|Indian Tragedies of the Walker
By Emory L. Hamilton
wife Katherine Rutherford first lived at Wigton, Scotland, later moving
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
same year. Most of the family of John Walker, the emigrant moved from
and settled in Augusta and Rockbridge Counties in Virginia, and from
they scattered westward.
of John and Katherine Walker was John Walker, Jr., who settled on
River in what is today Russell County, and Jane Walker who married
Moore settled in Rockbridge County.
born 1705, married Ann Houston in 1734. He first settled in Augusta
and later with the Hays family moved to Rockbridge County and settled
a stream still known today as Walker's Creek. From Walker's Creek he
to Clinch River in present Russell County, Virginia, where he settled
1773 at the "sink" of Sinking Creek, on a 300 acre tract of land which
"Broadmeadows." This land was surveyed
entered for him in old Fincastle County, April 2, 1774. At this time he
was a man of 69 years and surely must have followed his children in
wanderings to the Virginia frontier. In spite of his advanced age he
lived to see a son and son-in-law killed by Indians, and a daughter and
grandson carried away into captivity dying in 1778 before their return.
of John and Ann Houston Walker, had married Samuel Cowan and they
on a 284 acre tract of land in lower Castlewood on both sides of
Run, now called Cowan's Creek, which was surveyed for them on April 3,
1774 in Fincastle County, Virginia.
In June or
of 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 the Fort of this impending attack. Charles Bickley who filed
Revolutionary War pension claim in Russell County in 1836 tells of
death in this manner:
the fort (Rye Cove Fort where Bickley was stationed) through Captain
Smith that the Indians were upon the waters of Moccasin Creek,
Captain (John) Montgomery with his company, joined Captain Smith, and
company, and marched in pursuit of the Indians and pursued their trail
within a short distance of Houston's Fort upon Moccasin Creek, where
from their apparently having separated,
unable to prosecute the pursuit further in that way and marched on the
last named fort. Upon arrival at the fort they found no assault had, as
yet, been made upon it by the Indians and found there a man from
of the name of Samuel Cowan, riding as this declarant now remembers, a
stud horse belonging to one Deskin Tibbs.
to leave the fort and return to his family, but was admonished of the
of an attempt to do so, as the Indians were in the neighborhood, but he
persisted in his determination and set out, but proceeded a short
when the firing of guns was heard in the fort and the forces sallied
to attack. When soon they came upon the body of Cowan, shot from his
and scalped, and although still alive, was taken to the fort and died
of Jessamine County, Kentucky, whose family at that time was refugeeing
in Houston's Fort tells the reason for Cowan's presence at the fort and
generally corroborates the story told by Charles Bickley. She told her
story years later to the Rev. John Shane (Draper Mss), and referred to
him as "Matthew" instead of Samuel,
a question mark after Matthew in the original manuscript as though she
wasn't sure of his first name. She stated:
brought the express from Moore's Fort to Houston's Fort that 300
were coming to attack Houston's Fort. The next morning he would start
go back and thought he could get through, but was shot. His horse got
safe (to Castlewood). His wife fainted when she saw the horse- a stud
all in a "power of sweat." He was brought in wounded and died. There my
father, John McCorkle was at the time. There were 300 Indians to 21
(in the fort). I think the men did not exceed 30. The Indians stayed
about eight days killing cattle. They were Cherokees. None of the
in the fort were killed. Relief came in from Holston and then they
directly referring to the death of Cowan is a letter written from
to Dr. Lyman C. Draper by Captain John Carr, who as a small child, was
with his family in Houston's Fort at the time. He writes:
"We forted in
Fort in Washington County, Virginia, on a creek called Big Moccasin
about 10 or 15 miles north of Clinch River. The Indians made an attack
on the fort. They killed a man by the name of Cowan. After firing upon
the fort for about half a day they were driven off. I
recollect my father sitting me up so as
enable me to see through the port holes the Indians as they were firing
upon the fort."
In May of 1778
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 her
nephew, William Walker, were carried away as prisoners. They
remained prisoners until about 1784.
details of how they were captured we again go to Mrs. Samuel Scott of
County, Kentucky, who lived on the Clinch from 1772 until 1780, and who
was again present when this event occurred. She states:
we lived on the Clinch we did not fort, and did not need to fort.
Fort was about two miles from Moore's Fort. We went to it (Cowan's) one
year, but it was too weak; but seven or eight families. The Indians
it. Miss Walker - then the widow Cowan, was taken, going from it to
Her and her sister's son, William Walker were taken – her sister
a Walker(??). Her brother Matthew (really Samuel) Walker that went with
her was killed, and the other man was shot at, but escaped and got into
the fort. This Mrs. Cowan had just gotten back from this captivity as
passed the Crab Orchard (1783-84) coming out (to Kentucky). Captain
Snoddy, William and Joe Moore's wives were sisters to her (Ann Walker
They (Snoddy and the Moores) were forted there (Crab Orchard, Lincoln
Kentucky) where they had moved from the Clinch."
(Note by ELH:
Snoddy's wife Margaret really was Ann's sister, but I doubt that
and Joseph Moore's wives were her sisters, but in some other way the
might have been related.)
The will of
Walker, Jr., was probated in Washington County, VA, November 17, 1778
in this will he mentions his grandson William Walker, who was perhaps
same who was captured by the Indians. According to the history, "John
of Wigton," by White, this William Walker was born about 1770 and
about 1792, Katherine Rankin, daughter of James Rankin of Tyrone County,
Ireland. I do not know where William
lived or any details of his release from captivity.
of the emigrant John Walker and his wife Katherine Rutherford, and
of John Walker of Broadmeadows, married James Moore in April, 1734.
had a son James Moore who married Martha Poage and moved from
County, Virginia, to Abbs Valley in present Tazewell County, Virginia,
built a cabin in that lonely, isolated valley and moved his family
in 1772. In 1777 he was appointed a Lieutenant, and in 1778 a Captain
Militia by the Court of Washington County, and from this time until
he was commandant of Davidson's Fort on Cove Creek of Bluestone River.
In July 1784
depredations by Indians began on the family of Captain James Moore,
his fourteen year old son, James Moore was captured by the Shawnee
Wolf, his son and another Indians, when he went to a field to get a
to ride to the mill. He was carried to the Shawnee towns in Ohio and
not return until September, 1789. The only source I know for details of
this capture is Pendleton's, History of Tazewell County, and Pendleton
lifted much of his material from Bickley's History of Tazewell,
about 1853. Pendleton states:
"In 1785 he
so fortunate as to get away from the Indians, and several years after
return related the following incidents in connection with his captivity:
from hunting in the spring, the old man (Indian) gave me up to Captain
Elliiott, a trader from Detroit. But my mistress, Black Wolf's sister,
on hearing this became very angry, threatened Elliott, and got me back.
Sometime in April (1785) there was a dance at a town about two miles
where I resided. This I attended in company with the Indian to whom I
Meeting with a French Trader from Detroit, by the name of Batest
Ariome, who took a fancy to me on account of my resemblance to one of
sons, he bought me for fifty dollars in Indian money. Before leaving
dance, I met a Mr. Sherlock, a trader from Kentucky, who had formerly
a prisoner with
the same tribe of Indians, who had
a lad by the name of Moffett (Captain Robert Moffett had two sons taken
by the Indians from a Sugar Camp on the Clinch in 1782, and at the time
James Moore refers to him, he was living in Jessamine County, Kentucky,
having moved from the Clinch about 1783 or 84 in the same caravan that
Mrs. Samuel Scott traveled with.) who had been captured at the head of
Clinch, and whose father was a particular and intimate friend of my
I requested Mr. Sherlock to write my father, through Mr. Moffett,
him of my captivity, and that I had been purchased by a French Trader
was gone to Detroit. This letter, I have reason to believe, father
and that it gave him the first information of what had become of me...
"It was on one
these trading expeditions (with Mr. Ariome) that I first heard of the
of my family. This I learned from a Shawnee Indian with whom I became
when I lived with them, and who was of that party on that occasion. I
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
the feelings of my sister were similar to my own. On being advised, I
to the Commanding Officer at Detroit, informing him of her treatment,
the hope of effecting her release. I went to Mr. Simon Girty and to
McKee, the Superintendent of the Indians, who had Mr. Stagwell brought
to trial to answer the complaint against him. But I failed to procure
release. It was decided, however when an opportunity should occur for
returning to our friends, she should be released without remuneration.
This was punctually performed on application of Mr. Thomas Evans, who
come in search of his sister, Martha, who had been purchased from the
by a family in the neighborhood, and was, at the time, with a Mr.
a worthy and wealthy English farmer, and working for herself.
"All being now
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
trading boat coming down the lakes, we
passage for me and my sister to the Moravian Towns, a distance of about
two hundred miles, and on the route to Pittsburgh. There, according to
appointment, we met with Mr. Evans and his sister, the day after our
He had, in the meantime procured three
horses, and we immediately set out for
Fortunately for us a party of friendly Indians, from these towns, were
about starting on a hunting excursion, and accompanied us for a
distance on our route, which was through a wilderness, and the hunting
ground of an unfriendly tribe. On one of the nights, during our
we encamped near a large party of these unfriendly Indians. The next
four or five of their warriors, painted red, came into our camp. This
alarmed us. They made inquiries, did not molest us, which might have
the case, if we had not been in company with the other Indians. After
nothing occurred, worthy of notice, until we reached Pittsburgh.
we would have reached Rockbridge that fall, if Mr. Evans had not,
got his shoulder dislocated. In consequence of this, we remained until
spring with an uncle of his, in the vicinity of Pittsburgh. Having
nearly all his money in traveling, and with the physician, he left his
sister and proceeded on with Polly and myself, to the house of our
William McPhateus (McPheeters?) about ten miles southwest of Staunton,
near the Middle River. He received from Uncle Joseph Moore, the
of father's estate, compensation for his services, and afterwards
and brought his sister."
On July 21,
Walter Crockett, County Lieutenant of Montgomery County, VA, wrote to
Patrick Henry, stating:
"I am sorry to
your Excellency that on the 14th instant, a party of Indians supposed
be about 40 or 50 in number, came to the house of Captain James Moore
Bluestone, in this county, and killed himself, and his whole family,
in number, and carried off his whole stock, which was very valuable.
likewise burned the house and fencing, and left several war clubs and
and to all appearances are for continuing hostilities."
On October 25,
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
gone across a small ravine some three or four hundred yards to salt his
stock. The Indians came running down the hill above him and also down
hill behind his house, thus cutting him off from the house. He ran
the draw apparently trying to divert them from attacking his house. He
was shot down near a large uprooted oak, and when the soldiers came
wrapped his body in a sheet and buried him where the tree had uprooted,
not having tools for digging a proper grave. The soldiers found the
of two of his children and buried them beside him. Mr. Moore has three
pieces of native sandstone marker that someone had carved and erected
Captain Moore's grave. They fit the remaining portion still at the
Carved into the stone was:
Killed by Indians 1786"
One of the
graves nearby 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
would be only a guess. The head and foot stones of Captain Moore's
are now separated by a large oak tree growing out of his grave.
Down the draw
short distance from the graves, where a fish dam now is, was once a
waterfall where the Moore family obtained their household water, and
two of the children were slain as they were returning to the house with
water. Some fifteen of twenty feet below the fall is a overhanging rock
under which Martha Evans was hiding when she was captured.
Moore returned from captivity she married Rev. Samuel Brown of
County, Virginia, and in that county at New Providence Church is a
"In memory of
Samuel Brown, 1766-1818, Pastor of New Providence Church, 1796-1818,
Moore, his wife, 1776-1824."
first come to Abbs Valley in 1771, according to Mr. William Taylor
and had lived the winter of that year in a cave with Absalom Looney, a
sort of hunter and ginsang digger, and who had induced Captain Moore to
settle in the valley. He returned to Rockbridge County and moved his
out the following year of 1772. Abbs Valley then was a very isolated
lonely spot, ten miles long and less than a half mile wide, being many
miles from the nearest fort which was Davidson's Garrison on Cove
a tributary of Bluestone River.
of Captain Moore in 1928 erected a large and impressive monument of
sandstone and placed upon it a large bronze placard engraved with the
memory of Captain James Moore, a soldier in the Revolution having
a company at Cowpens, Guilford Courthouse and Kings Mountain.
July 14, 1786
Jane Moore, wife and daughter who were captured and taken to
Ohio and burned at the stake.
Margaret, John and infant children of Captain Moore who were massacreed.
James and Mary
son and daughter who were captured and to Martha Evans, who were
and carried to Canada, held captive for five years. Were rescued by
Evans, brother of Martha Evans.
me yet will I trust him."
History of Tazewell County, gives the following story probably taken
the earlier Bickley history:
"In July 1786
party of 47 Indians of the Shawnee tribe, again entered Abbs Valley,
James Moore kept five or six loaded guns in his house, which was a
log building, and hoped, by the assistance of his wife, who was very
in loading a gun, together with Simpson, a man who lived
with him, to be able to repel the
of a small party of Indians. Relying on his prowess, he had, not sought
refuge in a fort; as many of the settlers had; a fact of which the
seemed to be aware, from their cutting out the tongues of his horses
cattle, and partially skinning them. It seems they were afraid to
him openly, and sought rather to drive him to the fort, that they might
sack his house.
On the morning
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
were reaping in front of the house. Mrs. Moore and the family were
in the ordinary business of house work. A man named (John) Simpson was
The two men
were in the field at work, saw the Indians coming at full speed, down
hill, toward Captain Moore's who had ere 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
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
were reaping, hearing the alarm, and seeing the house surrounded, fled,
and alarmed the settlements. At that time the nearest family was
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,
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
It was intended to have loaded them after breakfast. Martha Evans took
two of them and went upstairs where Simpson was and handing them to
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
old) who had the youngest child, called Margaret, in her arms, (which
crying) to sit the child down, and come under. Polly looked at the
clasped it to her breast, and determined to share its fate. The
having broken into the house, took Mrs. Moore and the children, viz:
Jane, Polly, and Peggy prisoners and having taken everything that
them, they set it and other buildings on fire, and went away.
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
tarried a short time, with a view of catching horses, one of them
across the log, sat down on the end of it, and began to fix his gun
Miss Evans, supposing that she was discovered, and that he was
to shoot her, came out and gave up. At this he seemed pleased. They
set out for their towns.
John Moore was a boy weak in mind and body, and unable to travel, they
killed him the first day. The baby they took two or three days, but it
being fretful, on account of a wound it had received, they dashed its
out against a tree. They then moved on with haste to their towns. For
it was 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, thhe prisoners might be speedil dispatched.
reached the towns, Mrs. Moore and her daughter Jane, about sixteen
old, were put to death, being burned and tortured at the stake. This
some time, during which time she manifested the utmost Christian
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.
length an old squaw, more humane than the rest, dispatched her with a
Martha Evans eventually reached home, as described in the narrative of
It is said
Mrs. Moore had her body stuck full of light wood splinters which were
and she was thus tortured three days before she died."
The killing of
Green by the Indians also touches the Walker family, for his wife was
Porter, the daughter of Patrick and Susanna Walker Porter, and Jane
Green was a granddaughter of John, Jr. and Ann Houston Walker.
two other men from Scott County, Virginia had gone to the Pound River
the present Wise County to hunt. They were surprised by Indians at
hunting camp, and James Green and one other hunter was killed, while
third man escaped. He returned to the settlement in Scott County and
a searching party for the bodies, found them, and according to
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:
last (1782) the Indians attacked the house of John Ingles (English) on
Clinch, in this county, scalped and otherwise grievously wounded a
man of the name of Cox, overtaken in ye field. The second day
as the Indians were making off toward the head of Sandy River, (they)
on three hunters, two of whom they killed."
comes from Russell County, Virginia, Court Order Book 3, page 266,
December 27, 1803, and reads:
be certified to the Registrar of the Land Office that it is proven to
court that James Green is the son and heir-at-law of James Green, who
killed by the savages on the 31st of December, 1782, and that the said
James Green was born on the 12th of February, 1783."
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
In fact, his mother, Jane Porter was born in 1761, and at the time her
husband, James Green, was slain, she was only twenty-one years old. The
son, James Green, Jr., grew to manhood and married Dulcena Stallard,
many of his
descendants now live in Kentucky. Not
the Greens, but the Stuarts, Todds, Prices, Porters, and many other
of Virginia and Kentucky are descendants of the Walker Family.
of Southwest Virginia, Published by The Historical Society of Southwest
Virginia, Publication #8, June 1974,
pages 52 to 60.