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This version is from an unpublished manuscript, 'Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers', pp 69-71. The article occurs in several published versions. Hamilton inserts notes in such a way as to make it unclear when a particular thought is directly from his sources, or a parenthetical comment by him. In the following a set of single square bracket's have been used to denote parenthetical comments that are believed to be from Hamilton. Hamilton also inserted comments as numbered notes (1 to 4). Additional numbered "wiki style" notes have been inserted to supplement Hamilton's thoughts.

Samuel Walker Slain, Anne Cowan and William Walker Captured

By Emory L. Hamilton


This occurrence came to light while studying the historical collection of the Rev. John D. Shane in the Kentucky papers of the Draper Manuscripts. (1) The story was related to Rev. Shane by a Mrs. Samuel Scott (nee McCorkle), who had lived on the Clinch for eight years prior to her removal to Kentucky in 1784. Mrs. Scott’s stay on the Clinch was from about 1772 to 1780, when she moved over to the Holston River to get ready for her emigration to Kentucky, Jessamine County, in the year 1784. Her residence on the Clinch seemed to have been on Stanton’s Creek in what is now Scott Co., VA.

To date no official records have been found that give the actual date of this occurrence, but it was perhaps in the year 1779, for Mrs. Scott moved from the Clinch to Holston in 1780. She related the following story to Rev. John Shane:

  • One year while we lived on the clinch we had no need to fort, and did not fort. (2) Cowan’s fort was about two miles from Moore’s fort. We went to it (Cowan’s) one year, but it was too weak; but seven or eight families. The Indians attacked it. Miss Walker, then the widow Ann Cowan was taken going to it from Moore’s. Her and her sister’s son, William Walker were taken - her sister married a Walker. Her brother Matthew? Walker [Maybe Samuel (?-?)], if so this killing was prior to 18 August 1778] that went with her was killed, and the other man (3) was shot at, but escaped and got into the fort. This Mrs. Cowan had just gotten back from this captivity as I passed the Crab Orchard (Lincoln Co., KY) coming out (to Kentucky). Captain (John) Snoddy, and William and Joe Moore’s wives were sisters of her, [Ann Cowan]. They [the Moores and Snoddys] had moved there from Clinch and were forted there.[1]

The widow Ann Cowan was undoubtedly the wife of Samuel Cowan who was slain by the Indians in the summer of 1776, while returning to Moore’s Fort from Houston’s fort where he had delivered a warning that Indians were in the vicinity. Mrs. Scott says that Anne Cowan was a Walker, that her brother Matthew [Samuel] Walker was slain, and her nephew William Walker, the son of her sister who had married a Walker (5), was taken prisoner, along with Ann. Anne Cowan and her brother Matthew Walker were children of one John Walker, who had settled down river from Moore’s Fort at the Sink of Sinking Creek in the year 1773 on a 300 acre tract of land. This same tract of land was given on August 10, 1782, (4) to John Walker, heir-at-law to John and Samuel Walker, deceased, for settlement in the year 1773, and the land was surveyed for the said John Walker (the deceased), on April 2, 1774. The will of John Walker is recorded in Washington Co., dated September 23, year not given, but 1778 presumed, and probated on November 17, 1778, shows him as having two sons, John and Samuel Walker, a grandson William Walker, (perhaps the very one taken captive with Ann Cowan), and six (6) daughters, names not given, and a granddaughter Ann bell. In this will he also mentions the moneys he has in the hands of Patrick Porter, who lived at Porters Fort on Falling Creek in Scott Co., VA, and whose wife was supposed to have been Ann (Susanna) Walker, but what relation she was to John Walker (a daughter?) is unknown. She could perhaps have been a sister to the deceased John Walker, as he would not have had two daughters named Ann, if Ann Cowan was his daughter. The will of John Walker was witnessed by Alexander Montgomery, William and Andrew Cowan, all of whom lived in the same neighborhood with the Walkers.

The will of Samuel Walker is appraised in court 17 August 1779, but the inventory of Samuel Walker is ordered by the court on 18 August 1778, a full year earlier.

Mrs. Scott states in her narrative that Anne Cowan was a sister to the wives of William and Joseph Moore, of Moore’s fort, and to the wife of Captain John Snoddy. She says the Moores and Snoddy were forted at the Crab Orchard where they had come to from the Clinch, and that Ann Cowan was there and had just gotten back from her captivity, when she stopped by the Crab Orchard on her way to Jessamine Co., KY in 1784. The Moore brothers, William and Joseph lived out their lives in Lincoln Co., KY, and Captain John Snoddy moved on to Madison Co., where he died in 1814. It is very possible that Ann Cowan never again returned to the Clinch river after her return from Indian captivity. The Walker family also left the area for parts unknown.[6].

  • (1) Draper Mss 11 CC 224
  • (2) This was 1775 and no record of an Indian attack has been found out for this year.
  • (3) Who the "other man" was is unknown
  • (4) Washington Co., VA Surveyors Book, page 26
  • (5) Hamilton misinterprets something here. William was the son of John Walker IV of the Wigton Walker line, and brother of Ann Walker Cowan.
  • (6) The fate of Ann Walker Cowan remains as yet unknown. Her husband Samuel had, as Hamilton notes, been killed a few yars previous to her capture. Her eldest son John, inherited the family property in Castles Woods, but moved out of the area by the time Ann was released. Some believe John Cowan moved to Greene Co, TN, but proof of that is wanting. After her release Ann may have joined him wherever he was located. The only surviving male member of the family of John Walker III and Ann Houston was John Walker IV; current thinking suggests that he moved to Blount County, TN about 1786, where he became known as "Indian Killer", because of his extreme intolerance to Native American's. It is possible that Ann came to live with her brother John. Alternatively, she may have settled with the family of her sister's, two of whom are known to have settled in Crab Orchard area.

References Edit

  1. ^ Ann Cowan referred to here is Ann Walker, daughter of John Walker III of the Wigton Walker line, and husband of Samuel Cowan. The William Walker captured by Indians is William son of John Walker IV, son of John Walker III. The Matthew Walker is Samuel Walker son of John Walker III. The "?" inserted after Mathew's name is of uncertain origin. We do not know if it is meant to convey that Mrs. Scott was uncertain of the name, or whether Rev. Shane was uncertain. We suspect that the annotation was added by Draper. The capure of Ann Walker Cowan and her newphew William Walker, and the killing of Samuel Walker probably occurred about 1776, though the exact date remains uncertain.

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