Indian Battles in Meade County, Kentucky

No Indians permanently resided in Meade County. Crossing the Ohio River at the mouth of Salt River, Rock Haven, Flippeii’s Run, Buck Creek and near the mouth of Wolf Creek they often came to hunt game. Many weapons and perfect specimens of small pottery of exquisite Indian workmanship have been unearthed at many places in the county.

Perhaps the oldest Indian graveyard in Meade County was on the site of the lithographic works above Brandenburg. J. L. Logsden and others excavated this site. Mr. Logsden states that he had scruples about disturbing the resting place of even a savage. Below the site of Brandenburg an extraordinarily large skull bone of a man was found. At other places the Indians buried their dead. That these were not residents of the county is evidenced by the absence of the usual implements found in the burial-grounds of resident Indians.

Below the landing at Brandenburg a rude outline of a turkey has been chiseled on a limestone rock a little above low watermark. No man living knows who did this work. It has been known as “Turkey Rock” as far back as the oldest inhabitant has recollection.

In the early settlement of Ohio County a small party of Indians attacked a family named Owens. In the con-fusion two girls of about ten and twelve years crawled under the cabin floor. The other members of the family were killed. After scalping the dead the Indians started away when the actions of a flock of guinea fowls attracted their attention. Upon investigation the savages found the girls and made them prisoners.

The Indians crossed the country to Pilot Ridge and made their way by Buck Grove to the Ohio River at Rock Haven. The Indians took their captives to Ohio where they were ransomed by Colonel John Hardin after about two years. These girls were none the worse for their experience but they never would keep guinea fowls about their homes.

At another time on Vertrees Creek the Indians captured two boys whom they named Skin Face and Podsom Head. The captives were taken to the Indian towns. Here they became the slaves of the squaws who worked the boys in the patches of ground about the Indian villages. But they did not prove profitable in this work as they treated the young garden plants as weeds.

Finally the braves permitted the boys to hunt in the vicinity of the camps. The young fellows were excel-lent marksmen. In their hunting they would save small quantities of powder and lead for their escape from the Indians. One night they left the Indians. On their way to the Ohio River they used all their ammunition.

At Rock Haven they crossed the river. Possum Head was captured by a small party of pursuing Indians in the Buck Grove. Skin Face, when the Indians were near, threw away his rifle and escaped. After the capture the Indians held a council and released their captive after whipping him with the ramrod of the rifle.

French’s Creek was formerly known as Buck Run. On one occasion a surveyor named French wandered from the party. He was ambushed by a party of prowling Indians. In the fight that followed the Indians were defeated. This fight took place on an old buffalo road I which crossed this creek above the second bottoms.

One of the most fiercely contested Indian battles on Meade County soil was on East Hill at. Brandenburg. A party of marauding Indians crossed the river and hid their canoes in Flippen’s Run. Big Joe Logsdon with a party of hunters jumped the band. After a running fight along the buffalo trail the Indians decided to make a last stand in the big walnut timber of East Hill. However, it was not long until the savages decided to seek better security on the northern bank of the Ohio. The whites suffered no casualties. The Indians carried their dead with them. From the river bank at the mouth of Flippen’s Run Big Joe shot an Indian in a canoe al-most across the Ohio. Big Joe Logsdon was one of the famous Indian fighters that spent much time in Meade County.

In 1780 General William Hardin made a trip down the Ohio River and landed at the mouth of Sinking Creek. A man named Sinclair and two others were with him. Soon after landing they were attacked by a large party of Indians. Knowing that they were greatly outnumbered the whites decided to run for it. In the wild race across the barrens and along the streams they successfully eluded their pursuers. At dawn the next morning Hardin and his companions stopped to rest at the present site of Big Spring. Here the whites were compelled to fight. The peculiar character of the spring gave Hardin’s party the advantage in the contest. Sinclair was killed early in the battle. Three others out-witted the redskins and made their way to the forts a z Severn’s Valley. Settlers from Hynes Station returned with Hardin and his two companions but the Indians had abandoned the site of the battle after scalping Sinclair. Sinclair was buried near the head of the Big Spring.

On a deer trace between Doe Run and the Hill Grove a party of surveyors was attacked by Indians. The time was late summer when the barrens were covered with the tall buffalo grass as high as a man’s shoulder. This battle was little more than a running and a jumping contest as each party was willing to trust cover in the high grass rather than to depend upon their weapons. After exchanging several shots both parties withdrew from the field with the honors of war.

At another time near Rock Haven a party of savages were having a noisy celebration. John Vanmeter was in the vicinity and decided to have a good-sized one man battle with the party. Vanmeter was riding a spirited horse. The country was covered with clumps of trees and long buffalo grass. Well armed and mounted Vanmeter decided that he could outrun a whole tribe of Indians. He launched a verbal attack by directing enough imaginary men to wipe out a good-sized company of the enemy. While Vamneter was busy arranging his forces he kept riding around the high ground giving explicit directions for his men to hold their fire. Only one shot was fired. Vanmeter himself was the soldier that received a scathing rebuke for willful disobedience of orders. The Indians made a hasty retreat to the river. In this flight they did not wait for canoes but swam the river. From the timber along the river Vanmeter concluded his attack by loud orders and a trusty rifle.

The military expedition of most significance to Americans in the West was perhaps that of General George Rogers Clark against the British at Kaskaskia.

In 1778 according to depositions Squire Boone, John McKinney and. others in company, were at different points on the old buffalo road from the mouth of Salt River to the mouth of Wolf Creek. It was over this historic trail that Clark’s scouts passed as they convoyed the flatboats down the Ohio. This duty was one of the most dangerous of the expedition. Upon these scouts rested a responsibility that the present generation little realizes. This old buffalo road played the most important part of any highway in the drama that gave the Great West to the Americans.

On the way to make a settlement on Sinking Creek General William Hardin’s party on a flatboat was fired upon by the Indians in the narrows of the Ohio near the mouth of Wolf Creek. These Indians were on the Indiana side of the river.

In the fall of 1792 a party of Indians stole some horses at the Hardin’s Settlements. The infuriated settlers overtook them on Otter Creek and recaptured their horses. At the same time another band of Indians had been up the country along Salt River; in the skirmishes that followed fully a score of Indians were killed. These fights were not according to the accepted standards of modern warfare but were hand-to-hand combats.

During the Indian troubles of 1791-94 the general government authorized that 19 men should be stationed at the mouth of Salt River; 10 at Severn’s Valley and 12 at Hardin’s Settlement. The most important road over which these scouts went was the buffalo road from the outpost at Salt River to the mouth of Wolf Creek.

On one occasion Simeon Kingsley was hunting on the hills above Buck Creek in Indiana Territory across the river from Brandenburg. A party of Indians chased Kingsley for a long distance. Finally seeing that he was likely to fall into their hands he found refuge in a hollow log. After a long while the Indians gave up the chase and some of them sat down to take council on the very log in which the fugitive was concealed. In telling about the incident Kingsley declared that he thought the Indians would surely hear the noise of his beating heart.

In the same vicinity Squire Boone settled. On one occasion he was running from a party of Indians whom he escaped by hiding in a cave. In this cave about three miles north of Brandenburg the body of this rest-less man was buried.

The settlers had many encounters during these troublous times that have been forgotten. The last Indian killed in Meade County was at a spring on the farm now owned by J. E. Jordan near Ekron. The Indian stopped to get a drink at the spring and a party of white men killed him.

During the early Indian troubles Andrew Fairleigh commanded a squad of soldiers, which guarded the crossing of the Ohio at the mouth of Flippen’s Run.

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