1928 - Alderson High School - 1968

The Journal Of The
Greenbrier Historical Society
Alderson, West Virginia
Written by Kenneth D. Swope

Baughman's Fort

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.
Next, Early Growth of Alderson

The contents contained in this series is copyrighted and the sole property of The Greenbrier Historical Society - Lewisburg, WV
Used by permission - November 18, 2008