Last Stand of the Indians on the Holston Settlement

Genealogy Tips by Jeannette Holland Austin

Starting about 1730, land was given to new settlers who wished to move westward across the mountains into North Carolina and Virginia. They found themselves in the midst of Indian attacks. It is interesting to note that after this battle, the Watauga and Holston Settlers did not necessarily remain in the mountains. As the American Revolutionary War was being fought in the North East and Canada, certain of these settlers began streaming back East in time to join the Southern Campaign of the War. Afterwards, they applied for new land grants in North Carolina and Georgia. These years were tumultous to settlers. If you lost an ancestor during this time period, it would behoove you to search for records in this region, using the above map. This is why a study of history is so important to genealogy. If we know the regional history, then we have a head-start with searching for clues.

The last battle of the Cherokee Indians fought to save their beloved hunting grounds on the Holston, was fought on July 20, 1776 on Long Island. It occurred only two weeks after the Declaration of Independence and the last Indian depredations at Abingdon. It was considered to be the last grand Cherokee rally to overrun the whole Holston county (in the Alleghany and Blue Ridge Mountains) and to exterminate the scattered inhabitants. Interestingly, runners had been sent to all of the Indian towns then in Eastern Georgia, Middle and East Tennessee and Western North Carolina which was the territory of the great Cherokee Nation. About 700 to 1500 painted warriors were assembled at a common rendezvois point where arrangements were agreed upon for the bloody expedition. The principal Chief of the tribe was <i>Dragging-Canoe</i>, a savage of more than common bravery and skill, who was thought to equal to Tecumseh and whose hatred of the &quot;pale face&quot; amounted to a mania. They met at Long Island in the South Fork of the Hulson River, which was a short distance above the present-day Kingsport, Tennessee. It was here that Dragging-Canoe divided his forces into three divisions, one to go up the bank of the North Fork (now Abington), another to kee the South Fork, and the third to proceed up the immediate valley to Black's Fort (now Abingdon) which was the principal settlement in the Cherokee hunting-grounds. The Chief went with the latter division (the largest) while anticipating the most formidable resistance. There was a fort on each of the routes selected; one on the Watauga River, a tributary of the South Fork; another in the Fleenor settlement on the North Fork, and the third at the base of Eden's Ridge at the juncture of what is now Blountsville. These forts were to be attacked first and destroyed, and with this accomplished, the massacre was thought to be an easy task, owing to the fact that the Cherokees had a force nearly equaly to the whole white population. However, the Holston settlers fought bravely causing Dragging-Canoe to finally cause his divisions to retreat and the loss of the Holston hunting-grounds! Sources: Holston Settlements; more ; Giles County, Virginia