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Judge Rollin Hurt's History of Adair...

The Last Unfriendly Indian - OR - An Attempt Upon the Life of Col. William Casey

A little early history of our town and county for those who are so inclined to learn more about their place upon this continent.

This is a historical sketch on the subject of Adair County's earliest permanent settlement as written by Judge Rollin T. Hurt, Columbia, Kentucky, 1919. The following, in the original tone of Judge Hurt, was published some years ago as History of Adair County, Kentucky, by Judge Rollin T. Hurt and edited by Mike Watson. A few clarifications have been made, in brackets, to aid the reader.

Shortly after the establishment of Casey's Station, the last Indian who was ever slain in the territory of the present county of Adair, and the last unfriendly Indian ever known to have been in the county, came to his death at the hands of [Colonel William] Casey.

Upon the ridge between the dwelling house, upon the farm which was known to the older people as the Joe Green Atkins farm, and the Old Robin Fletcher place, which is the farm now owned by N.T. Mercer, was a path, which, in the period of which we write, led from Casey's Station to the cane brakes upon the Russell [Creek] and the lower reaches of Pettit's Fork. The people at Casey's Station drove their cattle and horses along the path in carrying them to the pasturage of the cane brakes. It was, likewise, a route for the buffalo seeking water and pasturage. This path or trail ran nearly north and south.

Another path or trail running nearly an east and west direction, somewhat upon the same course, afterward pursued by the original road from Columbia to Glasgow, crossed the first named trail or path upon the top of the ridge mentioned. A war party of Indians came over the trail, but all passed on except one, who, from his size and dress, appeared to be a chief, or at least a man of importance. It was learned in years afterwards from his companions, that he was left behind for the express purpose of slaying and securing Casey's scalp. The Indians correctly surmised that when it should appear that they had gone from the community, that Casey would come out from his place of defense and, being off his guard, could be entrapped and slain.

The Indian, with the sharp eyes and instincts of the men of the woods, discovered the occasional use of the trails described by white men. In a place near the crossing which commanded a view of anyone who might pass along either of the trails, the Indian prepared a place which, by skillful manipulation of the branches of the bushes, concealed him from the view of the passerby. With the patience of which no one except an Indian can wait in ambush for his victim, the Indian hid himself in the place and, from the evidences, had probably remained there for several days awaiting the coming of Casey, that he might assassinate him.

The Indian was, however, evidently compelled to leave his hiding place for the purpose of obtaining food and water, and with the intention for returning and resuming his vigil. While the Indian was thus temporarily absent, Casey came that way and he too had a woodsman's eye as keen and as detective of anything of the natural order as any Indian possessed. When near the place where the Indian had established the blind, Casey detected that there was something unnatural about the condition of the foliage and, upon investigation, was at once convinced of the truth of the matter. Knowing the nature and the characteristics of the Indian as he did of the buffalo, the panther and the bear, he at once divined that it was a blind established to conceal an enemy who sought his destruction or that of some other and that the individual who made it had awaited there for his victim until he had been driven away by thirst or hunger, and that he would soon return to take up the watch.

Casey, thereupon, took a position behind the blind and awaited the return of its maker. After a few hours his sagacity and patience were rewarded by the return of the Indian who was proceeding to again occupy the blind, but as soon as he came fairly within rifle shot, Casey fired upon the Indian and killed him. Thus, the would-be slayer was himself slain and the pit which he had dug for another he fell into himself.

Previous to the above mentioned occurrence, Casey, on an occasion in the forests near to his station and between the stockade and Butler's Fork, observed an Indian warrior skulking through the forests, but the Indian did not observe him. Approaching the little rivulet which flows down the little valley from near where the station was situated and empties into the Butler's Fork at Bliss, the Indian stopped to take a drink of water from the stream, when Casey, taking deliberate aim with his rifle, fired upon him. The bullet took effect in the Indian's heart and caused his instant death.

To be continued if there is sufficient interest. --MW

This story was posted on 2017-09-15 13:40:48
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