Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A History of Harlan County

Written in 1962
By Mrs. Mabel Green Condon, Born in 1898

Excerpts from Chapter 14: Indians

"The early scouts who came through the county did not leave any written account but from legend it is thought that others came about the time Dr. Thomas Walker went through Cumberland Gap. These men followed the paths made by Indians who followed wild game to their watering places. It is said that some of the Indians were friendly and liked to trade with the white man. the Indians often paid off in gold which led the early white men to think there was gold in 'them thar hills.' Later the white men decided that the Indians had traded with other tribes in the Mississippi Basin and obtained the gold in trade. It is said that the Indian would give all his gold for one iron pot.
There were Cherokee Indians, remnants of some other tribe, perhaps the Shawnee, and the Quadrule. The Cherokee made their home in Virginia near Bristol and made excursions into Harlan, sometimes friendly, sometimes unfriendly. The Quadrules were said to have occupied Wallins Ridge and some of the tribes lived there permanently.
It is known that Indians were in Harlan County before the white man came and the last record of an Indian living here was a man named Sam Whitson. Although I do not recall ever having seen him, he did come into the town to buy a little tobacco, sugar and coffee. He lived on Clover Fork and people used to tease children and tell them the Indian would get after them when actually there was no harm in the old fellow. Elmon Middleton wrote a pamphlet on Harlan in 1934 and in it he said, 'There is now an old Cherokee Indian who goes by the name of Sam Whitson, whom people sometimes see coming from his little hut near the top of Black Mountain at Coxton. He still wears his coal black hair in long plaited braids, dangling down his back.' Elmon Middleton describes the Quadrules in his pamphlet: 'The Quadrules inhabited Wallins Creek and the Cherokee were scattered in smaller bands throughout the county, some of them also living at Wallins Creek. The Cherokees usually were unfriendly and lived more secluded from the whites. The Quadrules were very adept at spinning and weaving woolens and flax, making beautiful pottery. S.J.C. Howard, who died in Harlan just a few years ago, and who was formerly County Attorney of Harlan, gave interesting accounts of this Colony of Quadrule Indians at Wallins. When a boy he used to hunt and fish with these Quadrule Indians at Wallins. They lived as a tribe at Wallins Creek until after the Civil War .... It is said that the Quadrule Indian girls were very beautiful....Some married white people and today there can be found in Harlan County a few people who boast that they have Indian blood in them.'"

She then goes on to talk about Indians teaching the use of medicinal herbs.

Excerpt contributed by MHS board member Tamara Hogshead.

Note: Much of this material appears to have been taken from Harland County, Kentucky by Elmon Middleton, published in 1934.

To read a related article on Indian ancestry in Harlan County: Click Here.

4 comments:

  1. The Old Cherokee Indian, Sam Whitson, was either married or lived with my Grandmother Mary Jane Howard on Coxton Mountain. Mother told me as a child she and her mother would walk the long walk to visit...I have told about them in my book, In the Sweet By and By, by Joyce Osborn Wilson, Amazon books, and have pictures of Sam Whitson and Mary.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Old Cherokee Indian, Sam Whitson, was either married or lived with my Grandmother Mary Jane Howard on Coxton Mountain. Mother told me as a child she and her mother would walk the long walk to visit...I have told about them in my book, In the Sweet By and By, by Joyce Osborn Wilson, Amazon books, and have pictures of Sam Whitson and Mary.

    ReplyDelete