FROM ROOTSLIST INDIAN CAPTIVES ARCHIVES 2007-10;
The McKee history is so involved with this saga that this article about the second raid in the 1760s follows:(the mention about MCKEE is more in the lst section during the 1759 raid previously posted)
From: marsha moses
Subject: [INDIAN-CAPTIVES] Death Stalks the Banks of Kerr's Creek
Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2007 17:09:46 -0400
I pulled out some information that I found in the Rockbridge Library in
Lexington, VA in the Vertical files in October 2005. I decided to type
up the information for my own files and for another researcher with whom
I am chatting....so I am passing it along for the archives of this mail
list as well. Marsha Moses
The informatin is taken from the News-Gazette--serving Lexington,
Rockbridge County and Buena Vista. It is an article written by Deborah
Sensabaugh and published Saturday, Dec 6, 1997. So please remember that
the author should be given credit if using any of this information.
Editor's note: This is the second part of a look at the early history
of the Kerr's Creek area of Rockbridge County which, in the mid-1700's
was the site of two Indian raids that left many early area settlers
dead. Because of the interest expressed, a third part has been added to
the series that will appear next week.
Nearly 30 years ago, Clarence Tardy decided to clean out Big Spring,
make a pond there, get rid of the overgrown marsh, let the many springs
We moved 30,000 yards of mud, recalls Tardy, Know what the workmen
brought up? Pieces of old logs, all black where they had been burned.
Tardy saved some of those pieces, all that's left of the Cunningham
cabin the Shawnees burned in 1763.
As log cabins went on the frontier, Cunningham's was one of the
sturdiest around. Some historians refer to it as a blockhouse, big
enough to afford some protection to a number of settlers.
Tardy surmises it sat near the edge of the spring, not where the brick
Federal style house sits now.
.....there is information in the next few paragraphs of Chief Pontiac's
plan to wage war on the settlers and that Shawnee Chief Cornstalk was
assigned the area that he knew well: the eastern Alleghanies, the
Cowpasture and Jackson rivers, Botetourt, Kerr's Creek, Augusta.......
As the warriors gathered supplies and weaponry and set their faces south
and east, the Kerrs Creek farmers broke ground for the '63 season.
They'd rebuilt the last cabins burned in 1759. Families stowed empty
charis in lofts or along walls, and realized the frontier belonged to
the living. In the little cemetery overlooking the spring, mounded
graves sank level with the thick grass.....
Atop North Mountain again, Cornstalk's warriors lounged beside a spring
and watched the comings and goings in the valley. Some historians
believe they were waiting for reinforcments. The fiinal total of
warriors is estimated between 40 and 60.
Someone from the settlement saw moccasin tracks in a cornfield and told
everyone he found. Next, a hunter spied the Indian encampment from the
top of a hil, and rushed to spread the alarm. That's when the warriors
swooped toward Big Spring.
July 17, a Sunday, marked a special meetings at the Timber Ridge
Presbyterian Church. Many of the settlers had traveled there. But other
accounts say the special church meeting was at Jonathan Cunningham's
cabin. Still others say the settlers had fled to Cunninghams and were
saddling horses and organizing a flight to Timber Ridge where the men
carried their guns to church. No one knows for sure, but other than the
McKee cabin, which could have been attacked first, the Shawnees seemed
intent on the Big Spring farm.
William Gilmore and another man turned toward the mountains to scout for
Indians. Concealed nearby, the Indians shot the two men and swooped
upon the nearly 100 men, women and children milling around. Two or
three younger men advanced toward the enemy, and lost their lives
In one account, when the Shawnees sprang from cover, Mrs. Dale grabbed a
stud colt that had never been ridden and swung onto its back. Managing
to balance her baby and cling to the horse, she fled the pursuing
Indians. outrunning them, she dropped her baby in a rye field and hid
herself in the brush, obviously sending the horse on. Later she
returned and found the baby unharmed in the rye. She said the
terror-stricken people ran in every direction, trying to hide. The
Indians chased first one, then another, killing everyone in their ...
[I am missing a small amount of type here]
Mrs Dale recounts that some....whites fled for the spring pond, hiding
both in the water and along the banks. the warriors found them, killed
them, and tossed the bodies in the pond.
Thomas Gilmore had died defending his family. His wife, Jenny, stood
over his body, grappling with a tomahawk-wielding Indian. When a second
ran up to kill her, the first threw up his hand, sparing her life for
her bravery. She was led off, with her son, James, and two daughters
Before torching the Cunningham cabin, the Shawnees kiiled Jonathan
Cunningham and his wife. Cunningham had a distillery and the Shawnees
carried off all of the whiskey they could find.
Margaret Cunningham, the 10-year old girl who had survived scalping in
the first raid, was captured along with James, Betsy, and Henry
Cunningham. One account says when she arrived at the Shawnee town, a
warrior brought out a scalp and sat it on her head, communicating that
it was her hair.
Also taken were Archibald, Mary, and Marian Hamilton. Another account,
however, says Mary Hamilton was among the dead. When her fiance John
McCown discovered her body, he went into a depression and died two years
later of a broken heart. His family buried him beside her on the little
hillside in the McKee cemetery.
Another account says Mary Hamilton had a baby in her arms when
captured. She dropped it in the weeds, and later, when she was ransomed
and returned home, she found its bones.
During the church service at Timber Ridge, rumor was given of trouble at
Big Spring but in an age of slow communication, rumors were often
disregarded. When someone else rushed breathlessly into the service and
told of the raid, the settler rushed about gathering fammily and
friends. Many fled into the Blue Ridge Mountains, since no one knew
where the Shawnees might hit next.
One account says that the Shawnees paused for the night at the Spring
near the head of Kerrs Creek where they had camped. There the prisoners
spent the night listening for rescuers. After drinking Cunningham's
whiskey, the war party would have offered little resistance to a rescue
party, but the area had been thrown into so much confusion no militia
was raised at that time.
The next day, William Patton and others ventured to the Big Spring to
bury the dead. They were attacked by Indians, but Mrs. Dale said one of
the burial party rode up the valley, and a small party of Indians shot
The Shawnees marched their captives toward the Ohio. Those later
returned told of the march, during which one fretful infant was killed
and thrown on the shoulders of a girl. She was killed the next day.
Another infant was impaled on a spear and left as a threat to pursuers
as the captives marched on. Around a campfire, some of the captives
attempted to dry and straighten some pages of a New Testament. When the
Shawnees noticed, they destroyed the pages.
Numerous captives from the Cowpasture (Bath and Highland County areas)
were brought as more returning Shawnees swelled their ranks with plunder.
Years later the Rev John D. Shane interviewed Mrs. Jane Stevenson about
the Kerrs Creek raids.....Mrs. Stevenson says that the raid took about
two hours since the Indians had the land "all spied out". Jane Sevenson
lived seven miles from Kerrs Creek and her mother Jane Warwick was
killed by Indians in 1759/
She also told of James Milligan, captured at Kerrs Creek. He escaped on
Gauley Mountain and said he counted 450 total prisoners from the region.
Once on the Chillicothe, the Shawnees separated to their villages, with
the captive Kerrs Creek families separated as well. Jenny Gilmore and
her son John were sent to one village, her two daughters to another.
She never saw them again.
For the Shawnees and Delaware, Pontiac's war ended when Col. Bouquet
treatied with them on Nov 9, 1764. In August the next year Pontiac's
other allies treated at ???? confirming the treaty up and down the
frontier in 1766. Conditions of the treaty included return of all white
captives. Jenny? Gilmore had been sold to a French trader at Fort
Pitt. She came ??? [sorry...the copy missed edges of print so I am not
sure....] her son, John, who had been living with the Shawnees, was
brought back to bath County by Jacob Warwick. Eventually John and his
mother were reunited and moved back to the Gilmore homestead on
Gilmore's creek, which empties into Kerrs Creek near Big Spring.......
This is pretty much the end of part 2 of the series. Marsha Moses