Short Stories
All Titles

In Association with Amazon.com

Home > Authors Index > Browse all available works of Etta Belle Walker > Text of Draper's Meadow

A short story by Etta Belle Walker

Draper's Meadow

Title:     Draper's Meadow
Author: Etta Belle Walker [More Titles by Walker]

In 1748 Thomas Ingles and his three sons, Mrs. Draper, her children and James Burke moved westward to find a new home for themselves beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains. They chose a lovely spot on a high level plateau in what is now Montgomery County. They called their new home, "Draper's Meadow," and soon their new log cabins were built and their first crops were planted and such a harvest as they reaped that first year! Other neighbors and relatives from their old homes came to join them and for some time all went well in the little settlement. James Burke had been restless and had pushed on down into the southwest and settled in a valley enclosed for almost ten miles by the huge Clinch Mountain. This he called "Burke's Garden" and in telling others about it the old settler said "I have indeed found the Garden of Eden."

The Indians were very friendly and passed and repassed the settlement without molesting them.

Then came the trouble with the French which has been referred to before. The Indians swooped down upon Draper's Meadow without warning and killed or wounded most of the settlers. Those whom they did not murder, they carried off into captivity. Among the latter were Mrs. William Ingles (nee Mary Draper) some of her children and another woman. They were forced to march for days at a time until they finally reached the Indian towns on the Ohio River. During the trying days, Mrs. Draper did her best to keep in the good graces of the Indians. She tried to help them, even after they took her sons from her. When they reached Big Bone Lick she helped to make salt for the Indians and made shirts for them from cloth which had been bought from the French traders.

She often thought of her home over seven hundred miles from the Indian towns and determined to make her escape. She confided her resolves to the other woman who at first objected to going. At last she convinced her the time was at hand, if ever, for them to leave. She left her infant son one night, and with her friend, stole away from the camp. They lived for days on berries and nuts. They finally killed small game and after many adventures reached the home of a settler forty long days later.

Mrs. Draper's friend lost her mind, tried to kill her and then left her. Mrs. Draper reached the homestead of Adam Harmon on New River. There he heard her crying in his cornfield and went out to see who it was in such distress. He and his family cared for her and made her rest before she was taken back to her family.

The Ingles families moved up higher on New River and built another fort near the present city of Radford, Virginia. This was at Ingle's Ferry.

Botetourt County was cut from Albemarle in 1770, and William Preston was made surveyor of the lands. This was a well-paying position. He had fallen in love with Miss Susannah Smith who lived in Eastern Virginia in Hanover County. He built a house for her and called it Smithfield in her honor. Soon the Pattons, Peytons, Prestons, the Thompsons and many others were coming to build homes near them.

When the Prestons moved to Smithfield they took a young orphan boy with them, Joseph Cloyd. His father had died when he was very little and his mother had been killed by the Indians. He grew up with the other pioneer boys and girls and later settled on Back Creek. This home is near where Pulaski stands today and thus began another settlement. He was the father of General Gordon Cloyd and they founded a long line of honorable citizens in our country.

As one goes on he hears many strange tales of other explorers and settlers. For instance there is the sad story of Colonel John Chiswell who found rich lead mines near New River in what is now Wythe County. For some unknown reason, he had killed a man in a personal encounter and was put in jail to await trial.

In the meantime, the Virginia Council decided to develop the mines and a fort was ordered to be built. Before the trial came off and before the fort was built, Colonel Chiswell died.

Colonel William Boyd was made supervisor of the building of the fort and he named it for his friend, Colonel Chiswell. Soon settlers began building homes around it, for the climate and rich grazing lands made it an ideal spot for homesteads.

The settlers pushing southwest from Roanoke built a fort and named it for a Mr. Vass. The Indians attacked them and several were killed. This was near where Christiansburg is now located. It was near Vass's Fort that General Washington, Major Andrew Lewis and Captain William Preston had a narrow escape from an attack by the Indians.

[The end]
Etta Belle Walker's short story: Draper's Meadow