In 1610 James I of England disposed of Ireland's northern lands, seized from the defeated clans O'Neill and O'Donnell, not to soldiers and citified Londoners as Elizabeth had attempted in the 1560s and '70s, but to Presbyterians from the Lowlands of Scotland. To these Scots, warming at peat fires and eating oat cake in hovels on the boggy Scottish moors, the forests and streams of Ulster beckoned like Canaan to the Israelites. And many with biblical names like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob regarded the Irish as little better than the Canaanites whom God commanded Joshua to destroy. As a Scotsman himself James understood the temperament of the Lowlanders, and counted on them to deal harshly with would-be rebels.
For centuries the spirit of the Lowlanders had been tempered in an atmosphere of lawlessness, as brigands—sometimes from the Highlands, sometimes from over the next rig—swept down upon Lowland farms, driving off sheep and cattle, sparking reprisals and blood feuds that made tenants indifferent herdsmen but effective warriors and raiders in their turn. And although the demand for tenants in Ireland made it possible for the lower classes to overturn a feudal system that had tied them by custom to the Lowland Barons, no amount of land could tame their warrior souls.
Aided by the potato, a food Sir Walter Raleigh brought from the Americas, the new colonists quickly built dwellings of timber and stone, raised sheep and cattle, and enthusiastically hunted down and collected bounties on the heads of both wolves and the marauding Irish "widkairns," much as their descendants in North America would one day collect bounties on Indian scalps. It wouldn't be the last time Britain tried to solve the problems of empire by pitting hordes of poor people against native populations.
The Hamiltons, Houstons, Cunninghams, Andersons, Wilsons and the like, who after 1610 poured into Ulster were, as their names indicate, not true Scots but ethnic Saxons and Scandinavians whose ancestors settled in Scotland during the Middle Ages. A Protestant minority of ethnic Scots—McDonalds, McClungs, McKees, and Campbells, who likewise reviled the Gaelic-speaking, kilt-wearing Highlanders—contributed their share to Ulster immigration.
The Protestant invasion of Ulster ceased in 1641 when Irish Catholics rebelled, resumed in 1653 when Oliver Cromwell crushed the rebels, and accelerated in 1660 when Charles II imposed new restrictions on the Scottish Kirk. Fanatic Prebsyterians fled to Ireland from possible execution or imprisonment by the Crown; moderates fled to escape the fanatics. In this new wave were large numbers of Quakers and Puritans from Wales and northern England where living conditions were scarcely better than in Scotland. In 1685 Huguenots arrived from France. But nationality was soon a matter of indifference as Puritans, Quakers, and Presbyterians—united by a distrust of Catholics and Anglicans—learned to tolerate each other. Any Ulsterman born or raised during the Protestant plantation would have been puzzled indeed to hear himself referred to as English, Scots, Welsh, or even Scots-Irish. To each other they were simply Irish. Their speech—a variant of the English spoken in the Scots Lowlands and the English North Country—was the language they carried to Pennsylvania, and from there to the frontiers of Virginia and the Carolinas.
Although a legal barrier to marriage between Catholics and Protestants was lifted in 1611, such unions weren't common. The natives bore religion like a shield against their alien persecutors. Nevertheless, adolescent hormones sometimes overcame the dread of losing one's immortal soul, and a desire to rise from the pauper class enticed some natives into Protenstantism. The prospect of starvation led many to contract with speculators who sold human cargo in American ports where they sometimes became the property of Irish Protestants who had immigrated earlier. Nevertheless, when indentures expired, or when they escaped, these true Irish with names like Flynn, Brady, Casey, Callahan, and Kennedy also followed the frontier.
Threats to the existence of the Protestant colony were eliminated in 1690 when William of Orange defeated James II at the Battle of the Boyne; but the arrival of wealthy Scots in the early years of William and Mary's reign posed an insidious danger for the poor. When leases expired, landlords raised the rents. Tenants who renewed leases but couldn't pay were evicted, often sinking in status and dignity to become sub-tenants. Before the end of the seventeenth century emigrants spurred by poverty, religious strife, and the possibility of being pressed into service against the French departed for America. Drought added to their number in 1714, and in 1717 an exodus began that didn't slow until the American Revolution.
Overwhelmingly they sailed for the Delaware River and the freedom of conscience offered by Penn's Woods. Secretary of Pennsylvania, fellow Ulsterman James Logan, gave them land in West Conestoga Township (northwest Lancaster County), which they shortly re-christened Donegal. It was well in advance of the frontier, at that time only a short distance from the entry ports of New Castle, Chester, and Philadelphia. As Logan said, "I thought it might be prudent to plant a settlement ... in case of any disturbance from the Northern Indians." He reasoned that a people stubborn enough to endure the starving times during and after the siege of Londonderry would make a good buffer. News of their deaths would be a timely warning to less exposed settlements.
Before 1729 Irish settlers crossed South Mountain from Donegal and squatted on Indian land near the deserted Susquehannock village of Paxtang. In 1730 Indian trader John Harris ferried twelve families of squatters over the Susquehanna on their way to settle Middle Spring (the future site of Shippensburg, Pa.). In 1733 James Magraw and his family spent three days on the trail from Paxtang to Middle Spring "on account of the childer ... could not get on as fast [as] Jane and me." In May he wrote to his brother John, who had remained in Paxtang, that Mary Rippey, "a purty gerl" engaged to a man due to arrive from Ireland, "died of a faver," and that Sally Brown "was bit by a snaik but she is out of danger." More significantly he urged his brother to "come up soon" to "our cabbin [that] will be ready to go into in a week." He said they had corn and potatos in the ground, and there were "18 cabbins bilt here now and it looks a town but we have no name for it."
By 1737 Pennsylvania had purchased Cumberland Valley from the Iroquois and sold part of it, including Middle Spring, to speculator Edward Shippen who sent an agent, Francis Campble, to supervise settlement of his 1,300 acres. Campble christened the log village Shippensburg after its proprietor, and had a reliable report from the inhabitants that they were all "natives of the Province of Ulster." On June 4, 1740, seven years after James Magraw had raised a cabin "at the fut of a hill [above] a fine stream of watter," Campble wrote to Shippen of the settlement's progress: "The stone house of Samuel Perry, in which the Widow Piper now keeps tavern, together with that of Daniel Duncan, just finished, are both good substantial two-story houses. The stone house at the Branch, built by Samuel Rippey, two years ago, is also a very fine house. In addition ... Mr. R is now erecting ... a large, square, stone building for a distillery. These, with the two story, log houses which have recently been errected, lead us to believe that we shall have, ere long, a town of some importance."
East and south of the Cumberland Vally Irish redemptioners and landless freemen found a haven in the no-man's-land along the disputed Maryland boundary where Irish dissenters had settled a generation earlier and lived side by side with descendents of the earliest Finnish and Swedish inhabitants. In 1747 Swedish naturalist Peter Kalm suggested log cabins had become standard dwellings for the Irish as well as the Scandinavians, noting that the first Swedes on the Delaware built cabins "with clay smeared between the logs, like those now built here by the Irish." Connecticut Yankee Joshua Hempstead encountered the same conditions in Cecil County, Md., where in 1749 he found Irish settlers "very modist in their apparel and in their houses mostly Log houses Cribb fashion." In Olgletown, Del. he found more "wooden houses Cribb fashion & old, those that are newly built the logs are hewed & as thick as hog neck or thereabouts." In Cecil County he had sought shelter from a storm in an "Irish cribb house" where the occupants' "Tonges Run like mill clocks, & haveing an Irish brogue on their Tongue I could understand but little they Said ..."
The ease with which Scandinavians moved about, killing game, burning forests and exhausting the soil inspired imitation. By 1745 James Skaggs, son of an Ulsterman who arrived in Kent County, Md. about the year 1690, had been carried on a swelling tide of southern immigration to Meadow Creek, a branch of Little River in the mountains of southwest Virginia. All of James Skaggs' sons were hunters. The eldest, Henry Skaggs, led several long hunts into Kentucky where he settled in 1789. After settling in Kentucky he made acquaintance with a newly arrived Virginian named John Barbee whose son informed Lyman Draper that Skaggs had so successfully avoided civilization he didn't even know meat could be cured. "How do you keep your meat so long?" he asked when Barbee served him a supper of bacon. The old hunter apparently fed his family on fresh meat until it spoiled and he needed to kill more.
|The "Irish Track" identified by Peter Jefferson and Joshua Fry on their map of 1751. The Philadelphia Wagon Road passed close by Augusta Courthouse (Staunton), and by the homesteads of John Lewis and Gilbert Christian on creeks that now bear their names.|
Pennsylvania authorities believed the "bold and indigent strangers" who asserted squatter's rights near the boundary between Chester County, Pa. and Cecil County, Md. were exploiting a territorial dispute between the Penns and Calverts. The squatters, however, believed they were honoring the terms of a contract the Penns agreed to when they "had solicited for colonists." Weary of harassment by surveyors from rival provinces, large numbers cleared out for greener pastures in which to squat.
In the 1730s, before speculator William Beverly had acquired the rights to 118,491 acres in what became Augusta and Rockingham Counties, squatters from the north were already there, raising single-story, windowless log cabins, the roofs held on mainly by gravity. John and Margaret Lewis with their children Samuel, Thomas, Andrew, William, Margaret, and Anne settled on Lewis Creek. The father, according to family tradition, was a fugitive who had crushed his landlord's skull in Ireland when his brother was killed and his wife wounded as they were being evicted. Nearby, Gilbert Christian and his children Mary, Robert, John, and William settled on Christian's Creek; and brothers John, James, and George Anderson settled on Middle River north of present Verona. All were from Northern Ireland; all had immigrated to Pennsylvania. Without legal title they turned creeks and ridges into boundaries, carved initials on trees, or cut through the sapwood to mark their corners with the deadened trunks. These "tomahawk settlements" were important to William Beverly; for if six percent of the land were not under cultivation three years from 1736, it would revert to the Crown.
Packhorse men from the valley soon brought news to the Delaware with their loads of deerskins and butter that land could be had in Beverly's grant at half a shilling per acre where deer, bear, and turkeys fattened on chestnut ridges in the fall, and buffalo and elk grazed spring and summer in meadows cleared yearly by the fires of Indian circle hunters. The wild grass, clover, and pea-vine were good pasture for cattle and horses.
|In the 1730s large herds of bison roamed the foothills and valleys of the Appalachians from Pennsylvania to Georgia. By the 1740s most of these animals had retreated from advancing settlement into remote areas west of the mountains. They were killed for food not because their meat was prized, but because poor eyesight made them easy to kill, even by inept woodsmen. Their skins had no commercial value, but were used for pallets, pack straps, and to make moccasins that were stronger and warmer than ones made from deer skin.|
A few Irish settled near the Germans in the lower valley. Samuel Glass settled near the head of Opequon Creek where Samuel Kercheval remembered seeing gun ports in Robert D. Glass' log home built "in the time of the Indian war."
A few miles to the west on Cedar Creek another clan of Irish Presbyterians—Colvilles, Newells, Blacks, Blackburns, Vances, and others—came to rest in the foothills of the Alleghenies. In 1775 Philip Fithian preached to them, and seventy-five-year-old lay minister James Colville literally passed his hat to present Fithian with a collection of "thirty-four Pieces of Silver, in cut Money, quarter of Dollars, Pisternes, Bitts, & Half-Bitts"—three dollars total. Five years earlier Joseph Black, Andrew Colville, Arthur Blackburn, and Samuel Newell (whose wife's maiden name was Colville before she married and was widowed by a man named Black) left Cedar Creek for the frontier settlement of Wolf Hills (Abingdon, Va.), so called from a tradition that Daniel Boone and Nathaniel Gist once beat off some wolves who defended their dens against Boone's and Gist's hunting dogs.
Usually Irish Presbyterians like John McDowell and his family by-passed the lower valley and made straight for Beverly's grant. But one evening in the fall of 1737, as the McDowells made camp on Linville Creek, a stranger approached their fire. It was Benjamin Borden (pronounced Burden), a Quaker from Borden Marsh Run near the Shenandoah. He told McDowell he had 92,100 acres west of the Blue Ridge south of Beverly's grant, and offered him one thousand acres to settle there. McDowell immediately changed his destination from Turk Mountain, where his brother had made corn in the spring, and axed a path wide enough for packhorses to Timber Ridge in present Rockbridge County. Near Fairfield he built a cabin known as the Red House because of the red ocher in the clay he daubed over the chinking. Pigment that had adorned the faces of Iroquois, Shawnee, Delaware, Catawba, and Cherokee warriors McDowell now used to stop the cracks between his cabin logs.
Burden advertised throughout Pennsylvania and the Valley that he'd give one hundred acres to any settler who built a cabin in his grant, with a right to purchase adjacent land at fifty shillings per one hundred acres. According to the deposition of John McDowell's sister Mary Greenlee, rumors soon circulated that a young woman dressed in men's clothes had raised some five or six cabins, each time using a male alias when the settlement's census taker, John Patterson, came around marking his hat with chalk for every new settler. Two hundred years later Valley folk continued to tell the story of Polly Milhollin who went out to claim land, and when she returned in "leather shirt, pants, and moccasins" was recognized as a young bond slave in the home of a Mr. Bell.
In fact the name "John Mulholan" was recorded on a list of settlers who, in February of 1739, entered a bond with Benjamin Burden for one hundred acres each "where they have already chosen ... and shall build and improve on ... by 1st April next." When old Burden died, his son, Benjamin, Jr., refused to honor the claim, alleging that "James Bell caused a servant wench of his to be dressed in man's clothes and made an entry in her name as a man ..." In 1751 Bell sued Benjamin Burden, Jr. for the cabin right of "John Mulholland, his servant," which Polly may have used to buy her way out of bondage. Other settlers besides Polly attempted to fool Mr. Patterson. Whether old Burden encouraged these deceptions or merely winked at them, his methods were successful. He not only met the Governor's requirement of one family per thousand acres within two years, he disposed of "all the best and most valuable lands ... by cabin rights" before he died in 1743.
These primitive cabins were maybe twelve feet square and low, built with logs light enough for just a man and his family to handle. They were by definition temporary, but temporary might mean a decade. Gradually the Irish improved their "plantations," built log barns, corncribs, and perhaps a stable, although most continued to hunt their belled and hobbled horses across miles of open range.
When a man finally got enough help to raise a proper hewn log house, he didn't have to abandon his old home; he could tear down the stick chimney and build a new house next to the cabin, with a stone chimney between. Or he could put chimneys on both ends and cut a doorway between the log pens. Those who could afford nails replaced weighted boards with shingles. Some like John Lewis built stone houses. Few bothered to cut windows. An extra opening a couple of feet square, even if tightly shuttered, added a new draft to the ones that already blew through cracks in the door and the dried mud they daubed over the pole chinking. Weather permitting, interior lighting was provided by keeping doors open. Some of these ancient buildings still stand in forms unrecognizable to their builders, having acquired two hundred years of improvements—clapboard siding, porches, glass window sashes, and second stories topped with roofs pitched forty-five degrees on rafters that didn't sag the way horizontal rib-poles did.
In 1745 the first Augusta court convened a building of hewn logs, the five-inch cracks between stopped "with chunks and clay." Air passed freely through two small window holes with "no glass or shutters to them." The drafty building also doubled as a meetinghouse for the North Augusta Congregation until parishioners raised one of their own. The gaol was only a 22' x 17' building of "square logs near one foot thick" with dove-tail notches so shallow "it would be a very easy matter to pull it all down."
Wealthiest of the settlers was James Patton, a former ship's captain with a sword on his hip, a reputation for sharp dealing, and aristocratic dreams. A younger son of a wealthy Donegal family, he found it necessary to make his way in the world by selling British redemptioners and convicts to planters in Virginia's Northern Neck. When Patton met Northern Neck planter William Beverly on one of these trips his ambitions immediately turned to speculation in western lands, and with and his wife and daughters, his brother-in-law John Preston and his family, Patton moved to Beverly's grant on South River and into a house of iron-hard locust logs.
In 1745 Patton secured a grant of one hundred thousand acres on New River and farther west, which he began to plant with settlers. Three years later, as an investor in the newly formed Loyal Land Company, he led a surveying party including fellow investor Dr. Thomas Walker and Pennsylvania Irishmen Charles Campbell and John Buchanan (Patton's son-in-law) deeper into southwest Virginia. They went first to William Ingles' mill on a branch of the north fork of Roanoke where Patton summoned professional hunter James Burke, a Quaker from Limerick who had moved with his wife and children from Chester County, Pa. to near present Salem, Va. Burke agreed to show Patton enough of his hunting grounds to survey thirty thousand acres, but only if Patton agreed in writing to allow him to choose four hundred acres for himself anywhere he wanted. William Ingles witnessed the agreement. Patton signed it, and Burke made his mark "JB."
Burke led Patton to a rich valley rimmed with mountains and chose his four hundred acres on a head branch of Wolf Creek. But Burke's choice stirred such envy in the rich man that Patton tried to buy off the illiterate hunter, upping his offer to five hundred acres if Burke would locate elsewhere. According to Botetourt County records, when the journey ended at Samuel Stalnaker's on New River, Patton complained to Burke "we have not surveyed as much land as you expected you could show," to which Burke replied "Why, I showed you enough; you might have surveyed it." Patton finally gave in, telling Burke "in the name of God, go and settle where you will." And the valley where Burke settled became known as Burke's Garden.
In February of 1756, after the oubreak of hostilities between England and France, four Shawnees came to Burke's Garden, killed one of Burke's horses, and stole five more. They also killed Robert Looney, Jr. and a Dutchman on Reed Creek. Burke sought safety on the Roanoke. In 1760 he returned only to be driven away again in 1763. This time he moved to Surry County, N.C. where he died in 1783.
In 1755 Patton prepared to move closer to his western holdings. He hired John Johnson to build a frame house at Cherry Tree Bottom (Buchanan, Va.). He also hired Peter Looney to maul eight thousand rails for a hog-proof fence. But on July 30, 1755 the Shawnee killed Patton while on a mission to deliver powder and ball to John Draper and Will Ingles (pronounced English), both of whom had bought land at Draper's Meadows (present Smithfield, Va.). After Patton's death his son-in-law John Buchanan took possession of Cherry Tree Bottom, and he and his wife Margaret moved into a stone cottage near the mouth of Purgatory Creek.
|John Lewis' home, Bellfonte, on Lewis Creek as it appeared just before it was demolished in 1939. It is the stone building to the left. Look closely to see where the old chimney was topped with brick to heighten it when an upper story was added. The large, two story double-pen log house to the right was built much later. You can see where the open passage way—or dog trot—between the two log pens has been boarded over to create a central hallway.|
By turning squatters into homesteaders Virginia's government interposed a human shield between tidewater aristocrats and the French, whose trading empire embraced all native tribes in the Ohio valley. The "Irish tract" was thus populated by grim, determined dissenters who attended meeting from forenoon 'til dusk on the Sabbath but also invoked the power of charms and spells to prevent witches from plaguing them with supernatural hardship.
In December of 1745 on the South Fork of Shenandoah, Presbyterian minister John Craig's cattle began dying. According to Craig it was "Reported that ye Cattle was kill'd by witch Craft." Craig was an Old-Light Presbyterian and had been waging spiritual war on the charismatic New Lights who often asked parishoners on their way to receive the Lord's Supper from him if they were "going to Craig's frolick." The New Lights even accused Craig of using charms to kill his own cattle so he could blame his detractors. His loyal parishioners didn't doubt the power of witchcraft; but they did doubt that anyone in his right mind would impoverish himself to libel somebody else. In spite of believing the New Lights had something to do with the mysterious deaths, Craig himself would not discount the possibility his cattle were victims of Satan's "Emissaries."
Decades later in the settlement of Wolf Hills (Abingdon, Va.) Presbyterian minister Charles Cummings apparently saw no harm in employing a practitioner of white magic, James Piper, to evict a squatter from an unsurveyed strip between Piper's and Cummings' property lines. While the squatter was out "Mr. Piper entered his cabin, drew a large circle in the center of the floor, put in queer figures and cabalistic signs, and sprinkled the center with finely-cut black horse-hair. Next morning the cabin was vacant, and no more was heard of the troublesome intruder." Cummings and Piper were old acquaintances, at least since 1776 when Piper lost his forefinger and trigger guard to an Indian ball as he, Cummings, and others fetched some things in a wagon from Cummings' house to Black's Fort.
In the mountains north of Wolf Hills, near King's Saltworks (Saltville, Va.), Charley Talbot became convinced he was a victim of the black arts. Charley lived by his rifle "on a spur of Clinch Mountain," feeding himself and his wife on "deer, bear, wild turkeys, and pheasants" (the name backwoodsmen gave mountain grouse). Charley was also a crack shot at "shooting matches for beef." But friends knew if they first tempted Charley with a dram they could beat him shooting "off-hand" at a target sixty yards away. Charley blamed his poor aim not on liquor, but on an old woman named Henager whose drooping eyelids made her appear blind although "her vision was perfect." Believing she was a witch who "spelled" his rifle because she "had a 'grudge' against him," Charley drew "an outline of her figure upon a tree [to shoot] in the heart" with a ball into which he had melted "a large portion of silver." The fact that Mrs. Henager showed no ill effects didn't alter Charley's belief in magic; he just believed his gun must have been spelled by "some other witch."
Such impious piety seemed to characterize the Irish, who danced all night after weddings but allowed Christmas to pass without revelry, got drunk at funerals but left graves unmarked. Headstones and cocked hats they believed were marks of human vanity. Genteel tidewater society mocked their quaint speech, calling them "Cohees" from their frequent use of the phrase "quo' he" (quoth he). Nevertheless, tidewater planters derived comfort from the assurance that, if war came, French tomahawks would fall not on their heads, but on the heads of the Cohees.
The dissenters moved south mainly along The Great Wagon Road (Highway 11), an ancient war trace between the Iroquois in the north, and Cherokees and Catawbas in the south. It ran through Beverly's and Burden's land to the Great Lick of Roanoke where it forked right toward the mountains of southwest Virginia, and left to the Carolina Piedmont.
In 1753 Moravians found the road south of "Augusti courthouse" a rough one for wagons; but Philip Fithian learned from John Trimble that paths down to tidewater were even worse. "Til Years after [Timble came in 1734] there was no road for more than seventy Miles downwards, other than the narrow, almost impervious, Paths made through the lonely Forrests by Buffaloes, & Indians!" The difficult road to Old Virginia, and the easier one between Pennsylvania and "New Virginia"—as the land west of the Blue Ridge was called by it's Presbyterian settlers—was the main reason the Valley remained culturally and economically tied to the Delaware.
|In the 1750s John and Andrew Pickens, uncle and father of Revolutionary General Andrew Pickens (above), moved south and east from the Valley of Virginia to Prince Edward County, and later to Waxhaw Creek in South Carolina. Andrew eventually settled on Long Cane Creek near Abbeville, S.C.|
East of the Blue Ridge another southern path—present Highway 15, also known as the Carolina Road—crossed the Potomac at Point of Rocks, and skirted the Catoctin Mountains, the Bull Run Mountains, and the Southwest Mountains before plunging into the Carolinas, scattering Irish settlers through the land south of the Blue Ridge, and bringing Cohees into contact with Episcopalians from eastern Virginia.
When plans by William Byrd II to present ten thousand of his Piedmont acres to one hundred European Swiss families fell through in July of 1736 he was forced to rely on the "Scots-Irish from Pensylvania, who flock over thither in such numbers, that there is not elbow room for them. They swarm like the Goths and Vandals of old & will over-spread our Continent Soon." Those already "settled on the River Gerando [Shenandoah]" might do to stop a French musket ball, but to settle them on his own land east of the Blue Ridge marred Byrd's vision of a private fief occupied by peaceful tenants and docile slaves.
Other speculators tempted the Pennsylvania Irish over the Carolina Road to Cub Creek in Charlotte County, and to Buffalo Creek in Prince Edward County. But as time proved, most of the wandering barbarians were too restless to remain long in one place.
In 1748 Samuel Crockett of Buffalo Creek in Prince Edward County, his wife Esther, their six children, and Samuel's brother Joseph, piled their plunder into a wagon and drove one hundred sixty-five miles to New River and up Reed Creek to a spot that became known as Crockett's Cove, five miles north of present Wytheville. This was Samuel's final move. But he had already traveled a far piece in one lifetime—in 1715 from Ireland to Pennsylvania, and before 1735 over the Carolina road to Prince Edward—early enough perhaps to have seen buffalo on Buffalo Creek. When Samuel died in 1749 his brother Joseph married Esther and assumed guardianship of the family, including Samuel's eldest son, John, who inherited his father's "rifole gun and saddle."
Braddock's defeat sent the Crocketts and their neighbors Patrick, George, William, and Ezekiel Calhoun and their families to relative safety east of the mountains. But when peace was restored after 1764 they were on the move again. The Calhouns traveled to South Carolina's Long Cane settlement; the Crocketts returned to the Cove. Other Prince Edward settlers soon joined the Crocketts in southwest Virginia. About the year 1770 John Ewing with his brothers James, William, and Samuel—sons of Alexander Ewing who came from Ireland by way of Cecil County, Md.—moved from Fort Creek in Prince Edward to Cripple Creek at the foot of Ewing Mountain. From 1769 through 1771 Crocketts and Ewings were among the earliest hunters in Kentucky and Tennessee. In 1769 Indians killed Samuel Crockett's son Robert while he hunted on Roaring River in Tennessee, and in 1771 Charles Ewing returned home from Kentucky after falling out with Henry Skaggs over who could kill more deer.