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From: marsha moses <>
Subject: [INDIAN-CAPTIVES] When Blood Flowed in Kerrs Creek
Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2007 15:30:01 -0400


I am going to type some excerpts that I copied from the Vertical Files
in the Rockbridge Regional Library in Lexington, VA in Oct 2005. My
notes say that the original article was published Saturday, Nov 29, 1997
in the Weekender which is a News-Gazette Publication. The author is
Deborah Sensabaugh. Please if you use any of the below information give
the author credit.

Editor's note: This is the first of two parts on the early history of
the Kerrs Creek area of Rockbridge County which, in the mid 1700's, was
the sit of two Indian raids that left many early area settlers dead.

There is some information about the French and Indian war at the
beginning of the article that I am not typing....It ends with the
words....But the treaty wasn't signed soon enough to save the settlers
on Kerrs Creek.

When Joseph Tees, founder of Waynesboro, followed the old Indian trail
toward the Alleghany Mountains, he and his sons William and Charles
paused in a breathtaking valley opening at the foot of a long western
ridge. Meandering in a shallow S-curve along a bold creek, the valley
contained enough flat land to invite settlement. Later Francis McCown
received a patent of 928 acres on Tees Creek. In 1746, he sold parcels
to Hugh Martin, Robert Erwin, and Samuel Norwood.

Other early settlers at the foot of North Mountain were the Gilmores,
McKees, Hamiltons, and Logans. Three Cunningham brothers arrived with
their families--Hugh, James and John. The eldest, Hugh, bought a tract
from Benjamin Borden in 1748 near John Car's. He called it Big Spring
after the numerous springs that gathered into a pond and created an
ideal cabin site.

In 1762 he sold the land to his son, Jonathan, who had married Mary McKee.

In the fall of 1759, the two Telford boys walked home, possibly from
school. Their walk turned into a run. Breathless, they told of a naked
man they saw hiding behind a tree. No one thought twice about their
tale until later.

.....

60 Shawnee warriors followed their chief, Cornstalk, from the
Ohio....Acting friendly they worked their way downt the Greenbrier,
gaining the settlers confidence before attacking and killing most of them.

From what is now Milboro in Bath County, 27 of the warriors slipped
over Mill Mountain about two miles north of the present Midland Trail
near where Interstate-64 now cuts toward Clifton Forge. A pile of
stones said to be placed there by Indian warriors through the years
marked the mountaintop. The stones were dozed away with the building of
64. ....

Near the head of the creek atop a bluff, Robert Irvine scarcely breathed
as he counted the war party on the trail.

At the first cabin along the creek at present day Denmark, Charles
Daughtery and his family was killed. Next was Jacob Cunningham cabin.
With Cunningham away, his wife was killed, his 10 year old daughter
knocked unconscious and scalped. She later came to and survived to face
the Indians a second time on Kerrs Creek.

Next came the home of Thomas Gilmore, today on the north side of I-64
where Va 623 crosses over the interstate on its way toward Rockbridge
Baths. The elderly Gilmore and his wife were leaving to visit a
neighbor when they were killed and scalped. The rest of the Gilmores
escaped.

Five of the ten members of Robert Hamilton family next fell victim.

By that time the community was alerted to the danger, with residents
scrambling for safety everywhere.

Harry Swisher, who owns the old Laird homestead that previously was the
McKee farm, says the old log cabin exists under the clapboards of a
renovated 1910 farmhouse......Swisher believes the old house cold be the
McKee home spoken of in the raid stories. John and Jane or "Jenny"
Logan McKee had six children whom they'd sent to Timber Ridge for
safekeeping. When the alarm sounded through the neighborhood, the
McKees fled their home ....Mrs McKee could not run quickly (one account
says she expected a child) and John had left the house without his gun.
As the Indian pursuit neared the McKees, Jenny begged John to run on. ...It
s said McKee paused helping his wife to hide in a sink hole on the
Hamilton farm. His parting words were "God bless you Jenny" Its also
said he looked back from his race he saw the tomahawk fell his wife.
With Indians almost close enough to catch him, and encouraged by his
wife's sacrifice, he bounded on. ....McKee hid until dark....He buried
his wife where she lay and wrote her name in the family bible.

John McKee lived to rear his motherless children whose descendents were
numerous along Kerrs Creek and in westward expansion.

Another account published in the McKees of Va and Ky related John was at
a neighbors tending some sick children and returned to find wife killed
and scalped.

The settlers listed in the cemetery records as killed in the first raid
on Oct 10, 1759, and possibly interred in the McKee Cemetery near Big
Spring are: Isaac Cunningham, Jacob Cunningham (son of James and
Matie), the Charles Doughteery family, four of the John Gilmore family,
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Gilmore, Gray (no first name listed), five Robert
Hamilton family members, James McGee, Alexander McMurty, Robert Ramsey,
James Stephenson, Thomas Thompson, Samuel Wilson, and John Winyard......

Most accounts stress that no captives were taken on Kerrs Creek during
the first raid and many men were killed.....

Since the rest of the Shawnees had wiped out the Greenbrier settlements,
Charles Lewis (whose father John Lewis had founded Staunton and after
whom Va 39 is named) raised the militia and gave chase. The band of
soldierfs split with Lewis heading one group, John Dickinson another,
and William Christian the third. They pursued the Shawnees to the head
of Back Creek in present Highland County. Two scouts fired on two
Indians who were taking an elk to their camp and the other Indians escaped.

At Straight Fork, four miles below the present WV line, the militia
caught up with the Indians again and ambushed their camp. All but one
were killed, and legend says their carrying poles and guns were found later.

End of transcription of excerpts from Deborah Sensabaugh's article.
Marsha Moses


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