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The Shawnee Trail 
Overview of trail drama

Intro by Ron Moxley

It is the Virginia Frontier in the autumn of 1779.

A woman by the name of Jenny Wiley was

captured the past spring from a settlement in
Ab’s Valley. (Now Tazewell County, right below

Mathias Harmon, who had raised

a company of rangers to fight the British,

took 40 men to pursue the Shawnee who had

raided the settlement.

General William Preston joined Harmon with another

100 men in pursuit of the Indians.

They traveled more than 200miles to the forks

of the Levisa and Tug Rivers of the Big Sandy River.

Fearing an ambush, they retreated.

General Preston’s men crossed over to the

Guyandotte Valley and explored a little.

Plans were made to return and explore further

after the fall harvest.

When they returned, Absolom Lusk

formed a scouting party from Washington County.

Guyan Green formed a scouting party from

Montgomery County.

Green’s party explored the
Guyandotte Valley as far

down as Buffalo Creek.

A few other notes about the period:

Many of the settlers on the
New River were “Tories”,

loyal to Great Britain and King George. Most German settlers

stayed loyal to Britain because King George was

of German birth and was royalty.

Fort Chiswell was a “fort” that guarded the lead mines.

It was also a recruiting post for the American army.

Cornstalk’s murder in November of 1777 caused

many of the raids on the Virginian settlements.

Compiled from the book, “William Preston and the Allegheny Patriots”

Suggested classroom activities:
Locate the underlined locations on a contemporary maps of Virginia

and West Virginia. Compare that with one depicting the area

in the late 18th century.

Acquaint the students with the bold face names.

Those are people they might encounter during their journey on the trail.

Have your students write a journal entry about their

experiences as a guide traveling with Green or Lusk.

A fort was not always a log structure surrounded by a large log fence.

Large homes where people gathered to defend themselves

from the natives were sometimes designated forts.

Have students do research on the fort structure on the Eastern US

in the late 18th century. Draw a map and indicate the location

of these structures. Note their proximity to rivers or

mountain ranges. Have students decide why those

locations were chosen for forts.

Have students look up the terms and names in italics.

Those people and terms are some they might hear during their travels

with us. Give them the following questions to answer and discuss.

1.    Who was Chief Cornstalk? How did his murder lead to an

increase in Shawnee raids on the settlements.

2.    What were Tories? How would their presence influence the

fight of the Virginians against the Shawnee?

3.    What things do you think a scouting party might look for

when they explore a new area?

4.    Why was it important for someone to be guarding the lead mines?

5.    Imagine that you meet someone who speaks a different

language than yourself. How would you communicate with them?

Decide what signs or gestures would help you greet them as friends.

6.    What tools would you need for exploring the Virginian frontier?

How would each be used? How would you travel?