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Betsy's Run II

 

Communities of Wetzel County

 

A LITTLE GLIMPSE OF LOCAL HISTORY

 

This story was told by G.W.T. Anderson (Brother to Elizabeth Anderson Morgan)

Copied by Missouri Morgan Detwyler on November 1, 1928

Copied by Day Bland Detwyler  on November 15, 1951

Copied by Fred Irvin Detwyler III on September 25, 1999

Submitted by Dianne Lowe Lemasters on February 6, 2000

 As I have passed the seventieth mile stone and am well aware that the sun is getting low in the western horizon; and that the history I know of this section and of the first settler’s, will be lost soon, unless it is preserved in some permanent form by me, I am writing this little sketch.

 Most of this information came direct to me through my mother, Malinda Anderson, formerly Hays, whose father James Hays, was born October 15, 1773 not far from Winchester, VA, and who later came West and settled on Monongahela River not far from Barricksville.  This James Hays became acquainted with the Dragoo Family.  At this early day the Indians still made raids from the west of the Ohio River to get white scalps and horses from the settlers.

 In 1783, the settlers had not seen any Indians for some time.   My mother’s grandmother, Elizabeth Dragoo, and her seven-year-old son ventured out from the fort without guard to their cornfield to pick beans.  They remained so long that the people in the fort became alarmed about them and sent out a girl by the name of Straight with my grandmother, also named Elizabeth Dragoo (then 11 years old) to see what was wrong.  They went to the field and could see no signs of them.  So Grandmother climbed on a stump and hallowed for her mother.  Just then the girls became frightened and ran to the fort.  At this very moment the Indians had her mother tied to a tree and could hear her child calling her.  It is supposed that the reason the Indians did not also take the girls prisoner was that they expected some men to come from the fort and they could get some more scalps.  When the alarm was raised at the fort, every man made a dash for the Indians in an attempt to recapture great grandmother and Uncle Billy.  On this same night the Indians scaled and tomahawked a man by the name of Jacob Straight and left him for dead.  He recovered partially at least and sat on a log and cried.  We know this is the truth for he was found dead the next morning by the log and the blood was washed from his face in streaks where the tears run down.

 The Indians made their escape carrying grandmother and her boy.  They came up Buffalo Creek and down the North Fork of Fishing Creek to the mouth of what is Betse’s Run.  Grandmother was tied on a horse they had stolen.  The horse, in jumping over a log, caught and tore the calf of her leg very badly.  The Indians stopped and tried to check the flow of blood, but without success.  The main band passed on, leaving two Indians with her.   Billy understood the purpose was to kill his mother and began crying.  One big Indian took the little fellow on his back and told him in English that his mother could not travel or they would not kill her.  A few minutes later, the warriors who had remained behind with the woman came running up with her scalp on a tomahawk handle.

 Uncle Billy was taken to the Indian village and remained with them for twenty-three years, marrying a squaw by whom he had four children…two boys and two girls.

 Old Levi Morgan with forty men made a raid on the Indians near the head of the Muskingham River for the purpose of getting Indian prisoners to exchange for the Dragoos.  Back home they made canoes near Morgantown to carry all their men.  They launched their canoes in the Monongahela River, paddled down past Pittsburgh to the Ohio and on down the river to Marietta and up the Muskingham River as far as their canoes would float.  Then they sank them in the bed of the stream and made for the Indian town.  When Levi Morgan came to where there were signs of Indians he placed his men behind trees at intervals of fifty yards.  Morgan, with my own Grandfather’s brother, Henry Hays, then only 16 years of age, skulked ahead to reconnoiter.  Morgan told my Uncle Henry, “Now Henry, when I raise my foot you step right in the track”.  Shortly they heard horsed caffing and an Indian speaking to them.   They saw the Indian was salting the horses.   Morgan whispered to Uncle Henry, “Henry, I will see if I can’t hit him right in the mouth”.  He drew his old flintlock and when the gun cracked, the Indian jumped about three feet, gave the warhoop, clapped his hand over his mouth and fell dead.  The whole force of Morgan’s men rushed forward to the Indian village capturing some squaws.  I do not know how many.  They started for their canoes, on their way back to the canoes one of the squaws asked Morgan if they had killed a boy, or seen anything of him.  Upon his replying in the negative she advised Morgan to make haste for not over two hours before, fully two hundred warriors had gone out on a hunting expedition.

 They reached their canoes, dumped the water from them, and made their escape without any hindrance, poling and paddling their canoes down the Muskingum and up the Ohio and Monongahela rivers to their homes.  Sometime after that a treaty was entered into between the Whites and Indians.  The meeting was held near Marietta where prisoners were exchanged.  Uncle Billy Dragoo and his two sons were returned to the Whites at this time.  They came home and lived with my grandfather, James Hays, who had married Elizabeth Dragoo, the girl who, had gone to hunt for her mother the time the Indians tied her to a tree.

 After James Hays had two or three children, they moved into the wilderness of Fishing Creek not far from the dam above Jacksonburg.  They reached this place, April 15, 1805.  Their nearest neighbor to the East was 18 miles, on the West, twenty-two miles.  The first year after they moved to Fishing Creek, my grandfather would shove out cedar bucket staves and Grandmother would take them in a gunny sack on an old blind white horse over to the Tygert River Valley and exchange them for corn meal.

 My grandfather, James Hays, and Levi Morgan was friends.   One time they  were walking over the ground where Morgan and an Indian had fought to a finish.  Morgan stopped and said; “Right here, Hays, was fought the hardest battle that two men ever had.   There were two Indians chasing me.  I whirled and shot one of them dead.   The other one continued to chase me.  As he could run faster than I, and had better wind, he steadily gained on me until he was close enough to throw his tomahawk.  As he threw it, I turned and tried to fend of the blow with my gun.  I turned the tomahawk, but lost two fingers in so ding.   Then we clinched in a life and death struggle.  I was a good wrestler and could throw him, but he could turn me over.  At last, he had me nearly winded, got his knees on my arms and I was nearly helpless.  He tried to get his scalping knife out of his belt, but it became entangle with a woman’s petticoat that he had tied around his waist.  I kept my eye on the handle and as it came through his hand I made a desperate grad for it,   jerked it through his hand and struck at his breast.  The first thrust struck a rib, the next one went in sweet.  How, Hays, he got up off me with the knife still in him.  I got up and ran for the fort.  We came back and found him in the treetop that had fallen with the leaves on.  He was still living.  He had pulled the knife out of his breast and stumped it in the ground.  We killed him, skinned him, and tanned his hide.” (Some of this skin may still be found in Porters Falls, this County.