Scott County Historical Society
Scott County, Virginia
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Indian Forays In Present Scott County
By Omer Addington

When the English settled Jamestown in 1607 the Indians soon realized that they had much to lose, their land. The Indians wanted to keep the land to roam over freely, to hunt, trap, and fish. The Pioneers wanted to clear the land to build on and plant crops.

The Indians were determined to drive all the settlers from their land.

At the Jamestown massacre of 1622 the Indians killed 357 persons.

This massacre forced the settlers to recognize their common anger and draw them closer together, fortify their homes and built forts. The massacre so aroused the settlers they went out several times to find and kill Indians. They burned villages, destroyed the Indian cornfields and garden patches, took their land and drove them deeper and deeper into the forest. This brought on more hatred between the Indians and the settlers. The settlers moved west across the Blue Ridge mountains in a frontier region where the Indians were a deadly threat.  

Created by DPE, Copyright IRIS 2005

Forgotten Pioneer Home Photo Courtesy of P.H. Starnes

In 1743 Colonel James Patton discovered a river which was west of New River, but did not flow into it. Three years later Stephen Holston built his cabin at the source of this river. In 1748 he explored the lower part of this river, and found that it flowed into the Tennessee River. The valleys and the three forks river took the name Holston. On the north side of Scott County another river was discovered by a hunter by the name of Clinch. The river, valley and mountain took their name from him. Also, another important valley was Moccasin Valley, so named because of the Indian Moccasin tracks found along the creek banks.

It was in these valleys that the Indians forays took place.

Be it remembered that the territory that is now Scott was part of Fincastle County until 1777, Washington County 1776 to 1701, Wash­ington and Russell Counties to 1791.

Blackmore's Fort was built near the mouth of Stoney Creek on the lands of Captain John Blackmore. It became one of the most important forts on the Virginia frontier. It was attacked many times, and many people were captured and killed.

Logan, the Mingo Chieftain came into Clinch Valley in search of scalps and prisoners on Friday, September 23, 1774. Finding some of Captain Blackmore's slaves outside the fort and captured two of them. 1

In October 1774 Dale Carter was killed by Logan and his band of Indians at Blackmore's Fort. 2

Sometime in June, 1776 two men were killed at Blackmore's Fort; and in September of the same year, a son of Jonathan Jennings and one of his Negro slaves were killed at Blackmore's Fort. 3

In 1775 Jacob Lewis built a cabin near the head of Stock Creek. He was advised to move that the Indians were on the warpath. In 1776 Lewis, his wife and seven children were killed and scalped by the Indians.   Ambrose Fletcher's wife and two children were killed and scalped in their cabin about forty yards back of Blackmore's Fort in 1776.5

Mrs. Fannie Napper and her five children were killed and scalped near Blackmore's Fort. 6

Isaac Crissman and family were slain by Indians in the Rye Cove in 1776. He had built the fort on his land sometime in 1774. This fort is sometimes referred to as the Rye Cove Fort. 7

In 1781 Blackmore's Fort was attacked by Indians and four men captured. 8

In 1787 John Carter's wife and six children were killed by the Indians and their home burned. 9

Sometime in the summer of 1777 or 78, Benge and a band of Shawnees visited Blackmore's Fort. Finding the fort well guarded they did not attack or besiege the fort, headed in the direction of Castlewood. The Indians, however captured two girls on the way, Polly Alley at Osborne's Ford (Now Dungannon) and Jane Whitaker near Castlewood. The story of their capture and escape has been told for more than two centuries around the fireside in Scott County. 10

Indians captured two Carter boys in the Rye Cove in 1788. They were sons of Thomas Carter. They were finally restored to their parents. II In 1789 Joseph Johnson's wife and three children were killed and five others taken by the Indians. 11

Henry Hamlin's wife was killed near Blackmore's Fort by the Indians in 1790 and one of her children, a boy, age ten, was captured and taken west, but later made his way back home. 13

No doubt other people were killed in the Clinch River Valley that history did not record.

In Pioneer days it was always known as Blackmore's Fort, the village today, two centuries later, still bears the name except in the reverse order of Fort Blackmore.

On the waters of Big Moccasin Creek was Houston's Fort. It was built by William Houston in 1774. In the summer of 1776 Fort Houston was attacked by a large force of Cherokee Indians. John Carr, who was in the fort with his parents, and at that time, only three years of age said, "That he could remember his father holding him up to a port hole to see the Indians firing upon the fort."

Mrs. Samuel Scott, whose family was returning in Houston's Fort tells the following story. "Samuel Cowan brought the express (news) from Moore's Fort at Castlewood to Houston's Fort that three hundred Indians were coming to attack Houston's Fort. The next morning he would start to go back and thought he could get through, but was shot and scalped. He was brought into the fort and died a short time later. His horse got in safe to Castlewood, covered with sweat and lather from the long run. Mrs. Cowan, seeing the riderless horse, fainted, knowing her husband had been shot from the horse. The horse was a stud borrowed from Deskin Tibbs.

My father, John McCorkel was at that time in the fort. There were three hundred Indians to twenty-one families in the fort. I think the men did not exceed thirty. The Indians stayed there about eight days killing cattle. They were Cherokees. None of the people in the fort were killed.

The Indians were driven off when two companies of militia under Captains Daniel Smith and John Montgomery were sent to the relief of the fort from Blackmore's Fort." 14

Benge, the half-breed Cherokee attacked the home of Elisha Ferris on August 26, 1791. He was killed outright. His wife, daughter, Nancy and a young child were carried into captivity. All but Nancy Ferris were cruelly murdered the first day of their captivity.

Elisha Ferris was the owner of the Ferris Station, which was a stopping place on the Wilderness Road. It stood about where Daugherty Brothers Chevrolet is now located. 15

In April 1793 Benge, with a party of Indians, attacked and killed the family of Harper Ratcliffe, six in number, about eight miles west of Moccasin Gap. 16

Indians killed the Phillips family the exact date where the tragedy took place is not known.

Mrs. Samuel Scott, who lived on the Clinch for eight years with her father, John McCorkle, prior to her removal to Kentucky about 1784, related the following story to the Rev. John Shane years later.

"We moved to Clinch at Moore's Fort, was wintering at our place eight miles form the fort and about a half mile from the river. One Phillips family was killed between us and the river. Mamma was gone up with a neighbor, Mr. and Mrs. Kilgore (either Charles or Robert) to Castle­wood, near the fort to buy some sheep at a sale. Mr. Phillips was away in North Carolina at the time. One boy escaped, I think by crawling under the bed. All the rest of the family were killed. About two years after this we moved over to the Holston to get rid of the Indians. We had lived on the Clinch eight years."

Mrs. Scott stated they moved over on the Holston. They actually moved to Houston's Fort on Big Moccasin Creek Her father, John McCorkle died there July 12, 1780.

Alexander Ritchie in his pension statement states that the Phillips family was killed in March 1779. 16

The two half-breeds Indians Chieftains who killed so many were John Logan, a Mingo and Benge. Logan's mother was a Mingo and his father was a white man. He mostly killed for revenge. Logan captured a man by the name of William Robenson. He was taken to the Indian towns and there he was

condemned to die by torture at the stake, but was rescued by Logan. He had Robenson write the following letter.

To Captain Cresap - What did you kill my people on Yellow Creek for?  The white people killed my kin at Conestoga a great while ago and I thought nothing of that. But you killed my kin again on Yellow Creek and took my cousin prisoner, then I thought I must kill too; I have been three times to war since, but the Indians are not angry, only myself.

July 21st day - Captain John Logan.

John Logan was killed by his own people near Detroit.

Benge's mother was a Cherokee Indian, his father was a red headed Irishman. It is said by people who saw him that he had red sandy hair. He left the Cherokees and took up with the Shawnee. Perhaps the Cherokees kicked him out because he was so mean. Anyway, Benge was a criminal who killed and robbed the settlers and prisoners of Negro slaves and young women to sell.

After Benge was killed by Vincent Hobbs in 1794, Indian forays and depredations ceased on Virginia's last frontier.

Footnotes

1.         History of Virginia

2.         R. M. Addington - History of Scott County

3.         Ibid

4.         Ibid

5.         Ibid

6.         Ibid

7.         Emory Hamilton - Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia Vol.

No.4,2968.

8.         R. M. Addington - History of Scott County

9.         Ibid

10.          Life of Wilburn Waters - Cole

11.          R. M. Addington - History of Scott County

12.          Ibid

13.          Ibid

14.          Emory Hamilton - Indian tragedies - Historical Sketches of

Southwest Virginia Vol. No.8, 1974.

15.          R. M. Addington - History of Scott County

16.          Ibid

Emory Hamilton - Indians kill the Phillips Family - Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia Vol. No. 19-1985.

 

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