Killing of Fanny Napper and Her Children

By Emory L. Hamilton

From the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, pages 52-53.

In a letter written from Metamora, Indiana, by Samuel Alley, to Dr. Lyman C. Draper, dated April 28, 1884, (1) he says:

My father's sister, Fanny Napper and her five (5) children were killed and scalped by Indians near Fort Blackmore. I was born in a few yards of the fort in 1801, and have just returned from a visit to my old birthplace. The ground where the fort stood was being cultivated. A large apple tree stands near the fort that my father set out. It is to this day called the "John Alley Apple Tree".

My aunt and family were killed, I think, in 1777. My father was born at Petersburg, VA, in 1760, and settled on Clinch when a young boy. Died on Piper Creek, Franklin Co., Indiana, in 1842, where I now live, aged 82 years.

Fanny Napper was a daughter of James Alley, Sr., who along with his brother Thomas Alley, Sr., were very early settlers on the Clinch River in the present Scott Co., VA. The writer has been unable to discover in the area any details of just how she and her five children were slain, but in the Shane Historical Collection (2) of the Draper Manuscripts is an interview with Jessee Graddy who tells of his trip from Virginia to Kentucky with his arrival at the Crab Orchard in Lincoln Co., KY, September 3, 1777. If Graddy is telling of the killing of Fanny Napper, which he undoubtedly is, although he mentions no names, then she and her children must have been slain in July or August of 1777, Graddy says:

The morning before we came to the ford of Clinch (Blackmore's Station was 10 miles beyond that) these murders were committed. A mother and four (4) children killed within eight of the fort. The husband was in the field, but escaped. A girl about half grown, and three little boys tomahawked and scalped, who were talking while their brains were boiling out. The grandmother asked them if they saw their little brother (this is perhaps the 5th child). What had become of him? Said they didn't know. These were Dutch people. (3)

We stayed a good part of the day. Their aunt sat on a stump in sight of the fort and cried all day. Went by Blackmore's Station next day and didn't see the smoke of a chimney after that until we got to Boonesboro. The pretty springs of water and the woods rendered Powell Valley exceedingly beautiful. I could have stopped very freely in it. A rock road all the way down and mountains to one side of us. Just before we got to the foot of Cumberland Mountain the company, three fourths of a mile ahead of us, had all their horses stolen. They could do nothing better than just turn their featherbeds loose. They could do nothing with them about their cattle. We never saw any Indians and were not interrupted. I was most afraid coming down Cumberland Mountain. The place was narrow and rocky. Stood up on either side not broader than a house. Woods more beautiful in Cumberland Valley than any other place.

(1) Draper Mss 5 C 70
(2) Draper Mss 13 CC 130
(3) In early days in this area it was very common to refer to people of German extraction as being Dutch. The word Napper, variantly spelled Napier or Nappier, is perhaps from the German. The name is still to be found in this area and the spelling usually takes the form of the latter two.



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