Wednesday, February 6, 2013

RAID AT CHUNK'S RUN -Straight/Dragoo


In most cases, our family branches reach so far back in time that it is difficult to know where to begin to “tell the story”.  And, often, when I build background for that story …it turns into another story …and another… 
Such is the case with the Glover “French Connections.”  Climbing back up the tree along the GLOVER/SEESE branch, I found myself teetering among the generational offshoots to the MAYFIELD/STRAIGHT line that brings us up to what I thought was my destination:  the marriage of JACOB STRAIGHT and ELIZABETH DRAGOO.  And, instead of following the “French Connection” I was originally researching, I realized that this tale of tragedy ending at Chunks Run, (W)Virginia deserved telling first.
Though this story has been told and retold by a number of people, it was typically recorded in the storyteller’s later years in the form of oral history and, as such, tended to take “creative license” with the details.  The core of the tragic tale is revealed through each retelling, however, and we can at least believe that the basic facts remain true.  Below you will find two renditions of this very sad story that may best represent what ultimately happened to the JACOB STRAIGHT family, forever affecting our lives.
The reality is that this family –as many others in our family- lived and died helping to carve a new nation out of the wilderness.  These were dangerous times and, as we learned with the BATES, HUDSON and COON families, our family line continued despite the tragic effects of encroachment on once-held Indian territory.

  • Background on Jacob Straight:
    • Born 23 Jun 1741 Staten Island, New York
    • Married to Elizabeth Ann Dragoo in Marion, Smyth, Virginia
    • By 1780 Jacob Straight and John Dragoo settled on large adjoining farms on Straight Run, now Barrackville, in Maron County, WV
    • Jacob's sister Elizabeth (Betsy) married John Dragoo; John's sister Elizabeth married Jacob
    • Died 3 Oct 1786, age 45; scalped; Chunk Run, Monongalia, (W)Virginia

This story was told by G.W.T. Anderson (Brother to Elizabeth Anderson Morgan)
Copied by Missouri Morgan Detwyler on November 1, 1928
Copied by Day Bland Detwyler  on November 15, 1951
Copied by Fred Irvin Detwyler III on September 25, 1999
Submitted by Dianne Lowe Lemasters on February 6, 2000

 "As I have passed the seventieth mile stone and am well aware that the sun is getting low in the western horizon; and that the history I know of this section and of the first settler’s, will be lost soon, unless it is preserved in some permanent form by me, I am writing this little sketch.
 Most of this information came direct to me through my mother, Malinda Anderson, formerly Hays, whose father James Hays, was born October 15, 1773 not far from Winchester, VA, and who later came West and settled on Monongahela River not far from Barricksville. This James Hays became acquainted with the Dragoo Family. At this early day the Indians still made raids from the west of the Ohio River to get white scalps and horses from the settlers.
 In 1783, the settlers had not seen any Indians for some time. My mother’s grandmother, Elizabeth Dragoo, and her seven-year-old son ventured out from the fort without guard to their cornfield to pick beans. They remained so long that the people in the fort became alarmed about them and sent out a girl by the name of Straight with my grandmother, also named Elizabeth Dragoo (then 11 years old) to see what was wrong. They went to the field and could see no signs of them. So Grandmother climbed on a stump and hallowed for her mother. Just then the girls became frightened and ran to the fort. At this very moment the Indians had her mother tied to a tree and could hear her child calling her. It is supposed that the reason the Indians did not also take the girls prisoner was that they expected some men to come from the fort and they could get some more scalps. When the alarm was raised at the fort, every man made a dash for the Indians in an attempt to recapture great grandmother and Uncle Billy. On this same night the Indians scalped and tomahawked a man by the name of Jacob Straight and left him for dead. He recovered partially at least and sat on a log and cried. We know this is the truth for he was found dead the next morning by the log and the blood was washed from his face in streaks where the tears run down.
 The Indians made their escape carrying grandmother and her boy. They came up Buffalo Creek and down the North Fork of Fishing Creek to the mouth of what is Betse’s Run. Grandmother was tied on a horse they had stolen. The horse, in jumping over a log, caught and tore the calf of her leg very badly. The Indians stopped and tried to check the flow of blood, but without success. The main band passed on, leaving two Indians with her. Billy understood the purpose was to kill his mother and began crying. One big Indian took the little fellow on his back and told him in English that his mother could not travel or they would not kill her. A few minutes later, the warriors who had remained behind with the woman came running up with her scalp on a tomahawk handle.
 Uncle Billy was taken to the Indian village and remained with them for twenty-three years, marrying a squaw by whom he had four children…two boys and two girls.
 Old Levi Morgan with forty men made a raid on the Indians near the head of the Muskingham River for the purpose of getting Indian prisoners to exchange for the Dragoos. Back home they made canoes near Morgantown to carry all their men. They launched their canoes in the Monongahela River, paddled down past Pittsburgh to the Ohio and on down the river to Marietta and up the Muskingham River as far as their canoes would float. Then they sank them in the bed of the stream and made for the Indian town. When Levi Morgan came to where there were signs of Indians he placed his men behind trees at intervals of fifty yards. Morgan, with my own Grandfather’s brother, Henry Hays, then only 16 years of age, skulked ahead to reconnoiter. Morgan told my Uncle Henry, “Now Henry, when I raise my foot you step right in the track”. Shortly they heard horsed caffing and an Indian speaking to them. They saw the Indian was salting the horses. Morgan whispered to Uncle Henry, “Henry, I will see if I can’t hit him right in the mouth”. He drew his old flintlock and when the gun cracked, the Indian jumped about three feet, gave the warhoop, clapped his hand over his mouth and fell dead. The whole force of Morgan’s men rushed forward to the Indian village capturing some squaws. I do not know how many. They started for their canoes, on their way back to the canoes one of the squaws asked Morgan if they had killed a boy, or seen anything of him. Upon his replying in the negative she advised Morgan to make haste for not over two hours before, fully two hundred warriors had gone out on a hunting expedition.
 They reached their canoes, dumped the water from them, and made their escape without any hindrance, poling and paddling their canoes down the Muskingum and up the Ohio and Monongahela rivers to their homes. Sometime after that a treaty was entered into between the Whites and Indians. The meeting was held near Marietta where prisoners were exchanged. Uncle Billy Dragoo and his two sons were returned to the Whites at this time. They came home and lived with my grandfather, James Hays, who had married Elizabeth Dragoo, the girl who, had gone to hunt for her mother the time the Indians tied her to a tree..."
 STORY #2:
3 Oct 1786 , Straight Run near Barracksville (W) Virginia; In a letter dated 4 Jan 1915 from Adah Marria Eubanks to a Mrs Bredes:
"I can give more in regard to the killing of Jacob Strait by the Indians, which has been given to me by my people.
In the fall of the year, when they were gathering their crops one evening the cattle came running up snorting and bellowing, making a great fuss. Immediately the family became alarmed as they knew from the action of the cattle that the Indians were around. They at once prepared to go to the fort, as that was their only safety. As it began to grow dark and Mrs. Dragoo and her son, who were out in the cornfield gathering beans, did not return to the house, they knew that they had been captured. Jacob Strait and Nicholas Wood went to see if they could get any clue to their whereabouts, till they could get help from the fort. Mrs. Strait and her children had already left the house to go to the fort. It was already dark. Strait and Wood had not gone very far until the Indians had shot Wood from ambush. Strait started to run, but the Indians dodged out in front of him stopping his flight. He held out his hands to them, showing them that he was not armed, and said, 'I mean you no harm, don't kill me and I will go with you.' The Indian gave a grunt - 'Go with me.' and raised the tomahawk and struck him. They then took three scalps from his head. One from the top and one from each side of the back. He had black curley hair. The Indians were selling the scalps to the British. After the Indians left their victim, Mrs. Strait came out of her place of concealment and waded the river to the fort [Pricketts Fort] and gave the alarm.
They returned the next morning and found the Indians had rifled the house of everything in the shape of clothing, even taking the feather beds. Emptying the feathers in the middle of the floor and taking their ticks. They set fire to the feathers, to burn the house no doubt, but they burnt a hole through the floor and the fire went out. They took the body of Mr. Strait and buried it close to where it lay, on the old Strait Homestead, and marked the place, but when the family returned in the spring they could not fnd the place. The winter rains had washed away all the markings.
Mrs. Dragoo could not travel as fast as they wanted to go, so one morning the boy was taken on ahead and told that his mother was ill and not able to travel. Later they told him that his mother had died. The Indians were kind to him. He married a squaw and they had four children, two boys and two girls. When the boys were grown he took them to the woods hunting one day and went on back to Virginia, leaving the two girls with the mother. He afterward married a white woman in Virginia, and lived very happy.
My grandfather, (Jesse B. Straight) was born and raised on the old Strait Homestead, also was my mother (Alcinda M. Straight). My mother, when a child, played hide and seek under the same rock where her great grandmother (Elizabeth) hid when the Indians killed her great grandfather (Jacob Strait), and that rock is still there on the Strait Homestead. Hoping that this will straighten out the mistakes, I will close."

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