The Jacob Stevens Interview, from the Draper Papers, 12 CC 133-138

Notes on the interview

The interview is written in the person of Jacob Stevens.  The interviewer   (Shane) has included indexing notes and his own comments (clarifications, corrections, etc.) in the right margin. 

Notes on the transcription

The interview is transcribed as literally as possible.  I have not altered the spelling of any words, expanded abbreviations, or altered any punctuation.  Any such changes would involve some degree of subjective interpretation.  Where the interviewer has used editing marks (carets) to indicate that text is to be inserted, I have inserted the text where indicated.  The interviewer uses abbreviations throughout the text, and usually follows an abbreviated word with a colon (:)  This usage is preserved in the transcription.  The meaning of most of these abbreviations is usually self-evident. 

The only comments I have added to the interview are enclosed in square brackets, [like this].  I have also used underlining to indicate illegible writing or words I can not decipher with some certainty.  Everything else, including quotes "  ", parentheses (  ), and double parentheses ((  )) are transcribed as they are written in the interview.

For the convenience of the Yoakum/Yocum researchers reading this, I have put references to this family in bold face print.  But don't stop there!  This is fascinating history!

This transcription was made from photocopies from microfilm of the original manuscript, both in the collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.  If you can correct any errors in transcription, or provide any missing words, please contact me at GBROWN1@UNL.EDU

or by mail at:

Gregory Brown
10800 West Mill Road
Malcolm, NE  68402

This Page Last Updated/Edited

Sunday, February 11, 2001 12:12 PM

(p. 13)

No. 5. J. Stevens

Jacob Stevens, near Slate, 1 mi. to the left of Jeffersonville: was born in Bedford Co: Va. in 1761.

(p. 14)

In 1778 or 1779, some indns: came on Roanoke, 14 or 15 ms this side of Botetourt C. H. [Court House], and scalped 3 children all of whom got well. Some of them were Rayburns. This was in the summer. The people were gathered for about 4 weeks and forted at one Peter Dierly’s, of a m. from Rayburn’s, right on the bank of the River. This was all the place there was any forting in that country.


(Rayburn’s children on Roanoke – Va.)

In 1775, we moved on to Muddy Creek, running into Greenbriar. Before we came, John Kenney’s fort, on the Muddy Cr. was attacked by the indns: We were not forted in Greenbriar. We staid there 3 years, then in Botetourt 3 or 4 years, and then came to Ky. In 1781. The 1st visit was in May, 1781, as one of 300 of the Greenbriar Militia, under command of Major Hamilton of G.; John Woods, [blank space] Armstrong, and Jas: Gilkerson, being Captains. The design was to have joined a body of troops (that was to have come down the river) at Cincinnati, and gone on to take Detroit. We stopped at Clark’s S. [Station] in Lincoln, till July, when we heard there were no troops to meet us, and returned. The indns: stole some three of our horses, on the Cumberland, and put off in the roughest mountains, so that they co’dn’t be pursued.

(Kenney’s Fort)


(Major Hamilton, with 300 volunteers from Greenbriar, for Detroit) (for Clark’s interviewed Detroit Exped.)

2nd: time I came out, was in Sept. 1781. Rolly Madison, (bro: of Thos: and George Madison & Gabriel M. from Bottetourt off Roanoke) drove out his cattle, and hired me. There was no family in Company, and just 4 or 5 of us. Rolly M. settled at the Cove Spring. When I got here, I went to Matthias Yocum’s Station, at the head of Shawnee River, 4 ms. From Harrodsburgh, where I staid till 1785.

As I came out, I saw defeated camps, between Yellow Creek, and Cumberland River. Perhaps it was in 1784 or 5. (not until after 1787). One Shelton, a preacher, was killed, after this: the last one I ever knew to be killed on the Wilderness road. On the 19th day of August, 1782, was the battle of the Blue-Licks. Jesse Yocum (now in Texas, if alive,) and myself, went from Yocum’s Station. From McGary’s Station, Hugh McGary, Capt. (since General) Ray, and Hugh Cunningham went from Harrodsburgh. From these, Frank and Jas: McBride, were killed. Of these, one man and a boy only escaped. Major Bulger, Si Harlan, Geo: Corn, Jimie Hays, and myself, were the 5 spies that went ahead. When we got to the top of the river hill, at the Blue Licks, on the top of the other hill on the opposite side, we saw two indns: walking back and fore on the (top of the) ridge. The knob on this side was made bare by the treading of buffaloe. The great body of the indns: were concealed, just over the ridge, in a body of fallen timber, "were over the turn of the hill, right in the fallen timber." We now stopped till the main army came up; when a council of war was immediately called.

(Defeated camps. See again p. 17)

(Shelton, a preacher)

(Blue Lick defeats)

(spies named – 5 of them)

(position of the enemy)

The army marched in three columns, headed by Hugh McGary, Col. John Todd, and Stephen Trigg. That order was formed not until after we had crossed the River. We palled the Lick, & then, after forming, up the hill. In the Council, McGary, who was only a private, wanted to know by Godly (as he wo’d say when he was in earnest) what we came there for? They said, to fight the indns: By Godly, said he, then why not fight them: "Then let’s fight them: they that aint cowards follow me." We were then about m. from them. After we got over, we lit and just left our horses standing, and forward behind saplins within 20 steps of the indns: and then fired: the indns: waiting our fire before they broke silence. (council)
(former march of the army)
(went right thro’ the Lick. A dead Buffaloe was lying in it. One man’s horse scared, & throwed him. We had marched before forming in single columns, and wt. A commander "crossed the River", and having for mis, "went right through the Lick & then up the hill.")
Early in the firing, Geo: Corn was shot right in the mouth, taking away all the upper and lower teeth of his right jaw. I saw him spit the ball in his right hand, and tho’t he was shot in the breast, and was leaning over such was the quantity of blood, and didn’t know of the bullit till he told me (showing it). (Geo. Corn)

(p. 15)

Jim Hays, on the other side of me, said he be d_ _d [damned] if he didn’t shoot one. I told him to take care or he wo’d get it next and had scarce said it, when he received a shot in the collar bone. Both of them fell down, and as soon as they co’d, crept back, got on horses and got to Bryants S. that same day. I had fired 3 times, and was just priming for the fourth, when the word was given for to retreat. The indns: rose in a body all in front of us, seeming to me 7 or 8 deep and screemed and rushed on. There were 550 of them, including 50 white men, and only 170 of us. Some said Trigg never got off from his horse, or attempted to form his men; and laid the blame of the defeat on him. ((This is clearly Mr. Steven’s refuge.))


["d_ _ d" is as it was written by the interviewer...apparently he did not want to write "damned"!]
(Jim Hays)
(indns: rise)
(numbers of each party)
(Blame of the disaster. Trigg)

When I turned to get my horse, he was gone. I didn’t wait to go to the ford, ((if it was safe to do so)) but plunged in higher up, above the ford, where the water came up to my neck. I was determined to save my gun, or I had swum. When I got over, I stopped and drew off my buck-skin breeches, and the bullits all the while showering round me, one passing through about the middle of the britches thigh as I held them in my hands.

(Stevens’ retreat)
Jesse Yocum, who was one that was made prisoner, saw and knew them, and had made[*] sure that I was killed, till he got home 12 mos: after. The buckskins, when wet, were so heavy we couldn’t run, having them on. I then had on my short-leggings, moccasins, and shirt. On the top of the hill, I fell in with a man who had red leggings on; (and I was told only the Company from Lexington had on such leggings) and we ran on together about a m. from the river, the indns: pursuing and firing on us at every hollow, till my companion gave out. I asked him what I should do. He said, make your escape, and stood snapping his gun, (which had gotten wet, as well as mine, so that we co’dn’t get them off,) till the indns: came up and took it out of his hands. It was supposed he was killed next morning. The indns: stood, and signed, and pointed up to me, waiving their guns in a circle, as a token that I was given up. I had proceeded but a little way when I fell in with [space]         Barber, Henry Wilson, (from Wilson’s S. on Salt River,) and a boy named Nase Coombs, (from Harrodsburgh, and the only person perhaps that got back to that station.) Nase Coombs was so overcome with fatigue that we had to rest him, and feed him with Myrhh (sweet anise) that we dug up on the way; and thus worked him along. By this time, I hadn’t a stitch on me, but a shirt and pair of moccasins. The nettles were green, and breast-high. Barber gave me a linen hunting shirt to tie about me, to keep the nettles from killing me. The next day, about 12 o’clock, we got to Bryant’s Station. The next morning, says John McMurtry, they took a no. of prisoners aside, and killed all that were there together, but himself: ((leaving him for witness, or having made out the compliment of scalps, before they reached him.)) Suppose they took as many s they had lost, for satisfaction.

Jesse Yocum, a prisoner 12 mo.

[* I assume, from context, that the interviewer meant to write "been" instead of "made" here!]


Barber, Nase Coombs in fight



(gets to Bryant’s S.)
John McMurtry captured.
(Massacre of the prisoners)

Old Henry Wilson’s brother John ? was pursued and killed on the trace, 15 ms. From the battle grounds, so he sd. to me. It was supposed about half the whole expedition was cut off; being either killed or taken. 12 that were taken prisoners, got back in just 12 months. Among these were Jesse Yocum, saved by them, perhaps, because he was so swift a runner. Hugh Cunningham, Lewis and Martin Rose, brothers, from Froman’s Station and John McMurtry, from McMurtry’s Station, at the mouth of Dicks River, (where Shakertown now is.) He was killed in Harner’s or St. Clair’s defeat. When the indns: got with them to Detroit, they got drunk, took the prisoners and hid them. Hugh Cunningham and his wife were both right Irish. Hugh had been gone so long, his wife had made another engagement and was just about to be married on the eventing succeeding Hugh’s arrival; and perhaps to a much younger and likelier (pursue 15 ms. On the trace. John Wilson.)
(no: killed.)
(return of 12 prisoners.)

(John McMurtry, and his station)

(Hugh Cunningham and w.)

(p. 16)

man. With feelings of bitter disappointment, therefore, she saluted him, coming in – "Well Ugh, are you alive yet? Hugh kicked at the reception, crustily replied, "Yes you damn fool, don’t you see I am?" ((not concealing her d: as she might – or should)) ((the return of Hugh, therefore, would be no little inside of ___quietude, although altogether un_pp___ and abrupt.)) ((___ 45;26. Person ret’d that had been tho’t dead; as Jacob ______))

Matthias Yocum, from off Roanoke, came to Ky. In the fall of 1779. In the spring of 1780, he moved out with his family to where his station was formed. There was no one with them that year, and nothing transpired at the station, except perhaps that horses were stolen. In the summer of 1781 John Barnett ((from off Roanoke)) (son of Capt. Jas: Barnette, residing at Big-Spring, on Roanoke) living at Yocum’s Station, and Edmund Tolbert, went out about 4 ms. beyond Jas: McAffee’s, on Salt River, to hunt. I was to have gone in company, but couldn’t get my horse. As they were riding along the indns: shot 2 balls into John Barnett. E. T. turned his horse, and galloped off. When the party from the station arrived, they had to punch Barnett’s dog before they co’d come nigh his master to bury him, and then he remained by his grave, howling over his interment. The indns: had left his dog and horse, and taken all his clothing except his shoes and hunting shirt, only leaving a musket gun and taking his, which was an excellent rifle, in its place. Yocum’s Station

Matthias Yocum’s f. died in old Va. Bottetourt Co: Never came to Ky. M. Y.’s children, were,
1. Caty – Mrs. Hugh McGary
2. Jno -
3. Jesse –
4. Mille – Gen Jas: Ray
5. Sally – Jacob Stevens
6. Matthew or Matthias –
7. Polly – Mrs. Dennis
8. Saml –

No. 9’s Geo: Yocum’s f., Jacob, was bro: to my f., Matthias.

Barnett was split open in his breast, and when we found him the yellow jackts and flies were creeping over his heart. I drew two balls out of the musket that was left. This incident transpired the latter part of the summer, lat in Augt. 1786 while I was at McGary’s Station. Y. S. see part__ p. 17
Hugh McGary married Caty Yocum, my wife’s sister. Gen? Jas: Ray, married another sister. Jas: and Wm Ray were step sons of Hugh McGary. McGary had a place 4 ms. from Harrodsburgh, aftwds called McG’s Station, which he was improving, ready for sugar making. Jas & Wm Ray, and an old Irishman, living at McGary’s, were out in the fields woods (not afraid that they were speaking it) when the indns: killed Wm Ray. Jas: made his escape to the fort at Harrodsburgh, and the Irishman hid behind a log where the party found him sound and secure, when they came from the fort. Next day Harrodsburgh was attacked. McGary killed an indn: that he found had his step-son’s shirt on, and cut him up and fed him to the dogs. The same year that Barnett was killed from Yocum’s, (summer of 1781,) John Hinton, of McGary’s S. was killed, at what was called Hinton’s Spring: his face being found in the water. It was allowed he had lain down to dring and in that attitude had been shot by the indns:. He was out hunting his horses. We lived there a year or two aftwds. It was near McG’s S., back of one of the fields, on the out-side.

No one was killed at McG’s the summer of 1780, and nothing happened, without it might be that horses were stolen.

[three paragraphs below are an extensive margin note...difficult to decipher]

At the head spring of Shawnee river, Wm. Ray was killed in the spring 1779, fixing a sugar camp. The indns: cut him up in pieces, and stuck him on the bushes. McG’s wife, their mother, took sick, and didn’t live long after that. This was what made him so fierce against the indns:  In the summer she died. In the fall, he Yocum, Mrs’ f., moved out to Ky

McG lived at Harrod’s old town before he went to his S. never heard of his having a S. at Hdsgh. McG aftwds: lived (before he arrived to hdsbhg: ) at Shelbyville; then moved to Hdsbhg: - Stevens to Red-Banks; others has died. Never lived at any other place on the River.

Ambrose Coffee, that died over ___ ___ , says he was in the attack on Busligh: [Hardsbgh:?], made next day, & that Harrod when wounded, ran & cried "Old Old Old? O’ Lord! "

[end of margin note]

((Dates are, of all statements, most likely to be confused. I did not see it at the time. ___ ___ p. 14. 17.))

McGary’s S. & Yocum’s S. were both on head springs of Shawnee ___ mi_ & with 4 ms. from Hdsbgh:


Jacob Froman’s Station, was about a m. from Yocum’s, towards Danville. Capt. Isaac Hoagland, from this station went with some men down to Louisville. On his return, he was attacked on Binson, and he and one of his men were killed. The camp was attacked in the night. Hoagland got about 100 yds: from the camp. When found, the ravens had ____ out his eyes and the wild beasts rent & torn him. The other had gotten off into a tree top, where the indns: found him in the morning. Shot 5 bullits into him, and broke his thigh.

(Froman’s Station)

(Capt. Isaac Hoagland.)

(see further, p. 19)
The fall after Blue Lick Battle, Nov. 1782, a company to the No: of 1100, rendevouzed at Cincinnati from above, and built a block-house in the bottom, on the indns: side

(p. 17)

opposite the mouth of Licking. ((a little below, in the flat.)) Our Company went down form Lexington, and crossed on the lower side of Licking. At this block-house, some baggage, with a few sick & disabled soldiers, were left behind, till our return. The expedition was continued to the Miami towns, about 70 miles in the interior. These were taken and destroyed: the inhabitants having time to make their escape. In the upper one, rather an extension of the lower one, and about a half a mile above it, was a Frenchman who had a trading house. We took and pillaged it, leaving him there. The camp was formed in a hollow square round the lower town forming on the river bank. Our mess was the 2nd from the river. We had lit up our fires (and were preparing our suppers) when the indns: formed on the opposite bank, and shot - firing a whole platoon at once ((Perhaps wounded one man)).

(Clark’s campaign 1782, to the Miami-towns.)
Capt. McCracken, of the light horse, went out next morning. ((I was on the sentry as he passed through, and just out side in the bushes watched a whiteman.)) McC., as he passed, inquired, boys, have any of you seen my horse? Yes here he is, said this white-man. McC. Looked up and saw him, and as he approached, the man shot ((right in the left arm)) him. Some men who were near, ran to the place, but it was very bushy and he could not be found. McC. died, coming down the hill, at Cincinnati – and was buried just beside this little cabin; a log heap being burn’t over the grave to conceal its location.

(Capt. McCracken)
Perhaps on this same morning, an indn: hallooed from a cabin that was about 400 yards distant, in the open prairie. He had a great voice like a bull – and at the end of every halloo – would give a hoo-oo-oo uh. Clark told them "to bring all the indns: in hell; they were ready for them". At the same directing a six-pounder towards the cabin. The ball went right by one door and through the opposite side, cutting the poles of the cabin on both sides, as clean as a chisel. This ended the conversation and without hurt that we could see any sign of.

While we there also the indns: formed in view and would parade their horses in battle array, right towards the town – as if they were going to rush to a conflict. Clarke sent 300 men up the river, 1st crossing onto the other side, and then recrossing again, and coming on their rear. In the rout, 13 were killed, and we saw no more of them.

[below is another extensive and difficult to read margin note:]

Year little over a year at the _____ side of Ky.  Came over there in 1784       from Chissel's Mines  ___ there .  ___ ___was that we went to be formed to Madison, it don’t ____ how seem ___ to Madison has.

Early spring, 1787, removed. Spring 1785, removed to McGary’s S.     1783, married. 1786 the season on the banks of New River, at Yellow Cr: Chissel’s mines were troublesome. ___ ___ ___ gone from Madison. The indns: for fear they wo’d be robbed. They had of us & went to meet them, as they setd:  Sam. Ri__, a militia Capt. headed a corp. (a corp: comp: fr: Chissels Mines)

[end of margin note}

(The cabin)

"Tomorrow we will give you plenty of it."

In 1785, I went to McGary’s Station, and from there in 1787 to Madison. It was while I was there in Madison that we went to Chissel’s mines. And it was in going there, that I saw the defeated camps between Yellow Creek and Cumberlands.

(Chissel’s Mines)

(Defeated camps, see p. 14)
My wife’s bro:, the 1st season they came out here, found a skull, near Harrodsburgh, with an arrow-head pierced into the temple. The spear was sticking there, and the temple was split open horizontally around as if he had attempted to take it out by drawing down, and the arrow had broken off while the skull also split. Jas and Hendrick Hutton, brothers, were living at Yocum’s Station, in the year 1781 – the 1st year any body was living with Y. John Hutton was killed as he was fishing down on the river, above the mouth of Shawnee River.

(Skull, near harrodsburgh)

(Yocum’s Station, fr. p. 16.)

(John Hutton)

We heard that there was a party of Tories, that had collected at Raindower’s Mills [?] in N. Carolina, 1780, the year before we came to Ky. Col: Hugh Crockett, (Jas Barnett was our Capt: - f. of this B. spoken of as killed out here.) (B on Roanoke) raided a considerable corp: and went to disperse them. They were defeated & scattered before we got to the place [illegible insert]. On our way, we camped at these mines a day, right on our way, on the banks of New River. They made lead there, in the very early times, for the Revolutionary War. This was in the spring of 1780 – the year before I came to Ky. In the suburbs of Carolina, there were marshes, thickly cov’d in service berries (may berries, wild) that were just ripe. This was in May.

(p. 18)

___ Hoagland came, a widow, with 2 sons. Isaac had been killed: but Richard was taken and carried away to the towns, & burned. Jns: Gritten a brother in law to Capt. Isaac Hoagland. Our hunting grounds, in the earliest times, were over this side on Glenn’s, Grich’s, and Clear Creeks. Geo: Summit, John Summit, and John (Peter?) Snapp, his bro: in law, with a boy named McNeile, were out on this side hunting – (from F’s S.) when the men were all killed. (Hoagland’s S. fr. P. 16)


(Summitts and Snapp)

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