Capture and Rescue of the Ingles Family and Killing of Captain Thomas Maxwell

By Emory L. Hamilton

From the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, pages 93-98.

In Tazewell Co., VA, lies Burke's Garden, one of the most beautiful valleys in all of Southwest Virginia. The valley is a bowl 10 miles long by 5 miles wide, snuggled down between beautiful mountains on all sides, with a narrow outlet at one end. This was perhaps the earliest site of a settlement in Tazewell Co., with the Ingles brothers and son building a cabin there in 1749, (1) although they did not make a settlement at this date, only a cabin. The Ingles and Patton families claimed all of Burke's Garden, and after the death of Col. James Patton, his grandson James Thompson seems to have taken over and most of the land eventually came into possession of James Thompson and Dr. Thomas Walker. In 1760 it was known as "Ingles Craborchard." (2) Kegley, in his "Virginia Frontier," (2), says:

Thomas, John and William Ingles of Ingles Mill Creek of the North Fork Roanoke, were among the most interesting of the early settlers. Thomas and John were brothers, William and Matthew, (3) sons of Thomas. Thomas Ingles a grandson of William says, "My great grandfather, Thomas Ingles, was a merchant of Dublin, Ireland, who, upon suspicion of entertaining liberal principles and engaging in a rebellion him and his two sons were sent as convicts to Wales from whence they made their escape to the United States, my grandfather William Ingles being one of the number, they came first to Pennsylvania and from there to this country. (Letter of Thomas Ingles of Lovely Mount, Montgomery Co., 1851). They were here as early as 1746 and were well established when Dr. (Thomas) Walker visited them in 1750. Thomas and his brother John entered land on the waters of New River and Clinch and William as heir to both, came into possession of it. John was killed at Vause's Fort and his wife, Mary, was carried into captivity. When this Mary Ingles returned she married John Miller and went to Carolina. William Ingles came to the Roanoke with his father and Uncle John before 1746. William in 1750 married Mary Draper, but he continued to live on the Roanoke until after 1753, when he purchased land at Draper's Meadows from Col. Patton. He was on the waters of New River in 1754 and 1755.

A neighbor of Ingles, on the Roanoke River, James Burke sold his property there in 1753 and moved to Burkes Garden and lived there until the Indians saw fit to run him out. From Burkes Garden James Burke migrated to Cumberland Co., NC, and in 1760 he and his wife Lucretia, conveyed the remainder of the original Burke land on the Roanoke to Dr. Walker. This is the reason for calling the place Burke's Garden as James Burke seems to have been the first to actually make a settlement in the valley.

At the Draper's Meadows massacre of July 30, 1755, the wife of William Ingles, Mary Draper Ingles, and her small son Thomas, then four years old, were taken captive by the Indians. Mrs. Ingles made her escape, and the details of which has become the classic Indian story of Southwest Virginia. Her son, Thomas, was held captive until ransomed by his father in 1768. He had spent thirteen years with the Indians, had grown to young manhood, spoke their language fluently, and had adopted Indian ways altogether. It is said that upon return he was very unhappy away from his Indian friends, and had much difficulty in readopting to civilized life. He was finally sent to Albemarle Co. By his father and while there married.

William Ingles continued to live on in the area until his death in 1782, leaving at least five children (4), who were: Susannah who married Abraham Trigg; Rhoda who married Byrd Smith; Mary who married John Gills, and Thomas and John Ingles. (5)

Thomas Ingles eventually settled in Burke's Garden on the land he had inherited from his father. He was Commissary for the troops on the Point Pleasant expedition and his feelings were very strong for the Indians.

On the 5th of April, 1782, the Shawnee, under the leadership of Black Wolf made a raid upon Burkes Garden and captured the family of Thomas Ingles.

Pendleton, History of Tazewell County, (6) gives the following:

The Indians had concealed themselves until Ingles went out on his farm to work, and then surrounded his home; and made his wife, their three children and a Negro man and woman prisoner. After taking as much booty as they could carry the Indians started with their prisoners back to Ohio. The cries of the captives attracted the attention of Thomas Ingles and his Negro man while they were plowing in a field.

Seeing the number of Indians, Ingles knew he could do nothing for his family. He and the Negro man, unhitched the horses from the plow and started to the nearest settlement for assistance. Knowing the Indians would make their way back to the head of the Clinch, Ingles crossed the mountains to the nearest settlement on the North Fork of the Holston.. It happened to be Muster Day for the Washington Co. militia and the settlers on the North Fork of the Holston River had assembled, and were being drilled by Captain Thomas Maxwell, who had formerly lived at the head of Bluestone, in Tazewell Co. Maxwell with a party of fifteen or twenty volunteers, went with Ingle's to Burke's Garden to pursue the Indians. (7)

Joseph Hicks (Hix) (8), a single man and his Negro slave were the only other people who lived in Burke's Garden besides the Thomas Ingles family. The day the Indians attacked the Ingles family Hicks and his Negro man were on their way to the home of Ingles and saw the Indians with their captives. He and the Negro man immediately started across Brushy Mountain for help in Bland County. There they secured six or seven men and arrived back in Burke's Garden about the same time Maxwell and his party arrived. The two parties united under Maxwell and went in pursuit of the Indians.

On the fifth day after the capture the advance scouts discovered the Indians, who were camped for the night in a gap of Tug Mountain. It was agreed that Maxwell should take half of the men, and during the night, get in front of the Indians, and Thomas Ingles should remain with the other half in the rear of the Indians, and at daybreak a simultaneous attack should take place. The night was very dark and the ground rough and brushy. Consequently the party with Maxwell lost their way and did not reach the front by daylight.

Maxwell having failed to get to his appointed place on time, and the Indians beginning to rouse from their slumbers, Ingles determined to make an attack with his men. Dr. Thomas Hale, who was a great-grandson of William and Mary Ingles and who collected his information from the records of the Ingles family thus relates what transpired after the attack was made: 'So soon as a shot was fired, some of the Indians began to tomahawk the prisoners, while others fought and fled. Thomas Ingles rushed in and seized his wife just as she received a terrible blow on the head with a tomahawk. She fell covering the infant of a few months old, which she held in her arms. The Indians had no time to devote to it. They tomahawked his little five year old daughter, named Mary, and his three year old son, named William. His Negro servants, a man and woman, captured with his family, escaped without injury.

Dr. Thomas Hale, in his "Trans Alleghany Pioneers," says that "shortly after this occurrence that Thomas Ingles, his wife, and infant daughter, moved to Tennessee and settled in succession on the Watauga River at Mossy Creek, and at Fort Knox, now Knoxville. There his daughter, Rhoda, who escaped death, grew up and married Patrick Campbell. Subsequent to the marriage of his daughter, Thomas Ingles moved to Mississippi, where he lived until he died.

After tomahawking the Ingles children in making their escape the Indians ran close to Captain Maxwell and his party, and, firing on them, killed Captain Maxwell, (9) who was conspicious from wearing a white hunting shirt.

The whites remained on the ground until late in the evening burying Captain Maxwell, who was killed outright, and Thomas Ingle's little son, who died from his wounds during the day. Mrs. Ingles and the little girl were still alive, although badly wounded. Four days after the party arrived at William Wynn's Fort at Locust Hill.

On April 26, 1782, Col. William Preston, wrote Governor Harrison (10), a letter wherein he states: Enclosing a letter to himself from Col. Walter Crockett, dated April 15, 1782, giving account of the killing of Captain Moffet's sons, and the whole family of Captain Ingles in Burke's Garden, - also of his having ordered Col. Cloyd to call out the militia to assemble at "David Doack's Mill", to protect the settlements, as the people talk of "breaking up" unless help is afforded them. He calls also for provisions as they cannot be supplied on Clinch. Col. Preston adds, "I wrote to your Excellency the 10th instant informing you of the damages the savages had done in Montgomery. I last night received the enclosed letter from Colonel Crockett. It appears that Captain ingles family were not burned in the house, as he imagined, but were taken prisoners. He raised a party of men and pursued the enemy; after some days march he overtook them and recovered his wife and one child, both tomahawked, but perhaps not mortally, and his slaves. One of his children they murdered, killed an officer of the party, and made their escape. The enemy attacked some other families, but were repulsed though, I believe without loss. They killed a man on Bluestone, and I am told a woman at Culbertson's Bottom on New River. Their signs have been seen in various parts of the country, which has given the greatest alarm to the inhabitants; and what is extraordinary that five houses they attacked, that four belonged to officers, and some of them a considerable distance within the frontier settlements, which induces me to believe they are conducted by Tories. I am at a loss what measures to fall upon for the defense of the distressed inhabitants.

(1) Statement of Matthias Harman in 1809, Maxwell vs Pickens, Augusta Court Causes Ended, O. S. 129; N. S. 45. Bill 1807.
(2) Kegley, Virginia Frontier, pages 194-195.
(3) Matthew was a seaman and died unmarried at sea. Statement of Samuel Wilson (born 23 February 1733) Augusta Court Causes Ended, Thompson vs. Ingles, O. S. 46; N. S. 16. Wilson married Rebecca, daughter of James Burke.
(4) Statement William Wynn, Augusta Court Causes Ended, Wynn vs Inglish's heirs, O. S. 48; N. S. 16.
(5) Perhaps the same John English who settled in 1772 on Sugar Hill in Wise Co., near St. Paul, VA, and whose family was murdered there in 1787 by Indians. The name is variantly spelled, Ingles, Inglis, Inglish and English. See story of John English's family in this volume.
(6) Pendleton, History of Tazewell Co., VA, page 443.
(7) David E. Johnson, History of Middle New River Settlements, page 146, says that Henry Harman was of this party also.
(8) Joseph Hix was still in Tazewell Co., in 1809, when he made a deposition in the case, Maxwell vs Pickens, Augusta Court Causes Ended, O. S. 129; N. S. 45. Bill Filed 1807.
(9) Killed on Tug River at a place still called Maxwell's Gap.
(10) Calendar Virginia State Papers, Vol. III, page 139.



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