PUBLICATION 3 - 1967
INDIANS AND THE MOORE FAMILY
By Luther F. Addington
western frontier suffered more at the hands of Indians than that of
James Moore, who moved with his family from what is now Rockbridge
to Abb's Valley in 1772. "In September, 1784, a party of Indians
the present limits of Tazewell County, Virginia and divided themselves
into small parties to steal horses and to annoy the settlers; three of
them came to Abb's Valley, in which resided Captain James Moore and a
named John Poage. The Indians had been for a day or two lurking around,
"These three Indians were Black Wolf and two youths about eighteen years old, one of them a son of the Wolf. While they were lurking around in Abb's Valley, Captain Moore one morning sent his son, James, Jr., a lad about eighteen years old, to a distant pasture to get a horse to take a bag of corn to mill. While James was on his way to the pasture, he was suddenly set upon by Black Wolf and his companion." (1)
James, like his father, was a hardy frontiersman. He was an expert at shooting as was his father who had shown his bravery and marksmanship in the Revolutionary War not long since closed.
Wolf told James to catch one of the horses, which he did; but, when the Indian insisted on holding to the bridle, he slapped the horse's withers and made him dash away. Unable to catch the horse again, Wolf made James start walking. The two young Indians went in front, Wolf behind, covering their tracks as they went.
When a short way out, James began to break bushes, hoping to leave sign; but Wolf surmised his intention and made him quit. Next James made tracks in muddy spots - he was barefoot; but the old savage noticed his tracks and, shaking a tomahawk, told him to walk outside the path.
When night came, Wolf left the captive into a laurel thicket, where his arms and feet were bound with rawhide thongs. Then, a long strap was tied about his body; and the other end wolf tied to his own arm.
While he lay there in the thicket, James wondered what was happening at home. Would there be a party trailing his captives? Wolf had been so careful to blot out all trail sign, it as doubtful whether his father could find the direction they had taken. But James knew he was young and strong and he could endure hardships and, perhaps, sometime get a chance to escape captivity and make his way back through the mountains.
again, making his way to Maxwell Gap in a high ridge. In this gap, Wolf
brought from its hiding place an old iron Dutch oven which he gave to
demanding that he carry it. With a rawhide strap he slung it to his
without protest; but, when he grew tired, he threw the oven down.
what he had done, Wolf ordered him to go on carrying it. Knowing that
must do as bidden or be brutally chastised, he filled the oven with
put it on his
Some miles north of the gap when rain began to fall, one of the young Indians stopped James, removed the oven from his head, and reached for his hat. This infuriated the captive; and he struck the savage, showing he would rebel at any such robbery of his clothes. Then, the Indian made signs to his gun lock; and, learning that the hat was wanted to keep the gun lock dry, James handed it over. Then, they went on. When the rain ceased, the young Indian returned the hat.
The party traveled along the crest of a ridge which pointed toward the Ohio River; on this high ridge no game was to be found; neither were there berries; nuts were not yet ready for eating. Therefore, James, as well as his captors, became very hungry. But, Wolf knew how to relieve hunger temporarily; he skinned bark from a yellow poplar, took out the inner part and boiled it in the Dutch oven. This bark tea they drank.
On the fourth day out they killed a buffalo, made broth and drank freely of it. They took along some meat which they broiled next day.
Soon they were so far on the trail that Wolf believed they were out of danger of pursuit. Then, he slowed down, killed game and feasted on it until their hunger was gone.
Reaching the Ohio River, they crossed by means of a raft which they made from dead timber found in a drift. Once across, they went to the Shawnee town at the mouth of the Scioto River. During the trip James had suffered from exposure; he was wearing clothing fitting only for warm weather and the nights had been cold. He wore neither shoes nor moccasins, and his feet were covered with blisters.
At first, wolf did not take the boy into the Indian village lest the celebrating savages do him harm; Wolf wanted to keep him alive in order to sell him to become someone's slave. And later he was sold. Wolf traded him to his sister for an old horse.
Winter set in early, bringing a deep snow. During the while, hunting parties killed very little game; and it was necessary to live on parched corn. James, as well as the Indians, felt the pangs of hunger.
But endure the winter the lad did. All the while, he hoped to escape and return home. But, in April of the following spring he found that a chance to escape was made almost impossible, when his owner attended a festival with him.
At this festival a French trader, Baptist Ariome, decided he wanted him; and a trade was made. For a bundle of goods, the Frenchman bought him and took him to his home in Canada, not far from Detroit.
Not long after James was bought by Mr. Ariome, he met a Mr. Sherlock, a trader from Kentucky, who had once been a prisoner in this same tribe. Through Mr. Sherlock's help, a young man named Moffat, whose father lived in the same region as James' father, had been freed from captivity and was going back home. So, James asked Moffat to tell his father that he had been moved from Indian captivity to a white man's family in Canada.
Mr. Moffat took the message to Captain Moore, and it was the first he'd heard from his son since his capture.
Captain Moore Plans to Go Get James
Upon learning of James' whereabouts, Captain Moore began to make plans to go get him; but obstacles seemed almost insurmountable. Scheme after scheme was planned, but each one fell through. Yet, Captain Moore was consoled in one thing: James was now living with a kind man, so Moffat had told him.
Black Wolf Strikes Again
Time ticked along. Then, in June 1789, nearly two years after James' capture, Black Wolf with forty warriors started out to make another attack upon the Abb's Valley settlement. On July 13, just after nightfall, the party came to the vicinity of Captain Moore's house and lay in hiding through the night.
Early next morning two men, William Clark and Irish John, began reaping wheat near Captain Moore's home. Captain Moore himself went out to salt some horses. Two children, William and Rebecca, had gone to the spring for water. Another child, Mary, ten years old, went to call the reapers to breakfast. A boy, Alexander, was also outside somewhere.
Just then, Indians swarmed down from a ridge, some going to the place Captain Moore was salting horses, and the other surrounding the house. Upon seeing the onrush of savages, Mary ran into the house where her mother, Margaret, John and Jane were. Also in the house was Martha Evans, a visitor from Walker's Creek, now in Giles County.
The doors of the house were of heavy timbers, which a bullet would not penetrate; the windows ere small and high and equipped with heavy shutters. In the excitement Mrs. Moore and Martha Evans closed and barred the doors, not thinking about Captain Moore and part of the children being outside.
Captain Moore started running to the house and could have got in had the doors been open. Upon seeing the closed door, which he would have entered, he ran past it and stopped at a fence. Just as he paused, several bullets struck him; he ran a few steps and fell dead. Immediately he was scalped.
The three children, William, Rebecca and Alexander, who were outside, were immediately slain. There were several guns in the house; two of these Martha Evans took upstairs, hoping that John Simpson who was up there ill might be able to point the muzzles out a crack and fire at the savages. But upon gaining the upper room she found Simpson already dying, having been shot while he looked out a crack.
Coming down from the upstairs room, Martha raised a puncheon in the floor and crawled through the hole. Mary, who had called the reapers to breakfast, started through the hole also, the youngest child, an infant, in her arms. The child was crying as the result of a wound in its shoulder.
Martha told Mary not to bring it down since its crying would betray them. But Mary would not go down without it. Then, the puncheon was replaced, hiding Martha.
Fortunately, the child, Joseph, was away from home at his grandfather Poage's at Lexington, and thus escaped the tragedy.
The Indians managed to batter a door down, entered and took Mrs. Moore and her four children prisoners. Then, the attackers gathered up what spoils they could carry and piled them outside; but they did not immediately leave. Instead, they gobbled up the breakfast which was on the dining table.
The reapers had gone to the few scattered houses in the vicinity to get help, but the Indians seemed to know that help would not be here for some time; so, they went about dividing the plunder. Then, they killed all the cattle and horses, save three, in the nearby fields.
While this was going on, Martha Evans stole from her hiding place and ran outside opposite the Indians; in a nearby ravine she again hid, this time under a shelving rock on which rested the end of a log.
When the savages were about ready to leave, one of them seated himself on the log and began to work with his gun. Martha thought the Indian had seen her and was getting ready to shoot her, so she came out and gave herself up. She was not killed but was taken prisoner and made to join the others.
When help reached Captain Moore's cabin, the Indians had gone with their captives, so they buried the three slain children and Simpson; then, they departed to get a larger company of men to pursue the Shawnees. One of the men went seventy miles to notify Colonel Cloyd who was in command of the nearest detachment of militia. On the fourth day after the attack a company of forty men arrived at the Captain Moore cabin, found the body of Captain Moore, which the first party of men had missed, buried it and then started northward in pursuit of the raiding party.
the Indians started away with, one was a vicious young stallion called
Yorick. No one had been able to manage him but John Simpson. On the
day on the trail some of the Indians who had been leading him decided
ride him. One who mounted him was thrown and stomped to death. A second
young Indian who prided himself in being able to manage wild horses
Yorick, was thrown and while down was bitten and kicked until dead.
The terrain between Abb's Valley and the Ohio River bore an unbroken forest, and the journey brought almost unbearable fatigue to the prisoners. The Indians were always in fear of pursuit and the possible escape of the prisoners, each of whom they tied with a leather strap at night; and an Indian guarded each with the strap in his hand and a tomahawk within easy reach.
And on their grueling journey the Indians began to kill off the laggards. Little boy John was the first casualty. And Indian held him back out of sight of his mother, killed and scalped him and, then, took the scalp to show his mother what had happened. But this did not end the cruelty. The infant whom the mother had been carrying was one day snatched from her arms and brained against a tree and the body tossed out of the trail.
Eventually the party gained the mouth of the Big Sandy, and here they crossed the Ohio River and soon they were in the Shawnee camp at Scioto.
There was much dancing, singing and celebrating when the party entered the Scioto village with so many scalps, prisoners and plunder. But one old chief called a council and warned his people that they were making a mistake by plundering the homes of the settlers on Virginia's frontier. Such might bring war with the whites, and their own country would be invaded. But the plunderers disagreed with him, shook their heads and went away in sullen silence.
In a few days the captives were separated, Martha Evans and Mary were taken to one village, Mrs. Evans and her daughter Jane to another. Their being allowed to stay two together gave them some comfort. Mrs. Moore in one camp and Martha Evans in another, talked with the younger ones about possible rescue or escape; but the days came and went and no hope came.
One day there came into the two villages a party of Cherokees who had attacked settlers in western Pennsylvania and had been routed. Still bitter from the defeat, they saw the white captives and at once threatened to kill them just to avenge their hatred of whites.
They planned to get the Shawnees drunk and then persuade them to kill their captives. But some of the squaws heard the plotting and stole Martha and Mary away and hid them until the Cherokees left. However, Mrs. Moore and little Jane were not so fortunate; they were put to death, but just how, history does not record.
Afterwards, when Martha and Mary were brought to the village where her mother and Jane had been left, they were shown an ash heap in which lay human bones. Mary inquired about Jane and her mother; and no one would tell her anything, so she felt certain that they had been burned. Although Mary was then but ten years old, she secured an old hoe from the Indians, dug a hole and buried the bones.
Then, there were just Martha and Mary left among the savages. They wondered what would become of them. Mary knew that in Canada far to the north she had a brother, James; but would she ever see him?
Whites Make a Raid on Shawnee Villages
Late in the autumn of 1786 a party of whites made an excursions into Shawnee territory, destroying villages as they went. Those of Mary and Martha's village heard about the approaching whites and decided they must move out. Knowing that they were going to move, Martha Evans wrote words on trees and rocks which she thought the invading whites might see, and pursue and thereby rescue her and Mary.
of the written words. The white men came and burned the villages and
back east. They, like the Shawnees in their attacks on the Virginia
settled nothing; they merely aroused the savages to a greater state of
fury. Upon their return to the vacant towns, the Indians found that
had neither shelter nor food. Therefore, there was nothing left for
to do but travel north into Canada and hope to find shelter and food
the French whom they
Already winter was upon them, and they must move as fast as possible. Immediately they set out on the long journey. Everyone was poorly clad, and each suffered from cold. Oftentimes the squaws cut down huckleberry bushes, boiled the twigs and the members of the party drank the water.
Despite the hardships they encountered December found the Shawnee refugees in Detroit, from which place they crossed over into Canada and spent the winter on the peninsula between Detroit and Lake Erie.
Here during a frolic, when most of the Indians got drunk, Mary was sold for a few gallons of rum to an unscrupulous man named Stogwell, who had been a Tory in the Revolution and had escaped to Canada to save his life.
Martha Evans was bought by a man by the name of Caldwell, who also was an unprincipled man. Fortunately for her, though, she was traded to an Englishman named Dolson, a wealthy and quite respectable man.
James Finds His Sister
In the family of Mr. Ariome, James had been treated as one of the family. Also, Mr. Ariome told him not to give up his idea of returning to his home in Abb's Valley. On one of his trips he had learned, through a Shawnee hunter who had been in the party which made the attack on his father, what had happened at his old cabin home.
And the winter afterwards he learned that his sister Mary and Martha Evans were in Canada. He at once made plans to visit Mary, but she was sixty miles away; the winter was cold and traveling was hazardous.
Then, one day he chanced to meet Mr. Stogwell who now owned Mary. He told the Englishman that he wanted to see his sister and meant to set out on a journey for that purpose. Mr. Stogwell told him that after winter was over he would move to the same community in which Mr. Ariome was living, so James decided to wait.
Then, next spring James got to see his sister, yet a mere child. It was a happy reunion, though James was very sad because of the bedraggled way Mary looked. Her clothes were old and ragged. She was emaciated and care-worn, showing that she had been starving for food and suffering mental anguish.
Mr. Stogwell, James learned himself, was a cruel and base man. He showed his little white slave girl no compassion whatsoever, Mary soon indicated.
She explained to James that she had often become so hungry that when she washed dishes she'd gather the crumbs int he dishwater and eat them.
for his cruelty and ruthlessness, did one noteworthy act. He had seen
Moore at the home of Stogwell and knew how she was suffering, and he
James to make a complaint against Stogwell to Colonel McKee, the
agent for Indian affairs. James did as advised, thinking that Colonel
would get Mary away from Stogwell. The colonel did not force Stogwell
give the girl up, but he reprimanded the cruel man severely; and from
was Martha Evans, also. Soon all of them managed to get together and
over their different situations. There was a difference because James
happy in his home; besides, he was in love with a charming young lady.
All his homefolk were dead save Joseph who had gone to live with a
and Mary who was here near him. Mary, on the other hand,
Martha's Home Folks Worry About Her
Martha Evans' family lived on a branch of the Bluestone River in what is now Giles County. They were desperately worried about her. No one was certain which way the captives had gone, although it was thought that the Shawnees had taken them northward.
Martha had a brother, Thomas, who planned day after day to take a gun, a few clothes, mount a horse and go in hunt of her. But what an undertaking! To go alone into a land inhabited by hostile Indians would most likely mean his death.
and traveled to the Shawnee towns about the time Mary and Martha were
to Canada. He found Girty and Conoly, two renegade white men, who
among the Indians and knew pretty well what went on among them. But
men said they knew nothing about Mary or Martha; they didn't even
that they had been brought to any Indian village. And, most likely
didn't know about them until they were taken to Canada, although Thomas
Eventually Thomas heard that there was to be a meeting of Indians and white people on the border of Kentucky, and the main purpose of the gathering was to ransom prisoners. Thomas was in hope his sister would be brought there, so he attended. His sister was not present; but from one who had long been a prisoner among the Indians he learned that Martha was in Canada, not far from Detroit.
Since he was now about out of money and thinking he'd have to pay a ransom for his sister before he could get her, he returned home. He told his parents where Martha was; also, he told of many narrow escapes he himself had had on the trip.
Although Thomas was given what money he'd need to go to Canada, winter was approaching; and he thought it best not to start again until next spring. And, when spring came, he set out, riding horseback. Although he came near losing his life at the hands of the savages several times, he continued to travel until in August he arrived at the home of Betsy Dolson, where Martha was living.
It was a happy Martha who dashed into her brother's arms. As soon as a burst of emotion subsided, she calmly asked, "Are all the folks alive?" And she was extremely happy when he said yes.
The Dolsons were good enough to let Thomas stay with them while he rested from his long journey. Meanwhile, he learned from Martha that James and Mary Moore were in the neighborhood, although each was at a different place.
Planning to Go Home
Thomas, although having come the long journey, found a great problem before him; that was getting Martha safely home. When he saw Mary Moore, he learned that she was anxious to go back also, although her parents were dead. But James, since he was in love with a girl of the community and was being treated well by his owner, didn't much want to go; but, when he saw that Thomas Evans would be carrying a great responsibility in trying to get the two girls home, he said that he'd go along, help them back to Virginia, then he'd visit friends and relatives and return to Canada.
It was well up in October when the four people were ready to start back for Virginia. James and his sister Mary went with hunters across Lake Erie by boat, taking the luggage of all four of them. Meantime Thomas and Martha Evans, taking three horses, rode around the end of the lake and met the others where the boats landed.
On the southern edge of Lake Erie the travelers found themselves among friendly Indians who had been taught the principles of Christianity by Moravians. Since some of these Indians were going on a hunting trip, the Evanses an the Moores went for a considerable distance with them.
And it was well that they did for they learned that a son of Simon Girty had planned to kill James Moore and Thomas Evans and take the girls back with them. But the presence of friendly Indians fouled them, and the would-be murderers returned to their homes.
After leaving the hunting party, the travelers went southward, knowing that it would take them about five days to reach white settlements in Pennsylvania. These days, they knew, they would be traveling through an area inhabited by hostile Indians. When they lay down to rest at night, Thomas always gave the rest instructions on how to travel should they be separated. He himself would try to engage the savages, should they be attacked, while the others escaped. He told them to follow streams and watch out for certain mountain peaks. The general direction would be toward Fort Pitt.
After a month on the way, the party arrived in mid-November at the home of relatives of Thomas and Martha. Here they stopped to rest. While they were there, Thomas dislocated his shoulder and in an attempt to reset it broke his arm. This delayed their going out immediately. And during the wait winter set in, and travel was made more difficult.
It was yet
way home. Thomas was almost without money again and must get some right
away. James knew that if they could reach relatives of his near
Virginia they could get help. In James' own words, handed down to
here was the situation: "Mr. Evans got his shoulder dislocated. In
of this we remained until spring with an uncle of his in the vicinity
Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh). Having spent nearly all his money in traveling
and with the
After returning to his home, Thomas Evans married his old sweetheart, Ann Crow. Soon thereafter he moved to the Big Sandy River Valley, near the present town of Prestonsburg, Kentucky. Later he moved again, this time to Salem, Indiana. He died there in 1829.
James Moore Marries
For a long time after returning to Virginia, James Moore felt an urge to go back to Canada; but little by little the urge faded and he fell in love with Miss Barbara Taylor who lived near his grandfather's in Rockbridge County, and on February 16, 1787 they were married. (3)
James was staying with his grandparents (the Poages) near Lexington; also, Mary was staying there; Joseph who escaped the massacre of his family by having been left here by his father, Captain Moore, was still here.
James and his wife moved to Abb's Valley and took up residence on the same farm where the massacre of the Moores had happened. Also, to this same place came his brother, Joseph Moore, and his wife.
Mary Moore Married Rev. Samuel Brown
Mary continued to live with her maternal grandparents for two or three years; then, she stayed with an uncle who had married her father's sister. In October 1798 she married Rev. Samuel Brown. To them were born ten children. Her husband died October 13, 1818.
Then left a widow with a large family of children. Mary found the struggle great; but she met it with as much fortitude as she had in living with the Indians. She died in the latter part of April, 1824
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