By Luther F. Addington


By Luther F. Addington

     While Daniel Boone and his scouts were going from fort to fort int he lower Clinch settlement, trying to protect the settlers from Indians, the family of John Henry on the upper Clinch was attacked.

     John Henry was living on the south side of Rich Mountain, in Thompson Valley, where he had bought land from the Royal Land Company, when a band of Shawnees struck his home. (1)

     John Henry that 8th day of September 1774, evidently wanting to get a breath of fresh air, stepped to the door and unbolted it. He stretched his arms to inhale the odor of the morning breeze when a party of Indians who lay in wait fired a gun, and Henry fell on his face in the yard. He wore on the waist band of his pantaloons a large metal button which must have served as a target for the Indian's gun, as the ball passed directly through it.

     The savages then rushed over the supposedly dead body of Henry into the house were they tomahawked, killed and scalped Mrs. Henry and all her children but one little boy, who was made prisoner. (2)

     He immediately ran to the woods and shortly after accidentally met with old John Hamilton who concealed him in a thicket until he should go and alarm the fort (Witten's) and bring him assistance. Hamilton had the courage to go to Henry's house, but he saw nothing either of the Indians or the women and children. (3)

     This Hamilton (sometimes spelled Hambleton) was an enlisted man at Fort Witten. On his way back to the fort to get help he met a man by the name of Bradshaw, who, upon becoming alarmed at seeing Indian sign in his cornfield that morning, had started to Rich Valley, where his family had gone on a visit. He went on to Rich Valley to warn his family and the settlers of impending Indian attacks.

     Now, returning to Bickley's account of the massacre as told to him by an old gentleman who had got the story from his ancestry: "A company was soon collected and preparations made to follow the Indians, who, it was supposed, had carried off the rest of the Henry family. But, when they arrived at the fatal spot, they found the wife and six children murdered, scalped and piled up after the manner of a log heap, on a ridge a short distance from the house. One child was not found, a little boy, whom it was supposed had been carried off. A large hole was opened, which became common grave for the mother and her unoffending children.

     "The identical spot on which John Henry was buried (he'd been taken to the fort, where he died a few hours afterwards) could not be found some years afterwards; but after the passing of considerable time the supposed place was opened and it proved to be the place as judged by the remains of puncheons and boards, which had been substituted for a coffin and they found the identical button through which the fatal ball had passed. The button is now in possession of someone in this county (Tazewell)."

(1) Pendleton, William: History of Tazewell County, p. 435 

(2) Bickley, Dr. George: History of Tazewell County, Virginia 1852, reprinted in Summers' Annals of Southwest Virginia 

(3) Campbell, Major Arthur, Virginia State Papers.

     Page 35 to 37

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