Ann Rowe Hupp & The Seige of Miller's Block-House

Ann Rowe Hupp was born in 1757 in Pennsylvania, the daughter of Adam and Margaret Rowe. She married John Hupp about 1775 in Washington County Pennsylvania and they had 4 children:

  • Mary Hupp b: 1775 married Thomas Smith;
  • Margaret Hupp b: about 1779 and married John Titus;
  • John Hupp, Jr. b: 27 Jul 1780 in Washington County Pennsylvania, married Ann Cox;
  • Elizabeth Hupp b: about 1781 and married Francis Rogers.

After the death of John Hupp, Ann married John May and they had 3 children: Benjamin, Ann, and George. Ann died on 26 June 1823.

The following letter, which includes details of Ann Hupp's heroic efforts at the Seige on Miller's Block-House, was written by Dr. John C. Hupp, a descendant, who was responding to a request made by Mr. Creigh for information on the Indian raid to be put in the history of Washington County Pennsylvania that Mr. Creigh was writing.


Wheeling, Va., March 31, 1861

Dr. Alfred Creigh:

Dear Sir: I have, at your request, elicited the following facts in relation to the siege of Miller's block-house, from the lips of my aged father. He received them from those who, on this day seventy-nine years ago, were its courageous and heroic defenders.

They are as follows: In the spring of 1782 Indian hostilities commenced much earlier than usual along the western frontier. As early as the month of March hordes of savages were ascertained to have crossed the Ohio, and were making their way into the settlements.

The settlers thus threatened with the massacres, plunderings, burnings, and captivities, with which they had already become so familiar, were filled with spirit-stirring excitement, commingled with alarm.

In this predicament of apprehension and danger, the settlers along the Buffalo Valley betook themselves with their families to the forts and block-houses.

About three miles northeast of West Alexandria, on the right bank of the "Dutch Fork of Buffalo" is a peninsula formed by the meandering creek on the one side and "Miller's Run" on the other. The isthmus next to the run is skirted by a narrow strip of bottom land, which expands to many acres towards the creek and its confluence with the run. The side of the isthmus washed by the creek has a bold and precipitous bluff. On this isthmus was located "Miller's Block-house" which was besieged by a party of about seventy Shawanese on Easter Sunday, 1782.

With their characteristic cunning and caution, the savages arrived in the vicinity the night previous, distributing themselves in ambush around the block-house and along the paths leading thereto. Thus lying concealed among the bushes or "pea vines," behind trees or fallen timber, they awaited the operation of circumstances.

The most of the men were absent from the block-house on this occasion, some of them being at Rice's Fort, which was about two miles further down the creek. Of this fact the Indians most likely were apprised, and on this account the attack on the block-house is supposed to have been deferred, and the ambush protracted, in order to destroy the men on their return to the block-house.

Of those who were in this rude shelter on that fatal Sabbath morning were John Hupp, Sr., wife [Ann], and four children, Margaret, Mary, John, and Elizabeth; Jacob Miller, Sr., and several of his family; the family of Edward Gaither, and an old man named Matthias Ault.

The sun had appeared above the eastern hills, tingeing with his feeble rays the summits of the lofty trees of the dense forest that surrounded this primitive place of defense. The quietude of the woods was undisturbed save by the occasional chirp of the wooded songster, caroling his morning anthem.

One of the matrons of the block-house [Ann Hupp] had fearful forebodings that some awful calamity was about to befall her husband, and followed him to the door, entreating him not to carry into execution his determination to accompany his friend on that morning in search of a colt that had strayed. The night previous she had dreamed that a "coppersnake" struck its fangs into the palm of her husband's hand, and that all her efforts to detach the venomous reptile were unavailing. This vision she interpreted as ominous of evil to her husband. But despite the entreaties and importunities of his wife, John Hupp, Sr., set out in company with his friend, Jacob Miller, Sr., in search of the stray.

They entered the path leading across the run and through the woods in a northeasterly direction from the block-house, and were soon out of view. Soon the quietude of the woods was disturbed by the crack of a rifle, quickly followed by a savage war whoop issuing from that portion of the forest into which Hupp and Miller had just entered.

This alarm filled the minds of the women with consternation and apprehensions as to their fate. But Hupp being in the prime and vigor of manhood, fleet and athletic (if not merely overpowered with numbers), his quick return to the block-house was confidently expected by the inmates. But he had fallen a victim to the foe that lay concealed patiently awaiting the approach of some ill-fated person.

The two unsuspecting men had been allowed to follow the ambushed path as far as the second little ravine on land, now owned by William Miller. Here, from his concealment behind fallen timber, a savage fired upon Hupp, wounding him mortally; he, however, after he was shot, ran some sixty or seventy yards and sank to rise no more. Miller, being an elderly man, was boldly rushed upon by the merciless wretches, with loud and exultant yells, and tomahawked on the spot.

Flushed with success, the savages now left their hapless victims, scalped and pilfered of all clothing, to join in the beleaguerment of the block-house.

While this tragic scene was being enacted, the wild excitement and confusion among the women and children at the block-house, with no male defender but the old man Ault, can be better imagined than described.

But at this trying moment Providence panoplied a female hero with a courage sufficiently unfaltering for the dire emergency, in the person of Ann Hupp. Having now realized the dread forebodings of her vision, and shaking off the shackles of despondency, she now turned to calm the moral whirlwind that was raging amongst the frantic women and children--to inspire them with hope, and to rally the only and infirm male defender.

She in the mean time had deputized Frederick Miller, an active lad aged about eleven years, as messenger to Rice's fort for aid. But in this strategy she was foiled; for the lad had gone willingly and heroically only a few hundred yards down the peninsula on his dangerous embassy, when he was intercepted by the Indians. Retracing his steps, he was pursued by two savages with hideous yells and uplifted tomahawks. This frightful race for life was witnessed from the block-house with anxiety the most intense. Every moment it seemed as though the lad would certainly fall beneath the deadly stroke of one of the two bloodthirsty pursuers, each vying with the other which should strike the first and fatal blow.

A fence was to be scaled by the boy without a blunder, or death--certain, instant death--was his doom. Summoning all his boyhood and failing strength he leaped the barrier fence, touching it merely with his hand as the foremost Indian's tomahawk struck the rail, accompanied with a yell of disappointment, when both savages fired at him.

In his struggle to escape, his arm being flexed, one of the balls took effect, passing through his flexed arm both above the elbow and between that joint and the wrist, whirling him around several times.

Now subdued shrieks, commingled with joy and terror, were heard in the block-house as the female hero who sent out the boy ambassador received him in her arms as he bounded to the door exhausted from the race and loss of blood.

At this moment the Indians, leaping from their concealment, appeared in every direction around the block-house, and a hot and continuous firing commenced. The female band, with Ault as their counselor, in despair and anguish were forced to the conclusion that the block-house would now soon be taken by storm, or envelop them in its flames, and with no hope of a successful resistance were about to "give up."

Again, in this crisis of terrible trial, Ann Hupp proved equal to the emergency. Encouraging the trembling Ault and the weeping women with the consoling language of hope--nerving her arm and steeling her heart to the severe duties of the moment, she, with true Spartanism, snatching up a rifle fired at the approaching savages, and then "ran from porthole to porthole," protruding its muzzle in different directions--to convey the idea of great forces in the house--at each presentation causing the savages to cower behind trees or other objects for protection. This happily conceived and promptly executed strategy of this pioneer heroine, without doubt, saved the inmates from what was otherwise inevitable--an immediate and horrible death.

A number of Indians had taken shelter behind a stable that stood not far from the block-house, one of them would occasionally step out to view, holding up before himself as a shield a "clap-board," and then quickly retreat again to his shelter. He at length stepped out boldly into an open space, defiantly stretching his savage frame high in air, at which Ault was prevailed upon to fire; but palpable without doing any harm. This exasperated the savages, causing the assault to become still more terrible.

At this stage of the siege the women saw and recognized three of their men approaching in great haste from the direction of Rice's Fort, when they commenced screaming at the top of their voices, and beckoning the men in the direction they supposed to be the safest point to pass the Indians in gaining the block-house.

While the Indians stood in confusion and wonderment, not comprehending the meaning of the screams, the men rushed forward, passing very near to where some of the savages stood, and before the Indians sufficiently recovered from their surprise to fire upon them, they, with faces red and turgid from the race, bounded into the block-house unscathed.

The names of these three daring spirits, who thus periled their lives to save their helpless mother, brothers, and sisters from savage fury, or perish with them, were Jacob Rowe, Jacob Miller, Jr., and Philip Hupp. One of these, Jacob Rowe, being about ten years old, in the fall of 1776, when in company with his mother and three brothers, and his father, Adam Rowe, on their way to Kentucky, made a hair-breadth escape from the Indians at a point not far from the mouth of Grave Creek. Here the little caravan was attacked by a party of marauding savages, who killed Mrs. Rowe and her oldest son, and took captive Daniel, the youngest child, aged about seven years. Jacob escaped by running into a thicket of willows near at hand, when closely pursued by a large muscular Indian, who had his little brother Daniel a captive on his back, and this is the last account ever heard of the captive boy. After his escape Jacob, trembling with fear, traveled all the day stealthily through the wild and dense woods, along the deep and dark hollows and over the precipitous hills lying in his way, back to Buffalo, and when nightfall overtook him with all its hideousness, in the midst of the deep woods, he, overcome with fright, fatigue, and hunger, nestled himself down amongst the leaves at the root of a fallen tree for the night. (He died with a throat affection which doubtless was founded on that, to him, cold, dread, and dreary November night.) The next day he arrived at Buffalo and was received into the arms of his sister, Ann Hupp, to whom the weeping lad related the tragic scenes he had witnessed on the previous morning.

Adam Rowe and his son Adam also returned to the neighborhood and afterwards went to Kentucky; but Jacob remained with his sister, and was her survivor some three or four years.

After the arrival of these men in the block-house, the fury and boldness of the savages somewhat abated, and during the rest of the day the firing was less frequent and finally ceased.

Evidently filled with chagrin and disappointment, they skulked about the neighborhood till nightfall, and nothing more was heard of them, they, no doubt, fearing a reinforcement, left during the night, bearing away with only the scalps of Hupp and Miller. After the loss of her husband, Mrs. Hupp and her children, in accordance with her own wish, were taken by her brother-in-law, P. Hupp, to his cabin, near where the village of Millsborough now stands, where they remained four years, and again returned to Buffalo, where, subsequently, she married John May, whom she survived several years, and on the 23rd day of June, 1823, died in the sixty-sixth year of her age. Two of her children, John Hupp and Elizabeth Rodgers, still survive, and are living on Buffalo Creek, having seen the pioneer heroes and heroines of their youth one by one gathered to their fathers, they now stand the last of a race who learned from their lips those thrilling incidents of pioneer life.

The loss of these two men to the neighborhood was severely felt at a time when men were so much needed; but all hearts in that block-house were overflowing with thanks and gratitude to a kind and merciful Preserver for vouchsafing to them his aid and protection when their great and terror-filling peril was impending, and for saving them from the ruthless hands of the merciless savages.

About noon on Monday the men ventured out from the block-house, going sadly and cautiously in search of Hupp and Miller, with the purpose of performing for them the last sad rites of the dear departed. About three hundred yards from the block-house they found the body of Miller, lying near the bloody path, and following the traces of blood on the leaves and other objects over which Hupp had run, his body was promptly discovered.

Their mutilated and frozen bodies were borne to the peninsula and laid side by side a few yards from the block-house, in the same grave, with "puncheons" for their coffin, and to-day are lying clustered around the grave of these two pioneers the remains of Jacob Rowe, Jacob Miller, Jr. (Capt.), Frederick Miller, the heroine Ann Hupp, and her daughter Margaret Titus. When living, the cement and panoply of affection and goodwill bound them together at once in the tender natal, social, and moral ties of domestic kindness, friendship; and love, and the union for defense, and when dead they are not separated.

Frederick and Capt. Jacob were sons of the unfortunate Jacob Miller, Sr. Frederick died on the 27th day of March, 1814, aged fort-three years, and Captain Jacob Miller died August 20, 1830, aged nearly sixty-eight years.

Obediently and truly yours,

John C. Hupp, M. D.

Please direct any questions or,
comments to Peggy Hupp-Scrougham.
email icon


Return to Heroines Page.

home icon

Return to Notable Women Ancestors.

Dreamfires - Catch the Magic - Free
 Backgrounds and More!