Gilbert Killed - Lusk Taken Prisoner

By Emory L. Hamilton

From the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, pages 231-234.

Pendleton, History of Tazewell County, page 465, gives this story:

The last invasion of Tazewell was made by the Indians in 1792. A band of Shawnee slipped into the settlement on Bluestone, and the head of Clinch, on a horse stealing expedition. They must have been a pretty large company of Indians in this last foray, as they occupied but a little while in collecting about 80 good horses and starting on the return trip to their homes beyond the Ohio River.

The first night after starting on their journey the Indians were encamped a short distance from the settlements; and their presence was accidentally discovered by a white man who had been out scouting or hunting. He hastened to the Bluestone and Clinch settlements, and gave notice of his discovery to the inhabitants and the garrison at Bailey and Wynn's Forts. Major Robert Crockett, who was then commanding the military frontier forces of Wythe County, was making his headquarters at Wynne's fort, where he had a small garrison. By noon on the day he got the information about the Indians, Major Crockett had organized two companies of mounted riflemen, one company from Bluestone, and one from the head of Clinch. He assembled his forces at a place near what is now the "Round House" built about 1840 by Thomas Peery and his residence until his death in 1860. Judge David E. Johnson carefully collected the facts connected with this, the last incursion into Tazewell by the Indians, in his history of the Middle River Settlements, thus relates what followed the gathering of the men to pursue the red men:

"Major Crockett moved off with his men to follow the Indians, having no time to prepare provisions for the journey. They took the route down Horse Pen Creek, and then to the head of Clear Fork, and down to the Tug and on to the mouth of Four Pole, then crossing the Dividing Ridge between the waters of the Sandy and Guyandotte Rivers. They sent Gilbert and Lusk forward to a buffalo lick on a creek flowing into the Guyandotte, to secure if possible a supply of game. It appears by the report of Major Crockett found in the Calender Papers, that this was on the 24th of July that Gilbert and Lusk set out for and reached the lick, where they found and killed a deer and wounded an elk, which they followed, some distance, being unable to overtake it they returned to the lick to get the deer they had killed. On passing along the buffalo path, near where they had left the deer, Gilbert in front, discovered a stone hanging by a pawpaw bark over the path. Gilbert in an instant discerning what it meant called on Lusk to look out. He had scarcely uttered the words, when the Indians fired, a ball from one of their guns penetrating the hand of Lusk, in which he carried his gun, which caused him to drop the same. The Indians began immediately to close in on them, Gilbert putting Lusk behind him, and holding the Indians off by the presentation of his gun. Gilbert an Lusk kept retreating as rapidly as they could with safety. Lusk's wounded hand was bleeding freely, and he became sick from the loss of blood, and begged Gilbert to leave him and get away; this Gilbert refused to do, saying that he promised his, Lusk's mother, to take care of him. Finally the Indians got close enough to knock Gilbert down with their tomahawks, which they did, and an Indian rushed up to scalp him, when Gilbert shot him dead, but another one of the Indians dispatched Gilbert, and Lusk became a prisoner. The Indians immediately hurried with their prisoner down the creek to Guyandotte, and then down the river to the mouth of Island Creek, and went into camp behind a rocky ridge called Hog Back to the present day. Major Crockett instead of following the tracks of Gilbert and Lusk to the lick, had turned to the west, and crossed a ridge onto the right fork of Island Creek, and reached and camped at a point within two miles of the Indian camp, but without knowledge of his proximity to them. During the night Lusk suffered much with his hand until an Indian went off and brought some roots which he beat up into a pulp, made a poultice, and bound his hand which afforded some relief. Early on the morning of the 25th the Indians took to their canoes, which they had left at this point on their way to the settlements, and rapidly descending the river to its mouth crossed the Ohio. On reaching the northern bank, they placed their canoes in charge of some of their party and taking Lusk with them crossed the country.

Judge Johnson does not mention the fact that Major Crockett and his men overtook the Indians, and recovered most of the horses that had been stolen. Writing about what happened after Crockett and his riflemen left the Clinch Valley, Bickley in his History of Tazewell County, says:

They made forced marches, and came up with them about one o'clock at night, at what is called the Islands of Guyandotte. Some of the white men were for attacking them immediately, and others wished to wait until morning, when they might see. While thus in parlay, the Indians in the meantime, preparing for some movement, a horse neighed; in a moment a fire was opened upon them, but to no effect. The Indians raised a yell, secured a few of the horses, and fled, leaving a good breakfast, and several dozen pairs of moccasins to be taken home as trophies by the whites. The breakfast of bears meat and turkey was consumed by the whites, whose appetites were to keen to suffer themselves to enter into speculation as to the probable nicety of their runaway cooks.

None of the early history writers give anything of the ultimate fate of Lusk after his capture. Bickley seems more interested in philosphizing on the breakfast left by the Indians than on the fate of poor Lusk. Some have written that Lusk, along with Jenny Wiley escaped from the Indians one night early in September, 1792. Near the present Gallipolis he joined a party of white men, traveled with them to Pittsburg and from there to Philadelphia and on to Virginia, reaching his home in Wythe County, about one month after his escape.

Lusk could not possibly have been with Jenny Wiley, unless he was taken earlier than the past writers say. Jenny Wiley was captured in the fall of 1789 and escaped in the winter of 1790, according to irrefutable letters in the Calender of Virginia State Papers. Neither do the early writers say just who Gilbert and Lusk were, where they lived, or what their first names were.



This file contributed by: Rhonda Robertson


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