Massacre at Hawksbill Settlement, Augusta County VA

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Augusta, Virginia, United States
Dunmore, Virginia, United States
Shenandoah, Virginia, United States
Rockingham, Virginia, United States
Page, Virginia, United States
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About Hawksbill Settlement

The Hawksbill Settlement was established as early as 1730 and was part of the "Massanutten Patent", one of the early land patents granted to Jacob Stover one of the early settlers and land speculators in Colonial Virginia. The "Massanutten Patent was Stover's lower 5,000 acre patent which reached from Alma to the the mouth of the Hawksbill on both sides of the river, a distance of ten miles or more. The Massanutten field and Fort Valley were [then] held by the Indians as common hunting grounds. "Massanutten" is an Indian word, but there is some doubt as to its meaning. Some say it means "Indian basket" and was first applied to Fort Valley because the valley is basket shaped, but a better opinion is that it means "old field," or "potato ground," and referred to the field between the mountain and river. George Washington surveyed much of this area, including Fort Valley for Lord Fairfax in 1748. This area was also known as "Brocks Gap" for several years, which later fell into the area that became Rockingham County in 1778 and Page County in 1831, near the current city of Luray.

The early settlers lived at peace with the Indians until 1754, but from that time until 1765 Indian incursions and raids were frequent. As the Massanutten settlement was unprotected, many inhabitants built stone houses with fort cellars, the only known cases of this type of architecture in Virginia. Many of the Indian incursions are detailed in the following article: Indian Attacks of 1755-1758 in Augusta County, Virginia/

Overview of Massacre at Hawksbill Settlement, Augusta County, VA

There are several conflicting versions of the Indian Massacre at Hawksbill Settlement in [then] Augusta County, Virginia in 1758. In late June [some say early August], several settlers were attacked by Indians at the Hawksbill Settlement near [currently] Luray, Page County, Virginia.

One version of the attack is as follows:

In 1758 John Stone of White House in the Hawksbill settlement, was killed by the Indians and his wife, son, aged seven, and George Grandstaff, were taken prisoner. Mrs. Stone could not keep up with the party, so was killed further up the mountain. Grandstaff came home after three years' captivity, but the boy remained with the Indians until grown, came home, and sold his father's property and returned to the Indians.

Another version is as follows:

Before 1758 Jacob Halterman with his family together with his father's family migrated with a colony of Mennonites to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to a place called Hawksbill Settlement (Brock's Gap) in Rockingham Co., Va. The Indians killed Jacob Holtiman's (Halterman) wife and her children, Holtiman (Halterman) escaping. One account tells us that the family while at breakfast was attacked by the Indians, the wife Maria and the two daughters were tomahawked, the baby girl was picked up by the heels and its head dashed against the log wall. The Indians were amused at the futile defense put up by the three small boys so they were carried off into captivity.

And yet another account, as follows:

A letter, dated 7 September 1758, and signed by Michael Kauffman, Jacob Boner, Samuel Bohm, and Daniel Stauffer, says, "We were thirty-nine Mennonite families living together in Virginia. One family was murdered and the rest of us and many other families were obliged to flee for our lives, leaving all and going empty-handed." The letter goes on to say that in addition to "our brother and companion in the faith Johannes Schneyder, who is contemplating a journey to the friends and brethren in Holland, . . . our minister and elder, Martin Funck," would go along to Holland to assist in presenting the request for help. Funck was "still a single man, and by occupation a miller. He, too, was compelled to flee and leave all behind." Apparently Martin Funck was the bishop of the Page County congregation, which numbered 39 families or about 100 members in 1758.

From "Shenandoah Valley Pioneers and Their Descendants", by T,K. Cartmell:

In 1758, the Indians killed a number of people in the Hawksbill settlement: John Stone, Jacob Holtzman's wife, and her children. The house of John Brewbaker was burned; Stone's wife and child about eight years old, and George Grindstaff, about sixteen, were carried away. The Indians murdered Mrs. Stone and her infant on the South Branch Mountain. Grandstaff returned in about three years. It was about that date that word came from the Justice's Court, that the Indians were at the old Zane Iron Works, and had entered the house of a man named Young, killed several of his family, and carried away his two daughters. [Note: on the 10th day of April, 1908, Mr. Aiken Robinson found five skeletons on his farm a mile South of the old Zane furnace, two were adults and three smaller sized. It is fully substantiated in several ways, that the skeletons represent the massacred Young family mentioned. Mr. Robinson prepared a vault near by, and in the presence of many neighbors, removed the skeletons to it and erected a slab with suitable inscriptios to mark the spot].

List of those Killed, or Abducted at Hawksbill Settlement

Probable List of those Killed

List of those Abducted

  • Christian 'Christopher' Halteman, son of Jacob Halteman, returned by Indians, continued to live in Virginia
  • George Grandstaff was taken by Indians. later returned to live with Indians according to some accounts.