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The Settlement of the Appalachian Frontier: May 2007

The Settlement of the Appalachian Frontier

Sharing information, stories, and ideas for teaching students about the settlement of the Appalachian Frontier. Focusing on the little-known people and history of Southwestern Virginia, Northeast Tennessee, and Eastern Kentucky.

Location: Nickelsville, Virginia, United States

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Real Pocahontas

The Princess Wild
Pocahontas was not who you think she was; she was a whole lot more
By Lisa Moore LaRoe

Posted 1/21/07
Disney had it right about Pocahontas. She's a cartoon, a supernaturally endowed siren who loves and saves John Smith. At least that's what she's become—a two-dimensional figment of the imagination, refracted through the biases of history.
In reality, Pocahontas was just a child when she met Smith. They were friends, never lovers. And it's not likely that she threw herself on Smith to save him from having his brains bashed out. Some historians say the self-promotional Smith made up that tale, written about 15 years after he left Jamestown. Others say he just misinterpreted an adoption ceremony in which Pocahontas may have played a scripted part.
If the reason for fame is false, why should we care about her? Because the real Pocahontas was a dazzling young woman, complex, headstrong, and shrewd—a bridge between two different worlds who arguably became for Jamestown exactly what Smith claimed: "the instrument to preserve this colony from death."
"Only nonpareil." When she first met Smith, Pocahontas was a dark-eyed girl about age 11, with the unselfconscious energy of a child. Like other Indian children, she wore nothing at all. Her black hair was chopped short at the sides and hung in a braid down her back. Her tawny frame was muscled from years spent laboring and playing outdoors.
Smith and his countrymen marveled at the little sprite, described by colonist William Strachey as cartwheeling naked with the boys of the fort. Smith, at least 14 years her senior, wrote that for "feature, countenance, and proportion" as well as for "wit and spirit," Pocahontas was "the only nonpareil" of the land. It's harder to say what she thought of the pale strangers who planted a fort in her father's realm; she left no writings of her own. But to them she stood out not just for her exuberance but because she was a favorite daughter of Powhatan, the great Indian chief who controlled the colony's fate.
Born around 1596 as Amonute (later called Matoaka), she was one of scores of children sired by Powhatan, the husband of more than 100 wives. His savvy daughter must have learned that to keep her father's affection, she had to make him laugh. "People who met her did describe a sparkling personality," says anthropologist Helen Rountree. She believes that it may have been Powhatan who gave his girl the nickname Pocahontas, meaning "little wanton" or "little mischievous one."
A precocious girl who quickly learned some English, Pocahontas became an intermediary between Powhatan and the Jamestown foreigners. On her first visit to the fort, she helped negotiate a release of some Indian prisoners, her presence interpreted by the colonists as a sign from Powhatan that he trusted the strangers enough to send his beloved daughter as an emissary.
That trust soon unraveled. In the winter of 1608-09, starving colonists tried to coerce food from the Indians, and violence boiled. During this turmoil, Pocahontas reportedly risked her life by sneaking through the woods at night to warn Smith and his party of a deadly ambush planned by Powhatan. Smith wrote that Pocahontas's "compassionate" heart gave him "much cause to respect her."
After Powhatan moved his capital far from Jamestown, Pocahontas's contact with the colonists faded. In 1610, at about age 13 or 14, she married a Powhatan man named Kocoum. Did she have a child? Was she at peace with her life? The record is blank. But as the jewel of her powerful father, she made a tempting target.
Temptation turned into abduction. In April 1613, while visiting a tribe on the Potomac, Pocahontas was kidnapped by ship's captain Samuel Argall and told she'd be held hostage until her father returned some English prisoners and stolen weapons. One account described her as "exceeding pensive and discontented." Furious and fearful must be closer to the truth. Powhatan demanded kind treatment for his daughter, but a deadlock over ransom kept Pocahontas captive for a year.
Mesmerizing. Held first at Jamestown and then at the settlement of Henrico, Pocahontas was drilled in the English language and the Christian faith. Accustomed to wearing only a deerskin apron, working outdoors, and worshiping a host of deities, she was suddenly bound in a bodice, confined indoors, and force-fed the Bible. But like all survivors, she adapted—and mesmerized her captors.
One of them seems to have won her heart. Widower John Rolfe, a pious 28-year-old tobacco grower, became rapt with lust for Pocahontas. Claiming that he was not led by "the unbridled desire of carnal affection," Rolfe sought permission from Gov. Thomas Dale to marry the girl. He billed his plan as a noble quest "for the honor of our country ... and for the converting to the true knowledge of God and Jesus Christ an unbelieving creature."
As for Pocahontas, she apparently cared for Rolfe, who touted "her great appearance of love to me." Although a prisoner, she very likely also enjoyed her royal treatment among the English, who considered her a princess. Curious, she was intrigued by their culture, though not to the point of rejecting her own. And she was ultimately a pragmatist: The Indians and the colonists were at war. "She knew that if her people were to survive, they needed the English as allies, not as enemies," says Rutgers University historian Camilla Townsend.
In the standoff between Powhatan and the English, Pocahontas became both a pawn and a player. The English wanted bragging rights for converting to Christianity the daughter of an Indian "king." She held off on conversion until a 1614 truce sealed her release and led to a peace that helped Jamestown to flourish. Her role in that truce was arguably her greatest gift to the colony.
With the war over, and with her father's and Dale's consent, Pocahontas converted, was baptized with the name Rebecca, married Rolfe, and bore a son.
Lady Rebecca made great PR. To the Virginia Company, she was proof that the "heathens" could be Christianized. The company wanted to send her to London as a live advertisement for the corporation, which needed funds. Pocahontas (and her father) could also gain: Powhatan needed information about the size and wealth of the colonists' homeland. So in 1616, the Rolfes sailed for England.
There the couple made quite a splash. Pocahontas "carried herself as the daughter of a king and was accordingly respected," wrote observer Samuel Purchas. She met King James and briefly became a novelty among the elite, entertained "with festival state and pomp." She also ran into John Smith, quite a shock as she'd been told he was dead. He reports that she curtly turned her back, remained silent for hours, then rebuked him for disrespecting her and her father. (So much for the mythic love.)
The Rolfes boarded a ship for home in March 1617, but just before sailing from Gravesend, Pocahontas became ill with what may have been a lung ailment or a virulent form of dysentery. There Pocahontas died, barely 21 years old. Though she "wasn't a celebrity in her lifetime," says Rountree, her fame, with all its embellishments, would balloon in the centuries ahead.
If only Pocahontas could speak for herself.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The 1st Militia Roster of the Clinch River Area of Russell County, Va. in 1774

By Emory L. Hamilton - 1978
In the Archives of the Virginia State Library is found one of the most interesting documents pertaining to the earliest settlers of the Clinch River Valley in what is now Russell, Scoot and Lee Counties, but then a part of Washington County.
It is page 229 and 230 of the Dunmore's War Records, and is a roster of 72 names of Militia soldiers under Captain William Russell. The roster is for the first pay period just prior to the outbreak of Dunmore's War in the fall of 1774.
While this document does not list everyone living in the area, it does give an insight into some of the very earliest settlers.
On the ensuing pages I have listed by number and name each of the Militiamen, with a brief biography of what I have been able to find pertaining to each man.
1. WILLIAM RUSSELL - He was Captain of Militia and lived near the present Castlewood High School. His first wife, Tabitha Adams Russell died there in 1776 and was buried there. Russell later married Elizabeth, the widow of General William Campbell and lived at Saltville. The second Mrs. Russell was a sister to Patrick Henry. At the outbreak of the Revolution, Russell became a general in the Continental Army. It was for him that Russell County was named.
2. HENRY MOORE - I know nothing of a Henry Moore. It is possible that this name was Henly Moore who was a militia sergeant and who was in command of Glade Hollow Fort in early 1774.
3. JAMES NAALE - This name should be James Naul who settled very early near Dungannon and was dead in 1777. On April 29, 1777, James Green was appointed administrator of his estate, Josiah Payne and Patrick Porter were the securities for Green.
4. JOHN SNODDY - This was Captain John Snoddy, born circa 1739 and who was a militia captain on the Clinch until his removal to Kentucky around 1780. He had married Margaret Walker, a daughter of John Walker who lived at the "sink" of Sinking Creek on a farm he called "Broad Meadows". Snoddy at one time owned Moore's Fort at Castlewood, which he sold prior to his removal to Kentuckyto Frederick Fraley. He was a brother-in-law to Patrick Porter, and the Cowan brothers, David, William and Samuel, all having married Walker sisters. John Snoddy died in Madison Co., Ky. in 1814, and should not be confused with an older John Snoddy who served on the Washington Co. Court who lived at Abingdon. The older Snoddy married Agnes Glasgow in Philadelphia in 1741 and moved to Tennessee where he died in 1786.
5. WILLIAM MOORE - William and Joseph Moore, two brothers came to Castlewood in 1769 and built Moore's Fort in 1774. About 1780 they left the Clinch and settled at Crab Orchard in Lincoln Co., Ky. where John Snoddy was with them. It has been stated that the Moore brothers, the previously mentioned Cowan brothers were brothers-in-law. If so, then the Moore's married Cowan sisters. All these people were originally Pennsylvanians coming to the are from Augusta County.
6. HENRY HAMLIN - Henry Hamlin came to Castlewood and settled in upper Castlewood, on the North side of Clinch River in 1769. He operated a mill there long before Bickley's Mill and the old foundation still stands on Mill Creek. His first wife, and some of his children were killed by iIndians in 1783. Later he moved to Rye Cove and married his second wife Mary "Molly" Blackmore Adams who had her first husband Jessee Adams and ten children massacred by the Indians on Stock Creek in 1782. Molly was the daughter of Joseph Blackmore and is said to have been killed also by Indians near Fort Blackmore in 1790, but I can find no proof for this. Henry Hamlin was born in 1740 and died in 1818. During the Revolutionary War he is reported to have been a Tory.
7. SAMUEL RITCHIE - Samuel was a son of Alexander Ritchie, Sr. who came from Henrico Co., Va., and settled at Gray's Island on the south side of Clinch River two miles down stream from Dungannon in the yar 1772. Their home ws "Rithie's Fort." Samuel Ritchie married Ann, the daughter of Patrick Porter and they separated in 1793. He owned two tracts of land on the south side of Clinch River settling upon one in 1775. He was a member of the first Court of Scott Co. and was a Justice of the Peace and active in the political life of Scott Co. for many years. His marriage to Ann Porter was never annulled, but he took Frances Kendrick as a common law wife and lived with her until death, which occurred on December 16, 1818. By Frances Kendrick he had one son and five daughters.
9. JOHN DUNCAN - John and his brother Rawley Duncan came from Culpepper Co., Va. and settled at Hunter's Ford (now Dungannon) in 1772. John was killed by the Indians at Moore's Fort in 1774. In 1780 his widow, who had remarried sold her land and left the area for Kentucky.
11. HENRY DICKENSON - Henry settled at Castlewood in the early 1770's and came from Prince Edward Co. He became the first Clerk of Russell Co. in 1786. He was at the battle of Kings Mountain. The first courthouse of Russell Co. became his home after the county was formed and still stands between Castlewood and Dickensonville which was named for him.
12. SAMUEL PORTER - Samuel Porter lived near Temple Hill Cemetery in Russell Co. He came from Pennsylvanie to Castlewood in 1769. He married asister of Captain John Dunkin and was a brother-in-law of Solomon Litton another early settler at Elk Garden. He left the Clinch along with the Dunkin, Litton, Laughlin and other families in 1779 and settled on Licking River near Ruddle's Station Kentucky. All these families in Ruddles and Martins Stations were captured in June of 1780 by the British and Indians. They were marched to Detroit and Montreal and held until peace was made at the end of the Revolution. They returned to their old homes in Virginia and never went back to Kentucky to claim their lands. Samuel Porter died at Castlewood in 1820.
13. JOHN CRANK - Little is known of John Crank. He was granted land in Washington Co., Va. for service in the French and Indian War under Col. William Byrd. He settled on a 400 acre tract of land on the north side of Moccasin Ridge in 1774. He also owned 250 acres on both sides of the North Fork of Holston River and 396 acres on Copper Ridge.
14. DAVID COWAN - David Cowan settled in 1769 in upper Castlewood. It was upon his land that the fort commonly called Russell's Fort was built in 1774. He was married to Jane, a daughter of John Wlker. Left the area after the Revolutionary War and probably settled in Tennessee.
15. MICHAEL OSCER - This man was really Michael Auxier, a family of French extraction, whose father Michael Auxier, Sr., died on Copper Creek in 1780. The name in early records is spelled "Oxer". Michael was a brother of the Simon Oxer who helped defend Russell's Fort against 17 Indians along with Henry Dickenson and Charles Bickley in 1783. Some members of this family moved to Floyd Co., Ky. There they became a prominent family and Auxier in Floyd Co. is named for them. There is a family tradition that Michael Auxier was scalped by the Indians while living on the Clinch and was ever afterwards called "Bald-headed Mike Auxier". His last home was on Kinniconick Creek in Lewis Co., Ky. A spring, known as "Oxer's Spring" at the foot of House and Barn Mountain may indicate that one of this family resided there.
16. WILLIAM RUSSELL, JR. - He was a son of Captain William Russel.
17. THOMAS JOHNSON - There may have been two men of this name in the area. This is probably the Thomas Johnson who married Fanny Dickenson Scott after her husband Archibald Scott and children were killed by the Indians. On August 8, 1788, James Young and Elizabeth, his wife sold to Samuel Ewing and Thomas Johnson of Russell Co. 100 acres called "Mount Welcome" in Rich Valley on both sides of Young Creek, a branch of the North Fork of Holston. On February 17, 1796 Samuel Ewing deeds this same tract of land to Thomas Johnson and Fanny, his wife, of Russell Co. and Robert and William Logan. This time the land is referred to as being in Rich Valley on both sides of Young's Mill Creek. Later Thomas Johnson of Knox Cp., Tenn. sells 100 acres on Middle Fork of Holston to Michael Gimet. On March 15, 1796, Thomas and Fanny Johnson sell 350 acres in Rich Valley to John Scroggins.
18. HUMPHREY DICKENSON - Humphrey Dickenson was a brother of Henry Dickenson. He settled in Castlewood in 1769 on the north side of the Clinch River where he built a two story log house later lived in by his brother Henry. This house owned by Mr. Don Gray stood until recently. Humphrey was killed by Indians on a rock in Clinch River in 1778.
19. JAMES BUSH - James Bush and his wife Mary came from Amherst Co. to Castlewood in the early 1770's. Early he had a mill in Castleood and in 1790 deeds refer to "Bush's Mill Creek." Later it seems he owned the Cowan-Russell Fort for it is after referred to as Bush's Fort. His son, Austin Bush served as one of the Indian Spys. His daughters Mary and Ann were captured by the Indians, but were retaken in Floyd Co., Ky. by the Clinch Militia. Ann was tomahawked but survived. She was later scalped by the Indians and still survived to rear a family. James Bush was dead prior to 1820, and Ann was dead by 1825. 20 August 1762 James Bush, assignee of Henry Dickenson entered 100 acres of land on south side of Clinch River known by the name of the Russian Place?
20. JAMES BURKE - Not much is known by this writer about James Burke. He apparently lived on Copper Creek where he had 96 acres surveyed for him on April 8, 1774. He also had a 45 acre tract on Lewis Creek, recorded December 13, 1783. There was more than one James Burke in the area. On November 24, 1777, one James Burke was Administrator of the estate of Henry Sivord, deceased. Then on March 17, 1779, he was summoned to court to render an account of administration. On June 15, 1779 on motion of John Kinkead who was security for James Burke, administrator of the estate of Henry Sword, deceased, for counter security. William Houston and Daniel McCoy came into court and undertook in the penalty of 1500 punds to endemnify the said Kinkead for being security for the said administrator. On April 17, 1782 (Wash. Co. Entry Book) Joseph Hatfield assignee of John Neal, assignee of Eli Smith, enters 50 acres on waters of Clinch being land whereon he now lives. Also James Burk where he now lives on Big Arod(?) Creek.
21. BENJAMIN NICHOLSON - Benjamin Nicholson came to the area about 1772 and settled on the Clinch River in the vicinity of Gray's Island in Scott Co. His home is referred to as Nicholson's Fort. He married Jemima Darnell and in the late 1790's sold his land and moved to Clarke Co., Ky.
22. JOHN ANDERSON - There were at least three John Andersons in the area at this time. This particular one was probably the John Anderson who was a son-in-law of Richard Price. He had a land entry for 190 acres in Elk Garden recorded March 28, 1785, and another entry for 200 acres recorded August 24, 1781 and had settled on this tract in the year 1775. On November 18, 1778 he was appointed administrator of the estates of John Barksdale and Humphrey Dickenson, both of whom the Indians had killed in Castlewood.
24. GEORGE OSCER - Really George Auxier, and brother of #15 Michael Auxier. George Auxier died in 1809 in Montgomery Co., Ky. He was married to Dorcas Shelly who died in Ky. in 1824. George Auxier served in the frontier militia, enlisted at Glade Hollow Fort under Capt. Alexander Barnett. In 1838 George & Dorcas Auxier had an only surviving child, James Auxier, born 1791, who applied for a pension on the Revolutionary War services of his father.
25. OBEDIAH TERRELL - Obediah Terrell is best remembered as being one of the noted Long Hunters. Obey's River in Tenn. was named for him. "He was a chunky, small sized man with a club foot." (Draper Mss. 55-62)
Terrell lived on Obey's Creek, in Scott Co. prior to his removal to Tenn. The earliest official record found of him is in old Fincastle Co., dated November 3, 1773 when he was granted a judgemant against Uriah Stone, another of the Long Hunters. The last record found relating to him was April 22, 1778 in Washington Co. when he was appointed overseer of a road from "Two Big Springs" on Copper Creek to the head of Moccasin Creek. Then again on Aug. 18, 1778 he was appointed administrator of the estate of Thomas Kindrick. It was perhaps shortly after the latter date that he moved to Tenn. for less than 16 months later, in 1780, Daniel Smith spent the night at his camp on Obey's River in middle Tenn. while on a buffalo hunt. Terrell Spent seveal years on the Cumberland River as a farmer and hunter, and before permanent settlement in Tenn. hunted and camped along the river in what is now Cumberland and Pulaski Counties.
26. JOSEPH KINKAID - Joseph Kinkaid was a son of John Kinkaid, who lived across Clingh River from St. Paul. This Kinkaid family moved to Ky. in 1779. Both Joseph and his brother James Kinkaid served in the frontier militia before their removal to Ky. Both went with Col. John Bowman to Ky. in 1778 when he was ordered there to the defense of the Ky. stations.
27. THOMAS PITTMAN - Thomas, Joshua and William Pittman were all in the area, but nothing is known of them. William Pittman was one of the Long Hunters, Sep. 20, 1782, Walter Prreston by pre-emption warrant, enters 300 ac. of land joining George Moss settlement in Powell Valley which he bought of William Pittman. This land lying on the Ky. Road and near the Rock house.
28. WILLIAM COWAN - William Cowan was a Captain in the militia and his wife was Mary Walker, daughter of John Walker. His brothers David, Samuel and Andrew also lived on the Clinch River. William Cowan lived two miles below Moore's Fort on land he bought from Capt. David Gass, his brother-in-law. Cowan sold his land to James Osborne and left the area around 1780, probably for Kentucky. The old log house where Gass, Cowan and Osborne lived still stands in lower Castlewood. Captain William Cowan made several trips into Kentucky before leaving the Clinch.
29. WILLIAM BUSH - Little is known of William Bush who once lived in Castlewood. It is known that he commanded a company of militia in Capt. Paulin's Co., under Col. John Bowman when he was ordered to the defense of the Kentucky station in 1778. Bush raised his company of a Lieutenant's command in the Clinch area and two of his company were the brothers James and Joseph Kinkaid. William Bush was in Kentucky in the year 1775 when he entered a land grant. He probably moved to Boonesboro for a William Bush appears in the early settlement there.
30. DAVID GASS - Capt. David Gass was born in Pennsylvania in 1729. He settled early in Albemarle Co., Va., where he was serving in the militia in 1758. In 1769 he moved to Castlewood and prepared to go with Boone to Kentucky in 1773. After the Indians attacked Boone's party in Powell Valley, Boone came to Castlewood and lived in a cabin on Capt. Gass's land until he moved to Boonesboro in 1775. Capt. Gass made seven trips to Kentucky before finally moving his family there in 1777. Gass sold his home place on the Clinch to his brother-in-law, Capt. William Cowan, who in turn sold it to James Osborne, Gass died in Madison Co., Ky.
31. JOSEPH MOORE - Joseph Moore was a brother to William Moore and together these brothers built Moore's Fort in Lower Castlewood in 1774, having come there in 1769. Both moved about 1780 to Lincoln Co., Ky.
33. GEORGE CAMPBELL - The only records I could find on a George Campbell were in Botetourt Co., Va. and this may or may not be the same George Campbell. The first order was on April 11, 1770 when he was granted a certificate for hemp. On the 14th of November 1770 the court ordered the church wardens to "bind out" John Shnido, a poor boy and to apprentice him to George Campbell. On May 11, 1770, George Campbell sold 96 acres on Ekl Creek, a branch of the James River to Joseph McAdams.
34. JAMES BLACK - James Black recorded 150 ac. on Cassell's Run, Aug. 10, 1781, and gave his settlement date thereon as 1772.
35. JOHN ENGLISH - John English settled on Sugar Hill overlooking St. Paul in 1772, the first settlement ever made in the present bounds of Wise Co., Va. He died in 1797. In 1787, his wife Molly and two little sons were killed by the Indians. His daughter married Jessee Fraley and she seemed to be his only living heir. In 1791, John English sold his 186 acres on Sugar Hill to the French Baron Francois Pierre De TuBeuf. It seems the first claimant to the English land was Thomas Pittman who had assigned it to Sheppy Allen Puckett, brother of Drury Puckett another early settler of Russell Co., Va.
36. WILLIAM HAYS - William Hays came out in 1770, along with Robert Elsom as stock tenders for Capt. William Herbert, Sr. of Poplar Camp, Wythe Co., Va. Herbert had a patent for land between Dungannon and Gray's Island on Clinch River. Robert Elsom was killed there by the Indians in 1777.
37. JOSEPH DUNCAN - This name on the roster is hard to make out, but appears to be an abbreviation for Joseph Duncan, who seems to have been an early settler, about whom I know nothing.
38. WILLIAM BLACKMORE - William Blackmore was undoubtably a son of Capt. John Blackmore who built Blackmore's Fort on Clinch River in 1774. In 1779 Capt. John Blackmore moved to the Nashboro settlement in Tennessee.
39. JOHN BLACKMORE - Capt. John Blackmore and his brother Joseph came from Fauquier Co., Va. and settled in present day Scott Co. at Fort Blackmore. Here they, along with other settlers built Blackmore's Fort in 1774. Capt. John Blackmore rafted down the Clinch in 1779, joining Col. John Donnelson on the Holston River and together they rafted to the Nashboro settlement in Tennessee to become the first settlers of that area.
40. ANDREW DAVIS - Andrew Davis settled near the mouth of Stony Creek in Scott Co. in 1772, and was probably one of the four families who built Blackmore's Fort.
41. JOHN BLACKMORE, JR. - He was a son of Capt. John Blackmore. John Jr. was married to Elizabeth Douglas and went in 1779 to Tennessee with his father. He was killed by the Indians in Tennessee in 1781 or 1782.
42. RICHARD STAUNTON - Richard Staunton settled very ealy on Staunton's Creek in Scott Co., Va. and it was for him the stream was named. In the early 1750's, Richard was living with his father Thomas Staunton at Poplar Camp in Wythe Co. Thomas Staunton sold his land to Capt. William Herbert and moved to North Carolina. Richard Staunton died on Staunton's Creek and seemed to have had no family. One record refers to him as an aide to Col. William Compbell.
43. JOHN CARTER - John Carter was a brother to Dale Carter who was killed by Indians at Blackmore's Fort in 1774. John Carter settled on a farm down river from Fort Blackmore about 1772. In 1785, the Indians attacked his home, killed his wife and five children and set fire to his house burning the bodies of his slain family.
44. WILLIAM CARR - William Carr lived on Carr's Creek in Russell Co. where he died in 1782, and for whom the creek was named. His widow, Hannah Carr moved her family in 1784 to Sumner Co., Tennessee. This is the same Hannah Carr who refugeed with Danile Boone's family in Moore's Fort in 1774. Carr owned land at Guest Station (Coeburn) Washington Co. Land Entry Book 25 May 1783, 200 acres for John Donald on the lowest branch of Toms Creek, that emptied into Gist River beginning at the line of Widow Carr's corn right at Gist Station and running up the creek on both sides of the War Path everyway.