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Harper Ratcliffe Family Killed

By Emory L. Hamilton

From the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, page 226.

William Blount writing from Knoxville, TN, to Henry Knox, Secretary of War, on April 22, 1792, (1) states: On the 5th instant, the wife and 3 children of Harper Ratcliffe, who lived in Hawkins County, near the Virginia line, in Stanley Valley, were killed by the Indians unknown, but supposed to be led by the Bench (Benge), by birth a Cherokee, but for years past attached to the Northern Indians.

Harper Ratcliffe lived about eight miles from Big Moccasin Gap across the sate line in Hawkins Co., TN.

R. M. Addington, History of Scott County, page 40, says, "That after the killing of the Elisha Ferris family at Big Moccasin Gap, an interval of almost two years elapsed before Benge again made his appearance in the neighborhood of Moccasin Gap. This time he murdered Harper Ratcliffe and his entire family, six in number.

(1) Virginia State Papers, Vol. V, page 5.

From Williams, "Early Travels in Tennessee":
Wednesday, December 17, 1790
Zachariah Green appointed Lieutenant in Davidson's Company (Tennessee) June 16, 1797. Jessee Green appointed Ensign - Southwest Territory.

Harper Ratcliff
Gov. Blount, S. W. T. to Secretary Smith. Territorial Papers of the U. S. Carter, Vol. IV, page 143-144, Draper MSS 4 XX 28, dated Knoxville April 27, 1792.

.....The very day I ordered a draft in Hawkins of a company to be sent for the protection of the frontiers of Mers District the wife of Harper Ratcliffe and children were killed (See the Knoxville Gazette). Sundry horses stolen and a party of Indian pursued and fired upon by Colonel Cox of Russell co. This last circumstance was much complained of by the upper Towns as the party fired on did not happen to be the same that took the horses.

Gov. Blount to Secretary of War (W. D. AGO ded. Records Division, Statement of Traopo, 1792-1796: C36, Territorial Papers, Vol. IV, page 148) dated Knoxville May 5th 1792.

...I have not heard of any murders committed on our frontiers since that of the 5th of April, 1792 on the wife and children of Harper Ratclif mentioned in my letter of the 22nd of that month.

This file contributed by: Rhonda Robertson

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