- Born: Nov 1, 1737, Orange, Virginia
- Marriage: Jane Thornburgh on Jun 24, 1758 in New Garden, North Carolina
- Died: Nov 10, 1773, Lee, Virginia at age 36
Richard was part of a scouting party led by James Boone, brother of
Daniel, which was ambushed by Indians near Crab Orchard, KY. During the
American Revolution Daniel Boone made arrangements to sell what property that
he could not move with him and persuaded some of his wife's family, the Bryans,
to join him on a trip to claim new land in Kentucky. He was joined by his
brother, Squire, Squire's wife, Jane, and their three children, along with
Benjamin Cutbeard and his wife, who was a niece of Daniel's. Making a total of
five or six families, along with about 40 men who each had a horse or two to
help carry all the supplies. Among these 40 men were John and Richard
Mendenhall. Richard was 36 years of age. John Mendenhall, 25, was a first
cousins to Richard.
The party left the Yadkin on 25 Sep 1773. Travel was slow as the trail was
only wide enough for the pack horses, walking single file, and all who were
able-bodied had to walk. When they reached Wolf Hills, now Abingdon, VA, Daniel
sent his seventeen year old son, James, along with John and Richard Mendenhall
to go to Castle Woods, which was off the trail to the north about 25 miles.
They were to pick up supplies and meet the main party further west. The main
party would follow the old wilderness trail, through Moccasin Gap, over Wallens
Ridge at a point about 10 miles east of the Cumberland Gap, where they would
make camp and leave the women and children to rest until James and the
Mendenhall party overtook them. They feared that if the Indians would attack it
would be in that area and for protection they wanted the party to be
Upon arriving at Captain Russell's home, on the Clinch River, Henry Russell,
the seventeen year old son of Captain Russell, a man by the name of Isaac
Crabtree and two Negro slaves named Charles and Adam, joined James Boone and
Richard and John Mendenhall to help out with the supplies and farm tools.
Captain Russell himself said he must follow along later as he had some
necessary work to do at home before leaving. He would join David Gass who lived
eight miles down the Clinch River.
James Boone and the Mendenhall party set out on 8 Oct 1773, following the
old Fincastle Trail down past David Gass's place and crossed Clinch River at
Hunters Ford, now Dungannon. From that point they passed through Rye Cove and
took the Wilderness Trail over Powell Mountain to the head waters of Wallens
James and his companions could see signs, probably made by his father's
party; he knew that the place of rendezvous was but a few miles ahead. However,
darkness overtook them and fearing they might lose their way, went into camp
the evening of 9 Oct.
They built a fire and ate a scanty meal. Then, lying down beside the fire,
they tried to sleep. Although weary from the long hard walk, they couldn't
sleep for the incessant howling of wolves evidently disturbed by the fire
light. The Mendenhalls were so alarmed at the weird howling that they walked up
and down, listening and making no effort to conceal their fear. Isaac Crabtree,
although he also may have been afraid, joked about the howling.
The fire died down and its light dimmed. The howling reached further and
further into the forest. Little by little day dawned. The men sat up,
stretched, listening. For a while there was no sound but the whimper of the
waters of Wallens Creek and the eerie whisper of the wind in the trees.
But, suddenly, the calm was broken by the war whoop of Indians who rushed up
with knife blades raised and guns cracking. A man by the name of Drake and one
of the Mendenhalls were killed out right, the other Mendenhall crept off
mortally wounded. Henry Russell was shot through the hips and brought down.
Then an Indian attacked him with a hunting knife and began to stab him. He
grabbed the knife blade with his bare hands, trying to protect himself, but he
failed. Soon he lay dead. Yet, the Indians shot arrows into his body.
James was immediately attacked by a big Indian who he knew to be Big Jim, a
Shawnee, who had roamed the Yadkin Country and had pretended to be a friend of
his father. Big Jim seemed to delight in whacking James with a knife and
pounding him with a tomahawk. Instead of killing the boy instantly, the big
Indian prolonged the torture. The Negro, Adam, who had escaped to a pile of
driftwood heard James cry out.
Big Jim was intent upon making death come with all the torture possible, and
he continued to whack away with his knife. James, like Henry Russell, grabbed
onto the blade until his hands were cut to shreds. Even after death the
slashing went on until the bodies were horribly mutilated. Then, leaving a war
club on the scene, the Indians slunk away into the forest. The dead had not
been scalped. The Indians would not bring a white scalp into their towns in
time of peace.
All in the party were killed save Isaac Crabtree and the two Negroes slaves,
Adam and Charles. Adam, after watching the massacre from the driftwood, ran
into the woods, tried to find his way back to Castle Woods but got lost and
wandered alone several days before finding his way out.
Charles was taken prisoner and forced to travel with his captors. About
forty miles from the scene of attack, two Indians quarrelled over possession of
him, each wanting to take him North to sell him. Unable to settle the dispute,
the leader of the party slew Charles with a tomahawk, and then the disputants
ceased to argue.
History, Correspondence and Pedigrees of the Mendenhalls of England and
the United States, William Mendenhall, 1865
Cheryl Mendenhall, 9622 177th Avenue SE, Snohomish WA 98290,
Wally Garchow, 6228 Manitoba Avenue, Sacramento CA 95841-2016,
(916) 331-9910, email@example.com
Leo E. Rasor, 11550 W. Panther Creek Road, Bradford OH 45308-9403
John Kieffer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard married Jane Thornburgh, daughter of Walter Thornburgh and Margaret Beeson, on Jun 24, 1758 in New Garden, North Carolina. (Jane Thornburgh was born in 1737 in New Garden, North Carolina and died on Jun 7, 1796 in Guilford County, North Carolina.)