The Cleggs run for their lives

I have been doing a lot of CLEGG family research lately, as you can see from my last post and found another story I wanted to share regarding Alexander Clegg and his family.

Alexander’s land was believed to be, unbeknownst to the Cleggs, quite close to the main trail used by Indigenous travelers and raiding parties. This location is possibly what led to several attacks on the settlers. A Monongalia County, West Virginia history book has this short entry:

In July of 1777, Indians appeared in force on Dunkard Creek in the north-western part of the county. Capt. John Minor, on the 14th of that month at 8 0’clock, writes as follows from Fort Statler to Col. Zackwell Morgan:
“This minute Alexander Clegg came in great haste, who escaped the shot of a number of Indians. While we were getting ready to go after them John March and Jacob Jones came in, and say that they think they saw at least twenty, and followed them, but they escaped…1

native-americans-preparing-to-attack-a-white-settlers-home-adw8h7

This was just the first known mention of Indigenous peoples assault on the Clegg family. A more serious attack came on: June 1791 or 18 Apr 1792 (according to the bible of John Hunsaker Sr., who was a neighbor) or late June 1797 (according to two histories of the area). Let’s guess sometime in the 1790s. It is said that Alex, his wife Margaret, and their two daughters, Peggy and Susannah, along with several other neighbors headed out to work in the Clegg’s nearby field. The men and boys were working the corn field, the women and younger children were off past the cabin, when they were shot at by a small party of an unstated Indigenous men. Alex and the other men dropped their tools and took off running back towards the cabin. Alex entered it and found his daughter Susannah already inside. He was able to defend himself and his daughter for a short while, but when the attackers set fire to the cabin he knew they would not survive, so, having no alternative, he surrendered. While the cabin burned the horses were taken, the prisoners were rounded up and they were forced to march off. One man was left behind to watch their backs.

It is not know where Alex’s daughter Peggy had gone during the excitement, but where ever it was, she didn’t hide herself well enough, because she was also captured. The prisoners were taken westward, 7 or 8 miles between Dunkard Creek and Fish Creek, on a ridge just south of the border of Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Margaret, Alex’s wife, had heard the shots, and being some distance from the cabin had to conceal herself in the creek nearby under some overhanging bushes. She waited for the quiet, and then, cautiously, began to make her way back to her home. Perceiving the man left behind, and knowing she couldn’t go back to the cabin, she took off running to a neighbors. The guard saw her and took a shot, but luckily he only grazed her in the shoulder. And, because she had quite a head start, she was able to lose him and escape.

I don’t know how long it took for Simon Girty, (a well know interpreter, trader), to show up, but the Cleggs were lucky that he did because he was able to negotiate a release for Alex and his oldest daughter Peggy. Unfortunately Susannah (<–my 6x great-grandmother) had to be left behind with the promise that Alex would send a rifle and an unknown sum of money back for her release. Both items were given to Simon when they returned home. Simon took the ransom back to the war party and true to their word, Susannah was allowed to go home safe, if not sound.

It is said that when Alex later sold his land he called it “Indian Prisoner”. Although the land deeds I have seen for Alex and Margaret don’t show this. It must have been just a local name.


Source:
1. History of Monongalia County, West Virginia from its first settlements to the present time; with numerous biographical and family sketches, Samuel T. Wiley; Kingwood, W. Va.: Preston Publishing Company, 1883. p40, 59, 79-80.

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Author: jenbumann

Genealogists, sci-fi nut, voracious reader, animal lover.

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