Interview with David and Elizabeth Cassity Crouch

This interview reveals what life was really like for our ancestors in the wilds of what was to become West Virginia! John Shane interviewed David and Elizabeth, who was the daughter of our John and Garner Ashby Cassity, in their home in Nicholas County, Kentucky. The interview is part of the Lyman C. Draper Collection called the Kentucky Papers.

This transcription was done by Linda Cassidy Lewis from a photocopy of the actual notes taken by John Shane, if you believe errors have been made, please let us know! Punctuation has been enhanced and Linda's notes are in these brackets { }. Shane's original notes to himself are in parentheses ( ).
[Date of interview c.1841-43.]

From the "Draper Collection Manuscripts" Vol 12CC225-29

Nicholas County Kentucky

David Crouch

About 4 miles west [or north?] of Sharpsburg, in the edge of Nicholas. Part and the fullest part of the statement from his wife who has the liveliest recollection. Both are blind. His wife daughter of old Jno. Cassidy, that had a station in Tygarts Valley, Virginia.

"I was born, August 1767, on the heads of the Monongahela in Randolph County, Virginia. He, my father, was one of the first settlers there. Came to Tygerts Valley when I was 3 years old. Tygerts Valley River is one of the heads of the Monongahela. (So that I couldn't understand, nor did he seem to know where his nativity was.) My father lived in Tygert's Valley 17 years. ( i.e. from 1770 to 1787. Seemed to have been born on some other of the water course and in 1770 when he was 3 years old, his father moved on to Tygert's Valley. Where he remained seventeen years until 1787.) We were forted there almost until I was a grown man. In fact the Indians did mischief in the neighborhood after I left. I came to Kentucky and my father in 1787.

My father lived some years on the South Branch. Went from there to Carolina, lived two or three years, say, on the Yadkin in the same (neighborhood us didn't say so) section with Boone, then came back again. He wanted to live on the gun and the range. As soon as the range was gone he wanted to move. When he came to KY he bought 5 miles this side of Lexington. The range there was as good as a wheat field. When it gave out he wouldn't stay. Moved to Bourbon and from there again, in due time, to Ohio where he died. The troubles on the South Branch with the Indians (there were troubles) were before my recollection. My father said he lent his horse, saddle and bridle to some man to go against the Indians. The man was killed and the horse and c. {i.e. the bridle and saddle} he never got.

We were about 50 miles from the South Branch he had five mountains to cross in going there that were so steep a horse could hardly carry a man over them. Never a wagon could get to the South Branch then and I don't know that they could get to it from Tygert's Valley now. There was not a wagon or wagon rut in Tygert's Valley.

Once a year my father would send in to the South Branch and get three bushels (80 pounds to a bushel) of salt. That would last us a year. Packed it over on horses. There was a way to get into Greenbriar but that was not much better than the other (this way to the South Branch.) There were two or three pretty stiff mountains on that way and then South Branch was a rich country settled in earlier than Greenbriar. There was but little settlement in Greenbriar and perhaps as late as ours, especially in the back part of Greenbriar.

Mrs. Crouch's father was from the South Branch. Her grandfather and her husband's father were (Mr. C's) from the eastern shore of Maryland to the South Branch. My mother said I {Mrs. Crouch} was 4 years old when I left the South Branch. It is the earliest thing I recollect, crying for a little toy my cousin Ashby had. I told him he might as well give it to me as I was going away and he might not ever see me again and it has been so. My grandfather Ashby was brother to that Ashby that made early pre-emption settlement in this state {Kentucky}.

Most of the people on the South Branch were married by the Squire. Had no preachers living there. But my mother and father* were married by one McCue, a traveling Presbyterian preacher that came along, only stopped a night or two and then went on to Greenbriar where he lived. One Scarborough, an old man that went about here teaching some time ago (don't know what's become of him) said he knew McCue well. {*Tom Wright has brought it to my attention that what I deciphered as "m & f" he sees as "h & I" and so believes that Elizabeth Crouch was speaking of herself and her husband being married by McCue. This is possible, since I found the handwriting at this point in the manuscript to be particularly hard to read.}

I was born 14 January 1767. Was married 5 December, would have been 20 if I had waited until the next January 14. (Which makes her leaving the South Branch to be in 1771 and her being married December 5, 1786.) (I find she was born in '67 from her saying she was 76 , 14th of last January, the only way she kept account of her birth.) Joseph Redding was the first preacher I ever heard. Used to stop at my father's, he and sometimes John Taylor, both traveling. That first sermon was when I was 7 or 8 years old. I recollect this text. "Behold the ax is laid at the root of the tree.", and c.. We had only traveling preachers.

1. John Warrick's station was the highest up of any in Tygert's Valley.
2. David Hadden's was next.
3. Joseph Crouch's the next. He was my oldest brother. Moved from there, here and from here to Ohio and there died. This, my brother Joseph's station, was nearest to me, (Mr. C) (where I lived) (it was one of the last that was built.)
4. George Westfall's--the son. His father's and his were the first two forts, I think, occupied in this country. Mr. C never lived but in one of the forts, George Westfall's.
5. Ebenezer Pettiss' (or Petty's) next.
6. John Cassidy's (my wife's father) next.
7. Jacob Westfall's next, the father of George. Old Jacob Westfall afterwards had (not at first though) something of a mill. Sort of tub mill. The first fort ever was there, was old Jacob Westfall's, the father. The first year, first summer, we lived there and then they began to build other forts.
8. Col. Benj. Wilson's next.
9. Barker's settlement, below Wilson's station.

The forts were not very far apart, but 4 or 5 or 6 miles apart. There were some ten or twelve forts (they said, without counting) All the forts were stockaded with bastions for sentry to stand in of nights. Something like 25 or 30 miles I reckon from one end of settlement to the other. It was the beautifullest country for wild fruit I ever saw. Had it not been for the fruit and game, that country could not have been settled as it was. Of the fruits, in kind, there were sarvice berries (growing on a tree as thick as your leg and high as the joice on a common log house, with a bark resembling that of the maple, the fruit round and red but not like the haws, spread a sheet under the tree and shake down a 1/2 bushel.) Whortle berries and cranberries, 2 miles of cranberry swamp by Westfall's, 500 bushels could be gotten there.

The first difficulty with the Indians I can recollect of was the killing of Darby Conolly's family. He was settled out about 3 miles above Warrick's Station. Was the highest up of any family, up near the head of the river. I suppose when we first settled in Tygert's Valley the Indians were peaceable. This was a year or two, maybe three, before the Battle of the Point. I can just remember it. I think it was the first mischief ever done in our section of the country. When the Indians came into now Greenbriar, they would sometimes come over on to the head of our river, into what is now called Randolph County, they join. The Indians killed Conolly and some of his family, though not all. For I remember of the oldest boy being in the fort with me and being about my age. His name was David too. I think this was in the spring. They most always did their mischief in the spring.

Frank Riffle and William Currans were killed next. They were living in George Westfall's fort. Perhaps next year after this first. They were not at their farms, expect were planting. Late, at near dusk, they started for the station. The men were before, walking, and were shot. Susan Shavers, a married daughter of Riffle's, and some other woman, only one that was with her, I expect one of her sisters, were the women. They were behind and were to ride. They heard the guns and just mounted the horses and rode to the fort. The horses galloped and Susan Shavers' horse, as he came galloping along, just jumped over her father. It was so dark she never saw him. Only saw a bulk of something, didn't know what it was. The Indians had stripped the clothes every bit off of him and stretched him right across the road. Both the men had farms.

The third inroad of the Indians was at a time of the Meeting of Commissioners to adjust land claims. This was the first and only Meeting of Commissions ever held there. After that they went out to Greenbriar. there was very little difficulty in settling land claims there, it was not a hard matter to do. They had set a day or two at my father's (Mr. C's father) and were pretty nearly through when a case came up in which they had need of a man in Greenbriar to prove some fact. They sent off Thomas Lackey as a messenger after him. As Lackey went, he discovered Indian sign and turned back to alarm the station. This discovery and return happened to be seen by the Indians who waylaid their own sign in ambush. Lackey got back to the station that night but didn't stay. They went on up to Warrick's fort--10 miles above and the next morning the court (who were men appointed out of the settlers and had farms for whose safety they were also alarmed) and six other men went out to examine the sign, about 6 or 7 miles. When they got there the Indians fired on them and killed John Nelson, John McClain and James Ralston and shot my brother Jonathan Crouch through the arm. This was the last of this.

4. John Alexander and his stepson, Jacob Everman, were passing from Hadden's fort to Warrick's fort. The Indians fired on John Alexander and wounded him in 3 places and took Jacob Everman prisoner. He was with them ten years and didn't come from them till after we came to KY. His stepfather and his mother, when they came to Maysville, a year or so before we did, heard of Jacob Everman. by some Indian trader to whom they gave $20 it may be and he got Everman for them.

5. William Leavitt's family was 3/4 of a mile from Cassidy's fort in a clearing. It was the last of March or first of April, for they were engaged in clearing. the family had all been out assisting. Mrs. C's father had been there all the day before alone and all the morning alone making them a plough. The Indians never troubled him, although alone, because they saw his gun beside him. A part of the family, (Mrs. Lurenna Leavitt, her oldest daughter, Jane and a little boy of hers, an illegitimate child (for she, Jane, was not married), Elizabeth and Lurenna, second and third daughters) came to the house to get dinner. The family yet in the field were William Leavitt, the father, William Leavitt, the oldest son, James Leavitt, another son about 14 years of age who had cut his foot so that he could not work and was employed in taking care of two little twin babies, Davy and Tom, his brothers about 9 months old, and then there were further Nathan and Katy who were younger than James and of course, older than the twins.

When they came to get dinner Mrs. C's father started for his. They wanted him to stay. He said he could get home in time and declined. John Cassidy got home, my mother (Mrs. C's) set down some dinner to him and he had sat down and was eating, when old Mr. Leavitt came running to Cassidy's fort with the alarm that Indians were there. The men staying out in the field, the Indians had attacked the house as soon as they saw my father leave. When old Mr. Leavitt saw the Indians at the house he ran as hard as he could to our station to give the alarm. James forgot that he was lame (found he could run didn't think of being hurt) and picked up a child, of the twins, under each arm and followed on after his father. (I suppose Nathan and Kate got to Cassidy's also.) William, the oldest son, took off to another neighborhood (settlements) to spread the alarm. (Thus all in the clearing escaped was old Mr. Leavitt Mrs. Crouch's uncle?) When the Indians came the old woman ran and got as far as the barricade. When an Indian (one of them) attacked her, while the other Indian pursued after the daughters who had started up a hollow. The old woman told me (Mrs. C) there were but two Indians.

The one came up to her. The dog flew at the Indian, said she couldn't help but laugh. He turned around with his tomahawk and cursed the dog. She was tomahawked and scalped just at the barricade. She fell down and didn't stir. Pretended to be dead. She lived eight days after. Was a most dreadful sight. There were not many that could stand it to stay with her. I went. Some, when they had seen her, couldn't get out of the room. She was sure her daughters had escaped, as she had seen them running and the contrary was never told to her. She wanted Mrs. C. (or her mother, her mother I suppose) to take Lurenna, her daughter, and keep her till she was married. Had the girls ran to the fort, instead of up the hollow, they might have escaped. but they ran up to where it was so steep they couldn't get out of the way and the Indians just came up and took them. The Indian had tried to take Jane prisoner, could see where he had dragged her along 2000 yards and she had put her heels down and held back. When he found she wouldn't run he tomahawked her. Her little boy wasn't dead yet when they got there, my father (Mrs. C's) (and uncle?) (who was at Mrs. C's father's?) the Indian had knocked it's head against a tree and threw it into a sinkhole that was not far from the barricades. When they brought in the bodies to lay them out, they would jerk round, so they couldn't keep them straight. Jane was cut and gashed most awfully. They couldn't get them in coffins and had just to bury them so.

In Barker's settlement lived one Jonathan (they thought it was Jonathan) Buffington. Nobody was forted up at the time we speak of. All living out, till the season when the Indians would become troublesome, which was almost always in the spring, just about corn planting time. Buffington went to the South branch of the Potomac to get salt, and while gone the Indians came, burnt up his house and destroyed his family. {This was in 1781} Whether they were taken captive, whether they were first killed and thrown into the flames or whether they shut alive in the flames and consumed of them alive he never learned one particle to enable him to know.

After the burning of Buffington's house they took one Daugherty and his wife, old people living alone, prisoners. She was too frail to travel and two Indians stayed behind and tomahawked her. They then took her scalp and bringing it along and when they came up, shook it in Daugherty's face. Daugherty lived in Barker's settlement. Did Buffington?

From this they went to Alexander Roney's. (Don't understand this--of the same party of Indians, some divided and went down into Barker's settlement. first they went down from Buffington's, living in some other neighborhood. Barker's settlement was adjoining to ours (Mr. or Mrs. C's?) in the direction of the settlement on the west fork of the Monongahela.) They shot Alexander Roney down in his yard and then went into his house. They took Mrs.Roney and her boy prisoner. (Her face was dirty and smeared over. They told her she was Indian. No, she said, she was a white woman and right pretty little woman when she was dressed up.) When they tied Daugherty by the fire? for the night they told him they meant to burn him when they got him over the Ohio (to the towns). They didn't have to tie Mrs. Roney.

The Indians had to pass over the West Fork of the Monongahela to get over into Ohio. (About 20 or 25 miles to get to the West Fork of the Monongahela, very little settlement between us and them, very little there). An express was sent to Major William Louder of that neighborhood, who raised men and pursued. they came on them in the night. It was in a rainy time. when they found they were in the sight of the camp, they turned back about 3 miles and shot off all their guns in a hollow log and loaded them afresh. They then came again, crept up, and waited till near day break. They crept so near they could punch them with their guns. Mrs. Roney lay between two Indians, Capt. Bull and Capt. Johnny. She rose up twice. The little Indian dog said whoo-hoo and she would raise up and say there were white people about I really believe. At length they became tired of her disturbing their rest and they told her to be still "Bets". This was what Daugherty said and the men were so close they could hear her talk.

It was said that one bullet shot through two Indians and the Roney boy. Shot them all in the head.. It was said they killed seventeen and all but one and that he bled mightily. They tracked him to where he ran up the side of a stout branch and thought he must have jumped into a deep pond that was there to keep them from getting him. Daugherty called to them not to shoot him, he was a white man. Father said this was later than the Indians had formerly come and he had hoped they would not. Mrs. Roney afterwards lived at Ebenezer Petty's fort. The women there were threatening to drown her for whenever she got a dram she began to cry about Capt. Bull and Capt. Johnny, that she lay between that night. The men were going to drown her when she got back, she talked so. Would say she really was sorry for Capt. Bull and Capt. Johnny. We never pursued the Indians much from our neighborhood. If they did mischief they could get away and couldn't be tracked and we never could do any good following them. If they had taken horses we could have followed them. I don't recollect of them ever taking any horses from the valley.

Old Jacob Stallnicker and Adam his son lived in Jacob Westfall's fort. Adam had been to Col. Ben Wilson's mill and was returning, he and his father. They had gotten their flour and were returning home. The Indians fired and killed Adam. His father escaped on his horse. Old man, I think, said he saw but two Indians. I saw the tree that Adam fell against, the blood was there a long time. And I saw him after he was scalped and nobody ever would have known him. He had been as pretty a man as you would see in a month. But his face was now all sunk away to be not wider than your hand.

John White lived at Jacob Westfall's fort. Killed by the Indians in the neighborhood of Jacob Westfall's fort. Had married Adam Stallnicker's sister Katy. Adam helped to dig the grave. John White had gone up to the upper part of the valley on business. Adam Stallnicker helped make a coffin, which they sent up to bring White down in when he was killed, and while it was gone, he helped dig the grave in which White was to be buried. It was in the middle of summer. They found him so black and mortified they couldn't bring him and so brought back the coffin. Not long after, Adam Stallnicker was put in the same coffin and interred in the same grave which himself had prepared.

There were eight or nine families living in Warrick's station. The Indians attacked that station. They came in the night. Tied up a bundle of splits into a faggot and threw it onto the back shed of Warrick's house. (Kind of back shed that formed a part of the stockading.) The roof was of clapboards. These will crack in burning and when they got to burning the cracking waked the inmates. Warrick got a stick and punched a hole and let the bundle fall through. As soon as he saw it he knew it was Indians. It was tied with a buffalo or bear tug. He then punched the other boards loose so that all on fire fell down. (As they could get up in the loft and throw on water.) A black woman was poked through and told to go and alarm the nearest station. There was a barn about 70 or 80 yards from the fort. The loft was full of grain and below were two horses in it. The Indians next set this on fire. The horses ran round till they broke open the door and got out and so escaped. Warrick had a Negro man that understood shooting very well. He at first wanted to go and open the stable door and let them out. His master wouldn't consent to his meeting the danger. He then watched at the fort gate through the portholes and saw an Indian that appeared in the light of the fire and fired. It was not known what harm was done but no more appeared in the light. This fellow also got up in the loft when it was first known they were there and seeing it, he cursed and abused them. That was the only time while we lived there that the station was attacked. (I think he said it was attacked a second time after he left there.) John Warrick's oldest son, Capt. Jacob Warrick, William Montgomery's son-in-law, was killed at the Battle of Tippecanoe. John Warrick was in the Point Battle and fought from sun up to sun down. Jacob was then a baby and I nursed him while his father was there.

We came to this country from that, and old John Warrick together. My wife's father came in the spring by water and we came by land. My wife (then) his oldest child. He had no son then grown. Great part of the old settlers moved out when we did. The swamps were drained by the new settlers and brought, it was said, fine corn. Indeed too, we did not know how to make a living but mostly, as our fathers taught us, we lived by hunting. Knew little of farming. (Mrs. C demurred to this and maintained we had stock and c. ). That section was erected in Randolph County the last year we stayed there. It was Randolph County while we yet lived there.

By land was the cheapest way to come west. We drove our stock. It was the fall season. We had nary river to ferry at all. Greenbriar and New River were the only rivers we had to cross (of any size). Did not cost us $5.00 to come. Stock would fall away traveling so far and only having the range at night. When they went down by water they had to pack down to Red Stone. They said there was a fall of 50 feet in the Monongahela somewhere. We came through Greenbriar and on to Holston and so on to Kentucky, on it's south side. Lexington was? the crack of the best part of Kentucky. Everybody wasn't satisfied till they saw it.

We lived a mile this side of Bryan's station for sometime. I carried my gun half my life for fear of Indians and never saw a wild one. Saw seventeen prisoners Ben Logan had taken the year I came. I went over to Danville to buy some salt. There was a blanket hung up at the door of the fort house where they were, the house was full. I lifted up the blanket and looked in, they never turned their heads to see me, but kept them another way.

John Cassidy (Mrs. C's father) was the first person at Morgan's station after the attack. He had a station on the Licking at that time. Came to Morgan's station in the night.

Heap of truth in it, McClung's sketches, that I could witness. Old David Morgan, brother of Gen. Morgan, lived on the West Fork of Monongahela, not only about 30 miles from us. Was 70 years old at the time. Was in an encounter with two Indians. He killed one, then in a scuffle with the other, he got the Indian's finger in his mouth. Indian had gotten his knife out and had thought to kill Morgan with it. Morgan at length got it out of the Indian's hand and ran it into him, handle and all. He then flayed the Indian and tanned his hide. Was ever after called savage Morgan. My brother Jno. Crouch saw a razor strap that had been made out of that hide.

Mr. C had a sister that married a Ryan. That sister's son, living in Mercer [Mercer Co. KY], married into a family of Runyons. Runyons lived on this side of the Kentucky river, between there and Lexington. The whole family (of the Runyons) joined the Shakers and younger Ryan's wife thought she must go too. She left twins lying in the cradle and went. This brought Ryan into conflict with one, whom he beat him very severely. Another one, that came to his house, he beat nearly to death. The man thought to go to the law, but the magistrate advised him to keep away and let Ryan alone.

(For the more minute details in this account I am indebted to Mrs. C. Little things are erased from men's minds, while they are retained by women.)

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