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Greathouse of Augusta County, VA
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1774, May 23 - Letter: Captain William Crawford and Mr. Neville interview with a member of the Greathouse party, who was involved in the massacre at Yellow Creek. West Augusta District.
The interview occurred on 3 May 1774, within three days of when the massacre happened, on 30 Apr 1774. The letter was published at Philadelphia on 23 May 1774. The letter contains additional details about events which occurred prior to the massacre at Yellow Creek, which indicates that warnings about Indian attacks had been communicated all along the frontier.
Philadelphia, May 23, 1774.
By intelligence from Pittsburgh of the 1st of May, we learn that about the 26th of April, as one Stephens, with two Indians, (a Shaicanese and a Delaware,} were going down the Ohio in a canoe, (that had been a few days before robbed by three men and a woman of the Cherokee nation, after they had killed one white man, and wounded another,) he discovered a canoe with people near Whaling, coming up the river, which he suspected to be Indians, and strove to avoid them by making towards the opposite shore, when they were fired upon twice, and the two Indians in his canoe killed; but he could not perceive who it was that fired, as the enemy lay concealed in the bushes. He then threw himself into the river, and observed the canoe that was coming up to contain white men. He made towards it, and found therein Colonel Michael Cresap, and some other men, who pretended entire ignorance of his misfortune, although, he, the said Stephens, declares, that, from several circumstances, he suspects the murder was committed by persons in confederacy with Cresap, as he heard him threaten to put every Indian to death he should meet with on the river; and that if he could get a number of men together sufficient for the undertaking, he was determined to mark a small Indian village on Yellow Creek.
We also learn, that Major Macdonald, of Virginia, on his return to Pittsburgh, from the Big Runaway, gives account that a skirmish had happened between some Virginians and Indians, in which some were killed on both sides, which had occasioned the surveyors and grantees of land from that Colony to return ; and that on his way to Pittsburgh, on the 27th of April, he stopped at the house of Colonel Cresap, near Whaling, where one Mahon came and informed that fourteen Indians, in five canoes, had called at his house going down the river, and asked him for provisions, which he refused, telling them that two of their brethren, the day before, had been killed by the white people, which these Indians heard nothing of before, and proceeded down the river. That upon this news, Cresap collected fifteen men, followed and overtook them at the mouth of a small creek, where they had hauled up the canoes, and were waiting with expectation of being attacked as a consequence of what they had heard. That Cresap, spying the canoes, fired among them, upon which a skirmish ensued: and the Indians retired after the loss of one man on each side, and left in the canoes sixteen kegs of rum, and some saddles and bridles.
Captain Crawford, and Mr. Neville, of Virginia, from Pittsburgh, informed, that about the 3d instant, in their way there, they met a number of the inhabitants moving off their places, and with them a party who produced several Indian scalps, and said they got them as follows: "That a-number of Indians encamped at the mouth of Yellow Creek, opposite to which two men named Greathouse and Baker, with some others,'had assembled themselves, at a house belonging to the said Baker, and invited two men and two women of the Indians, over the creek to drink with them, when, after making them drunk, they killed and scalped them ; and two more Indian men then came over, who met with the like fate. After which six of their men came over to seek their friends, and on approaching the bank where the white men lay concealed, perceived them aud endeavored to retreat back, but received a fire from the shore, which killed two Indians, who fell in the river; two fell dead in the canoe, and a fifth was so badly wounded that he could hardly crawl up the bank." Among the unfortunate sufferers was an Indian woman, wife to a white man, one of the traders; and she had an infant at her breast, which these inhuman butchers providentially spared and took with them. Mr. Neville asked the man who had the infant if he was not near enough to have taken its mother prisoner without killing her? He replied, that he was about six feet from her when he shot her exactly in the forehead, and cut the hoppase with which the child's cradle hung at her back; and he thought to have knocked out its brains, but remorse prevented him, on seeing the child fall with its mother. This party further informed them, that after they had killed these Indians they ran off with their families, and that they thought the whole country was fled, as Cresap, who was the perpetrator of the first offence, was then also on his way to Redstone.
Neville B. Craig, Editor, The Olden Time, Vol 2, Pittsburgh, PA: Wright & Charlton, 1848. Page 64-65. A monthly publication devoted to the preservation of documents and other authentic information in relation to the early explorations and the settlement and improvement of the country around the head of the Ohio. Online: Google Book.
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