Indian Massacre at Draper's Meadow, Augusta County, VA



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Cabin of Mary Draper and William Ingles on the New River outside Radford Virginia.  The Drapers moved here following Mary's return from captivity.
Cabin of Mary Draper and William Ingles on the New River outside Radford Virginia. The Drapers moved here following Mary's return from captivity.


Based on: Wikipedia:Draper's Meadow massacre
Source:Summers, 1903


GenForum for a useful list of related articles.
The Preston Register
Ingles Ferry, Montgomery County, VA
Person:Mary Draper (12)
Person:William English (9)
commonly spelled William Ingles


Drapers Meadow lies within the New River watershed, in Montgomery County, Virginia, and within the modern boundaries of Blacksburg. The first settlers in the area were Adam Harman and his family. This family owned upwards of 15,000 acres of land in the area, and their properties may have included what became the Draper's Meadow Tract. In anyevent, in 1748 much of this area was included in the Woods River Land Grant to James Patton. [1]Shortly thereafter Harmon served as an agent for Patton, selling parcels of land in the area that became known as Drapers Meadow. The first settlers of Drapers Meadow proper were the widow Eleanor Draper, and Thomas Ingles. Eleanor's family included her son John and daughter Mary. Thomas' family include sons William, Mathew, and John. Both families were present in the area by 1748. By 1755 about 20 families were in the area.

Rising tensions between the natives and western settlers were exacerbated by fighting in the French and Indian War and the encroachment on tribal hunting grounds. Recent victories by the French over the British, although north of Virginia, had left much of the frontier unprotected. Unlike the French pioneers who tended to be hunters and trappers, these settlers were establishing an agricultural community with potentially permanent inhabitants. On July 30, 1755 [2]the small community at Drapers Meadow was the target of an Indian Raid.

The Massacre

From Source:Summers, 1903:52

The New river settlers were not permitted to escape the ravages of the Indians and the French, for on the 8th day of July, 1755, the day before Braddock's defeat, a considerable party of Shawnese Indians fell upon this settlement and wiped it out of existence. Colonel James Patton, Casper Barrier, Mrs. George Draper and a child of John Draper were killed. Mrs. William Inglis and her two children, Mrs. John Draper and Henry Leonard were taken prisoners. Mrs. Inglis was taken to Ohio, thence to Bone Lick, Kentucky, whence she and an old Dutch woman made their escape, and, after many days, returned to her home on New river. This invasion occurred on Sunday, the 8th day of July, 1755. Colonel Patton, accompanied by William Preston, was on a visit to the New river settlement, and was detained by sickness at the house of William Inglish. William Preston, William Inglis and John Draper were away from the house at the time. Mrs. John Draper, who first discovered the Indians, ran to the house, secured her infant child, and attempted to make her escape by the opposite side of the house, but she was detected by the Indians, and, having one of her arms broken, the child fell to the ground. She then took the child in the other arm and continued her flight, but was soon overtaken, the child taken from her, and its brains dashed out upon a log by the Indians. Colonel Patton, at the time of the attack, was seated at a table writing, with his broad sword beside him. He immediately arose, and killed two of the Indians before he was shot by others beyond his reach.

The Indians then plundered the premises and began a hasty retreat. On their retreat they passed the house of an old man by the name of Philip Barger, whom they killed by severing his head from his body, and carried it off in a bag. It was several days before efforts were made to overtake the enemy and rescue the prisoners, as Vause's Fort was the nearest point from which help could be obtained.

Mrs. Inglis and the other prisoners were carried by the Indians to Ohio. Mrs. Inglis was absent from her home about five months, when, in the month of December, 1755, she reached the house of Adam Harmon on New river, whence she was taken to a small fort at Dunkards' Bottom, on the west side of New river, where she was found on the next day by her husband and her brother. The other captives, with but few exceptions, were either rescued or redeemed and returned to their homes after many years.


Those killed, wounded, or taken into captivity during the Drapers Meadow Raid is open to question, with different authors identifying different individuals. The following is based on the The Preston Register

1755 30-Jul Col James Patton New River killed
Caspar Barrier killedlater sources identify both "Caspar Barger" and his brother "Phillip Barger" as victims at Draper's Meadow.
Mrs Draper and one child killedEleanor Draper (mother of Mary Draper)
Bettie Draper's baby; Bettie Draper is Elizabeth Robinson, wife of Mary Drapers Brother, John Draper.
James Cull woundedNot identified in most later summaries of this event. 1
Mrs English (Inglis) and her two children sons:
George Ingles
Thomas Ingles
prisoners Mary escaped, sons ultimately ransomed.
Mrs Draper Jr. PrisonerUncertain relationship to the others.
Henry Leonard PrisonerNot listed in Wikipedia Article

Currently Wikipedia:Drapers Meadow Massacre[3] gives the following:

At least five settlers are believed to have been killed

James Patton,
Eleanor Draper (Mary Draper Ingles' mother),
Bettie Draper's baby,
Casper Barger [4]and
Phillip Barger, [5]

Five settlers were taken back to Kentucky as captives to live among the tribe, including:

Mary Draper Ingles, wife of William Ingles. [6]
Thomas Ingles (son of Mary Draper and William Ingles)
George Ingles (son of Mary Draper and William Ingles)

At some point the captives were separated, and Mary Draper Ingles was parted from her children. She was later able to escape the Indians at Big Bone, Kentucky. She returned to Drapers Meadow having journeyed more than eight hundred miles across the Appalachian Mountains. The other captives were eventually ransomed and repatriated. Thomas Ingles is said to have lived among the Indians for many years, adapting to the Shawnee way of life so thoroughly that he never fully gave it up.

Draper's Meadow Massacre Marker, which is located on what is now the Virginia Tech "Duck Pond" at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia
Draper's Meadow Massacre Marker, which is located on what is now the Virginia Tech "Duck Pond" at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia

The Aftermath

In the aftermath, Draper's Meadow was abandoned - as was much of the frontier for the duration of the French and Indian War. William Preston, who had been in Draper's Meadow on the morning of the attack but left on an errand and so was saved, eventually obtained the property, which became Smithfield Plantation. Out of the surviving family members, only the Bargers returned later to re-claim their land and settle.

Further reading

Follow the River, a historical novel by James Alexander Thom, is based on the story of Mary Draper Ingles and has sold over one million copies.
Shawnee Captive, The Story of Mary Draper Ingles by Mary R. Furbee is an excellent reference on the Massacre at Draper's Meadow.
Drapers Meadow: Few traces remain of the site of a bloody 1755 Indian attack, by Kevin Kittredge has some excellent commentary on the attack (

DVD - "The Captives"

Written and produced by Jude Miller was recently released which is based on the Indian Raid at Draper's Meadow and is available at through [1]]


  1. At this time what is now known as the "New River" was called Woods River, after an early explorer in the Valley of Virginia.
  2. A commonly cited "traditional date for this event is "July 8, 1755". The July 30th date is based on the Register of William Preston. Since Preston was in the area on the day of the attack, narrowly missing being killed imself, it seems likely that he would have the correct date. While Indian attacks occurred periodically in the area prior to 30 July (see again, The Preston Register), most of the prior attacks were further to the south. It may be significant that Braddocks Defeat, a major event in the French and Indian War, occurred on July 9 of 1775. Following this event Indians attacks on the Virginia frontier became much more intense. The raid on Drapers Meadow can be seen as just one of those attacks.
  3. Extracted 17 April 2011.
  4. This surname is various given as "Barger", "Barrier" and other variants.
  5. who was described as an old man and was decapitated by the Indians; they delivered his head in a bag to a neighbor, explaining that an acquaintance had arrived to visit.
  6. The name is various transcribed as "Ingles", "Inglis", and "English".