During the Revolutionary War period settlers in Southwest Virginia were in armed conflict with various Native American groups. Much of this conflict took the form of raids by Native Americans on the frontier settlements. Such raids often resulted in the death or capture of settlers, their wives, and family. There are numerous contemporary records documenting some of these events. Other events are known to us only through oral tradition passed down through the immediate family. During the 19th and early 20th century some of this oral family tradition was "captured" in various formal and informal publications. This article collects contemporary documentation and oral family traditions for these events related to the Cowan family of Southwest Virginia, including stories related to members of their extended family such as the Walkers and the Handley's.
*Removal---distance in time between the story-teller and the event.
**Identified indirectly, partially assumed this is the person meant.
There are a surprisingly large number of Indian Captivity Stories associated with the Cowan Family in Southwest Virginia. Some of these stories are based in part on contemporary accounts of certain events, and have considerable credibility: (See Documents:Mrs. Scott's Testimony in Drapers MSC). Other stories are more remote, representing family tails passed on passed on more, or less, completely, though several family generations. Inevitably such stories loss accuracy with retelling, as successive generations loose sight of critical facts, and interpret what remains as best they can. Retellers of these tales often have a particular perspective on the events being related, and sometimes that perspective is skewed by missing information, Often that interpretation includes the addition of elements not in the original events, but "needed" in order to make sense of other elements that they "know to be true".