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Scott County Historical Society
Scott County, Virginia

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Mildred McConnell's Scrapbook Articles

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Indian Forays In Present Scott County


     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 became determined to drive all the settlers from their land. At the Jamestown massacre in 1622, they killed 357 people. This massacre forced the settlers to recognize their common danger and draw them closer together. They fortified their homes and built forts; The massacre so aroused the settlers they went out several times to find and kill Indians. They burned villages and destroyed Indian corn fields and garden patches. They took their land and drove them deeper and deeper into the forest. This brought on more hatred between the Indians and the settlers.

     As the settlers moved west across the Blue Ridge Mountains into the frontier region, the Indians became a deadly threat. 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 of the river took the name Holston. On the north side of Scott County another river was discovered by a hunter named Clinch. The river, valley and mountain took their name from him. Another important area 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.

     Remember that the territory which is now Scott County was part of Fincastle County until 1776. From 1776 to 1781 it was part of Washington County, and it was part of Washington and Russell Counties until 1791.

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

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

     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.

     In 1775, Jacob Lewis built a cabin near the head of Stock Creek. He was advised to move because 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 in back of Blackmore's Fort in 1776.

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

     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.

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

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

     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 it. They went off in the direction of Castlewood. However, the Indians 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 firesides in Scott County.

     Indians captured two Carter boys in the Rye Cove in 1788. Sons of Thomas Carter, they were later returned to their parents.

     In 1789 Joseph Johnson's wife and three children were killed and five others taken hostage by the Indians.

     Henry Hamlin's wife was killed near Blackmore's Fort by the Indians in 1790, and one of her children, a boy age 10, was captured and taken west. Later, he made his way back home.

     No doubt other people were killed in the Clinch River Valley who were not recorded in history.

     In Pioneer days it was always known as Blackmore's Fort. Two, centuries later, the village still bears the name except in the reverse order, 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 at that time, was only three years of age. He said 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 refuging in Houston's Fort, tells the following story, "Samuel Cowan brought the express (news) from Moore's Fort to Castlewood to Houston's Fort that 300 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 his horse. The horse was a stud borrowed from Deskin Tibbs.

     "My father, John McCorkel, was at that time in the Fort. There were 300 Indians to 21 families in the Fort. I think the men did not exceed 30. The Indians, who were Cherokee, stayed there about eight days killing the cattle. 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.

     Benge, the half-breed Cherokee, attacked the home of Elisha Ferris on August 26, 1791. Ferris 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.

     In April of 1793, Benge, with a 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 from the Fort and about a half mile from the river. One Phillips family was killed between us and near to the river. Mamma was gone up with a neighbor, Mr. or 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, but they actually moved to Houston's Fort on Big Moccasin Creek. Her father, John McCorkle, died there on July 12, 1780.

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

     The two half-breed Indian Chieftains who led 20 men 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 one man by the name of William Robinson. Robinson was taken to the Indian towns and where he was condemned to die by torture at the stake, but was rescued by Logan. He had Robinson 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, and his father was a red headed Irishman. It is said by people who saw him that he had reddish 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 made 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.


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