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Captain James Maxwell’s Two Daughters Killed

By Emory L. Hamilton

From the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, pages 109-110.

In 1772, James Maxwell and Samuel Walker went from Botetourt Co., to what is now Wright’s Valley, Tazewell Co. in search of land. Maxwell, in 1807, made an affidavit in the Superior Court of Augusta Co., (1) wherein he stated that he found a tract of land with some improvements on it, rails split, trees deadened and foundation of a cabin and that night they fell in with some hunters, and Uriah Stone, (one of the Long Hunters) who claimed the improvement sold the same to Maxwell. In that same year Maxwell moved his family to the land.

In the spring of 1782, perhaps in March, two of the daughters of Captain Maxwell were killed and scalped by the Indians. In the same court suit referred to above Henry Marrs states:

About three weeks after the murder of Maxwell’s daughters, two of Robert Moffett’s sons were taken prisoner by the Indians. The two sons of Captain Robert Moffett were captured on April 5, 1782, thus according to Marr’s statement they (Maxwell’s daughters) were killed sometime in the latter part of March, 1782.

In a letter written by Col. William Preston to Governor Harrison, dated April 10, 1782 (2), he writes:

...They (the Indians) have this spring killed and scalped two girls, the daughters of Captain James Maxwell, on the head of Clinch, and at the same time took 9 prisoners; and I was well informed yesterday, that about 8 days ago, two children of Captain Robert Moffett’s were taken in the same neighborhood.

The 9 prisoners referred to by Col. Preston were the wife and 3 children and 2 Negro slaves belonging to Thomas Ingles, the 2 sons of Captain Moffett, but who the 9th was I have not been able to determine.

Captain James Maxwell had settled on Bluestone Creek when he moved his family from Botetrout Co. in 1772, and was living here when his two daughters, whose names are unknown, were killed and scalped by the Indians. The family moved from the area in 1784. The details of how the girls were killed, and what their ages were are also unknown.

James Maxwell had been appointed a Lieutenant of Militia by the Court of Washington County, on February 26, 1777, and a Captain on August 4, 1778 by the court of Montgomery Co.. He is said to have moved from the exposed frontier of Bluestone in the year 1784, probably to a more interior settlement, because of the tragedy that happened to his children. He was a brother of Captain Thomas Maxwell, who was killed by the Indians in his pursuit of the Indians who had captured Thomas Ingles’ family in 1782.

(1) Augusta Court Causes Ended, Maxwell vs Pickens.
(2) Calender Virginia State Papers, Vol. III, page 126.

This file contributed by: Rhonda Robertson

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