Monday, December 31, 2007

The Backcountry & the Scots-Irish

From The 1780 Presbyterian Rebellion and the Battle of Huck's Defeat, by Sam Thomas, Curator of History, Culture & Heritage Commission of York County:

    In the Backcountry, due to their isolation from the coast, past resentments could be put aside—at least temporarily. When war arrived after 1776, at first the Scotch-Irish were rather lukewarm toward the idea of independence from Great Britain. Here they were content to remain neutral so long as they were left alone. The conflict as most of the Scotch-Irish saw it was between the British Crown and the Charleston aristocrats, whom they resented as much as the British officials and so it did not involve them. But the problems between the Backcountry and the Crown finally boiled to the surface in 1780 as "The Presbyterian Rebellion." In 1778 an unknown Hessian officer recorded his observations on the war. "Call this war by whatever name you may, only call it not an American Rebellion: it is nothing more or less than a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian Rebellion." George Washington also remarked on the contribution to the war effort with a tribute to the Scotch-Irish from his headquarters at Valley Forge when he declared, "If defeated everywhere else, I will make my last stand for liberty among the Scotch-Irish . . ." It is this Backcountry Rebellion which is so closely identified with the battles of Kings Mountain, Cowpens, Hanging Rock, and Huck's Defeat.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Scotland to Ireland, the First Migrations

The migration of Protestant Scots to Ulster, Dublin, and other parts of Ireland, occurred mainly during the 17th and 18th centuries. The first major influx of Scots into Ulster came during the settlement of east Down. This started in May 1606 and was followed in 1610 by the arrival of many more Scots as part of the Plantation of Ulster. During the Irish Rebellion of 1641, Irish Catholics attempted to expel the settlers, resulting in inter-communal violence and, ultimately, leading to the death of between 10,000 and 20,000 settlers and an undetermined number of Irish people, over 10 years of war. The memory of this traumatic episode, and the savage repression which followed, poisoned the relationship between the Scottish and English settlers and Irish Roman Catholics, almost irreparably.
The Scots-Irish population in Ulster was further augmented during the subsequent Irish Confederate Wars, when a Scottish Covenanter army was landed in the province to protect the settlers from Irish Catholic forces. After the Wars were over, many of the soldiers settled permanently in Ulster.
Finally, another major influx of Scots into northern Ireland occurred in the 1690s, when tens of thousands of people fled a famine in Scotland to come to Ulster.
The settlers and their descendants, the majority of whom were Presbyterian or Anglican, became the majority in the province of Ulster. However, along with Roman Catholics, Presbyterians and other non-Anglican Protestants were legally disenfranchised by the Penal Laws, which gave full rights only to Anglicans, who were mainly the descendants of English settlers belonging to the Church of Ireland. For this reason, up until the 19th century, and despite their common fear of the dispossessed Catholics, there was considerable disharmony between the Presbyterian and Anglican populations of Ulster. Subsequently, in 1798, many Ulster-Scots joined the United Irishmen and participated in the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

(Source: Wikipedia,

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

More re: Ephraim McDowell

From Historic Families of Kentucky, by Thomas Marshall Green, pub. 1889, R. Clarke:

    Ephraim McDowell, who fought at Boyne river, as well as at Londonderry, was already an elderly man, when, with his two sons, John and James, his daughters, Mary and Margaret, and numerous kinsmen and co-religionists, he emigrated to America to build for himself and his a new home. In his interesting "Sketches of Virginia," [William] Foote states that he was accompanied to Virginia by his wife, and that his son John was a widower when he left Ireland; but, as in the deposition of Mrs. Mary E. Greenlee, the daughter of Ephraim, her father, her brother John, her husband, and herself, are designated as composing the party emigrating to Virginia from Pennsylvania, and no mention is anywhere made of her mother, Mr. Foote is probably in error; and the uniform tradition of the family is more likely to be correct—that the wife of Ephraim McDowell died in Ireland, and that John McDowell had never been married until he came to America. The exact date of his arrival in Pennsylvania is not known. The journal of Charles Clinton—the founder of the historic family of that name in New York—gives an account of his voyage from the county of Longford, in the good ship "George and Ann," in company with the "John of Dublin," having many McDowells aboard as his fellow passengers. The "George and Ann" set sail on the 9th of May, 1729. On the 8th of June, a child of James McDowell died, and was thrown overboard; several other children of the same afterward died; also a John McDowell, and the sister, brother and wife of Andrew McDowell. The ship reached land, on the coast of Pennsylvania, on the 4th day of September, 1729. Whether or not the conjecture that Ephraim McDowell was a passenger with his kindred on board this ship at that time is correct, it is certain that about the same time he and his family, and numerous other McDowells, Irvines, Campbells, McElroys, and Mitchells, came over together, and settled in the same Pennsylvania county.
    In Pennsylvania, Ephraim McDowell remained several years. There his son, John, was married to Magdalena Wood, whose mother was a Campbell, and, as tradition has it, of the noble family of Argyle. There Samuel, the eldest son of John and Magdalena McDowell, was born, in 1735. There, too, probably, Mary, the daughter of Ephraim, met, was beloved by, and married James Greenlee, a Presbyterian Irishman, of English descent, and said to have been remotely descended from the Argyle Campbells.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Moores & the Shawnee (Part 2)

From History of the Settlement and Indian Wars of Tazewell County, Virginia, by George W. L. Bickley, M.D., pub. 1852, Morgan & Co., Cincinnati, Ohio:

    In July, 1786, a party of forty-seven Indians, of the Shawanoes tribe, again entered Abb's Valley, Capt. James Moore usually kept five or six loaded guns in his house, which was a strong log building, and hoped, by the assistance of his wife, who was very active in loading a gun, together with Simpson, a man who lived with him, to be able to repel the attack of any small party of Indians. Relying on his prowess, he had not sought refuge in a fort, as many of the settlers had; a fact of which the Indians seem to have been aware, from their cutting out the tongues of his horses and cattle, and partially skinning them. It seems they were afraid to attack him openly, and sought rather to drive him to the fort, that they might sack his house.On the morning of the attack, Capt. Moore, who had previously distinguished himself at Alamance, was at a lick bog, a short distance from his house, salting his horses, of which he had many. William Clark and an Irishman were reaping wheat in front of the house. Mrs. Moore and the family were engaged in the ordinary business of housework. A man, named Simpson, was sick up-stairs.
    The two men, who were in the field, at work, saw the Indians coming, in full speed, down the hill, toward Captain Moore's, who had ere this discovered them, and started in a run for the house. He was, however, shot through the body, and died immediately. Two of his children, William and Rebecca, who were returning from the spring, were killed about the same time. The Indians had now approached near the house, and were met by two fierce dogs, which fought manfully to protect the family of their master. After a severe contest, the fiercest one was killed, and the other subdued. I shall again use Mr. Brown's narrative, it being quite authentic.
    "The two men who were reaping, hearing the alarm, and seeing the house surrounded, fled, and alarmed the settlement. At that time, the nearest family was distant six miles. As soon as the alarm was given, Mrs. Moore and Martha Ivins (who was living in the family) barred the door, but this was of no avail. There was no man in the house, at this time, except John Simpson, the old Englishman, already alluded to, and he was in the loft, sick and in bed. There were five or six guns in the house, but having been shot off the evening before, they were then empty. It was intended to have loaded them after breakfast. Martha Ivins took two of them and went upstairs where Simpson was, and handing them to him, told him to shoot. He looked up, but had been shot in the head through a crack, and was then near his end. The Indians then proceeded to cut down the door, which they soon effected. During this time, Martha Ivins went to the far end of the house, lifted up a loose plank, and went under the floor, and requested Polly Moore (then eight years of age) who had the youngest child, called Margaret, in her arms (which was crying), to set the child down, and come under. Polly looked at the child, clasped it to her breast, and determined to share its fate. The Indians, having broken into the house, took Mrs. Moore and her children, viz: John, Jane, Polly, and Peggy prisoners, and having taken everything that suited them, they set it and the other buildings on fire, and went away. Martha Evans remained under the floor a short time, and then came out and hid herself under a log that lay across a branch, not far from the house. The Indians, having tarried a short time, with a view of catching horses, one of them walked across this log, sat down on the end of it, and began to fix his gunlock. Miss Ivins, supposing that she was discovered, and that he was preparing to shoot her, came out and gave herself up. At this he seemed much pleased. They then set out for their towns. Perceiving that John Moore was a boy, weak in body and mind, and unable to travel, they killed him the first day. The babe they took two or three days, but it being fretful, on account of a wound it had received, they dashed its brains out against a tree. They then moved on with haste to their towns. For some time, it was usual to tie, very securely, each of the prisoners at night, and for a warrior to lie beside each of them, with tomahawk in hand, so that in case of pursuit, the prisoners might be speedily dispatched.
    "Shortly after they reached the towns, Mrs. Moore and her daughter Jane were put to death, being burned and tortured at the stake. This lasted some time, during which she manifested the utmost Christian fortitude, and bore it without a murmur, at intervals conversing with her daughter Polly, and Martha Ivins, and expressing great anxiety for the moment to arrive, when her soul should wing its way to the bosom of its Savior. At length an old squaw, more humane than the rest, dispatched her with a tomahawk."
    Polly Moore and Martha Evans eventually reached home, as described in the narrative of James Moore. ...
    It is said that Mrs. Moore had her body stuck full of lightwood splinters which were fired, and she was thus tortured three days, before she died.

The Moores & the Shawnee (Part 1)

From "Indian Tragedies of the Walker Family," by Emory L. Hamilton, Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia, 1974:

    In July 1784 the depredations by Indians began on the family of Captain James Moore when his fourteen year old son James Moore was captured by the Shawnee Black Wolf, his son, and another Indian, when he went to a field to get a horse to ride to the mill. He was carried to the Shawnee towns in Ohio and did not return until September, 1789. The only source I know for details of this capture is Pendleton's History of Tazewell County, and Pendleton lifted much of his material from Bickley's History of Tazewell, published about 1853. Pendleton states:
         "In 1785 he was so fortunate as to get away from the Indians, and several years after his return related the following incidents in connection with his captivity:
    'When we returned from hunting in the spring, the old man (Indian) gave me up to Captain Elliott, a trader from Detroit. But my mistress, Black Wolf's sister, on hearing this became very angry, threatened Elliott, and got me back. Sometime in April (1785) there was a dance at a town about two miles from where I resided. This I attended in company with the Indian to whom I belonged. Meeting with a French Trader from Detroit, by the name of Batest (Baptiste?) Ariome, who took a fancy to me on account of my resemblance to one of his sons, he bought me for fifty dollars in Indian money. Before leaving the dance, I met a Mr. Sherlock, a trader from Kentucky, who had formerly been a prisoner with the same tribe of Indians, who had rescued a lad by the name of Moffett (Captain Robert Moffett had two sons taken by the Indians from a Sugar Camp on the Clinch in 1782, and at the time James Moore refers to him, he was living in Jessamine County, Kentucky, having moved from the Clinch about 1783 or 84 in the same caravan that Mrs. Samuel Scott traveled with.) who had been captured at the head of Clinch, and whose father was a particular and intimate friend of my father. I requested Mr. Sherlock to write my father, through Mr. Moffett, informing him of my captivity, and that I had been purchased by a French Trader and was gone to Detroit. This letter, I have reason to believe, father received, and that it gave him the first information of what had become of me....'It was on one of these trading expeditions (with Mr. Ariome) that I first heard of the destruction of my family. This I learned from a Shawnee Indian with whom I became acquainted when I lived with them, and who was of that party on that occasion. I received the information sometime in the summer after it occurred.
    'In the following winter (1786-87) I learned that my sister, Polly, had been purchased by a Mr. Stagwell, an American by birth, but unfriendly to the American cause. He was a man of bad character - an unfeeling wretch and treated my sister with great unkindness. At the time he resided a great distance from me. When I heard of my sister, I immediately prepared to go and see her; but it was then in the dead of Winter, and the journey would have been attended with great difficulties. On being told by Mr. Stagwell that he intended to move to the neighborhood where I resided in the following spring, I declined it. When I heard that Mr. Stagwell had moved, as was contemplated, I immediately went to see her. I found her in the most abject condition, almost naked, being clothed only by a few dirty and tattered rags, exhibiting to my mind, an object of pity indeed. It is impossible to describe my feeling on the occasion; sorrow and joy were both combined; and I have no doubt the feelings of my sister were similar to my own. On being advised, I applied to the Commanding Officer at Detroit, informing him of her treatment, with the hope of effecting her release. I went to Mr. Simon Girty and to Colonel McKee, the Superintendent of the Indians, who had Mr. Stagwell brought to trial to answer the complaint against him. But I failed to procure her release. It was decided, however when an opportunity should occur for our returning to our friends, she should be released without renumeration. This was punctually performed on application of Mr. Thomas Evans, who had come in search of his sister, Martha, who had been purchased from the Indians by a family in the neighborhood, and was, at the time, with a Mr. Donaldson, a worthy and wealthy English farmer, and working for herself. ...'"
    On July 21, 1786, Walter Crockett, County Lieutenant of Montgomery County, Virginia, wrote to Governor Patrick Henry, stating:
         "I am sorry to inform your Excellency that on the 14th instant, a party of Indians supposed to be about 40 or 50 in number, came to the house of Captain James Moore on Bluestone, in this county, and killed himself, and his whole family, eleven in number, and carried off his whole stock, which was very valuable. They likewise burned the house and fencing, and left several war clubs and arrows and to all appearances are for continuing hostilities."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"Gone to Carolina"

It is probable that some families left Virginia due to increasing conflict between settlers and Indians. In 1755 attacks by the Shawnee along the frontier increased significantly. In October 1755 Colonel Adam Stephen, one of George Washington's officers, wrote from Winchester, Virginia that the Indians "... go about and Commit their Outrages at all hours of the Day and nothing is to be seen or heard of, but Desolation and murder heightened with all Barbarous Circumstances and unheard of Instances of Cruelty.... The Smoke of the Burning Plantations darken the day, and hide the neighboring mountains from our sight...".
These events were part of the struggle now known as the French and Indian War. During this struggle England and France strove for control of the lands west of the Alleghenies between New Orleans and Quebec. In order to forestall French intent, Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia sent a military expedition under General Edward Braddock to the Valley of the Ohio. Braddock and his men, however, were ambushed as they moved into the Ohio Valley; Braddock was killed, and only a few of his men (including George Washington) survived to make their way back to Virginia. This defeat left frontier settlements in the Shenandoah Valley virtually defenseless, and set off a panic among settlers. Many of the settlers fled to North Carolina at this time. County records of this period frequently identify settlers with the phrase "gone to Carolina."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Road to the Catawba River Valley

From Partisans and Redcoats, by Walter Edgar, © 2001, HarperCollins Publishers:

    In 1740 there were very few Europeans in the South Carolina backcountry. By the American Revolution, nearly one-half of the colony's total population, and 80 percent of its white population, lived there.
    The migration of predominantly Scots-Irish settlers transformed the lower South and, in the final analysis, was key to America's triumph over Great Britain in the Revolution. The Great Wagon Road that served as the settlers' highway began across the Schuylkill River from Philadelphia. From the Pennsylvania capital it went west to Harrisburg and then turned south, following the great Shenandoah Valley through Maryland and Virginia into the piedmont of North Carolina. The road veered slightly southeastward to the Moravian settlements at Wachovia, and then almost due south to the South Carolina town of Pine Tree Hill (Camden).
    The Great Wagon Road traversed the Catawba River Valley from north to south en route from Wachovia to Pine Tree Hill. The Catawba River, arising in North Carolina and continuing into South Carolina, was a slow moving, muddy river. Its valley was broad and fertile. Because of its lushness and accessibility, it was the site of some of the first backcountry settlements in South Carolina. The Waxhaws, one of the largest backcountry settlements, was situated in the Catawba River Valley. In 1769 John Stuart, who was royal superintendent of Indian affairs for the Southern District, wrote that "near the Boundary, that Country is full of inhabitants, which in my memory was considered by the Indians as their hunting Ground, such is their rage for settling far back."

Monday, December 3, 2007

Lowlanders, Celts & Beginnings of the Troubles

From The Road to Guilford Courthouse, by John Buchanan, ©1997, John Wiley & Sons, pp. 120-121:

    There are Celtic myth enthusiasts who believe the Scotch Irish were Celts, have peopled with Highlanders whole American landscapes where there were none, imagined bagpipes on American battlefields that never echoed their wails, conjured a Celtic culture for an entire American region where it never existed. But the Scotch Irish were not Celts by either blood or culture. Their ancestors were Lowland Scots, inhabitants of a poor, backward, violent land. The difference between the Lowland Scots and the more famous Highland Scots should be established immediately. All that Lowlanders and Highlanders had in common, besides wretched poverty, was a political line on the map separating Scotland and England, and their incompatibility survived the Act of Union (1707) of the two kingdoms well into the nineteenth century. They might have lived in very different countries, for they were very dissimilar people and they hated each other.
    The hardening split between Highlanders and Lowlanders had developed at least by the late fourteenth century and was rendered more intransigent by deep ethnic and cultural differences. ... To these differences was added after the Protestant Reformation the profound distinction between Protestant Lowlanders and largely Catholic Highlanders in an age of fierce religious conflicts.
    In the early seventeenth century, in a continuation of an effort England had begun five centuries before to subdue Ireland, James I of England, who was also James VI of Scotland, confiscated the Ulster lands of the Irish aristocracy and created the Plantation of Ulster. On it were settled Scottish Lowlanders and English farmers and Londoners, Protestants all. Earlier settlements under private initiative were also composed of Scottish and English Protestants. James also hoped that flooding the land with Lowland Scots and English would prevent joint actions by Irish Celts and Scottish Highland Celts. Thus were the seeds planted for the terrible "troubles" we have witnessed on our television sets for the past decades.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Mary McDowell Greenlee, re: "Borden's tract"

From Annals of Augusta County by Joseph Addison Waddell, pub. 1902,
C.R. Caldwell, page 31:

    Borden's tract was South of Beverley's Manor, and in the present county of Rockbridge. The first settlers on the tract were Ephraim McDowell and his family. His daughter, Mary Greenlee, related in a deposition taken in 1806 [at age 94], and still extant, the circumstances under which her father went there. Her brother, James McDowell, had come into Beverley's Manor during the spring of 1737, and planted a crop of corn, near Woods' Gap; and in the fall her father, her brother John, and her husband [James Greenlee] and herself came to occupy the settlement. Before they reached their destination, and after they had arranged their camp on a certain evening at Linnville Creek, (now Rockingham,) [Benjamin] Borden arrived and asked permission to spend the night with them, being doubtless on his way to his tract from his home in the lower Valley. He informed them of his grant, and offered them inducements to go there. The next day they came on to the house of John Lewis, and there it was finally arranged that the party should settle in Borden's tract. Ephraim McDowell was then a very aged man, and lived to be over one hundred years old. When a youth of 16 he was one of the defenders of Londonderry. He and his family located on Timber Ridge, originally called "Timber Grove," being attracted by the forest trees on the ridge, which were scarce elsewhere in the region. Borden offered a tract of one hundred acres to any one who should build a cabin on it, with the privilege of purchasing more at fifty shillings per hundred acres. Each cabin secured to him one thousand acres. Mrs. Mary Greenlee related in her deposition, referred to, that an Irish girl, named Peggy Millhollan, a servant of James Bell, dressed herself in men's clothes and secured five or six cabin rights. John Patterson, who was employed to count the cabins, was surprised to find so many people named Millhollan, but the trick was not discovered till after the return was made. Among the settlers in "Borden's grant" were William McCausland, William Sawyers, Robert Campbell, Samuel Woods, John Mathews (father of Sampson and George), Richard Woods, John Hays and his son, Charles and Samuel Walker. Borden obtained his patent November 8, 1739.*
    *[Benjamin Borden, Sr] died in the latter part of 1743, in Frederick, leaving three sons, Benjamin, John and Joseph, and several daughters. The next spring his son Benjamin appeared in Rockbridge (as it is now) with authority under his father's will to adjust all matters with the settlers on the grant. He had, however, been in the settlement before his father's death.
    Mrs. Greenlee says Benjamin Borden, Jr., was "altogether illiterate," and did not make a good impression on his first arrival, but he proved to be an upright man, and won the confidence of the people. The saying: "As good as Ben. Burden's bill," passed into a proverb. He married Mrs. Magdalene McDowell, (originally a Miss Woods, of Rock fish), widow of John McDowell, who was killed by Indians in December, 1742, and by her had two daughters, Martha and Hannah. The former became the wife of Robert Harvey, the latter never married. Benjamin Borden, Jr., died of small-pox in 1753. His will was admitted to record by the County Court of Augusta, November 21, 1758. The executors appointed were John Lyle, Archibald Alexander and testator's wife, but the first named declined to serve. His personal estate was large for the time. During her second widowhood Mrs. Magdalene Borden contracted a third marriage with Colonel John Bowyer.