m. 29 JUN 1785
m. JUN 1795
Facts and Events
Robert McMahon was one of the Early Settlers of Augusta County, Virginia
Records of Robert McMahon in Augusta County, VA
From Chalkley’s Augusta County Records:
Revolutionary War Pension Information
Information from “Virginia/West Virginia Genealogical Data from Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Records”, Vol. 3, compiled by Patrick G. Wardell, Lt. Col. U.S. Army Ret. :
Information on Robert McMahon
From "The story of the Robert McMahan Family Indian Massacre", as read to the Troy, Illinois Lyceum in 1855, by the Hon. George Churchill, Published by James T. Hair, 1866:
The settlers being apprehensive of attacks from straggling parties of Indians, Mr. McMahan, in 1794, resided in a house of mr. James Lemen's, Sen., near the Station. In the same vicinity resided Mr. Peter Carterline and Mr. Benjamin Ogle.
But, desiring to improve the land which he had selected for his farm, and hoping to escape an attack, or to repel it if made, he afterwards removed to his improvement in the prairie, about three miles from the station, and out of sight of any other house.
He made preparations to defend himself and family against an attack. He had a rifle; and only a week before the tragedy, he run two hundred rifle balls. he also had a blunderbuss charged with six charges of powder and nine balls. "When you hear the report of my blunderbuss," said he to his friends at the station, "you may be certain that I am attacked." The door of his house was so constructed that it might be strongly barred, and port holes were made in the walls through which he might shoot any who should attempt to ascend to the roof. On the fatal 26th of Jan. 1795, Mr. McMahan went out to hunt for his oxen; when he perceived that his horse, which was confined in a pen, appeared to be frightened. He case his eye over the prairie in every direction, but saw no enemy.
A lone hickory tree, one hundred and fifty yards from his house, had been blown down the year before while in full leaf, thus furnishing a convenient hiding place for an attacking party; but, unfortunately, Mr. McMahan did not think of there being a deadly enemy ensconced within that convenient covert.
He entered his house, but had not been there more than two or three minutes when four Indians, frightfully painted black and red, entered the house, two by two, saying "Bon jour! bon jour!" (Good day, good day). They stood motionless a few seconds, when one of them attempted to take down mr. McMahan's rifle from the hook, and Mr. McMahan took down his blunderbuss; but his wife took hold of it, and begged her husband not to resist, as she hoped their lives might be spared if they submitted peaceably, but otherwise they would be killed. The Indians then seized the blunderbuss, and wrenched it from his hands. Every one then made for the door. Mrs. McMahan ran half way around the house, when she was shot in the left breast, and scalped. Mr. McMahan was then pulled back into the house, thrown on the floor, and his hands pinioned close behind him, with deer sinews. Sally McMahan, his eldest daughter, then less than nine years old, remained in the house, and saw one of the Indians knock her brother and two of her sisters on the head with the poll of his tomahawk. It was a light blow, only sufficient to stun them. This Indian was proceeding to open the cradle where lay a female infant, only one month old, when Sally ran out of the house, and once around it, when she was also seized by him.
The Indian who committed the murders was supposed to be of the Miami tribe. The other three were Pu-tw-wahs, as they call themselves, or as they are commonly called by the whites. Pottowatomies.
Three of the children were scalped. It was said that the infant was not scalped, but my informant stated that the Indians displayed five scalps when they camped at night, and she supposed they took two scalps from the head of one of the murdered children, and left the infant unscalped. It has also been stated that the infant was unhurt, and died of starvation: but my informant learned from a woman who was present at the burial, that there was a gash in its cheek.
The Indians took from the house such articles as they wanted, packed a part of them upon Mr. McMahan, on of whose hands was untied, so that he might carry his load; and with their captives, left in haste for their home in the north-east part of Illinois. Mr. McMahan meditated an escape, but did not make known his intention to his daughter. The first night of the journey he saw no chance of escape, as the Indians had tied him very securely, and had taken away his shoes and hat, and part of his clothes. But during the second night, he quietly slipped off the cords from his limbs and body, and was about to rise, when he perceived that one of the Indians was awake. Waiting till the Indian was again asleep, he made his escape, after trying in vain to get possession of his shoes. In the dead of the winter, without shoes, without food, and with scanty clothing, he left his daughter with her captors, and endeavored to make his way to the new Design. He lay out one cold night, making his bed of leaves under a large fallen tree, which was held up from the ground by its branches. Here he was partially frozen, but the next morning resumed his journey. He now had the pleasure of meeting a friend in the person of Col. Samuel Judy, who gave him the necessary directions, which he pursued, and reached his home just after his wife and four children had been committed by their sympathizing neighbors, to one common grave. He prostrated himself upon the grave, exclaiming, "They were lovely in their lives, and in their deaths they were not divided."
The massacre took place on Monday, and the burial on the succeeding Friday. A small dog belonging to Mr. McMahan, daily visited the residence of Mr. James Lemen, Sen., and endeavored, by whining, to inform the people of what had happened to his master's family. But for several days they did not comprehend the dog's message; one authority says not until old Mr. Judy had discovered the dead bodies and reported the fact at the Station.
In 1795, General Anthony Wayne, sometimes called "Mad Anthony," obtained a great victory over the Indians in Ohio. This was followed by the Treaty of Greeneville, by which the Indians engaged to bring into the white settlements all the captives in their possession. In accordance with the stipulation, in April, 1796, Suk-ko-nok took Sally McMahan down the Illinois and Mississippi, in a canoe, and landed at Cahokia, and delivered her to the white people. It being court time, a great many people were present. Suk-ko-nok made a speech to them in which he said that he had no hand in the massacre; had paid a considerable sum for the captive, and had brought her a great distance into the white settlements. He therefore appealed to the liberality and sense of justice of the white people to make him just compensation. A subscription paper was drawn up, and circulated, and one hundred and sixty-four dollars subscribed, and that amount, in goods was advanced to Suk-ko-nok by Mr. Ar-un-del, a merchant of Cahokia. "Bill," a slave of Mr. Marney, of the American Bottom, was a few weeks after the massacre of Mr. McMahan's family, carried away captive by two of the Indians engaged in that transaction together with two other Indians. Bill was never restored to his friends; but it was reported that he was poisoned by his misstress, to prevent his restoration according to the Treaty of Greeneville.
Robert McMahan married a second wife, and raised a large family. He resided many years in Ridge Prairie, south-west of Troy, and died in the year 1822, aged sixty-three years.