Thomas & Isabelle HARBERT & The HARBERT Fort

The HARBERT Family
of Harrison County, West Virginia

THE CLIMATE OF THE EARLY AMERICAN COLONIES…


The early American Colonies were a dynamic time of uncertainty and change.  By the time Thomas Harbert (Sr) was born, the burgeoning non-native population of the New World had grown from approximately 75,000 in the 1660’s to about 750,000.  Many who left the oppressive governments of Europe found it little different when they arrived in the New World.  The American Colonies became embroiled in various conflicts between European interests seeking to expand their realm of power and wealth… most notably the English and French.  Both ignored the claim of Native Americans to the Ohio Territory between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi.  In the late 1600’s and early 1700’s they both built a number of forts and trading posts there to support the booming beaver pelt trade and lay their claims to the territory. 


In 1744 the English secured the land between the Alleghany Mountains and south of the Ohio River from the Six Iroquois Nations Confederacy  for 400 pounds, giving Virginians the right to settle the territory.  However, this contract was not endorsed by the Shawnee, Delaware and other tribes who claimed the area as their hunting grounds. 


On November 12, 1753 twenty-one year old George Washington was sent by Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia to Fort Le Boeuf to demand the French leave the Ohio Territory.  Commander Jacques de Saint-Pierre responded he “did not feel obliged to obey it.” (1)      


THE END OF THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR… AND BEGINNING OF WESTWARD EXPANSION...


The French and Indian War began several months later on the 28th of May 1754 at the Battle of Jumonville Glen, in present day Uniontown, Pennsylvania.  The Iroquois Six Nation Confederacy sided with the British and colonists.  Opposing them were the Algonquin, Huron, Shawnee, Ottawa and Ojibwa tribes fighting with the French.  Although the war began on American soil it continued to Europe and ended with the Treaty of Paris on February 15,  1763 which gave Britain title to all land east of the Mississippi and allowed the colonists to continue their westward migration across the Appalachians.  However, their excitement was short-lived...


In the fall 1763 the British issued a decree - The Proclamation of 1763 - which prohibited the colonists from establishing settlements west of the Appalachians.  This Proclamation acknowledged Native American ownership of the territory and required white settlers on the land to leave.  Only individuals specially licensed in the fur trading industry were allowed entry.  This proclamation was not made out of sympathy or concern for Native Americans.  The British motive for the Proclamation was two-fold:  1) War was expensive and the British were “war poor” already.  They did not have the money or manpower to begin a peace-keeping effort in the Ohio Territory.  2) The Proclamation would also keep the colonists concentrated along the eastern seaboard where they could ensure their participation in the British trade and economy.  West of the Appalachians the colonists would tend to be more independent and more difficult to control. (2)  In spite of the Proclamation of 1763 which prohibited settlement west of the Appalachians, a great westward migration began.  Whereas colonists eager for land had previously migrated southward into the Carolinas, the push now was westward into Kentucky and the Ohio Territory.  Thomas Harbert (Sr) and family were among those restless individuals who headed west.  He left New Jersey about the year 1765 and moved his family to Winchester, Virginia.


THOMAS HARBERT (Sr.) AND FAMILY LEAVE NEW JERSEY...


Thomas Harbert, son of Daniel and Susannah Harbert of Middletown, Monmouth County, New Jersey was born July 4, 1734 - the 2nd of four children.  He was baptized in Christ Church, Shrewsbury, New Jersey on August 11th, 1734. Daniel and Susannah’s  other children were:  Mary - born January 6th, 1732, Anne - born October 21st, 1736, and Jonathan - born October 19th, 1739.  Susannah died in 1745 at 33 years of age leaving Daniel with 4 young children:  Mary 13, Thomas 11, Anne 9, and Jonathan 6.  Daniel remarried Amy (Borden) McGee on October 30th, 1745 - daughter of Safety Borden of Bordentown, NJ.  She had 4 children - born between 1728 and 1738 - by prior husband  William McGee.  Daniel died only two years later in August or September 1747 at 46 years of age, only a few years after remarrying Amy.  At the time of their father’s death, Mary was 15, Thomas - 13, Anne - 10, and Johnathan 7.  Thomas married Isabelle Wright at Christ Church, Shrewsbury, Monmouth County, New Jersey on August 6th, 1758.  Thomas was 24 years of age and Isabelle was 20.  Their first son - Samuel - was born in 1760.  Their 2nd son - Edward was born May 10th, 1761.  Their 3rd son - William - was born in 1765.  About this time, Thomas and Isabelle left New Jersey and moved to Apple Pie Ridge north of Winchester, Virginia.(3)   Six years later, in 1771, Thomas Harbert and family moved to Decker’s Creek, Monongalia County, (West) Virginia.  Four years later, in 1775, Thomas and family moved to Jones Run, in present day Harrison County, (West) Virginia. (4)  Thomas' signature has been preserved on a promissory note dated April 13, 1776 and can be viewed at Colson Hall Library, Envelope 30, Monongalia Court Records, in Morgantown. (3) 


INCREASING TENSION...  BETWEEN NATIVE AMERICANS AND PIONEER SETTLERS


On November 5, 1768 the Iroquois signed a treaty with the British at Fort Stanwix in upstate New York which extended the western boundary line established earlier in The Proclamation of 1763.  This treaty relinquished possession of Kentucky to Britain and the colonists.  Not present at the treaty were the Shawnee and Delaware who used the land as hunting grounds.  Instead of easing tension between the colonists and Native Americans as was intended, the treaty served to ignite a new surge of hostilities. (5)   


                                            1775 MAP SHOWING THE PROCLAMATION LINE OF 1763

Hostilities continued and climaxed in 1773 when a group of volunteers led by Michael Cresap, a land speculator, raided Shawnee villages and killed several members of Mingo chief Tah-gah-jute, who had prior to this time lived peacefully with white settlers and had even been baptized and given the English name Logan.  In retribution, Tah-gah-jute killed over a dozen Virginians that summer.  In an effort to stop the hostilities, Virginia Governor John Murray, Earl of Dunmore led forces against the Shawnee.  On October 10, 1774 at the Battle of Point Pleasant, both sides suffered significant casualties.  Following the battle, Shawnee Chief Cornstalk’s army retreated back across the Ohio to their settlements in the Scioto Valley, and were subsequently forced to accept the Ohio River as the new boundary. (6)


CHIEF “Keigh-tugh-gua” or CORNSTALK


The following is an account of Chief Cornstalk’s death taken from Haunted West Virginia… The Cornstalk Curse. http://www.prairieghosts.com/cornstalk.html.


HAUNTED WEST VIRGINIA - THE CORNSTALK CURSE


As the American frontiersmen began to move west in the 1770’s, seven nations of Indians (the Shawnee, Delaware, Wyandot, Mingo, Miami, Ottawa and Illinois) formed a powerful confederacy to keep the white men from infringing on their territory. The Shawnee were the most powerful of the tribes and were led by a feared and respected chieftain called “Keigh-tugh-gua”, which translates to mean “Cornstalk”. In 1774, when the white settlers were moving down into the Kanawha and Ohio River valleys, the Indian Confederacy prepared to protect their lands by any means necessary. The nations began to mass in a rough line across the point from the Ohio River to the Kanawha River, numbering about 1200 warriors. They began to make preparations to attack the white settlers near an area called Point Pleasant on the Virginia side of the Ohio River. As word reached the colonial military leaders of the impending attack, troops were sent in and faced off against the Indians. While the numbers of fighters were fairly even on both sides, the Native Americans were no match for the muskets of the white soldiers. The battle ended with about 140 colonials killed and more than twice that number of Indians. The tribes retreated westward into the wilds of what is now Ohio and in order to keep them from returning, a fort was constructed at the junction of the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers.


As time passed, the Shawnee leader, Cornstalk, made peace with the white men. He would carry word to his new friends in 1777 when the British began coaxing the Indians into attacking the rebellious colonies. Soon, the tribes again began massing along the Ohio River, intent on attacking the fort. Cornstalk and Red Hawk, a Delaware chief, had no taste for war with the Americans and they went to the fort on November 7 to try and negotiate a peace before fighting began. Cornstalk told Captain Arbuckle, who commanded the garrison, that he was opposed to war with the colonists but that only he and his tribe were holding back from joining on the side of the British. He was afraid that he would be forced to go along by the rest of the Confederacy.


When he admitted to Arbuckle that he would allow his men to fight if the other tribes did, Cornstalk, Red Hawk and another Indian were taken as hostages. The Americans believed that they could use him to keep the other tribes from attacking. They forced the Native Americans into a standoff for none of them wanted to risk the life of their leader. Cornstalk’s name not only stuck fear into hearts of the white settlers up and down the frontier, but it also garnered respect from the other Indian tribes. He was gifted with great oratory skills, fighting ability and military genius. In fact, it was said that when his fighting tactics were adopted by the Americans, they were able to defeat the British in a number of battles where they had been both outnumbered and outgunned.


Although taken as hostage, Cornstalk and the other Indians were treated well and were given comfortable quarters, leading many to wonder if the chief’s hostage status may have been voluntary in the beginning. Cornstalk even assisted his captors in plotting maps of the Ohio River Valley during his imprisonment. On November 9, Cornstalk’s son, Ellinipisco, came to the fort to see his father and he was also detained.


The following day, gunfire was heard from outside the walls of the fort, coming from the direction of the Kanawha River. When men went out to investigate, they discovered that two soldiers who had left the stockade to hunt deer had been ambushed by Indians. One of them had escaped but the other man had been killed.


When his bloody corpse was returned to the fort, the soldiers in the garrison were enraged. Acting against orders, they broke into the quarters were Cornstalk and the other Indians were being held. Even though the men had nothing to do with the crime, they decided to execute the prisoners as revenge. As the soldiers burst through the doorway, Cornstalk rose to meet them. It was said that he stood facing the soldiers with such bravery that they paused momentarily in their attack. It wasn’t enough though and the soldiers opened fire with their muskets. Red Hawk tried to escape up through the chimney but was pulled back down and slaughtered. Ellinipisico was shot where he had been sitting on a stool and the other unknown Indian was strangled to death. As for Cornstalk, he was shot eight times before he fell to the floor.


And as he lay their dying in the smoke-filled room, he was said to have pronounced his now legendary curse. The stories say that he looked upon his assassins and spoke to them: “I was the border man’s friend. Many times I have saved him and his people from harm. I never warred with you, but only to protect our wigwams and lands. I refused to join your paleface enemies with the red coats. I came to the fort as your friend and you murdered me. You have murdered by my side, my young son.... For this, may the curse of the Great Spirit rest upon this land. May it be blighted by nature. May it even be blighted in its hopes. May the strength of its peoples be paralyzed by the stain of our blood.” (7)


THOMAS HARBERT (Sr’s) DEATH AT HARBERT FORT…


Chief Cornstalk was killed on November 11, 1777.  Thomas Harbert and others built the Harbert Fort or Blockhouse on Jones Run in the Virginia frontier after his arrival sometime in 1775, near the start of the Revolutionary War.  Colonists could take no more of the ever-increasing taxes imposed on them by Britain.  Britain, acting in its own interests played the Native Americans against the rebellious colonists, encouraging them to attack the settlers on the Virginia frontier.  As mentioned above, Chief Cornstalk after the Battle of Point Pleasant in October 1774, had no interest in further hostilities and did not want to be drawn into the conflict.  He was in fact in the process of trying to negotiate a peace treaty when he was killed in November, 1777.  The Shawnee, as well as whites were outraged at his death.  The Shawnee went on the warpath to revenge his death and the attack on Fort Harbert (and Thomas’ death) on March 3rd 1778 was a result. 

 

Several sources document the attack at Fort Harbert.  Following are some of the more detailed and interesting accounts of this event…



Photo of HARBERT FORT taken in 1939

photo courtesy of Gary Edward Harbert, Lumberport, W.Va - from Dick Harbert’s “Harbert Family Home Page” http://pages.prodigy.net/dharbert/Story_8.htm.

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CHRONICLES OF BORDER WARFARE - CHAPTER X

from the website: http://www.hackerscreek.com/chap10.html.


After the winter became so severe as to prevent the Indians from penetrating the country and committing farther aggressions, the inhabitants became assured of safety, and devoted much of their time to the erection of new forts, the strengthening of those which had been formerly established, and the making of other preparations, deemed necessary to prevent the repetition of those distressing occurrences, which had spread gloom and sorrow over almost every part of North Western Virginia. That the savages would early renew their exertions to destroy the frontier settlements, and harass their citizens, could not for an instant be doubted. - Revenge of the murder of Cornstalk, and the other chiefs killed in the fort by the whites, had operated to unite the warlike nation of the Shawanees in a league with the other Indians, against them; and every circumstance seemed to promise increased exertions on their part, to accomplish their purposes of blood and devastation.


Notwithstanding all which had been suffered during the preceding season; and all, which it was confidently anticipated would have to be undergone after the return of spring, yet did the whole frontier increase in population and in capacity to defend itself against the encroachments of s savage enemy, aided by British emissaries, and led on by American Tories. The accession to its strength, caused by the number of emigrants, who came into the different settlements, was indeed considerable; yet it was insufficient, to enable the inhabitants to purchase by offensive operations, exemption from invasion or security from the tomahawk and scalping knife. Assured of this, Virginia extended to them farther assistance; and a small body of regular troops, under the command of General McIntosh, was appropriated to their defence.


In the spring of 1778, General McIntosh, with the regulars and some militiamen, attached to his command, descended the Ohio river from Fort Pitt, to the mouth of Big Beaver - a creek discharging itself into that river from the north west. This was a favorable position, at which to station his troops to effect the partial security of the frontier, by intercepting parties of Indians on their way to the settlements on the opposite of the river, and by pursuing and punishing them while engaged, either in committing havoc, or in retreating to their towns, after the consummation of their horrid purposed. Fort McIntosh was accordingly erected here, and garrisoned; with a six pounder mounted for its defense.


From Wheeling to Point Pleasant, a distance of one hundred and eighty-six miles, there was then no obstacle whatever presented to the advance of Indian war parties, into the settlements on the East and West Forks of the Monongahela and their branches. The consequences of this exposure had been always severely felt; and never more so than after the establishment of Fort McIntosh. Every impediment to their invasion of one part of the country, caused more frequent irruptions into others, where no difficulties were interposed to check their progress, and brought heavier woes on them. - This had been already experienced, in the settlements on the upper branches of the Monongahela, and as they were the last the feel the effects of savage enmity in 1777, so were they first to become sacrificed to its fury in 1778.


Anticipating the commencement of hostilities at an earlier period of the season, than usual, several families retired into Harbert’s block-house at Ten Mile (a branch of the West Fork,) in the month of February. And notwithstanding the prudent caution manifested by them in the step thus taken; yet, the state of the weather lulling them into false security, they did not afterwards exercise the vigilance and provident care, which were necessary to ensure their future safety. On the third of March, some children, playing with a crippled crow, at a short distance from the yard, espied a number of Indians proceeding towards them; and running briskly to the house, told ""hat a number of red men were close by."


John Murphey stepped to the door to see if danger had really approached, when one of the Indians, turning the corner of the house, fired at him. The ball took effect, and Murphey fell back into the house. The Indian springing directly in, was grappled by Harbert, and thrown to the floor. A shot from without, wounded Harbert, yet he continued to maintain his advantage over the prostrate savage, striking him as effectually as he could with his tomahawk, when another gun was fired at him from without the house. The ball passed through his head and he fell lifeless. His antagonist then slipped out at the door, sorely wounded in the encounter.


Just after the first Indian had entered, an active young warrior, holding in his hand a tomahawk with a long spike at the end, also came in. Edward Cunningham instantly drew up his gun to shoot him; but it flashed, and they closed in doubtful strife. Both were active and athletic; and sensible of the high prize for which they were contending, each put forth his utmost strength, and strained his every nerve, to gain the ascendancy. For a while, the issue seemed doubtful. At length, by great exertion, Cunningham wrenched the tomahawk from the hand of the Indian, and buried the spike end to the handle, in his back. Mrs. Cunningham closed the contest. Seeing her husband struggling closely with the savage, she struck him with an axe. The edge wounding his face severely, he loosened his hold, and made his way out of the house.


The third Indian, which had entered before the door was closed, presented an appearance almost as frightful as the object which he had in view. He wore a cap made of the unshorn front of a buffalo, with the ears and horns still attached to it, and which hanging loosely about his head, gave to him a most hideous aspect. On entering the room, this infernal monster, aimed a blow with his tomahawk at a Miss Reece, which alighting on her head, wounded her severely. The mother of this girl, seeing the uplifted arm about to descend on her daughter, seized the monster by the horns; but his false head coming readily off, she did not succeed in changing the direction of the weapon. The father then caught hold of him; but far inferior in strength and agility, he was seen thrown on the floor, and must have been killed, but for the timely interference of Cunningham. Having succeeded in ridding the room of one Indian, he wheeled, and sank a tomahawk into the head of the other.


During all this time the door was kept by the women, though not without great exertion. The Indians from without endeavored several time to force it open and gain admittance; and would at one time have succeeded, but that, as it was yielding to their effort to open it, the Indian, who had been wounded by Cunningham and his wife, squeezing out at the aperture which had been made, caused a momentary relaxation of the exertions of those without, and enabled the women again to close it, and prevent the entrance of others. - Those were not however, unemployed. They were engaged in securing such of the children in the yard, as were capable of being carried away as prisoners, and in killing and scalping the others; and when they had effected this, despairing of being able to do farther mischief, they retreated to their towns.


Of the whites in the house, one only was killed and four were wounded; seven or eight children in the yard, were killed of taken prisoners. One Indian was killed, and two badly wounded. Had Reece engaged sooner in the conflict, the other two who had entered the house, would no doubt have been likewise killed; but being a Quaker, he looked on, without participating in the conflict, until his daughter was wounded. Having then to contend singly, with superior prowess, he was indebted for the preservation of his life, to the assistance of those whom he refused to aid in pressing need. (8)

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The following account was taken from the following website:  http://www.us-data.org/wv/marion/history/dunnington/chapter-vi.txt.



History and Progress of the County of Marion, West Virginia

by George A. Dunnington, Publisher 1880


CHAPTER VI: MURDER OF JOSIAH PRICKETT --

CONTINUATION OF IN DIAN ATROCITIES --

MURDER OF MISS COON --

ATTACK ON FORT HARBERT.



In the month of March following, a party of Indians came suddenly on a number of children playing in a yard on Ten Mile. The children ran screaming to the house (which was serving as a place of refuge for the settlers in that neighborhood, and was known as Fort Harbert,) and apprised the inmates of the Indians approach. John Murphey, rushing to the door to see if danger really was near, was instantly shot and fell back into the house; the Indian who had fired the shot; not  knowing there were other men in the house, sprang in and was instantly grappled by Mr. Harbert, who threw him upon the floor and struck him with his tomahawk.


While maintaining his position over the prostrate savage, two shots were fired at Harbert from without--the first wounding him, and the second, passing through his head, killed him. In the meantime, Edward Cunningham was having a terrible struggle with a warrior who had entered immediately after the first one. He drew up his gun to shoot the savage, but it flashed, and the two men closed in a hand-to-hand encounter. After a contest of some moments, Cunningham wrenched from the hand of the Indian his tomahawk, and buried the spike end of it in his back, while Mrs. Cunningham, rushing up to the savage, struck him with an axe, causing him to release his hold upon Mr. Cunningham and retire bleeding from the house. The third Indian who entered the door wore a cap made of the unshorn front of a buffalo, with the ears and horns still attached to it, presenting the most hideous aspect; a Miss Reece was standing near him and at her he aimed a blow which wounded her severely. Mrs. Reece seeing her daughter's terrible danger, seized the horrible head-dress of the savage by its horns, hoping to turn aside the blow, but it came off in her hands and the blow fell on the head of the girl. The father of the girl then attacked the Indian, but was quickly thrown to the floor, and the savage would have made short work of him had not Cunningham rushed to the rescue and tomahawked his assailant. During this time the rest of the Indians, who had been prevented from entering the door by the women, were engaged in securing such of the children in the yard as were capable of being carried away prisoners. These, evidently not relishing the idea of further attack, retreated, carrying with them the children they had captured. In this attack one white person was killed in the house and four wounded.


In the yard eight children were either killed or taken prisoners, while the Indians had one killed and two wounded. This was the most serious of the Indian depredations of that year in this section, and, although it did not transpire within the boundaries of what is now called Marion county; but in Harrison, it is given here for reasons that are obvious. Some of the settlers concerned in the incident belonged to this vicinity, or were inhabitants of this county; it is therefore appropriate as well as interesting to give it in this connection. (9)

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The following account was taken from the following website:  http://titchenal.com/Saga/RiverWest/chapter6/SagaCH06.pdf.


The Rivers Run West

by Oliver Ray Titchenal

Chapter 6 - David Titchenal and family move to Harrison County, Virginia and meet the Harbert family

Page 110


Assisted by others in the area, Thomas Harbert, Sr. built a blockhouse, later known as Harbert’s Fort or Harbert’s Blockhouse. The forts like Fort Harbert became a part of the frontier defense which was first ordered by King George II before the revolution started. This defense was to consist of a group of volunteers serving under officers as follows: A colonel and a major directing their activities with a county Lieutenant charged with the responsibility of raising the men. These officers were recommended by the County Court and appointed by the Governor of the State. Additional officers were elected by the militia volunteers, or commissioned after raising a set number of men. These were captains, lieutenants, ensigns and sergeants. The men were formed into companies of 50, but this number sometimes varied.  Thomas Harbert (Sr.) was a part of this militia. In April, 1775, captain Morgan formed the first known company of the militia in the area. The roster of his battalion lists 126 names.  Thomas Harbert, Sr. was among them. The enlistment ran from 3 days to 12 months. The pay was given in pounds sterling. Translated into continental currency, this was: Major $2.64 /day, Captain $2.20/ day, Scout $1.10 /day, Private 24c / day. In addition to pay, which was not always paid, each man was entitled to claim land in Ohio, and unclaimed land in Virginia, as an additional reward for his service. This is one of the main reasons so many of the early defenders left the area later to settle in Ohio.

“The first entry of land in this district was made March 12, 1775. The actual settlement was made on Jones Run; Thomas and Edward Cunningham; John Hull; Capt. Thomas Harbert, John Wood, Benjamin Robinson, Samuel Harbert; Peter, John and Elizabeth Cornelius and Nathan Reece, first settlers”


               Thomas Harbert, Sr. served as a captain in the militia under major Benjamin Robinson.


Page 111

The Titchenal Saga The Rivers Run West


Two of Thomas Harbert’s sons, Edward and Samuel, were also Revolutionary War veterans.  They served as Indian scouts and spies and received pensions. In 1832, Edward, Samuel and their brother, John, applied for pensions. Samuel’s and Edward’s application were first accepted and then rejected after one year, as the type of service did not qualify for a pension. John’s application was never accepted, being rejected out of hand as he was thought to be too young.  There was no application on file for Thomas Harbert, Sr. or Jr.. However, this is not surprising because it was not possible to file until 1832. Both Thomas Sr. & Jr. were dead before that time, although their widows could have filed for a widow’s pension. Haymond’s History of West Virginia said a Thomas Harbert also received pay for scouting.


      On the 3rd of March 1778, the Harbert Blockhouse was attacked by Indians. Thomas Harbert, John Murphy and some children were killed and one or two children captured.  The “Attack on Harbert’s Blockhouse” was described as follows in the book, the History of Harrison County :


“By early 1777 the war of the Revolution was now in high tide and Great Britain considered it a legitimate mode of warfare against the rebellious colonies to let loose a horde of savages against peaceful settlers and children. However the winter of 1777 was so severe that it prevented the Indians from penetrating the county and committing further aggressions.  The settlers became assured of safety and devoted much of their time to repairing the old forts for the storm that everyone expected would break upon the defenseless frontier in the spring of 1778.  The murder of Cornstalk, while a prisoner in the hands of the whites, had stirred the war-like nation of Shawnees to avenge the death of their chief. Other tribes were urged to attack settlements by English officers, who furnished them with arms, ammunition and supplies and gave rewards for prisoners. 


Anticipating the commencement of hostilities at an earlier period of the season than usual several families retired into Harbert’s blockhouse situated on Jones Run in Eagle district a tributary of Ten Mile, about eleven miles from Clarksburg in the month of February. But notwithstanding the prudent caution manifested by them in the step thus taken, yet the state of the weather lulling them into false security, they did not afterwards exercise the vigilance and provided care which was necessary to insure their future safety.


On the third of March 1778, some children were playing with a crippled cow at a short distance from the yard, espied a number of Indians proceeding towards them, and running briskly to the house told that “a number of red men were close by.” John Murphy stepped to the door to see if danger had really approached, when one of the Indians turning the corner of the house, fired at him. The ball took effect and Murphy fell back into the house.  The Indian, springing directly in, was grappled by Thomas Harbert and thrown on the floor. A shot from without wounded Harbert, yet he continued to maintain his advantage over the prostrate savage, striking the Indian as effectively as he could with his own tomahawk. Another gun was fired at Thomas from without the house. The ball passed through his head and Thomas Harbert fell lifeless. His antagonist then slipped out of the door, sorely wounded in the encounter.


The Titchenal Saga The Rivers Run West

Page 112


Just after the first Indian had entered, an active young warrior, holding in his hand a tomahawk with a long spike in the end, also came in. Edward Cunningham instantly drew his gun to shoot him, but the gun flashed [misfired] and they closed in doubtful strife. Both active and athletic and sensible for the high prize which they were contending each put forth his utmost strength, and strained his every nerve to gain the ascendency.  For a while the issue seemed doubtful. At length by great exertion Cunningham wrenched the tomahawk from the hand of the Indian and buried the spike to the handle in his back.  Mrs Cunningham closed the contest, seeing her husband struggling closely with the savage, she struck at him with axe. The edge wounding his face severely, he loosened his hold and made his way out of the house.  The third Indian who had entered before the door was closed, presented an appearance as frightful as the object he had in view. He wore a cap made of the unshorn front of a buffalo with the ears and horns still attached to it., and which, hanging loosely about his head, gave to him a most hideous aspect.  On entering the room this infernal monster aimed a blow with his tomahawk at Miss Reese, which alighted on her head wounding her severely. The mother of the girl, seeing the uplifted arm about to descend on her daughter, seized the monster by the horns, but his false head coming off, she did not succeed in changing the direction of the weapon. The father then caught hold of him, but being far inferior in strength and agility, he was soon thrown on the floor, and might have been killed but for the timely interference of Cunningham, who, having succeeded in ridding the room of one Indian, wheeled and sunk a tomahawk into the head of the other.  During all this time the door was kept by the women, though not without great exertion.  The Indians from without endeavoring several times to force the door open and gain admittance. The Indians would have succeeded as it was yielding to their efforts to open it.  But the Indian who had been wounded by Cunningham and his wife, was squeezing out of the aperture which had been made. This caused a momentary relaxation of the exertions of those without.  This enabled the women to again close the door and prevent the entrance of others. The Indians outside were engaged in securing such children in the yard as were capable of being carried away as prisoners, and in killing and scalping the others, after which, despairing of being able to do further mischief, they retreated to their towns.


Of the whites in the house only one was killed and four were wounded, and seven or Cunningham wheeled and sunk a tomahack in the head of the Indian, while William Harbert, a young boy (11) crawled under the bed and ate turmips durung the fight.  Eight children in the yard were killed or taken


The Titchenal Saga The Rivers Run West


Page 113


prisoners. One Indian was killed and two badly wounded. Had Miss Reese’s father engaged sooner in the conflict the other two Indians who had entered the house would no doubt have also been killed, but being a Quaker he looked on without participating in the conflict until his daughter was wounded. Having then to contend singly with superior prowess, he was indebted for preservation of his life to the assistance of those he refused to aid earlier.  One of Thomas’ son, William Harbert a young boy (11) at the time of the attack was in the garden gathering turnips, he ran towards the house, in the fight he dodged between the legs of an Indian who struck at him with a tomahawk but missed. After he gained entrance to the house he crawled under the bed and ate turnips during the fight.”


Henry W. Bigler in a letter written from St.. George, Utah to the Clarksburg Telegram, writes of this affair as follows:


“On page 173 of “Border Warfare” it is stated by Withers that some children playing with a crippled cow, espied a number of Indians coming towards them and running briskly to the house told that a number of red men were close by, etc. Here permit me to state that among the children was the late Joseph Cunningham of Harrison county, then a boy about eight years old. I have heard him tell the story. He was my step mothers uncle and often when I was a boy he would come to my father’s, stay overnight and relate his experiences with Indian life, and tell all about how he was taken captive.  He said the children were at play in a clay hole with a crippled cow, when all at once they saw the Indians coming and ran into the old loom house, slipped down through the treadle hole and hid under the floor. He was, however soon taken from his place of refuge by a lusty savage and made to follow him and the indians to their towns. He ran the gauntlet composed of little Indian boys about his own size. They pelted him with sticks fists until at last he turned and showed fight and struck back. This caused a great laugh and seemed to please his captors. He was at once adopted into an Indian family and lived with them sixteen years. He almost forgot his mother tongue, but his name he never forgot and said whenever he happened to be alone he would repeat “Joe Cunningham” over and over a number of

times. 


When he was twenty-four years old he was ransomed but it was with reluctance that he was induced to return to the whites to live. He had lived so long with the Indians that he had become perfectly reconciled to stay with them, He did not feel at home with the whites, became dissatisfied and finally went back to his red friends to live, and not until then did he discover that the Indians lived dirty, filthy lives. Seeing this he left them, returned to the whites, married a respectable white woman and lived the life of a white man the balance of his days.  He said at times he went with the Indians to steal horses from whites, on one occasion they were pursued so closely that they hid themselves in the Ohio river and were obliged to lie in water all night with their heads barely out of the watery element. Sometimes he went with the Indians to war against the whites, but he never could shoot at a white man.  He was with the Indians when they defeated St. Clare (November 4, 1791) but said, “I never could shoot; every time I raised my gun and took aim my heart failed me.  During the engagement I stood behind trees and many times I thought I would shoot, but every time I brought my gun to my face to draw a bead my heart told me not to shoot.  I threw away my bullets, poured out part of my powder onto the ground, and when the chef came to me after the battle, he shook my powder horn, patted me on the back and said, “puty well, puty well” believing I had shot it away. “



The Titchenal Saga The Rivers Run West

Page 114



In an account of the suit Reese vs. Robinson in Chalky’s records of Augusta County, Virginia, the deposition of Hannah Reese (wife of Jacob Reese) stated:


“Thomas Harbert’s blockhouse was attacked by Indians, five persons were killed, four were wounded and three taken. Among those wounded were Jacob Reese and his small daughter. After Jacob Reese recovered he stood to his post and help defend the house. The next morning, it was thought best to evacuate the house and they all moved to Grundy’s blockhouse the place where Colonel Wilson mow lives on Simpson Creek.”


Two of the people killed were Thomas Harbert and his daughter. Her name is not known (but thought to be Cilia) and no record has been found of this daughter. No one recorded the names of the other two who were killed.


(Note: the Harbert Blockhouse is situated on Jones Run less than two miles from Lumberport. The tradition of the neighborhood is that five or six whites and one Indian was killed. All the whites were buried in one grave on the property.) (10)



About two years before his death on April 13, 1776 - Thomas Harbert signed a promissory note in the amount of  "seventy pounds current money" to Annanias Davisson of Dunmore County of the Colony of Virginia.  It may be that the money from this note was used to build the Harbert Fort or "Blockhouse" which he later died defending on Jones' Run -  March 3, 1778.  Below is a copy of this note bearing Thomas's signature...

Know all men by these presents, that I, Thomas Harbert of West Fork in West Augusta County Colony of Virginia, am held & firmly Bound unto Annias Davisson of Dunmore County in said Colony of Virginia in the sum of seventy pounds current money of Virginia to be paid unto the said Annias Davisson or his certain attorney, heires, Executor,  administrator or (as)sign’s to which payment well & truly to be made.  I bind myself, my heires, executor, administrator firmly by these presents sealed well with my seal & dated this 13th day of April, 1776 ~

The condition of the above obligation is such that if the above bound Thomas Harbert shall well and truly pay or cause to be paid unto the said Annias Davisson his certain attorney, heires, Executor, administrator, assigns the sum of thirty five pounds like money at or upon first Day of January - next insuing the Date hereof then the above obligation to be void or else to remain in full force & virtue.
                                                                            
Davis Horner         Thomas Harbert (Seal)
Aaron Smith

April 13, 1776

PROMISSORY NOTE

Thomas Harbert to Annanias Davission

References:

(1) Fowler, W.M. Empires at War: The French and Indian War and the Struggle for North America, 1754-1763. New York: Walker, 2005.

(2) French and Indian War-Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_and_Indian_War

(3)  Zimmerman, Diane. Chapter Three - The Harberts and Related Families. Levi, Utah. 2007.

(4) Harbert, Dick. Harbert Family Home Page,  http://pages.prodigy.net/dharbert/

(5) Stanwix - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia;  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Stanwix

(6) Battle of Point Pleasant - Native American Clashes with European Settlershttp://www.wvculture.org/hiStory/indland.html

(7) Haunted West Virginia “The Cornstalk Curse”, http://www.prairieghosts.com/cornstalk.html

(8) “Chronicles of Border Warfare - Chapter X.”  http://www.hackerscreek.com/chap10.html

(9)“CHAPTER VI: MURDER OF JOSIAH PRICKETT --CONTINUATION OF INDIAN ATROCITIES - MURDER OF MISS COON --

      ATTACK ONFORT HARBERT.” History and Progress of the County of Marion, West Virginia by George A. Dunnington, Publisher 1880.  U.S. Data Repository - USGenNet Inc., http://www.us-data.org/wv/marion/history/dunnington.htm

(10) Titchenal, Oliver Ray, “Chapter 6 - David Titchenal and family move to Harrison County, Virginia and meet the Harbert family - The Rivers Run West,” http://titchenal.com/Saga/RiverWest/chapter6/SagaCH06.pdf