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Killing of William Whitley

By Emory L. Hamilton

From the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, page 182.

Pendleton, in his History of Tazewell County, quoting from Bickley's History of Tazewell County, (1853) says:

William Whitley lived in Baptist Valley, and had been out on a bear hunt. He came home, and finding his choice dog gone, started the following morning to look for him. The day passed off and he did not return. His family became uneasy and a company started out to hunt for him. They had gone not far, however, when they met a man named Scaggs, who had passed a man at the mouth of Dick's Creek. The company pushed on and identified the man to be Whitley. He was dreadfully mutilated - his bowels torn out and stretched upon the bushes, his heart in one place, and liver in another. A hole was opened and the fragments gathered up and interred. This happened in 1786.

Both Pendleton and Bickley were wrong in this happening. A letter from Henry Smith, County Lieutenant of Russell Co., VA, to Governor Randolph, dated July 4, 1790, states:

Permit me, Sir, to instance one act committed last fall (1789), on the line dividing this county and Montgomery, on the person of a certain Mr. Whitley, who went a few miles in the woods hunting his horses, when the Indians fell on him, killed him, and cut him into small pieces; cut out his guts and strung them on the bushes; cut out his heart and flung it against the ground with such violence that it covered itself in the soil.

David E. Johnson, History of the New River Settlements and Contiguous Territory, page 148, says: The Indians who killed Whitley proceeded to the Gap (Roark's) at the head of Dry Fork and destroyed the wife and children of James Roark. This could not be possible since the Roark family were killed on March 18, 1780.

One of the daughters of William Whitley became the second wife of William Wynne, who built Wynne's Fort in Tazewell Co., VA.

This file contributed by: Rhonda Robertson

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