Samuel Walker Slain, Anne Cowan and William Walker Captured

Samuel Walker Slain, Anne Cowan and William Walker Captured

By Emory L. Hamilton

From the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, pages 69-71.

This occurrence came to light while studying the historical collection of the Rev. John D. Shane in the Kentucky papers of the Draper Manuscripts. (1) The story was related to Rev. Shane by a Mrs. Samuel Scott (nee McCorkle), who had lived on the Clinch for eight years prior to her removal to Kentucky in 1784. Mrs. Scott’s stay on the Clinch was from about 1772 to 1780, when she moved over to the Holston River to get ready for her emigration to Kentucky, Jessamine County, in the year 1784. Her residence on the Clinch seemed to have been on Stanton’s Creek in what is now Scott Co., VA.

To date no official records have been found that give the actual date of this occurrence, but it was perhaps in the year 1779, for Mrs. Scott moved from the Clinch to Holston in 1780. She related the following story to Rev. John Shane:

One year while we lived on the clinch we had no need to fort, and did not fort. (2) Cowan’s fort was about two miles from Moore’s fort. We went to it (Cowan’s) one year, but it was too weak; but seven or eight families. The Indians attacked it. Miss Walker, then the widow Ann Cowan was taken going to it from Moore’s. Her and her sister’s son, William Walker were taken - her sister married a Walker. Her brother Matthew? Walker (Maybe Samuel, if so this killing was prior to 18 August 1778) that went with her was killed, and the other man (3) was shot at, but escaped and got into the fort. This Mrs. Cowan had just gotten back from this captivity as I passed the Crab Orchard (Lincoln Co., KY) coming out (to Kentucky). Captain (John) Snoddy, and William and Joe Moore’s wives were sisters of her, (Ann Cowan). They (the Moores and Snoddys) had moved there from Clinch and were forted there.

The widow Ann Cowan was undoubtedly the wife of Samuel Cowan who was slain by the Indians in the summer of 1776, while returning to Moore’s Fort from Houston’s fort where he had delivered a warning that Indians were in the vicinity. Mrs. Scott says that Anne Cowan was a Walker, that her brother Matthew (Samuel) Walker was slain, and her nephew William Walker, the son of her sister who had married a Walker, was taken prisoner, along with Ann. Anne Cowan and her brother Matthew Walker were children of one John Walker, who had settled down river from Moore’s Fort at the Sink of Sinking Creek in the year 1773 on a 300 acre tract of land. This same tract of land was given on August 10, 1782, (4) to John Walker, heir-at-law to John and Samuel Walker, deceased, for settlement in the year 1773, and the land was surveyed for the said John Walker (the deceased), on April 2, 1774. The will of John Walker is recorded in Washington Co., dated September 23, year not given, but 1778 presumed, and probated on November 17, 1778, shows him as having two sons, John and Samuel Walker, a grandson William Walker, (perhaps the very one taken captive with Ann Cowan), and six (6) daughters, names not given, and a granddaughter Ann Bell. In this will he also mentions the moneys he has in the hands of Patrick Porter, who lived at Porters Fort on Falling Creek in Scott Co., VA, and whose wife was supposed to have been Ann (Susanna) Walker, but what relation she was to John Walker (a daughter?) is unknown. She could perhaps have been a sister to the deceased John Walker, as he would not have had two daughters named Ann, if Ann Cowan was his daughter. The will of John Walker was witnessed by Alexander Montgomery, William and Andrew Cowan, all of whom lived in the same neighborhood with the Walkers.

The will of Samuel Walker is appraised in court 17 August 1779, but the inventory of Samuel Walker is ordered by the court on 18 August 1778, a full year earlier.

Mrs. Scott states in her narrative that Anne Cowan was a sister to the wives of William and Joseph Moore, of Moore’s fort, and to the wife of Captain John Snoddy. She says the Moores and Snoddy were forted at the Crab Orchard where they had come to from the Clinch, and that Ann Cowan was there and had just gotten back from her captivity, when she stopped by the Crab Orchard on her way to Jessamine Co., KY in 1784. The Moore brothers, William and Joseph lived out their lives in Lincoln Co., KY, and Captain John Snoddy moved on to Madison Co., where he died in 1814. It is very possible that Ann Cowan never again returned to the Clinch river after her return from Indian captivity. The Walker family also left the area for parts unknown.

(1) Draper Mss 11 CC 224
(2) This was 1775 and no record of an Indian attack has been found out for this year.
(3) Who the "other man" was is unknown
(4) Washington Co., VA Surveyors Book, page 267

This file contributed by: Rhonda Robertson

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