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Greathouse of Augusta County, VA
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1774, May 7 - Letter: Valentine Crawford to Washington.
Jacob's Creek, May 7,1774.
Dear Sir:— I am sorry to inform you the Indians have stopped all the gentlemen from going down the river. In the first place, they killed one Murphy, a trader, and wounded another; then robbed their canoes.  This alarmed the gentlemen very much; and Major Cresap took a party of men and waylaid some Indians in their canoes, that were going down the river, and shot two of them and scalped them. He also raised a party, took canoes and followed some Indians from Wheeling down to the Little Kanawha; when, coming up with them, he killed three and wounded several. The Indians wounded three of his men, only one of whom is dead; he was shot through, while the other two were but slightly wounded. On Saturday last, about 12 o'clock, one Greathouse, and about twenty men, fell on a party of Indians at the mouth of Yellow creek, and killed ten of them. They brought away one child a prisoner, which is now at my brother William Crawford's.  These circumstances have put it out of my power to execute your business. I, therefore, came to a resolution to send my son down to you to let you know of this disagreeable disappointment, and to learn what I must do with your carpenters, servants, and goods. This alarm has caused the people to move from over the Monongahela, off Chartier's and Raccoon [creeks], as fast as ever you saw them in the year 1756 or 1757, down in Frederick county, Virginia. There were more than one thousand people crossed the Monongahela in one day at three ferries that are not one mile apart.
Mr. Simpson seems much frightened at this alarm; but I went to him the day after I got home to Jacob's creek, and offered him all the servants and some of the carpenters. As we were obliged to make our own canoes, some of the carpenters I had to retain to work on them. Just as I had got all our canoes and our provisions and everything ready to start, we were stopped by the alarms as above. I have stored all your goods and tools safely; and if the Indians should come to a pause, I am ready to start at the shortest warning.
Your servants are all in very good health, and if you should incline selling them, I believe I could sell them for cash out here to different people. My brother, William Crawford, wants two of them, and I would take two myself; or, if this disturbance should be settled, I could push down the river immediately, and could do a great deal this fall. In the meantime, your men might build some houses at your Bottom or at the Great Meadows; or, as I mentioned, the carpenters would be willing to be discharged, if you would be willing to employ them again as soon as this difficulty is over. Pray give me full particulars how to act in this troublesome affair. I am, etc.
1) For ten years immediately following Pontiac's war, there was peace upon the Western border; but it was a nominal one; for, during the whole time from 1764 to 1774, murders were frequent—committed sometimes by the savages, and at other times by the whites. Neither side was prepared by a continuous forbearance to avoid a conflict which, sooner or later, would be surely brought on between them. "The surveyors that went down the Kanawha," wrote William Crawford, two days after the above letter was written by his brother Valentine, " as report goes, were stopped by the Shawanese Indians." This, as he understood it, was the first act in the bloody drama of 1774. But Valentine Crawford had quite another report to give of the "beginning of the end:" "In the first place, they [the Indians] killed one Murphy, a trader, and wounded another; then robbed their canoes." Doubtless, among the Indians, the first overt act was charged up to the Long Knives. It is certain there were aggressions on both sides.
2) The exact date of this exploit of Greathouse and party, usually known as the "Yellow creek massacre", so long a matter of uncertainty, is fixed by the above, beyond a peradventure — Saturday, April 30, 1774. The Mingo, Logan's brother, known as John Petty, his mother and sister — the latter the mother of the child, then only two months old — were all slain. The child prisoner being Logan's niece, it follows that his relatives were not all killed.
Consul Willshire Butterfield, Editor, The Washington-Crawford letters: Being the correspondence between George Washington and William Crawford, from 1767 to 1781, concerning western lands, Authors: George Washington, William Crawford, Valentine Crawford, R. Clarke & co., 1877. Original from: Harvard University, Digitized Jul 28, 2006. Page 86-88, Letter: Valentine Crawford to Washington. Jacob's Creek, May 7,1774. View @ Google Books.
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