Captain John Dunkin, Solomon Litton and His Wife Taken Out of Elk Garden by the Indians

By Emory L. Hamilton

From the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, pages 63-65.

Solomon Litton, who was a brother of Burton Litton killed at Glade Hollow Fort, his wife Martha Sharpe Litton and Captain John Dunkin were taken from Elk Garden by the Indians, transported to Canada (Detroit), where they were held until the end of the Revolutionary War. The details of how they were captured and whether there were other people taken at the same time the records do not show. The date that Solomon Litton settled in Elk Garden is unknown, but it must have been quite early. He served under Captain Daniel Smith as a militia soldier from August 29 to November 6, 1774, guarding the Glade Hollow Fort. (1) The Washington Co., VA, Court recommended him for an Ensign of the militia for that county February 25, 1777, and for a Lieutenant on August 19, 1778. The earliest court record found pertaining to him is in Botetourt Co., VA, where he sells personal property to William Carvin on March 5, 1770. (2) It may have been about this date that he left the Tinkers Creek section of Botetourt, where he supposedly lived, before he came to the Elk Garden section.

At a court held for Washington Co., VA, March 20, 1781, this interesting order was recorded: "On motion of James Litton (3) and John Laughlin (4) and by consent of the court they are appointed Guardians of the estates of Captain John Dunkin and Solomon Litton, prisoners of the enemy in Canada, and to use all legal methods for saving and securing the said estates, whereupon they together with William Davison and John Vance entered into and acknowledged their bonds for eight thousand pounds for the faithful performance of the same."

R. M. Addington, History of Scott County, Virginia, page 391, says:

In 1778 while the Revolutionary War was raging and the American patriots were being assailed by the British soldiers on the one hand and the Indians on the other. Litton, his wife, and two daughters were captured by the Indians and carried to Quebec, at which place they were held until the close of the war, when they were exchanged. Elizabeth Litton, one of the captured girls, became the wife of Joseph Shoemaker, both of whom died in Lafayette County, Missouri.

In the above paragraph, Mr. Addington had been misinformed on the daughters of Solomon Litton being captured, as will be shown by the birth dates listed below, taken from the family Bible of Solomon Litton, which in 1947 was in the possession of Miss Pauline Pyle, of Lebanon, Russell Co., VA.

Solomon Litton was born December 22, 1751. Died 1844. On May 24, 1774 he married Martha Dunkin, sister of Captain John Dunkin, who was born September 27, 1756. Their children were: John, born November 11, 1775; Thomas, born September 27, 1777; Burton, born April 2, 1780; Solomon, Jr., born August 28, 1783; Elizabeth, born March 1, 1785; Hiram, born March 29, 1787; James, born August 18, 1789; Mary, born April 21, 1792; Alexander, born November 8, 1795; Caleb, born March 2, 1797; and Jenny, born February 20, 1801.

In the 1850 census of Russell Co., VA, Solomon Litton, Jr. is shown as having been born in Detroit, in 1783, while his parents were being held by the British, but some members of the family deny this saying the church records at Elk Garden show him as having been born at "Litton Hill" in Elk Garden, upon which the church stands. (5) If Solomon Litton was captured in 1778, as Mr. Addington states, then, if any children were taken it could only have been the sons, John and Thomas. Also if he remained a prisoner of the British until Solomon, Jr., was born in 1783, then certainly Burton, who was born in 1780 must have also been born in Detroit, also.

Captain John Dunkin, at the time of the capture, also lived in the Elk Garden section of Russell Co., VA. He served at the Glade Hollow Fort from the 29th of August to the 6th of November, 1774, as a Sergeant, (6) under Ensign Henley Moore. He was appointed a Captain of Militia by the Washington Co., VA, court no February 26, 1777. In this year he led a company of militia into Powell Valley to guard the settlers in bringing in their personal property after the valley had been evacuated because of Indian depredations. Dunkin eventually moved out of the Elk Garden section to Spring Creek, just outside Abingdon, VA, where he died in 1817. (7)

John Dunkin had two daughters named Sally and Peggy who married brothers of the name Laughlin. Since both the Littons and Duncans had married into the Laughlin family there was close relationships between the three families. Old James Laughlin of Elk Garden had daughters, Ann Dunkin and Polly Porter.

John Dunkin was appointed to the Washington Co., VA, court July 23, 1777, took the oath of office on November 25, 1777, and served on the bench until November 18, 1778. The last reference I find pertaining to him is on April 21, 1779, when William pitman was recommended for a Lieutenant of militia in John Dunkin's company. It may be that Pitman was appointed to the company after Dunkin had been captured by the Indians, as it appears Duncan and Litton were captured in 1778, although I have not found a definite date for their capture.

(1) Draper Mss 6 XX 106
(2) Botetourt Co., Deed Book 1, page 83
(3) Father of Solomon Litton
(4) Married Solomon Litton's sister, Elizabeth
(5) Letter to Mr. Canie B. Litton, Virginia Beach, VA, dated December 10, 1965.
(6) Draper Mss 6 XX 106
(7) Draper Mss 1 XX 13



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