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Westerly Journeys


Speculators and Explorers
Push into Shawnee and Cherokee Territory

Names: [Bryan-Boone] [Morton] [Painter] [Calhoun]


The lower James River--the "tidewater"--the site of Captain John Smith's 1607 colony, was the incubator of Virginia settlement. By 1700 tidewater settlers had pushed onto the piedmont between the coast and the Blue Ridge and were poised at the edge of the Shenandoah Valley.

Joseph Morton--bounty hunter

A bounty-hunter named Joseph Morton hired out to wealthy tidewater investors. He ventured into the wilderness along the Roanoke River with two jobs; capture outlaws and locate land for rich speculators. See reference (1). Link to Morton Family

Relations between natives and Anglos grew more hostile each year. As settlement crept into the wilderness it became more vulnerable to attack requiring protection from the colonial government.

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Tax Incentives: Southside

The Governor came up with a curious new approach to protecting the settlements. He created a buffer zone around the settlements. This, he reasoned, move the frontier further away. To make that happen all he needed were some brave (and probably naive, desperate or poor) folks to settle in the "nearer wilderness" -- thus moving the dangerous wilderness out of sight.

The new buffer region was called "Southside" and extended to the Carolina border.The enticement was then, as now, "tax relief," a ten year moratorium on taxes to anyone willing to buy land in Southside.

Unfortunately this only encouraged absentee investors. The governor needed settlers. He tried a second time, extending the tax-free buffer zone to southwestern Virginia. This time he offered automatic naturalization to any immigrant who would buy land and settle in the new buffer zone. The program was more than successful. New counties had to be formed. Although many land scams resulted, the Scots-Irish flowed into the zone.

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Speculators and Frontiersmen

Joseph Morton, the bounty hunter, began to purchase huge tracts of land--in the tens of thousands of acres in Southside--for his investor customers and for himself. He was part of a growing tradition: the land speculator turned frontiersman. The Mortons were among the first to settle in the Blue Ridge Mountains.


The Shenandoah Valley provided the major north-south trail of the dreaded Iroquois. It was like one great pasture for a wide variety of wild animals --beaver, otter, buffalo, elk, deer, bear, panther, wolves, and a wealth of fish and foul. The native people used it as hunting ground. In the early 1700s German settlers began to drift in from Pennsylvania. These settlers coexisted in mutual trust with the indegenous people--for awhile. See reference(2).

A man named Jacob Stover was among the earliest land speculators to come from Pennsylvania to develop the valley. He married into the Boone family and went into business with George and Squire Boone. They were joined by an Irish immigrant named Morgan Bryan. Morgan obtained a grant for 100,000 acres of the valley and sold off all but 1000 acres before paying for any of it.

By and by a steady flow of immigrants arrived and violence erupted. In the shadow of the French and Indian War Shawnee and other natives began to raid farms and villages.The valley turned dangerous. As quickly as they had come frightened settlers began to leave the Shenandoah Valley.

The Yadkin: Boones and Bryans

Morgan Bryan, seeing his market dwindle, headed for better opportunity in North Carolina. A treacherous wagon journey forced his party to disassemble the wagons and carry them piece by piece up a steep mountain. Eventually he settled at the forks of the Yadkin River. Morgan quickly bought up thousands of acres of land, surveyed it and filed patent applications for even larger acquisitions.

Squire Boone joined the Bryans shortly. The two families already related by marriage forged even greater bonds at the Yadkin. Morgan's granddaughter Rebecca married Col. Daniel Boone. They were soon joined by the well-known scout, Col. Christopher Gist and formed an alliance to explore even further west.

In a short while they would be joined by Jamestown descendant, Richard Henderson. Together these three men, Boone, Gist and Henderson would become a force that would change the southern frontier for better or worse forever--Gist was the negotiator, Boone the explorer and Henderson the speculator.

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Setting Limits: Treaties with the Delaware and Shawnee

In 1748 while private land speculators were planning future ventures into Kentucky, colonial provincial councils met with the Delaware and Shawnee to agree on the limit of settlement. The Delaware and Shawnee promised to respect the established settlements and the colonial government promised to respect the tribal lands and hunting grounds.

Then within two years the King of England gave 500,000 acres of the very same tribal land south of the Ohio River to a group of Virginia gentlemen called the 'Ohio Company.' They hired Gist to explore the land. Gist found fine level land alongthe Scioto and opened the way for massive settlement on the native hunting grounds.

Caroline and Virginia settlers pushed inland across the Blue Ridge. The native peoples saw this as yet another wave of white intrusion into their territory. In response the Shawnee raided the outpost settlements taking Engish scalps and horses.

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Raids on Settlers

The Germans in the Shenandoah had lived in peaceful coexistence with the few remaining natives for a dozen years. Suddenly in 1753 the remaining natives withdrew over the mountains to the west. The settlers understood this was a bad omen. The French and Indian conflict exploded into war March 28, 1754. Three years later the natives who had vanished from the Shenandoah sent their warriors back to raid the settlements. The many steep narrow canyons leading from the mountains into the Valley made it vulnerable.

Stoney Creek/Mill Creek

German immigrants George and John Bender made their homes in the canyons of Mill/Stoney Creek on the western slope of the Great Northern Mountains. They tilled their land without hired hands. They ran their own mills and did their own smithing--supplying the labor from within their large families. They began to use the anglicized (phonetic equivalent) name "Painter."

In 1758 a raiding party of fifty Shawnee and four Frenchmen swooped down the canyon of Mill Creek toward George Painter's log house. George gathered his family of nine into his cellar. Forty of his frightened neighbors crowded in as well while two of his sons ran for the ridge to find a better hiding place.

The attack was swift and brutal. George was shot in the back three times trying to escape. The others quickly surrendered and watched as the raiders stripped the dwellings of all worthwhile items and tossed George's body inside the house. The rest of the family were pushed aside as the house was torched. Those who lived to tell the tale said that while the house burned the warriors wrenched four infants away from their mothers and hung them in trees and held a marksmanship contest untill all the babies had been shot dead. Then they set fire to the stables killing the sheep and calves, after which they rounded up forty eight prisoners, including George's wife, five daughters and one son.

Later that night one of the sons of George who had hidden, crept out under cover of darkness and, a long with a neighbor boy, ran barefoot in shirt and trousers fifteen miles to the nearest fort, Fort Keller for aid. The Fort dispatched a small party to rescue but when they learned the size of the raiding party, turned around and fled.

The Painter children and neighbors were led by the captors over the mountains out of Virginia. They walked for six days to reach their captors' village in the Ohio territory. On arrival one of the boys was tortured to death. Mrs. Painter and her children were kept in captivity three years. In 1760 all but three daughters were released. It was said that one of the women returned with an infant son, conceived with a 'distinguished chief.' Of the Painter women who stayed with the tribe in Ohio, one was the youngest, Mary, who was nine years old. Fifteen years later 24-year-old Mary finally returned to virginia after eighteen years of captivity./p>

The sons of George went to live with their uncle Mathias in Timberville and when the youngest son, Adam returned from captivity he went to live with kinfolk in Timberville also. The Painter home and barn was rebuilt of stone and named Fort Painter. A stone dwelling and barn replaced the log structures. The buildings were inter-connected and fortified. See reference (3)

The Painter family nevertheless survived and grew. Along with cousins in Timberville and those who migrated south to Botetourt County, many became pioneers in Ohio after the Revolution.

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Painter Family

Long Cane Creek

A large family of Calhoun immigrants had come to the Shenandoah when the early raids drove so many settlers away. The Calhouns were attacked at Staunton and prepared to move to safer ground. Some sought safety in Southside, but one Patrick Calhoun, Jr. moved on to South Carolina to settle in the hills above the Savannah River on Long Cane Creek near what became Abbieville.

Like-minded settlers flooded in from Virginia and North Carolina overrunning Cherokee land. The "Overhill" Cherokee were infuriated at this intrusion into their land--for it was the Cherokee who had taken the English side and defended the Carolina settlers in the French and Indian War. This was their reward?

Four years later in 1760 the Cherokee raided the Long Cane Settlement killing Patrick´┐Żs mother and brother.

Eye-witness account told by Mr. Aaron Price in the Charles Town South-Carolina Gazette, Saturday, February 9, 1760:

"Yesterday se'n night the whole of the Long-Cane Settlers to the Number of 150 Souls, moved off with most of their Effects in Waggons; to go towards August in Georgia, and in a few Hours after their setting off, were surprized and attacked by about 100 Cherokees on Horseback, while they were getting their Waggons out of a boggy Place: They had amongst them 40 Gunmen, who mmight have made a very good Defence, but unfortunately their Guns were in the Waggons; the few that rcovered theirs, fought the Indians Half an Hour, and were at last obliged to fly: In the action they lost 7 waggons, and 40 of their People killed or taken (including Women and Children) the Rest got safe to Augusta; whence an Express arrived here with the same Account, on Tuesday Morning ... Mr. Patrick Calhoon, one of the unfortunate Settlers at Long-Canes, who were attacked by the Cherokees on the 1st instant, as they were removing their Wives, Children and best Effects, to Augusta in Georgia for Safety, is just come to Town, and informs us, 'That the whole of those Settlers might be about 250 Souls, 55 or60 of the fighting Men; that their Loss in that Affair amounted to about 50 Persons...."

The colonial and local militia in turn attacked the Cherokee destroying all their villages. The settlers had to abandon their land but the Cherokee had lost South Carolina. Lists of settlers available online.

Six years later Patrick Calhoun's wife died in childbirth. He married again in 1770, to Martha Caldwell. Their son, John C. Calhoun, born at Abbieville in 1782, became vice-president of the United States of America.

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Regulators, Horse Thieves, Whigs and Tories

A new wave of rowdy adventurers swept into the area. Lawlessness prevailed. Horse theft was the principal crime. By and by families filtered in and could not tolerate the anarchy. They formed their own institutions to bring law and order. They called themselves "Regulators." They hunted down and punished the horse thieves and administered brutal public whippigs. Sympathy for the horse thieves grew in some quarters. The settlements polarized and perched on the brink of civil war. The hostilities were quelled by the colonial authorities but underlying resentments seethed just below the surface only to reemerge fifteen years later as the Revolution unfolded. In the South the Revolution was essentially a civil war between Tories and Whigs.

The provicial officials began to play off the interest of the various tribes against those of the settlers. By promising the Cherokee that white settlement would not extend beyond the Applachians they intended to protect the fur trade and keep the settlers under government control as much as to honor the remaining Cherokee land claims. The policy was more effective in controlling the Cherokee than in controlling the settlers. For a year later 30,000 settlers illegally crossed the Appalachians and overran the Cherokee territory.

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1. Charlotte County, Rich Indeed, compiled by T.S. Ailsworth, et. al, Charlotte Co. Bd of Supr.1979

2. F.B. Kegley, Virginia Frontier, Southwest Virginia Historical Society, 1938.

3. T.K. Cartmill, The Story of Woodstock, Chesapeak Book co., Perryville, VA, 1963.

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The names of settlers at Long Canes are listed online at the Long Cane/Abbieville Research Archives. Also The Long Cane Web Page features "The Long Cane Massacre as described in The Scotch-Irish and their First Settlements on the Tyger River..., an address by George D. Howe, DD, 14 Sept 1861, reprinted by Greenville SC: A Press Inc., 1981.

URLs for these sites are not listed here because links tend to change frequently. Your favorite search engine will find these sites using the key words "Long Cane". As of 4-13-09 try this link: Long Cane



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