In 1773, Daniel Boone and Captain William Russell of Castlewood, Virginia agreed to lead a group of settlers into Kentucky. Boone’s party, which consisted of family and extended family, were traveling from the Yadkin Valley area of North Carolina. When they reached present day Abingdon, Virginia, Boone sent his seventeen year old son, James, to veer north to Castle’s Woods (Castlewood) to pick up supplies and to inform Captain Russell that their party was on the way and continuing west. Upon arriving, James learned that the Russell party was not quite ready to depart. So they gathered their supplies and continued traveling, picking up Captain Russell’s seventeen year old son, Henry Russell, and over a half dozen others.
On October 9, James’ and Henry’s party had camped alongside Wallen’s Creek near modern day Stickleyville, Virginia. As night approached, their animals seemed unsettled and wolves were howling in the distance. The group finally settled down to rest. At daybreak the stillness was broken by gunfire. A band of Indians swooped into the camp. Several were killed immediately. James Boone and Henry Russell were both shot in their hips, and unable to get on their feet. James recognized the leader of the Indian party as Big Jim, a Shawnee that had visited at his family’s table in North Carolina. Jim and his associates lept upon the two youth and began to torture them, cutting their faces and pulling their finger and toe nails out. The boys begged for release, then later to be put out of their misery. Their hands were shredded from attempts to stop the knife slashes. Only two members of the party, Isaac Crabtree and a slave named Adam were able to escape the brutality. Another slave was taken by the Indians, but was later killed.
Captain William Russell’s group came upon the massacre site later and sent a scout ahead to find Boone’s group, who was only 3 miles in front. They learned that James Boone’s group had mistakenly veered off onto an alternate path from the main party. The remaining settlers decided to abandon their plans and turn back to Castlewood, where they would reside for the next few months.
This event fanned the flames of what would become Lord Dunnmore’s War between the Virginia Colony and the Shawnee and Mingo Indian nations. John Murry, who was the 4th Earl of Dunmore, and Governor of Virginia commissioned Boone to be a captain of the militia and in charge of three garrisons of troops to fight Indians in 1774.