Apparently the first settlement on land now in the Alderson
Community was Baughman's Fort. The history of this settlement is
fragmentary, elusive and sometimes puzzling. Henry Baughman's origin is
unknown. He was one of the men called "surveyees" or "patentees" under
the surveys of Greenbrier Land Company. His land was surveyed April 22,
1751. This land, 780 acres, lies just west of Alderson town limits on
the south side of the Greenbrier across from the mouth of Muddy Creek
and extended over much of the area now occupied by the Federal
Reformatory. In April 1754 Captain Robert Orme, aide-de-camp to General
Braddock said in his journal appended to Sergeant's History of
Braddock's Expedition, p. 298, that "Capt. Andrew Lewis was ordered with
his Company of Ranger to Greenbrier to build two stockade forts, in one
of which he was to remain himself and to detach to the other a subaltern
with 15 men."
On July 8, 1754, Governor Dinwiddie of
Virginia wrote Capt. Andrew Lewis (Dinwiddie Papers, Vol. II, p. 91)
saying, "You were ordered to Augusta with your company to protect the
frontiers of that country" (greenbrier area). On the same day Governor
Dinwiddie wrote Colonel Patton, County Lieutenant of Augusta, and
enclosed the above letter for Captain Lewis for delivery saying, "I
think he is at Greenbrier" (Dinwiddie Papers, Vol. II, p. 93). It
appears, therefore, that Baughman's Fort was on of the stockades built
as a result of Dinwiddie's order, and the first or second built on the
"Western Waters" and that it was built in 1754. It had a short life.
On August 12, 1755, Indians
attacked. They killed Baughman and nine other, among them a
schoolmaster, and "Old Christopher" probably a slave. In September
1755 the Indians struck again and killed four more, including a Corporal
Bennett, probably one of the Virginia Militia assigned to the fort, and
captured a Mrs. Fishpaugh and five children (Records of Augusta County,
Va. Chalkley, Vol. 2, p. 510 and Virginia Magazine of History and
Biography, Vol. 1, pp. 400-461, Preston's Register).
This attack by the Indians and
the success of it angered Governor Dinwiddie. The most revealing
information of what happened at Baughman's Fort is in several letters
Dinwiddie wrote his officers on the frontier (Dinwiddie Papers, Vol. II,
pp. 2410-219). Evidently a Captain Dickison was in command at
Baughman's Fort. Fifty-nine people were there at the time of the Indian
attack, with twenty-one men armed to defend the fort. But nine
Mohawk Indians attacked. They had with them two captive Cherokee
Indian boys. The Mohawks must have fooled the people at the fort
by appearing friendly. Dinwiddie concluded that the Indians making
the attack were "Praying Indians" (The Coughnawaga Indians of Montreal,
recruited by the French as soldiers during the French and Indian Wars,
wore their native dress and were known as "Praying Indians"). The
attack broke up the fort. Dinwiddie wrote that he was sorry to
hear of the number of cattle driven off and great quantity of corn
left in the fields. Somehow the settlers got the Cherokee boys
whom Dinwiddie then ordered returned home, as the Cherokee were friendly
to the settlers. Dinwiddie accused the occupants of the fort of
timidity saying ".......in general the people of Augusta have
behav'd very ill in allow'g such scatter'd and few Ind's to rob and
murder them; they appear to me y't in gen'l they have been seized with a
panick by leav'g their Plantat's and Crops which they might have
protect'd if they had joined with Resolut'n."
It is not known, and certainly
it is doubtful, if all of the fort's survivors, nearly forty people,
fled back across the mountains. There were other pioneers in the
section, some not far away.
Although Baughman occupied his
land and was killed on it in August 1755, his title from Greenbrier Land
Co. evidently was not good. On August 10, 1759, another grant for
the same land was made to Henry Baughman by King George II for four
pounds "good and lawful money". Baughman's wife, Anna Maria,
survived as did his son, Jacob. In 1758 she married John David Wilpert
who was appointed administrator of Baughman's estate March 16, 1758.
He settled the estate in Augusta County Court, Staunton. Five men,
Evidently members of the Virginia Militia, testified they saw Baughman
killed. Jacob Baughman, eldest son and heir, sold the 780 to
Andrew Lewis March 9, 1769 for one hundred pounds.
Thus civilization came to the
area now Alderson, more that two hundred years ago. It was bloody,
tragic beginning and nothing approaching it in savagery, brutality, or
the number of deaths, has happened here since that summer of 1755.
The destruction of Baughman's
Fort and the twenty casualties were part of the French and Indian War.
It is rarely mention in a history of that war and is seldom mentioned in
any West Virginia history.
The contents contained in this series is copyrighted
and the sole property of
Historical Society - Lewisburg, WV
Used by permission - November 18, 2008