Steel Family Notes



Spicer Massacre, June 4, 1774
    On August 7, 1889, the Spicer-Bowen descendants held a family reunion at Davistown, in memory of Elizabeth Spicer, who was taken captive by the Indians on June 4, 1774, and returned to her friends Christmas Day, 1774, in Muddy Creek. At this meeting her youngest daughter, Nancy Steele, then 88, was present, along with many grand- and great-grand-children and others. A movement was started at that time to collect the records of descendants. Albert Stephens, John Coatsworth and Clarence C. Wright were appointed for this task. Upon the death of the first two men, all records fell into my hands (Dr. C.C. Wright) and, as I had the minutes of that meeting, I feel it my duty to put in writing some of the records, as well as the story of the massacre as I learned it from the only living daughter, Agness Steele (known as Aunt Nancy), who is my great-grandmother. Also, I was raised on an adjoining farm one-half mile west of the scene of the massacre, and I know the lay of the ground. I do not know of any one of the descendants ever having written the story as told by Betty Spicer. In about the year 1771 or 1772, William Spicer and family, which consisted of wife, Lydia, and five children (some people say seven children), came into Western Pennsylvania from Maryland or Virginia, to make their future home. They traveled across the mountains on horseback with packsaddles. He was a farmer, as well as trader, and had the right to stake off four hundred acres. He was required to build a cabin and raise a crop of grain, however small, of any kind. This entitled him to a preemption right to add one thousand adjoining acres to his land if no one else had staked it off. He built the cabin and planted the crop. These farm lines ran on the tops of the ridges, or wherever they might stake them, and the houses were built in the valley below. The Spicer spread was located in a valley between Keener’s Knob and the ridge between Whiteley and Dunkard Creek, on land that now belongs to Amada Rice. The land, once owned by Oliver Sicklesmith, is situated about two miles east of Garard’s Fort, and one mile south of Willow Tree. As I was born and raised one half mile west of the cabin on an adjoining farm, and had passed by and through it many times, I feel sure this is the spot and cabin where it occurred. Also, at the time of the first reunion, I went with a large party to visit the site, and heard Major Lot Bowen, a grandson, point out the course and movements of the Indians on that fateful day, as told him by his grandmother. The cabin built of logs, a relic of Indian days, has stood the storms of time. The logs were rotting at the bottom, so when I last visited, it, we had to stoop on entering the door. The four lookouts in each gable were nearly circular and about two inches in diameter. The port holes, two in each side of the garret, were about eighteen inches long and about four inches deep and sawed out of the logs. This cabin has since been torn down, but the spot can bee located. In the Spring of 1774, Spicer and family planted their crops and everything was going along nicely. As he had been on very friendly terms with the Indians, he feared no danger. In other localities disturbances had arisen between Whites and Indians. When an Indian was killed, his friends would raid some friendly Whites to get revenge. Warnings had been sent to Spicer that the Indians were on the war path and that he should flee to the fort, but he thought they could do the washing and ironing and leave for the fort the next day. To his great surprise, on the morning of June 4, 1774, the Indians came down from the trail and caught him chopping wood around the corner of the house, some say making a watering trough. His daughter, Elizabeth, a lovely girl of twelve, was assisting her mother with the ironing. William, Jr., age 10, was nearby with other children, but Jobe, who was sixteen years old, was out in the corn field trapping squirrels and plowing corn. A more lovely, contented frontier home could not be imagined when the warriors appeared with intent to murder the innocent. Spicer, on observing their presence, stuck his ax in the log and started into the house to get something for them to eat when, suddenly, one of the warriors struck him in the head with the ax, and then killed the mother and tow children. Elizabeth ran out the rear door and fled with William. She still had the iron in her hand, and ran for some distance before she threw it behind a log. Years later, she returned and found it. It still remains in the possession of some of the relatives. They ran to find the men on an adjoining farm and, had they not hollered for the men, they might not have been caught. They were very fleet of foot, which pleased the Indians who overtook them. When they returned to the house, they found the baby was still alive; so a big Indian took the child by the feet and beat its head against the house. This was a great shock to Betty and a scene she could never forget. They killed Jobe in the field where he was trapping and working, and scalped him and the family. After loading all the plunder they could carry, they left with the two children, captives for their camp in Ohio. After they had gone a short distance out the dividing ridge, or old Indian trail, they heard people coming after them and were compelled to hide in a hollow nearby. All night they heard horses racing nearby. The Indians warned the children captives that if they made any outcry or alarm they would be killed. The Indians soon found that they had too much plunder to carry, so they unloaded and hid some of it. At the same time, they dropped her father’s scalp, which had a double crown. After her return from captivity, she recovered the scalp and kept it with the thought that it would be buried with her. During the trip, when the children got tired, a big Indian would take little Betty on his back and carry her. At night, to keep her warm, she would be placed in a comfortable spot and two Indians would lie down and place their backs against her. The trip was made without accident to the Ohio line, where they crossed the river near Wheeling, West Virginia. Betty and William were soon adopted by their captors and where loved and carefully taken care of. When any feast of specialties was served, Betty was never slighted. One of the Indian’s special desserts was wild turkey eggs, which they lay away until they rotted. When they served them, Betty would hide hers and when she had a chance without being seen she would slip it into a ditch. Once a squaw dressed up in her mother’s clothes that had been stolen. Betty’s pride was touched, and taking it as an insult to the memory of her mother, she flew into a rage and finally tore the clothes off the women. All the Indians were amused and, instead of being punished, they considered what she did a heroic act. During her stay among the Indians, they taught her the names of herbs, how and when to find them, and their use in case of sickness. This art proved to be one of her greatest assets. Through her entire life, it was handed down from generation to generation, and is still being practiced by many of her descendants. I as sorry to say I have many times been an unwilling victim of some of the concoctions. They also taught her to smoke a pipe, a habit she never quit. A and when she was very old and blind, it was her granddaughter, Ruth Steel, whose job it was to fill her pipe for her and place a coal from the wood fire on it so Grandma could have another smoke. Betty often said the Winter she was with the Indians was cold and rough, but she and her brother had the best of care. And to be sure she would not get cold, she was placed in bed between squaws. It has always been taught, among the descendants, that Betty was with the Indians for eighteen months, and if we count back from the time of her return we find that to be correct. The traders and Indians had frequent quarrels, especially the younger ones, and often someone would be shot. The Shawnees and Mingos were arrogant and overbearing. On April 27, 1774, Creesap killed and scalped two Indians near Wheeling, West Virginia, and on April 30, it is claimed that Greathouse, tricked with drinks, killed all of Chief Logan’s kin and others, nine in all. These incidents caused the war to begin in earnest. Following this, many Whites and Indians were slaughtered until Lord Dunmore was sent down the Ohio River to the mouth of the Great Kanawha, and succeeded in calling together many of the Chiefs, and made a treaty with them. One part of the treaty was that all prisoners captured by the Indians were to be returned. This treaty was signed in November, 1774, and shortly afterward Col. Wilson was commissioned to meet the Indians at some specified point along the Ohio River and bring the prisoners home. On his way, he crossed the Monongahela River near the mouth of Big Whiteley. I learned from A.J. Waychoff that he built a fort called Fort Wilson at what was later known as New Geneva. He also built a mill and, later, Betty’s stepson worked there. Isaiah Bowen was the millwright and moved to Missouri. When Col. Wilson arrived at Ohio Point, Betty was there to be returned, but William had been hidden and could not be found. She was returned to the settlement, probably on Muddy Creek, on Christmas Day, 1774. A few years later she married William Daugherty. It was a custom among the Indians to have days of sport. On such days, they would have foot races, jumping, wrestling, shooting, and running the gauntlet. William took part in all these sports, and was a successful winner, as he was very quick on foot. He found that when he won, the Indians liked him better. When the great feat of running the gauntlet was held, it took courage, bravery, skill and alertness to win. Two long rows of fire was arranged, with Indians on the outside of each holding a stick of wood or firebrand in their hands. The boys ran between the rows, beginning at one end and coming out the other, with the Indians punching at them with the burning stick as they passed. The boy who succeeded in dodging them, and who got through it with the least burns or scars was the lucky boy. William was the winner, and from that time on, they were determined never to give him up, and they never did. When William Spicer was nineteen or twenty years of age, he wanted to return to visit his sister. Some say he wanted to look after or sign over his interest in the estate of his father to his sister; but the Indians refused to grant his wish for fear it was a trick to get away from them. He gave them his word that he would return if his wish was granted. The Indians consented, but sent a big Indian along as bodyguard, and if he never returned, they would be sure the boy or his friends had killed the Indian. He stayed for some time, and visited her. Many of his friends insisted that he stay and said they would take care of the Indian. William said that if he did not return, it would only lead to another massacre. Also William said that if he should remain, the insults he would get would be hard to take, as he had already learned the manners and customs of the red man. They had been kind to him, and he was a favorite of the tribe, so he thought it best to return as he had promised. Some time later, he married an Indian girl and then was appointed Chief. He raised a family of two girls and two boys, (probably more). He named the first child for his sister Elizabeth and the second girl was named, Faircloud, by the mother. William took great interest in his family and the tribe he controlled. Much farming and stockraising was begun and he became very wealthy. He started to educate his children, and some claim they attended the W. & J. College. At one time, when his sister visited him, he told her if she would send a white boy to marry one of his girls, he would give him a half bushel of silver to start with. William became very wealthy, and in the latter part of his life, he had some dispute over property, and it was reported that he was poisoned by an Indian, which finally resulted in his death. William Spicer made but only one trip into his native state and never accompanied the Indians in any of their raids. It is said that many crimes were committed in which a white man was present. I think Theodore Roosevelt, in Winning the West explains who that White man was: “One of Lord Dunmore’s scouts, Simon Girty, was so evil that the whole West grew to loathe him with bitter hatred and called him the “White Renegade.” He was the son of a vicious Irish trader who was killed by the Indians. He was adopted by the Indians and grew up among them. His daring, ferocity and unscrupulous cunning quickly made him one of their leaders, at the time he was serving Lord Dunmore and the Whites. He was, by tastes, habits and education a red man, who felt ill at ease among those of his own color. He soon returned to the Indians and dwelt among them ever afterwards, and became the most inveterate foe of the Whites to be found in all the tribes. He lived to be a very old man and is said to have died fighting his ancient foe and kinsmen, the Americans. When Elizabeth Bowen’s son Corbly was ten or twelve years old, she took him on horseback and journeyed into Ohio to visit her brother. As they neared the camp, a war-whoop was given and the Indians came rushing out in two lines and surrounded them, which gave the boy an awful fright. Betty knew what to do and threw them a signal of friendship, and soon, they were by her side to inquire what she wanted. She asked for their Chief and was ushered into his presence. This must have been about 1804 as Corbly was born April 22, 1794. During the visit, she was treated royally and, on Sundays, everything was quiet. William asked his sister to make some cookies or doughnuts like his mother used to make, and teach his wife how to make them, which she did. When the visit was ended and they were ready to return, many presents were given to them, one of which was an Indian pony that remained in the family for many long years. I have heard Uncle Lot Bowen say he had carried wheat to a mill and flour home on this pony when a small lad. The sack had to be tied on the pony, as he was too small to balance it. Some claim Betty made more than one trip to visit her brother, for on one occasion, she was asked to cook the turkey and prepare the Christmas meal, as she was in the habit of doing at home, so his wife might learn how to do it. After the marriage of Elizabeth Spicer and William Daughtery, two children were born, Elizabeth Burge and Lydia Hubbs. After the death of William Daughtery, Elizabeth married Thomas Bowen, October 16, 1791. An exact copy of the records of Thomas Bowen’s old family Bible, now in the hands of Thomas Franklin Bowen, of Bland, Missouri, appears as Appendix B.P. 10 through 17, of Greene County East of Waynesburg: Histories, under A History of Bobtown, Compiled and Edited by Eleanor Musick, 1987.
APPENDIX B: A TRANSCRIPT of THE RECORDS of THE THOMAS BOWEN FAMILY BIBLE.
    Thomas Bowen and Agness Bowen was wedded A.D. 1768, the 22nd of March. Thomas Bowen and Elizabeth Bowen was wedded October the 16th, 1791. Children Spicer Bowen was born September the 9th, 16th day of the moon, 1792. Corbly Bowen was barn the 22nd of April, 1794. Mary Bowen was born November the 3rd, 1796. William Bowen was born 21st August, 1798. Thomas Bowen, Jr., was born September the 29th, 1800. Agness Bowen was born April the 27th, 1802. This family was raised at Davistown, Greene County, Pennsylvania, on a farm one mile further up Meadow Run, left Branch. Died and was buried on the same farm. Elizabeth Spicer Bowen died 1854, April 8. Age 92 years, 10 months. Thomas Bowen, born 1747, died 1832, came from Wales, was first married March 22, 1768, to Agness Crea of Muddy Creek, Greene County, Pennsylvania. To them were born six children: George Bowen born January 15, 1769. Robert Bowen born March 4, 1770. Sarah Bowen born November 13, 1771. Elizabeth Bowen born April 19, 1778. Alexander Bowen born December 9, 1780. Isaiah Bowen born December 7, 1784. War record of Thomas Bowen as furnished by the State Librarian of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
To Whom It May Concern:
    I hereby certify that one Thomas Bowen was a private in Captain George Forepaugh’s Company, Fifth Battalion, Philadelphia Militia, was called into active service July, 1777, Timothy Matlock, Colonel. He was paid November 7, 1778. See Page 339, Volume One, Pennsylvania Archives, Sixth Series. H.H. Shnek, Custodian of Public Records. With compliments, Dr. C.C. Wright, Charleroi, Pennsylvania, and Mr. George Presock, St., RD#1, Box 268-B, Greensboro, Pennsylvania.

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