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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 V.  1795 - 1836  (Part 2)


Of the people who came in 1772 Thomas Maxwell, Samuel Ferguson and the Peerys, who were in the battle of the Alamance, came from the Virginia Valley, Reece Bowen from Botetourt, near where Roanoke city now stands.  He was from western Maryland, William Garretson from Culpepper county, from which the Wheatleys came about the same time, settling near the spot where Captain C. A. Fudge now resides.

Thomas, John and William Peery settled where the present town of Tazewell is now located, and John Peery, Jr. at the fork of Clinch one and one half miles east of the present county site.  In the meantime a number of settlers, among them the Scaggs, Richard Pemberton, Johnson, Roark, and others settled in Baptist Valley, and Thomas Mastin, William Patterson, and John Deskins farther west in the same valley, Richard Oney and Obadiah Paine in what is now known as Deskins Valley.

Thomas Ingles, son of Captain William Ingles of Draper's Meadows, settled in 1778, in what is now known as Wright's Valley at a spring near the residence of the late Captain Rufus A. Hale, about two miles west of the present city of Bluefield, and a few hundred yards north of the track of the Norfolk & Western Railway.  He remained here only about two years, when finding himself too near the Indian trail which led up the Beaver Pond Creek to Bailey's gap in East River Mountain, he removed to Burke's Garden, and occupied a tract of land which had been surveyed by his father, until 1782, when his family was captured, and in part destroyed by the Indians.  At this date Ingles and a man by the name of Hicks were the only residents in Burke's Garden.

In the meantime, that is between the date of the commencement of the settlements by the white people within what is now the territory of Tazewell and the breaking up of the Ingles family in 1782, Dunmore's war had broken out, (1774), which in a measure halted emigration into the territory.

In the year of 1773, in September, Daniel Boone and his brother, Squire, with their families and a number of others, had left the Yadkin in North Carolina and started for Kentucky.  The party with Boone had reached Powell's Valley, when needing provisions, Boone's son, with a party, had gone to the house of William Russell, in Castle's woods in search of food, and on its return on the second day after, and before overtaking the main party, were attacked by a band of Indians and destroyed.  This caused Boone and his party to halt and retire to the neighborhood of William Russell, in Castle's woods, where a part of  his company wintered.  Finding, in the spring of 1774, that the Indians were on the war path, and that Governor Dunmoore had ordered the raising of an army to punish the savages; one wing, the northern, he proposed to command, and the other, the southern, to be commanded by Brigadier General Andrew Lewis, who was ordered to rendezvous his troops at Camp Union, now Lewisburg, in Greenbrier County; and that call had been made upon the Fincastle men (this territory was then in Fincastle County), Captain William Russell gathered the men of his company, and in August marched up the Clinch and down the East River to join his regiment, commanded by Colonel William Christian, then on the New River, and on its way to unite with General Lewis. To Russell's company belonged Reece Bowen and Moses Bowen, who marched with their company to Point Pleasant--Moses Bowen dying on the trip from smallpox.

Daniel Boone was left in command of Russell's Fort, that of Bowen's, and of the Frontier, which he with his faithfully guarded in the absence of Russell's men.

Roving bands of Indians entered the Castle's woods and Maiden Spring neighborhoods during the absence of Russell and his men.  The neighboring women and children had gathered in the forts for protection.

It was the opening of Dunmore's war that led the white people of this and adjacent sections to establish forts and blockhouses for protection.  In Tazewell there was a fort erected by the Wynns on Wynn's Branch, at Crab Orchard by Thomas Witten, and one at Maiden Springs by Reece Bowen, and a little later, one at head of Beaver Pond by Bailey's and Davidson's, and later as stated by Bickley, between the years of 1780 and 1794, the Virginia Government occasionally kept a few companies of men along the border, who occupied these forts, and in the absence of such armed bodies of men, sent out by the state, the men within the territory threatened, gathered in these places of refuge.    The names of several of these people have been preserved, among them:

James Bailey
John Bailey
Joseph Belcher
Robert Belcher
Thomas Brewster
Edward Burgess
Christopher Caffin
James Conley
John Crockett
John Evans
Joseph Gilbert
Absalom Godfrey
William Hall
David Lusk
Samuel Lusk
Robert Lesley
James Martin
John Maxwell
James Peery
John Pruett
Archibald Thompson
John Ward
William Ward
James Witten
Michael Wright
Oliver Wynn
Hezekiah Wright

Robert Trigg was the military commandant while the territory of what is now Tazewell was within the County of Montgomery, and Major Robert Crockett after the territory was erected into the county Wythe.

The Indian depredations began in the territory of what is now the county of Tazewell, in the year of 1776.  In the month of May of that year they destroyed John Henry, his wife and six children in Thompson's Valley, and carried one little boy away a prisoner.    In the same year they captured John Evans.

In the year of 1779 the family of Jesse Evans was attacked by eight or ten Indians, four of his children were killed, his wife with one child escaping to Major Taylor's.

In the latter part of the summer and early fall of 1780, the British army under Lord Cornwallis was advancing northward through the Carolinas.  One division thereof, under Colonel Patrick Ferguson, had reached Piedmont, North Carolina.  Ferguson had sent threats to the Backwater men that if they did not come over and take the oath of allegiance to his Sovereign he would cross into their country and lay it waste with fire and sword.  Evan Shelby and John Sevier planned an attack upon Ferguson's troops, calling on Colonel Campbell of Washington County, Virginia, for assistance.  Campbell called out the military force of his county, including the company of William Bowen of the Clinch settlements, in which company Reece Bowen, of Maiden Spring and James Moore of Abb's Valley were Lieutenants.  Captain William Bowen at the date of the call being sick with fever, the command of the company devolved on Lieutenant Reece Bowen, who led it to the battle of King's Mountain, fought on October 7th, 1780.

At the date of the call for and march of Bowen's company from the Clinch, the western boundary line of Montgomery County reached to Morris' Knob and Roark's Gap, and therefore a part of the men who marched with Bowen from the upper Clinch and Bluestone lived in Montgomery County, and were not within the military district of Colonel Campbell, but within that of Colonel William Preston, of Montgomery.  Among the number of those who went from Montgomery territory with Bowen, were James Moore, Samuel Ferguson, Henry Henninger, Thomas Peery, (the Distiller) Thomas Peery (the Blacksmith) William Peery and John Peery, the latter wounded a number of times, but recovering, and one of the Thomas Peerys killed, together with Henry Henninger and Reece Bowen.

No attempt will be made here to describe the march to King's Mountain nor the battle and return home of the men, as the reader is referred to a very full and accurate account thereof given by Draper in his "King's Mountain and its Heroes."

In the month of April, 1782, the family of Thomas Ingles, in Burke's Garden, was attacked by Indians and all who were at the house captured.  They were pursued by Thomas Ingles and Captain James Maxwell, and a party of men, who overtook them in a gap of Tug Ridge, since known as Maxwell's Gap from the circumstance that Captain Maxwell was there killed.  On the opening of the fight the Indians attempted to kill their prisoners, and succeeded in tomahawking Mrs. Ingles, her little son William, and little daughter Mary, scalping the two latter from which the little boy soon died, the little girl a few days later, but Mrs. Ingles recovered.  The Harman Ms. shows that Captain Henry Harman was one of the pursuing party.

Another part of this marauding band at the same time killed and scalped two daughters of Captain John Maxwell, and took nine prisoners, and also killed and scalped near the Clinch two sons of Captain Robert Moffett.

A part of this same band of Indians visited the home of James Poague, a brother-in-law of Captain James Moore, and who had come to Abb's Valley with him in 1777, and had settled and opened up some land on the farm recently known as that of Captain John W. Taylor.    These Indians attempted to enter Mr. Poague's house in the night time but finding some three or four men in the house they left without doing any harm to Mr. Poague's family, but the next morning, near Poague's house they killed a young man by the name of Richards, who had been working for Captain Moore.

In 1783 Joseph Ray, living on Indian Creek, with a part of his family, together with a man by the name of Samuel Hughes, who happened at Ray's house at the time, were butchered by the Indians.

Mr. Poague became so much alarmed for fear of the Indians that very shortly after their visit to his house on a night in April, 1872, and hereinbefore referred to, he left the settlement and went back into civilization, and two years after the occurrence at Poague's viz: in 1784, James, the son of Captain James Moore, was captured on this Taylor farm by Indians, and carried into captivity where he remained about five years.

In the year of 1785 Robert Barnes, born in Ireland, (Note: So stated by Captain D. B. Baldwin.) and coming to America about 1782, first halting in the valley of Virginia, then came on to the Cove in what is now Tazewell County, Virginia.

From this man Robert Barnes, has descended all the people of that name now in the Tazewell Section, and who are among the most respectable people to be found there or elsewhere.

On April 11th, 1786, two men one---Dials and Benjamin Thomas, were scalped by the Indians on the upper waters of the Clinch; Dials died in a few hours, Thomas lived several days.

In 1785 an Act was passed by the General Assembly of Virginia to take effect 1786, creating the County of Russell out of the territory of Washington County.  The eastern boundary line of Russell to be that of the western line of Montgomery County.

Before describing the destruction of the family of Captain James Moore in Abb's Valley, reference will be made to the date of the first coming of Captain Moore to the valley referred to.

William Taylor Moore, who has already been mentioned as the grandson of Captain Moore, stated to the author that Looney so accurately described the route from the Virginia Valley to Abb's Valley that his grandfather had no difficulty in traversing it, and that he described the route after leaving the New River to be up a large Creek, (Walker's Creek), to the mouth of its main north branch, (Kimberling), and thence up the same to its source, and through a gap, and down to a stream, to and through another gap through which said stream passed, and down the same to the mouth of a stream coming in from the north, (Laurel Creek), and up the same and through a low gap of a high mountain to the north, and thence down the streams flowing west--northwest--to where the waters flowed over a very high rock, now called Falls Mills, where he would strike a Buffalo path, following which would lead him into the Valley. (Note: Shortly after Captain Moore's settlement in the Valley a buffalo bull came up to his home with the milch cows, and the Captain killed the animal.)

On July 14th, 1786, Captain James Moore and his family, were attacked by a band of forty Shawnee Indians, and the Captain and a part of his family killed, and part captured and carried away.

In 1788 in the month of August, a man by the name of Pemberton, who lived in Baptist Valley, about five miles from the present County site of Tazewell, was attacked by a party of marauding Indians, but succeeded in beating them off, and making safe retreat to a neighbor's house.

As has already been related, Captain Henry Harman and two of his sons, George and Matthias, on a hunting expedition on Tug had, on the 12th day of November, 1788, a severe battle with seven or eight Indians, part of whom they killed and wounded, the remainder retreated.  This fight took place on the bank of the Tug a short distance below the residence of the late Mr. Henry T. Peery.  Captain Harman received several wounds from arrows shot into him by the Indians.

In the month of March, 1789, a party of Indians came up the Dry Fork of the Sandy, and about the mouth of Dick's Creek were caught in a snow storm, and took shelter under a large shelving rock opposite the mouth of the above mentioned creek, and while hiding there and sheltering from the storm, William Wheatley of Baptist Valley, in search of a lost dog was killed by these Indians, who mutilated his body in a most horrible manner.    They then proceeded to the gap at the head of Dry Fork and destroyed the wife and children of James Roark.  They were pursued by the whites but succeeded in making good their escape.

On the night of October the first, 1789, a body of Indians visited the house of Thomas Wiley, at what is now known as the Dill's farm, a little below the mouth of Cove Creek of Clear fork of Wolf Creek, and captured and carried away his wife, Mrs. Virginia Wiley, and her four little children whom they killed on their way up Cove Creek.  Mrs. Wiley was carried away a prisoner to their town where she remained until September, 1792, escaping with Samuel Lusk.

In the year of 1790 the county of Wythe was created out of the territory of Montgomery.    The western line of Wythe by the Act of Creation, was the same as between Montgomery and Russell Counties; that is, from the west side of Morris Knob to Roark's gap and to the head waters of the Sandy.  The eastern line running from Reed Island Creek to the Kanawha line, passing about one half mile west of the present town of Princeton, in Mercer County.  In April, 1791, the wife and children of Andrew Davidson, with two bound children were captured by Indians at their home on the head waters of East River, near the present city of Bluefield, then in Wythe County.  Mrs. Davidson was not recovered by her husband until after Wayne's Victory in August, 1794.

In the same year of 1791, Daniel Harman on a hunting expedition on the upper Clinch waters was killed by Indians.

In the month of July, 1792, a band of Indians from the Ohio section entered the upper Clinch and Bluestone settlements, and stole horses. Major Robert Crockett, the military commandant of Wythe County, gathered a force of men and followed the marauders.  His scouts or spies, Joseph Gilbert and Samuel Lusk, were sent in advance to a lick on a creek flowing into the Guyandotte to kill some game for food for the men.  They reached the lick on the 24th day of July, killed a deer and wounded an Elk, following the latter some distance and failing to over take it they returned to the lick for the deer, and were suddenly attacked by the Indians, who were in hiding near by, and Gilbert killed, Lusk wounded and captured.  Major Crockett's men failed to overtake them.  In September of the same year, Lusk in company with Mrs. Virginia Wiley, escaped from the Indian town at Chillicothe, on the Scioto, and made his way home.

On the 8th day of March, 1793, a body of twelve Indians, and a white man by the name of Rice, murdered John Goolman Davidson, usually called John or Cooper Davidson,at the mouth of a small branch of Laurel Creek of clear fork of Wolf Creek, and at the southern base of East River Mountain at a point where the path leaving Laurel passes through Bailey's Gap.    This party was pursued by Major Crockett and a company of men, who overtook them at the Island of the Guyandotte River, where now stands Logan Court House.  A skirmish followed in which one Indian was killed, the rest fled leaving their stolen horses and their breakfast, the latter the whites devoured, and among the recaptured horses was recognized that of Mr. Davidson, which led on the return of the party to a search of Mr. Davidson, whose dead nude body they found under the roots of a beech tree on the bank of Laurel Creek.

This Indian incursion was the last ever made into the territory in what is now Tazewell County.   The next year, 1794, General Wayne defeated the United Indian tribes at Fallen Timbers in Ohio, and this gave peace to the border, along which had been committed by the savages horrible barbarities for almost forty years.  (Note: A family by the name of Sluss was destroyed by Indians near what is now known as Sharon Springs, but the date and circumstances are unknown.)

With a full establishment of peace and quiet on the border new people came rapidly into the country, and settlements began throughout the whole Clinch Valley section and on to the Sandy.

In the winter of 1799 a bill was introduced into the General Assembly of Virginia, by Mr. Cottrell, the representative from Russell County, providing for the creation of a new county out of the territory of Wythe and Russell.  The bill of Mr. Cottrell as stated by Bickley, met with formidable opposition from Mr. Tazewell, the representative from the county of Norfolk.  Mr. Cottrell inserted in the bill Tazewell as the name of his proposed new county, which not only silenced the member from Norfolk, but secured his support for the bill.

The following are the boundary lines of the county of Tazewell as set forth in the Act of its creation December 19th, 1799 viz:  "Beginning on the Kanawha line, which divides Montgomery and Wythe Counties, thence to where said line crosses the top of Brush Mountain, thence along the top of said mountain to its junction with Garden Mountain, thence along the top of the said mountain to the Clinch Mountain, thence along the top of said mountain to the mouth of Cove Creek, a branch of the Maiden Spring Fork of Clinch River, thence a straight line to Mann's Gap in Kent's Ridge, thence north 45 west to the line which divides Kentucky from that of Virginia, thence along said line to the Kanawha line, and with said line to the place of beginning."  On February 3rd, 1835, the Legislature altered the line dividing the Counties of Russell and Tazewell, by running from Mann's gap in Kent's ridge north 45 deg. 45 minutes west of distance of 974 poles.    In 1806 a portion of Tazewell was cut off into the county of Giles, and in 1837 another portion of the territory of Tazewell was stricken off into Mercer, and in 1858 the Counties of Buchanan and McDowell were created out of Tazewell territory, and in 1861 Tazewell also lost part of her territory by the formation of Bland County.



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