Fraley Kills An Indian

Fraley Kills An Indian

By Emory L. Hamilton

From the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, pages 239-240.

Virginia State Papers, Vol. VI, page 528, Col. Arthur Campbell's remarks on Captain Andrew Lewis' letter, dated September 12, 1793. In this long letter Campbell refers to acreage in pay for militia services. Campbell says: "One of those that complain of the usage is the widow's son, James Fraley, who killed the Indian last year, and Captain (William) Dorton, another of the Scouts."

Mrs. W. S. Banner, of Castlewood, VA, who lives on the old farm once owned by James Fraley, tells this story which has come down through her family:

The Fraley's kept several large dogs which are said to have been able to smell Indians. One night Mr. Fraley heard his dogs barking and knew that the Indians were around. It was a very dark night and he couldn't see them, but heard them running through the spring branch. (1) He shot in the direction from which he heard their noise, not hoping to hit one. When Mr. Fraley arose next morning and looked out there was a dead Indian laying where he had shot at the noise the night before. He was carried a short distance over from the Fraley home and buried on a spot that is now in the backyard of the home where Mrs. Banner resides. They were afraid to carry the body very far to bury it, lest the Indians might be lurking in the woods which then came down near the house and attack them. Mrs. Banner says until recently a large plantation bell used to call the farm hands to dinner stood on the spot where the grave as. Nearby stood a very large maple tree, which was not right on the spot where the grave was, but close by, which was blown down in a storm several years ago, and uprooted a large hole in the ground. They searched this hole thinking that some of the Indian's bones might have been thrown up, but none were found.

Mrs. Banner's story says that it was William Fraley who shot at the Indian, but I am inclined to think it was his older brother, James Fraley, and undoubtably the incident referred to in Campbell's letter. Records and evidence point to this site as being the home of James Fraley until his removal to Cabell Co., WV, around 1812 and from there to Floyd Co., KY where he died. William and Henry Fraley seem to have eventually come into possession of most of the lands of their father Frederick Fraley, and it was upon the site in question which William Fraley lived until death and his remains lie buried only a short distance from the spot where the Indian was buried. In the plot I counted at least fifteen graves, but only about five with stones bearing inscriptions. Of these five, I could only read the inscriptions of four, the fifth, which was perhaps the wife of William Fraley, being too faded to decipher. The stone of William bears these dates: "Born July 23, 1773 - Died July 7, 1819."

Of course William Fraley would have been old enough in 1793 to have killed an Indian, but land records show this place to have been the home of James Fraley until he removed from the area.

(1) In front and slightly north of where the old William Fraley home was located grow two large sycamore trees and a spring gushes from beneath them and flows into a pond in front of the house. It was through this spring branch that the Indians had splashed whom Fraley shot at.

This file contributed by: Rhonda Robertson

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