William Pittman and Henry
In Elisha Wallen's
hunting party of 1761, among others, was William Pittman and Henry Scaggs.
At this time William Pittman was in his early twenties, six feet tall and
of fine appearance. One must be wary in writing of him for there were several
Pittmans and more than one William on the frontier. Of this William Pittman,
John Redd had this to say:
"In the latter part
of February, 1776, Pittman and Henry Scaggs came to Martin's Station in
Powell Valley. They were returning home from a long hunt they had taken
in the "Brush" on the northwest side of Cumberland Mountain. They returned
earlier than usual and their reason for doing so was that they
had seen a great smoke some distance off
which they knew was Indians Ringhunting, and besides they had seen Indian
tracks through the woods where they were hunting, whereupon they set out
for home. (The Indians practiced ringhunting by setting a wide circle of
fire, driving the animals to the center where they were subsequently killed.)
They, Pittman and
Scaggs, spent some eight or ten days at the Station. While they were with
us they showed some silver ore they found on top of a little hill in their
hunting ground. They said while they were hunting a snow fell some twelve
to eighteen inches deep. Scaggs and Pittman went out through the
snow to kill some game. After going some
short distance from their camp they discovered that on top of a certain
hill there was no snow, while all the surrounding hills were covered with
it. This led them to go upon the hill and see the cause of it not being
covered with snow like the rest. On arriving at the summit of the hill
they discovered that it was covered with a very heavy kind of ore. Each
of them put some of the ore in their shot bags and returned to the camp.
When they arrived
at the camp they took some of the ore and by means of their hand bellows
and some thick oak bark, it was melted and they found it to be silver ore.
The silver was pronounced by all who saw it to be very pure.
Scaggs and Pittman
were said to be men of a very high sense of honor and very great truth.
By the next fall war with the Indians broke out and they went on their
long hunts no more."
John Redd further
states that in 1776 Scaggs and Pittman were living on New River. Certainly
at some time they both also lived in the Clinch or Holston River area,
for on April 29, 1779, William Pittman was recommended for Lieutenant of
Militia in Captain John Dunkin's Company. Dunkin at this time was living
in Elk Garden in now Russell County and his militiamen were all Clinch
settlers. It is not known to this writer where Pittman went after leaving
the area, probably to Kentucky, for there is a Pittman Creek there which
may have been named for him, and Henry Scaggs as will be shown was at one
time living on
this same creek.
Henry Scaggs left
the area and moved into Kentucky, where he died on Pittman's Creek in 1808
or 1809, upwards of 80 years old. Collins, in his "History of Kentucky,"
says of him:
"He was six feet
tall, dark skinned, bony, bold, enterprising and fearless. He and his brother,
(perhaps Charles) were noted hunters and nothing but hunters. It was from
the Scaggs men that Scaggs Creek in Rockcastle County, Kentucky got its
around 1779, Henry Scaggs was living on the Clinch in Tennessee. He had
been hunting for twenty years on the other side of the mountain, and this
fall in addition to a "party of upwards of 20 men," with extra pack horses,
he took his younger son. In Powells Valley his party had the not very unusual
misfortune of being attacked by the Indians, who, though they killed no
men, took all but eleven of their horses. All the hunters turned back except
Scaggs, his son, and a man named Sinclair. Scaggs' son sickened and died
on this trip and because of the severe weather of the winter of 1779-80
the ground was so frozen he had to bury him in a hollow tree.
The severity of
this winter is attested by many Revolutionary War pension statements of
men who served on the Virginia frontier as Indian spys. All the streams
froze solid and animals by the thousands died not only from starvation,
but from thirst also. James Fraley, one of the Indian spys, states in his
pension application that by August of 1779 all the leaves had fallen from