Fort Frederick




Copyright and all Rights Reserved
Lawrence J. Fleenor, Jr.
November 13, 2014
Big Stone Gap, Virginia

Updated Feb. 5, 2015

No river crossing on the entire Wilderness Trail had such historic significance as the New River Crossing at present Radford. The fort that guarded it, though of significant use during three wars, is little known. This original article explores that river crossing, and the fort that guarded it.

The New River cuts south to north through the Alleghanys, and thus provides passageway through the mountains of the east where the rivers otherwise flow generally either east or west. It furthermore transects the Great Valley of Virginia, and naturally forms a hub of Indian trails that connect the Seneca of the Buffalo, New York area, the Shawnee of Ohio, the Delaware of Pennsylvania, and the Cherokee of the Smokeys. It was, therefore, natural that when the Indians of the Ohio Valley began to resist the pressure of English settlement into the Mississippi watershed, that the intersection of the Great Warrior’s Path (the Wilderness Trail) and the New River at present Radford, Virginia should become the hub of frontier warfare.

This situation is accentuated by the existence of the Little River (in earlier times called the Middle River), which provides a natural corridor connecting the lower Roanoke River Valley of Southside Virginia with the New River. By 1654 the English settlement around the mouth of the James River had stabilized and expanded to the point that there was an official legally designated trading center set up at present Petersburg for commerce with the Indians in the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina, and beyond. It was that year that Col. Abraham Woods sat a coarse west from Petersburg to seek out new opportunities of commerce to the west. Coming to the west from present Floyd County he crossed the Blue Ridge at Wood’s Gap, and thus passed to the head of the Little River. Following this river to its mouth into the New River at Radford, he became the first European to see that river. He named it Wood’s River, a name that the upper reaches of that river carried for many years.

According to Major Jed Hotchiss of Staunton, Virginia, a man named “New” maintained a ferry on the Wilderness Trail near Radford in the days before the Ingles family became involved in that business. The upper reaches of Wood’s River became known as the New River, while its lower end which was accessed from the Ohio River was called the Kanawha.

In 1749 German Moravians, Sabbatarians, and Brethren from Pennsylvania were settling Dunkard’s Bottom (Radford, Virginia) on the New River, and found there a “kind of white people who wore deer skins, lived by hunting, associated with the Indians and acted like savages.”

Early references note the “Cherokee” village at Dunkard’s Bottom. The ‘Dunkers – Dunkards’ were a variety of German Brethren, who practiced baptism by total immersion. The settlement at Dunkard’s Bottom had close ties with Brethren communities in Pennsylvania and in the Winston-Salem area of North Carolina. The word ‘dunken’ is the old German form of the modern German ‘tunken’, which has come into American English as ‘dunk’. The Brethren called their settlement on the New River at Radford ‘Machaniam’, which is a place name taken from the Book of Genesis. The ‘Cherokee Village’ and the Dunkard’s Bottom community of Machaniam seem to have become one and the same place.

Dunkard’s Bottom is usually said to have been covered by the lower reaches of Claytor Lake, whose dam is just upstream (south) on the mouth of Little River. The land patent of 1753 to Garratt Zin (also spelled Garrett Zinn) LO 32-148 covered 900 acres on the west bank of the New River opposite the mouth of the Little River, and extended north to include what was to become the western side of the Ingles Ferry / Bridge operation. The patent for this land specified that the place was called ‘Machaniam’, thus proving that the community of Brethren extended further north along the New River than is generally accepted. Title to this land was clouded by the Royal Proclamation, which was the implementation of the treaty that ended the French and Indian War in 1763, and which annulled all the land patents west of New River. Exactly how it passed to the Ingles Family is unknown.

In the 1740’s and early 1750’s King George II had set up large land companies, such as the Ohio Company and the Loyal Company, to encourage settlement in the Mississippi Valley. This was English policy to counter the French claims to the area. The settlements included Reedy Creek to Kingsport, the Valley of Virginia, the Valley of the Greenbriar, and the New / Kanawha River settlements. In July 1755 the main British army under General Braddock was wiped out near Pittsburgh by the French and Indians. This disaster opened up the Virginia frontier to raids by the Shawnee Indians of Ohio, who felt that the New River Valley was theirs. Later that year numerous settlers were killed, and the old trader Samuel Stahlnacker of Chilhowie, and Mary Draper Ingles were kidnapped and taken to the Ohio villages. Mary had been living at Draper’s Meadows, or present Blackburg, and was involved in the Draper’s Meadows Massacre. Her mother had been killed. Upon making her escape, Mary was taken to the “fort at Dunkard’s Bottom, on the west side of New River, near Ingles Ferry.” It is very improbable that there were two forts so close together. It is very likely that the “fort at Dunkard’s Bottom” and “Fort Frederick” were one and the same.


#1 - Engles ferry topoA – Ingles House B – Wilderness Road C – Mouth of Little River D – Claytor Lake & Dunkard’s Bottom E – Ingles Inn & Tavern F – Ingles Ferry G – ford


In Feb. 1756 the Augusta County Militia mounted “The Shawnee” campaign to pacify the Shawnee Indians who were running amok in western Virginia. It is not known when it was built, but likely it was in response to the Draper Meadows Massacre. Fort Frederick was built “opposite the mouth of the Little River”. Otis Rice quoting the Draper Manuscripts further states that Fort Frederick was “near Ingles Ferry, and “was up river from Ingles Ferry at Little River”. This is all that is known of its location, but it is a reasonable supposition that it lay on the Wilderness Road, and guarded the western approaches to the ford which was just to the north of the mouth of the Little River. It is not known for whom it was named, but Capt. Archibald Alexander of Rockbridge County is a likely candidate, as he was a part of the militia party from Fort Alexander that became known as the Sandy River Expedition.

Overall command of the expedition was under Major Andrew Lewis of Salem, Virginia. Capt. William Preston and Capt. Archibald Alexander were part of its officer corp. The expedition consisted of about two hundred militiamen, and one hundred Cherokee (actual total said to have been 340). William Ingles, husband of Mary, was in the party. They took 27 packhorses. The plan was to avoid the customary routes in order to avoid detection. They left Fort Frederick the 18th or the 19th, and cut across Burke’s Garden and into Abb’s Valley. They reached the headwaters of the Big Sandy River Feb. 28th. The rivers were flooding, and on March 12th Major Lewis’s canoe, and also another, sank with many of their provisions lost. Game was more scarce than they had imagined. Their provisions were cut in half. They refused the order to kill and eat their horses, and on March 13th there was something of a mutiny, as the men refused to go further. They had gotten as far as the general vicinity of Logan, West Virginia. They boiled and ate the rawhide laces that held their harnesses together. These strips of rawhide were called ‘tugs’, and thus the place where they ate their tugs became known forever more the ‘Tug Fork of the Big Sandy’.

The party broke up into small units, and on the way home many froze to death, and many were killed by Indians. They returned to Fort Frederick. The House of Burgesses held a formal hearing, but cleared Lewis of any wrongdoing.

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 placated the Shawnee for a while, but when the settlers began to creep back into the country west of the New River, the Shawnee again made a bid to clean out the New River Valley. The result was Lord Dunmore’s War of 1774, and its single battle, the Battle of Point Pleasant.

Indeed, part of that resettlement of the western bank of the New River was made by the Ingles family, who in 1762 opened up a ferry on the Wilderness Road, which is still named as such, and whose State # is 611.

In 1774 the Shawnee made no secret of their plan to invade Virginia and to enforce the terms of the Royal Proclamation. Once again the Western Virginia Militia under Andrew Lewis and William Christian congregated at Fort Frederick (“the New River Ford, later known as Ingles Ferry”). Lord Dunmore and the Eastern Virginia Militia marched to the fort at the forks of the Ohio at Pittsburgh. It was the old French Fort Duquesne, which Dunmore renamed after himself. It later became known as Fort Pitt.

In recent years, Claytor Lake was drained in order to effect repairs to the dam. During this event a modern archeological evaluation of the community of Dunkard’s Bottom, including the home of William Christian, was made. No remains of a fort were found under Claytor Lake.

Sept. 12, 1774 Andrew Lewis and his militia left Fort Frederick for Lewisburg, W. Va. (Camp Union), where the general muster was to take place. The force mustering at Fort Frederick included companies from East Tennessee, Clinch Valley, Powell Valley, and Holston Valley. No exact count of the number of men involved was kept, but a reasonable estimate would be 300-400. This is the last mention of Fort Frederick in the available historic documents.

In July 1776 William Christian, who was married to Patrick Henry’s sister, led the New River Militia to the rescue of the Holston Valley Militia after the Great Cherokee War. It is likely that Fort Frederick was the site of the muster of the New River Militia. The result of this effort was Christian’s Campaign against the Cherokee in the fall of 1776.

The operation at Ingles Ferry prospered through the years. It is known that the Ingles family started a commercial ferry operation at the ford of the New River made by the Wilderness Road in 1762. The acquisition of the Zin land on the west side of the ferry has been discussed. The Ingles did not gain title to the land on the east bank of the ferry / ford until 1782. This time lag was not unusual. The Virginia Land Office was closed from 1774 until 1778. Even then people were afraid to register their land with the Rebel Land Office, for fear that their claims would be nullified if the British won the war. When Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown in 1781, there was a flood of claims for land title filed with the Land Office.


#2 - Ingles' House

The Ingles House on the East Bank

Note that there are two Additions to the Original House on its Left



In 1782 William Ingles filed claim to 300 acres (LO G–230) located on the east bank of Wood’s River (New River) below (north) the mouth of the Middle River (Little River). This was based on an assignment made by Dr. Thomas Walker of the Loyal Company, which was later tied up in the estate of his son, and who failed to pay quit rent (real estate taxes). Ingles paid these taxes, and gained title to the land. Both the Zin and Walker lands are still in the Ingles family.

This ferry was one of several at Radford. If one were travelling toward the Narrows, one was likely to take Pepper’s Ferry located on the northern side of Radford. However, if one were taking the main Wilderness Road and its parallel route, the Island Road, which started at Fort Chiswell, on to the Holston Valley, one used the ford at Fort Frederick, later Ingles.

In 1842 the Ingles family built a large covered bridge between the ford and the ferry. A period drawing shows the bridge to have been of three arched spans supported by cut stone abutments on either bank, plus two pylons in mid stream. There was a ‘bridge house’, which functioned as a tollbooth, in the northern corner of the western abutment.


#3 - Ingle's Ferry Bridge by Lewis MIller in 1850's

Lewis Miller’s Sketch of the Ingles Home and Covered Bridge looking Upstream (south)

Note that the Original House is Missing its later two Additions, which were Evidently Built After the Bridge was Built in 1842



The family built an inn on the western bank just opposite the ferry landing, and a couple of hundred yards down stream from the bridge, which was a couple of hundred yards down (north) from the ford.

#4 - Ingle's Ferry tavern

Ingles Ferry Inn & Tavern

#5 - west abbuttment upstream

West Abutment and the Foundation Rubble of the Bridge House, or Toll Booth

Looking Upstream to the South




In May 1864 Union General George Crook burned both the railroad and turnpike (Ingles Ferry) bridges at Central Depot (Radford). This was part of Grant’s campaign to starve Lee out of his positions at Petersburg by denying him substance from Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee. He was opposed by Confederate General John McCausland, who commanded invalid units from Washington County, Virginia.


#6 - east abbutment







#7 - shoals & fordThe Shoal &
Ford from the
West Bank –
The Wilder-
Ness Road
Crossed here and Entered the Mouth of the Hollow just off the right Edge of the Photograph


#8 - GeneralCrook_photo


Union General George
Crook, who Burned the Ingles Ferry Covered Bridge in 1864




After the burning of the Ingles Bridge the ferry was reopened, and operated until 1948, when it sank with a truck on board. Today, both US 11 and I-81 have modern bridges across the New River at Radford.

#9 - bg mccausland


Confederate Brigadier General John McCausland, Whose Brigade of Invalids from Washington Co., Va. Opposed Crook





This remarkable constellation of historic artifacts is viewable from a public road, State 611 (officially named ‘The Wilderness Road’, which in historic fact it is). To get there EXIT I-81 at the interchange just west of the Ingles Ferry Bridge over the New River at Radford. The distance is approximately two miles. This exit is labeled as access to Claytor Lake State Park, and as State 660. Turn north onto State Park Road (State #660) and proceed about a half mile to its intersection with the Wilderness Road (State # 611). Turn east onto the Wilderness Road and proceed to its dead end, which is about three miles. You will pass the Claytor Dam Road, which is the pioneer road to Dunkard’s Bottom. It is the author’s speculation that the most likely site for Fort Frederick is the two hundred yard stretch from this intersection to the collapsing log cabin on the south side of the Wilderness Road, right where the field turns into a deep hollow which contains the old Wilderness Road that approached the ford on the river. The beaten dirt of the old road still can be seen in the bottom of this gorge like hollow, and observed to disappear into the river at its edge.

#10 - Wilderness Rd. cabinLog Cabin Made with V – joints – Located Beside the Wilderness Road on the West Approach to the River – Its Spring was Likely the Spring of Fort Frederick

Note two physical attributes of this hollow. It ends on the only shoal of rocks crossing the river all the way from the dam to well past the site of Ingles Ferry, there being deep pools of water both above and below this rock ledge. It is the only possible site for a ford. Secondly, note that the western river bank is too steep to allow horse or buffalo passage in all places except here at the head of this hollow, and at the ferry site downstream, where the water is too deep to allow fording. The State highway on both sides of the river is currently named ‘The Wilderness Road”.

Also note that the hollow is too deep to make it possible to have built a fort down in it until one comes to the head of the hollow at the collapsing log cabin. Note that the corner joints of this cabin are V – notched, and not half dove tailed. This dates the construction of the cabin to before 1820. The only spring on this stretch of road that runs between the head of the hollow and the intersection with the road to Dunkard’s Bottom is the spring that supplied this old cabin. It is the only possibility for the Spring of Fort Frederick, and is located as close to the ford as practical.


The Battle of Point Pleasant – A Battle of the American Revolution

Manufactured History – Refighting the Battle of Point Pleasant
Lewisburg – The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Lewisburg as the intersection of two Indian Trails –

Camp Union due to muster of militia in 1774,_West_Virginia

Yellow Creek

pro Dunmore Book

Treaty of Fort Stanwix 1768

Ohio’s Hx Lord Dunmore’s War

State Park at Point Pleasant

list of participants

Fort Savannah and Lewis Spring and Pontiac’s Rebellion,_West_Virginia

Pontiac’s Rebellion’s_War

Cherokee town at Fort Frederick


Dunker’s (Dunkard’s) Bottom

Simon Girty

Blue Jacket

Simon Kenton


Andrew Lewis & Fort Frederick

Tug River

Big Sandy Expedition

Dunkers & Machaniam
Johnston, David E. – A History of the Middle New River Settlements & Contigious Territory

Library of Virginia Land Grants –

Caucasians and Indians at Dunkard’s Bottom
“Dunkard’s Bottom”

Mary Draper Ingles
Annals of Augusta County, Virginia From 1726 to 1871 pg. 115

The burning of the Ingles Ferry Bridge
Walker, Gary C. – Hunter’s Fiery Raid Through Virginia Valleys pg. 11

USGS topographic map prepared by Edgar A. Howard

Waddell, Joseph A. – Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, From 1726 to 1871 pg. 115

Rice, Otis K. – Frontier Kentucky page 15
West Virginia, a History page 149

Jones, Heather & Harvey, Bruce – “Dunkard’s Bottom: Memories on the Virginia Landscape, 1745-1940”

“Virginia Historical Markers”

Kegley, Mary – Finding Their Way From the Great Road to the Wilderness Road 1745-1796
Special thanks for the help so freely given by Mr. Scott Gardner, Curator of the Glencoe Museum at Radford

Scott’s Station



By: Lawrence J. Fleenor, Jr.
Dale Carter
Copyright Lawrence J. Fleenor, Jr.
Big Stone Gap, Va. Dec. 2001
Retranscribed in ‘Word’ 7-8-15


A significant amount of history has occurred within the semicircle of Powell’s Mountain where it forms the head of Wallen’s Creek in eastern Lee County, Virginia. The Great Warrior’s Path, later known as the Boone Trail or the Wilderness Road, passed through here. The militia party conduction the infamous Governor of Upper Canada, Henry ‘Hair Buyer’ Hamilton, into captivity spent the nighnt of April 28th, 1779 camping at “Scott’s Improvement” (1). The famous massacre by Chief Bob Benge of its first settler, Archibald Scott and his children, and the carrying off into captivity of his wife, Fannie Scott, occurred here in 1785. In 1793 the famous confrontation between Ensign Moses Cockrell and the same Chief Benge occurred here. The Holston Militia of The State of Virginia maintained a blockhouse garrison named after Scott here during this period. Scott’ home, and the later Scott’s Station are often blended in people’s minds into one, but were, in fact, different structures said to have been located ”near” the same site.

Further complicating the conceptualization of this basin as it existed in the last decde of the Eighteenth Century is the confusing evidences concerning the location of the above mentioned trail / road after it left Kane Gap atop {Powell Mountain on its way trough the basin at the head of Wallen’s Creek. The trail started off as a buffalo path, and ended up as a vehicular road. Not surprisingly, the topographic requirements of each are different, leading to different locations of what in reality were two different routes.


The basic framework of the research is one of land grant analysis joined with the analysis of later deeds covering the same land, using the associated data from their surveys to locate the historic sites on a modern topographic map. Other data, such as from historic narratives, will be used to flesh out the survey data. The process will be spelled out step by step, and the underlying documents will be supplied, both to serve as a complete historic resource for future use, and to allow the reader to follow the process step by step. Scans of the resulting topographic maps, and a bibliography of sources will be attacked.

The Early Land Grants

Archibald and Fannie Scott had married at Castlewood, Russell County, Virginia. She was the sister of Humphrey Dickenson, who settled in Castlewood in 1769 (2). The 28th and 29th of October 1783 Scott had a 400 acre, a 336 acre, and a 396 acre tract surveyed. They had sometime earlier fulfilled the legal requirements of having “settled” on the land, which were that they had lived there long enough to have planted an acre of corn for each ten acres granted. The planting need not have been much more than ceremonial, and they did not have to continue to have “lived” here to have gained the right to a land grant for the nearly 1000 acres of land. The 400 acre tract was officially designated as the “settlement right”, but this does not necessarily imply that this is where they settled after they had been granted the land, as they were June 20,1785.

These land grants are available on the internet form the Library of the State of Virginia, and they and all other related grants will be designated by the system used by that source (3). The reference numbers for the three Scott grants are R-99, P-709, and Q-336. June 29, 17895 Archibald Scott and all his children were murdered by Chief Benge’s war party at their home on this land, and Fannie was carried off into captivity (4). She escaped and returned to the settlements August 11th, but may have been declared dead, as the land at the head of Wallen’s Creek passed to Archibald’s brother, James, who was listed as Archibald’s “heir-in-law. In July 1790 he sold these tracts to Thomas Johnson who became Fannie Scott’s second husband is unknown, as this Thomas Johnson for 220 Pounds (what relationship he may or may not have had to the Thomas Johnson who became Fannie Scott’s second husband is unknown, as this Thomas Johnson’s wife is listed as “Susannah” on the deeds (5). Thomas Johnson sold this land to Robert Duff (date unknown) (6). The texts of the land grants adjoining this property that list it as being Duff’s “settlement right” are an error.

Robert Duff, who had been born in Ireland 6-23-1755, and his wife Mary “Polly” Dickenson, settled on this land, and had ten children. Polly was Fannie Scott’s niece. After his death 6-20-1820 his estate, which consisted of the 978 acres of Archibald Scott’s land that he had bought, plus an additional 150 acres he had been granted from the State (Land Office 65-237), was divided among his ten children, with his son Thomas D. Duff getting a one tenth share, or 110 acres (7). Coale’s Wilburn Waters page 201 states, “Archibald Scott’s cabin was near the book was written in 1878, less that a hundred years after the Scott massacre, the information would seem to have reasonable likelihood of being accurate. With this being the case, the problem of identifying the site of the Scott slaying becomes one of locating on the topographic map the land of Thomas D. Duff.
This process begins with locating the three land grants of Archibald Scott on the topographic map. As all the descriptions of the metes and bounds of these three tracts are notated in terms of trees that have long since gone, the process becomes one of charting the adjoining land grants to those of Scott in an attempt to construct a ‘grand block’ of contiguous grants which would stand a greater chance of being situated on a modern map. Grants 65-237, 79-431, Q-336, 82-20, 112-490, and 81-330 are adjoined to the grants of Scott’s, but still not enough information exists to plot this block of grants on a modern map.

The Steel Tracts

About 1911 Fred R. Steel began to buy up the basin at the head of Wallen’s Creek. In 1934 he mortgaged the land, and a modern survey (9) was done, and one of the corners of this survey mentions the fact that it is a corner of the old Archibald Scott grant. Due to this property’s outer metes and bounds being the ridge crest of Powell Mountain, and due to the fact that this crest makes a horseshoe around the head of Wallen’s Creek, it is easily accurately postioned on a modern topographic map, thus locating a specific corner of the Archibald Scott block of grants in the process. (Steel Tract #1 point ‘A’ is the old Scott corner, or LO R-99 point ‘F’).

As the Steel land did not include the land formerly owned by Thomas D. Duff, the title analysis for the Steel land does not include a description of the Thomas d. Duff land. However, retrogressive deed analysis from the Steel title abstract shows earlier surveys of tracts that conveyed land from the Duffs to Steel (10), and which contain three survey references to the land of Thomas D. Duff. By this means the land of Thomas D. Duff can be topographically related to that of Archibald Scott.

The Jan. 18, 1884 deed from G. C. Duff to William P. Duff is accurately plotted on a topographic map not only because, it too contains the mountain crest rim of the horseshoe of Powell Mountain, but it contains a point at Kane Gap, a known entity. Point ’W’ of this survey is a common corner with one of Thomas D. Duff’s. It also shares common metes and bounds with the March 16, 1841 William Carnes to Thomas P. Carnes tract, which contains a point and a line with Thomas D. Duff. Using these geographic points of reference, one can approximately localize the tracts of Thomas D. Duff.

The Tracts of Thomas D. Duff

The records in the Lee County Court House at Jonesville contain the deeds of four tracts of land owned by Thomas D. Duff, and they are as follows:

A) John Crabtree to Thomas Duff et al, fifty acres, Oct 15 1839 DB #8 pg. 202
B) Polly Duff to Thomas D. Duff, 110 acres, March 23, 1840 DB #15 pg. 38-39
C) Robert Duff to Thomas Duff, 50 acres, Feb. 18 1841 DB #8 pg. 354
D) Polly Duff to Thomas Duff, 110 acres, Jan. 29, 1842 DB #8 pg. 452
The first tract contains a common corner and a line with Archibald Scott’s land, while the second is from the estate division of his parents, William P. and Elizabeth (Polly) Duff. The Scott and the Steel title abstract corners help locate the tracts of Thomas D. Duff on the topographic map.

The modern farm owned by Lawrence Tankersley contains the traditional site of Scott’s death and of the later station (11). Its location comes very close to the calculated location of the 110 acre tract sold to Thomas Duff by Polly for $100 and “love and affection”. It would seem likely that this tract was the site of the home of William and Polly Duff, and the widow in her old age was turning the homeplace over to tom, possibly in exchange for his caring for her. The metes and bounds of the Tankersley survey contains references to the “corner to the Polly Duff line” and to “Thomas D. Duff’s line”. Correlating these metes and bounds from the old and the modern surveys proves that the northern part of the current Tankersley farm is cut out of the northern part of the 110 acre Polly to Tom Duff tract, plus some of the land from the Duff tract to its west. This proves that the traditional general sites of Scott’s home and Station are correct.

There are other substantiating evidences to support this conclusion. The topographic map (12) identifies the creek coming from the northwest and joining Wallen’s reek at the Duff Cemetery located north of LO P-709, as being “Scott’s Branch”. The current road map of Lee County that is painted on the wall of the Clerk’s Office in the Jonesville Court House labels the intersection of Scott’s Branch and highway #612 as being “Scott’s”. The Duff Cemetery located on this tract is said to have been started by the graves of Scott and his children.

Until very recently, springs were critical in the location of people’s homes. Even more importantly, it was an invariable requirement that a good reliable spring be located within easy rifle shot from every frontier fortification. This was to insure that an individual going out of the fort for water could be covered by rifle fire from within the fortification. As a practical effect, every frontier fortification in the region was located no more than about 75-100 yards from a good spring. The spring located to the northwest of the current log Duff house (presumed to have been the home of Thomas D. Duff) and on the eastern bank of Scott’s Branch, is now dried up, but was the source of water to this house, as well as to the houses cross the road to the south, and to the Powell Academy School which was located across Scott’s Branch to the west, well into the last half of the Twentieth Century. (13)

This is as far as present information will take us. Only an archeological examination of this site is likely to produce greater documentation.

The Location of the Daniel Boone Wilderness Road
From Kane Gap to Scott’s Cabin

The evolution of the Trail or Road is, in general, well known. It started of as a buffalo trail, passed through a prolonged phase as a human foot trail, and for a brief period as a vehicular road.

The first improvements were made by Daniel Boone in 1775 when he and his party of axmen improved the old Indian Trail all the way to Boonesboro, Ky. It is known that the only earth moving that they did was on the “Dug Road” segment on Pine Mountain’s eastern face at Moccasin Gap. Soon, however, the trail was improved to the point that it would accommodate darts as far as Martin’s Upper Station at Rose Hill, Virginia. Bishop James Madison’s official map of the State of Virginia of 1807 (14) (see Madison’s Map file) shows that the Kane Gap route had been abandoned in favor of the current passage of US 58 and 421 through Eller’s Gap near Pattonsville.

There is ample evidence of two routes for the Great Warrior’s Path – Wilderness Road – Boone Trail from Kane Gap to Archibald Scott’s. Coal’s Wilburne Waters pg. 153-154 says that Ensign Moses Cockerell ran two miles from Kane Gap to Scott’s Station to escape Chief Benge. Pusey gives that distance as recorded in a pioneer’s journal as having been three miles (15). Well into the Twentieth Century mail was carried from the depot at Duffield across Kane Gap by horseback. The trail used by the mailman on horseback came down the western bank of the head of Wallen’s Creek which states right at Kane Gap, and came straight on down the slope of the mountain to the road designated on the topographic map as running east from Thomas D. Duff’s home parallel to Wallen’s Creek to the foot of the mountain. Wagons were unable to use this bridal path due to its grade (16). The wagon road leaving the northern lip of Kane Gap takes the eastern bank of the head of Wallen’s Creek and uses the curving slope of Powell Mountain to make a near 180 degree turn as it slowly descends to the basin at the head of Wallen’s Creek Valley, and to rejoin the foot trail at Thomas D. Duff’s estate division.

Inspecting the roads from Kane Gap, itself, one can see lots of evidences of the foot trail, and vehicular trail is still very much in use by horses and all terrain vehicles, and is marked on the topographic map.

Buffalo spilling over the Gap to the north would have paid no attention to grade, and would have taken the shortest route to the valley floor, just as the deer trail of today does. The trail to the left (west) of the head of Wallen’s Creek and Kane Gap is easy to see and to follow for its first couple of hundred yards. There are no signs of excavation. However, one can see trough like depressions created by a mix of centuries of foot traffic and by erosion. Going through a hillside of stones, one notes that there are none down one of these linear depressions for the ground on both sides is littered with them, and notes further that the deer make current heavy use of this line of travel, just as surely did the buffalo and the Indian and pioneer foot travellers that followed them. The trail gets lost as the mountain gets steeper, and it can no longer be followed to the valley floor. The grade is close to the maximum practical limits that a horse and rider can negotiate, and exceeds what an be accomplished by a horse drawn vehicle.

The mileages noted above are significant. It is two miles from Kane Gap to the traditional site of Scott’s Station by the foot trail, and three if one were to take the vehicular road. This observation explains and ratifies the two distances noted in the historic documents above.

The survey contained within the deed of the tract of land sold by James J. Dickenson to William P. Duff on May 21, 1877 defines a leg of that tract running N62W from Kane Gap with “an old road” (17). This is the bearing of the foot trail as it leaves Kane Gap to the north along the left hand bank of the head of Wallen’s Creek.

Incidently, the western leg of this survey is along “the old wagon road” which was called earlier the Great Kentucky Road and later the Fincastle Turnpike, and demonstrated that the road then took a northeastern rather than a northwestern course out of Eller’s Gap. This routing replaced the foot trail and the vehicular road through Kane Gap before 1807.

In summary, there are ample evidences of both the earlier foot trail, and the later vehicular trail running from Kane Gap to the floor of Wallen’s Creek Valley.

1) The Bear Grass, a History – by Lawrence J. Fleenor, Jr. pgs. 56-59
2) “The Killing of Humphrey Dickenson” by Emory Hamilton
3) http:image.vtls. com/collections/LO.html
4) Benge! – by Lawrence J. Fleenor, Jr.
5) Russell County, Virginia Deed Books 1-131, 1-126, 1-129
6) Russell County, Virginia Deed Books 1-168, 1-69
7) Title Abstract entitled “Duff / Steel Property” made by the law firm Irvine & Morison Feb. 1911, owned by Eunice and Mary Ruth Laster
8) Published originally in the 19th century by the editor of an Abingdon newspaper, and republished separately, or as part of Summers’ Annals of Southwest Virginia vol. II by the Overmountain Press
9) Lee County Deed Book 87 pg. 463; a cp[u os om a compilation of related material entitled “Duff / Steel Property” owned by Eunice and Mary Ruth Laster
10) Pgs. 39 and 48 of #6 – G. C. Duff & Mary E. Duff to William P Duff Jan 18, 1884; survey descriptions of tracts 7 & 8 of a law suit between John W. Carnes V. Eliza A. Carnes (Lee County 1866)
11) Lee Co. Deed Book 421 pg. 771
12) US Dept. of Interior Geologic Survey 7.5 Map, Duffield Quadrangle
13) Mrs. Lawrence Tankersley, owner of this tract today; and Mr. Jim Young, who lives in the house south of the road, and who used to get his water from the spring until it went dry
14) Located in the Rare Book Room of Alderman Library at the University of Virginia
15) Pusey, The Wilderness Road to Kentucky – pgs. 26-114
16) Communication to the author by Mr. Eunice Laster, who has spent his life in the head of Wallen’s Creek
17) ibid #6 above, pg. 38 – Lee Co Deed Book 18, pg 66


As if there were not enough pathos already associated with Scott’s Station, while looking over the Duff Family Cemetery at the site of Scott’s Station, I became immersed in the tragedies of the next generation of Duffs. Three of Robert P. Duff’s grandsons died in the Civil War. In the center of the grave yard is a single shaft engraved on four sides. It looks at first like a tomb stone, but it is rather a memorial to family members buried elsewhere. On the one side is a memorial to Robert Duff, Jr., who had moved east to Staunton, Virginia. The monument records that he died and was buried in Staunton in 1888. On a second side of the shaft is an inscription to his son William Washington Duff, “born April 12, 1844 and who died June 5, 1864: buried at Point Lookout, Md.” The stone says no more.

Point Lookout was opened by the Union Army after the Battle of Gettysburg and became on the largest of the Confederate Prisoner of War camps. It came to imprison over 52,000 Southern soldiers and southern sympathizers, of whom over 14,000 died. The camp was built at the tip of the peninsular formed by the junction of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. The land was marshy and the conditions were over crowded. The Confederate prisoners were made to suffer for the conditions t the confederate POW camp at Andersonville. The prisoners at Point Lookout were purposefully deprived of rations, causing them to eat rats. Diarrhea, malaria, scurvy, tuberculosis, and exposure killed prisoners at a rate at a rate as great as many of the bloody battles. The Union officials were in a state of denial over this, as they were in process of executing the commandant of Andersonville for having presided over much the same obscenity, and the government only admitted to 3,384 deaths at Point Lookout. Among those modern records list as being among the unadmitted victims buried at the prison cemetery at Point Lookout is listed “Duff, W. W., CO H 5th Va., P/W Died while P/W At Pt. Lookout, Md.”

“The Bloody Fifth” Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment was organized April 13, 1861 in Augusta County, of which Staunton is the largest town. Company ‘H’ was called the “Augusta Rifles”. The Fifth became part of the Stonewall Brigade, and no unite saw heavier combat. Few survived the war. We do not know when W. W. Duff was captured, but in less than a year after the Battle of Gettysburg, in which the Stonewall Brigade played a prominent role, William Washington Duff was dead at Point Lookout.

Another side of the stone shaft in the Duff Cemetery at Scott’s Station memorializes another of Robert Duff, Jr.’s sons, Thomas Jefferson Duff. He was “born 7-31-1842 and died May 5, 1864; CSA: Killed in the Battle of the Wilderness – God defends the right.” We do not know his unit, but it is possible that he also had joined the Fifth Virginia along with his brother William Washington. The Stonewall Brigade played a prominent part in the Battle of the Wilderness.

Nearby is the monument to “Our Soldier Boy”, Robert Duff III, who it notes was born in 1844, the same year as his cousin William Washington, and who was “killed at Chancellorsville 5-2-1863: CO G 50th Reg., Va. Volunteer Line.” Toward the end of the War, the remnants of the Stonewall Brigade were combined with what was left of other units, the 50th among them.

So, here in this seemingly most isolated and peaceful valley lie recorded events of tragic violence unimagined by the passer by of today. Archibald Scott killed in his bed, his daughter’s brains dashed out as she was being held in her mother’s arms; and to the grandsons of this first generation we see memorials of their deaths in distant places, buried far from home, and mourned in absentia by those who remained.

Bibliography to Postscript:

1) The tombstones of the Duff Cemetery
2) Robertson, James I. – The Stonewall Brigade

#1 - Archibald Scott's Grants #2 - Steel Tracts #3 - Thomas D. Duff Tracts #4 - site of Scott's murder #5 - Wm. P. Duff's tracts #6 - Bishop James Madison's Map #7 - Three versions of the Wilderness Road in Wallen's Creek

Price’s Turnpike


Copyright and all Rights Reserved
Lawrence J. Fleenor, Jr.
Big Stone Gap, Va.

The Federal Government and the individual states have been designating driving tours of many of the old trails in the country. Perhaps the most outstanding example is the Lewis and Clark Trail. Perhaps the next most important effort being made by both the Federal Government and Commonwealth of Virginia is the Wilderness Trail running from Philadelphia to Boonesboro, Kentucky.

The only segment of the Wilderness Trail that is a single trace without alternative routes is the portion that runs from Middlesboro to Pineville, Kentucky. Virginia contains the longest parts of the trail, and it presents itself in numerous variations. The main variant runs the length of the Valley of Virginia to Reedy Creek at Bristol in Tennessee before it reenters Virginia via Moccasin Gap and on to Cumberland Gap. The main alternative to this route runs to the north of the Valley of Virginia along the Virginia – West Virginia border. Its most modern incarnation was the Fincastle to Cumberland Gap Turnpike completed it 1841.

The legislation of 1832 that enabled the surveying of the Fincastle to Cumberland Gap Turnpike is enigmatic, in that it specifies that this survey start at New Castle at “Price’s Turnpike”. References on-line document that there is legislation on record in Virginia authorizing Price’s Turnpike, and that it ended up in the Kanawha Valley of what is now West Virginia. Nothing else seems to be documented in modern literature. This essay’s goal is to do just that.

New Castle is an ancient road hub on Craig’s Creek on State 615 in Botetourt, County, Virginia. 615 continues west and is the route of the Fincastle to Cumberland Gap Turnpike as far as US 460 near Pearisburg. In 1833 the Commonwealth of Virginia passed legislation for improvements on this route, which it called ‘The Cumberland Road’. That year it published a map of that route as it ran from Cumberland Gap to the Town of Fincastle, the county seat of Botetourt County, which is just south of the mouth of Craig’s Creek into the James River. This map shows Price’s Turnpike leaving the Cumberland Road in the middle of New Castle, and proceeding north up State 617 following Barber’s Creek. It also documents that this intersection is mile post #6 of Price’s Turnpike. It is six miles to the mouth of Craig’s Creek.

The New River starts near Boone, North Carolina, and flows north through Virginia by Radford and passes into West Virginia at Narrows. Its first major tributary in West Virginia is the Greenbrier River, which comes in from the East. Its major city is Lewisburg. This town is situated on an ancient Indian Trail intersection of the Seneca Trail that ran from Buffalo, New York to the Narrows. The other trail is the Midland Trail that ran from Charlestown, West Virginia to Hampton Roads, Virginia. It is important to note that the New River changes names in its course through West Virginia, and becomes the Great Kanawha River.


excerpt 1833 map - New Castle


It is said that the Midland Trail more of less follows US 60. It is doubtlessly true, but it seems that its route across the Alleghenies from the Valley of Virginia to the Greenbrier Valley went to the south of present US 60 and its modern version – I-64. Price’s Turnpike was most likely the route of the Midland Trail across the Allegheny Mountain.

Oral tradition, widely held, in Botetourt County is that the ‘old road from Lexington’ came in a direct line following State 612, which is named ‘the Blue Grass Trail’ today. This same name is applied to State Highways of various numbers to a route that lies all the way to the Valley of the North Fork of the Holston River in Washington County. This route represents yet another variant of the Wilderness Trail, and which lay between the Fincastle to Cumberland Gap Turnpike and the main trail down I-81 in the Valley of Virginia.

The route turns to the west to the right off of 612 onto State 622, the Mill Creek Road. Both these routes are today obscure gravel roads, but 300 years ago they passed significant iron works, such as Jane and Rebecca Furnaces, which still stand today. Rebecca Furnace still has its iron master’s house standing. Mill Creek overlays a deep crack, or fissure, in the earth’s crust. Warm mineral water flows up this fissure for the entire length of Mill Creek. In the early 19th Century there were spas at Dagger’s Spring and at Gala at the intersection of 622 and US 220. The ancient route follows the combined State 622 and US 220 for about a mile, and turns off on Price’s Bluff Road, which carries the number of State 622 beside the James River to Price’s Bluff. The old trail fords the river near this point.

Price's Turnpioke


The first name of the Price who lived at Price’s Bluff and at the start of Price’s Turnpike is unknown. Review of the existing records, including land patents, shows a strong concentration of Prices in this area. One would suspect one of the numerous William Prices or the son Samuel. Descendants migrated both into the Greenbrier Valley and down the Fincastle to Cumberland Gap Turnpike. No one knows if the namesake of Price’s Turnpike and of Price’s Bluff are one and the same.

At any event, Price’s Turnpike started at the mouth of Craig’s Creek, and followed current State 615 to New Castle. There is turned northwest up Barber’s Creek on State 617. It went around the western end of Rich Patch Mountain to State 616, and then down the north side of the Allegheny on State 18 to rejoin US 60 and I- 64 at Covington. We do not know its western terminus, but it likely was modern White Sulfur Springs (the old name was Blue Sulfur Springs), where it joined the Lewisburg to Blue Sulfur Springs Turnpike.





1 – Virginia’ Turnpikes – specifically the Greenbrier Valley Lewisburg & Blue Sulfur Springs Twp.

2 – Fincastle to Cumberland Gap Turnpike

3 – Act authorizing survey of Fincastle to Cumberland Gap Twp. & notation that it was to meet Price’s Twp. at Newcastle – Johnson’s History of Wise County’s%20turnpike%20virginia&f=false

4 – Google Maps

5 – Google Earth

6 – “Map of Cumberland Road of 1833” – Library of Virginia

7 – “Map of the Internal Improvements of Virginia” of 1848 – Claudius Crozet – U. Va. Library System

8 – Junior Clark of Eagle Rock, Virginia

9 – Midland Trail

10 – Fleenor, Lawrence J. – Athawominee, the Great Warrior’s Path

11 – Fleenor, Lawrence J. – “The Fincastle to Cumberland Gap Turnpike”

12 – Fleenor, Lawrence J. & Howard, Edgar A. – Elk Garden

13 – The Prices of Price’s Bluff

Tangier Island, Max Meadows, The German Brethren, and the Wilderness Road


By: Lawrence J. Fleenor, Jr.
Copyright and All Rights Reserved
March 2015

Significant assistance from Edgar A. Howard

In 1745 a most pregnant comment was made by Col. John Buchanan. Buchanan was chief surveyor for the Loyal Company of Virginia, and was travelling west down a version of the Wilderness Trail to examine the lands he, in the name of the land company, had jurisdiction over along its course. He stopped at William Mack’s home at today’s Max Meadows, which –though transliterated – were named after him.

Buchanan’s entries in his Wood’s River (old name for the New River) Land Entry Book for October 16, 1745 states “…. Buchanan road on to William Mack’s place at present Max Meadows. Mack was probably from the noted Mack milling family in Schriesheim, Germany, whose father Yost Mack founded the German River Baptist (Dunkard) faith.

“Buchanan found Mack dead in his cabin but with him several “Long Beards” or Siebentangers from Ephrata Cloister, Lancaster, County, Pennsylvania. Newly arrived, they would build a settlement called Mahanaim.”

“The next day Buchanan with Adam and Jacob Harmon appraised Mack’s estate agreeing with the “Long Beards” to gather the crops ….”.

The Harmons (Hermann) were also German, but seemed to have come to the New River Valley before the Dunkards. They settled on the Northern side of current Radford by 1738.

Col. Buchanan’s facility with German is all the more surprising given his use of the spelling “road” for “rode”.

The Wilderness Road

Buchanan had been born in Ireland, and settled in the ‘Irish Tract’ in present Augusta County (Staunton), Virginia. The entire tract was named ‘Beverly Manor’. His notations in the Land Entry Book indicated that he had started his October 1745 trip in the Upper James River, which is that part that lies to the north of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Buchanan had patented the ‘Cherry Tree Bottoms’ along the James River right where the James burst through on the northwest side of the Blue Ridge. The main branch of he Wilderness Trail crossed the James there at Looney’s Ferry. A town later grew up there that is named after him.

The Wilderness Road (Trail) was the main Indian path in the Eastern United States. It ran from the Hudson River Valley to the Blue Grass of Kentucky. Through out the Great Valley of Virginia it had several variants. The main trail, more or less followed by US 11, had the disadvantage of a precipitous climb up Christiansburg Mountain. Many pioneers took either of the two alternatives to the main route from Buchanan to Draper’s Meadows (Blacksburg / Christiansburg), which were either up Catawba Creek or Craig’s Creek. Buchanan noted that he had taken the Catawba Creek Trail.

If the traveller had taken the main route of the Wilderness Trail, he would find himself facing a crossing of the New River at southwest Radford, at Ingle’s Ford / Ferry / Bridge. This today is close to the route of I-81. If he had taken either of the alternative routes, he would have found himself on the road to Pepper’s Ferry, which crosses the river just north of US 11. Buchanan correctly records that he was on the road that led to Max Meadows, which is on the Pepper’s Ferry route. The two routes come together at Wytheville, which is one of the reasons for that town’s existence.

Just south of Max Meadows by State 121 lies Fort Chiswell on the main Wilderness Trail (US 11 & I-81). US 52 runs from there to (Winston-Salem). It also was the Lead Mines of Austinville’s face to the world. The fort was built in 1761 as part of the French and Indian War as a wintering quarters for the expedition of Col. William Byrd III, which had been dispatched to the relief of Fort Loudoun on the Little Tennessee River. That November Major Andrew Lewis built a military road from Fort Chiswell to the Long Island on the Holston (Kingsport Tennessee), which is called “the Island Road”, and is followed today by I-81.

The Berbers

The Berbers are the indigenous Caucasian people of Northwest Africa. They had been forcibly converted to the Muslim faith by their Arab conquers. In 711 the Berber Governor of Tangier, Morocco was invited to intervene in a Spanish civil war. He took his Berber army with him to Spain, and after winning the war, assumed possession of the Iberian Peninsular. Hundreds of years of warfare between the Christian Spaniards and the Berber Spaniards ensued. In 1492 the Christian forces won, and started a genocide of the Muslim Berbers. Tens of thousands were murdered, or sold into slavery in the New World. Many wound up in Virginia and in North Carolina. Some converted to Christianity (Conversios) and were sent as settlers into the New World. North Carolina, along its border with Virginia, had a string of fortified settlements of these people. In 1588 Spain abandoned most of its North Carolina settlements in the withdrawal to St. Augustine, Florida caused by the planned invasion of England by the Spanish Armada.

Some Conversios, joined by some Caribbean French Huguenots, became pirates, praying upon the Spanish treasure galleons as they passed up the Carolina and Virginia coasts on their way to Spain. The Spanish term for these pirates was ‘Picaroons’.

Tangier Island

Tangier Island lies in the Chesapeake Bay just south of the Maryland / Virginia line. It had long been used as a base of operations against English shipping in the Chesapeake Bay area, and was finally settled by the Picaroons. They named the place Tangier Island, in memory of their homeland, Tangier Morocco. Among the first settlers were the French Huguenots, the Crocketts. This surname remains the most common surname on the Island.

The German Brethren

In the early 1700’s in the lower Necker River Valley around Heidelberg a small group of Pietists broke away from the Lutheran Church. They were esthetics, and did not believe it state religions. They are closely related to other similar German Pietist sects, such as the Amish and Mennonites, and are all theological descendants of John Huss. Some of them considered Saturday to be the Sabbath, and some did not baptize, and some required total immersion. The men never shaved their beards, hence Buchanan’s having referred to them as “the Long Beards”. They never numbered more that 200 in Germany. They organized in 1708. They were persecuted, and scattered to the four winds. Records of all of them do not exist. The group easiest to follow is that led by Alexander Mack, Sr. of Schriesheim, who led a group to the Brethren community of Ephrata Cloister in Pennsylvania in 1729. It is significant to note that there were already unspecified groups of them there when Mack got there. Alexander Mack died in 1735, and the Brethren community began to fragment.

Is should be noted that Buchanan gave all the correct information about this individual, including the fact that he had come from a family of millers in Germany. However, he gave his common name as ‘Yost’.

There is a common confusion over the given names of German Americans because of the difference in the naming traditions of the Germans and of the British. In Britain the common name is the first name, but in Germany in the majority of cases the first name was the name of the Saint on whose day the infant was born, and the elective common name is the second name. This second name is the name the individual’s family used to call them by, and the one used by friends who were close enough to have used his “calling name”. Their British American neighbors often thought that their common name was their first name, and often wrote this second name down in records as the first name. Likely Mack’s name was Alexander Yost Mack.

Alexander Mack, Jr. led a portion of the Ephrata Cloister community “into the Wilderness” “beyond Christian civilization” to Dunkard’s Bottom on the New River in Virginia. He had a son named ‘William’ who is often confused with the William Mack that Buchanan had found dead in his cabin at Max Meadows in 1745. William, the son of Alexander Mack, Jr., was not born until 1747, and served in the Revolutionary War. No other William Mack can be identified in this family cluster. Quite likely we are dealing again with the naming pattern problem, and are confusing first names with given names. No one knows who this William Mack was, or whether “William” was his first or second name.

Incidentally, this pattern of using the second name as the common name still exists in Southwest Virginia.

When the Dunkards first came to the New River bottom land that would be named after them, they found living there “a kind of white people who wore deer skins, lived by hunting, associated with the Indians and acted like savages”. The only likely source of these white people living with the Cherokee was the Berbers.
The Siebentanger

The most startling aspect of Buchanan’s comments about the events in William Mack’s cabin on Reed Creek at Max’s Meadows is his having called the seven Long Beards present at the wake as “Siebentanger” from Ephrata Cloister. This German term translates as “seven men from Tangier”. Note that this term does not differentiate between Tangier Island, and Tangier, Morocco. Also note that Buchanan equated the two slang references “Long Beards”, and “Tangers”, at the same time acknowledging that they were from Ephrata Cloister, Pennsylvania, and hence German Brethren.

The implication of this is significant. Buchanan felt that his readers throughout Virginia would equate the terms “Tanger, Long Beards”, and Brethren or Dunkards. How could this be so? Why would the term ‘Tanger” be term that would first occur to a Virginian for a Brethren?

Histories of Tangier Island do not mention the Brethren. However, the first cases of Maple Syrup Urine Disease ever discovered were discovered around Tangier Island. It is a genetic disorder among members of the German Pietist sects, specifically the Amish, Mennonites, and Brethren. In fact, another name for this condition is “Tangier Disease”.

The churches on Tangier Island are mostly either Baptist or United Methodist. In both cases, these specific churches on Tangier Island say that they are descended from Churches of the Brethren. Early on in America the Churches of the Brethren split into divisions that were described as being either “like the Baptist” or “like the Methodist”. In fact, the current United Methodist Church nationally is the result of the union of the Evangelical United Brethren and The Methodist Church.

Similarly, there are concentrations of Brethren Churches in Tangier, Ohio, and in Tangier, Indiana. There are even Brethren churches in the vicinity of Morocco, Indiana. This last reference is all the more tantalizing because the Berber Picaroons who first founded a settlement on Tangier Island were originally from Morocco.

An affinity between Brethren and Tangier Island and of Tangier, Morocco is further documented by the fact that the Brethren maintained a church mission in Tangier, Morocco in the mid 19th century.

The Midwest was settled soon after the Revolutionary War. There is no documentation, either direct or indirect, of the Brethren being on Tangier Island after their exodus to Ohio and Indiana. They emigrated to the Midwest, leaving only their religion, and Tangier Disease, behind. None of the German Dunkard’s surnames remain on Tangier. However, this data brackets the time period of Brethren residency on Tangier Island, which would have been roughly 1730 to 1800. This represents three and a half generations.

Col. John Buchanan’s 1745 comment in Max Meadows calling the seven Brethren gentlemen from Pennsylvania “Tangers” shows that to that generation of Virginians, Brethren were equated with Tangierians.

But the mindset of Virginians even extended further back into history than that. Recall the Picaroons? During the American Revolution, Tangier Island remained a Loyalist bastion. A small navy of Loyalist Tangierians preyed upon Rebel shipping in the Chesapeake. The rebels of Maryland and Virginia referred to these people, and to their fleet, as the Picaroons. Maryland and Virginia attacked the Picaroon Fleet in what has been called the largest naval battle of the Revolution, and destroyed it.

This state of affairs may have been the event that sent the pacifist Long Beards fleeing from Tangier Island. There are no German names listed among the participants in this fighting. Yet, after 3½ generations on Tangier Island, the Brethren seem to have acquired a pleasant sense of identity with the place, as they carried its name to their new homes in the Midwest. The related issues of their naming one of their new homes in Indiana “Morocco”, and their decision to establish a mission in Tangier, Morocco raise the question of whether or not their association with the Berbers of Morocco may not have been of longer standing than their sojourn on Tangier Island, Virginia.

It is a fact that the French and Indian War pushed the Dunkards out of Dunkard’s Bottom and into the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina, where they continued to live with the Berbers they had met in the New River Valley of Virginia and on Tangier Island.

Johnson, Patricia Givens – The Early New River Settlement
Buchanan and the Siebentanger –

White Savages of Dunkard’s Bottom

Fort Chiswell, Island Road, and Maj. Andrew Lewis
Fleenor, Lawrence – The Bear Grass, a History

Berber Conquest of Spain

Berber Picaroons of the Cheasapeake Bay and of Tangier Island
Shores, David – Tangier Island – Place, People, and Talk

Ephrata Cloister

Dunkard’s Bottom

Brethren of Tangier Island

Tangier Disease (Maple Syrup Urine Disease)

Brethren Churches in Tangier, Ohio and Indiana

Brethren Churches in Morocco, Indiana

Brethren mission to Tangier, Morocco – NOT WORKING

Revolutionary War and the Tangier Island Picaroons
Rhoads, James – Somerset County

Allen’s Way Station


Copyright 11-16-13
Lawrence J. Fleenor, Jr.
Big Stone Gap, Va.

Earlier this fall Mr. Eunice Laster, of the head of Wallen’s Creek, told me that there was an existing way station from the Fincastle to Cumberland Gap Turnpike yet in existence in Stickleyville. Yesterday I followed his directions, which was to go past the Stickleyville fire station and that it would be there. I turned west onto the Middle Fork of Wallen’s Creek Rd. in the south side of Stickleyville on State 612, and immediately turned left onto the old loop of US 58 & 421 that used to be the main street of town. The fire station was 50 yards on the left. Passing that I crossed Wallen’s Creek, and followed the now dead end of the loop as it approximated the current US 58 & 421. On the left at the end of the now cut off loop of old road stood an old wood house with a strikingly familiar, yet odd, upper front porch. After thinking a moment, I realized that it was the same unique design as that of the known Fincastle Turnpike Way Station that used to stand just to the south of Rose Hill. I had a photograph of it in Bear Grass. Comparing the two, they seem to have been made from the same design. The tightness of the overhand over the upper front porches, and the bannister designs are the same. There was no trouble believing that Mr. Laster was right.

However, a photograph of the Allen Station house from 1904 shows that that front porch was added after 1904, the date to that picture. It would seem likely that the Rose Hill way station also had its front porch added in the same time frame as Col. Allen’s.

Review of the CD (second image) of the 1833 official map of the postal route version predating the 1844 Fincastle to Cumberland Gap Turnpike that I have from the Library of Virginia showed that this way station was mile post 50, starting where the road entered Virginia from Tennessee near Cumberland Gap. It was labeled as belonging to “Col. Allen”.

Review of page 903 of Bales Early Settlers of Lee County, Virginia and Adjacent Counties shows the following the information:

James Allen came up the Powell Valley from Claibourne Co., Tennessee, and married Hannah Hanger. They bought land on Wallen’s Creek from John and Susannah Eller (recall Eller’s Gap where US 58 traverses Powell Mountain).

James Allen represented Lee Co. in the House of Delegates in 1824, and served two terms. In 1833 (the date of the map) he obtained a license to keep “a house of private entertainment”. This would indicate that his way station was also an inn, as was common among the better way stations. The lesser ones, such as the Carter House of Rye Cove, and now reassembled in Natural Tunnel State Park, were used only as places where the horses were changed on the stage coaches.

James Allen was High Sheriff in Lee Co. in 1834, and died in 1840.

The evidence therefore shows that this way station was also an inn, and was built in 1833 as part of the improvement in the Postal Road that followed the old Wilderness Road. It, therefore, predated the Fincastle to Cumberland Gap Turnpike by 11 years. It’s owner is documented. The way station passed to his son, John Hanger Allen 1839, apparently in anticipation of Col. James Allen’s death. Therefore, it likely served the Turnpike after the Col.’s passing.


1833 map map Allen way station The Sage Homeplace in Stickleyville about 1904Stickleyville Fincastle way Station #1  Rose Hill Way Station

Baker’s Flats



Lawrence J. Fleenor, Jr.

Big Stone Gap, Virginia

June 2014

Revised April 2016


Baker’s Flats is a plateau located in Virginia, but touching the Kentucky state line.  It is where Black Mountain, Indian Mountain, and Pine Mountain come together, and is the take off for Roger’s Ridge, which separates Roaring Fork from Black Creek.  It is about a mile north to south, its long dimension.  It overlooks the origins of Roaring Fork, Guest’s River, and both the South and North Forks of the Pound River at Fox Gap and at Flat Gap.  Just off its northern edge, and into Kentucky, the head spring of the Poor Fork of the Cumberland River starts at the head of Robert’s Branch Hollow.  The spring is just under the level of the flats.


A few hundred yards to the east, after having passed the state line back into Virginia, is the start of the South Fork of the Pound River, one of the head waters of the Big Sandy River.  It also starts in a spring coming from a coal seam lying under Baker’s Flats, in this instance at the head of Phillips’ Creek.  There is a massive ancient rock house built into the face of the bluff by the spring.  Baker’s Flats, and the land under the bluff, have been heavily strip mined, but the bluff has not been disturbed because of its massive near vertical positioning.  The spring and the rock house have thusly been preserved.


Access to Baker’s Flats is best obtained by way of Roaring Fork in Virginia.   From Business US 23 pick up State 603 at Kent Junction and proceed to the old mining camp of Roaring Fork, and proceed north off of the paved road that turns to the left, and go up the dirt mining road officially called The Roaring Fork Road.  Many people today have come to refer to this road as the Pine Branch Road.  Staying as close to the creek as possible, follow the road to the headwaters of the creek, and then follow the road up the face of the mountain toward the current wind gage in the center of the flats.  To get to the rock house, proceed north on ATV trails not suitable for 4-wheel drive highway vehicles, and go to the edge of the strip mine.  You will have to poke around a bit to find the spring and rock house, but there is an ATV trail that comes up from Phillips’ Creek Hollow that accesses Baker’s Flats that you can follow from the Flats to the rock house and spring.


Before it was strip mined, the flats were the site of active farming well into the mid Twentieth Century.  The name “Baker’s Flats” is widely known in the community of Flat Gap, and formerly so among the people of Dunbar.  No one recalls a family of Baker’s having lived there, and the name of the place seems to go back to forgotten times.


Roaring Fork was much favored by long hunters, as were the other long sheltered hollows on both sides of Black Mountain.  Buffalo, elk, and deer spent their summers in the open meadows on top of the mountain, and sought shelter in the deep hollows in the winter.  Access from Virginia was gained by coming up the Big Stoney Creek trail and over High Knob and across Little Stone Gap to the top of Little Stone Mountain, where the trail dropped off to Kelly View and current Kent Junction, where the mouth of Roaring Fork is.


The name Pot Camp Creek is a living testament to the long hunters having frequented the current locations of Dunbar and the former Pardee.  Bold Camp, near Pound, Virginia, was settled primarily by people coming up Roaring Fork and dropping down into the head waters of the South Fork of the Pound River, which they followed to the mouth of Bold Camp.


Just who were Baker’s Flats named after?  The most likely candidate is Captain John Baker, who was a documented long hunter from Ashe County, North Carolina.  Ashe County is a very common site of origin for the earliest inhabitants of far southwest Virginia, especially the region about Black Mountain.  These settlers came down the New River through Mouth-of-Wilson.


Baker was born in 1758.  In 1769 at age 11 he joined a party of about 40 long hunters led by James Knox.  Following common operating procedure, the party went as a group before dispersing at Flat Lick just west of present Pineville, Kentucky.  All that is documented is that they were gone for over a year before they met each other again at Flat Lick, and then returned to Ashe County.


It would seem likely that Baker followed the Cumberland River to its head spring, and there found his own private mountain top meadow filled with game.  He built a combination blind and living quarters over the major spring used by the game, and just waited for dinner to come to him.


The presence of the many carefully placed large stones within the structure of the rock house show that its builder was there for a long time.


Modern DNA evidence has shown that this ‘historic’ John Baker really was more than one individual of that name.  Assignation of the various bits of information to a particular one of them is still a work in progress.


However, quite by accident, a land grant (LO 110-665) on file at the Library of Virginia, and available on line, has been found, and which contains an 1853 survey call for a line that is identified as “passing Baker’s Rock House”.  This proves that the structure in the accompanying photograph, and which is known traditionally locally as ‘Baker’s Rock House’, is the same one identified by this survey.


This grant is of further historic interest for several reasons, among them is the fact that the recipients of this grant were William Carnes and Loring Tyler.  Carnes had also bought a grant in this vicinity in partnership with William D. Duff.  Duff was the son of Robert Duff and his wife Polly.  Polly was the niece of Fannie Scott.  Fannie Scott was the famous survivor of the Chief Bob Benge’s raid at Scott’s Station at the head of Wallen’s Creek on the Wilderness Trail of 1779 in which her children and husband, Archibald, were murdered.  The Duffs had acquired all the Scott land after that massacre.


The calls of LO 110-665 also note that the last survey corner was “70 poles north of Gabriel Church’s house”.   This comes to about 300 yards.  This notation is remarkable in its uniqueness of calling attention to a house located at that great a distance from the survey.  Church (1802-1875) was a well known character in what was to become Wise County.  He was born in Wilkes Co., North Carolina, and was highly regarded as a musician.  He lived on Gabe’s Branch, which was named after him.  It was said to be a tributary of Roaring Fork, but its exact location has been lost to record.  This survey call places it on the eastern slope of Fork Ridge just to the west of the southern end of Baker’s Flats.


Church was well known for having written the ballad “Poor Goins” about the murder of Alexander Goins at Mud Lick on Callahan Creek in 1844, which is on the western side of the Nine Mile Spur directly across from Gabe’s Branch.  It is intriguing that Goins’ sister, Elizabeth Jane, lived with her husband Michael Peter Craiger one hollow to the east of Gabriel Church, on Black Creek.  Craiger served with the “Yankee Catchers” in the Civil War.  This group was one of the Confederate bushwhacking outfits.  Elizabeth Jane’s descendent who wrote about her says that the Goins and Craiger families were from Wallen’s Ridge in Lee County, Virginia.





1 – Peyton, J. Lewis –  History of Augusta County

2 – Chestnut, David – “Long Hunters” –

3 – Hamilton, Emory – “The Long Hunter” – printed in the Spring 1984 “The  Mountain Empire Genealogical Quarterly”

4 – Virginia Land Office Patents and Grants / Northern Neck Grants and Surveys

5 – Fleenor, Lawrence J. – Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Assn.  – “Scott’s Station”

6 – Fleenor, Lawrence. J. – Black Mountain, the Mother of Today pgs 56-64

7 –

8 –


Baker's Rock House

The stone wall to the left is part of the original structure.  The sawed lumber frame in the front is from the more modern era when the shelter was still inhabited.  The head spring of the Cumberland River is to the right of and down about 20 feet from the structure.


Henry Hamilton’s Journal

Henry Hamilton’s Journal
Hamilton’s Journal is taken from Henry Hamilton and George Rogers
Clark in the American Revolution with The Unpublished Journal of
Lieut. Gov. Henry Hamilton, edited by John D. Barnhart and published
by R. E. Banta, Crawfordsville, Indiana, 1951.
Clark Recaptures Vincennes, February 22, to March 5, 1779
A Prisoner of War, March 8 to June 16, 1779.

8tn. The Oak Boat in which we had brought a Brass six with ammunition
&c. was allotted to us, we had rowed her with 14 Oars, but they
concluded such stout fellows as we, could row her against the current
of the Ohio with 7– so at length on the 8th March we took leave of
our poor fellow Soldiers who had tears in their eyes some of the
wounded got to the water side to bid us farewell, and Colonel Clarke
who generosity should not pass unnoticed when he had seen our Pork and
flour embarked, and we were ready to push off asked us aloud if we
wanted anything– We fell down the stream and encamped three leagues
below white River, the current very swift–
9th. continued our route & encamped at l’hyvernement de Bonepart, at
this place the little attention of our guard was such as to give some
among us an idea of seizing their arms in the night and getting down
to the Natchez, but we were checked by thinking what would be the fate
of those we left behind–
10th. As we approached the Ohio we conceived that river to be
amazingly raised as the waters of the Ouabache were backed for at
least three miles before we reached the mouth– At half past three in
the afternoon we got into the Ohio, & rowed up the stream 9 miles– By
the driftwood lodged in the trees we perceived the waters had been 12
feet higher than at present, tho’ now 18 feet above the steep banks of
Ohio–There was no sight of land, and as far as the sight could extend
a violent current swept thro’ the wood, so night coming on we made our
boat fast to a tree, and lay as well as we could contrive which was
not very conveniently as it rained most part of the night, and our
Tarpaulin was rather scanty– our bodies were miserably cramped being
so crowded, & one of our party in a blankett tyed in form of a
harmmaque one end to a bough of a tree, the other to the boats mast–
11, 12, 13th. rowed up against stream & encamped, tho ill at our ease
everything being wet and the ground little better than a swamp
14th we set off and not having got terre firma we lay again in our
boat a little above green river– (258)
15th. fair wind, got about 30 miles against stream & encamped
16th The current exceeding strong, we worked hard & could make but 9
miles all day–encamped–
17th Our work had made us so keen, & the weather being still very cold
it will not appear surprizing that this day our provision was entirely
expended– Our Guardians sent out some hunters to procure us Buffaloe,
in which they succeeded–
18, 19, 20th. nothing remarkable happend– we were a good deal impeded
by the large rafts of driftwood, brought down by this extraordinary
flood which was occasiond by a general thaw of the Snow in the upper
country accompanyed with a heavy rain– We are told that the banks of
the Ohio are subject to inundations from its conflux with the
Mississipi to the distance of 300 miles upwards, so that the settling
of tnat country is not likely to take place in many centuries–
21st. Rain– 22d. no. ex– (259) 23d Snow, lay by– 24th. passed the
25th. contrary wind we could advance but 7 miles– 26th. nothing
27th. I landed with Major Hay and Mr. Bellefeuille on the east side of
the river to get a view of the ravages occasioned by a Whirlwind or
Hurricane– We had some difficuty in scrambling to the top of the
cliff, great craggs and large trees tumbled together in confusion
obliging us sometimes to creep and sometirnes to climb– when we got
to the top we saw the progress of this vein of wind which was in a
straight line across the River, and thro the wood which was mowed down
at about 20 or 25 feet from the ground, the vista open’d being as
regular as if laid down by a line–
28th. rain–
29th. Captain Harrod the officer commanding the fort and settlement at
the falls came down in a boat of 18 oars, shortly after which we
encamped a little above salt River– (260)
30th. We proceeded with our new guide to the falls– the River at the
falls may be about 800 yards across and divided in the middle by an
Island on which there had been a fort, which was at that time deserted
from the uncommon rise of the waters, which the people here told us
had been above 40 feet higher than the usual level–
We were put into a log house, and received the compliments of the
people on our arrival, expressed by discharging their pieces almost
all day long, this joy of theirs at our capture made us recollect what
C.C. (261) had told us, that we should run the risq. of our lives in
passing the Frontier–
31st. We procured some bread for our ensuing march, for the baking of
which I was obliged to give the lady baker my quilt– as to provision,
our hunters were to find it on the route if they could–
Two horses were all that we could get to hire so we prepared to set
off the next day, not in the best humor imaginable–
The people here had not got intelligence of our having taken Fort
Sackville, till the day before we were brought Prisoners to the falls,
so well had the Indian parties scoured the country–
April 1st. We set off from the falls about 11 a m. without a single
days provision furnished by our captors, two horses were with
difficulty procured for hire, so that we were obliged to carry our
packs, which indeed were not very heavy, A Bearskin and blankett being
the common burthen, I the Chief, had a small portmanteau and a box of
folio size (that is this folio) in which I carried a few papers–
Those of any moment (thinking I might be searched unexpectedly) I had
kept copies of, and carried in an inner pockett of my waistcoat– we
got some bread baked & purchased a small quantity of Indian corn of
the settlers at the falls–
set off about 11 o’Clock a m. marched 10 miles–
2d. 12 miles– 3d. 15 miles rain– a hilly road– 4th. hilly road rain
20 miles.
5th. Had a very fatiguing march, our guides lost themselves and misled
us. One of our hunters killed a she bear about 3 years old, very fat,
which was a great resource as we had not a morse1 of flesh among us
all at setting out– This Creature must have just quitted her winter
habitation for tho so fat, she had nothing in her Stomach, or
intestines– We got 30 miles this day–
6th. We fell into the path of the Shawanese warriors, which they use
to go against the Cherokees– The country pleasant, the verdure very
luxuriant, passed some log houses which appeard to have been lately
deserted, the enclosures being in good repair– A great relief to us
was the frequency of plentiful springs of fine water breaking through a
limestone– Two horses were sent from Harrodsburgh to assist in
carrying the baggage– We reached that place about dusk having marched
25 miles– It is called a fort and consists of about 20 houses,
forming an irregular square with a very copious spring within its
enclosure– (262)
At the time of our arrival, they were in hourly apprehension of attacks
from the Savages, and no doubt these poor inhabitants are worthy of
Their cattle were brought into the fort every night Horses as well as
Cows– They dared not go for firewood or to plow without their arms,
yet in spight of this state of constant alarm a considerable quantity
of land had been cleared, and as their numbers are increasing fast,
they will soon set the Savages at defiance, being good marksmen and
well practiced in the Woods– A Water mill had been built on a branch
of Salt river which runs by the fort, but the frequent inroads of the
Indians had rendered it useless, and they subsisted by the use of 2
On my taking a survey of this place, I recollected perfectly the plan,
of it given me by a Savage who had been there with a party and had
been on the point of being taken by a well laid plan of the Officer at
this post who knowing where the Savages were, sent out two or three
men with Scythes as if to mow, who drew the attention of the Savages,
while a Party sent by a circuit into their rear through the woods,
unexpectedly fired on them killed some on the Spot & put the rest to
shifting for themselves–
Our diet here was indian corn and milk for breakfast & supper, Indian
bread and Bears flesh for dinner, yet we were healthy & strong
We were delayed here much against our will thinking we held our lives
by a very precarious tenure, for the people on our first coming looked
upon us as little better than savages, which was very excusable
considering how we had been represented, and besides that they had
suffered very severely from the inroads of those people– One Man in
particular had last year lost his son, and had had four score of his
horses & mares carried off, yet this man was reconciled upon hearing a
true state of facts, and Colonel Bowman acted as a person above
prejudice, by rendering us every service in his power–
11th. William Moyres, Colonel Clarke’s messenger with letters to the
Govr. of Virginia, was killed on the road from the falls to this place
the letters and prisoners as we supposed carried off to Detroit–
17th. Col. Bowman having sent to Logan’s fort for horses, they
arrived this day. He was so obliging as to let me have one of his own–
19th. We set out for Logan’s fort 20 miles distant, where we arrived
at 7 p m. tis an oblong square formed by the houses making a double
street, at the angles were stockaded bastions– the situation is
romantic, among wooded hills, a stream of fine water passes at the
foot of these hills which turns a small grist mill– They had been
frequently alarmed & harrassed by the Indians, Captain Logan the
person commanding here had had his arm broken by a buckshot in a
skirmish with them, & was not yet recoverd– the people here were not
exceedingly well disposed to us, & we were accosted by the females
especially in pretty coarse terms– but the Captain and his wife, who
had a brother carryed off by the Indians were very civil and
hospitable– (265)
20th. We marched to Whitley’s fort 7 miles distant where we made a
halt and where a small ox was purchased for our subsistence, which
with 3 bags of Indian corn, one of Indian meal and some dryed meat was
to serve 50 of us for 14 days, in which time we expected to reach some
habitations– (266)
This little post is often visited and much infested by the Savages–
21st. Set forward on an Indian path, & forded Craggs creek forty
times– (267) the difficulty of marching thro’ such a country as this
is not readily imagined by a European– The Canes grow very close
together to the heighth of 25 feet and from the thickness of a quill
to that of ones wrist, as they are very strong and supple the rider
must be constantly on the watch to guard his face from them as they
fly back with great force, the leaves and the young shoots are a
fodder horses are exceedingly fond of and are eternally turning to the
right & left to take a bite– The soil where they grow is rich and
deep, so you plod thro in a narrow track like a Cowpath, while ehe
musketoes are not idle– the steep ascents & descents with rugged
stony ways varied with Swamps and clayey grounds completely jaded
horses and riders– we began to cross the blue Mountains this day–
22d. Very bad swampy road or way rather– at 10 am. passed a small
river called rock Castle branch which falls into Cumberland river–
(268) The scene is very beautiful! the trees being in high beauty, the
water bright, the weather clear, so that tho in no pleasant
circumstances otherways I could not but enjoy this romantic prospect
of which I took a hasty sketch while our poor fatigued packhorses were
towed thro’ the rapid stream by their wearyed hungry leaders– we
encamped about 7 p.m. when we were joined by a Colonel Callaway (269)
who took upon him the charge of the prisoners and their escort
hitherto commanded by Captn’ Harrod– The Colol. made new
arrangements, new dispositions, talked of Grand division manoevres,
and made a great display of military abilities, posting a number of
sentries, & fatiguing our poor Devils of frontiers [men] who would
willingly have trusted their prisoners in this desert, not one of whom
could have made use of his liberty, without Guides, provision and
shoes being found them– It rained all night, which did not set our
disciplinarian in a favorable light–
23d. St. Georges– We were very hearty in our wishes for the honor and
success of the Patrons countrymen, and tho the water was very good,
did not exceed the bounds of moderation in our potations–
The road was exceedingly difficult, lying over very steep hills which
from last nights rain were so slippery, our wretched cattle had much
ado to scramble up and slide down–
24th. forded stinking creek, and some others– at 4 p.m. passed the
great War path of the Shawanese, (270) which at this place crosses a
remarkable Buffaloe salt lick– several of the trees here bear the
marks of the exploits of the Savages, who have certain figures and
Characters by which thq can express their numbers, their route, what
prisoners they have made, how many killed &ca—- they commonly raise
the bark & with their Tomahawks & knives carve first and then with
vermillion color their design–
25 Forded Cumberland or Shawanese river, which is about 200 yards
26th. passed Cumberland Mountain, enterd Powel’s valley– (271)
Provision being expended we killed a Cow from a herd probably left
here by some Sellers, who were probably intercepted on their March, &
killed by the Indian—-
27th. Came to a very pretty halting place called the Spring cave,
otherways rocky bridge a curious romantic work of Nature–
A very copious Stream of fine water breaks out of the Ground in a
beauty full valley well cloathed with clover, skirted with rising
grounds ornamented with variety of timber trees, evergreens & Shrubs–
at about 150 yards from its source it passes under a rocky ledge which
serves for a bridge being about 60 feet wide at top and coverd with
trees– The road passes over the natural Bridge, which is hollowed
into several arched cavities, some of a considerable dimension. This
pretty stream and cheerfull scene would have engaged me a considerable
time but I had no allowance and just took two slight sketches on
In the Evening we arrived fatigued & wet thro’, and encamped near
Chrisman Creek– it pourd rain so hard that we could scarce make a
fire– I went to see the cave from which the Creek (as ’tis improperly
called) issues, it is arched over naturally and the coving is really
very smooth and even, a tall man may stand upright in it and walk
about 70 yards, a breach in the top letting in light sufficient, I
thought it singular enough to take a view of it– (272)
28th. Our horses straggled to a great distance among tbe canes, and
tho they were hoppled, and had Bells, we could not collect them before
12 o’Clock– crossed Powell’s Mountain– (273) halted at Scots
29th. Crossed the north of Clinch river, forded stock creek 6
times, forded Clinch river with great difficulty, some of the men were
near being drownd, it fell sleet and hail with an exceeding sharp
wind– a very small canoe took over some of us, after making a fire &
getting well warmed we proceeded on our march thro’ cane brakes, the
ways crooked steep & miry– I felt the gout flying about me and as it
would have been dreadfull to have him fix while in such a country, I
dismounted & walked the whole day in Moccassins which dissipated the
humor and enabled me to keep up–
30th. Forded Moccassin and leather creeks several times also the north
branch of Holston river, (274) which being very rapid, I did not chose
to trust my horse and rather than attempt it had a raft made & was
ferryed over by two who could swim the raft being only large enough
for one–
May 1st. Pass Mocassin gap, a pass thro’ the Mountains, which afford
some very bold and magnificent viewss– a little fort called Andross,
built in 1753 but now in ruins is situated on the left hand as you
come out of the Mountain near which we fell into a Waggon road, &
shortly after were accosted by Mr: Maddison, A Gentleman of a liberal
way of thinking, who received us with genuine hospitality and gave us
such a wellcome as we could not have expected from one whose life and
property were in continual danger from the Indians who had made
inroads much farther into the country than his habitation–
The sight of a pretty cultivated farm, well cropped, with a large
garden orchard, & convenient buildings, set off by the lofty & rugged
Mountains we had just passed, formed a pleasing contrast to our late
situation– the cheerfull conversation of a very agreeable old man,
with a plentyfull meal, (what we had long been strangers to) rest
after our fatigues, and a very clean bed to conclude were real
luxuries, to people who had not lain in sheets for 7 months–
2d– Our kind host accompanyed us to General Lewis’s, where Major Hay
and I were accommodated with beds– we had stoppd at Major McBeans–
3d. We lay at a Major Bletsoe’s farm, where we were told the country
people had designed to assemble & knock us on the head– (275) Tho we
considered this as only meant to prevent our having any conversation
with them, we thought it adviseable to stay within– we breakfasted at
Colonel Shelby’s plantation, where we were very frankly entertained–
The Farm in extraordinary good order and condition, we were shown a
black Stallion one of the first creatures of his sort I ever saw– at
night we slept at a Captain Thompsons, where riches could not keep
penury out of doors. we did not get our dinner till eleven at night,
and this made us see economy in no faverable light–
4th. Arrived at Washington court house–
5th. & 6th. Halted at Colonel Arthur Campbell’s where we repaired
ourselves with sleep– Our Host was very civil to us, but from the
difficulty of procuring Provisions in this part of the Country, some
of the prisoners who were pressed with hunger and fatigue broke out
into very injurious language, and even threatned to be revenged at a
future day for the little attention payd to their necessities– //
some time after my arrival in Virginia, I received a letter from C.C
in which he lamented my having engaged in the Indian war, & mentioned
his father having been in my grandfathers family as Steward, and
having saved my father from drowning in the Boyne at the age of 13
7th Set out from Colonel Campbells where Mr: Dejean stayed, and lay at
the plantation of Mr: Sayer–
8th. Passed Rail’s fort, where the poor people saw us with some
horror, as being of kindred manners with the Savages– A remarkable
sized Stallion– forded Peeks creek and some others, and in the
Evening crossed over in a ferry the new river or great Canhawa, and
were kindly and hospitably received at the house of Colonel Ingles–
here we rested for an entire day– a beautyfull Girl his daughter sat
at the head of the table, and did the honors with such an easy and
graceful! simplicity as quite charmed us– the Scenery about this
house was romantic to a degree the river very beautyfull, the hills
well wooded, the low grounds well improved & well stocked, I thought
his tecum toto consumerer &ca– Mrs: Ingles had in her early years
been carryed off with another young Woman by the Savages, and tho
carryed away into the Shawanes country had made her escape with her
female friend, & wonderful to relate tho exposed to unspeakable
hardships, & having nothing to subsist on but wild fruits, found her
way back in safety, from a distance (if I remember right) of 200
miles– however terror and distress had left so deep an impression on
her mind that she appeard absorbed in a deep melancholy, and left the
management of household concerns, & the reception of Strangers to her
lovely daughter.
10th. We entered into Botetourt County
11th. Crossed the Roanoak seven times.
12th. reached Mr: Howard’s, where notwithstanding the wretched estate
of the Country the Mistress of the family in the absence of her
husband showed all the dispositions imaginable to make her house
agreeable to us–
13th. forded great Otter Creek– crossed otter creek six times, and
Otter river once– The Peeks of Otter make their appearance in various
points of view, and terminated many of our prospects very agreably–
(276) A Gruff Landlord–
14th. Arrived at Bedford in the County of the same name– a tolerably
well built but now nearly a deserted Village, the situation well
chosen and healthy– We halted here the 15th but could scarcely keep
our selves warm within doors, so ranged about to keep ourselves warm–
to get a plentyfull meal was now a rarity, and what we were not to
expect– Heard a coarse German girl play on an instrument of one
string, which she managed tolerably–
16th We arrived at Lynche’s ferry on the head of James’s river, and
set forward the day following on a raft composed of two canoes lashed
together, and lay at the plantation of a Colonel Bosville on the North
side of the river in Amherst County– 18rh 19th proceeded–
20th Made a halt about breakfast time, to get some water that of the
river being very hot and distastefull, to our great surprize found
Brigadier General Hamilton and Major Kirkman of the convention army
who received us with all imaginable cordiality and politeness– In the
Evening reached the plantation of a rich old Chuff a Colonel Lewis,
who demanded or rather exacted fourscore dollars for our scant
supper– While I was walking in the garden I saw three Officers in
British uniforms ride by, and saluted them tho’ little imagining I
could know or be known, but Captain Freeman aid de Camp to General
Riedesel knew me thro’ the disguise of a slouched hat & very shabby
cloathing—— After some conversation he took his leave promising to
see us in the morning before our departure– he was so good, and very
obligingly took charge of a letter for Genl. Haldimand, and one for
Major General Philips, enclosing a copy of the capitulation, and
giving him an account of our situation–
21st reached Goochland Court house– a brutal Landlord, exchanged for
a civil one–
22d The Officers were orderd to Beaver Dam, the men remained– We had
been left without any guard excepting Lieutenant Rogers from the time
of our getting into Washington County– At the house of Mr: Thos.
Pleasants we were hospitable entertained, with all the humanity,
candor and simplicity of a sensible Quaker free from the ostentation
of sanctity but possessed of a liberal and generous spirit– Tho a
number of his family were crowded under one roof, there appeard as
much neatness in their persons and as much good humor in their manner
as if they had been perfectly at ease in their circumstances, and not
subjected to the odious tyranny of their new Masters, who obliged them
(at that time) to pay treble taxes– We expected to have remained at
the house allotted for us about one mile from Mr: Pleasants, and as
the time of our exchange was uncertain we had some thoughts of
employing ourselves in the Garden, but on the
26th A Captah Upshaw, a curious Original, arrived with an order for
our removal to Chesterfield, and on the 28th having taken a reluctant
leave of our kind and sensible Quaker, we set out for Richmond–
As I have a great propensity to strike out of the common road, and
dont always take the necessary precautions for getting into it again,
I this day followed my inclination and having the Surgeon with me we
got into a bye road which we followed, and not getting sight of people
or dwellings for a long time, added 13 miles to our days march, & did
not reach Richmond till one o’Clock the next Mornhg– The out Sentries
would not suffer us to go into town, nor would they call to the guard
so we lay on the ground till the relief came–
31st Having passed our time disagreably at Richmond from the
prepossession of people against us, and the curiosity to see how such
a set of Infernals carryed themselves who had each been more
bloodthirsty than Herod the Tetrarch, we were marched to Chesterfield,
where we were kept under a jealous guard–
June 15th An Officer arrived who had a written order signed by Govr.
Jefferson for William La Mothe Captain of the Volunteers of Detroit,
and myself to be taken in irons and layd in Goal [sic] at
Williamsburgh– The Officer acquitted himself of this commission with
reluctance and behaved very civilly–
Howeva we were mounted with some difficulty being handcuffd, and I
found a days journey of only 30 Miles tired my patience and wearyed my
body exceedingly not having as yet repaired the uncommon fatigues of a
March Route of 1200 miles from Fort Sackville, most part of the time
but half fed, iill cloathed, menaced and reviled, but as Sancho says,
This was spice cake and gilt gingerbread to what was to come– We lay
I cannot say rested at James City Court house that night, we had
stopped at a Village on the way to have the rivetts of my handcuffs
taken out, and newly set, for riding had so swelled my wrists that the
rings chafed the skin too much and my conductor kindly attended to my
The next day it raind, the road was bad, and my legs were sore with
several boils produced by heated blood at this hot season– I was
permitted to walk– at Chickahomoney ferry met the Quarter Master of
the 46th Regiment–
16th About Sunset reached Williamsburgh,

George Rogers Clark

The Location of the Massacre of James Boone and Henry Russell

copyright November 2006
All rights reserved

Lawrence J. Fleenor, Jr.
Big Stone Gap, Va.

The site of the 1773 massacre of the son of Daniel Boone and of the son of William Russell – James Boone and Henry Russell – is the subject of a long and continuing controversy in Lee County.  The state historical road side marker commemorating this event was originally placed along side US 58 in Eller’s Gap on Powell Mountain between Pattonsville and Stickleyville.  A rival claimant later developed in western Lee County, and roadside marker was dug up in the middle of the night and replanted near Kaylor.  In recent years a new road side marker was erected by the State in the center of Sticklyville.

Local traditions still abound, especially near the various springs that head up Wallen’s Creek north of Duffield and east of Stickleyville, and down Wallen’s Creek all the way to its mouth.  The following is a review of the murders, and of the evidence on the location of the site.

The Great Warrior’s Path was the most significant of the numerous Indian trails in the eastern United States.  It connected the Northeastern and Midatlantic regions with Kentucky and the region between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.  Daniel Boone’s name is indelibly stamped upon it, and it is also known by the names The Wilderness Road and the Great Kentucky Road.

There are several variations of this trail in western Scott County and eastern Lee County.  The Hunter’s Trace skirted the southern face of Powell Mountain from Pattonsville to Blackwater, where it crossed Powell Mountain at Hunter’s Gap, and passed on a mile and a half west of the mouth of Wallen’s Creek on Powell River, which it crossed at White Shoals.  Another route crossed Powell Mountain via Kane Gap between Duffield and the head of Wallen’s Creek, which it followed to Stickleyville.  Here one version crossed Wallen’s Ridge to the head of Station Creek, and on to the west to the northern end of the White Shoals ford.  Back at Stickleyville, another variation continued on down Wallen’s Creek for 2 ½ miles to Fannon’s Spring, and crossed Wallen’s Ridge via Slagle’s Gap to the mouth of Station Creek.  The last version continued down Wallen’s Creek and for a mile and a half past its mouth, where it joined the Hunter’s Trace.

In 1773 the western extent of pioneer settlement was Castlewood in Russell Co. and the Blockhouse in Carter’s Valley in Scott County, near Kingsport, Tennessee.  Daniel Boone had decided to move his family from the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina to Kentucky, and had persuaded Capt. William Russell of  Castlewood to do so also.  On September 25, 1773 the Boones and five other families sat out, and upon reaching Wolf Hills at present Abingdon, Daniel dispatched his seventeen year old son, James, and the Mendenhall brothers, John and Richard, to leave the main party and to go to Upper Castlewood to pick up Capt. Russell and his party at Russell’s Fort.  Daniel continued on down the main Wilderness Trail to east of Kingsport, and then on up old US 23 to Duffield.  There is no record of whether he accessed Powell Valley by way of Kane Gap, or of Hunter’s Gap.  Once in Powell Valley the Boone Party joined the party of William Bryan, which contained about forty people.  We know that he camped that night on the northern side of Wallen’s Ridge, which itself is north of Wallen’s Creek.

James followed present US Alt. 58 to Castlewood and found that Russell and his party of about forty pioneers were not ready to leave.  To carry this news to Daniel, Russell’s seventeen year old son, Henry, and James Boone along with Isaac Crabtree, the Mendenhall brothers, and two slaves, Adam and Charles, were dispatched on Oct. 8th ahead of the main Russell party.  Also among the emigrants from the Russell Party were the Hargis brothers – Samuel, Whiteside, William, James, John, Benjamin, and their families.  They left Russell’s Fort with James Boone and his party, which traveled down the Clinch Valley branch of the Wilderness Trail until they regained the main Wilderness Trail just north of Natural Tunnel.

Daniel and his party camped along the Wilderness Trail on the north side of Wallen’s Ridge somewhere in Powell Valley, and waited for the Russell party to catch up.  It was, of course, the party of James Boone that was trying to catch up with Daniel, and not that of Russell.  Somewhere James’ party lost the trail, and night fall caught them somewhere on Wallen’s Creek, three miles east of Daniel’s camp.

James could have lost Daniel’s trail either at Duffield or at Stickleyville, depending whether Daniel had taken the Hunter’s Trace, or the Warrior’s Path over Kane Gap and then on to the head of Station Creek.

It is at this point that the speculation begins.  The Wilderness Trail at this time was just a foot path.  Horses were usually led as pack animals, and not ridden.  The Trail from Kane Gap was a corridor rather than a single path, as it followed a branching network of buffalo trails.  At times of low water the travelers tended to stay on the flat northern bank of Wallen’s Creek, but during muddy and wet times they took the ridge line further to the north of the creek bank.

There are three variations of the Wilderness Trail leaving Stickleyville to the west, and we do not know which versions were being traveled by James, and perhaps Daniel.  All three versions enter Wallen’s Creek Valley via Kane Gap, and proceed down Wallen’s Creek to present Stickleyville.  There is a fork in the trail at this point, with one following present US 58 on across Wallen’s Ridge into the Valley of Station Creek, which runs parallel to Wallen’s Creek, both emptying into Powell’s River.

Another variation of the Wilderness Trail continued on west down Wallen’s Creek to Fannon’s Spring, which is about two and a half miles west of Stickleyville.  Implicit in the circumstances of this story is the fact that the party would have camped by a spring.  The pioneers did not usually drink out of creeks anymore than we do.  Fannon’s Spring lies between the road and the creek, and its flow is so great that it boils in a mushroom shape up out of the ground.  Its fresh cold water attracts fish as it empties into the creek.  It is simply the best spring for miles around.  It was at this point that the trail began its ascent of Wallen’s Ridge on its way to Slagle’s Gap, and joined the trail on Station Creek at its mouth on Powell River.

A third version continued on down Wallen’s Creek to its mouth on Powell River, and crossed to the north side to rejoin the versions of the Wilderness Trail coming west from the ford at the mouth of Station Creek.

The militiaman John Redd, who had gone with Joseph Martin in 1775 to Martin’s Upper Station at Rose Hill by way of the Wallen’s Creek route, stated that “the old Kentucky Trace crossed Walden’s ridge at the head of Walden’s Creek”.  This is the current route of US 58 west of Stickleyville.  It implies that Redd believed that Daniel would have gone this way, but Redd admitted that his first trip to Kentucky was in 1780, some seven years after the massacre, a situation that gave plenty of time for the route of the trail to have changed.

Tradition does say that Daniel Boone changed the route of the trail after James was killed.  In 1884, Col. Auburn Pridemore, CSA, of Jonesville, wrote a treatise entitled “Routes East”, and which now is MS 4.8.12 within the Draper Manuscripts.  A transcription of a portion of this document is as follows:

“I have mentioned that Boone after this (the James Boone massacre) changed his rout, that was told me by Genl. Peter C. Johnston, brother of
General Joseph E. Johnston of Confederate memory, he had it from a Mr.
Fleener whose father Camped at the top of Walden’s ridge at Stickleyville;
when Boone and Gov. Dunsmore’s surveyors located the road, and he gave
the Killing of Boone’s Son as the reason for the change of route.  This was
told me incidentially as Genl. Johnston (who had a great fund of Indian tales
and Border adventures) was relating a very thrilling story of a contest of the elder Fleener with an Indian at the same place.”

The location of the murder of James Boone depends on which version of the Wilderness Trail Daniel was traveling, and which route James took in the process of getting lost.  We know that nightfall of October 8th caught the party of James Boone and Henry Russell still on Wallen’s Creek.

“Wolves” howled all night around the camp of the James Boone party.  The Mendenhall brothers paced up and down all night.  At dawn, a mixed party of Shawnee and Cherokee Indians attacked, and shot James Boone and Henry Russell through the hips so that they could not escape.  They were tortured with knives.  Boone recognized his torturer as Big Jim, a Shawnee who had been a guest at Daniel’s home in the Yadkin.  Boone resisted for a while, but with his hands shredded from fending off the knife, he pleaded with Big Jim to kill him and to put him out of his misery.

Russell was clubbed, and his dead body shot full of arrows.  The Mendenhalls, and Whiteside Hargis were also killed.

It is not clear how Crabtree made his escape, but he returned to the settlements in the east.  Adam hid under a pile of drift wood on the bank of Wallen’s Creek, and witnessed the massacre, and later returned to the settlements where he spread the news.  He and Crabtree were the sources of the information that was written into the dispatches of the Holston Militia that wound up as part of the Draper Manuscripts, which are today’s documentation of this event.  Charles was carried away toward captivity.

The story varies somewhat at this point.  One tradition says that the massacre was discovered by a deserter from Daniel’s party.  Another source says that Capt. William Russell’s party came upon the scene, and dispatched a runner to Daniel.  The party of Daniel Boone returned, and Rebecca, James’s mother, wrapped the bodies of James and Henry up together in a linen sheet, and they were buried in a common grave.  The Boone and Russell parties returned to Castlewood.

The Indians, taking Whiteside Hargis’ wife, John and William Hargis, and John’s son who was named after his Uncle Whiteside, along with the slave Charles, made their way back up Wallen’s Creek to Dry Creek at Stickleyville, and thence to Kentucky, probably by way of Lovelady Gap, and either Olinger Gap or Eola Gap to the head waters of the Cumberland River.  Somewhere along the trail, John Hargis and his wife and daughter made their escape, and settled back in Castlewood.  Young Whiteside was adopted by the Shawnee, and later in life joined Chief Benge in his raids against the settlers in the area of his capture.

The Indians along their way began to argue about the ownership of Charles, and the issue was resolved by his being tomahawked.

These events are documented by the Draper Manuscripts 6 C 14; 6 C 7-20; 6 S 79-83; 11CC 12; 13C 133; which are well collated in the book Indian Raids and Massacres of Southwest Virginia by Luther F. Addington and Emory Hamilton.  The Fannon’s Spring data is contained in an article in the “Powell Valley News” written by J. M. Moseley and published in 1958 or 1959.   Moseley had frequented the Fannon home at Fannon’s Spring a little over a hundred years after the massacre, while the oral
traditions were still fresh and widely held.  The Hargis information is obtained from Henrietta Hargis Reynolds’ article in The Heritage of Russell Co. vol II.

The most persuasive information concerning the location of the murders of the James Boone Party is the testimony of Adam, whose story was recorded by militia officers at the time.  Adam said that he hid under a pile of driftwood beside Wallen’s Creek beside the Wilderness Trail.  Wallen’s Creek is too small to build up such a large pile of driftwood much above Fannon’s Spring, so the reputed sites upstream from
Stickleyville are impossible.  This is especially true of those sites at the head of Wallen’s Creek, which is so small there that it can be stepped across.

We know that Daniel and James took different trails, as James “got lost”.  Since James was on Wallen’s Creek, and was lost from Daniel’s trail, this means that Daniel had taken either the Station Creek version of the trail, or the Hunter’s Trace.  If the Russell Party was the one that discovered the massacre of the James Boone Party, and since we know from several sources that the massacre occurred on Wallen’s Creek, then it would seem that Russell had known to follow the parties of Daniel and of James down Wallen’s Creek.  It is important to note that at its nearest point, the Hunter’s Trace passes 1 ½ miles to the west of the mouth of Wallen’s Creek.  Therefore Russell in his following of the Boones had known that they were not to have traveled on the Hunter’s Trace.

If one discounts the Fannon’s Spring tradition, and discounts Russell having discovered the massacre, there are only two possibilities for these events to have unfolded.  The first is for Daniel to have camped north of Powell River (which is north of Wallen’s Ridge) somewhere in the Flatwoods or White Shoals area, and for James to have camped near the mouth of Wallen’s Creek.  The Wallen’s Creek Trail and the trail that had come from Station Creek come together at White Shoals.  This would have placed James about three to four miles east of Daniel, and also would have allowed the deserter from the Daniel Party to have backtracked to the east on a different trail from the one he had followed with Daniel.

The other possibility is for Daniel to have camped at the mouth of Station Creek, and James to have camped at Fannon’s Spring.  The distance between these two sites is also about three miles, and would have also allowed the deserter to have taken a different route back east and to have stumbled upon the massacre.

However, if one credits either the Fannon’s Spring tradition of Mosley, or the tradition that Russell discovered the massacre there is only one possibility.  The preponderance of evidence points to Daniel’s having camped at the mouth of Station Creek, and James at Fannon’s Spring.  It is, after all, about fifteen miles from Fannon’s Spring to the mouth of Wallen’s Creek and to the Flatwoods segment of the Wilderness Trail.

The Wallen’s Creek location documented by the Draper Manuscripts excludes the tradition locating the massacre in western Lee County near Kaylor.  Also, the western Lee County site is over a hundred miles from Castlewood, easily twice the distance that the James Boone party could have made in the one day that they travelled.

After burying their dead, the Boone and Russell parties returned to Castlewood.

Benjamin Sharp


Commentary Copyright: Lawrence J. Fleenor, Jr.

All rights reserved

January 2001

Big Stone Gap, VA

Following below is a letter written by Benjamin Sharp in 1842 to the editor of a history magazine entitled “The American Pioneer”, and which was published in Cincinnati, Ohio by John S. Williams. The letter was printed in the June 15th issue of that periodical. It tells first hand accounts of the Battles of Long Island Flats at Kingsport, and of the Indian fighting around Black’s Fort in Abingdon, both during the early phases of the Cherokee War that started as a part of the American Revolution. Following the text of the letter will be a summation of what little biographical material exists on Benjamin Sharp, himself.

Warren County, Missouri, June 15th, 1842
Dear Sir – In the year 1776, about the time American independence was declared, all that part of West Virginia now contained in the counties of Wyth, Smyth, Washington, Russell, Lee, and Scott, with the adjoining counties in North Carolina (now Tennessee) of Sullivan and Washington, were broken up and the inhabitants driven into strongholds. About the last of June or the first of July, the traders fled from the Cherokee nation with the alarming news, that the Indians were coming in great
force, and in a few days would break into the settlements. A few of the
militia, perhaps one hundred and fifty or two hundred, hastily assembled
under the command of captains James Thompson, James Shelby, and William
Cook and proceeded to the frontier house, about fifteen miles in advance
of the settlement, and begun to build a kind of stockade fort with fence
rails; but before they could finish their fort their spies gave them
notice that a large Indian force was within a few miles. It was then
debated, which would be the most prudent, to await their coming in their
crazy fort or march out boldly and meet them in the woods. The latter
proposition prevailed, and before they had proceeded more than five
miles, they discovered nine or ten Indians, who threw down their budgets
and fled. This threw the men into disorder, curiosity drawing them
around the Indian plunder in a crowd; but presently they heard a noise
like distant thunder, and looking round they saw the whole Indian force
running upon them at full speed – they made a hasty retreat to a rising
ground, where they rallied; and the Indians came running up with savage
yells, as if intending to rush among them with their tomahawks. A sharp
engagement ensued, lasting from one-half to three-quarters of an hour,
when the Indians disappeared, as if by magic, leaving the white men
masters of the ground. Of the whites none were killed and only four
slightly wounded. Eleven or twelve Indians lay dead upon the field and
many trails of blood were found where the dead were carried off or the
wounded had escaped. My oldest brother and a brother-in-law were in the
A curious incident occurred during the engagement. An Alexander Moore,
a strong, athletic, active man, by some means got into close contact
with an Indian of nearly his own size and strength; my brother-ion-law,
William King, seeing Moore’s situation, ran up to his relief, but the
Indian adroitly kept Moore in such a position that King could not shoot
him without shooting Moore. The Indian had a large knife suspended at
his belt, for the possession of which they both struggled, but at length
Moore succeeded and plunged it into the Indian’s bowels; he then broke
his hold and sprung off from Moore, and King shot him through the head.
The victorious party now returned to the fort, and instantly dispersed
to take care of their own families and concerns. In the meantime the
whole settlements were breaking up and the people fleeing from every
quarter. We had collected some horses and loaded them with such
necessaries as we could hastily pack up, and about the middle of the day
my father, an old man, set off with them and the females of the family
to seek a place of safety, he know not where. I was dispatched on foot
to accelerate the escape of a brother’s and sister’s families, the one
living four and the other six miles directly toward the point of
danger. I was a little turned of fourteen years of age; the day was
warm, but I was light and active and had no encumbrance but my gun and
shot-pouch, and I traveled rapidly.
On my arrival I found the families had fled, and I turned to pursue my
father. I had twelve miles to go to gain the great road, which I did as
the day was nearly closing. In my whole route I not seen a human face,
but here the road was full of people moving hastily along; they were all
strangers to me, but learning my situation one man generously proposed
to carry me behind him till I could regain my friends or hear some
intelligence of them. This offer I gladly embraced, and after some time
we came to the farm of a captain Joseph Black, where Abington now
stands, where we found four or five hundred souls of all descriptions
collected together to build a fort, and here I found my connections.
The next day, when all hands were engaged in procuring materials and
building fort Black, we received the news of the battle of long Island,
which gave us much encouragement, and business was suspended till a
prayer of thanksgiving was offered up by the Rev. Charles Cummings, a
Presbyterian minister. Not more than two or three days after this a
captain James Montgomery, who lived about eight miles off, came to the
fort; he had concluded, with two other families, to defend his own
house, but not knowing what was going on he had rode out to try to find
some people or get some intelligence. He was earnestly beset to bring
the families instantly to the fort, and men and horses were sent to
assist him. They soon returned with the families and some of their
effects, and went back for more, but to their surprise they found the
houses plundered and all in flames. They retreated hastily to the fort,
and spies were appointed and sent out – but for several days they made
no discovery, but at length they came in one night after dark and
reported that they had discovered afire on the bank of the river above
Mongomeies, which they supposed to be the Indian camp. An express was
sent off to another fort, requesting their men to meet our men at a
certain place at a certain hour that night. A party set off with the
spies and was met by the men from the other fort according to
appointment, and the spies conducted them to the spot. They cautiously
surrounded them from the river below to the river above them with strict
injunctions to preserve a profound silence till the report of the
captain’s gun should give the signal for a general discharge, and in
this position they waited for day. As soon as day had fairly dawned
the Indians arose and began to move about the camp, when the crack of the
captain’s rifle was followed by a well directed fire from every quarter;
the Indians fled across the river, exposed all the way to the fire of
the whites, if any fell or sunk in the river it was not known, but if I
recollect right eleven lay dead at and around the camp. The men crossed
the river and found various trails of blood, one of which they traced up
to where the fellow had crept into a hollow log; they drew him out by
the feet and found him mortally wounded: he requested them by signs to
shoot him in the head, which request they granted.
When the men returned all safe, with the Indian spoils and scalps,
there was great rejoicing, and the scalps were suspended to a pole and
fixed as a trophy over the fort gate. But we did not enjoy this triumph
long, for shortly after a different scene took place. One morning three
parties prepared to go out; one in which were my father, my two
brothers, and two brothers-in-law, went early and was unmolested, they
went to visit some plantations twelve miles off, and knew of nothing
that had happened behind them, and did not return till late at night.
Of the other two, one went to a field about a mile off, I think to
secure some flax, and the other about the same distance to the house of
the Rev. Charles Cummings, to bring his books, and some of his effects
to the fort. Both these parties were attacked at the same time in full
hearing of the fort; and here an undescribable scene of disorder took
place, the women and children screaming, wives clinging to their
husbands, mothers to their sons, and sisters to their brothers, to
prevent them from going out, and crowding the fort gate, so that the men
could hardly pass or repass. However a number of the men broke through,
and ran to the rescue as fast as possible, but before they could arrive
the Indians had done their work and were gone; one man was killed and
one wounded in each party. A man by the name of Blackburn, was shot,
tomahawked, and scalped, and yet was found alive, brought in, and
recovered of his wounds. He was a long time an object of compassion.
The gallantry of two young men in this affray deserves to be recorded
here. William Casey had a sister, a beautiful little girl, about
sixteen years of age, along with the party at the field; and as he was
running for his life, discovered the Indians in close pursuit of his
sister; and at that moment his eyes falling upon another young man, by
the name of Robert Hasold, he called to him to come and help him to save
Nancy; Hasold obeyed, and although there were four or five Indians in
pursuit, (some said seven,) they rushed between them and the girl, and
by dexterously managing to fire alternately, still keeping one gun
loaded when the other was discharged, they kept the Indians at bay till
they gave up the pursuit, and they brought the girl in safe. Such acts
of generous bravery ought at all times be held up as examples to our
youth. Ever after, these two young men stood prominent in society.
During the summer several murders were committed; two men were killed
almost in sight of the neighboring fort, who had gone out to bring in
their horses. Of two men who went with an express from fort Black, one
was killed and the other made his escape. It had been early determined
to carry an expedition into the Indian country: and troops begun to
assemble at the long Island, the place of rendezvous, and build a fort,
which was called fort Henry. A company was enrolled at fort Black, and
taken under pay, to guard the fort and escort the provision and baggage
wagons going to, and returning from the rendezvous. In this company I
engaged, which was the first of my military service.
I think some time in November, the army, one thousand five hundred, or
two thousand strong, under the command of colonel William Christian, of
Virginia, moved on the Indian towns. I cannot recollect that this army
killed any Indians, or took any prisoners; but they burned down all
their villages, destroyed their corn, and every article of subsistence
they could find, which reduced them to such a state of starvation, that
before spring they sent in a flag for peace, which resulted in the
treaty of the Long Island, in 1777.
I attended this treaty only one day, and that before the conferences
begun and can report nothing of my own knowledge; I will only mention an
oratorical figure in a speech of the Raven, the principal Indian chief.
A great many Indians with their squaws and children had collected, and
were quartered in the island, surrounded by a guard to prevent improper
intercourse with the whites; but notwithstanding this precaution, some
abandoned fellow shot across the river and killed an Indian. This
produced great confusion; the Indians thought they were betrayed, and
prepared to fly, and it was with much exertion the officers and
commissioners could convince and pacify them. Afterwards when the
council met, the Raven opened the conference on the part of his people
by a speech, in which he reverted to the case of the murdered Indian.
He said, least that unhappy affair should disturb the harmony and
sincerity that ought to exist at that time between the white and red
brethren, each party ought to view it as having happened so long ago, as
if when the Indian was buried an acorn had been thrown into his grave,
which had sprouted and grown, and become a lofty spreading oak,
sufficiently large for them to sit under its shade, and hold their
talk. This speech was much talked of at the time, and many thought it
equal to any thing in the celebrated speech of Logan. Thus ended the
first Cherokee war.
I am, with much esteem &c.
Benj. Sharp
Benjamin Sharp is a phantom of our regional past, a sense of whose importance to our heritage needs to be regained. The only widely known reference to him in our historic literature is his cryptic commentary on the death of Chief Bob Benge recorded in Summer’s History Southwest Virginia and of Washington Co. and in the author’s Benge!
Benjamin was born in Lancaster County Pennsylvania on January 23, 1763. He was the son of John Sharp, who was born in Scotland about 1720, and who died in Sullivan County Tennessee July 1796. John’s home, where Benjamin was raised, was on the South Fork of Holston River, a few miles above the present dam.
Benjamin acquired excellent social and business contacts by his and his family’s’ marriages. He married Hannah Fulkerson, who was the daughter of James Fulkerson, and the niece of Abraham and sister of Peter Fulkerson. Her mother was Mary Vanhook, whom his father had married when this assortment of families were living in North Carolina. The Fulkersons were Dutch Huguenots, and were part of that group that migrated across America to finally settle in Washington County, Virginia, after having first settled in Elk Garden, Russell County. Other clan names that were in that group of wandering Huguenots were the Dyes and the Vanhooks.
The Fulkersons were high up in the social structure of Washington Co, and Abraham became a Colonel in the Holston Militia, a rank usually reserved for the Scots-Irish. The Fulkersons seemed to serve as intermediaries between the Scots-Irish community and the sizable German one. As a ranking officer in the Holston Militia, Abraham had been a special target of Chief Benge on his last raid in 1794, when Benge sought to attack Abraham’s house near Hiltons, Va.
The Fulkersons were aggressive and prosperous land speculators in Washington, Scott, and Lee Counties, Virginia. Benjamin would profit much from this connection.
Benjamin was also the brother-in-law of one of the several William Kings, whose family is connected with the salt works at Saltville, King College, Kingsport, and Steel Creek in Bristol. They were easily the wealthiest family in the region at that time.
Early records of Benjamin’s activities in the Holston Valley are sketchy. He got a land grant in Elk Garden amongst his wife’s relatives, he got land on Beaver Creek, and moved to the Mendota Community on the North Fork, according to the historian Goodpasture. This made him neighbors with the Livingstons, Benhams, and the Hobbs, all of whom were to be swept up in the infamous last raid of Chief Benge.
Virginia made money in two ways off of its land sales on the frontier. First of all, it issued land warrants which entitled the holder to claim a specified acreage of unpatented land. These warrants were traded for cash on the secondary market. Then, of course, the Virginia Land Office charged a fee for the land itself, after the purchaser had presented a warrant and a survey of his claim. The land could, then, be sold on the secondary market. The Fulkersons were aggressive traders of both Land Warrants and of Land.
About 1790 several families from the Mendota community moved to Turkey Cove (Dryden) in Lee County. Their motives involved land speculation, hunting, and community defensive needs. The Cherokee War had raged in sanguine passion since 1776, and in 1777 the Cherokee had run all the settlers out of Lee County save for the eastern most garrison at Rocky Station. Late in that war the Holston Militia decided to deploy a rapid deployment force of rangers at Yoakum’s Station in Turkey Cove. Among those settlers of the Mendota Community that relocated to Dryden were the brothers Absolum and Vincent Hobbs, Jr, and likely Vincent Hobbs, Sr., John Benham, and Benjamin Sharp, who bought 620 acres as the assignee of his brother-in-law Peter Fulkerson. The land was next to Absolum Hobbs.
This started a process that was oft repeated. He either bought warrants or the land itself from Peter Fulkerson, all through Lee County. The land was spread throughout the county, and often was the less desirable left overs after wealthier speculators had gotten the cream. Before the process was over he had acquired 2,622 acres in Lee County in his own right, and was part owner of 1,083 more. He also bought 273 acres on the North Fork of the Clinch near Duffield in Scott County.
He followed the common pattern of that era, and sold his Lee County holdings so that he could reinvest his profits in land further west, and wound up dying in Warren County, Missouri on January 1, 1844.
His only claim to lasting fame is his commentary on the actions of the Yoakum’s Station Militia in the killing of Chief Bob Benge in Wise County in 1794. That party was composed of his neighbors Absolum and Vincent Hobbs, Jr., and James Huff and others of the Turkey Cove community. His narrative is written with such authority that one could think that he was one of the members of that party whose name James Huff could not remember half a century later, when he told of that event to a Louisville Newspaper.
Sharp’s narrative of the Benge killing is rumored to be somewhere in the same periodical that this letter of his was published in. “The American Pioneer” is on microfilm at Alderman Library at the University of Virginia, the source of this narrative. Perhaps someday someone will be able to locate it. In the meantime, this article will serve to restore the memory of Benjamin Sharp to its rightful place in local history.
special thanks to Dale Carter for his help on this article, and to the
Lonesome Pine Regional Library for its help in procuring a photocopy of
the microfilmed Sharp document.

Colonel John Anderson, Builder of the Blockhouse

Colonel John Anderson, Builder of the Blockhouse

by William Anderson

The Wilderness Road Blockhouse in Natural Tunnel State Park is a reproduction of the original blockhouse built by an early pioneer, John Anderson, in 1775. Anderson’s eventful life included not just his role as the Blockhouse proprietor, but also service as a regional militia leader and judge.

Born in 1750, Anderson was the son of one of the first settlers of the Shenandoah Valley, William Anderson, who farmed several thousand acres near Staunton, Virginia. The Andersons were part of a group of immigrants known as “Scots-Irish” because they were Scottish in ancestry but came to America from Northern Ireland. The Scots-Irish were hardy and stubborn people, qualities Anderson would need to survive first the French and Indian War in his youth and later the long conflicts in the Holston region.

Anderson first explored the Holston area in 1769, when it was still a wilderness, and moved to the area in 1773 with a wave of new settlers. Anderson did not build the Blockhouse, however, until two years later. In the meantime, he nearly lost his life. During Dunsmore’s War, a short-lived conflict with the Shawnee in late 1774, Anderson served as an ensign in the local militia attached to Blackmore’s Fort left behind to protect against attacks on the settlements. When a raiding party caught the fort defenders outside the fort, Anderson and another defender left the security of the fort under fire to try to rescue a downed comrade who was about to be scalped. The militia colonel in charge of the region reported that “the Indians like to had done Anderson’s job, having struck into the stockade a few inches from his head.” Daniel Boone led a rescue party to the fort the day after the attack and served as captain over the local fort defense for the rest of Dunsmore’s War. Boone and George Rogers Clarke were two of the heros of the era Anderson undoubtedly new and worked with in the defense of the western frontier.

When he was discharged from his militia duty, Anderson married his fiance, Rebecca Maxwell on January 12, 1775. Needing a place to raise his family, he selected a piece of land at the end of Carter’s Valley, the farthest settlement into the Holston wilderness. This location, wittingly or not, placed Anderson squarely in the path of any native raids coming across Big Mocassin Gap from the west. On this spot he build the famous Blockhouse in the spring of 1775. For the next twenty-five years, Anderson’s Blockhouse served as the starting point for parties crossing the Wilderness Trail to Kentucky.

Anderson is best known for his role as the Blockhouse owner, but he was also a successful farmer and one of the area’s leading citizens. Following his service at Blackmore’s Fort, Anderson likely fought in the Battle of Long Island Flats, one of the first battles of the Revolutionary War. In early 1777 Governor Patrick Henry of the new state of Virginia appointed Anderson as one of the first members of the county court of newly formed Washington County, and as captain of the County militia. After 1779, due to a boundary dispute, Anderson and the Blockhouse became part of North Carolina, where he served as Lieutenant Colonel in the Sullivan County militia. Anderson is believed to have participated in at least two campaigns into native territory during the Revolutionary War. He may also have fought in the key Battle of Kings Mountain in 1780 but the records are unclear. In Virginia, he is often referred to as “Captain John Anderson,” his rank in the Virginia militia, but several researchers refer to him as “Colonel John Anderson” based on his later rank.

When his state affiliation shifted to North Carolina, Anderson continued to serve as judge on the Sullivan County Court. In 1783, a group led by John Sevier tried to establish a new State of Franklin that would have encompassed the Blockhouse. Anderson found himself on the side of the supporters of the new state and even served for a short time as one of three state justices. Many residents of the area opposed the state, and the dispute reached violent proportions on occasions. At one point the opponents raided Anderson’s court, drove the justices out, and took all their records. Anderson’s brother-in-law, George Maxwell, led the military forces of the opponents.

In the 1780s the Blockhouse became important in the defense of Kentucky, the “dark and bloody land” where the Shawnee and Cherokee fought bitterly to stop the settlement of their hunting grounds. George Rogers Clark and other leaders used the Blockhouse to store ammunition destined for Kentucky, and Anderson provided hospitality to various officers and government agents traveling back and forth. In 1789 native raids increased in the region, in one instance resulting in one local individual losing his wife and all of his ten children to death or capture. Anderson’s status among the military leaders made him the logical choice to write to Col. Arthur Campbell seeking assistance. In this letter, the only known surviving example of Anderson’s handwriting, Anderson reports on a Mr. Johnson who “had his family, which consisted of his wife and eleven children, all killed and taken except two.” Anderson rather searingly questions why the region’s residents “guarded our frontiers in the time of the late war, when we were attacked on both sides, and now can get no help.”

In the 1800s, due to shifting state boundaries, Anderson found himself back in Virginia. In a mark of the high respect area residents held Anderson, the citizens of new Scott County elected him Sheriff, the first officer appointed, even though he was 65 years old at the time. He died two years later while trying to bring cool water from a distant spring to his ill wife. His son Isaac became a leader of the new county. Anderson and his wife raised eight children and had sixty-four grandchildren. One of those grandchildren, Joseph R. Anderson, founded Bristol, Tennessee. The Blockhouse burned in 1876.

Anderson never held political office and never followed the adventurists like Boone into new territory in Kentucky and elsewhere. Instead, he settled into his life at the Blockhouse, the only home he and Rebecca ever knew, and provided a life of dedicated service to his local community. The many descendants of the travelers over the Kentucky road can thank him in part for the lives their ancestors were able to create.

Readers who would like more information on Anderson or the sources of the information in this article should see Anderson, W., John Anderson, Blockhouse Proprietor and Early Frontier Leader, in Appalachian Quarterly 9:57-67 (Dec. 2004), located at _____.