PUBLICATION 3 - 1967
INDIAN TRAGEDIES AGAINST THE WALKER
By Emory L. Hamilton
wife, Katherine Rutherford, first lived at Wigton, Scotland, later
to Newry, Ireland, from whence they sailed from Strangford Bay in May
landing in Maryland in August of that year. Soon he was settled in
County, Pennsylvania, where he died in 1734. His wife, Katherine, died
the same year. Most of the family of John Walker, the immigrant, moved
from Pennsylvania and settled in Augusta and Rockbridge Counties in
Among the children of John and Katherine Walker was John Walker, Jr., who settled on the Clinch River in what is today Russell County; and Jane Walker, who married James Moore and settled in Rockbridge County.
born 1705, married Ann Houston in 1734. He first settled in Augusta
and later moved with the Hays family to Rockbridge County and settled
a stream still known today as Walker's Creek. From Walker's Creek he
to the Clinch River in present Russell County, Virginia, where he
in 1773 at the "sink" of Sinking Creek on a 300-acre tract of land
he named "Broad Meadows." This land was surveyed and entered for him in
old Fincastle County on April 2, 1774. At this time he was a man of
68 years and surely
Ann Walker, daughter of John and Ann Houston Walker, had married Samuel Cowan, and they settled on a 284-acre tract of land in lower Castlewood on both sides of McKinney's Run, now called Cowan's Creek, which was surveyed for them on April 3, 1774, in Fincastle County, Virginia.
In June or
1776, news reached the frontier that the Cherokee were planning to
Houston's Fort on Big Moccasin Creek. Samuel Cowan rode from Castlewood
to warn of this impending attack. Charles Bickley, who filed his
War pension claim in Russell County in 1836, tells of Cowan's death in
Cowan proposed to leave the fort and return to his family, but was admonished of the danger of an attempt to do so, as the Indians were in the neighborhood, but he persisted in his determination and set out, but proceeded but a short distance when the firing of guns was heard in the fort and the forces sallied out to attack. When they soon came upon the body of Cowan, shot from his horse and scalped, and although still alive, was taken to the fort and died the same evening.
of Jessamine County, Kentucky, whose family had taken refuge in
Fort, tells the reason for Cowan's presence at the fort and generally
the story told by Charles Bickley. She told her story years later to
Rev. John Shane (Draper MS), and referred to him as "Matthew" instead
Samuel, with a question mark after Matthew in the original manuscript
though she wasn't sure of his first name. She states:
referring to the death of Cowan is a letter written from Tennessee to
Lyman C. Draper by John Carr who, as a small child, was with his family
in the fort at the time. He writes:
In May of
group of people were traveling from David Cowan's Fort (Upper
to Moore's Fort in lower Castlewood, a distance of approximately two
They were attacked by Indians and Samuel Walker, son of John and Ann
Walker, was killed, and Ann Walker Cowan, widow of Samuel Cowan, and
nephew, William Walker, were carried away as prisoners. Ann remained a
prisoner for about seven years and her nephew, William Walker, never
For details of how they were captured, we go again to Mrs. Samuel Scott
who lived on the Clinch from 1772 to 1783, and who was again present
this event occurred. She states:
The will of John Walker, Jr., was probated in Washington County, Virginia, on November 17, 1778, and in this will he mentions his grandson, William Walker, who was perhaps the same who was captured by the Indians. The will was perhaps written before the capture occurred.
Judge M. B. Wood, of Estilville (now Gate City, Virginia), wrote to Draper in 1883, 9MSS4C26(2), that Ann Walker Cowan was held captive for seven years, when she was ransomed and brought to Philadelphia, and that Patrick Porter went there and brought her home. This story seems questionable since Mrs. Scott says she was at the Crab Orchard in 1783-84, with her relatives the Snoddys and Moores, and at which time Patrick Porter was still living in Washington County, Virginia.
William Walker, who was captured by the Indians, was a son of John Walker III and his wife, who was a Miss Long. He was born around 1770-71 and would have been about eight years old when captured. William Walker, the captive, after growing up among the northern Indians married Katherine Rankin, the daughter of John Rankin of Tyrone, Ireland, and his wife, Mary Montour. William died at Upper Sandusky, Ohio, on January 22, 1824.
William Walker, son of the captive, handed down the story of his father's capture by the Indians, as generally outlined below.
his uncle, Samuel, were in a field plowing corn, young William riding
horse and his uncle holding the plow. When coming out at the end of a
and in the act of turning they were fired upon by Indians from behind
fence, wounding Samuel in both arms. The boy sprang from the horse and
both fled, but he was captured before getting out of the field and his
Uncle Samuel was overtaken and killed. The Indians then retreated and
traveling four or five miles, halted in a thick wood and a
party returned to the invaded spot. In the afternoon the reconnoitering
party returned laden with plunder and accompanied by another party of
which the prisoners had not seen before, and with them as a prisoner,
his aunt, Ann Walker Cowan. Mrs. Cowan had been captured, as Mrs. Scott
details, while traveling between Cowan's and Moore's Forts by the
party of Delaware Indians. While being the same group, the
had split into two separate raiding parties.
council at Detroit with his Delaware friends, they met with a large
of Wyandottes, among which was an adopted white man named Adam Brown,
had been captured in Dunmore's War, and who had married an Indian woman
and was influential int he tribe. The youth attracted his attention and
a conversation in English occurred, young Walker not having forgotten
native tongue. Brown negotiated for his release and he was permitted to
After marriage, he settled near Gibraltar, Wayne County, Michigan, about 1790. He later became a very important personage in working for the United States among the Indians. At the outbreak of the War of 1812, he was appointed Special Indian Agent and was successful in keeping the Indians as allies of the United States. His service to the United States government was outstanding and honorable and with much grief and misfortune to himself, including that of being a prisoner and a daring escape from the British. His son, William Walker, Jr., became the first governor of the Kansas Territory.
Jane Walker, daughter of the immigrant, John Walker, and his wife, Katherine Rutherford, and sister of John Walker of Broad Meadows, married James Moore in April 1734. They had a son, James Moore, who married Martha Poage, and moved from Rockbridge County, Virginia, to Abbs Valley in present Tazewell County, Virginia. He built a cabin in that lonely, isolated valley and moved his family there in 1772. In 1777, he was appointed a Lieutenant and in 1778 a Captain of Militia by the Court of Washington County, Virginia, and from that time until 1786 he was Commandant of Davidson's Fort on Cove Creek of Blue Stone River.
In July of 1784, the depredations by Indians began on the family of Captain James Moore when his fourteen-year-old son, James Moore, was captured by the Shawnee Black Wolfe, his son, and another Indian, when he went to a field to get a horse to ride to the mill. He was carried to the Shawnee Towns in Ohio and did not return until September of 1789. The only source I know for details of this capture in Pendleton's History of Tazewell County, and Pendleton lifted much of his material from Bickley's History of Tazewell, published about 1853. Pendleton states: "In 1785 he was so fortunate as to get away from the Indians, and several years after his return related the following incidents in connection with his captivity."
from hunting in the spring the old man (Indian) gave me up to Captain
a trader from Detroit. But my mistress, Black Wolf's sister, on hearing
this became very angry, threatened Elliott, and got me back. Sometime
April (1785) there was a dance at a town about two miles from where I
This I attended in company with the Indian to whom I belonged. Meeting
with a French trader from Detroit, by the name of Batest (Baptiste?)
who took a fancy to me on account of my resemblance to one of his sons,
he bought me for fifty dollars in Indian money. Before leaving the
I met a Mr. Sherlock, a trader from Kentucky, who had formerly been a
with the same Indians, who had rescued a lad by the name of Moffett,
had been captured at the head of the Clinch, and whose father as a
and intimate friend of my father. I requested Mr. Sherlock to write my
father, through Mr. Moffett, informing him of my captivity, and that I
had been purchased by a French trader and was gone to
It was on one of these trading expeditions (with Mr. Ariome) that I first heard of the destruction of my family. This I learned from a Shawnee Indian with whom I became acquainted when I lived with them, and who was of that party on that occasion. I received the information sometime in the summer after it occurred.
winter (1786-87) I learned that my sister Polly had been purchased by a
Mr. Stagwell, an American by birth, but unfriendly to the American
He was a man of bad character - an unfeeling wretch - and treated my
with great unkindness. At the time he resided a great distance from me.
When I heard of my sister, I immediately prepared to go and see her;
it was then in the dead of winter, and the journey would have been
with great difficulties. On being told by Mr. Stagwell that he intended
to move to the neighborhood where I resided in the following spring, I
declined it. When I heard that Mr. Stagwell had moved, as was
I immediately went to see her. I found her in the most abject
almost naked, being clothed only by a few dirty and tattered rags,
to my mind an object of pity indeed. It is impossible to describe my
on the occasion; sorrow and joy were both combined, and I have no doubt
my sister's were similar to my own. On being advised, I applied to
liberty, we made preparations for our journey to our distant friends
set out, I think sometime in the month of October, 1789; it being a
more than five years from the time of my captivity, and a little more
three years after the captivity of my sister and Martha Evans. A
boat coming down the lakes, we obtained passage for me and my sister to
the Moravian Towns, a distance of about two hundred miles, and on the
to Pittsburg. There,
On July 21,
Walter Crockett, County Lieutenant of Montgomery County, Virginia,
Governor Patrick Henry the following:
this writer and Mr. L. F. Addington, President of the Southwest
Historical Society, visited the spot in Abbs Valley, in Tazewell
Virginia, where Captain Moore and his family were captured and
on that fateful July 14, 1786. Our conductor was Mr. William Taylor
great-great-grandson of Captain Moore, who explained the details of the
Mr. Moore has three pieces of native sandstone marker that someone had carved and erected at Captain Moore's grave. They fit the remaining portion still at the grave. Carved into the stone was:
"Captain James Moore
One of the small graves near Captain Moore's grave has a small stone at the head with no markings. The second little grave is not marked at all and its location would be only a guess. The head and foot stones of Captain Moore's grave are now separated by a large oak tree growing out of his grave.
Down the draw a short distance from the graves, were a small fish dam now is, was once a miniature waterfall where the Moore family obtained their household water; and here two of the children were slain as they were returning to the house with water. Some fifteen or twenty feet below the fall is an overhanging rock under which Martha Evans was hiding when she was captured.
After Mary "Polly" Moore returned from captivity, she married Rev. Samuel Brown of Rockbridge County, Virginia, and in that county of New Providence Church is a marker which reads:
"In memory of
Captain James Moore had first come to Abb's Valley in 1771, according to Mr. William Taylor Moore, and had lived the winter of that year in a cave with Absalom Looney, a sort of hunter and ginseng digger, and who had induced Captain Moore to settle in the valley. He returned to Rockbridge County and moved his family out the following year of 1772.
Abbs Valley then was a very isolated and lonely spot, then miles long and less than a half mile wide, being many miles from the nearest fort, which was Davidson's Garrison on Cove Creek, a tributary of Bluestone River.
The descendants of Captain Moore in 1928 erected a large and impressive monument of gray limestone and placed upon it a large bronze placard engraved with the following:
Erected to the memory of Captain
Though he slay me yet will I trust
Pendleton, in his History of Tazewell County, gives the following story, probably taken from the earlier Bickley History:
1786, a party
of 47 Indians of the Shawnee tribe, again entered Abbs Valley. Captain
Moore kept five or six loaded guns in his house, which was a strong log
building, and hoped by the assistance of his wife, who was very active
in loading a gun, together with Simpson, a man who lived with him, to
able to repel the attack of a small party of Indians. Relying on his
he had not sought refuge in a fort, as many of the settlers had; a fact
of which the Indians seemed to be aware, from their cutting out the
of his horse and cattle, and
On the morning of the attack, Captain Moore was at a lick bog a short distance from his house, salting his horses, of which he had many. William Clark and an Irishman were reaping in front of the house. Mrs. Moore and the family were engaged on the ordinary business of house work. A man named (John) Simpson was sick upstairs.
The two men who were in the field at work saw the Indians coming at full speed, down the hill toward Captain Moore's, who at this time discovered them and started in a run for the house. He was, however, shot through the body and died immediately. Two of his children, William and Rebecca, were returning from the spring, and were killed at the same time. The Indians had now approached near the house and were met by the fierce dogs, which fought manfully to protect the home of their master. After a fearful contest, the fiercest one was killed and the others subdued.
The two men who were reaping, hearing the alarm, and seeing the house surrounded, fled and alarmed the settlements. At that time the nearest family was distant six miles. As soon as the alarm was given, Mrs. Moore and Martha Evans barred the door, but this to no avail. There was no man in the house at this time except John Simpson, the old Englishman already alluded to, and he was in the loft, sick and in bed. There were five or six guns in the house, but having been shot off the evening before, they were empty. It was intended to have loaded them after breakfast. Martha Evans took two of them and went upstairs where Simpson was an handing them to him, told him to shoot. He looked up, but had been shot through a crack and was then near his end.
proceeded to cut down the door, which they soon effected. During this
Martha Evans went to the far end of the house, lifted up a loose plank,
and went under the floor, and requested Polly Moore (then eight years
who had the youngest child called Margaret (who was crying) in her
to sit the child down, and come under. Polly looked at the child,
it to her breast, and determined to share its fate. The Indians having
broken into the house, took Mrs. Moore and the children, viz., John,
Polly, and Peggy, prisoners, and
Martha Evans remained under the floor a short time, and then came out and hid herself under a log that lay across a branch, not far from the house. The Indians having tarried a short time, with a view of catching horses, one of them walked across the log, sat down on the end of it, and began to fix his gun lock. Miss Evans, supposing that she was discovered, and that he was preparing to shoot her, came out and gave up. At this he seemed pleased. They then set out for their towns.
Moore was a boy weak in mind and body, and unable to travel, they
him the first day. The baby they took two or three days, but it being
on account of a wound it had received, they dashed its brains out
a tree. They then moved on with haste to their towns. For sometime it
usual to tie, very securely, each of the prisoners at night, and for a
warrior to lie beside each of them with a tomahawk in his hand so that
in case of pursuit, the
Shortly after they reached the towns, Mrs. Moore and her daughter Jane, about sixteen years old, were put to death, being burned and tortured at the stake. This lasted some time, during which time she manifested the utmost Christian fortitude and bore it without a murmur, at intervals conversing with her daughter Polly, and Martha Evans, and expressing great anxiety for the moment to arrive when her soul should wing its way to the bosom of the Saviour. At length an old squaw, more humane than the rest, dispatched her with a tomahawk.
Polly Moore and Martha Evans eventually reached home, as described in the narrative of James Moore.
It is said that Mrs. Moore had her body stuck full of light wood splinters which were fired, and she was thus tortured three days before she died.
The killing of James Green by the Indians also touches on the Walker family, for his wife was Jane Porter, the daughter of Patrick and Susanna Walker Porter and granddaughter of John Jr. and Ann Houston Walker.
James Green and two other men from Scott County, Virginia, had gone to the Pound River in present Wise County to hunt. They were surprised by Indians at their hunting camp, and James Green and one other (Robert Kilgore) hunter was killed, while the third man escaped. He returned to the settlement in Scott County and led a searching party for the bodies, found them, and according to tradition buried them in a hollow tree, near the mouth of Indian Creek, the creek probably being named for this occurrence.
was killed by the Indians is proven by two sources. The first of these
is a letter written by Colonel Arthur Campbell to the Governor of
dated January 29, 1783, stating:
comes from Russell County, Virginia Court Order Book 3, page 266, dated
December 27, 1803, and reads:
Jr., was born posthumously and the only child of James Green, Sr.,
that his father was a young man, and had been married only a short time
when he was killed. In fact, his mother, Jane Porter, was born in 1761,
and at the time her husband, James Green, was slain, was twenty-one
old. The son, James Green, Jr., grew to manhood in Scott County,
and married Dulcena Stallard, and many of their descendants live in
and Kentucky. Not only the Greens, but Stuarts, Todds, Prices, Porters,
and many other families of Virginia and Kentucky are descendants of the
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