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Henry Morris Biography

Henry Morris, the second child of William Morris I and Elizabeth Stapp was born about 1747 and married Mary Byrd. Mary was born about 1747 on the Jackson River in Bath County, VA. She was the daughter of John Byrd whose family was one of those visited by tragedy during the Indian Raids of 1756. John Byrd was killed, Sarah had a narrow escape from the Indians and a sister was captured and apparently spent the rest of her life with the indians. Besides Mary, who married Henry, there were Thomas and John. John married a sister of Andrew Hamilton.

Henry Morris was the first settler in what is now Nicholas County, WVA. The Morris cabin stood near where the Fairview Baptist church is now located. A.N. Morris says "Henry Morris was an intelligent, industrious boy and his early life was passed amid wild scenery in a wilderness. The country was so thinly settled and opportunity for attending school so few that we presume his education was limited. He had ample opportunity for developing his gifts and talents in a way that proved great value to himself and others. The bleating of the deer, the howling of the wolf, and the screaming of the panther, the gobbling of the turkey, the incursion of the bear when he wanted a fat hog to feast upon, the occasional visit of the 'Red Man', induced him to take practical lessons in the science of gunnery."

When General Lewis marched down the Great Kanawha Valley, the Fall after he had come to the valley, Henry and his brother John accompanied the Army and participated in the Battle of Point Pleasant - October 10, 1774. This battle was fought in what was then Botetourt County, VA. It was the most contested battle ever fought between the settlers and the Indians. It began early in the morning and lasted until sunset. Through the day, the voice of Indian Chief Cornstalk could be heard above the din of the battle as he called to the untrained warriors of the forest, "Be strong! Be strong!". The "whites" were being slowly driven towards the forks of the rivers. In the afternoon, General Lewis sent a detachment along the bank of the Great Kanawha River and up Crooked Run to attack the Indians from the rear. The Indians thinking the "whites" were being reinforced began to give way and retreat across the Ohio River. Henry Morris was with this detachment.

Henry Morris' cabin was built near the banks of Peters Creek. The spring that supplied the cabin was on the bank of the creek and the path down the bank may still be traced. A path led from the Morris cabin through the woods to the cabin of Conrad Young about a mile up the creek. There were about three families living in the area at the time of the Indian foray which resulted in the deaths of the two daughters of Henry Morris. Those two daughters were Margaret (Peggy) and Betsy Morris. On this particular Spring day in 1792, Henry Morris was out hunting on Line Creek when the dogs came to him with "their bristles up". Being alarmed by the action of the dogs Henry hurried home and told his wife that he suspected the dogs scented Indians. It was, by this time, late in the afternoon and soon would be milking time. There were no fences and the cows had to be driven up. Since neither Henry nor his wife thought the Indians would show themselves until dark, he laid his gun aside and started to the spring for water and Peggy and Betsy were sent to get the cows. The girls started for the cows following the path to Conrad Youngs' cabin. Hardly had they disappeared from the cabin when their mother heard their screams and called to Henry that the Indians were after the children. He seized his gun and rushed up the path the girls had taken. Henry found Peggy lying in the path almost in sight of the cabin. She had been tomahawked and scalped, her back broken. He picked her up, but she died before he could get her back to the cabin. He then hurried on to find Betsy and saw an Indian crossing the creek. Henry attempted to shoot, but his gun failed to fire. Seeing nothing of Betsy and believing she had been carried away he proceeded to carry Peggy to the cabin. The neighbors and Henry stood guard until morning at which time they found Betsy's body scalped and thrown into the underbrush. A rude coffin was shaped from slabwood and the two little bodies were buried in one grave. Henry planted an apple tree where Peggy fell. It seemed she had tripped and fell when the Indians caught up with her. Grafts from this tree in orchards of neighbors preserved the "Peggy Apple" for many years. A dogwood marked the burial place of the children by a marble headstone, which may be seen from the marker standing on State Route 39 near the Fairview Baptist Church.

Henry was a large, stout healthy man and had no fear of anything. When aroused he was a desperate man. He was determined to kill every Indian that he could find and not long afterwards he heard of one being in the neighborhood and taking his gun started to find him. He followed the Indian up Elk River and killed him early in the morning. As long as Henry Morris lived he never recognized any Indian as friendly. If there were friendly Indians in the neighborhood, they were kept from Henry and gotten out of the way before he learned of their presence as he could not be persuaded to treat them other than as sworn enemies. He was an athletic man and no man could cope with him in any game where strength, skill and endurance were required such as running, jumping and wrestling.

Henry Morris always maintained that the renegade, Simon Girty, had led the Indians in the raid which resulted in the death of his two daughters. Soon after the family had moved into their cabin on Peters Creek, a stranger had come to the cabin saying he was a hunter and remained throughout the Winter hunting with Morris. In the Spring, on a trip to Fort Clendenin, Henry mentioned this fact and someone in the Fort suggested that his visitor was perhaps Simon Girty. Girty was identified by scar covered by his forelock. When Henry returned home, he confronted the stranger and saw a vivid scar. He angrily denounced him as the renegade, Girty, and ordered him to leave at once. Bitterly denying the charge, the stranger left. Later when Henry was away he came back and attempted to take one of the bear dogs, but the little girls held the dog and the man left cursing and threatening them. Some years later, a drunken Indian at Fort Clendenin exhibited two red haired scalps and boasted he had taken them. Henry, then at the Fort, was told this and it is reported that when the Indians left the Fort, Henry followed the Indian and killed him. Many different versions of the massacre have appeared by imaginative writers. The foregoing statement is the story as handed down by the Morris family.

Lineal descendants of Henry Morris still live on the original grant of 600 acres and own land where the Henry Morris cabin stood.

(note: One version said Peggy lived long enough to tell Henry who killed her and upon reaching her she said "Oh papa, I've been kilt")

Submitted by : Sherry

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