Draper's Meadow massacre

Draper's Meadow massacre

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On July 8, 1755, a small outpost among the rolling ridges of southwest Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, was raided by Shawnee
Shawnee
The Shawnee, Shaawanwaki, Shaawanooki and Shaawanowi lenaweeki, are an Algonquian-speaking people native to North America. Historically they inhabited the areas of Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Western Maryland, Kentucky, Indiana, and Pennsylvania...

 Indians
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

. Rising tensions between the natives and western settlers were exacerbated by fighting in the French and Indian War
French and Indian War
The French and Indian War is the common American name for the war between Great Britain and France in North America from 1754 to 1763. In 1756, the war erupted into the world-wide conflict known as the Seven Years' War and thus came to be regarded as the North American theater of that war...

 and the encroachment on tribal hunting grounds. Recent victories by the French over the British
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

, although north of Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, had left much of the frontier unprotected. Unlike the French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 pioneers who tended to be hunters and trappers, these settlers were establishing an agricultural community with potentially permanent inhabitants.

History of Draper's Meadow


The original 7,500 acre (30 km²) tract was awarded to James Patton, an Irish
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 sea captain turned land speculator. This land was bordered Tom's Creek on the north, Stroubles Creek on the south and the Mississippi Watershed (modern-day U.S. Route 460
U.S. Route 460
U.S. Route 460 is a spur of U.S. Route 60. It currently runs for 655 miles from Norfolk, Virginia at U.S. Route 60 at Ocean View to Frankfort, Kentucky at U.S. Route 60. It passes through the states of Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky...

) on the east; it approached the New River on the west. The settlement was situated near the present day campus of Virginia Tech
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, popularly known as Virginia Tech , is a public land-grant university with the main campus in Blacksburg, Virginia with other research and educational centers throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, United States, and internationally.Founded in...

 in Blacksburg
Blacksburg, Virginia
Blacksburg is an incorporated town located in Montgomery County, Virginia, United States, with a population of 42,620 at the 2010 census. Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and Radford are the three principal jurisdictions of the Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford Metropolitan Statistical Area which...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

. At the time of the attack, the area had been populated by a group of around twenty settlers which were a mix of migrants from Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 of English and Germanic origin.

The Massacre


A group of Shawnee entered the sparsely populated camp virtually unimpeded. At least five settlers were killed: Mr. Patton, Elenor Draper (Mary Draper Ingles
Mary Draper Ingles
Mary Draper Ingles was an American pioneer and early settler of western Virginia. She was abducted by Indians and later escaped, making a harrowing trek over hundreds of miles of rough terrain to return home.-Biography:...

' mother), Bettie Draper's baby, Casper, and Philip Barger, 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. Five settlers were taken back to Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 as captives to live among the tribe, including Mary Draper Ingles , who escaped at Big Bone, Kentucky
Big Bone, Kentucky
Big Bone is an unincorporated community in southern Boone County, Kentucky, United States. It is bounded on the west by the Ohio River, and Rabbit Hash, on the south by Big Bone Creek, which empties into the river at Big Bone Landing. The northern extent is along Hathaway Road, and the eastern...

, and made a journey of more than eight hundred miles (1300 km) across the Appalachian Mountains back to Draper's Meadow. Her marriage to William Ingles is said to be the first white wedding west of the Alleghenies. Also taken captive were her two sons; one of whom, Thomas Ingles, lived among the Indians for many years and never fully gave up the Shawnee way of life.

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
William Preston (Virginia)
Col. William Preston played a crucial role in surveying and developing the colonies going westward, exerted great influence in the colonial affairs of his time, ran a large plantation, and founded a dynasty whose progeny would supply leaders for the South for nearly a century...

, 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.

Popular culture


The story of Ingles' ordeal has inspired a number of books, films, and living history programs, including the popular 1981 novel Follow the River by James Alexander Thom
James Alexander Thom
James Alexander Thom is an American author, most famous for his works in the Western genre and colonial American history; known for their historical accuracy borne of his painstaking research. Born in Gosport, Indiana, he graduated from Butler University and served in the United States Marine Corps...

, a 1995 ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 television movie of the same name, and the 2004 film The Captives
The Captives (film)
The Captives is a 2004 American film starring Elliot Miller, produced and directed by Jude Miller for Jude True Blue Productions. It is based on the true story of Mary Draper Ingles and her struggles during the French-Indian War...

.