Conflict with Indian Tribes in late 1700’s

Brilliant, Ohio,  is in a very historical area of eastern Ohio. It is in Range One of the original Seven Ranges area of the the Northwest Territories. Brilliant was originally named, Phillipsburg and later LaGrange and and finally named Brilliant in the 1870s. There was a glass business, (from which the name Brilliant was derived) a rolling mill (in 1883) some taverns and a hotel.  There was also a ferry that operated between LaGrange and Charlestown, Virginia.  Charlestown was later renamed Wellsburg.

Tribes of the Iriquois Indian Nation were living in the area of Brilliant in the 1500s and before them were the Mound Builders of whom very little is known. About all that is known is, they were here and they built mounds. One of the most notable mounds in eastern Ohio is in the Tiltonsville Cemetery. Historians do not know where they were from nor do they know what happened to the Mound Builders.

George Washington left Ft. Pitt in the fall of 1770 and traveled down the Ohio River as far as Mingo but getting word that there had been an Indian massacre of some whites, further south,  he left Mingo and went back to the safety of Ft. Pitt.

One of the saddest events was The Riley massacre at Salt Run in 1792.  The family consisted of the father, the mother, 2 boys and 2 girls.  The family was out working in the field when an Indian war party attacked them killing the father, mother and the youngest son. The older son hid in bushes and escaped to the river when the Indians left.  The Indians then took the two girls captive and fled. A half mile west of New Alexandria one girl was tomahawked and killed. Many years later the older son, James Riley, went on a search for his sister who had been reported as living with the Indians.  He finally found her, middle aged in full Indian dress, morose and stupid with every trait of savage stamped on her. She refused to leave the Indians and said they were her family.

Dehewamis……..Mary Jemison was born about 1743 in Chester County, PA. When she was 13 years old an Indian war party attacked her home, killing her parents and burning the cabin. Mary was taken captive by the Indians and taken across Pennsylvania to Ft Duquesne where she was given to two Seneca squaws. Taking Mary with them in a canoe they set out on the river for Mingo town. As they drifted down the river they passed a Shawnee town where Northern Jefferson County is now located. Mary trembled as she saw the remains of white men who had been tortured and burned. Their bodies were supported in forked  poles , suspended above the fire. Mary was adopted by the Senecas and married an Indian chief. She lived as an Indian until her death at age 90 in 1833.

James Ross came from Maryland about 1780,  and was living in the hollowed out trunk of a cypress tree just below Georges Run. The Continental Congress had forbid whites from crossing the river since it upset the Indians and caused battles.  But Ross, all six foot 5 inches and 250 pounds of him, was not going to obey any congress. But congress had other ideas. They sent Ensign Armstrong and several soldiers from Ft McIntosh to evict the squatters.  When Ross saw the soldiers, he threatened them with his hunting rifle and said he wasn’t going to leave his land. And if the soldiers burned his tree, he would build 6 more. Armstrong, thinking Ross was a dangerous character, and maybe crazy, had him shackled and taken to Wheeling where he was put under arrest. He was only held a couple of days and released and he went right back to his cypress tree.

Jacob Walker had to be one of the bravest men as he is reported to be the first white settler in Jefferson County.  In 1765 he was living in Brooke County, Virgina. He crossed the river and made a tomahawk claim for land on what is now North Seventh Street. He didn’t stay here at night but he returned each day to tend his crops and hunt the game.

Compiled by JCHA Board Member

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