FORT THOMAS PARKER

FROM “FRONTIER FORTS ALONG THE POTOMAC AND ITS TRIBUTARIES”

BY WILLIAM H. ANSEL, JR

Named for Thomas Parker, its builder, and also known as North River Stockade, this fort was located on North river in Hampshire County not far from the point where present-day United States Route 50 crosses that stream. The land on which it stood was conveyed to Parker by Thomas Lord Fairfax on June 10, 1753, and it consisted of 237 acres lying on both sides of the road leading from Winchester to Fort Pearsall. The fort was probably built in the autumn of 1754. It appeared to consist of a blockhouse surrounded by a stockade. The location of the place was probably on the west bank of North River as Parker’s land extended across both sides of the stream, and such a site would have removed the fort some distance from higher ground in the vicinity that would have overlooked it. Being on the main trail leading from Fort Loudoun to Fort Pearsall, it became a stopping place for convoys, couriers, and troops using the road between the larger forts. Washington does not mention this place by name in his writings, but he shows it on his map of frontier operations as fort “T. Parker.” Apparently it was never manned by the militia or by troops from the Virginia Regiment, but soldiers bivouacked around of near it on many occasions. Washington himself camped at this crossing of North river at least twice, the last time being on June 26, 1758, during his march to join General Forbes at Bedford preparatory to the final assault on Fort Duquesne.

In early April 1756, Washington ordered out several parties from Winchester to range the woods in search of Indians who were causing great damage to the settlers. Among those instructed to engage in this scouting work was Captain Richard Pearis, who had formerly been an Indian trader, and who was on excellent terms with Cherokee Indians of North Carolina. Pearis’ party probably consisted of several Cherokees as well as some militia. Proceeding west from Winchester, Pearis and his company marched to North River, and as they came up to Parker’s fort, they observed that the place was being surrounded by hostile Indians. Pearis immediately attacked the enemy, and after about thirty minutes of sharp skirmishing, he was successful in driving the savages away. The commander, of the Indians, a Frenchman named Sieur Douville, was killed and three warriors were wounded. Pearis lost one of his men killed and two wounded. The Frenchman was scalped and the trophy delivered to Colonel Washington at Winchester with the request that the reward offered by the Virginia authorities for Indians killed be paid and divided equally among Pearis’ men. In sending the scalp to Governor Dinwiddie, Washington acknowledged that Douville was not an Indian, but because of the Frenchman’s importance as a leader of the savages, he hoped that the Governor would pay the bounty.

In the spring of 1756, Captain Joshua Lew, with eighteen men from his company of the Virginia Regiment, encountered a band of Indians along the North River not far from Parker’s fort. IN the skirmish that followed, Lewis’ command killed on eof the enemy and wounded one or two others. The one slain happened to be a French officer who was the leader of the savages. None of Lewis’ troops was killed or wounded in this encounter. Doubtless, Governor Dinwiddie paid bounty on this Frenchman’s scalp, as he did in Captain Pearis’ case.

Thomas Parker was probably not at his fort during much of the French and Indian War, as he sold the land upon which the fort stood to Robert Pritchard on June 11, 1755. Long after the Indian wars were over, on February 20, 1798, Robert Pritchard conveyed the property to J. Rees Pritchard, a Revolutionary War Veteran, and since this conveyance was 44 years after the fort had been built, it may be assumed that it had fallen into decay and was no longer extant on the property when the transfer was made.

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