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Killing of the Starnes Brothers and Michael Moyer

By Emory L. Hamilton

From the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities on the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, pages 75-76.

In his pension statement (1), Joseph Starnes, of Burke Co., NC, says he was born in November, 1755, on Smith’s River, but could not say whether in Virginia or North Carolina. Smith’s River is the river that runs through Martinsville, VA. He further states:

I was once in a company of four in the year 1779, April 7th, over on a water course in Virginia, back of the settlements towards Boonesborough, where we were fired upon by about 25 or 30 Indians, and my father, (Joseph Starnes, Sr.) my Uncle Frederick Starnes, and brother-in-law, Michael Moyer were shot and I made my escape, although they saw me for upwards of a mile and kept firing on me, but I made my escape in the cane and undergrowth.

If they were hunting, as Joseph Starnes states, "on a water course back of the settlements towards Boonesborough", then the Starnes brothers and Michael Moyer were most likely killed in the present Wise County. In 1779 the settlements lay along the Clinch River and Wise County would be directly back of them, although the possibility of Lee County cannot be ruled out, as Powell Valley was a great hunting area in early days, however, it would not have been back of the settlements, although it did lie toward Boonesborough.

The Starnes brothers were very early settlers on the New River and Holston River, with perhaps the first record of their settlement being in the Augusta Co. Survey Book, which says, "a survey of 500 acres on the west side of Woods River (New river) known by the name of ‘the old Starnes place", dated 30th of October, 1746. Frederick Starnes was living on the Holston when he administered the estate of Jacob Goldman (site of V. P. I.) which was probated May 28, 1757.

Mary Goldman, widow of Jacob, may have been a sister to Frederick Starnes, others think her to have been a sister of Humphrey Baker, who with Annie, his wife, live din the bounds of present day Washington Co., VA, before 1754. Others contend that Mary Starnes was a daughter of Jacob Goldman, and that Annie, wife of Humphrey Baker, was born a Goldman.

The Carlock family also come in for a strong connection with the Starnes, Goldman and Baker families, for in 1811, Conrad Carlock leaves his property to "his sister’s two sons, Adam and Samuel Starnes," and there is little doubt that Conrad Goldman and Conrad Carlock were named for the same common ancestor. (2)

The will of Frederick Starnes was proven in Washington Co., VA, on May 18, 1779. Witness to the will was Francis Byrd and Jessee Bounds, both of whom lived in present day Scott Co., VA. Appraisers of the estate were Elisha Dungins, Robert Reaugh, Conrad Hennigar and Jessee Bounds, with the widow, Mary Starnes as Executrix. Children mentioned in the will are sons, Jacob and David Starnes.

At a court held for Washington Co., VA, on May 18, 1779, Katherine Starnes was granted administration on the estate of Joseph Starnes, deceased, with Jessee Bounds, William Bates, William Russell, Jr., and George Bader as appraisers of the estate.

As further proof that the Starnes were early settlers on the Holston can be found in a court held for Botetourt Co., VA, on the 14th of February, 1770, where Frederick Stern is appointed Constable for that precinct upon Holston where he lives.

Joseph, Jr., and Peter Starnes were at the battle of Kings Mountain in the Company commanded by Capt. William Neal and Lt. William Russell, Jr., the latter a son of Gen. William Russell.

(1) Pension Statement S-6700, National Archives
(2) Courtesy of Gordon Aronhime, Bristol, VA

This file contributed by: Rhonda Robertson

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