Baker Family Stories


The Battle of Captina Creek - Lewis Wetzel, Indian Fighter
Story sent to me by Verna Riggs of Clarksburg, West Virginia.
One mile below the mouth of Captina, on the Virginia shore was Baker's Fort, so named for Captain John Baker. One morning in May 1794, four men were sent over, according to the custom, to the Ohio side to reconnoiter. They were Adam Miller, John Daniels, Isaac McCowan and John Shoptaw. Miller and Daniels took upstream and the other two down. The upper scout was attacked and killed by Indians, and Miller killed. Daniels ran up to Captina, which was about three miles, but being weak from the loss of blood issuing from a wound in his right arm, was taken prisoner and carried into captivity, but was subsequently released at the treaty of Greenville. The lower scouts having discovered signs of the enemy escaped. McCowan was shot by the Indians while making up towards his canoe. He was wounded but had run down the bank, and sprang into the water, pursued by the enemy, who overtook and scalped him. The firing was heard at the fort, and they asked for volunteers. There were fifty men in the fort. A daughter of Captain Baker volunteered to go saying she would be no coward. This aroused the pride of Captain Baker's son, John Baker, Jr., who before had determined to go. He joined the others, fourteen in number, in command of Captain Enochs. They soon crossed the river, and went up Captina single file, a distance of one and one-half miles, following the Indian trail. The enemy had swung back on their own trail, and were in ambush on the hillside, awaiting their approach. When sufficiently near they fired upon the whites, but being on an elevated position, the bullets passed harmlessly over them. The whites then treed. Some of the Indians came behind and shot Captain Enochs and Mr. Hoffman.
The whites soon retreated, and the Indians pursued. When, but a short distance John Baker was shot in the hip. Determined to sell his life dearly as possible, he threw off on one side and secreted himself in a hollow with a rock at his back, offering no chance for the enemy but in front. Shortly after two guns were heard in quick succession. Doubtless one of them was fired by John Baker. The next day the men turned out and visited the spot. Enochs, Hoffman and John Baker were found dead and scalped. Enochs' intestines and eyes were torn out, and Hoffman's eyes were screwed out with a wiping stick.
The dead were wrapped in white hickory bark and brought over to the Virginia shore and buried in their bark coffins. There were about 30 Indians engaged in this action, and seven skeletons were found secreted in the crevices in rocks. Jacob, John Jr., and Lewis Wetzel were along and took part in this fight. Governor McArthur was in this action also. He told McDonald in his biographical sketch that he was the youngest man of the fourteen that went out against the Indians and that after Captain Enochs was killed that he was called upon to direct the retreat. The wounded who were able to walk were placed in front, while McArthur and his Spartan band covered the retreat. The moment an Indian showed himself in pursuit he was fired upon and generally, it was believed, with affect.
The Indians were so severely handled that they gave up the pursuit. The great Shawnee Chief Charles Wilkey, was in command of the Indians. He told the author McDonald that the battle of Captina was the most severe conflict he ever witnessed, and that, although he had the advantage of ground and first fired, he lost half his men, half of them having been either killed or wounded. The three Wetzel brothers, Henry Baker, Reuben Roberts, George Baker, Leonard Riegor and two brothers, Aaron Hughes, Captain Roberts and three canoe loads from Round Bottom attended Captain Baker's funeral.
Note: This narrative was told by Martin Baker, a brother of John Baker, who was 12 years old and an inmate of Baker's Fort at the time of the Battle of Captina. From Henry Howe's Historical Collections of Ohio, Vol. II, 1888. Colonel S.P. Baker stated that the three Wetzels recovered Captain John Baker's body shortly after he was shot. He had crawled partly under a log, lying insensible, and was put on a canoe, carried across the river to the fort, where he soon died. His eyes were both gored out. He was buried near the fort or blockhouse at Grave Yard Run, near Cresaps.
From the Wheeling Intelligencer, May 1866, Colonel Samuel Baker, from whom these facts were received, lived near Benwood, W.Va. He is the second of Henry Baker, and was born in 1798. He married Caroline Tomlinson, the oldest daughter of Samuel Tomlinson, in 1825.
The following is from Samuel P. Baker:
"John Baker, my grandfather, was a Prussian. He came to the United States in 1755. He landed at Philadelphia, where he married a German lady Elizabeth Sullivan in 1760. After his marriage he moved to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia where, in 1773, Henry Baker, my father, was born. In 1767 he emigrated to Dunkard Creek, Greene County, Pa., and settled among the Indians, four tribes of whom were living there in peace with the whites, viz: the Delawares, the Wyandotes, the Shawnees, and the Mingoes. He remained there until the breaking out of the Dunmore's War, when he took refuge with his family in what was then called Redstone Old Fort, now Brownsville, Pa. After Dunmore's war he settled at Cresap's Bottom, and built a fort or blockhouse that was commonly known as Baker's Station, and was a noted place for protection against the Indians. He was killed by the Indians on the Ohio side in 1778 in company with the three Wetzels and buried on the Virginia side near the blockhouse or fort."
More Baker info on Yoho Page
The Baker Family - History of Marshall County, West Virginia
Of the early settlers in Marshall County, the Baker family is one that is worthy of mention. Henry Baker lived for more than one-half of a century in the lower end of Round Bottom. Colonel Samuel P. Baker, his son, gave the following account of the early history of the Baker family.
He said that his grandfather, John Baker, settled on Dunkard Creek in Greene County, Pa., about the year 1767, and lived there a number of years near Indians, who then lived in that section of the country and were very friendly with the whites. At the breaking out of Dunmore's War in 1774, his grandfather removed his family to Redstone Old Fort, now Brownsville, and remained there some time after the war was over. Later he removed his family to Catfish Camp where Washington, Pa., now stands.
In the spring of 1781, reports were circulated that Indians were preparing for early and active operations on the south side of the Ohio River, and it was rumored that a large body had crossed the river near Holliday's Cove. Three young men were started to Fort Henry at Wheeling to inform the settlers of their danger. They were Henry Baker [eighteen], Henry Yoho, and a man by the name of Stalnater. Only one of them reached the fort.
They rode without seeing any indications of Indians until they reached the narrows on Wheeling Creek near the old Woods residence, when they ran into a number of Indians in ambush awaiting them. Stalnater shot the Indian nearest him and was in turn shot by the Indians. A bullet struck Yoho's horse, causing it to fall to its knees, but it quickly arose and in its fright started in the direction of the fort at the top of its speed and reached the fort and saved the life of its rider.
A bullet struck Baker's horse which ran about one hundred yards and fell dead. It fell on Baker's leg and it was with some difficulty that he freed himself from the dead horse. Seeing his danger he abandoned his gun and started for the fort in full speed but ran only a short distance when he met an Indian with a tomahawk in one hand and a pistol in the other. He saw he had no chance to escape and when the Indian called to him in good English, "You are a prisoner," he stopped. He was taken back to the other Indians, but a brother of the warrior killed by Stalnater, wanted to kill him but was prevented by the chief.
With their prisoner they started for the river. They crossed the hill and went out the ridge that runs just on top of the hill along the Narrows and descended the hill at Kate's Rock where they found a number of Indians in canoes as if they were awaiting the arrival of the party. They embarked in canoes and descended the river a short distance and left the canoes and went around the fort at the Flats of Grave Creek, keeping along the foot of the hill and Crossing Big Grave Creek not far below the mouth of Middle Grave Creek, and from there they went over the hill and arrived at the river and encamped on the north side opposite the head of Captina Island. Early the following morning they started and for three days and nights they made no halt. They did not rest until they arrived at the river and encamped on the north side opposite the head of Captina Island. Early the following morning they started and for three days and nights they made no halt. They did not rest until they arrived at Chillicothe having evidently been in fear of pursuit. After that they were in no hurry. They killed deer and had plenty to eat. When they arrived at Sandusky three hundred Indians had just arrived from a foray against settlements in Kentucky with nine prisoners. One was burned each day.
All this time Baker was reminded that his turn was coming after the nine were burned. On the morning of the tenth day Baker was taken to the place where they had burned the other prisoners and compelled to run the gauntlet which he did with little difficulty. It so enraged a warrior that he knocked Baker down after he had reached the council house in safety. Baker fought them and delayed them some time and seeing a man riding towards them in the uniform of a British officer he ran to meet him and asked him to save his life if it was possible.
The man was no other than the notorious Simon Girty. Girty talked with the Indians two hours or more, arguing with them and finally induced them not to burn him. Girty evidently had motives other than that of humanity, as he took Baker out from the Indians and questioned him about the conditions at Wheeling and many other places, especially the former place. Baker afterwards believed that Girty contemplated an attack upon Fort Henry. He hired with a trader and remained with him some time. He and three Virginians concluded to return and started for Wheeling. They got lost and wandered about for three weeks before they reached the Ohio River, where Bridgeport has since been built. Some men were making sugar on that side of the river and when they saw the four men approaching in Indian dress they mistook them for Indians and crossed over to the island and watched them. After some time Baker and his companions made the men understand who they were and the men crossed back and brought them over in a canoe.
While Henry was away his father moved to the lower end of Round Bottom. He learned where the family had gone and he went to it. He remained in the Round Bottom until his death, except the time he spent at Tomlinsons' Fort. He died in 1848.
Another account of the Baker family says that Captain John Baker was born in Prussia and came to America about 1760. He arrived at Philadelphia and five years later married Elizabeth Sullivan of the city, and from there the young people removed to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, where they lived two years and from there they removed to the waters of Dunkard Creek now in Greene County, Pa., in the year 1767, and remained there seven years. At the time they lived on that creek there were a number of Indians residing on it and they and the whites were very friendly. At the breaking out of Dunmore's War he removed his family to Redstone Old Fort, now Brownsville. The American Revolution breaking out soon after the close of Dunmore's War, Indian hostilities soon followed the breaking out of the war. He remained at the fort a number of years, and was in the service of the Colony of Virginia much of the time during the war, but there is little record of him.
He went from Redstone to Catfish Camp in 1781, where he remained a short time and then removed to Round Bottom and in 1784 Captain Baker built a block-house near the upper end of Cresap's Bottom. The place was generally known by the name of Baker's Station. While two of the Wetzel's were at Baker's Station in 1787, they and Captain Baker noticed some Indians on the opposite shore walking about leisurely. Baker, getting an opportunity, shot at one of them and killed him. The others ran away as if badly frightened, leaving the dead Indian where he fell. They did it evidently to deceive the whites as it was proved later by their actions. Baker and the two Wetzels crossed over the river and were viewing the dead Indian when several shots were fired and Baker fell, mortally wounded. The Wetzels treed and commenced a fight and some other men crossed the river and reinforced them and drove the Indians off and recovered the body of Baker. He had crawled a short distance from where he fell and was alive when recovered, but died soon after arriving at the station. He was buried on a flat near a stream called Grave Yard Run at the upper end of Cresap's Bottom.
Baker's Station soon became a rendezvous for scouts as it was at one of the crossings of the Indians on a war path from the Muskingum River into the interior of Virginia. They traveled up Wills Creek from the Muskingum River and crossed a divide and went down Big Captina to the Ohio River and up Fish Creek or broke up into small parties of marauders and visited the various settlements committing all kinds of depredations.
The Baker family appears to have resided in the blockhouse and it never had a regular garrison. Hunters and scouts were so frequently at it that it was seldom without a fairly good force, in case of attack, to have it defended it against a large force of Indians. In time of danger scouts gave much attention to the war path down Big Captina and among others who frequented the place were the Wetzel brothers. It was a custom to send scouts to the west side frequently to look for indications of the presence of Indians. Indians were frequently seen on the west or Ohio side of the river and frequent shots exchanged.
To be continued at a later date...Have to wait for more material to arrive from Clarksburg...Which never came.
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