Capture of James Moore, Jr., in Abbs Valley

By Emory L. Hamilton

From the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, pages 125-128.

Pendleton, History of Tazewell County, Virginia, page 447, gives this account of the capture of young James Moore, Jr., son of Captain James Moore, of Abbs Valley in Tazewell County, Virginia.

In September, 1784, James (1), the 18 year old son of Captain James Moore, was captured by Black Wolf, his son, and another Indian. He was captured when he went to a distant pasture to get a horse to go to mill. He was carried to Ohio and escaped after 5 years and three years after the massacre of his family. (2) In 1785 he was so fortunate as to get away from the Indians, and several years after his return he related the following incidents in connection with his captivity.

"When we returned from hunting in the spring, the old man (Indian) gave me up to Captain Elliott, a trader from Detroit. By my mistress, (Black Wolf’s sister) on hearing this, became very angry, threatened Elliott, and got me back. Sometime in April (1785) there was a dance at a town about two miles from where I resided. This I attended, in company with the Indian to whom I belonged. Meeting with a French trader from Detroit, by the name of Batest Ariome (probably a misspelling), who took a fancy to me on account of my resemblance to one of his sons, he bought me for fifty dollars in Indian money. Before leaving the dance, I met with a Mr. Sherlock, a trader from Kentucky, who had formerly been a prisoner with the same tribe of Indians, who had rescued a lad by the name of Moffett, (3) who had been captured at the head of Clinch, and whose father was an intimate and particular friend of my father. I requested Mr. Sherlock to write to my father, through Mr. Moffett, informing him of my captivity, and that I had been purchased by a French trader, and was gone to Detroit. This letter, I have reason to believe, father received, and that it gave him the first information of what had become of me.

Mr. and Mrs. Ariome were parents to me indeed. They treated me like one of their own sons. I ate at their table, and slept with their sons, in a good feather bed. They always gave me good counsel, and advised me (particularly Mrs. Ariome) not to abandon the idea of returning to my friends. I worked on the farm with his sons, and occasionally assisted him in his trading expeditions. We traded at different places, and sometimes went a considerable distance in the country.

On one of these occasions, four young Indians began to boast of their bravery and among other things, said that one Indian could whip four white men. This provoked me, an I told them that I could whip all four of them. They immediately attacked me, but Mr. Ariome, hearing the noise, came and took me away. This I considered a kind providence; for the Indians are very unskilled in boxing and in this manner of fighting, I could easily have whipped all of them; but when they began to find themselves worsted, I expected them to attack me with clubs, or some other weapon, and if so, had laid my plans to kill them all with a knife, which I had concealed in my belt, mount a fleet horse, which was close at hand, and escape to Detroit.

It was on one of these trading expeditions, that I first heard of the destruction of my father’s family. This I learned through a Shawnee Indian, with whom I become acquainted when I lived with them, and who was one of the party on that occasion. I received this information sometime in the summer after it occurred (July 14, 1786). In the following winter, I learned that my sister Polly had been purchased by a Mr. Stagwell, an American by birth, but unfriendly to the American cause. He was a man of bad character - an unfeeling wretch - and treated my sister with great unkindness. At the time he resided a considerable distance from me. When I heard of my sister, I immediately prepared to go and see her; but as it was then in the dead of winter, and the journey would have been attended with great difficulties, on being told by Mr. Stagwell that he intended to move to the neighborhood where I resided in the following spring, I declined it. When I heard that Mr. Stagwell had moved, as was contemplated, I immediately went to see her. I found her in the most abject condition, almost naked, being clothed only with a few dirty and tattered rags, exhibiting to my mind, an object of pity indeed. It is impossible to describe my feelings on the occasion; sorrow and joy were both combined; and I have no doubt the feelings of my sister were similar to my own. On being advised, I applied to the Commanding Officer at Detroit, informing him of her treatment, with the hope of effecting her release. I went to Mr. Simon Girty, and to Colonel McKee, the Superintendent of the Indians, who had Mr. Stagwell brought to trial to answer to the complaint against him. But I failed to procure her release. It was decided, however, when an opportunity should occur for our returning to our friends, she should be released without remuneration. This was punctually performed, on application of Mr. Thomas Evans, who had come in search of his sister Martha (Evans), already alluded to, who had been purchased from the Indians by some family in the neighborhood; and was, at that time, with a Mr. Donaldson, a worthy and wealthy English farmer, and working for herself.

All being now at liberty, we made preparations for our journey to our distant friends, and set out, I think, sometime in the month of October, 1789; it being a little more than five years from the time of my captivity, and a little more than three years after the captivity of my sister and Martha Evans. A trading boat coming down the lakes, we obtained a passage, for myself and sister, to the Moravian Towns, a distance about two hundred miles, and on the route to Pittsburg. There, according to appointment, we met with Mr. Evans and his sister, the day after our arrival. He had, in the meantime procured three horses, and we immediately set out for Pittsburg. Fortunately for us, a party of friendly Indians, from these towns, were about starting on a hunting excursion, and accompanied us for a considerable distance on our route, which was through a wilderness, and the hunting ground of an unfriendly tribe. On one of the nights, during our journey, we encamped near a large party of these unfriendly Indians. The next morning four or five of their warriors, painted red, came into our camp. This much alarmed us. They made many inquiries, but did not molest us, which might have been the case, if we had not been in company with other Indians. After this, nothing occurred, worthy of notice, until we reached Pittsburg. Probably we would have reached Rockbridge (Co., VA) that fall, if Mr. Evans had not, unfortunately, got his shoulder dislocated. In consequence of this, we remained until the spring with an Uncle of his, in the vicinity of Pittsburg. Having expended nearly all of his money in traveling, and with the physician, he left his sister and proceeded on with sister Polly and myself, to the house of our Uncle, William McPhaetus, about ten miles southwest of Staunton, near the Middle River. He received from Uncle Joseph Moore, the administrator of father’s estate, compensation for his services, and afterward returned and brought in his sister.

(1) James Moore, Jr., at this time was only 14 years of age. After release he returned to Tazewell Co., VA, where he resided until his death in 1848.
(2) Mr. Pendleton means that James Moore, Jr., returned home 5 years after his capture (1789), and 3 years after his father and family were killed in 1786.
(3) See, Capture of Captain Robert Moffett’s son, page 99, this MSS



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