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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 IV.  1775 - 1794  (Part 7)


It was related to the author several years ago by Captain William Stowers, of Bland County, Virginia, then a man above the age of eighty years, but very intelligent, that he well remembered Mrs. Virginia Wiley, who a number of years after her return from captivity visited his father's house on Clear fork of Wolf Creek near the spot where she was captured, and that her mind was weak, that in fact she had had but little mind since her return from captivity, and that he heard her relate to his father and family the story of her capture, the killing of her children on Cove Creek, her journey to the Indian town, and her escape; and among other things, her conversation with the Indian on the Harman battle field on Tug.  A letter from Armstrong Wiley to the author states that both Mrs. Wiley and her husband, Thomas Wiley are buried in the Wiley burying ground at Wiley's Falls in Giles County.

John Goolman Davidson, to whom reference has heretofore been made, had with his family resided for some time preceding his removal to the Beaver Pond spring with Richard Bailey in 1780, at Smithfield (Draper's Meadows). While living at Smithfield, a man by the name of Rice had stolen a hog from Davidson, for which he was apprehended, convicted and sentenced to receive and did receive on his bare back well laid on forty lashes, save one.    Rice was so enraged at Mr. Davidson, that he vowed her would have revenge, if he had to bring the Indians upon him.  We shall soon see how well Rice kept and performed his vow, and succeeded in having his revenge, although more than ten years had elapsed before the opportunity was afforded him.

Mr. Davidson having some unfinished business at his former home in the valley of Virginia, Rockbridge County, among others, the collection of some eight hundred dollars due him, determined upon a visit to the valley to close up his business and get his money.    As was not unusual when some one was going from the frontier into the settlements, it was noised throughout the neighborhood, that Mr. Davidson was going to make the journey.  In the month of February, 1793, Mr. Davidson set out on horseback, reached his destination safely, settled his business, collected his money, and started on his way homeward, having with him an extra horse which he was leading.  He came over the usual route of travel to Rocky gap, was seen to pass south of that point by a family residing near the pathway.  The spring of 1793 is said by the old people who then lived, to have been the earliest ever known by them, the timber putting forth its leaves the first of March.

Richard Bailey, who has already been spoken of, had given to his youngest son, whose name was Henry, a small calf, which had been turned out with the other cattle in the range to make their living off the young twigs and leaves that had begun to shoot forth.    The calf failing to come up to the fort with the other cattle on the evening of the eighth day of March, 1793, Mr. Bailey told his son that it might have gotten mired in some swampy land down the creek, and that he must get up very early the next morning, which was on the ninth, and go look for his calf.  The boy rose early, called his bear dogs, and set off down the Beaver Pond Creek in the direction of where Graham, Virginia, is now situated.  Not finding the calf on his outward trip, he on his return left the Buffalo trail and was passing up through the swampy bottom land, when his dogs suddenly raised their bristle as if they were about to engage in combat with some wild animal; the boy supposing it was probably a wolf, rushed forward to see the fight, and looking along the path he saw a body of men and horses, which so alarmed him, that he fled to the fort and reported what he had seen.  An older brother, Micajah, gathered his rifle and followed the party far enough, to discover that it was composed of a body of Indians.   He immediately returned to the fort, spread the alarm, and Major Robert Crockett, then on the head of Clinch, gathered a party of men, and followed the Indians whose camp late one evening he discovered on the large island at the mouth of Island Creek, just across the river from where now stands Logan Court House, West Virginia.

After carefully reconnoitering the position, Major Crockett decided to have the men lay on their arms that night, and make the attack at break of day the next morning.  He had observed that the Indians had hobbled their horses and turned them out on the island to graze.  It may be noted that this island contained originally, about one hundred acres, but after it was denuded of its timber and put in cultivation, the soil being of a sandy nature, has by the effect of high tides in the river been carried away until there remains now but a few acres of what was the original bottom.

As it is said to have been, on the morning of the 15th of March, Major Crockett had his men up and arranged for the attack by the time it was light enough to see an object.    He told his men that the Indians would be astir early, that while some were preparing breakfast, one or more would come out to round up the horses and drive them into camp.  His instructions were for his men to wait for the horse drivers to start them toward the camp, and to then quietly follow them into camp and make the attack.    Crockett had with him a man by the name of Gid Wright, who when the advance began, was thrown close to one of the Indians engaged in driving the horses, and who took a severe Buck Ague as the backwoodsmen term it, (extreme case of nervousness),  and without obeying his orders fired at the Indian missing him, but alarming the camp, so that the whole Indian party took to flight.  John Bailey, an active and quick man on foot, ran close enough as the Indians were leaving to kill one of them, the rest escaped, leaving their breakfast cooking, which the whites appropriated, and the stolen horses, all of which were recovered.  Among the number of horses captured was one recognized as belonging to Mr. Davidson, and the one which he had ridden from home, and on which was his saddle, with one stirrup.  A brass one, missing.  The party immediately determined that Mr. Davidson had been killed by this gang, and his horse taken, and after eating their breakfast, and gathering up the horses they started for their homes and to search for Mr. Davidson's body.  Samuel Lusk was with Major Crockett's party, and on the return assisted in the search for the body of Mr. Davidson.  So soon as the party reached the settlement, they sent out men along the path leading through Bailey's gap in East River mountain, and on to the Laurel fork of Clear fork of Wolf Creek, and through Rocky Gap, finding on the path on the mountain a hat band recognized as belonging to Mr. Davidson's hat.  On inquiry it was found, that Mr. Davidson had passed the settlements south of Rocky Gap before noon on the 8th day of March, and it was discovered at an old waste place at the mouth of Clear fork, that he had there fed his horses.    Further investigation at the point where the path left the Laurel fork starting up the mountain, evidence appeared of the blade of a hatchet having been struck into a white oak tree, and that a gun had rested on the hatchet, and near by on the bark of a beech tree was freshly cut the name of "Rice," and under the root of the tree on the side of  the creek, where the water had washed away the earth, the nude body of Mr. Davidson was found, so far advanced in decomposition it could not be removed to his home, and was buried near by where it was found and where it still remains.   The statement by some writers that the body was carried to his home and buried is incorrect according to the statements of Mr. Joseph Davidson and Captain John A. Davidson, two of his great grandsons.

Colonel Robert Trigg, in his report to the governor, dated on April 10th, 1793, states that Davidson was killed on the 8th day of March of that year, and that there were twelve Indians in the party, who stole a large number of horses and passed through the center of the Bluestone settlement.

Colonel Robert Crockett had reported in October, 1789, to the governor, the capture of Virginia Wiley, and the killing of her four children by the Indians on October 1st of that year.

On October 17th, 1793, Major Robert Crockett and fifty others, among them Joseph Davidson, John Bailey, James Bailey, Reuben Bailey, Richard Bailey, William Smith and John Peery, sent a petition to the governor of Virginia, informing him of the defenseless condition of the border, and asking for assistance, and stating the killing by the Indians of John Davidson on the 8th day of March 1793, and that of Gilbert on the 24th day of July 1792, and the capture of Samuel Lusk at the same time.

The searching party for Mr. Davidson's body found evidences on the ground that satisfied them that Mr. Davidson, had upon being shot from the tree where the blade of the hatchet had been buried, fallen from his horse which took fright and ran out into the brush and vines on the creek bottom, by which one of the brass stirrups had been pulled off.  No doubt remains but that Rice and his party got the $800.00 which Mr. Davidson had with him when killed.

Several years after the killing of Mr. Davidson, Captain William Stowers, then a lad of some fifteen years, while plowing in the bottom where Mr. Davidson was killed, found a brass stirrup which was recognized by the family of Mr. Davidson as one belonging to his saddle, and missing therefrom when his horse and saddle were recovered by Major Crockett and his men on the 15th day of March, 1793.

This Indian incursion was the last made on the waters of Bluestone and the upper Clinch, but the troubles continued for a short while thereafter on the lower Clinch and the Holstein waters as well as along the valley of the Kanawha, where the Indians killed a man by the name of Harriman in the year 1794; he was the last person killed in the valley by Indians.

Davidson and Bailey, the settlers at the Beaver Pond spring in the year of 1780, like all other provident settlers who desired to secure good land, each acquired valuable landed estates, Bailey along the valley of the mountain and around the head of Beaver Pond spring, and Davidson in Wright's Valley, reaching from where the town of Graham is now situated eastward along the valley for three or four miles, including the land on which the city of Bluefield is now located.

So much alarm and consternation was created along the upper Kanawha, and lower New River waters in the early part of the year 1793, by prowling bands of Indians, that the governor of Virginia ordered a company of soldiers to rendezvous at the mouth of Elk on the Kanawha, and to scout through the country to the Ohio.

Captain Hugh Caperton, who lived in Greenbrier County, on the New River, and who was the uncle of the younger Hugh, later of Monroe, was ordered to raise and did raise a company of New River Valley men for the service referred to.  Captain Caperton with his men marched to the mouth of Elk, fixing his camp on the right bank of the river at its mouth.

The celebrated Daniel Boone was the commissariat of this company.  During the stay of these men on the Kanawha, they guarded the frontier, sending scouting parties to various points along the Ohio and protected the settlers then in the valley, and their homes, by placing one of more men at each house.  At this time there were but few settlers in the valley, among them George Clendenin, where Charleston now stands, Leonard Morriss, near where Brownstown now stands, and William Morriss at Kelley's Creek.    Clendenin had removed from the Greenbrier section, Leonard and William Morriss from the county of Culpeper, Virginia.

David Johnston, member of Caperton's company, was sent to guard the house of Leonard Morriss.  He and Morriss came originally from the same county.  Mr. Morriss had a block house for the protection of his family, and some slaves, among them a negro woman, who one day, while Johnston was guarding the house, went outside the stockade to pick up some wood, and was seized by two Indians and carried away.  On another occasion, Mrs. Morriss went just outside the gate to milk her cow, the guard accompanying her.  He discovered an Indian a little way off in the top of a tree endeavoring to get a view of the fort and its inmates.  Mr. Morriss had a small patch of corn in the bottom along the river, which was about ready for cutting, and desiring to look at and to see if anything was troubling it took Johnston, the guard along with him; they agreeing to separate taking different directions so as to get a quick view of the situation and return, and further agreeing that the report of the discharge of a gun should be the signal for them to hasten to the fort.  They had not long been out until the report of the discharge of a gun was heard.  Johnston reached the fort, and Mrs. Morriss opened for him the gate, which was immediately closed, supposing Mr. Morriss was probably shot, and that the Indians would make a rush for the fort.  There being several guns in the fort, Mrs. Morriss said, "Johnston I will load and you shoot."  Mr. Morriss soon made his appearance unhurt.  Neither he nor Johnston had fired their guns, and after waiting some time they ventured out again, and on going to the place from whence came the report of the discharge of the gun, they found that the Indians had shot a hog there and dressed it.  These men of Caperton's company had quite a number of skirmishes with the Indians, but no one was hurt save one man killed, who went across the Kanawha to kill a turkey, whose gobble he had heard.  Very soon after crossing the river, the report of the discharge of a gun was heard, and soon thereafter the gobble of the turkey was repeated; whereupon, another of the men remarked that he would get that turkey, and going a considerable distance up the river he crossed, and made his way to the place where he still heard the turkey, and on stealthily creeping up, he discovered the turkey to be an Indian hid in some sprouts that had grown up around a chestnut stump.    He killed the Indian and scalped him, but found the Indian had first killed the other man and scalped him.

Captain Caperton and Daniel Boone, his commissariat, had a difficulty, and Boone left the camp, and was absent for some time.  Some of the scouting parties met with him at the mouth of the Kanawha, and told him of the necessities of the company and that they needed food, and enquired of him why he had gone off and left them; he replied, "Caperton didn't do to my liken."

The following are the names of the men who belonged to Caperton's company, and were with him on the Kanawha in 1793:

Samuel Henderson
Mathias  Meadows
Isaac Cole
John Cooke
Edward Farley
William Smith
William Lee
William Graham
James Montgomery
William Stowers
Andrew Hatfield
John Rowe
Francis Farley
David Johnston
Henry Massey
David French
Matthew Farley
Felix Williams
James Stuart
James Abbott
Patrick Wilson
John Lewis
Joseph Abbott
James Keely
George Lake
John Conner
John Burton
Drewry Farley
Thomas Cooke
Robert Lee
Andrew Johnston
John Garrison
Travis Stowers
Jonas Hatfield
David Marshall
Isaac Smith
Moses Massey
James Graham
David Graham
James Sweeney
Joseph Caterbury
John Scott
----- Noell
Isaiah Calloway
William Wilson
George Abbott

On the 20th of August, 1794, General Wayne won his celebrated victory over the Indians, at Fallen Timbers in what is now Lucas County, Ohio.  This defeat completely broke the Indian power in the Ohio Valley, and a treaty of peace was soon after made, which gave perfect quiet to all the border settlements, at least south of the Ohio, and perfect peace reigned supreme for the first time in forty years.  No sooner was the news of Wayne's victory received on the Virginia border, than the whole country north and west of the settlements, swarmed with surveyors and land speculators.  Nearly if not quite the whole of the territory south of the Kanawha and the Ohio to the head waters of Holstein, were entered, surveyed, and carried into grant.

Robert Morris, the patriot and financier of the American revolution, secured grants for about eight millions of acres of land.  The territory comprised within the now counties of Mercer, Raleigh, Fayette, McDowell, Wyoming, Boone, Logan, Mingo, Wayne, Cabell, Lincoln, Kanawha and Putnam were almost completely shingled over with these large grants, and frequently they lapped upon each other.  Commencing on the East River Mountain, on the south side, and then again on the north side, where two grants to Robert Pollard, one for 50,000 and the other for 75,000 acres, then came the grant of 80,000 acres to Samuel M. Hopkins, a grant of 50.000 acres to Robert Young, 40,000 acres to McLaughlin, 170,000 acres to Moore and Beckley, 35,500 acres to Robert McCullock, 108,000 acres to Rutter and Etting, 90,000 acres to Welch-------  150,000 acres DeWitt Clinton, 50,000 acres to Doctor John Dillon, 480,000 acres to Robert Morris , 500,000 acres to the same,  150,000 acres to Robert Pollard, 500,000 to Wilson Carey Nicholas, 300,000 acres to the same, 320,000 acres to Robert Morris, 57,000 acres to Thomas Wilson, 40,000 acres to George Pickett, and farther down Sandy, Guyandotte and Coal Rivers were large grants to Elijah Wood, Smith and others.

Peace having been restored along the frontier settlements, and no further danger being apprehended from the Indians, there was a great rush of the people, not only from Eastern Virginia and Western North Carolina on the the New River waters, and on to Kentucky, but there was a vast throng of people from the New River Valley, that quickly penetrated the country between the New River settlements and the Ohio, and settled on the Sandy, Guyandotte and Coal River waters, even reaching to the Ohio; among them, the McComas', Chapmans, Lucas', Smiths, Coopers, Napiers, Hunters, Adkins, Acords, Allens, Fryes, Dingess, Lusks, Shannons, Baileys, Jarrells, Egglestons, Fergusons, Marcums, Hatfields, Bromfields, Haldrons, Lamberts, Pauleys, Lawsons, Workmans, Prices, Cookes, Clays, Godbeys, Huffs, McDonalds, Whites, Farleys, Kezees, Perdues, Ballards, Barretts, Toneys, Conleys, Strollings, Stratons, Buchanans, Deskins, and many others, who largely peopled, and left honored descendants throughout the section mentioned.



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