Early Settlements in
Kanawha County, WV

CHAPTER IV.
EARLY SETTLEMENTS.

The pioneers of civilization in Western Virginia were a peculiar people. They were fond of adventure, and lived on excitement as well as from eating wild game and Indian corn pone. Their attachment to the wild, unshackled scenes of wilderness life very soon banished from their minds any desires which at first they might have cherished for a home among the civilized and the friends they left behind them. They were easily weaned from old associations by the raptures of the new, and in short order became almost as wild as the animals upon whose flesh they daily subsisted.

The pioneers were not all hunters, yet that occupation employed a large portion of their time during certain seasons of the year. The women, as well as the men, were skilled in the use of the rifle, the tomahawk, and the knife.

The early settlers very soon learned the customs and nature of the savages, and were not long in acquiring a sufficiency of skill and adroitness to outgeneral the enemy on almost every occasion that they came in contact with them in the forest. Besides, they were ready in acquiring a knowledge of the woods, the different points of the compass, and the measurement of distances, so that, should necessity require it, they could make their way to any one of the settlements and apprise the inhabitants of impending danger. A very brief experience of woods life always disclosed to them the fact, that the more expert and successful they were as huntsmen, the more skillful and effective were they as warriors, and consequently they gave considerable time and attention to that accomplishment.

Then, they were an unit in their settlements, whether in or out of danger. Their objects and aims were one. Their hearts beat in unison upon every undertaking which they might desire to carry out. Similitude of situation and community of danger, operating as a magic charm, stifled in their birth those bickerings, which under other circumstances are so apt to disturb the harmony of society. Ambition for preferment and the pride of place, never disturbed the quiet of their settlements. Equality of condition buried with it the baneful distinctions created by wealth and envy, which under different circumstances would give additional virus to their venom. A sense of mutual dependence upon each other for common security linked them in amity. Together they lived, together they fought, together they died; and they were happier than if they had been surrounded by the gaudy trappings of wealth, the insignia of office or thirst for personal distinction.

Such were the pioneers of this country; and the greater part of mankind might now derive advantage from the contemplation of their humbler virtues, hospitable homes and spirits- proud and free; their self-respect and manly bearings toward each other; their days of health, and nights of sleep; their toils dignified by danger and adventure, and their lives guiltless and pure; their hopes of a cheerful old age and a quiet grave, with cross and garland over the green turf above them, and their great-grand-childrens' love for an honored and patriotic ancestry. True men— may their virtues be cherished by all who shall live after them, and their heroic deeds be held up as models till the end of time!

EARLY SETTLEMENT OF THE KANAWHA VALLEY.

The settlement of the Kanawha Valley antedates the Declaration of American Independence. While the great heart of the American Continent was yet unmarked by the footprints of the white man, the axe of the pioneer and hunter had cleared away many of the majestic oaks that crowded the lowlands of the beautiful and fertile valley of the Kanawha; and the smoke from the chimney of his cabin curled above his rural home. When the beautiful prairies of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois echoed only the shrill war-whoop of the savage in his aboriginal home, the Kanawha Valley was inhabited by a considerable number of Caucasians —the grandest race of men that God has placed upon the earth.

THE ERA OF PEACE BROKEN.

From 1765 to 1774 there were comparatively few attacks made upon the white colonists by the Indians. The treaty of Paris, in 1763, resulting in general peace along the frontiers, had been pretty generally adhered to by all the savage tribes. The peace, however, which had for nine years blessed and fostered the frontier settlements, was suddenly broken by the murder of several friendly Indians, in 1774, on the Monongahela and Cheat rivers. This unfortunate aggression on the part of these white men gave rise to a general raid by the Indians upon all the settlements of the frontier. Had it not been for these uncalled-for attacks upon the Indians by rash and inconsiderate, not to say blood-seeking white men, our first settlers would, perhaps, have lived for many years unmolested in their rural homes, to breathe the pure air of this beautiful Valley, then unclouded by the smoke of the furnace, the factory, the cabin, or even the camp fire, except that of the Indians and their own. But it was decreed that peace should no longer hover over the Great Kanawha's waters; and its pioneers were doomed to early, though not unhonored graves. The attacks by the savages, however, were not confined to any particular locality; they were general throughout all this border country, and the brutal butcheries, which followed in quick succession, were so numerous and so appalling, that the blood of the civilized citizen is chilled at their recital, even though a hundred years have passed since the bloody deeds were done.

STROUD, THE PIONEER.

In 1772 a German by the name of Stroud located on the Gauley river, then in this county, built a cabin, and made a clearing. The exact point at which he settled is not now known, but it is supposed to have been in that portion of the Gauley Valley which is now embraced in the county of Webster. That low, flat section of country in Webster county called "Stroud's Glades," no doubt, derived its name from him. These "Glades" are generally supposed, by those who have seen them, to have been a lake, of no mean proportions.

In the summer of 1772 Mr. Stroud left his home to go to Bulltown— now in Braxton county—to procure a supply of salt, then manufactured at that point by an almost extinct tribe of friendly Indians, whose chief was Captain Bull, from whom the town took its name. On his return, a few days afterward, he found his family all murdered, their bodies lying in the yard, their scalps having been taken off, and his cabin reduced to ashes. His cattle also had been either killed or driven away. Desolate and alone he made his way to the settlement on Hacker's creek, in Harrison county, but not until he had traced the trail of the despoilers of his family and home to the Bulltown neighborhood. His report gave rise to a suspicion that the Bulltown Indians were the perpetrators of these brutal deeds, and several of Stroud's friends resolved to avenge upon them the murder of Stroud's family.

"A party of five men, two of whom were William White and William Hacker, expressed a determination to proceed immediately to Bulltown. The remonstrance of the settlement generally, did not change their determination. They went; and on their return, circumstances justified the belief that the apprehensions of those who knew the temper and feelings of White and Hacker, had been well founded; and that there had been fighting between them and the Indians. And although they denied having seen an Indian in their absence, it was the prevailing opinion that they had destroyed all the men, women, and children at Bulltown, and cast their bodies into the Little Kanawha river. Indeed, one of the party is said to have used expressions inadvertently confirmatory of this opinion; and then to have justified the deed, by saying that the clothes and other things known to have belonged to Stroud's family, were found in the possession of the Indians. The village was soon after visited, and found entirely desolate, and as nothing was ever afterwards heard of its inhabitants, there can be no doubt that the murder of Stroud's family was requited on them." Whether the Bulltown Indians were justly dealt with by Hacker and White, can never be known in this world.

So far as I can learn, from old records and traditions, Mr. Stroud was the first white settler in the original county of Kanawha. I am aware that it is generally understood that Mr. Walter Kelly was the pioneer settler of the county, but there is no question in my mind that Mr. Stroud preceded him by at least two years, though his settlement was further up the Valley.

KELLY'S CREEK SETTLEMENT.

In 1774 Walter Kelly and family settled on what is now called Kelly's creek, which empties into the Kanawha river twenty miles above Charleston. Here he established himself by taking a "tomahawk title" to several hundred acres of land, built a log cabin and cleared the timber, undergrowth, &c., from a field for farming purposes. In fact, he permanently located at this point; and his settlement was advertised accordingly. ( A "tomahawk title" was a tacit agreement among hunters, trappers and settlers that by cutting upon a tree, near a spring or watering place, the number of acres of ground he desired to locate, giving the date and the name of the claimant, the tract was located, and no one ever disputed the right of such a party to the title of the land claimed. Another title to land, called the " corn title,'' was also quite common among the early settlers. For example: A settler desiring a " corn title" to an additional piece of land, goes to work, clears the same number of acres on his own land and plants it in corn, and thereupon receives a " corn title" to as many acres of the additional tract as he has thus planted in corn. I make these explanations at this time for the reason that it will he necessary to refer to these kinds of land titles quite frequently, before I close the history that I am writing.)

The nearest white settlement was in Greenbrier county, where a fort had been constructed for a protection against the attacks of marauding Indians, who infested the country on every hand. His westward advance had been made contrary to the wishes of his friends, and against the better judgment of the Greenbrier colony; but Mr. Kelly, being of a venturous nature and roving disposition, would not be controlled by the advice of his friends, and so, striking out towards the setting sun, he had made a camp for himself and family on the creek which took his name, in this county, fully eighty miles from Donnally's fort, in Greenbrier county, then the western limit of civilization.

Soon after Mr. Kelly located in the Kanawha Valley, it was ascertained that the Indians were preparing to make a general attack upon all the frontier white settlements of Virginia. Colonel Charles Lewis, who was in command at Williamsburg, sent Captain John Stuart westward, with instructions to apprise the whites along the Greenbrier river of the intention of the savages. He came as far as Lewisburg, and dispatched an express to the Kelly settlement, on the Great Kanawha. I quote from the "Chronicles of Border Warfare," the following paragraphs, which detail the sad fate of poor Walter Kelly, the second white settler in Kanawha county:
"When the express arrived at the cabin of Walter Kelly, twenty miles below the falls, Captain John Field, of Culpepper, (who had been in active service during the French war, and was then engaged in making surveys,) was there with a young Scotchman and a negro woman. Kelly, with great prudence, directly sent his family to Greenbrier, under the care of a younger brother. But Captain Field, considering the apprehension as groundless, determined on remaining with Kelly, who from prudential motives did not wish to subject himself to observation by mingling with others. Left with no persons but the Scotchman and negro, they were not long permitted to doubt the reality of those dangers of which they had been forewarned by Captain Stuart.

"Very soon after Kelly's family had left the cabin, and while yet within hearing of it, a party of Indians approached, unperceived, near to Kelly and Field, who were engaged in drawing leather from a tan trough in the yard. The first intimation which Field had of their approach, was the discharge of several guns and the fall of Kelly. He then ran briskly towards the house to get possession of a gun, but recollecting that it was unloaded, he changed his course, and sprang into a corn-field, which screened him from the observation of the Indians; who, supposing that he had taken shelter in the cabin, rushed immediately into it. Here they found the Scotchman and the negro woman, the latter of whom they killed; and making a prisoner of the young man, returned and scalped Kelly.

"When Kelly's family reached the Greenbrier settlement, they mentioned their fears for the fate of those whom they had left on the Kenhawa, not doubting but that the guns which they heard soon after leaving the house, had been discharged at them by Indians. Captain Stuart, with a promptitude which must ever command admiration, exerted himself effectually to raise a volunteer corps, and proceed to the scene of action, with the view of ascertaining whether the Indians had been there; and if they had, and he could meet with them, to endeavor to punish them for the outrage, and thus prevent the repetition of similar deeds of violence.

"They had not, however, gone far before they were met by Captain Field, whose appearance of itself fully told the tale of woe. He had run upwards of eighty miles, naked except his shirt, and without food; his body nearly exhausted with fatigue, anxiety, and hunger, and his limbs grievously lacerated with briers and brush. Captain Stuart, fearing lest the success of the Indians might induce them to push immediately for the settlements, thought proper to return and prepare for that event.

"In a few weeks after this, another party of Indians came to the settlements on Muddy creek, and as if a certain fatality attended the Kelly's, they alone fell victims to the incursion. As the daughter of Walter Kelly was walking with her uncle (who had conducted the family from the Kenhawa) some distance from the house, which had been converted into a temporary fort, and in which they lived, they were discovered and fired upon; the latter was killed and scalped, and the former, being overtaken in her flight, was carried into captivity."* (* Chronicles of Border Warfare, pages 121-2.)

THE MORRIS SETTLEMENT.

A few months after Walter Kelly located at Kelly's creek, came Major "Billy" Morris, his family, and three brothers, all of whom located at the same place. They were, therefore, the first permanent settlers in the county, (Kelly having been killed by the Indians.) The history of this family, if fully written, would make a large volume, and of course cannot be presented in this chapter. As I desire to devote an entire chapter to them hereafter, I will, for the present, pass them by with the simple observation that they are the most remarkable family that has yet been mentioned in our border history.

SETTLEMENT AT POINT PLEASANT.

I have no means of arriving at the exact date when Point Pleasant was first settled; but am led to believe, from the best information which I can obtain, that it was not prior to the year 1774—the year in which Kelly located at the mouth of Kelly's creek, eighty miles from the mouth of the Kanawha. I am quite sure that the fort at Point Pleasant was not erected previous to the campaign of 1774, and hence conclude that there was no permanent settlement of whites at that place prior to that year. The greater portion of Western Virginia, up to the close of the campaign of 1774, was infested with tribes of Indians who were continually on the war-path, and were constantly committing depredations upon the white settlements, from Wheeling to Lewisburg; hence I conclude that it would have been impossible for the whites to maintain a position at the mouth of the Great Kanawha without a stockade; and, inasmuch as there was none, the inference is that they had no settlement there before the date I have mentioned.

Another fact may be cited as proof of the position above taken, that all the territory of south-western Virginia was settled by pioneers from the eastern portion of the State, and not from the north-west. Greenbrier was first settled by Marlin and Sewell, in 1749, and Fort Union (Lewisburg) Was constructed as the extreme western stockade. Next we hear of Stroud, on the Gauley, in 1772; next Walter Kelly, on the Great Kanawha, in 1774; and next the fort at Point Pleasant looms up, in the latter part of the same year, as the great break-water against the almost resistless incursions of the Indians who had been forced west of the Ohio river. The truth that "Westward, the star of Empire takes its way," has been doubly verified in the peopling of the great stretch of country in Virginia by the Caucasian race, from the Alleghany mountains to the Ohio river.

PERSONAL INCIDENTS.

"There lives up Thirteen-mile creek Mr. Jesse Van Bibber,* (Mr. Van Bibber died in 1859 or 1860) an aged pioneer in this county, whose life, like his own mountain stream, was rough and turbulent at its commencement; but as it nears its close, calm and peaceful, beautifully reflecting the Christian virtues. From conversation with him, we gathered many interesting anecdotes and incidents, illustrating the early history of this region, some of which here follow:

ANECDOTES OF THE VAN BIBBERS.

"A few years after the close of the Revolution, a daughter of Captain John Van Bibber, named Rhoda, aged 17, and Joseph Van Bibber, a young lad of 13, a brother of our informant, had crossed over in a canoe one morning, to the west side of the Ohio, opposite Point Pleasant, on an errand to Rhoda's father, then living temporarily in a house on that side of the stream, when a party of Indians suddenly made their appearance. Dave, a black man belonging to Captain Van Bibber, gave the alarm, and rushed into the house. The Indians attacked the house, but were driven off by Dave and Captain Van Bibber, with the loss of two or three of their number. Joseph and Rhoda, in their terror, hastened to the canoe, whither the Indians pursued them, killed and scalped the young lady, and took Joseph a prisoner to Detroit. Rhoda's scalp the Indians divided into two, and sold them to the Indian traders at Detroit for $30 each; their object in purchasing them was to encourage the savages in their incursions, so as to prevent a settlement of the country by the whites, and thus monopolize the Indian trade. Joseph afterwards stated that the barrel in which the scalps were put was nearly full of the horrid trophies. He remained with the Indians two years, during which time he learned their language, and acted as interpreter between them and the traders. He at length made his escape, and lived with a trader until after Wayne's victory, when he returned home. While at Detroit, he became acquainted with the notorious Simon Girty, then a British pensioner for services in the Revolution. He said Girty was an affable man, but extremely intemperate. Girty denied to him that he was the instigator of the death of Colonel Crawford; but that he went so far to save him that his own life was in danger.

"In the fall of 1788 or 1789, Matthias Van Bibber, aged 18, and Jacob, aged 12 years, were out a short distance from Point Pleasant, with a horse, when they were waylaid by four Indians. Jacob was leading the horse, and Matthias was a short distance ahead, with a rifle across his shoulder, when the Indians fired two guns at Matthias. One of the balls struck him over the eyes, and rendered him momentarily blind; he sprang to one side, and fell into a gully. The boy Jacob, on hearing the report of the guns, fled, and three of the Indians went in pursuit. Matthias, in the meantime, sprang up and took to a tree. The remaining Indian did the same. Matthias brought up his gun to an aim, the Indian dodged, and the former took the opportunity and escaped into the fort. The Indians, after a tight chase of half a mile, caught the lad, who, being very active, would have escaped had his moccasins not been too large. The Indians retreated across the Ohio with their prisoner. He was a sprightly little fellow, small of his age, and the Indians, pleased with him, treated him kindly. On the first night of their encampment, they took him on their knees and sang to him. He turned away his head to conceal his tears. On arriving at their town, while running the gauntlet between the children of the place, one Indian boy, much larger than himself, threw a bone, which struck him on the head. Enraged by the pain, Jacob drew back, and running with all his force, butted him over, much to the amusement of the Indian warriors. He was adopted into an Indian family, where he was used with kindness. On one occasion his adopted father whipped him, though slightly, which affected his Indian mother and sister to tears. After remaining with the Indians about a year, he escaped, and for five days travelled through the wilderness to his home. When he had arrived at maturity, he was remarkable for his fleetness. None of the Indians who visited the Point could ever equal him in that respect.

EULEN'S LEAP.

"In the spring of 1788 or 1789, Ben Eulen, who was then insane, was out hunting in the woods below Point Pleasant, when he was discovered and pursued by an Indian. He threw away his rifle, an elegant silvermounted piece, to arrest the attention of the Indian, and gain time. The Indian stopped to pick it up. Eulen unexpectedly came to a precipice, and fell head foremost through a buckeye tree, struck a branch, which turned him over, and he came upon his feet. The fall was fifty-three feet perpendicular. He then leaped another precipice of twelve feet in height, and escaped.

INDIAN INCURSION.

"In May, 1791, a party of eighteen whites were attacked by about thirty Indians, about one mile north of the fort at Point Pleasant, near the field now belonging to David Long. The whites were defeated. Michael See and Robert Sinclair were killed. Hampton and Thomas Northrop, and a black boy, belonging to See, were taken prisoners. This boy was a son of Dick Pointer, who acted so bravely a few years before at the attack on Donnally's fort, in Greenbrier. He became an Indian chief, and in the late war with Great Britain took part with the friendly Indians against the enemy."*

SETTLEMENT AT CHARLESTON.

In 1772, Lord Dunmore gave Major Thomas Bullitt a patent for a large tract of land on the Great Kanawha river, including the present site of Charleston, for his valuable services as an officer in Braddock's war. This survey began in the upper end of the bottom, about two miles above the mouth of Elk river, and extended down the Valley as far as the mouth of Tyler creek, four miles below Elk. Major Bullitt did not settle upon the land himself, nor did he ever even see it. In 1786 he met Mr. George Clendennin at Richmond, to whom he sold that portion of the tract on which the town of Charleston now stands. The deed was made to Mr. Clendennin in 1786 or 1787, before the formation of Kanawha county, and is on record in the Clerk's office of — Greenbrier county, which then embraced this portion of Kanawha.

The exact year that Mr. George Clendennin moved upon the land which he purchased from Mr. Bullitt is a matter of uncertainty. It seems to be generally admitted, however, that he was the first settler within the limits of the present city of Charleston, and that it was either in the fall of 1786 or spring of 1787 that he built the fort on the river bank near Brooks' landing, which took his name. This could not have been later than 1787, for the reason that Lewis Tackett settled at the mouth of Coal river during that year, and the year following his home was destroyed by the Shawnee Indians, and those members of his family who were not taken prisoners, fled to the Clendennin fort at Charleston for protection and safety. I must, therefore, conclude that Charleston was first settled by George Clendennin and family in 1786 or 1787.

THE FIRST HOUSE IN CHARLESTON

Was built by Mr. George Clendennin, on the bank of the Kanawha river immediately in front of the present palatial residence of Charles C. Lewis, Esq., corner of Kanawha and Brooks streets, and was called the Clendennin fort, or "block-house." It was the only fort at that time between Fort Union, at Lewisburg, and the fort at Point Pleasant, except a small block-house at the mouth of Paint creek, twenty-three miles above Charleston. The Tackett fort at Coalsmouth was built the year following, as stated in a preceding chapter.

The Clendennin fort was a two-story double-log building, and was bullet- and arrow-proof. It was built out of large hewed logs, was about forty feet long by thirty feet in width, and stood for nearly a hundred years. It was torn down by Mr. Lewis, in 1874, to make room for the elegant brick mansion in which he now resides. Mr. H. S. Brace, a resident gun-smith, procured a cut from one of the large logs of the fort, when it was demolished, out of which he made a handsome cane, which he kindly presented to the writer as a token of those days of frontier life.

OTHER OLD BUILDINGS.

Shortly after Mr. Clendennin built his block-house, several other log cabins were constructed about it; and they stood for many years, as mementos of the early settlement of the country. Including Clendennin's, there were seven buildings erected in Charleston.by the early pioneers. I have no means of knowing the precise order in which they were constructed. Old citizens claim, however, that they were all built about the same time, or at least within a few years after the erection of " Fort Clendennin."

Beginning at the lower end of town, I am informed there was a block of one-story log cabins on the corner of Kanawha and Truslow streets, near the store of C. J. Botkin. These buildings were principally occupied, after the beginning of the present century, by John and Levi Welch, as residences and places of business. John Welch was a hatter, and worked up large quantities of the various kinds of fur skins into hats of many colors and styles, in these old-time log buildings.

Coming up street, next in order, was the large two-story log mansion on the upper corner of Court and Kanawha streets, called "Buster's A Tavern." It was kept by Thomas Buster, as a house of entertainment, for many years, and was one of the most noted stopping places between Richmond and the Ohio river.

Next was a neat, two-story double log building on Kanawha street, where now stands the drug store of Dr. James H. Rogers. In this building, in the early history of the county, Ellis Brown kept a hatter shop. John Hart, who kept the first ferry across Elk river, at its mouth, worked for Mr. Brown for many years at journey-work in his hattery establishment. Colonel Joel Ruffner and other old citizens of Kanawha say that they have sold Mr. Brown many a raccoon, fox, otter, and muskrat skin for the manufacture of fur hats.

Where Mr. Moses Frankenberger's three-story brick business block now stands, on the corner of Kanawha and Summers streets, there stood a two-story, hewed-log hotel, which is generally supposed to have been the original Charleston hotel, a man by the name of Griffin being one of its first proprietors.

On the same square, where the Kanawha Valley Bank building now stands, was a large log dwelling-house, put up by Nehemiah Woods, and occupied by him for many years as a residence.

Next above was a log building, two-stories high, where Dr. J. P. Hale's residence now stands, on the corner of Kanawha and Hale streets. It was one of the first buildings of the settlement in point of time. In this house, in the year 1808, Mr. Norris S. Whitteker was born, being, the first white child born within the present corporate limits of Charleston.

Two squares above, on the same street, was a two^story log dwelling, which was built prior to 1790. It was torn down by Dr. Spicer Patrick a number of years ago, when he erected in its stead the brick building now owned by the Kanawha Presbyterian Church, and in which Mr. H. H. Wood at present resides.

Shortly before the beginning of the present century, a small log fort was built on the river bank in front of the residence of Mr. Silas Ruffner, perhaps a mile and a half above the court house.

On the corner of Kanawha and Alderson streets, about the same year, was constructed a one-story log dwelling, which was subsequently remodeled, and long known as the Central House. This building was burned down in the great fire of December 12, 1874, and upon its ruins Lewis Wehrle erected the substantial brick block which bears his name.

There stood for many years in the vicinity of the jail, on Virginia street, a small one-story frame building with a steep clapboard roof, which was one of the primitive buildings of the town. It was occupied as a residence for many years by James Wilson, Esq., who was perhaps the first Commonwealth's Attorney for this county. After the death of Mr. Wilson, it was occupied by Captain Cartmill, one of the most influential and intelligent of Kanawha's earlier citizens.

INCORPORATING THE TOWN.

The Act of the Legislature of Virginia incorporating Charleston as a X town, was passed December 19, 1794, and is in the language following, taken from Henning's Statutes:

"That forty acres of land, the property of George Clendennin, at the mouth of Elk river, in the county of Kenhawa, as the same are already laid off into lots and streets, shall be established a town by the name of Charlestown. And Reuben Slaughter, Andrew Donnally, Sr., William Clendennin, John Morris, Sr., Leonard Morris, George Alderson, Abraham Baker, John Young and William Morris, gentlemen, are appointed Trustees."

The name was originally "Charlestown," which was changed some years afterwards for reasons not now known. The name was suggested by George Clendennin, in honor of his brother Charles, who came to the Kanawha Valley with his elder brother in 1786, and became one to Charleston's most exemplary, distinguished and useful citizens.

O'BRIEN'S FOLLY.

The upper portion of the Elk River Valley was first settled by Jeremiah Carpenter, his brother Benjamin, and a few other families from Bath county. The exact point on the river at which they located I cannot ascertain, but it was somewhere along that portion of the Valley which is now embraced within the limits of Braxton county. The settlement, however, worked up stream, instead of down, and the descendants of "Jerry" and "Ben" Carpenter at the present time constitute quite a community in the vicinity of the mouth of Holly river, in the county of Webster.

After the Carpenters and others had located on Elk river, Adam O'Brien, a raw son of Erin, found his way into the same locality, in the Spring of 1792; and being an inferior woodsman, and fearing that he could not find the way to and from the settlement, he incautiously blazed the trees in several directions from his home. Upon one of these marked traces a band of Indians one day chanced to fall, and pursuing it came to the cabin of O'Brien, which they found unoccupied ; he, having become disgusted with the Elk river country, had gone back in the direction of Clarksburg.

After leaving O'Brien's cabin, the savages proceeded to the house of Benjamin Carpenter, whom they found alone, and killed. Mrs. Carpenter, being also discovered by them before she was aware of their presence, was tomahawked and scalped.

From a former narrative, *(Chronicles of Border Warfare, pg. 306), I make the following extract in regard to the destruction of the Carpenter settlement on Elk river:

"The burning of Benjamin Carpenter's house led to the discovery of these outrages; and the remaining inhabitants of that neighborhood, remote from any fort or populous settlement to which they could fly for security, retired to the mountains and remained for several days concealed in a cave. They then caught their horses and moved their families to the West Fork; and when they visited the places of their former habitancy for the purpose of collecting their stock and taking it off with their other property, scarce a vestige of them was to be seen—the Indians had been there after they left, and burned the houses, pillaged their movable property, and destroyed the cattle and hogs."

The Carpenters and O'Briens afterwards moved back into the Elk Valley, and from them are now being brought up the fourth and fifth generations of a direct progeny.


Source: "History of Kanawha County: from its organization in 1789 until the present ..."
By George Wesley Atkinson, 1876
Transcribed by K.T.

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