by Scott Powell, 1925


Contributed by Linda Fluharty.


Pages 34-45.

Murder of the Martin Family

A band of roving Indians attacked the family of a settler by the name of Martin in the summer of 1789, and murdered every member of it. Martin had taken up a claim near Wheeling and had made an improvement and was living on it with his family, thinking there was no immediate danger when attacked, of which no account is given, as no one was left to relate the incident. It was soon learned that the family had been murdered and a party of about a dozen men left Fort Henry under the command of a man by the name of Howser to investigate the rumor of the murder and attempt to overtake and chastise the murderers. In their search, they traveled eight or ten miles in a southerly direction and found no trace of them and were about to retrace their steps when they saw an Indian girt descending a hill toward them. They made signs of peace and she approached within a few rods of them when she drew a piece of paper from her bosom and threw it towards them and with the fleetness of a deer fled in the direction from whence she came.

Howser picked up the note which read: "Make your escape; Indians are pursuing you." They started for Baker's Station as fast as they could run but did not reach it until they were attacked by Indians who had been pursuing them. The men treed and returned the fire and drove the enemy from their position and put them to flight without loss to the whites. They arrived at the station and related the circumstance and later it was learned that the note had been written by a white man by the name of Watson who was with the Indians and it was delivered by a daughter of a Delaware chief who was friendly to the whites.

There appears to have been two parties of Indians and while the whites were following in the direction one party had taken the other party was following the whites and overtook and attacked them. From tracks about the premises, it was thought that the party that murdered the Martin family consisted of five Indians.

Murder of the Tush Family

A band of roving Indians attacked the family of George Tush at the mouth of Bruce's Run in what is now Sand Hill District, wounded Tush, murdered two children in the evening and his wife soon after leaving the scene of the attack.

Tush had settled there some years before and had made some improvements and as there had been no Indians in the neighborhood for some time it was thought that there was no danger and he and the family were engaged in the usual farm work, when on a September evening, in 1794, as he was feed- ing some hogs in a pen, the stillness of the evening was broken by the ring of three rifles, and Tush rushed past the cabin door and fled into the forest in agony and excitement. One of the bullets struck him across the breast, cutting deeply into it and carrying away part of the bone and lodging in his shoulder, causing great pain.

The Indians entered the cabin and in their usual brutal manner seized the youngest. child by the heels, dashed it against the wall and left it for dead. Three others were toma- hawked, scalped and left for dead. After plundering the house and taking what they could carry, they started for the river with Mrs. Tush a prisoner. Her strength was evidently not sufficient to enable her to travel as rapidly as the Indians and she was tomahawked about two miles from the cabin. Her bleached remains were found by her husband more than a year after the murder while he was hunting.

Tush, in a crazed condition from the pain, passed the cabin and reached the home of Jacob Wetzel late in the night, very weak from pain and loss of blood and badly crippled from a fall over a cliff of rocks while in the woods. He and Wetzel visited the scene of the murder the next morning and found the infant alive and also one of the children that had been tomahawked and scalped, both of whom recovered. The little fellow had been struck with the ppe end of the tomahawk and stunned and while he lay as quiet as death, was scalped and the scalp carried away as a trophy by the Indians.

Indians Murder Adam Grandstaff

One of the early settlers of what is now Sand Hill District, was a man by the name of Adam Grandstaff. He settled some time near that of Wetzel, Bonnett and Earliwine. His improvement was some distance from the creek and was about 3 miles from Shepherd's Fort, which was on Little Wheeling Creek near the Monument Bridge.

After Indian hostilities commenced he removed his family to it, but went almost every day to his farm and spent the day at work. One day in March of 1787, he went to work in the morning as usual, clearing land and preparing to plant a spring crop.

There had not been any Indians seen in the neighborhood nor signs of them, yet most of the settlers were very careful and gave much attention to safety as well as to work. He went to his work that morning alone as was his custom, and spent the day at work and was returning home in the evening when he was shot and scalped by Indians who evidently had been watching for him.

The shot was heard and his failure to arrive at the Fort at the usual time, caused a fear that he had been murdered. A search was made and his body was found where he had been shot and scalped as he was returning home and was not more than a mile from the Fort.

Murder of the Bevans Children

Harry Clark was one of the early settlers in what is now Union District. His farm was on the ridge back of the upper end of the Grave Creek Narrows. In time of danger he removed his family to Wheeling, and was one of the defenders of the fort in the attack commenced on the eleventh of September, 1782.

A few years after this siege there was quite a large settlement on the ridge between Big Wheeling Creek and the waters of Little Grave Creek. It was thought advisable to build a block-house on that ridge and provide a place of safety nearer their homes than Wheeling. A block-house was erected on a ridge near the site of the Pleasant Hill church at the village of Sherrard. The fortification was called Clark's Block-house in honor of the promoter. It consisted of four cabins arranged that when enclosed with pickets twelve feet high, was quite strong.

In time of danger the settlers of the neighborhood gathered at the block-house. There were few summers for some years that depredations committed by Indians did not cause the settlers to seek the protection of the little fortification.

In the year 1787, Indians were quite bad, as there were an unusual number of small scalping parties prowling through the forest committing depredations upon the settlers.

A family by the name of Bevans had settled on the ridge about a mile from the fort. The family consisted of the parents, two sons and two daughters. One of the daughters was married to a man by the name of James Anderson, who was at the fort that summer with the Bevans family.

One day that summer the two girls and the two boys of that family went to their farm to pull flax. As there had been no signs of Indians for some time they never thought of danger. They reached the field and were sitting on the fence looking at the flax when they were startled by the report of rifles and John, the oldest boy, was shot through the body. He started for the block-house as fast as he could run with an Indian after him. He kept ahead of the Indian until within sight of it when he fell dead. The Indian had given up pursuit when he saw him fall, but he proceeded to tomahawk and scalp him.

Cornelius, the younger boy, ran in a different direction and in going down a hill he jumped over the trunk of a fallen tree and hid in the brush of the top of it and escaped. The two girls were tomahawked and scalped at the place where they were attacked. They were buried in one grave where they fell.

One account states that James Anderson, the husband of one of the murdered girls, was murdered at the same time, having accompanied his wife to assist in the work, but it is a matter of uncertainty as there are conflicting statements con- cerning the attack upon the children at the field.

Indians Attack Hunters

Frederick, John and Martin Crow and a young man by the name of Davis, left their homes on the waters of Wheeling Creek and went to Fishing Creek, in what is now Wetzel County, in August, 1789, to hunt. The first preparation was to make a hut or hunter's camp which was made like the old-time house as was usually found in sugar camps. They were made open at the front and sloped to the rear and were generally covered with bark.

The second day they started out to hunt and late in the afternoon Frederick and Martin were returning to the camp together and had almost reached it when they were fired upon by Indians who were concealed in the rear of the camp. The Indians had evidently found the camp and had concealed themselves to await the arrival of the hunters.

Frederick received a flesh wound in the left breast and under the arm, while a bullet carried away part of one of Martin's ears. The two brothers ran off at the top of their speed and in the chase Martin appeared to have changed his course and escaped the Indians, while they followed Frederick as fast as they could, expecting to overtake him. They had fired the loads from their guns when they shot at them near the camp and had no opportunity to reload them yet.

Frederick came to the creek and without a moment of hesitation, jumped down the bank and waded the creek which was waist deep, and reached the south bank where he hesitated a moment. The Indians reached the bank where he had jumped down but showed no inclination to cross, but one threw his tomahawk which came unpleasantly near Frederick. He lost no time in getting up the bank and started up the creek as fast as he could run. His wound was bleeding freely all the time, but he snatched sasafras leaves from the bushes which grew abundantly in the woods and chewed quite a wad into mucilage which he pressed into the wound and stopped the flow of blood. He started up the creek at full speed and the Indians followed up on the north bank expecting to intercept him at a sharp bend where the bank is close to the creek.

Once he looked back and by doing so probably saved his life. An Indian who had reloaded his gun had raised it to his shoulder to shoot at him. He threw himself upon the ground and the bullet went whistling harmlessly by. Then he jumped to his feet and started for a final race. Darkness settled down upon the primeval forest and he left the path and escaped in the darkness.

The hunters had agreed that in case of separation that they would imitate the hooting of the owl or the howling of a wolf as signals by which they would make their whereabouts known to each other. By use of these signals Frederick and Martin Crow and Davis got together in the night and left for home, having failed to find John Crow.

A number of men started from Wheeling Creek as soon as the three hunters arrived home, for Fishing Creek, to ascertain what had become of John Crow. They found him the third day after the attack upon the camp a short distance from it, dead and scalped.

It was thought that he heard the firing at the camp and came to see what caused it, and in case of danger, to aid the other three, and was killed a short distance from it. It is said that five bullet holes were found in his breast in a space that could be covered with an ordinary sized hand. One writer stated that nine bullet holes were found in him. He was buried the same day he was found. His grave was dug in the creek bottom with knives, sticks and tomahawks. A tree was cut down and puncheon were split from it tu make a coffin, at least what had to be used as such. There was one puncheon for each side, one for the bottom, and one for the lid, while short pieces sufficed for ends.

He was buried under a tree and his name and the date of his death were carved upon the tree.

Murder of the Crow Girls

Among the many bloody murders committed by Indians none were more revolting than the murder of the Crow girls.

The father of the girls settled on the south branch of Wheeling Creek about one and one-half miles from the mouth of it, or where it empties into Big Wheeling Creek. This branch is frequently called Dunkard Creek, but is better known as Crow's Creek. The improvement was made in a wide bottom on the north side of the creek.

The story generally related is given in connection with events in the history. of Marshall County, as part of the farm is in the county but the residence was in Pennsylvania, only a short distance from the dividing line between the two states.

Three of the family were tomahawked and two were shot. Four of the family were killed by Indians. The murder of the three girls, probably, occurred in May, 1785. That year was noted for the murders committed by roving bands of Indians generally called scalping parties.

In the evening the four sisters started to take a walk up the creek and walked along the bank of the beautiful stream, enjoying the scenery until they reached a point near the mouth of Stone Coal Run, about a mile from home. They turned about to return home when two Indians and a white renegade sprang from behind a rock where they had been concealed, and took them prisoners. They threatened them with instant death if they made any noise. They took the girls a short distance up the hill from the path along the bank and made them sit down on a log. They questioned them as to the number of men at the different places of safety, and the general conditions of the settlement.

A consultation was held in which the conversation was carried on in the Indian tongue, but the girls soon became aware that there was a strong disposition to murder them. They held the girls by the wrists all the time to prevent them attempting to escape.

The names of the girls as given were Elizabeth, Susan, Catharine and Christina. Christina was the only one who escaped and she lived to be quite old and it was she that related the sad story of the murder of the three innocent girls.

She became aware that death was decided as their fate and was resolved to improve the first opportunity to attempt to escape. She said that a big Indian began to tomahawk her sister Susan and struck at her with a tomahawk. She dodged and it struck her on the neck, severing the jugular vein. The blood spurted and the Indian holding her sprang to one side and she gave her arm a twist with all her might and in doing so broke his grasp upon her wrist and freed her from him and she started up the hill as rapidly as she could run, pulling herself up by bushes and in doing so, dodged from side to side and escaped a bullet fired at her by an Indian, although it passed through her hair and grazed the skin. She said that the Indian could have caught and killed her but if he had attempted to do so he would have been compelled to release her sister and give her an opportunity to escape. She ran in an opposite direction to that of her home and in doing so escaped. One of the Indians ran around the hill to intercept her if she came down the hill but he failed to find her and passed around below where she was hid in a cluster of bushes. After the Indians had disappeared some time she left her hiding place and ran home as fast as she could run.

By the time she reached home it was late in the evening and it appears that no one went to the scene of the murder until the next morning. One account states that the family went to Findley's Block-house that evening and with the first rays of light the next morning a number of settlers were ready to start in pursuit of the murderers. They found two of the girls dead and one, Elizabeth, yet alive but mortally wounded and scalped. She was kindly cared for by loving friends and parents but expired the third evening after the murder of her two sisters. She was conscious and had sufficient vitality to relate the story of the murder.

They were buried on the farm near the residence and a cedar tree was planted by the grave and it may be seen to this date, marking the resting place of the three girls.

It is said that Christina grew up to womanhood but never forgot the appearance of the savages, red and white, who murdered her sisters. A number of years after the horrid murder, a number of neighbors of their father were gathered at his improvement participating in an old-time log rolling. Mrs. Crow and Christina were preparing dinner and the men were slowly wending their way to the house for the midday meal, when an Indian and a white man rode up to the house and asked Mrs. Crow for a drink of milk. She started to get it and Christina, who was putting the dinner on the table, heard the voices and ran to the door and looked at them and said to her mother, "Don't give them any for they are two of the men who murdered my sisters." They sprang upon their horses and rode off. The men gathered around the table and the matter was mentioned and the girl said that she was positive that they were two of the men who had murdered her sisters.

Her father and a man by the name of Dickerson left the table and held a conversation for some time, after which they started in pursuit of them. They took the trail which went up the creek. They took to the ridges to save time, and being well acquainted with the country, thought to intercept them at some point in advance. They rode rapidly over the ridges and late in the afternoon passed over the dividing ridge and started down Dunkard Creek toward the Monongahela River. They struck the trail where they expected to find it and followed it until darkness prevented them from following it farther that night.

They encamped for the night and with the first rays of light, they were again in the saddle and in pursuit of the murderers. They went back to the place where they had last clearly seen the trail and there started upon it and soon found where they had encamped for the night the coals from their fire were still smoldering when they reached it. They followed the trail down towards the river quite a distance and then returned home. They gave out no statement on their return as to whether or not they overtook the men and it is said that they were rather reticent about their success in the pursuit, but would remark, "They will do no more harm in this neighborhood."

One writer of the story stated that in arranging for the pursuit, Dickinson was to shoot the white man, who appears to have been known to them by the name of Spicer, and Mr. Crow was to take care of the Indian. It is generally thought that they overtook them and meted out justice as would have been upheld by any jury composed of settlers at that day.

Death of Hugh Cameron

Captain Boggs settled near the river at the mouth of a run that bears his name, at an early date. He made improvements there and in time of danger removed his family to Wheeling to Fort Henry, and when it was thought safe to venture out from the fort returned to the farm and worked on it.

In the spring of 1782, Indians appeared early and commenced their usual depredations on the south side of the Ohio River.

Boggs had two men in his employ, one of whose name was Hugh Cameron. Early in February of that year Captain Boggs removed his family to the fort, but continued to work on his improvement. Bright, warm weather in February started sugar water to run; they opened a sugar camp and tapped a number of trees and commenced making sugar. The two young men remained at the camp at night to attend to the boiling of water. Mr. Boggs requested them to be cautious and give attention to safety, more especially at night. He cautioned them that under no circumstances were both to sleep at the same time; but one of them to keep awake and on a careful watch for danger, lest Indians might be prowling in the forest and see the fire and attack them. There had been no indications of the presence of Indians so far and as no depredations had been committed the young men did not heed the warning given them. One night while both were asleep Indians attacked them and killed Cameron. The other young man escaped in the darkness and. reached Wheeling safely.

Some years afterwards the remains of Cameron were found near the mouth of Boggs Run but the head was not there. It was found soon after almost a mile up the run where it was thought to have been carried by wild animals and was recognized by a peculiar tooth.

John Neiswanger Killed by Indians

In the summer of 1783, John Neiswanger, a noted hunter and Indian scout of the Upper Ohio Valley, was killed at the mouth of Little Grave Creek by a party of Indians.

He was engaged much of his time, from the breaking out of the war until the time of his death, as a scout, and his efficiency as such saved the life of many a settler by his timely warning of the presence of Indians in the neighborhood. He would dress in the costume of an Indian and penetrate into their country and, knowing their habits, would lay in concealment and watch their movements, and with a fleetness creditable to a deer, would hasten to the settlement and spread the alarm.

He and Joseph Heffler left Fort Henry on a scout down the Ohio River to gather information of the movements of the Indians along the river front. They reached the mouth of Little Grave Creek and ran their canoe into it to spend the night. A party of Indians who had been watching their movements in the night, made a furious attack upon them, killing Neiswanger. Heffler escaped. In attempting to capture Heffler, the canoe got loose and drifted from the creek, thus preventing the Indians from getting the much-prized scalp of Neiswanger. The canoe drifted upon the head of Captina Island, where it was found some months after with the dead body of the scout and his gun in it.

Neiswanger came to the waters of Wheeling Creek about the year 1776 and took up a tract of four hundred acres of land on Middle Wheeling Creek, deadened the trees on a few acres and built a cabin, but later found it unsafe to remain on that spot as it was quite a distance from any of the few forts or block-houses; so he moved to the other side of his claim and built a cave under a shelving rock in a small stream. He dug out and walled a room, making a fortified cave under the cataract where the family went in case of alarm. At a time of great danger he took his family to Shepherd's Fort or to Fort Henry. His death was a great loss, as men of his type were very essential to the safety of the infant settlements in that section of the country.

William McIntosh Decoyed and Killed by Indians

In the early days of the settlement of this country the whites and Indians were in the habit of imitating birds and animals for various purposes. When they were scattered in time of danger they used certain sounds made by birds or animals to give their whereabouts to each other and by doing so gather their scattered force together. The turkey call was often used in daytime for the same purpose. Its imitation was so complete that even turkeys were decoyed by hunters of both races, and at times they decoyed each other.

A case of the latter occurred at the Flats of Grave Creek in the days of Indian depredations. A man by the name of William McIntosh, with a wife and one child, was at the Tomlinson fort. He, like most others, was fond of turkey. He and others frequently heard a turkey gobbling on the north side of the river opposite the mouth of Little Grave Creek. McIntosh spoke of crossing the river and bringing the turkey over and having a roast. He was warned by hunters who suspected that the gobbling was done by an Indian. He thought that he knew a turkey when he heard it, and accordingly, one morning he took his gun and dog and crossed the river near the mouth of Little Grave Creek, thinking that he would bring the turkey home with him. After almost two days' absence, some men crossed the river to ascertain what had become of him and found him about ten steps from the river, dead and scalped, where he had been shot by an Indian who had spent some time gobbling to decoy some settler that he might murder him. His faithful dog was lying by the side of his master keeping watch over the dead body.

His body was brought back to the Flats of Grave Creek and buried.

Robert Carpenter Escapes from Indians

A young man by the name of Robert Carpenter, a nephew of Joseph Tomlinson, had a close call in hunting some horses in the Flats of Grave Creek in the days of Indian hostilities. He was after some horses near the Big Creek and went too near a party of Indians who were trying to catch the same horses. They fired at him and a shot struck him in the shoulder, breaking the bone. The Indians captured him. After trying in vain to catch the horses they concluded that Carpenter could catch them as they knew him and would not be so shy of him. They released him and told him to catch them. He started to run in the direction of a house but was soon recaptured by the Indians. After trying some time to catch the horses, Carpenter told them that if they would let him he would catch the horses and go with them to their towns. They threatened him with all kinds of horrid deaths if he tried to escape. After some time they saw they could not catch any of the horses, they released Carpenter, who was determined to effect his escape. He had been impeded in the first attempt to escape by having on a pair of old shoes. This time he walked gently, driving the horses in a direction suiting his purpose and at the same time loosening his shoes. After proceeding about two hundred yards, he kicked the shoes off and grasped his wounded arm and summoned all his strength for a final run for liberty. With the start he had and free from his shoes he went through the woods with a speed that would have been creditable to a frightened deer, and soon reached the residence of a settler by the name of Nathan Masters. With a poultice of slippery elm bark and the usual frontier treatments, Carpenter soon recovered from the wound.