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Killing of Jessee Evansí Children

By Emory L. Hamilton

From the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, pages 77-78.

This story is taken from Pendletonís, History of Tazewell Co., VA. Pendleton seems to have lifted most of his Indian tales from Bickleyís, History of Tazewell Co., VA, published in 1856, and neither history can be relied on for accuracy of dates. It seems that both Bickley and Pendleton took their stories from oral sources and did not bother to try to verify dates from written records. Despite the fact that most Indian outrages were reported by the militia officers I have not been able to find a record to verify or deny the date of this killing. That it happened I think is true, but somehow it, like many others, was not reported to official sources. Bickley does seem to err in some statements, particularly in saying that Jessee Evans moved to Tennessee shortly after this happened, for I can trace him through the court records until at least 1790.

John and Jessee Evans, his son, emigrated from Amherst Co., VA, near Lynchburg, and settled in Tazewell Co. in 1773. John settled at the Locust bottom; Jessee about a mile from his fatherís place, and eight miles from the present seat of justice.

In the summer of 1779, Jessee Evans left his house with 6 or 8 hired men, to do some work at a distance from his home. Their guns were left home, as they carried various farm tools with them.

Mrs. Evans was weaving cloth and her oldest daughter was filling quills for her; while the four remaining children were at play outside, or in the garden.

The garden was some sixty yards from the house and the garden fence was made of slab-boards. These were some six feet high. Eight or ten Indians lay concealed in a thicket near the garden and silently removed some of the fence boards and bounded through and commenced killing and scalping the children. Hearing their screams Mrs. Evans ran to the door and saw what was happening. She knew she could do nothing to save the children, so she ran into the house and slammed the door. An Indian stuck his gun into a crack in the door to pry it open. Mrs. Evans grabbed the gun and held to it, drawing it as far inside as possible. The Indians tried to break open the door with their shoulders. Mrs. Evans started calling for her husband and thinking perhaps he might return the Indians left.

Armed with the gun she had taken from the Indians, Mrs. Evans and her daughter went to Major John Taylorís, a distance of two miles. In the meantime her husband returned, found the dead children and assumed that the wife and oldest child had been taken captive. He then started for Taylorís where he found his wife and daughter.

The men in the surrounding territory were informed of the happenings and next morning a party went with the parents to bury the children, found Mary, a child of four years, coming from the spring. She had recovered during the night from a blow of the tomahawk, and had wandered around until daylight and then gone to the spring to quench her thirst. Her scalp had been torn from her head and was hanging over her face. She recovered, grew up, and reared a large family.

This file contributed by: Rhonda Robertson

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