Coming of Age on the Virginia Frontier Four Young Men: Andrew Lewis, William Preston, William Ingles, and John Draper
Sources• The Chalkley Chronicles… transcription of the Augusta County Court Records• Biographies by Patricia Givens Johnson, incl. William Preston, James Patton, & Andrew Lewis• Historical Novels by James Alexander Thom, incl. Follow the River (Mary Ingles) and Panther in the Sky (Tecumseh)
The Story Begins…in 1746…When Andrew Lewis was 26, William Preston and William Ingles were 17, and John Draper was 16…• John Preston proved the importation (from Ireland into this country) of Eliz, his wife; Lettice, Margaret and Ann, his daughters; and William, his son. John Preston applied for a license to operate an ordinary.• Road ordered from the Ridge above Tobias Bright’s that parts waters of New River from the branches of Roan Oak to the lower ford of Catabo Creek. Tobias Bright, overseer. William English and two sons, Thomas English and son, Jacob Brown…
Ingles Mill…on a branch of the Roan Oak• Two or three brothers (William, Thomas and John Ingles) had come into the region, along with several sons (incl. Wm. Ingles, Jr.), but none of the older generation stayed on the frontier once the Indian troubles began.• In 1750, William Ingles (probably the middle-aged uncle) was one of the few settlers who did not suffer damage in the “freshet” – a flood that was nearly one mile wide on the Roan Oak. (His mill was located on Cedar Run, a branch of the North Fork of the Roanoke, near Blacksburg)• George Draper went hunting in 1748 and disappeared. His widow, Eleanor Hardin Draper, was made administrator of the estate, in the “non-age” of her son, John. About that time, George Draper’s claim to choice bottom lands became widely acknowledged. Some say that Patton chose to name the site after Draper as a memorial (Draper’s Meadows)• Wedding bells….In 1750 Mary Draper married William Ingles, and a few years later John Draper married Bettie Robinson
What happened to our four young men? August – December, 1755• William Preston lost his powerful uncle (James Patton). He took on added responsibilities as a ranger, and soon began thinking about running for political office• Andrew Lewis took on added responsibilities in Virginia’s military defenses• William Ingles, who had lost his mother-in-law and nephew (killed in attack) and whose wife and two sons as well as his sister-in-law were taken into captivity…was thrown into a terrible state of grief and anxiety, with scant hope of rescuing his family• John Draper lost his mother & his infant son (probably had to bury them that same day), and lost his wife, too, as she was carried off by the Shawnee (with a badly wounded arm.)
Four Months in 1755…• Mary, Bettie, Tommy and George were taken to a large Shawnee village on the Ohio River, where Mary became separated from all her kin (with the possible exception of her infant daughter – born on the trail.) Mary escaped with a Dutch (German) woman, walked hundreds of miles, and arrived at Gunpowder Springs (present day Giles County) in late November, 1755.• Unaware that Mary had escaped and was taking her destiny into her own hands, William was determined to do something to rescue his family, and went to Williamsburg (fall of 1755) to talk to Dinwiddie. Ingles and Draper, along with two others, went as a delegation to the Cherokee (in Tennessee).
Sandy Creek ExpeditionMistakes Made; Valuable Lessons Learned After a tearful reunion with his wife, Ingles left her with friends and neighbors at Fort Frederick (Dunkards Bottom) to recuperate, and returned to Williamsburg to try and convince the governor to authorize an expedition (a preemptive strike) against the Shawnee villages, with the help of 130-150 Cherokee warriors. The Sandy Creek Expedition was a dismal failure, but it provided a valuable opportunity for Andrew Lewis and William Preston to declare a truce from their family feuds. In fact, everyone learned skills that would be useful in the coming decades of frontier fighting.
June 1756 – Fort Vause• William Ingles took his wife (perhaps along with other women and children) to a fort near Bedford (Montvale)• French and Indian army attacked the fort, killing John Ingles (probably younger brother of William Ingles) & John Robinson (brother of Bettie Draper); wounding several others; & capturing Mrs. John Ingles (another Mary Ingles!)• Andrew Lewis went to Chota (Tennessee) to build a fort for the Cherokee• William Preston had just disbanded his company of rangers when he got word of the attack. He did not get there in time to help…
Significant Dates and Events• 1758 – War against the Cherokee began• 1760 – Skirmishes with roving bands of warriors. According to one historian (Lee Pendleton) there is evidence that John Draper may have despaired of ever seeing his wife again, and that he married Bettie’s widowed sister-in-law, in 1760! The marriage may have later been quietly set aside once word came that Bettie was being released from captivity.• 1761 – Bettie Draper was ransomed and returned home. The Drapers lived near the Ingles (at Ingles Ferry) for several years before moving further into the southwest (Draper’s Valley)
Dates, Cont.• 1761 – William Preston married Susannah Smith• 1762 – William and Mary returned to the frontier, and established a ferry on the New River (near present day Radford)• 1763 – King’s Proclamation• 1768 – Thomas Ingles (after spending 13 years in captivity) decided to come home to Virginia. Imagine the scene!• 1768 – Tecumseh was born (Panther in the Sky)
More dates…• 1772 – William Ingles obtained license to operate an ordinary (Ingles Tavern – still standing in Pulaski County)• 1773 – Preston family moved from Greenfield to Smithfield• 1774 – Dunmore’s War – Battle of Point Pleasant – Thomas Ingles served under William Christian – another scene hard to imagine!• 1774 – Bettie Draper died; John Draper married a widow, Jane Crockett• 1775 – Fincastle Resolutions• 1781 – William Ingles accused of being a Tory – insufficient evidence against him – huge bond required.• 1781 – Andrew Lewis died
Continued Violence on the Frontier• 1782 - Burke’s Garden – Thomas Ingles was working in the fields when he noticed the smoke…He gathered up a posse to track them, but things misfired. His wife, Eleanor Grills Ingles was severely wounded, William and Mary (children) were mortally wounded, and baby Rhoda was unharmed.• 1782 – Courts finally awarded William Ingles deeds (ownership rights) to land at Ingles Ferry, and many other locations in Virginia & Tennessee
Deaths• 1782 - William Ingles died• 1783 – William Preston died• 1815 – Mary Ingles died• 1823 – Susanna Preston died• 1824 – John Draper died• Several descendants of the Ingles and Draper families are now working to gather and publish information about the family tree.• Andrew Lewis is now getting some of the recognition he deserves, especially through the efforts of John Long at the Salem Museum.• William Preston has many proud descendants, at least two books and one very fine museum dedicated to his legacy.
A Place Called Draper…Now Called Blacksburg and Virginia Tech
County Tree:In 1746, Augusta County was Immense. This chart shows how it divided into other Counties, as well as the State of Kentucky
Mary’s Story Lives On…• The Long Way Home, an outdoor drama… see photo of Mary Lewis Jeffries(right) in costume as Eleanor Draper• Follow the River – a book by James Alexander Thom• Follow the River – TV Movie• Ingles Farm Days – held at Bud Jeffries’ farm, near Ingleside, home built by John Ingles, c. 1790• Ingles Tavern (in Pulaski County) – recently put under a conservation easement… Something bold could eventually happen, linking the properties on both sides of the river, and recreating Ingles Ferry again.