Documents:Thomas Carter Testimony in Drapers MSC

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Source

Original Source: Draper Papers, MS 4C26, Thomas W. Carter, Estillville, VA, April 9, 1883, courtesy Dan Welch.
Intermediate Source: Originally placed on FamilyPedia by Q 14:49, 2 August 2010 (EDT)

Related

Indian Captivity Stories of the Cowan Family
Analysis:Captivity Stories for Ann Walker Cowan, and Mary Walker Cowan

Text

...The little settlement at Snoddy's fort were not disturbed for two years and the Cowans had begun to erect another fort at a short distance and while the men were at work on it one day John Cowan and his wife Ann started to carry some rations from Snoddy's fort to the men at work on Cowan's fort. They left their___little children, boys, one about two years of age___other eight months. They had proceeded but a short distance and were passing through a rye field __ the indians fired on them. John was killed and his wife taken prisoner. The Indians were about fift___ in number and were led by the notorious Simon Girty.[1] At the same time they made a break for the fort in which but one man had been left. His name was John Arter. He heard the Indians fire on Cowan and boldly rushed out and fired and killed the foremost Inidian making toward the fort. The Indians supposing there must be others, fell back. This enabled the whites to collect up and enter Snoddy's fort which they lost not a moment in doing. About midnight the Indians made an attack on the fort which was repulsed. Ann Cowan who was a prisoner, says they lost four killed in their night attack. The Indians then left and carried Ann Cowan away with them. They held her as a prisoner for seven years and six months, until General Wayne Campaign when she was released and coveyed to Philadelphia. Patrick Porter went there for her and brought back to her home.

Commentary

This is essentially the same story as was told by Mrs. Scott, but there is additional information here, as well as some obvious differences with Mrs. Scotts testimony, as well as with historical records. Snoddy's Fort, also known as Moore's Fort, was located in Castle's Woods Virginia, a few miles from the modern town of Castlewood. Ann Cowan's maiden name was Walker. According to Mrs. Scott Ann was with her brother Samuel Walker. At the time she was a widow, her husband Samuel Cowan having been killed the previous year at Houston's Fort, some miles to the south. It was her brother Samuel Walker who was killed here, though Mrs. Scott has his name as "Mathew".

Additional information provided by Carter includes the identification of John Arter. Mrs. Scott indicates that there was a third member of the party who got away. This could be John Arter, but from Carter's story it sounds like Arter was in Snoddy's Fort. However, Carter also states that Arter's actions "enabled the whites to collect up and enter Snoddy's fort". This indicates that there were more than three people in the party, as both John/Samuel Cowan/Walker and Ann Walker Cowan were either killed outright, or captured. Or Carter's addition to the story may simply be "gallant embellishment".

Carter also indicates that Ann had two children, one an infant, and the other a boy of two. The boy of two is probably John Cowan, son of Samuel and Ann Walker Cowan. This John Cowan is later mentioned in court records dealing with his father's estate, though this narration would seem to make him younger than is usually thought.

The fact that Carter tells us that "Ann Cowan who was a prisoner, says they lost four killed in the night attack" would seem to indicate that Ann returned to the Clinch after her release from captivity. His statement that Patrick Porter went to Philadelphia to help her return is not likely to be true, as we have eyewitness accounts stating that she was seen in Crab Orchard, KY on her return. A return from Philadelphia via Crab Orchard in 1780 would only make sense if her ultimate destination was Kentucky, where at least one of her sisters, Margaret, had moved with her husband John Snoddy. Since her children, particular son John, remained in Castle's Woods until well after the date of her return in 1780, it seems unlikely that she would have traveled from Philadelphia via Crab Orchard. There seems to be no plausible basis for believing that on her release Ann went from the Great Lakes area east to Philadelphia, and then returned to the Clinch. It is, however, entirely plausible that she might have returned to the Clinch via Crab Orchard, as described by Mrs. Scott. It is also plausible that Patrick Porter (Thomas Carter's great grandfather) went to Crab Orchard to pick up his sister-in-law, though there's no independent data to suggest that happened. The addition of Patrick Porter into the story may simply be another example of "gallant embellishment".

Carter also tells us Ann was 'Said to have been released at time of "General Waynes Campagn". That is presumably the effort by Gen. Anthony Wayne to put down British backed resistance by Native Americans in the Great Lakes area, ending c. 1794. If Carter's statement were correct, this would make her captivity almost 20 years in length. Mrs. Scott's observation that she saw Ann on her return when her family was going to Kentucky (c. 1780) seems to make the captivity about 3-4 years in length.

Footnotes

  1. (1) Draper inserts the the note: Simon Girty was well known as a renegade and Tory. Draper probably considered Carter's idea that Girty participated in Logan's raids as unreasonable, and perhaps the product of romantic exaggeration. The area in which Girty operated was much further north, and in truth it seems unlikely that he would have come this far south.

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