Saved by the Bear

Chris Morgan
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An interesting family legend has been kept alive, about how the children of John and Rachel McIntire miraculously escaped massacre by Indians. The exact sequence of events is not clear, but in May 1791, John and Rachel had left home to visit some neighbors. After they had gone, a small group of Indians came down Nutter Run to the Bingamon creek valley. As they passed the McIntire house they heard such a racket that they thought it full of people and passed on without making an attack. While their parents were away from home, the children - Charles, Elizabeth, Joseph, Isaac and Zadok - had taken a pet bear into the house and were romping with it, thus creating the noise which misled the Indians. If this story is true, the bear undoubtedly saved their lives!
The parents were not so lucky. On their way back home, they passed through the yard of Uriah Ashcraft, who was married to John McIntire’s sister, Sarah. Shortly after the McIntires passed by his place, Uriah Ashcraft was “startled by the sudden growling and warning attitude of his dogs. Stepping quickly to a door, he saw an Indian on the outside with a gun drawn. Ashcraft hastily closed and fastened the door and ran upstairs, the better to fire at the intruder. Snapping his gun several times and discovering other Indians in the yard, he loudly shouted to apprise his neighbors he was in danger. Frightened, the Indians retreated.”
Three of John McIntire’s brothers answered the call and after Ashcraft explained the situation, the four started off in pursuit of the Indians. About a mile from the Ashcraft house they found the body of John McIntire, “tomahawked, stripped and scalped.” They knew Rachel had been with her husband, so they figured she had been taken prisoner, and hurriedly sent an alarm to Clarksburg to get help to rescue her. A company of 11 men, led by John Haymond and George Jackson, gathered to pursue the Indians.
Below the three forks of Middle Island Creek, now in Doddridge County, they were fired upon by the Indians, “and two of the party narrowly escaped injury or death. A ball passed through a handkerchief on Haymond’s head, and another through one of Jackson’s shirtsleeves. Promptly returning fire, the white men rushed forward, but the Indians had retreated, abandoning some of their plunder, among which was the scalp of Mrs. McIntire. Her body was later found a short distance from the spot where he husband had been slain.” One of the Indians was mortally wounded.
It was baby Zadok who connects the McIntires to our Mines family. He grew up and married Keziah Drummond, their daughter Dorothy Jane married John Titchenal, and THEIR daughter Caroline married Lewis Henry Mines. I wonder how many of us today can say we might not be here if it wasn’t for a bunch of rambunctious children and their bear cub!

based on information found in “Ashcraft Family Represents Forbears of Various Lines Now Residents of Harrison, Wetzel, Taylor and Other Counties” in Harrison County (WV) Genealogical Society newsletter, Volume 8, issue 4, 1994; and from the book Mound Builders, Indians and Pioneers by William B. Price. In order to keep the feel of the original accounts, I have chosen to retain the term “Indians” rather than use the modern “Native Americans” or other PC term, and I hope no one will take offense.

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