Humphrey Dickenson Slain By Indians

     The Dickenson family were among the very first settlers of Cassell's Woods. Humphrey and Archelaus Dickenson settled on the north side of Clinch River in the year 1769, the year that the first settlements were made along the Clinch. Their brother, Henry Dickenson, who became the first clerk of Russell County settled in 1773. Among others of this family who settled in the area were James Dickenson, another brother, and at least two sisters, Elizabeth Dickenson who married first John Hawkins, and after his death George Linder and lived over
near the village of Holston. The other sister Frances (Fanny) should be quite well known to students of Southwest Virginia history for she was none other than Fanny Scott, whose husband Archibald Scott and her four children were slain by Indians on the head of Wallens Creek in 1785, and she was carried away as a captive, escaped and returned under many hardships, to the settlements, and later married Thomas Johnson, for whom Johnson County, Tennessee was named.
     James Dickenson settled at Wolf Hills (now Abingdon) and was married to a daughter of Thomas Carter. Archelous Dickenson was a brick mason, this we glean from an entry in the Washington County court of 20th March, 1778, when Phillip Sword "a poor boy" was bound to Archelous Dickenson who is to "learn him the trade of bricklayer." This Phillip Sword was born March 1, 1768, a son of old Henry Sword, who was dead in 1777, and may have been killed by the Indians. Phillips Sword had a brother, Michael, born in 1758, who lived to be more than a hundred years old.
     Henry Dickenson, Sr., the father of three Dickensons also came out from Prince Edward County, seemingly first settling at Abingdon, and later in Russell County, where he died. The wife of Henry Dickenson, Sr., was Agness Jennings, sometimes called by her nickname, "Nancy."
     As previously stated, Humphrey Dickenson settled the North side of Clinch River in upper Castlewood, and the old house is still standing, as one of the most interesting landmarks in Russell County. The property is now in possession of Mr. Don Gray.
     Humphrey Dickenson was killed by Indians, but I have not been able to determine the minute details of the slaying. Tradition claims that he was killed by the Indians and found on a rock in the ford of Clinch River and had been shot. The actual date of his death can be proven to have occurred sometime between the 26th of August 1777 and the 17th of November, 1778, for on the latter date the court of Washington County entered this order:
     "On motion of Elizabeth Dickenson and Thomas Brown administration is granted them on the estate of Humphrey Dickenson, deceased. Securities for the administrators were Archelous Dickenson and John Anderson. Appraisers of his estate were John Dunkin, John Kinkead, Sr., Samuel Porter, Zachariah Abel and Archibald Scott."
     I do not know the maiden name of Humphrey Dickenson's wife, but would hazard a guess that she  might have been Elizabeth, either a sister or daughter of the co-administrator, Thomas Brown. Humphrey Dickenson had 4 children at the time of his death as proven by Washington County Deed Book 1, page 30, dated 17 July 1790, wherein Henry Dickenson, Sr., (father of Humphrey) leaves a Negro slave to John Dickenson, son of Humphrey, deceased, "for the love and affection I bear my grandchild." The order goes on to say that John must pay a fourth of the value of the Negro to each of his brothers and sisters, namely: Humphrey, Jr., Eliza Crump, and Nancy Dickenson.
     The family tradition says that Humphrey Dickenson was found on a rock in the ford of Clinch River. This ford of the river was just a short distance up river from the old Dickenson house and in early days was known as Gist's Ford, from the fact that Nathaniel Gist first owned the land. Gist assigned his interest in the land to Joseph Blackmore, brother of John Blackmore who built Fort Blackmore, and Joseph Blackmore in turn assigned his interest to Humphrey Dickenson who was granted the patent for same. This tract of 310 acres was surveyed for Humphrey Dickenson by Captain Daniel Smith, on the 28th day of May, 1774, when Castlewood was still a part of old Fincastle County. Captain Daniel Smith made the first surveys in 1774, for the settlers on the Clinch. This interesting survey was entered in the Survey Entry Book of Washington County, on page 192, and reads:
     "Surveyed for John Dickenson 286 acres of land in Washington County, lying on the north side of Clinch River and beginning on the bank of the same below Gist's Ford; running thence up the meanders of the river, etc. surveyed 15th March 1783.
     "We, the Commissioners...etc., do certify that John Dickenson, heir-at-law to Humphrey Dickenson, deceased, who was assignee of Joseph Blackmore, who was assignee of Nathaniel Gist is entitled to 310 acres of land lying in Washington County on the north side of Clinch River in Cassell's Woods to include his improvement surveyed the 28th day of May, 1774."
     Living on adjoining tracts of 310 acres of land was Humphrey's brother, Archelous and one John Barksdale. John Barksdale has long been of interest to me. On November 18, 1778, administrators were appointed for the estate of John Barksdale, deceased, in Washington County Court. I have long wondered if John Barksdale was also killed by the Indians at the same time they killed Humphrey Dickenson. 
     This is the same date Humphrey Dickenson's estate was administered.
     A visit to the old Dickenson house certainly would be worth the while of any person interested in local history. Here is the best extant "fort house" I know. At each gable end of this house may be seen the port holes used to defend against surprise Indian attacks. It is said that at one time there was a large, sloping hole dug underneath the house where the livestock were driven when attacks were expected from the Indians. The "dog-trot" or breezeway separating the two portions of the house has been boarded up, but the whole is in a fairly good state of repair.


 
 
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