The Henry Family of Tazewell County Massacred

By Emory L. Hamilton

From the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, pages 7-8.

On the morning of September 8, 1774, John Henry's family which consisted of a wife and three children were slain by the Shawnee Indians.

The Henry family lived in Thompson's Valley on the south side of Rich Mountain, a short distance east of Plum Tree Gap, where they had settled in 1771. The details of the massacre are best told in a letter written by Lieutenant Arthur Campbell to Col. William Preston, dated 9 September 1774. (1)

Sir, - Yesterday morning early, one John Henry was dangerously wounded upon Clinch, about four miles from Captain (Daniel) Smith's Station, and it is supposed his wife and three small children are taken prisoners. Henry was standing in his door when the Indians fired at him, his wife and children were in bed. He immediately ran to the woods and shortly after, accidentally met with old John Hamilton who concealed him in a thicket until he could go and alarm the fort and bring him assistance. Hamilton had the courage to go by Henry's house, but saw nothing either of the Indians, or the woman and children. Afterward he took (met?) one Bradshaws on his way, who just before he came, was alarmed by some Indian signs in his cornfield. Bradshaws immediately set out for the settlement through the woods. After he came about three miles past the place where the mischief had been done in the morning, he came upon a place where about twelve or fifteen Indians had breakfasted; they leaving behind them some of their provisions. Afterwards he followed the track a small distance and found they escaped to steer their course toward this river. (Holston). He then made the best of his way toward the settlement in Rich Valley, which he alarmed last night and this morning, the principal part of which is just now arrived here in a distressed situation. I have sent out orders to this, add the two next companies on Holston, for all the men that have arms and ammunition to assemble tomorrow in order to patrol a few days in the Rich Valley, and some of the best hands (men) to go over and see what has become of Captain Smith, as he is very weak at his own Station, having only eight men, the last account, notwithstanding repeated orders and requests there has not gone out a man of Doack's or Herbert's (2) companies to join him.

William Doack writing from Black Lick, on September 22, 1774, to Col. William Preston, at Smithfield, states: (3)

Sir, - Thursday night 8th of this ultimo information that hostilities had been committed that morning by some Indians on the head of Clinch, without delay gathered 17 men and went to the place where the damage was done. Using our utmost endeavors to make discoveries which way they had gone from that place, but in vain. John Henry is dangerously wounded, his wife and three small children captivated.

Both William Doak and "old" John Hamilton were mistaken in saying that the wife and children of Henry had been captured and in some way, overlooked them, for they had been killed, scalped and piled up a short distance from the house, where they were later discovered. John Henry did not long survive his wounds.

On the 30th of September, 1777, John Hamilton was granted administration on Henry's estate, with William and Rees Bowen, the latter killed at King's Mountain, and David Ward, Rees Bowen's son-in-law, as securities. (4)

(1) Draper Mss 3 QQ 94
(2) William Herbert, of Herbert's Ferry, Wythe Co. who died in 1776.
(3) Draper Mss 3 QQ 101
(4) Court Order, Washington Co., VA



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