Killing of Ambrose Fletcher’s Wife and Children

By Emory L. Hamilton

From the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, pages 162-163.

John Redd, who came to Powell Valley with Col. Joseph Martin in 1775, in his narrative in the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, tells the following story:

In 1776, when the Cherokee Indians declared war, most of the extreme settlers broke up, and most of them came to the settlements. A man by the name of Ambrose Fletcher, who settled in Martin’s Station took refuge in Blackmore’s fort. He had a wife and two children. After he remained in the fort two or three days it became so crowded that he built a cabin some thirty or forty yards back to the fort and shortly moved in his cabin.

He went out one morning at a short distance to get his horse and on his return found his wife and children murdered and scalped by the Indians.

I cannot find any confirmation to back up Redd’s statement that the family of Ambrose Fletcher were killed in 1776, but do find some facts that might suggest they were killed in 1788. In a letter written by Lt. James Gibson to Alexander Barnett, County Lieutenant of Russell, dated August 22, 1788. (1) In this letter, which is a reply by Gibson to Barnett who had questioned just what the Rangers had been doing in Powell Valley, Gibson very indignantly answers in these words:

...Of my party of four men, they could not get one load of powder for each. Not having it in our power to send to Richmond for that powder that ought to have been here so long ago, and not being taught the art of bows and arrows, we was obliged to stay at home and trust to providence, not knowing where they would strike the blow, till we heard it had unfortunately fell on Fletcher’s family.

Ambrose Fletcher served in Col. Joseph Martin’s company of militia at Rye Cove from 1 February to 31 of March, 1777, and was listed as one of those paid for building Fort Lee in Rye Cove, from 9th of February to 31st of March 1777. He was also listed in Captain Alexander Barnett’s list of tithables in Powell Valley in 1782.

Ambrose Fletcher assigns his tract of 400 acres of land known as the "Indian Old Fields" at the foot of Cumberland Mountain in Powell Valley, on the Kentucky Road, to George Gibson on August 10, 1785. (2)

(1) Virginia State Papers, Vol. IV, page 474-5.
(2) Washington Co., VA Land Entry Book, page 330.



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