Monday, April 4, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Granville Moody Botkin Letter

This letter was written by Granville Moody BOTKIN and has been passed down by his descendents.  I received a copy recently from Al BOTKIN. 

There is a note at the top of this letter which reads:
"Copy of this story was given to Aunt Mabel BOTKIN by Granville Moody BOTKIN.  Aunt Mabel gave her copy to Aunt Sarah BOTKIN, who loaned it to me on this date to make copies of it"  Wayne BOTKIN, July 2, 19(51?)

(By Granville Moody Botkin)
     The most vivid of my impressions concerning the American origin of the Botkin family was made by a conversation at my father's house between my grandfather, George Botkin, and his brother Richard, when the former was back from Illinois on a visit, and the latter was there making up my father's broom corn crop into brooms.

     In these early years of my life the only book that could interest me a "History of the French & Indian War".  In fact, it was the only book, I think, that was about the place except the Bible and an old "Buck-wheat Note" songbook.  I had been reading about the slaughter of General Braddock's army, and the noble and courageous action of Col. George Washington and hsi Virginia Riflemen, and had imbibed therefrom the idea that the Virginians did all the fighting that was done.  Some how or other that subject came up in the hearing of Grandfather and Uncle Richard, whereup they corrected that false impressino of mine.  In doing so they related the following story in substance.

     In one of the Britian regiments (the 47th or 54th - I cAnnot be certain now) was a Company made up of young men from the north part of Ireland.  Among them were the two brothers, Charles and George Botkin, the former being my Great-grandfather, and the father of the George and Richard to whom I was listening.

     That company was marching close by a wooded knoll when the firing began at the front, and the head of the British column began to stampede.  Washington chanced to be near and seeing the rout ahead, began to snap out precautionary orders to the British captains near him.  He ordered the captain of the Irish company to march quickly and seize the heavily timbered knoll already mentioned, and place his men behind the trees and hold that position at all hazards until ordered away.

     The quick movement of the Irish company to seize that knoll in the right was none too soon, for on its crest they set the Indians, who, led by a French officer were to seize that hill and cut off the British retreat from theambuscade a quarter of a mile beyond.  A quick, determined bayonet charge drove off the Indians, and the Irish company during the next half hour repulsed several attempts to dislodge of flank them.  At last the fugitives from the front, all who were fortunate enough to escape the rifle balls and tomahawks of the Indians, passed to the rear and the tide of pursueing savages rushing agfer them, came upon the Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvfania fiflemen, who Washington had quickly but adroitly posted for covering the retreat.  An awful battle raged there for a quarter of an hour, when the Indians fell back out of the range of those deadly rifles.  In the meantime Washington sent a messenger to the Irish captain to withdraw and cross Meadow Creek to the rear of his own riflemen.  That messenger was killed.  Another was sent and was also killed.  In the meantime, Washington, ignorant of his second messenger's fate and concluding from the cessation of firing on that hill that the company had received and obeyed his order, bade his own men to fall back behind Meadow Creek.  That movement allowed the Indians to get to the rear of the hill.  But the captain of the Irish company was a clearheaded, resolute, fellow.  Forming his men in two parallel columns and placing the stretchers with his wounded between, he marched to the right and away from the line of retreating troops, and headed his march toward Philadelphia.  They reached a frontier settlement where they found the old men, women and children huddled into block houses expecting every hour to hear either the war whoop of the savages or the shouts of greeting of fathers, husbands and sons who had gone to the front to watch the Allegheny passes for hostile bands.  There the captain halted his company, both for rest and succor for his wounded and for the safety of the almost helpless settlement.  There, the men's time having expired the captain at last discharged his company, and there and elsewhere in the vicinity most of the men stayed.  Amongst them were Charles and George Botkin, who like most of their comrades, had probably joined the army enlisting for service in America, for the ultimate purpose of finding homes in the New World.

     The American Revolution came and found these men ready and willing to stake their all upon the altars of American liberty.  They enlisted in a rising Pennsylvania batallion and joined Washington at or near New York City.  They were with him on the retreat across New Jersey, and their bare feet left bloody tracks on the snow along the Delaware.  They were with him at Trenton on that awful morning's march and charge that gave to our country one of the most glorious victories in its history.

     When Washington disposed of the prisoners by sending them far away into the woods at what is now Carlyle, he sent the remnant of the Pennsylvania batallion to guard them, "and thereby hangeth the tale".

     The Hessians were an industrious lot of Germans and having no home in the Old World. they longed for a settlement in the New.  Their officers had their wives and children with them.  So, too, had some of the men.  In a short time they had felled and hewed the logs, made the clap-boards, and erected their own barracks.  It did not take such people long to clear and plant gardens and small fields of grain and vegetables.

     It seems that while on duty guarding the Hessionans my great-grandfather Charles got acquainted with Major Karhl and family, for in 1783 he returned to Carlyle Barracks and married the Major's daughter Jemina Karhl.  Karhl's first name was Isaac.  He also had a son Isaac, and a grandson by the same name.  Now if you will reflect a moment you will readily see how that name Karhl got changed and that its spelling was changed to Curl.  You will also understand where my uncle, Isacc Curl Botkin, got his name and why.

     Thus originated the Botkin family in America.  But it was a numerous family in the North of Ireland and across the straight in Scotland.  Indeed, so frequently during troublous ages did the people emigrate back and forth in that region, that it was hard to find in the corner of Ireland a family without Scotch boood and history: or to find in the  neighborhing corner of Scotland a family that was not related to Irish neighbors.  An old Scotchman once told me tht he came from that part of Scotland and that he was very well acquainted in his young days with members of the Botkin family on either side of the Strait.

     My great-grandfather soon after getting married settled in Rockingham County, Va, near Woodstock, in the Shenandoah Valley.  But about the year 1800 he with others, began discussing the project of moving to the Mad River country in Ohio.  It took them two years to fully mature their plans and to organize their company, for they must expect to fight the Indians.  They crossed the Ohio River at or near Parkersburg in 1802.  They had 124 rifleman besides the women and children, altho a large part of those riflemen were boys in their teens.  They passed through Old Chillicothe to Cincinnati - then Fort Washington, and thence moved north along the old military trail.  A part of the company kept on into what is now Clinton and Shelby counties, while grandfather built himself a home on Sinking Creek in Clark County, on what is now the "Doc" Yeazell place, where that first old cabin still stands. 


1 comment:

  1. what a priceless letter! thanks for sharing it.