Rockbridge County Churches

Old Monmouth Church

Old Monmouth and Its Times, by JD Morrison

The Lexington Presbyterian Church

Scotch-Irish Presbyterians From Ulster to Rockbridge


Church In Rockbridge Survives Many Changes During Its Extended Life

Old Monmouth Church

THE KERR’S CREEK MASSACRES The saddest and most tragic episode in the history of this region were the Indian massacres on Kerr’s creek early after its settlement. The first incursion was in 1763 and the second two years afterwards in 1765. I will not attempt to recount the sad and pathetic story of horrors of these scenes. A full account of these massacres appeared in the COUNTY NEWS a few years ago from the pen of Rev. Samuel Brown, then pastor of Monmouth, which was written by that venerable and good man at my request for the Rockbridge Citizen. This account was so full and so reliable and has so recently been republished that I will content myself with a simple reference to account for a number of the old families of the old church. The incursions were from the West over the Alum Spring mountain and extended down to the Big Spring. The bloodiest scene was at Big Spring, at the house of Jonathan Cunningham, where the people of the region had collected for refuge. From the head of the creek to that point not a family escaped. The highest up lived Charles Daugherty who, with his entire family, was killed. Then further down Jacob Cunningham’s wife was killed and his ten-year old daughter scalped and escaped that time to fall into their hands on the second invasion and to be carried off a prisoner. Next Thomas Gilmore and his wife were killed at the Gilmore place owned in part now by Dr. Hileman. Then came Robert Hamilton at the old Dunlap place where Captain McNeel now lives. Five of his family were slaughtered. This ended the first raid. In the second incursion William Gilmore and Mrs. McKee, of whom I have spoken, a number of the Cunninghams and many other families that were extirpated at the time perished. The remnants of the Hamilton, Gilmore and Cunningham families were taken prisoner. A number of families and their names were blotted out in these massacres. With sad frequently comes the ludicrous. At that time there lived high up on the mountain an odd old genius of whom many funny tales are told. He went barefooted winter and summer and walked to Hall’s Meeting house with his rifle in a garb that would have made a model for a statue of Robinson Crusoe. It is said he was of a party that marched over the Warm Spring mountain to repel an Indian raid and it snowed on them during the trip and he made some of the party very angry going up the steep declivities by shoveling the snow back in the faces of those behind with his splay barefeet. To illustrate one of the phases of pioneer life of this region I give the following which is authentic: JAMIE M’HENRY--HIS DEATH, HIS WAKE AND HIS FUNERAL Had “Jamie” not have had “Molly” for a wife and had he not died and had a wake and a funeral, in all probability he would have gone down with the unknown herd a stranger to fame. As it was these advantages have rescued the name of an humble and obscure individual from oblivion. Jamie lived at the north end of House mountain on the eastern side in what was then a most retired spot, and it is equally so yet. It was at what the people of that region will recognize as the “Joe Webb place.” Joe himself was a character and if he had lived a little further back he too would have deserved a notice in these premises. As it is he was an octogenarian, a dyspeptic and a hypochondriac. One of his idiosyncrasies was that his legs were hollow and that his food passed into them and did not nourish him. It was about 100 years ago on a Tuesday morning that Mollie McHenry came down the hollow to Mrs. Bain’s and after the usual salutations she said, “I want you to come up to our wake tonight.” Whereupon Mrs. Bain in surprise asked: “Who is dead?” “Why Jamie is dead,” Mollie said, “he died the Sabbath day.” Mrs. Bain expressed surprise that she had not let it be known after such a length of time. “Weel,” said Mollie, “I wanted to give Jamie a dacent wake so I filled his mouth with salt as I thought he would keep till I got things fixed up for the people that would come to the wake.” They had the “dacent wake” and the day after the funeral of a like “dacent” character. The burial was to be at McKee’s graveyard at Big Spring, about three miles distant. They conveyed the corpse on a sled. There were no hearses nor other wheeled vehicles in that region in those days. When the procession arrived at the grave, those of them who were sober enough to discern it discovered that the sled was there but there was no corpse on it. They went back to look up the stray cadaver and over a mile distant in the branch in front of the present New Monmouth parsonage they found the coffin upside down in the creek. Mollie in course of time likewise died and had a wake, as the old man himself long since dead, who used to tell the story said he knew it was true, because “Mam and Dad courted and got engaged a’ Mollie McHenry’s wake.”

Old Monmouth and Its Times By. J. D. Morrison No XII