Indians of West Virginia

Excerpt from "History of West Virginia" by Virgil A. Lewis
Philadelphia :: Hubbard Bros., 1887

Submitted by K. Torp

Of the Indians who wrought destruction on the Virginia frontier little is known previous to the year 1764, when all had retreated north of the Ohio, except the Shawnees, who still occupied their town at the mouth of Oldtown creek, on the Ohio, now in Mason county. This they abandoned in 1765. At that time the tribes in what is now Ohio were the Wyandotts - called Hurons by the French - occupying the valley and plains bordering on the Sandusky river; the Delawares, living in the territory drained by the Tuscarawas and Muskingum rivers; the Shawnees, dwelling principally along the Scioto river, their principal towns being in the vicinity of Chillicothe; the Miamis, chief occupants of the valleys of the Great and Little Miami rivers; the Mingoes, collected in great numbers on the Ohio, near where Steubenville now stands; the Ottawas, living in the valleys of the Sandusky and Maumee rivers, and the Chippewas, confined to the southern shores of Lake Erie. There dwelt the barbarous hordes who frequently warred among themselves, but were united as one common foe opposed to the English. Thence they sent their war-parties, carrying desolation south of the Ohio.

Three trails or war-paths led from the Ohio into the interior of Virginia. These followed the valleys of the Big Sandy, Great Kanawha, and Little Kanawha rivers. The route taken by the-war-parties depended on the locality they wished to reach. If it was the Roanoke and upper tributaries of the James, then the Big Sandy route was chosen ; if the Greenbrier and New River valleys, then they crossed the Ohio and proceeded up the Great Kanawha; but if they marched toward the settlements on the West Fork and along the Buckhannon, Tygert's, and Cheat rivers, they journeyed up the Little Kanawha, and ascending Leading creek to its source, passed over to the upper waters of these rivers.

The frontiersmen of Virginia were as hardy a race as ever braved the perils of the wilderness, and were ready if need be to sacrifice their lives in defence of their homes. Whenever they were strong enough they took the offensive, and, organizing in detachments, carried the war into the wilderness. We shall now notice those sent out in defence of the Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky frontiers, together with Indian invasions, sieges, and attacks.

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