The Last Indians in Orange Co., Va.

Since Donna was kind enough to find this article and send it to me, I thought I’d extract what I consider to be the relevant portions and post them here.  Thank you Donna!!

“The Last Indians in Orange Co., Va.,” contributed (to the magazine) by Dr. A.G. Grinnan, published in the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol 3, #2 189-191 (Oct 1898)

At Orange May court in 1740, William Bohannon came and made oath that “about 26 Saponey Indians, who inhabited Col. Spotswood’s land in Fox’s Neck (near Germanna on the north side of the Rapidan River) go about and do a great deal of mischief by setting fire to the woods and more especially on the 20 day of last April, whereby several farrows of pigs wee bunt in their beds, and that he verily believes that one of them shot at him the same day, the bullet striking a tree within 4 feet of him, and that he saw the Indian about 100 yards from him, no game or any sort being between them, and that said Indian after firring (sic) his gun stood in a stooping manner , very steadily so that he could hardly discern him from a stump, and that the said Bohannon has lost more hogs than usual since he coming of the Indians.” Which statement was ordered to be certified to the next general assembly.  What action was taken, we don’t know.

The Saponey tribe of Indians lived near and on the Meherrin River in southside Virginia and Governor Spotswood made great efforts to educate and Christianize them.  They had schools and schoolmasters and a minister and were considered civilized Indians.  Probably Gov. Spotswood had allowed these Indians to come and settle upon his lands.  Here they might raise food on their farms, but probably the great inducement was the hunting grounds in the “wilderness.”

In January 1742-43, the following Sapony Indians were arrested for hog stealin, burning the woods, &c, and were brought to Orange Court, then held near Somerville Ford on the Rapidan River; their names were Alex. Machartion, John Bowling, Maniassa, Capt. Tom, Isaac Harry, Blind Tom, Foolish Jack, Charles Griffin, John Collins and Little Jack. 

The parties were arraigned before court and the nature of the charges against them explained and evidence heard, and the court decided that they must leave the county, and that their guns should be taken from them until they left, when they should be given back, and that they must give security for good behavior until their departure. 

Several white gentlemen sympathizing with them, went security on their bail bonds and the poor fellows soon settled up their affairs and left the county.  Tradition however says that one remained and long lived on the Gwin Mountains below Rapidan Station, subsisting by  hunting and the charity of neighboring farmers.  There curious mountains were formed by a singular uplift of the subadjacent triassic sandstone strata, forcing up enormous columns of sandstone to a considerable height, some of which leaning towards others, making a passable shelter for an Indian.

The Indians in the upper or northern Piedmont Virginia were chiefly of the large Mannahoac tribe.  The subtribes living in Orange were the Outponies and Stegaratsin but the great Iriquois (sic) nation and the Susquehannocks made their raids through Virginia to attack their ancient foes, the Catawbas and Cherokees.  Old Shawnee Indians in Kansas in 1857 claimed that their name means “Southerner” and that their tribe was driven by the Cherokeees and Catawabas from the Carolinas to Virginia and Pennsylvania, whence they drifted westward and these too made their annual raids through Virginia to punish their ancient antagonists and did much harm.  These expeditions were feared by the whites, resulting often in murder and pillage, but were given up when the country became more thickly settled.  Shawnee raids continued in West Virginia until years after the Revolution. 

The celebrated Cornstalk, whose powers as an orator were said to be unsurpassed by either Patrick Henry or Richard H. Lee, in a speech in Ohio enumerating the injuries done to the Shawnees, mentions their expulsion from their lands on the waters of the Shenandoah River.  They were numerous there until 1754, when they left and went towards Pittsburg.  In 1756 they raided various settlements in Montgomery.  They were the chief actors in Braddock’s and Grant’s defeat.  They were dangerous foes. 

Mr. Van Meter of NY gives an account of his accompanying the NY Delaware Indians in 1732 on their raids against the Catawbas.  They passed up the south branch of the Potomac and he afterwards settled his boys there.


About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
This entry was posted in Saponi, Virginia. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.