Unnamed Killings in Powell Valley in 1781

Unnamed Killings in Powell Valley in 1781

By Emory L. Hamilton

From the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, page 89.

Both Col. Arthur Campbell and Joseph Martin, in writing to the Governor of Virginia, or to each other tell of several killings and captures in Powell Valley during the year of 1781, but neither give names to the persons killed or captured. Research has failed to establish the names of the persons killed or captured, or link the dates with known events. Perhaps these people will go down as the "forgotten ones" because of a dirth of the lack of factual evidence, records, and from the fact that descendants of many removed from the area, taking with them traditional stories of a friend, relative, or known persons killed or captured on Virginia's western frontier in the dangerous, unsettled years from 1773 to 1794.

On January 21, 1781, Col. Arthur Campbell writes to Governor Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, saying:

Since writing my letter of 13th instant, I am informed that the Indians have killed one of the settlers in Powell Valley and carried off 14 horses, belonging to a party of men coming from Kentucky... In this letter Col. Campbell points up the necessity of having a fort at or near Cumberland Gap (VA State Papers, Vol. 1, page 464)

Then again on the 28th of February, 1781, Col. Campbell writes again to Governor Jefferson, thusly:

Your Excellency's orders of the 15th of February came to hand the 23rd, and on the 25th a few odds of 100 men, under Col. William Campbell set out to join the militia of Botetourt and Montgomery on their march to join the Southern Army, previous steps having been taken, on hearing the enemy was advancing towards Virginia, to have them in readiness. A large number would have gone, were it not for the daily apprehensions of attacks from the Northward (Shawnee) and Southern (Cherokee) Indians. The latter, last week, killed three (3) men in Powells Valley and carried off a considerable number of horses." (VA State Papers, Vol. 1, page 548).

This file contributed by: Rhonda Robertson

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