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Betsy's Run I

 

Communities of Wetzel County

Betsy's Run is a small stream which flows into the North Fork of Fishing Creek about three miles above the forks at Pine Grove Wetzel County. The mouth of that run was the site of a killing and of the finding of the body, almost two hundred years ago.

By the year 1780, Jacob Straight and John Dragoo had settled, with their families, on adjoining farms of 400 acres each on Straight Run, north of what is now Barrackville, in Marion County, West Virginia. John Dragoo had married Elizabeth, sister of Jacob Straight and Jacob had married Elizabeth Dragoo sister of John. Elizabeth Straight Dragoo was known as "Betsy". They had moved west together and had finally settled next door to each other.

A party of nine Shawnee Indian braves left their town in Ohio in September, 1786, intent on causing serious trouble to the white settlers in the Monongahela Valley. On October 3 1786, most of the white men and older boys of the Straight Run area were across the hill in what is now Bellville, the north end of Fairmont, clearing a new settlement. That morning, Betsy Dragoo and her seven year old son, William, were picking beans near their home when they were surprised and captured by the Shawnee raiding party. Four of the Indians took the captives away and the other five hid themselves, hoping to capture or kill some white men when Betsy and Billy were missed and a search party came looking for them. They were soon successful in killing Jacob Straight and a neighbor named Wood and then the five moved on and rejoined their four companions and the white captives.

At that time, a well defined trail, which had been used by the Indians for many years, led from the Monongahela River up Buffalo Creek, through present Mannington and Logansport, and on up Warrior Fork to a gap in the ridge. It crossed the ridge and went down Willey Fork, through present Coburn, to the North Fork of Fishing Creek, following the Creek to its mouth in present New Martinsville. There it crossed the Ohio River and extended to the Shawnee Towns in Ohio.

The raiding party of Indians used this trail and they were in a hurry since they were certain that there would be pursuit when the white men returned from their day's work and found the two bodies and the two persons missing.

Betsy had long hair, dark red in color, and the Indians had argued about using its beauty as a trophy scalp, but had decided instead to take her along with them. There are three stories of how Betsy Dragoo came to be accidentally injured on that trip, but all stories agree that she lost so much blood from her injuries that she was too weak to keep up the pace, even on horseback. Some of the Indians took the little boy on ahead on the trail, and in a short time the other Indians joined them carrying a fresh scalp with long, dark red hair.

The next day, the pursuing party, including John Dragoo, found Betsy's body along the trail at the mouth of a small run in present Wetzel County. The pursuit continued, but the white men could not pick up the trail on the west side of the Ohio River.

Twenty years later, after the final defeat of the Indian tribes and the signing of a peace treaty, William Dragoo returned to his family in the Fairmont area.

Submitted by James R. Ewing Great-great-great-grandson of Betsy Dragoo.

Source: History of Wetzel County, West Virginia 1983