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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 III.  1766 - 1774  (Part 2)

 

One of these marauding parties left the north bank of the Ohio river making their way up to the settlements of the Lybrooks, Chapmans and Snidows, and after prowling around several days it was discovered by some of the settlers that they were in the neighborhood, and thereupon most of the families took refuge in the forts for safety.    The family of John Chapman abandoned their house and went to the fort.   The Indians burned his house which was the second they had destroyed for him.   It has already been stated that the Chapmans, Lybrooks, McKenseys and Snidows had a fort on the bank of New river, at the extreme upper end of the farm now known as the Horse shoe, and that Adam Harman had a fort or block house at Gunpowder Spring, in which his family and perhaps others had taken shelter.  Philip Lybrook and a man by the name of McGriff had built their cabins in a little bottom just below the mouth of Sinking Creek on the farm lately known as that of Croft or Hale, and were engaged in the cultivation of a small crop of corn on the bottom lands.  Mr. Lybrook had built a small mill on the spring branch.  As was the custom in that day, when people were few in the country, for the young people to assemble or get together on Sunday, and so it happened that on Sunday the 7th day of August, 1774, that some of the children of Mrs. Elizabeth Snidow, who has heretofore been mentioned, and a young woman by the name of Scott went on a visit from the fort to Lybrook's and McGriff's.  Mr. Lybrook was busy about his mill, McGriff was in the house, and the young people and the smaller children were at the river.   Two of the young men, a Snidow and Baltzer Lybrook, were out some distance in the river bathing, and three or four of the little boys were playing in the water near the bank, and a young woman, the daughter of Lybrook, was out in the river in a canoe with some of the small children therein, when an Indian was discovered in the high bank overlooking the brink of the river, and the alarm was given.  The two young men in the river made for the opposite shore, the Indians in the mean time began to shoot at them.  Being expert swimmers they turned upon their backs their faces being turned to the Indians, enabled them to watch their movements.  The four small boys playing in the water near the edge of the river, were, viz.  Theophilus Snidow, Jacob Snidow, Thomas McGriff, and John Lybrook.  There were some deep gullies washed down through the banks of the river, by way of which wild animals had made their way to the river to get water, and when the little boys discovered the Indians, they attempted to escape by way of these breaks in the bank, and as they did so the Indians would head them off.   Finally an Indian stooped down and placed one hand on his knee as a rest for his gun, and attempted to shoot one of the young men in the river, and at this moment John Lybrook, a boy only eleven years old, ran under the muzzle of his gun and made for the house.  So soon as the Indian fired, he pursued John, and coming to one of the gullies which had washed out to about the width of twelve feet, the Indian close upon him, John leaped the gully, and the Indian finding he could not, threw his lariat at him, striking him on the back of the head, at the same time tumbling into the gully.  By this time the two young men in the river had reached the opposite shore, and were hidden behind the trees, and discovering that John had safely crossed the gully, they cried out to him, "Run John run," and John ran, and safely reached the house.  While this was transpiring Miss Lybrook, who was standing in the rear end of the canoe, was pushing the same to the shore, when an Indian, who was hidden in the weeds on the bank of the river came to the water's edge and reached out as the canoe touched the bank, and pulled the front end of it to the bank, and stepping therein, with his war club began striking the little children over their heads and taking their scalps.  The rear end of the canoe being down stream, and having floated near to the bank Miss Lybrook sprang out and started to the house, the Indian pursuing her.  Her cries  brought to her assistance a large dog, which seized the Indian and finally threw him, but the Indian succeeded in getting to his feet, and striking the dog with his club, but in the meantime, the young woman made her escape.  While a part of the Indians were on the river shooting at the young men in the river, capturing the boys, and killing the children, a part of them had gone to the mill and the house.  One shot Mr. Lybrook, breaking his arm and Mr. McGriff shot and mortally wounded one of the Indians, whose remains were years afterwards found under a cliff of rocks not far away from the scene of the tragedy.   Three of the little boys, Theophilus Snidow, Thomas McGriff and Jacob Snidow were captured by the Indians and carried away by them, and after traveling with them for some two or three days, they formed a plan of escape, and that was to slip away at night.   They reached Pipestem Knob, now in Summers County, and there camped for the night.   During the night, and after all things had gotten quiet, two of the boys, Jacob Snidow, and Thomas McGriff slipped away from the camp, not being able to arouse the third boy without awaking the Indians, and thus they were compelled to go without him.   After they had gotten a few hundred yards from the camp, knowing that they would probably be pursued, they crawled into a hollow log.  In a few minutes thereafter the Indians discovering their absence raised an alarm and went in search of the runaways, and even stood on the log in which the boys were hidden, and in broken English cried "Come back, get lost."  Not being able to find the boys, they gave up the hunt and returned to the camp.  So soon as everything was quiet, the boys came out of their hiding place, struck through the woods, and made their way to Culbertson's bottom on the New River, where they were afterwards found by some of the scouts from the settlement, and who were in pursuit of the Indians.  In this attack Mr. Philip Lybrook was wounded, three of his children, and a young woman by the name of Scott, two of the children, (small girls) of Mrs. Snidow were killed, and the three boys captured.  The two young men who were in the river when the attack began, and had reached the farther bank ran across the ridges to the Gunpowder Spring, Harman's fort and halloed across the river to the people in the fort to bring a canoe and take them over, but the people being afraid they were Indians refused to go.   After waiting some time, the young men being afraid of pursuit by the Indians, plunged into  the river, and a young woman, seeing this insisted that they were white men, ran to the river, jumped into a canoe, and pushed into the river to meet the swimmers, just in time to save one of them, who was sinking the third time, and who no doubt had taken a cramp by reason of exertion and overheating in his run across the ridges.  She carried them safely to the fort.   Who this young woman was, inquiry fails to disclose, and now will never be known, but she deserves a place in history.   Colonel William Preston was at the time of this attack, the commandant of the military district of Fincastle, and was then at Draper's Meadows fort, then called Preston's fort, and writes a letter about this incident on the 13th day of August, 1774 which is as follows: "This summer a number of our people have been killed and captured by the northern Indians.  Thomas Hogg, and two men near the mouth of the Great Kanawha, Walter Kelly with three or four other persons below the falls of that river, William Kelly on Muddy Creek, a branch of the Greenbrier River, and a young woman at the same time made prisoner.  One of the scouts, one Shockley, was shot in this county and on Sunday the 7th of this inst., a party attacked the house of one Laybrook (Lybrook), about 15 miles from this place.  Old Laybrook was wounded in the arm, three of his children, one of them a sucking infant, a young woman, a daughter of one Scott, and a child of one widow Snide (Snidow) were killed.   They scalped the children, all but one, and mangled them in a most cruel manner,.   Three boys were made prisoners, two of whom made their escape the Wednesday following, , and were found in the woods by the scouts.  The Indians were pursued by the militia, but were not overtaken."  The number of Indians in this marauding party numbered six, and all this mischief was done by them in a very few minutes.   The Indians escaped with their prisoners though they were pursued by a company of men under a Captain Clendenin.   The night of the 7th of August was a sad one at the fort.  Mrs. Snidow and Mrs. Lybrook walked the floor throughout the night, weeping and wringing their hands, and saying that "they knew where the dead children were, but their hearts went out for the little boys, captives."  The pursuing party followed the Indians down the New River until they met the escaped captives, and after listening to the story of their escape and calculating that the Indians were too far ahead to be overtaken, returned with the boys to the settlement, reaching there on the Wednesday after their capture on Sunday, much to the delight and joy of their mothers and friends.  Theophilus Snidow, the other captive boy, was carried by the Indians to their towns north of the Ohio, and when he had reached his manhood returned to his people, but in delicate health with pulmonary troubles from which he shortly died.  (Lybrook and Snidow Mss.)

In the Spring of 1773 a few individuals had begun to make improvements on the Kanawha River below the falls, and some land adventurers were making surveys in the same section.    To these men Captain John Stuart, of Greenbrier, in the spring of 1774, had    direction of Colonel Charles Lewis, sent a messenger to inform them that apprehensions were entertained of serious trouble with the Indians and advising them to remove from that section.  When Stuart's messenger arrived at the cabin of Walter Kelly at the mouth of Kelly's Creek on the Kanawha, twelve miles below the falls, he found Captain John Field Culpeper engaged in making surveys.  Kelly at once sent his family to the Greenbrier Valley under the care of a younger brother, but Captain Field, regarding the apprehension as groundless, determined to remain with Kelly.  Very soon after Kelly's family had left the cabin and while yet within hearing of it, a party of Indians approached unperceived and shot Kelly, and rushed to the cabin where they killed a negro woman, and took prisoner a young Scotsman.  Captain Field escaped and on his way to the Greenbrier settlement met Captain Stuart with a body of men, who on being informed of what had occurred decided to return to the settlements and prepare them for defense.

In a few weeks after this another party of Indians came to the settlements in the Greenbrier section and killed Mr. Kelly, the brother who had conducted the family from Kanawha, and captured his niece.  These outrages along the border impelled the Virginia government to take action to repress them, and to punish the Indians by the destruction of their towns north of the Ohio; and it was determined to raise an army for that purpose.  The army destined for this expedition was composed of volunteers and militia, mostly from the counties west of the Blue Ridge, and consisted as already stated of two divisions.  Lord Dunmore in person took command of the troops raised in Frederick and Dunmore (the latter now Shenandoah), counties and the southern division composed of different companies under Captain Field from the County of Culpeper, east of the Blue Ridge, and two companies from the Holstein and Watauga settlements under Captains Evan Shelby and Herbert, and a company under Captain William Russell from the Clinch, and an independent company from Bedford under Captain Buford.  These latter companies formed a part of the forces to be commanded by Colonel William Christian.  Near the first day of September the troops commanded by General Lewis rendezvoused at camp Union, now Lewisburg, and consisted of two regiments commanded by Colonel William Fleming of Botetourt, and Colonel Charles Lewis of Augusta, and numbering about four hundred men each.  The third regiment, under Colonel William Christian, was composed as above stated.  The force under General Lewis consisted of about eleven hundred men, and set out on its march to the mouth of the Kanawha on the eleventh day of September, 1774.    The northern division of the army composed as herein before stated was under the immediate command of Colonel Adam Stephens.  With this division was Lord Dunmore and Major John Connoly.  Taking into consideration the forces already in the field under Major Augus McDonald and Captain William Crawford, this northern division numbered some twelve hundred  (1200)  men; along with which as scouts, were George Rogers Clark, Simon Kenton and Michael Cresap.  The country between Camp Union and the mouth of Kanawha River was a trackless forest so rough, rugged and mountainous as to render the march of the army exceedingly tedious and laborious.  Captain Mathew Arbuckle, who had been on the Kanawha some years previous, became the guide for Lewis's army and after a march of several days it reached the Ohio river on the sixth day of October, and fixed its encampment on the point of land between that river and the Great Kanawha.  Owing to some difference between General Lewis and Colonel Field as to priority of rank, and Field being in command of an independent volunteer company not raised by the order of Governor Dunmore, but brought into the field by his own exertion, after his escape from the Indians at Kelly's, induced him to separate his men from the main body of the army on its march and to take a different route or way than the one pursued by it, depending largely on his knowledge of the country to lead him by a practicable route to the river.  While Field's company was encamped on the banks of the Little Meadow river, a branch of the Gauley, two of his men, Clay and Coward were sent out to hunt deer for the company and were attacked by the Indians, Clay was killed, but Coward made his way back to camp, first having spies watching the movements of Lewis's army and the one who escaped was able to make report to his fellows on the Ohio.

Early on the morning of Monday, the tenth (10) day of October, two soldiers left the camp and proceeded up the Ohio in   quest of deer.  When they had gone about two miles from the camp, they unexpectedly came in sight of a large number of Indians rising from their encampment, and who discovering the two hunters fired upon them and killed one.  The other escaped unhurt, and running to the camp communicated the intelligence, "that he had seen a body of the enemy, covering four acres of ground as closely as they could stand by the side of each other."  There is a difference in authors who have written upon the subject as to who these two men were.  Withers in his Chronicles says, that they were James Mooney, of Russell's company, and Joseph Hughey, of Shelby's company, and that Hughey was killed by a shot fired by Tavenour Russ, a white renegade in Cornstalk's party; while, Haywood the author of the Civil History of Tennessee says,these men were James Robertson and Valentine Sevier, of Shelby's company.    Both accounts may be correct in this, that there may have been four men out hunting deer, instead of two.

The main part of the army was immediately ordered out by General Lewis, one wing commanded by Colonel Charles Lewis and the other by Colonel William Fleming.  Forming in two lines they had proceeded for a short distance when they met the Indians, and the fierce combat began which lasted throughout the day and finally resulted in the withdrawal of the Indian army.  The loss on the part of the Virginians was severe in officers and men, being seventy five (75) killed and one hundred and forty (140) wounded.

The following gentlemen with others of high reputation in private life, were officers in the Battle of Point Pleasant.  General Isaac Shelby, the first Governor of Kentucky, and afterwards secretary of war; General Evan Shelby one of the most favorite citizens of Tennessee;  Colonel William Fleming, and acting governor of Virginia during the revolutionary war;  General Andrew Moore, of Rockbridge, the first man ever elected in Virginia from the country west of the Blue Ridge to the senate of the United States;  Colonel John Staurt, of Greenbrier;  General Tate, of Washington county, Virginia;  Colonel William McKee, of Lincoln county, Kentucky;  Colonel John Steele, at one time governor of the territory of Mississippi;  Colonel Charles Camron, of Bath;  General Bazeleel Wells, of Ohio, and General George Mathews, a distinguished officer in the war of the Revolution, the hero of Brandywine, Germantown and Guilford, Governor of Georgia, and a senator from that state in the Congress of the United States.  The salvation  of the American army at Germantown is ascribed in Johnston's life of General Greene, to the bravery and good conduct of two regiments, one of which was commanded by General, then Colonel Matthews.

In this battle of Point Pleasant was John Sevier, who became a most distinguished citizen of Tennessee, and who upon entering upon the expedition to Point Pleasant regarded and believed himself to be a citizen of and living in Virginia, when in fact, he at that time was within the territory of North Carolina.

Another distinguished man in this battle was Captain William Russell, in whose company was Reece Bowen, who distinguished himself in the battle at King's Mountain in which he laid down his life for his country.

The battles of the Alamance and Point Pleasant were in reality the opening battles of the American revolution, but behind the battle of Point Pleasant, and which urged it on and brought it about were British emissaries, who had doubtless urged the Indians on to deeds of bloodshed and murder with the view and set purpose of destroying the colonists.

No attempt has been made herein to give full details of this last mentioned battle as this has been fully done by others.  Although a short respite occurred after the battle, the years following 1774 were filled with horrors beyond description.  All along the border settlements the savages made repeated forays, attacking the defenseless inhabitants, killing, plundering, burning and ravaging the country.

On the twenty fifth day of April, 1774, there was granted by Dunmore, Royal Governor of Virginia, to Mitchell Clay assignee of Lieutenant John Draper, a tract of eight hundred acres of land on the Bluestone Creek in Fincastle county; this tract was then known and is still known as the "Clover Bottom,"  situated about five miles north of Princeton the present county seat of Mercer county.  It is a very beautiful, rich body of bottom land, and one of the most valuable tracts to be found in this section of the country.  By the terms of this grant, a copy of which is on file in the clerk's office of the county court of Mercer county, the grantee was to take possession of this tract of land within three years from the date of the grant.  Mitchell Clay, at the date of the grant, lived in the county of Franklin, Virginia, and exchanged a negro woman and her children to John Draper for this land and took from Draper an assignment of the plat and certificate of survey, upon which the grant was issued to Clay as the assignee.    The land script or warrant upon which the survey was based, was issued to Lieutenant John Draper for services rendered by him in the French and Indian war.

 

 

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