Draper Letters collection: 1887 Letter from Dr. William James Chenoweth

CC Vol3 page 65

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Decatur, ILL, July 22, 1887
Mr. L.C. Draper

Dear Sir

I write to correct some errors into which I had fallen in reference to the Chenoweth Family. Not being entirely satisfied to let my recollection serve alone, as authority for some of the statements I have made you, I went to Bowling Green, IND to see my Aunt, Mrs Jane Smith [JE: Jane Sarah Chenoweth d/o James S. married William G. Smith. She died January 02, 1888 less that 6 months after this letter was written, in 1880 she was living in Greene Co. Bowling Green is north of this in abutting Clay Co.], and from her am enabled to give the following particulars.

Mrs. Smith was born January 17, 1807. While feeble in health and weighing but 120 (140 being her usual weight) she is clear headed and has a good recollection of the past. Her version of my grandfatherís ( James S. Chenowethís) race from the Indians is that after receiving the arrow in his hip, he ran with all speed possible towards home and met his mother coming with a gun, and that she called to him at a distance to ďrun Jim, runĒ, but he always said in alluding to the matter that he did not need any encouragement that as he was lightly dressed having on but a (sic) singe loose garment, he made a straight shirt-tail of it. Joseph Chenoweth, his cousin, [JE: this person is unknown] was killed falling forward on his face when struck, his (James) father escaped into a field of rye which although as early as the 10th of May was quite high, except the day of the month she could not give any date with certainly but believed it was in the year 1797. She dates the Massacre of the family at 1800 and gives a little different version of the escape of my grandfather and of the parties killed than I had heard before. She said grand-pa [JE: James Chenoweth] was suffering greatly from having had a large piece of blue stone (sulphate of copper) forced into the wound in his thigh, to cure it, by sloughing out that when the Indians forced the door open his sister Mildred seized him and threw him out the window and that she escaped with her father to the block-house at Middleton. Mrs. Smith says her grand-fatherís family consisted of Thomas, who had been captured by the Indians and was with them then, Peggy (Margaret) Polly and Levi, all of whom were killed, James who escaped with a cut from a tomahawk and Naomi, (Mrs Naomi Porter says the child, her mother, was 5 years old hence born in 1784 [JE: Naomi Nash Porterís mother was Amelia 'Mildred', Naomi was her aunt] ) who was asleep in her bed, and was not found although the Indians ripped up the feather-bed on which she was sleeping and dragged it off the bed, she rolling off while in a profound sleep. Anna, who married a man named Bundrand [JE: Bondurant] and Tabitha who remained unmarried were born after the massacre. Her grand-motherís (who she had seen a great many times) maiden name was Peggy (Margaret) McCarthy [JE: s/b McCarty], a very small woman, not exceeding in height a 12 year old child and never weighing as much as a hundred pounds, one the neatest women in her household affairs that she ever saw, everything about her house looking at all times, just as if she had scrubbed it. There was probably another family of Chenowethís in the Fort as she thinks her grand-father had a brother with him who was married and had children and that Jo. Chenoweth was one of his sons [JE: The only brother of Richard in Kentucky was Arthur. There is no Joseph listed in his bible]. She says I was mistaken in regard to her grand-motherís maiden name that there was a Margaret Hanna but that she was the wife of Thomas Hanna who married an older sister of her motherís [JE: Jane is talking about an aunt Margaret who was sister to Janeís mother Martha Smith, reflected in this marriage record Thomas Hanna married Peggy Smith 16 Mar 1797 in Mercer Co., KY] She said her grand-father was always represented as a fine looking, stout man and that he could not have been more than 50 years old [Richardís age is not really determined. Estimates would place him between 55-65 years old at his death in 1803 ] at the time of his death which occurred about the same time that my father was born (1803) [JE: John Smith Chenoweth b: April 03, 1803] and that his wife lived until about the time of my fatherís marriage which occurred in 1823 [JE: February 06, 1823 Ė Peggy is thought to have died about 1839 by other accounts.]

I could not get a clear idea of the cause of her grand-motherís leaving the farm near Middletown although I tried very hard to do so. I infer she was embarrassed by claims either on the land or on the personal property that was left by her husband and that in spite of all that her family or her friends could urge she gave up the farm from a feeling that she would be disgraced by holding it and she accepted a life interest in a few acres of ground 4 miles east of Shelbyville in lieu of her right. The land she moved to adjoined a school house and my father and his brothers and sisters lived with their grandmother by turns and the little education they received was acquired while with her

Since my talk with my aunt I am certain as ever that the city of Louisville was at first to have been called Margaretville. In fact I recall distinctly that grand-pa said his mother was a little Irish woman and was so small that she looked like a child.

Respectfully
W.J. Chenoweth [PICTURE]

Comments and additions appreciated - Jon Egge

You can reach me by e-mail at: jegge@chenowethsite.com
Webpage copyrighted c 2010 by Jon D. Egge. The orginal article is part of the Draper Collection. The transcription is mine. Any republication of this transcriptionrequires the express consent of the webmaster.

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A special thanks to James R. Hancock for finding and sending this to me.
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