Among the officers were Captains Peter Hogg, John Smith, William Preston, Archibald Alexander, Robert Breckinridge, Obediah Woodson, John Montgomery and ------- Dunlap, together with a company of friendly Indians under Captain Richard Pearis.   The company commanded by Captain Hogg failed to attend at the appointed time, and Major Lewis after delaying a week for its arrival, marched forward, expecting to be overtaken by it.

It was important to the success of the expedition that it should not be discovered by the Indians until it was too late for them to take measures to thwart it; therefore, instead of taking the more public route by way of the Great Kanawha.    Major Lewis selected the route most likely to keep his movements concealed from the enemy.  While it would seem important, yet Major Lewis made no report of the expedition; if so it has not been published.  Yet we are not without fairly full information on the subject.  The author being so fortunate as to get a copy in part of Captain William Preston's journal, kept by him on this expedition, which will be hereinafter copied.  The route by which Lewis with his men reached the mouth of the Sandy, has been stated by different writers, no two agreeing, and none strictly correct.    See Withers. Bord. Warf.  Hale's Trans-Alleghany Pioneers.   Peyton's His. of Augusta.  Lewis' His. of W. Va.  His. Southwest Va. by Summers.

 

 

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