Capture of Ann and Mary Bush and Killing of William Dorton

By Emory L. Hamilton

From the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, pages 84-85.

James Fraley in his Revolutionary war pension statement filed in Floyd Co., KY, says:

In April, the date has escaped him, 1780, he enlisted for one year, in the County of Washington and State of Virginia, as an Indian Spy, under Col. Campbell, Capt. Snoddy and Lt. Cowan, to spy in the same section. Early in June the Indians made their appearance in his quarter of Washington county (later Russell Co.). They first stole many horses. In July they killed one Dorton and stole two girls, to-wit: Ann and Mary Bush, and made off for Canada. They succeeded in getting down on the waters of Sandy with them as far as Jenny's (1) Creek in Floyd County, about twelve miles from the courthouse. At that time there was not a single white person living in Floyd County (Ky). It was certainly an Indian country then. Our company came up to the Indians when they were in the act of skinning a buffalo they had just killed. Our men fired on the Indians and they retreated to the camp about 200 yards distant, and as they ran by they tomahawked Ann Bush. Mary jumped down the bank and escaped any violence. Ann Bush got over it (the tomahawking) and was afterwards tomahawked again and still survived.

Ann and Mary Bush were the daughters of James and Mary Bush of Castlewood, Russell Co., VA. Ann Bush married Henry Neece, and by him had the following children: James, Henry, Jane, Austin, Jacon and John. That she was dead before October 4, 1825, is evidenced by this order of the court of Russell Co. (2): "Ordered that it be certified to the Registrar of the Land Office, Mary Bush, devisee of James Bush, deceased, and Polly, James, Henry, Jane, Austin, Jacon and John, who are all the heirs at law of Ann Neece, deceased, devisee of the said James Bush, deceased, are entitled to the land mentioned in the last will (3) and testament of James Bush, deceased, which have been surveyed, but not patented in this county."

Mary, the other daughter of James Bush, who was captured by the Indians, was born in 1765, married a Mr. Turner, and was still living in Russell Co., VA, with her son, Hugh Turner in 1850 (4), at the age of 85 years.

The "one Dorton" whom James Fraley says the Indians killed, was probably old William Dorton, who built Dorton's Fort, about one mile southeast of Nickelsville, VA, in the present Scott Co., on what was later known as the Combs Farm.

The will (5) of William Dorton is recorded in Washington Co., VA, but the date of will or probation is not shown. He leaves his estate to his wife Elizabeth, and his children, William, Moses, Edward, and Sally. One the 17th of June, 1783, the will of William Dorton was produced in court and proved by the oaths of John Damron and William Dorton, Jr., and ordered to be recorded. That William Dorton was dead prior to 1782 is proven by the fact that his widow Elizabeth Dorton only appears on the 1782 tithable list of Washington Co.

William Dorton, Jr, was one of the party who went in search of the Indians led by the half-breed Benge when they murdered and captured the Livingston family, the last raid on the Virginia frontier in 1794.

(1) So named because Jenny Wiley crossed this creek after her escape from the Indians in 1790.
(2) Russell Co., VA, Court Order Book B
(3) Russell Co., VA, Will Book 1, page 41, dated June 20, 1801. Probated August 2, 1808.
(4) 1850 Census of Russell Co., VA.
(5) Washington Co., VA Will Book 1, page 40.



This file contributed by: Rhonda Robertson


Note, 16 Aug 2002: New information has come to light that proves that the "one Dorton" who was killed was not old William Dorton, but rather a son of William Dorton, and brother of Edward Dorton. This is proven in the Revolutionary Pension application statement of Edward Dorton in 1833 in Floyd Co., KY. There is a conflict in the dates between James Fraley's statement and Edward Dorton's statment, however, Edward Dorton stated that Michael Auxier, a Litton (This was Burton Litton) and William Priest were also killed. The administration of Burton Litton's estate was granted to his wife Elizabeth on 17 Aug 1779 which is prior to the date given by James Fraley. Isaac Crabtree in his Revolutionary pension statement gives the date of these killings as about the last of May 1778. Here is a copy of the pension statement of Edward Dorton:

Revolutionary War pension record from National Archives

Edward Dorton

State of Kentucky

Floyd County

On the 12th day of December 1833, personally appears before the distingushed Justice of the Peace for the county aforesaid now sitting, Edward Dorton a resident of Kentucky in the county of Floyd, aged eighty two years: who being first duly sworn according to the law doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress passed June 7, 1832; that he entered in the service of the United States under the following named officers and served as herein atated; that in the spring of 1776 the Indians became troublesome in the western part of Virginia so much so that it prevented a band of immigrants from proceeding to Kentucky. Said applicant was then residing in Washington County, Virginia and on the waters of Powell's River in Powell's Valley. Col. William Campbell the Col. of the county ordered that a volunteer company should be raised to supress the Indians: which company this applicant states he enlisted in as a volunteer for "six months" in the month of March 1776, the day of the month not recollected.

Under Capt. Bickley and Lieutenant Cowan, Ensign Robinson the company immediatley commenced their march down Powell's Valley to "Cumberland Gap" and there we were fired upon by the Indians. The firing was continued warnly by both sides for some time and the Indians gave way and fled. From their painted appearance we apprehended a more formidable band against us and accordingly retreated in all possibe speed to the stellements and ascertained that the Indians we fought was the Cherokees. We remained but a short time and being joined by more volunteers we again marched to the frontier. We got back on the last of July 1776. HAving been back but a short time we was attacked near Cumberland Mountain by about forty Indians. We outnumbered them a few. The fighting commenced first by the Indians who lay concealed behind old logs and rocks. The skirmish lasted for three hours in which a few Indians were killed. Our company lost several--Dickenson, Humphery, and Solomon Kendrick. We remained here till August (the last part) and went back to the settlement all broke up and forted as they had done for six years before. We guarded the fort till late in November. We all recieved discharges certifying our service.

On the first day of April next year 1777 the Indians again returned to Clinch and Powell's Valley and commenced murdering and plundering the settlements in that region. A volunteer company was raised by Capt. John Snoddy and Lieutenant Robinson (my ensign the year before) this pursant to Col. Campbell's orders, who was our Col., I volunteered for six months again. The fort was useless unless a force was kept in the field against the Indians, the settlements had no security. Col. Campbell did not accompany us but gave us his orders.

About this time the Tories in North Carolina continued their operations and they were aided by a few from the South Fork of the Holston who frequently stole horses belonging to the Whigs and carried them to the Tories in Carolina. Our company marched down to the mouth of the North Fork of the Holston and took a western direction for Powell Valley on the frontiers. Here we remained scouting till August 1777, when we was attacked by a band of hostile Indians at day break. After an hour skirmish and running fight we was forced to retreat. The brother of this applicant was killed and skelpt by the Indians, also a man by the name Michael Auxier and another by the name of Litton and one William Priest was killed and several wounded. The Cherokee Indians was assembling in large numbers down Holston to commence war. They had painted themselves and had the war dance and for fear of being cut off we retreated to the settlements.

Cocke of Carolina and Christy of Virginia marched to beat down the Cherokees. The Indians formed a plan to fall on the settlements on the Clinch and Gen. Christy sent one Martin to inform the fort of it. We all broke up and went to Abingdon. Not long after this Christy made peace with the Indians at the Long Islands which according to the applicants recollection in June 1777.

He wishes to be understood that he cannot be positive as to dates but knows it was sometime before Col. Campbell went to Carolina when the applicant and his brother went with him. He then received his discharge from duty for his "six months". In the spring of 1778 the Shawnee Indians from over the Ohio broke out in the Clinch settlements in March 1778. The applicant enlisted for one year to scout and spy under Capt. Lewis and Lieutenant Hawkins. This was the manner in which the company was engaged. Col. Campbell states he was authorized to run the company for the purpose and that each man should recieve pay. The company divided in two's and four's and we ranged and spied all that summer and winter and until April 1779.

We crossed frequently behind Cumberland Mountain down on the Kentucky and Big Sandy Rivers. They would generally leave the country for Kentucky or thier nation in November to hunt and return early in the spring.

This applicant served out his time and applied for his pay and Governor Patrick Henry stated that the state was not bound to pay; this applicant never got his pay. In July 1780 the day of the month not recollected this applicant and one of his brothers was prevailed on by Col. Campbell to accompany him against the Tories and British in the Carolinas and they did so and enlisted as new volunteers for no certain time. Something prevented us from starting immediately.

Col. Campbell got word from Col. Cleveland that the Tories had fled from the Haw River and many from PeeDee and they had joined Ferguson (Major or Col.). We started from Abingdon all on horses and our Capt. was by the name of Looney. He thinks Col. Campbell's brother was a Capt. also. We crossed the Catawba high up in Burk's County, N.C. and came up with the British at a place called King's Mountain. Campbell was joined by Col. Cleveland and Major Shelby and Col. Sevier. There was a Frenchman there also by the name of Malmaday (this applicant thinks he was a Major) and Gen. McDowell were all on horses. When we got within one mile of the mountain we all hitched our horses and left them in care of some militia companies.

The whole of us was divided; part of Campbell's men fell under Cleveland and one Sevier and Wilson. This applicant was one of them and marched up. They were on the side of the mountain. The firing commenced on the right wing (commanded by Campbell) and Shebly on the left, Cleveland in the center. The British with bayonets charged upon Cleveland's men and forced us to give back, but we all took turns. The battle lasted for some time and we made them all prisoners. The troops, or part, went over to Charlotte and we took some of the prisoners along. Gates' army was at Charlotte. From there we went to Hillsboro, N.C. and remained there but a few days and again went back to Charlotte where we all ------. Gen. Greene took command, this was in December 1780 or 1781.

In January I hired my horse to the Government of N.C. and belonged then to the light infantry. Our whole army went to Cheraw Hills, after the battle of the Cowpens we all retreated to Virginia. In February or March we gave the enemy battle at Guilford where we was defeated. A few days after this I left the service and returned home. I knew many officers during the service, to wit: Col. Washington, Capt. Charles Y. Wilson, Gen. Gates, Gen. Huger, Gen. Davis and Col. Davidson, Maj. Malmady, Col. Sevier, Maj. Shelby, Col. Wilson, Capt. Thomas H. Davis, and Lieutenant Hinner, Col. Hogan, Gen. Rutherford and many others. I have no documentary evidence in my favor. I received three discharges, the last time I did not receive a discharge but a recommendation. I do not know what has become of them. The fact was I cared nothing about them for it has been more than fifty years since. He hereby relinquishes his every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present one. He declares his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any state: Sworn and subscribed the day and date aforesaid:

Edward Darten



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