REMINISCENCES BY REV. JOHN KELLEY
IRONTON REGISTER 1854
Submitted by Bob Davisson
These Reminiscences were read to tape from old Ironton Registers in the Briggs Lawrence County Public Library on December 27, 1974 by Robert Davisson, formerly of Union Landing, Ohio, currently living near Delaware, Ohio. He is a descendent of the Davissons mentioned in this transcript. In order to maintain the wonderful period flavor of the prose, the capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and overall format of the original newspaper account have been retained.
This compilation of John Kelley’s Reminiscences is dedicated to the Kelley family both past and present as well as to all those pioneers whose endurance made possible the comforts we have become used to. But particularly, it is dedicated to the Indians, who met with dignity, bravery, and honor the injustice and upheaval they were powerless to prevent.This book was compiled by Lois Davisson Scherer, a lineal descendant of Luke and Mary Keyser Kelley through their older daughter, Elizabeth, who was married to Judge Nathaniel Davisson on October 5, 1802 by Kimber Barton, Justice of the Peace, at Haverhill, French Grant, Ohio–the first marriage of record in what is now Scioto County. The text was checked against the original newspapers by Phyllis Hamner of Briggs Library.[Lois D. Scherer passed away in 1986. This electronic version was compiled from the printed booklet in the Summer of 1999 by Robert Davisson.]
WRITTEN BY: REV. JOHN KELLEY
REMINISCENCES, NO. 1
IRONTON REGISTER JULY 27, 1854
A few days since we called upon Rev. John Kelley, just below Union Landing, for a talk, knowing that he was one of the early settlers of Lawrence County, and in our rambling conversation drew out some facts that may not be without interest to our readers, and some of which are worthy of record.
We will premise that Mr. Kelley is now in his 75th year, is hale and hearty for a man of his years, and seems to have a vivid and accurate recollection of past events.
THE KELLEY FAMILY
The founders of the Kelley family of Lawrence County were Luke Kelley and Mary, his wife, the parents of Rev. John Kelley, who will be recollected by some of the older of our readers, and who died about thirty years since.
Luke Kelley was born in Shenandoah Co., Va., in what is now Page County, of Irish parents; Mary Keyser, his wife, was born in the same county, of German parents. Luke Kelley and Mary Keyser were both left orphans while quite young, were married at an early age, and started in life quite poor–with nothing except their integrity, industry and energy. After marriage they lived for a year or two in their native county, where Rev. John Kelley, their first child was born on June 3, 1780, but while he was still at the breast, the parents removed into Bath County, a few miles distant from the Warm Springs, where they remained nine years. In 1790, when John was ten years of age, they removed into Russell County, in South-western Virginia, into a frontier settlement on Clinch River, where they lived for several years, during Indian wars, and subsequently removed once more to the place below Hanging Rock, where they died.
The family of Luke and Mary Kelley consisted of John, before spoken of as their first child; Elizabeth, deceased, the wife of Judge Nathaniel Davisson; Joseph Kelley, deceased, father of William D. Kelley and brothers and sisters, of Ironton; Charles Kelley, now living at Kelley’s Mills, whose sons are Wm. H. Kelley, of Union Landing, and Isaiah W. Kelley, of Ironton; Joshua Kelley, now living near Union Landing, the father of Rev. James M. Kelley, of Ironton; Mary, who married Vincent Powell, of Greenup County, Ky., and is now living in Tennessee, married the second time to Henry Hayes; and Reuben Kelley, now living at Plattsburg, Mo.
Rev. John Kelley married Abigail Lambert, daughter of Josiah Lambert, one of the early settlers of the County. She has been dead some ten years. Their children were Mary, married to Thomas Dollarhide, soon left a widow, and now living with her son-in- law, in Indiana; Whitefield Kelley, Esq.; Darby, deceased two or three years since; Elizabeth, wife of Joseph Andre, near Powellsville; and Anna, wife of George Collins, with whom Mr. Kelley now resides, at his old homestead.
EARLY SETTLERS IN LAWRENCE COUNTY
We have mentioned the fact of Luke Kelley’s settlement on Clinch River, in Russell County, Va., which was in 1790, and where he remained until 1797, when he commenced making preparations to remove to the “Northwest Territory.” In the Fall of that year, together with his brother James who brought his family, Luke Kelley came first to the place where he died, and bought a cabin of Christopher Stump, a squatter, which was on the farm now owned by S. W. Dempsey, above Union Landing, and having laid in a stock of meat with his gun and knife, he returned to his place on Clinch. In April 1798, he came back, and with his brother, cleared three acres of land near the cabin, plowed, fenced and planted it, and again returned to Clinch for his family–from which place to “the new settlement” the route lay over the Cumberland mountains to the west fork of Big Sandy, distance about 260 miles. The goods of the family were packed on the horses; near where Prestonburg now is, part of the family took a canoe down Sandy, and the rest continued down bank or bed of the stream with the horses and the cattle. They arrived at the cabin in the latter part of August, and found the three-acre crop doing finely, and the dried meat (bear, buffalo and deer) in good condition for family use.
Luke Kelley and his wife began life, as we have before stated, with none of this world’s goods. Up to the time of their leaving Clinch River, about 20 years after they were married, they had lived in frontier settlements, exposed to inroads of Indians, and the various hardships incident to a new country, and of course had not become “wealthy.” But they sold out on Clinch River to such advantage that they had with which to come to “the new settlement,” their cattle, horses, some family goods, and $800 in specie–$400 in gold and $400 in silver; $300 of this specie John, who was now 18 years of age, had earned by “milling hemp.” The mother took charge of the money; the silver and the gold were tied up in rags separately, and placed on a feather bed, which was doubled over and sewed together, for packing on a horse. On arriving at the cabin the rag of gold was missing– supposed to have been slipped aside by some thievish person, as it lay on the bed before sewing up; it was a heavy loss.
At this time, August, 1798, what is now Lawrence County, had not been surveyed, although the survey commenced in that year. There was a small cabin opposite the mouth of Big Sandy, occupied by a man named “Sammons,” as he was called–we believe Simmons is the true name, and that he was a relative of C. W. Simmons, the present Sheriff of Lawrence County, but have not the means of information just at hand; next below, Luke Kelley’s cabin, bought of Stump, who moved to Kentucky and died; next the cabin of James Kelley, brother of Luke, who afterwards went west; then the cabin of Vincent Ferguson, from whom was named “Ferguson’s Bar,” in the Ohio River, and who died on Ice Creek; and that of Peter Van Bibber, near where Charles Austin now lives, went west; and near where George J. Trumbo now lives was the cabin of George Stewart, the father of John C. Stewart, of Symmes Township. These six were all the cabins then in what is now Lawrence County. Andrew Yingling, a brother-in-law of Christopher Stump above mentioned, built a cabin about the same time, on the place where Christopher Yingling, his son, who was then a boy of some ten years, now lives. Yingling had previously lived for some five years at “Alexandria,” the old place just below the old mouth of the Scioto. Thomas Gilruth, father of the present Wm. Gilruth, lived in the first cabin below the present County line; then came the settlements of the “French Grant”–settled in 1797–Jervis lived where Haverhill now is, owned 4,000 acres of land, afterwards returned to France; below where Validan, Duduit, Lacroix, Genet, Rousseau, Dutil, Chabot, Bertrand, Vincent, and others. Of the original French stock–Bertrand is yet living, about 90 years of age; Peter Chabot, as we are informed, died about 12 or 18 months ago. And below the French Grant and above the Scioto, was a single beech cabin, that of Emanuel Traxier, where is now the city of portsmouth–said Traxler built the first water mill in this part of Ohio, on Little Scioto. The next year, 1799, Maj. Bonser settled at the mouth of Little Scioto. Above Big Sandy the first settlement, we believe was at Raccoon, six miles below Gallipolis.
After the first few settlements in 1797 and 1798, until 1802, but very few persons came into this region to settle, and it had acquired the name of being unhealthy. The Kelley family was healthy, and so, perhaps, were their immediate neighbors; but at the Grant, Jervis had sold his 4,000 acres to a New England man named Hunt, who together with a brother both died of fevers at or near where Haverhill now is, also a company of hands that they brought with them from New England all died of fevers except Joel Church, who, we believe, yet lives on Genet’s Creek. Fevers and ague were then prevalent, but they have long since mostly disappeared.
In 1799, the surveys were prosecuted with vigor, but from some cause the lands were not brought into inarket until 1802– previous to that time all were squatters. In that year all or nearly all the lands on the river from Big Sandy down to the Grant were entered. Luke Kelley and John entered a section of 640 acres and a fraction of 30 acres, at the price at that time, $2 per acre, besides $9 for surveying and $12 for the patent– entered in great part on credit, and John Kelley’s gun earned the money to pay the debt.
Above the Brubakers, Daniel and Samuel, entered land; next below John Stover, father of Joel Stover, of Ironton; then Peter Lionbarger, father of the late Peter Lionbarger, Jr., Esq., also Jacob Heplar, recently removed to Missouri, who married a daughter of Peter Lionbarger–all these above Ironton, and all from Shenandoah County, Va. The land at Ironton was entered by John Davisson, father of the present Isaac Davisson. Below Josiah Lambert located, Grandfather of William Lambert, Esq.; then came Benj. Carpenter, father of Wm. Carpenter, now of Missouri, and the builder or principal builder of Centre Furnace: then a man named Sperry and another named Dollarhide made entries. Below Union Landing Stephen Colvin, from over the river, and another made the entries, and sold out to Judge Nathaniel Davisson, Andrew Davisson, and Amaziah Davisson. The Davissons were brothers, and together with Josiah Lambert, came from Harrison County, Va. Josiah Davisson, another brother, settled in Greenup County.
We shall continue these rambling sketches from facts drawn out in our rambling conversation with Mr. Kelly, for some weeks to come.
REMINISCENCES, NO. 2
IRONTON REGISTER AUGUST 3, 1854
We continue the reminiscences of this region–points drawn out in a rambling conversation with Rev. John Kelley, who settled in Lawrence County in August, 1798–56 years ago this month.
The Indian wars in Ohio had been ended, and peace concluded, a year or two before the first settlement in what is now Lawrence County so that the first settlers here experienced none of the difficulties incident to Indian troubles.
This region was not occupied by Indians except as a hunting ground, and for the purpose they frequently visited it after the settlements–the last of their hunting here being on Symmes creek and its waters. Among the last of the Indians who hunted in this vicinity was Captain Johnnie, and from him was named “John’s Creek,” in the back part of the county.
The Indians had a noted crossing place over the Ohio, at Hanging Rock, where the river is narrow, and where from the top of the “rock” they had a view of the river for several miles up and down. The principal Indian trace to the river came in to the “rock” past where now stand Lawrence Furnace, Union Furnace and by the valley at the place of James Rodgers; north of Lawrence Furnace the trace branched over to the waters of Symmes creek, and to Pine Creek, Little and Big Scioto. This was their principal trace into south-western Virginia and the eastern part of Kentucky, during the Indian wars; and after the peace they frequently crossed into Kentucky to steal horses. In these horse stealing inroads of theirs they were very sly, making bark canoes of chestnut generally, just before reaching the river. They would cross in the night, and always return in the night, and the only evidence of their crossing were marks of feet, or of tommyhawks, and generally on return they would let their canoes float down the river–going over they would hide the canoes in the weeds up the bank, which covered the bottom and were 5 or 6 feet in height.
The only case Mr. Kelley recollects of the Indians stealing horses on this side of the river, was near the mouth of Pine Creek. Two men followed and overtook the Indians somewhere beyond Bloom Furnace, but the horses had been sent ahead–and the only satisfaction they received was a laugh from the Indians, for following them so far for nothing.
About a mile north of where Union Furnace now stands, up one of the valleys was the “Camp of the Painted Trees,” the principal Indian camping ground of this region, where parties of Indians were frequently camped. At this camp they cut and carved many images and characters on beech trees which would convey information to parties coming after them; other trees they would peel, and paint on the smooth trunk the image of the chief of the party–generally very skillfully done–hence the name of the camp, “Painted Trees.” Upon these trees were painted the chiefs Turtle, Crane, Woodcock, etc. To indicate Captain Turtle they painted a turtle , for Captain Crane they painted a man, all but the head which was the head of a crane; for Captain Woodcock, a man with a head of a woodcock, and so on. On leaving a common camp like that of the Painted Trees, it was customary for Indians to set small sticks in the ground pointing in the direction they took, for the information for the next party arriving.
During the war of 1812, Mr. Kelley then a Captain in the service, saw Captain Crane at Upper Sandusky. He said he had been to the “Rock” a great many times, and would tell of hunting about here and spoke particularly about “de hawks at de rocks;” there used to be great number of hawks flying and living in holes about the “rocks”–three species, one of which, Mr. Kelley says has long since disappeared from this section of the country. When questioned as to watching for boats on the “rock” and about matters during the Indian wars, Captain Crane would only answer “Ugh”, and keep perfect silence, not being disposed to commun- icate at all respecting troubles with the whites.
Chris Yingling mentions a little circumstance that he recollects. A company of five Indians shot a cow of Luke Kelley’s, that was feeding on grass in the river opposite Robt. Hall’s, lower part of Hanging Rock; cut off her bag and took out her tongue, then filed up over the hill, cooked and made a meal of them, and went off.
The last general encampment of Indians in this county was in the fall of 1798, just above Union Landing; the camps after this were merely for one night, and of small hunting parties.
James Kelley, brother of Luke, and another man had been up the river in a canoe, and up the Monongahela obtained a lot of whiskey. The Indians heard of it, and collected in for a general t’dance, and camped for two or three days. The night before breaking up, they were particularly “jolly.” They first gave all their guns, tommyhawks, etc., into the hands of an old squaw who hid them and went in for “a regular built time of it,” which, as usual, ended in a fight. Indians never strike one another so they pulled, pushed and hauled each other about, and tried to throw one another down. Except bruises and scratches the only damage done was one Indian had his ear badly torn, so much so that amputation” was deemed necessary, which was performed on the next day with a flint.
John Kelley was raised on the frontiers, and at quite an early age became expert in the use of the rifle. We have before mentioned that he paid for a large portion of the 670 acres of land entered at the homestead of himself and father, with money earned by hunting. The skins of animals he killed he used to sell to traders upon the river; for several years, at a very early day __________ Folsom, the father of Captain Sam and J. S. Folsom, took the skins at this trading boat. Mr. Kelley says that he has earned as high as $20 for skins of wild animals killed by himself alone, in one day; that he frequently made $10 a day by hunting,” and says he: “If I made less than $2 in a day I looked very sour.”
Bears, buffaloes, wolves, panthers, deer, turkey, etc., were all very plenty in this region, at the coming of Mr. Kelley. For several years he killed 20 or more bears every Fall, besides buffaloes, wolves, panthers, deer, turkeys, etc. In the fall of 1799 he built a crib near where Lawrence Furnace now stands, which he filled with the meat of bears and buffaloes, dried and packed it home on horses at convenience. Of Mr. Kelley’s bear, buffalo and painter (panther) stories we will give but one of each.
There was “a large she-painter” that for several years committed depredations on the small stock of this neighborhood, and being “an old un,” “a knowing un,” managed for a long time to elude pursuit. At last “the sharp eyes of John Kelley” get a sight of her, and his “trusty rifle” soon brought her to the ground–on the hill just below Ironton. He caught her two young ones, killed one and petted the other, which, as it grew up, became very mischievous, killed the chickens, etc., and in turn, had to be killed.
One Fall, close by Pine Grove Furnace, Mr. Kelley says he killed a “monster bear,” the meat of which when baconed weighed over 300 lbs.” and,” said Mr. Kelley, “after it was wholly shrunk by baconing the meat measured seven inches thick, by an English rule, and Daniel Boone, who then lived above Greenupsburg, said it was thicker by an inch than any bear meat he ever saw.” Part of this meat sold to a boat that was passing down the river for $10, at a sixpence (8 1/2 cents) per pound.
The part of the bear baconed was the fat; the lean in baconing became dry, tough and unfit for use. The mode of proceeding was this. After the bear was killed, he was first cut open and the insides taken out. The meat was then split down the backbone to the skin and the carcass thrown across a pole on crotches, the back of the skin lying on the pole in the direction of the slit in the meat, so that half of the bear would hang on each side of the pole. Then the ribs, together with the lean part of the meat, were taken off, leaving the fat part cleaving next to the skin, which in turn was shaved off, leaving the skin hanging on the pole–a curious way of skinning a bear, we should think. It was this fat part baconed which measured 7 inches thick, in Mr. Kelley’s monster bear.
THE LAST BUFFALO KILLED IN OHIO
In 1851, Professor Mather, in the Western Agriculturalist, said: “In 1843 an old hunter of Jackson county, Mr. George Willis, told us that he saw the last Buffalo killed within the limits of this State. He was shot by a hunter named Keenes, near the headwaters of Symmes creek, in the year 1802.”
This, Mr. Kelley says, is a mistake as he himself shot the last buffalo killed in Ohio in 1803, the next year after Keenes killed his buffalo. Let Mr. Kelley tell his own story:
“I was out hunting and came upon the buffalo, on the waters of Storms creek, above where Vesuvius Furnace now is. He was a monstrous large buffalo. The place for shooting a buffalo is just behind the shoulders, but I shot this one too far back, so that it didn’t kill him right off, although I saw that he was so badly hurt that he would soon die; and he stood pawing and bellowing at the dogs. I loaded my gun again, and for curiosity aimed another shot square at his face, which only caused him to shake his head, but made him mad, and he broke right at me, but I dodged behind a tree, and he struck off, right ahead, in a bee line. I followed on as fast as I could, with the dogs. He ran about two miles before he fell; the last part of the distance he began to stagger like a drunken man; he would lean up against a tree or sapling, and move on slowly; finally down he fell, all at once, dead–he never kicked after he fell. I then skinned him and laid his skin up across some sticks on a tree, and went home. The next day I took out a horse and packed his skin home. That was a monster in size you may know from this: Out of his hide I cut eleven pair of traces and two bed cords, and had some large scraps left. Judge Davisson, my brother-in-law, and Josiah Lambert, my wife’s father, had some of the traces. They lasted in our families for many years.”
Shall continue these sketches next week.
REMINISCENCES, NO. 3
IRONTON REGISTER AUGUST 10, 1854
Our readers will probably thank us for continuing the reminiscences of Rev. John Kelley–not perhaps for their great intrinsic importance, but because possessing interest in those acquainted in this region.
Our information in regard to the mills of Lawrence County is not as extensive as we could wish; we have some few facts from Mr. Kelley.
In 1798-99, the settler pounded their grain, or as in the case of the Kelley family made use of a handmill.
In the winter of 1799, a floating mill propelled by the current of the river, broke loose from its station, at Raccoon, below Gallipolis; and coming down the Kelleys caught it and made it fast at their landing. The owners followed it, and, rather than take it back, sold it to Luke Kelley for $100. This was the first grist mill in Lawrence County, or nearer than Raccoon.
The stones of this mill were originally brought from up the Monongahela; and the mill itself was placed upon a flat boat. It was stationed at the head of Ferguson’s Bar, immediately above Union Landing, in the current of the chute, and made fast to the shore with grape vines. On the shore side of the boat was placed a canoe, the wheel running between the boat and the canoe, one end of the shaft resting on each. For the purpose of increasing the rapidity of the current at some stages of the water a dam was built out into the stream; some portion of the logs of the dam yet remain, and may be seen at this low stage of water. The meal made by the mill was very coarse, but filled the wants of that early day. In times of demand the mill was kept running day and night, and the usual quantity ground in 24 hours was about 24 or 25 bushels, a bushel an hour; although at a favorable stage of the water 30 bushels could be ground in 24 hours. This mill was in operation some four or five years, and ground the grain of the country far and near.
Next there was an apology for a mill, for two years, at the falls of Little sandy, over in Kentucky; and for one year there was no mill.
John Kelley was then, in view of the public wants, persuaded by his friends to build a horse mill, which stood until 1817 or 1818, just below Union Landing, using the stones of the old floating mill. When the old stones were worn out a new set was procured from up Monongahela. Mr. Kelley also procured a bolt from Chillicothe, and made the first flour made in this region. People came to this mill for flour for several years, from up Big Sandy and down to Portsmouth.
Mr. Kelley built his second horse mill about the year 1817, on the ground of the old mill, and, after running it two years, was induced, from some cause, to apply steam power–the first use made of steam power in Lawrence County. After the application of steam power for about three years at the mill below Union Landing, from the cause of salt crusting in the boilers when the water of the well ran low, a third mill on shore was built on the bank above Union Landing, a portion of the building, additions having been made and parts taken away, yet remaining on the bank between the road and the river.
Finally Mr. Kelley sold his mill to a man by the name of Scott, who took the stones, engines, boiler and other machinery down to Manchester, Adams County.
The first water mill in this part of the State, as we have before mentioned, was built by Emanuel Traxler, on the Little Scioto. Major Charles Kelley built the first water mill in this part of Lawrence County, to wit: “Kelley’s Mills” of the present day. The first water mills in the county were on Symmes creek, the first one built, we believe, was by a man named Miller.
EARLY MANNERS, CUSTOMS, ETC.
Mr. Kelley relates that the first settlers of this region were all peaceable, industrious, temperate and well disposed people–would mind their own affairs if let alone, but were quick and decided in action if stragglers and evil doers interfered with them. They were hospitable and neighborly, and never made any charges for entertaining strangers and ferrying them across the river, or assisting movers, unless in cases where certain strangers, as Mr. Kelley says, “would go to putting on airs.”
The first settlers assisted one another in clearing up their lands; and they used to have “great times” at log rolling. One spring Mr. Kelley says he rolled logs for his neighbors sixteen days in succession, Sundays excepted. At a log rolling the people of the neighborhood would assemble, and after designating two of “the best men,” (physically, of course,) as Captains, they would choose sides and “go at it.” They would tumble the logs into piles, each party striving to out do the other. A drunken man could not come in at a log rolling, as he was not considered a safe hand. The actual settlers were all sober men.
There was no law to suit the exigencies of the times, consequently lynching used to be practiced, not, however, to the extent of taking life. If a worthless scamp came into the neighborhood, and stole or made any disturbance, as some would, he was immediately arrested, tied to a tree and whipped, until he would leave the parts. Far instance, a man near Hecla Landing was detected stealing hogs. He would not leave, and was finally tied to a tree, but whipped “mercifully;” he laughed at it. John Stover then sung out: “By piper, he has not get enough!”–when they “tanned his jacket” so severely that he promised to go if they would let him. He was placed in a canoe, with provisions, and started down the river–the last ever heard of him.
The last case of this kind of law here was in 1819 or 1820, after the county was organized. A man stole a rifle from Amaziah Davisson; he was followed and overtaken at Wheelersburg, but begged hard not to be taken back, and in consideration of his begging, and perhaps to save trouble, as the rifle was recovered, he was taken out a short distance, a small crowd collected, and the whipping took place.
FACTS, INCIDENTS, ETC.
We record some few stray facts and incidents.
The first resident physician in Lawrence County was Dr. Moore, who lived, and we believe, died on Ice Creek. Dr. Waller, of Portsmouth, was the first who practiced in the county.
The first resident lawyers in the county were Luther Blodgett, who lived on Symmes Creek; and, we believe, Solomon Beckley, who removed to Iowa, some 15 years ago.
Of county officers, the first Sheriff was John Kelley; first Recorder and first Clerk of Court Wm. G. Robinson; first Surveyor Wm. Carpenter; first Coroner Edward Simmons; first Auditor and first Treasurer Joseph Wheeler; first Commissioners Joel Bowen, Joseph Davidson and David Spurlock; first Associate Judges John Davisson, Wm. Miller, and Gabriel Kerr; first prosecuting Attorneys were lawyers from other counties, appointed by the Court.
The first school in the county was taught by Reuben Rucker, from over-the-river, which school was just below Union Landing.
The first Minister of the Gospel who preached in the county was Rev. Robert Scott, a Baptist from Kentucky, who preached here in the year 1803. The second was Rev. __________ Guthrie, from Virginia, also a Baptist, who, we believe, preached here in the same year Mr. Scott first did, 1803.
The first Church constituted in the county was the Ohio Church, Baptist, below Union Landing, in 1804, and was under the ministry of “Father Young,” as he used to be called, for some years.
This Ohio Church was the first church constituted in this part of the State, and from it has branched all the Baptist Churches around in some three or four, or more, counties–many in Kentucky, and perhaps some in Virginia; it was the “Parent Church,” and from it three Associations have taken their rise.
Storms Creek Church,” the Baptist Church of Ironton, had for its first pastor Rev. John Lee, Rev. James M. Kelley is the second pastor.
One fact more we will mention now. It has been disputed that Col. Daniel Boone ever lived “in these parts.” He did build a cabin and lived for some years about a mile above Greenupsburg, Ky., about eight miles below this place, on the farm now owned by E. Hockaday. In the year 1800 he removed to Missouri, and John Kelley says that he helped him load his boat, for removing. Jesse Boone, a son of Col. Daniel, lived at that place for some years afterwards, and was made Judge of the Court in Greenup County at its organization, in 1805. Jesse Boone built the first brick chimney in this region of Ohio and Kentucky: the logs of his house are yet standing on the bank of the river above Greenupsburg.
Mr. Kelley relates a few circumstances personal to himself. He says that in early times he acquired a rather bad name, for shooting at people. Chris. Yingling, however, says, “NO,NO!” I’ve known Kelley from a boy, and a more peaceable, good citizen never lived in Lawrence County; but I tell you the only way to bring down the saucy, black-guarding, thieving rascals who used to run the river, in early days, was with a gun, and Kelley did shoot once or twice, though he didn’t hit anybody–he always hit the squirrel, at which he pointed his gun!”
On one occasion, just after dinner, Mrs. Kelley ran into the house with the information that three inen in a boat were stealing his (John Kelley’s) fishing gig. Mr. Kelley seized his gun and ran down the bank. They were taking the lines into the boat and making off. He ran into the water and caught hold of the boat, and then they clubbed it, Kelley with his gun, and the men in the boat with the oars. The three were rather an over-match for the one and took away the gun, but holding upon the boat, Chris. Yingling soon came to his assistance, when they “whipped out” the boat’s crew, who finally comprcmised the matter by paying five dollars, and were let off.
On another occasion three men stole a skiff at Gallipolis. The owner followed and headed them at Mr. Kelley’s landing. Kelley’s rifle brought them ashore, when they paid the owner for his skiff and trouble; and gave Mr. Kelley a dollar to pay for the use he had made of his rifle.
We mentioned a year or two since, in Gen. John Poage ‘s reminiscences, the fact that Mr. Kelley once shot at a boat that was passing down, whose crew used vulgar, profane, and obscene language towards his wife, washing at the water’s edge. Mr. Kelley says that it was a pirogue loaded with cane for reeds, being taken down from up Big Sandy. He hit the pirogue with a ball, but says that he did not intend to kill or injure any one, only to frighten them.
For a similar offence towards his wife, Thos. Buffington, below Guyandotte, shot at an “ark” that was descending the river; also Gen. John Poage once shot at a boat and broke the leg of a valuable horse that was inside. Those shots put a stop to further offences of the kind on this part of the river.
Shall continue Mr. Kelley’s reminiscenses next week.
REMINISCENCES, NO. 4
IRONTON REGISTER AUGUST 17, 1854
We this week change the scene of Mr. Kelley’s reminiscences back into Virginia.
He relates some circumstances connected with Indian wars, occurring under his own eye, which have never found their way into print, circumstances that occurred on Clinch River in Russell, Va.
We have before mentioned that Luke Kelley removed into Russell County in 1790 remaining on a Clinch River farm until 1798 where he removed his family to the place where he died at Union Landing. During the residence upon Clinch, John was a boy from 10 to 18 years of age, but he has a distinct recollection of events there occurring.
Settlements had been made on Clinch before the time of Mr. Kelley’s location there, but the settlers had been driven off by Indians. Mr. Kelley and his neighbors made a second settlement on the same ground, and during the Indian troubles which followed, theirs were frontier settlements constantly exposed to attacks by Indians; and bloody times they had of it. Their cows were frequently shot down and their horses shot or stolen even when, through fear or weakness, the Indians would make no attack upon dwellings or forts.
From 1791, for four or five years, most of the settlers lived in forts or stockades and those who neglected this precaution, as some would through daring, were generally massacred by the Indians.
All were compelled to cultivate their land under guard. They could work each one on his own land but a little while at a time, being obliged to guard one another.
No attack was ever made on Mr. Kelley’s own premises, unless in a way of shooting cows, horses, hogs, etc., but many of his neighbors suffered the loss of their lives and those of their families.
Living in a neighboring fort were several families; the number of men was seven. It was customary to shoot their rifles every morning in times of danger, and carefully load anew, that there might be no doubt of a sure fire. One morning when they were reloading one of the men took out of his pouch a bullet of which the neck had not been cut off, and said, “I’ll put this bullet, neck and all, for who knows but it may kill an Indian!” They had a feeling that Indians were near. Six of the men went to hoe corn, from a quarter to a half mile from the fort, and the one who loaded his gun with the necked bullet went to mill. The mill was deserted and whoever wanted went to the mill and ground his own corn.
After the men had gone a young woman named Mary Bush went out to milk and, on her return towards the fort Indians fell upon, tommyhawked and scalped her; and then to the number of six attacked the fort. The women inside gave the alarm, and the six men in the field fired off their guns to frighten the Indians. The man who had gone to mill heard the reports as he was returning, and ininediately threw his bags off his horse and put him to his utmost speed for the fort. The Indians had failed to break in at the gate and were trying to cut in at its side, when he came in sight, and he sung out at the top of his voice to his wife inside, “Elsie, open the gate,” which she did and he dashed in still on his horse; but before the gate could be closed the Indians rushed in; the man immediately whirled round, and sure enough his necked bullet did kill the foremost Indian. The other six men then coming up, the Indians took to the bushes–our notes are at fault here–and whether these Indians were pursued or not we cannot recollect.
Two years before this, the settlement was attacked and James Coyle, an uncle, we believe, of Jesse and John Coyle of Franklin Furnace, was killed, and this same Mary Bush mentioned above taken prisoner together with a brother of hers. The Indians were pursued, and were overtaken on Big Sandy. An Indian caught Mary by the hand and told her to run, but she knowing that her friends were near would not run, and the Indians tommyhawked and scalped her. She recovered to be tommyhawked and scalped the second time, as before mentioned, on the morning the fort was attacked. She recovered the second time, afterwards married, settled on Big Sandy, and raised a family of ten children. She has been at Mr. Kelley’s house at Union Landing.
Each time that Mary Bush was scalped the tommyawk was struck into the side of the head. The first time the top of her scalp was taken off, about the size of a dollar. When a person is scalped it heals over, if the person recovers, but without hair, as was the case with Mary Bush. The second scalp from her head was the skin formed over the first wound and a ring of hair around it.
On another occasion six Indians, as it appears, took a view about Luke Kelley’s place, but for some cause concluded not to make an attack there, and passed six miles further down the river. There they attacked a house and killed a man, his wife and six children. The alarm was given and for safety in getting off the Indians scattered, taking different routes for the Ohio. Small parties of the whites, two or three in each, pursued. William Dorton, a very expert woodsman, noted in frontier affairs, took with him a young man and struck for the headwaters of the Kentucky river. He expected to intercept one or more of the Indians where Carr’s Fork of the Kentucky breaks through the Cumberland Mountains, and the event prcved that he judged correctly, for they had watched but a short time when two of the Indians came along down the bed of the stream. Dorton and the young man both fired, Dorton’s shot took effect, but the young man missed his Indian, who took to the bank. Dorton re-loaded and shot him. Dorton laughed at his young companion for missing the Indian, when he had good aim, but said he would give him another chance at one more of the Indians that he was certain of heading over on Sandy. They then crossed over to the Tug Fork of Big Sandy, perhaps some 15 or 20 miles distant1 and took ambush. A little while proved that Dorton had judged correctly again, for another of the same party of Indians came along down the stream. The younger man was eager to shoot at him to redeem his reputation with Dorton for having missed his Indian over on Carr’s Fork. He blazed away, but, as his unlucky stars would have it he missed again, and Dorton had to kill this Indian also. Before returning home, Dorton killed another of the Indians, making four out of six that Dorton intercepted, and shot in the mountains. Another party killed the fifth one out of the six, so that only one made good his escape.
In the following affair we will let Mr. Kelley tell his own story; “One day in 1792, I believe, when I was 12 years old I was plowing in the field with my father, just after dinner. We saw a man running towards the house, and we went up. It was an express, and he said that 14 Indians had, on that morning, killed Mr. Music, who lived 10 miles up the river, and had carried off his wife and five children, also the horses.
Father and six men immediately put on their moccasins, put their hunting shirts inside of their pants, took all the bread mother had, and struck for the mountains, to intercept the Indians on Big Sandy. I was too young to go. Before night another express came. He was hungry; mother was mixing dough, but he couldn’t wait for it to bake and snatched the dough, and took father’s trail. The first night two of the men gave out. The second express overtook father and the other four men just before night on the second day.
On the morning of the fourth day, father said he had been dreaming that they should over take the Indians on that day, and he had the men shoot off their guns into a hollow log that they might make no loud reports, and load anew. It had rained the night before and the bushes were wet. As they started father charged the men to be very careful or they would get their guns wet. ‘Oh yes, oh yes,’ they all said, ‘no danger; we’ll look out.’ They soon struck the trail of the Indians, and had not followed it but a little way before they saw the smoke of their camp. It was yet early in the morning and the Indians had not started. The place of this camp was on the waters of the West Fork of Big Sandy. Father and his five men came in sight of the camp, and there the Indians were scattered about; some were whetting their kni~es, some were tinkering their saddles–and others were just getting ready to tommyhawk two of Mrs. Music’s children, the third and fourth. The two oldest were boys and able to run with the Indians; the fifth one was a child at the breast, which Mrs. Music had carried in her arms. The third and fourth had been lashed on their backs on horses, as they were too small to travel, and the sun and laurel bushes had made horrid work with their little faces; they were all torn to pieces and neither of the two little fellows could see, their eyes were so scratched and their faces so swelled. They were in so bad a plight that the Indians thought best to dispatch them, and take their little scalps.
But as good fortune would have it they were saved from the hands of the savages. Just in time father and his five men ranged themselves around the camp. Mrs. Music says she heard the crack of a bush, but the Indians were so engaged that they did not hear it. The men all aimed, each at his Indian, but the guns of the men, notwithstanding father’s words of caution, had become wet and father’s gun only went off. The Indian he shot at fell into the fire but made a bound and sprung into the creek. The Indians alarmed, all ran over the creek to their horses, and as they were running one of the men made out to get his gun off and shot another Indian. Mrs. Music caught up one of the little children that was going to be tommyhawked, the oldest boy the other, and ran to where father was. It was no time to stop as the Indians were still twelve to six, so Mrs. Music, carrying her nursing child, and the two oldest boys were started on the home trail. Two of the men took the two little mangled children, and placed them on their backs under their hunting shirts, then tying their shirts before, formed sort of sacks for the children, and started on. Father and the other three men followed behind to guard them. So rapidly did they run, the woman with her child leading, that the Indians could not head them to ambush them, and they were too great cowards to follow very near directly in the trail for fear of being ambushed themselves. One Indian did at one time during the day get an advantage position, but showing himself was shot down. On the second day after taking the back trail, father got home safe with all the men, the woman and her five children. Mrs. Music remained at father’s about two weeks and then went back upon her place. Afterwards she married again, and was still alive, a very old woman, about 18 months ago.’
Mr. Kelley further relates about his affair, that on the morning of the attack on Music’s place, Capt. Lewis, who was stationed with 30 soldiers further down Clinch, had started with his men for Kanawha, but an express overtook him and judging that he would find the Indians on Big Sandy he turned aside. When he first came in sight of Sandy, the smoke of the camp of the Indians was discovered; but while the men were ranging themselves about the camp the crack of bushes scattered the Indians so that they mostly escaped. So sudden, however, was their flight that they got off with only one tommyhawk, as was afterwards learned from returned prisoners. Capt. Lewis gathered up the “plunder” of the Indians and sent some of his men back with it, together with the horses, and himself continued on to Kanawha. Mrs. Music recovered her horses; and the guns (poor affairs), tommyhawks, etc., were taken to Luke Kelley’s and shot for, Luke Kelley winning almost all of them.
We have not yet done with Mr. Kelley’s reminiscences, but cannot publish any more until we see the old gentleman so that we may be obliged to omit them next week.
We have a letter from a friend who writes; “I see in the Register some very interesting reminiscences from Rev. John Kelley; they stir up the recollection of old times. Mr. Kelley is a little mistaken as to the last case of lynching in this region, which took place on this side of the river, just above Greenupsburg, and not near Wheelersburg. I was a participant in the affair.
A man came to my father’s house just at night and wished to cross the river, but concluded to stay all night if father would keep him, and cross in the morning. Before we went to bed Jesse Davisson, son of Amaziah from whom the gun was stolen, came in and found that the suspected man was there. The man had no gun with him when he came in, but we boys went out and found it in the fence corner. The man acknowledged the taking of the gun; we kept guard over him during the night, and in the morning gave him the choice, the beech limb or the law. He chose the limb, as he did not wish to be taken back. I being a boy had a curiosity to see the operation, and went with those selected to administer the limb. After getting to the woods each man cut him a nice beech limb, and all present had to participate or leave, so as to leave no witness in case of prosecution for the whipping. When it came to my turn, I stepped up, my heart almost failed me, but I gave him a cut or two, just enough to make me a participant in the affair. The man left the country and I have not heard of him from that day to this.”
REMINISCENCES, NO. 5
IRONTON REGISTER AUGUST 24, 1854
Since our last issue we have seen Mr. Kelley. He says his mistake as to the place of the last lynching hereabouts was from wrong information from one of the participators in the affair. The exact spot, however, is a matter of no great consequence.
A FEW FACTS
Some of the older part of our readers may be interested to know how long Luke Kelley has been dead, as their recollections may fail them. We copied from his tombstone in the burying ground below Union Landing:–“Luke Kelley, died Nov. 25, 1821, age 64 years, 7 months and 22 days.” Also, his wife: Mary Kelley, died August 10, 1824, age 64 years and 5 days.
David Brainerd, the lame man known to many of our readers, now living in Haverhill, kept the first singing school in Lawrence County–probably 35 or 40 years ago.
Mr. Kelley has been “celebrated” in his days for gigging. It is still his delight, although the fish are small compared with those in times gone by. He showed us his gig; it is sometimes called a spear. The iron part has three heavy bearded prongs, and the pole, we should judge, is about 15 feet long.
In early times fish were very plenty in the Ohio, buffalo, perch, pike etc. Some of these fish were very large, and when they whirled in the water their tails would make a noise that could be heard for a long distance, sounding, as Mr. Kelley says, “like the falling of a dead tree in open ground, a good way off.” This noise made by fish Mr. Kelley says he has not heard for many years. He tells us that he once gigged a pike that was six feet and two inches in length; and from its entrails he “tried Out” three pints of oil. This was about 50 years ago.
“Hood’s creek,” on the other side of the river, took its name from Major Andrew Hood, one of the first settlers in Greenup County. It was in time of Indian wars that Major Hood was moving down the river with his family, and ice closing the river he took harbor in the mouth of the creek, which now bears his name, for 16 days. The position of the family in the creek was dangerous, as Indians were about, and the reports of their guns were heard daily as they were hunting in the “Flat Woods.” The Indians, however, did not discover Major Hood’s boat, and the ice opening, he went on to “Limestone,” now Maysville. After peace with the Indians, Major Hood came up and settled just above Greenupsburg. He was the grandfather of Wm. Hood, now in the Kentucky peniten- tiary for participating in the murder of Brewer, a year or two since. Mr. Kelley says that the Hoods were clever, good people, but this young Bill Hood was ruined by going into bad company.
Many of our readers know Richard Deering, an inventive genius, of a projecting disposition, who is some times called crazy. Mr Deering is a tall and white headed old man who was about Ironton for seven or eight weeks last winter, talking about a machine for deepening the channel of the Ohio River on the bars, in low water. He was a native of North Carolina and has had many ‘”ups and downs” in life–has been very poor, and has been wealthy. He told us, one day, that he made the first salt made on the other side of the river, at Grayson, Carter County, and, if we mistake not, made the first pig iron (on a small scale) at some little forge or furnace. He projected and did some part or all of the work on the old Argolyte, Pactolus and Steam furnaces. Argolyte was a forge at first, and we are not sure but Pactolus was a forge.
Mr. Kelley relates that Richard Deering built the first grist mill in Greenup County, at the falls of Little Sandy, which stood about two years, and was the mill for this region for the time after the day of Kelley’s floating mill. This mill of Deering’s had its existence about the years l803 and 1804; and after it failed John Kelley built his first horse mill, below Union Landing.
After Mr. Deering “burst up” with his mill, which we believe high water carried off, he went to making salt at or near where the town of Grayson now stands. Sand came into his wells, and he invented and patented a machine for cleaning them out. The Graysons also went to making salt at the same place and took the liberty to use Deering’s machine. Deering sued and obtained “damages.” This gave him another lift in the world.
Pumping water by hand for his boilers was too tedious work for Deering’s inventive genius. It was before the days of the use of steam power, and in the days of experiment. Deering went to work and tinkered up a little steam engine, and took two salt boilers, small affairs of, be believe, only some 30 gallons each, and by putting the two salt boilers together, and fastening them by their horns or handles made a boiler for his engine. All laughed at him, but when done his crude engine and pumping apparatus worked “to a charm.” The laugh was then on Deering’s side.
One day, after the engine had been in operation some time, the Negro “engineert” went to Deering: “Massa Deering, de boiler made a bad noise–I’s ‘fraid it’ll blow us whar all de good niggers go to.” Deering told him to go back,–“it was all right.” He did go back, and sure enough, in a few minutes, the dusky engineer and one more found themselves, the first thing they knew, floundering in the creek, yelling–“Mercy, good Lordl Murder Poor nigger!” Nobody killed, however, but that was the last of Deering’s engine.
A short time afterwards Deering was at Greenupsburg, in court time. While at dinner, the lawyers “rigged” him on his engine. He bore it very patiently for awhile, but finally he straightened up in his chair:
“Gentlemen,” said he, “it will not be 25 years before boats will be going up the Ohio River by steam.”
That was a signal for a “big laugh.” Deering was “a fool,” “a visionary” and all that. It was not ten years, however, before this prediction was fulfilled.
THE VAN BIBBERS
In our “Reminiscences, No. 1,” we spoke of Peter Van Bibber, as one of the first half dozen settlers in Lawrence County, and who built a cabin in 1798, below Union Landing. The next year, 1799, James and Jacob Van Bibber, brothers of Peter, settled and built cabins just below the mouth of Ice Creek. The Van Bibbers were from the Kanawha. Jacob afterwards settled and lived for many years on Little Sandy; and we suppose died there.
During the Indian wars, while the Van Bibber family was living on Kanawha, James and Jacob, then small boys, went out to hunt their horse, in the “range.” A bell had been put on the horse, but as it appears two Indians had taken the bell off, and used it as a decoy; they jingled and the boys followed and finally they sprung upon the boys. One of them seized Jacob, but James, the older, darted from the other Indian, and ran so fast that he escaped. Jacob was taken to the Indian towns as a prisoner. Some years afterwards the Indians were hunting on Raccoon, within the present limits of Gallia County, and had young Van Bibber along. At one time they sent him out for their horses and becoming lost he wandered to the bank of the Raccoon, which he knew would lead him to the Ohio, when he conceived the idea of returning home. He came to the Ohio, and a boat soon appeared, coming down. Those it it were afraid of his being an Indian decoy, but finally, after his telling who he was, etc., they landed their women on the Virginia side and went over for him. Once on the Virginia shore he soon made his way to his home on Kanawha. Some years afterward, the young Van Bibbers settled in Lawrence County, as before mentioned.
We will digress a little. After the settlements in this county, an Indian, one day, stopped at Luke Kelley’s And stayed there and among the near neighbors for some three or four days. He said he was going to Kanawha; but he found whisky here and the love of it detained him. He told about being at the Rock [Hanging Rock] very many times in years before. At one time when Mr. Kelley was taking a wild steer over the river the Indian insisted that he should have the privilege of swimming the steer to prove that he knew how, having done the same before at the Rock. He amused the boys very much by catching the wild young colts in open fields, by their tails, and swinging about all over a field–which colts the whites could only catch by getting them into a pen, or a corner.
There was a rumor that the Indians in years before had buried treasure at the Rock. To get whisky the Indian favored this rumor. For a glass he would tell them where to look, but it would always happen that they did not look just at the right place, but for another glass he would tell them the exact spot and so on. On one occasion while hunting for the treasure they found an Indian’s bones, two thick bars of copper and a shell drinking cup under a rock near where Z. Hall now lives; at another time they found another Indian’s bones under a rock near the same place. At last the Indian told them to go higher up and they would find a tree with certain marks on it, and there they would find the sought for riches. And sure enough they did find a tree, a buckeye with the marks the Indians had made on it some years before; this tree stood at the foot of the hill just above where the rolling mill now stands. For this the Indian got a double drink; but no treasure was yet to be found. The Indian then thinking that he had got about all the whisky he could, was all at once among the missing.
After leaving below, the Indian, as it appears, went up to the cabins of the Van Bibbers, below Ice Creek. He told the Van Bibbers that he was going to Kanawha, and they replied they used to live there. The Indian said he had been there before. “I tell you,” said he, “so you see Indian no lie. Indian was there with another Indian, and two little boys came hunt horse. We took bell off horse and lied with it to boys and when we got ’em ’bout right we jump at ’em, but my boy flew like bird and me no catch him.” “Why, law me,” exclaimed old lady Van Bibber, “that was you, James.” The Indian seeing that he had exposed himself kept silence, and began to look for the door. James Van Bibber laughed, and told him that it was peace and that he would not hurt him. The Indian, however, was ill at ease, and would not utter a syllable. They coaxed him to stay all night, but long before daylight, he got up and went out, the last seen of him.
We shall continue Mr. Kelley’s reminiscences next week.
REMINISCENCES, NO. 6
IRONTON REGISTER AUGUST 31, 1854
We again change the scene of Mr. Kelley’s reminiscences back upon Clinch River, in Russell, Va., and give, as having occurred under his own eye, in time of Indian wars.
A FEW FACTS
Among Mr. Kelley’s near neighbors was a young man named Long, who served as a spy. One afternoon Long started out to “spy” for Indians, and took with him another young man named Friley. They went out some eight or ten miles and camped for the night. In the morning Long said he had just been dreaming “a dreadful dream”–that they were “going to meet Indians,” etc. They proceeded along the path cautiously, Long ahead, but had gone but a short distance before Long received a shot in the breast from an Indian ambuscade. Long fell, and an Indian sprung out at him, but Long presenting his rifle the Indian took to a tree but in doing so exposed himself to Friley, who shot him; five other Indians then appeared, and Friley took to his heels, but finding that he was not immediately pursued he stopped to reload, and heard the report of Long’s rifle, also the rifles of the Indians. He escaped into the settlements, and a party going out after Long found him scalped and dead; also they found the Indian that Friley had shot, and it appeared that Long had shot him the second time. By the side of the Indian was his rifle and his powder horn on which was engraved, “Captain Bench.” A returned prisoner related that Captain Bench had left the Indian towns with five young Indians, to teach them the art of war and the paths to the settlements, that the five young Indians returned; also that the reason of their shooting their guns, reports of which Friley heard just after he heard the report of Long’s rifle, was because their captain had been killed, it being the custom of the Indians to shoot off all their guns in case of a like circumstance or a defeat.
A Mrs. Gilmore, the wife of a Scotsman, a neighbor of Mr. Kelley’s, was taken prisoner by the Indians, and was gone for some five years. When she returned she was almost naked, so much so that when she came to the settlements she was compelled to conceal herself in the bushes, and call to the women to bring her clothes before she could appear. She was so altered that her husband and children scarcely knew her. She, at one time, was stripped naked by the Indians and compelled to run the gauntlet, and while running the Indians beat her with clubs, and one threw a buckhorn which knocked one of her eyes out. She said she did not mind the being stripped, nor the blows upon her bare back, but the loss of her eye by the buckhorn was exceedingly painful.
Another little circumstance. Mr. Kelley relates that a young friend of his, Alex McFarland, went to assist a family that was moving from North Carolina into Kentucky; while out he met an County Indian and both “treed.” Neither could get a shot at the other. After a long while McFarland adopted an expedient to get a shot at the Indian1 though a dangerous one. He had heard it said if one situated as he was would jump clear from the tree the Indian would jump out also. McFarland did so, and sure enough the Indian did jump out–both fired, McFarland’s ball killing the Indian, and the Indian’s ball passing through McFarland’s clothes.
HARMON’ S BATTLE
Mr. Kelley relates to us that some of the particulars about what used to be called, on Kanawha and Big Sandy, “Harmon’s Battle,” having received the particulars himself from Captain Lewis Harmon, the chief participator in the battle. This battle, says Mr. Kelley, has never found its way into print. The number engaged was small, but quite destructive on one side.
It was about the year 1791, might have been 1792, that Captain Lewis Harmon who lived on the Blue Stone Fork of New River, headwaters of the Kanawha, together with his sons Daniel and Matthias and a new son-in-law, went over upon the Tug Fork of Big Sandy to hunt. They made a temporary camp, and in the afternoon the young men went out (as was the custom with the hunters) to see if the locality pleased them for hunting, before fixing upon their final camping ground. At night the young men returned bringing with them some moccasins, some of them new, which they had found at a camp some few miles distant. They were not certain but it might be the camp of hunters, but Capt. Harmon, experienced in frontier life, took a moccasin and scented it for the strong Indian smell, which it had, and says he: ‘1Boys, you ve done wrong, for the Indians will trail you here for their moccasins; we have no safety but to go home.” It being then dark they could not quit the camp, but made preparations to leave before daylight as Capt. Harmon knew that they would be very certain to be attacked if they remained until light. After getting a little distance from the camp they put their horses to full speed, the son-in-law leading and had gone but a short distance before he sung out, “Father, I see Indians.” The old man did not see them, and so laughed at the son-in-law; but he soon sung out again, “Father, I did see Indians,” and dropped in the rear. ‘The old man went ahead; they had gone but a little further before the Indians fired upon them from under the bank of the stream, but as good luck would have it not one of them was injured. Capt. Harmon supposed that the Indians missed their aim from the fact that they were all riding very fast through the bushes.
Harmon and his boys immediately dismounted and “treed.” There were seven of the Indians under the bank, and soon the son-in-law disappeared; he found a hiding place under a log, leaving Captain Harmon and his two boys to fight the battle with the Indians, three to seven. Here they stood it for hours, each party trying to get the advantage over the other.–Their entire skill and art were brought into requisition. Finally, while Capt. Harmon and his boys were yet all unharmed, such had been their adroitness, four of the Indians were killed or mortally wounded, leaving the contesting sides three to three. The three remaining Indians then becoming desperate dropped their guns and rushed up the bank upon Capt. Harmon with their bows and arrows. They shot one arrow into his breast and another into his arm. He fell and fainted. They were about to scalp him, when one of the boys with his rifle drove two of the Indians again down the bank, and the other boy rushed upon the third Indian. This young Harmon was lame from a fever sore, and the Indian thinking that he was wounded drew his knife and grappled with him; but young Harmon proving an overmatch took his knife from him, and stabbed him eleven times. The two Indians down the bank again came up, but seeing their companion had been killed, and that the young Harmons were ready for them, they gave an “ugh” and ran off with nothing but their bows. They jumped upon the log where the son- in-law lay concealed, and frightened him out, but were themselves too much frightened to do him any harm.
Application of water soon brought Captain Harmon to himself again. The arrow sticking in his arm and breast had to be cut out as they were barbed, and having brass heads the wounds were very painful. Nevertheless he determined to “settle,” as he said, ‘ton the spot with that skulking whelp–the scoundrel who deserted us in our time of need” and he loaded his gun to shoot the son-in-law, his mouth all of the time full of wrath and cursing. At the earnest entreaties of the sons, the old man was finally induced to spare him until they should get home. They then scalped the five Indians they had killed, and taking their guns, tommyhawks, etc., returned home with the trophies of their triumph. It was a severe battle, worthy of record. On arriving home Captain Harmon compelled his son-in-law to leave for other parts.
The next year some of the same tribe of Indians attacked Harmon’s settlement on Bluestone and took a woman prisoner and afterwards crossed over to the Tug Fork. When they came to the ground of Harmon’s Battle they gathered and piled up the bones of their five “brothers,” and set up dismal howlings, as in mourning over them. The Indians, who had in charge the woman, asked her why she did not mourn, too. She replied that she saw nothing to howl about unless a parcel of bear’s bones. This so enraged the Indian that he knocked her down. We will add that this woman escaped from the Indians where Vanceburg, Ky., now stands, by slipping her arms out and leaving her short gown in the cords that bound her. By keeping in sight of the Ohio and then following up Big Sandy, subsisting upon roots, the nettles and briars sadly disfigured her body, as she was almost naked, she finally arrived home in t’two moons” (months) after her escape; and a dreary time she had during these two long months of slow travel through bushes, briars and nettles, with roots for food and wild beasts for company. One night she crawled into a hollow log for shelter, and some wild animal came and smelt at her feet, but did not trouble her further than to give her a great fright. This closes the publication of Mr. Kelley’s reminiscence in the Register. We trust that they have not been without interest to our readers–perhaps have contained as much interest as any- thing with which we could have occupied the same space in this and the five previous numbers of our paper. Next week we shall commence the publication of other reminiscences and historical facts that will be of interest to people of this section, which we shall continue from week to week as it may be in our power.