During the year 1776 the Cherokee Indians as allies of England, crossed the Blue Ridge and invaded the upper part of Burke and what is now McDowell County. They scalped the people, burned the houses and appropriated the live stock along their line of march. It is to be regretted that more of the history of that fearful raid has not been preserved.
With very short notice of their danger, the people living along the foot of the Blue Ridge in McDowell and also in Burke rushed to the different forts for protection, and those who without warning, remained at their homes, were killed, after being subjected, in some instances, to cruel torture. Very few women, even, were spared and taken as prisoners.
The white men then claimed the country to the top of the Blue Ridge, and had occupied it to the foot, while the Watauga settlement west of the mountains extended South of Jonesboro for some distance. The treaty of the next year was concluded at the Long Island of Holston, and contained a formal recognition of the claims of the whites. There was a fort at the present town of Old Fort, which was built for the Catawbas, as we have mentioned, but was used in 1776 by the whites. Another had been erected in the Turkey Cove, a third where the town of Lenoir now stands, and we suppose that many others were scattered along in the exposed settlements of Burke and Tryon.
Old Mrs Hunter, the mother of James Hunter (who formerly lived on Linville where his son Joseph now lives), and grandmother of the late Swan Burnett and Mrs J. Sewell Brown of McDowell county, was scalped by the savages, who appeared at her house without warning. She was left senseless, but recovered, however, lived many years after and raised a large family.
The wife of a man named McFalls, who lived in the North or Turkey Cove, was also scalped and terribly disfigured, but recovered to find herself disowned and deserted by her unfeeling husband because her beauty had been marred by her terrible wounds. This same man McFalls was a Tory, and when captured at King's Mountain
He probably passed up the old Island Ford road a few miles south of Morganton. He was joined in Burke county by both Joseph McDowell, Sr., and Joseph McDowell, Jr., as well as Col. Armstrong's regiment from Wilkes and Surry. He crossed the Blue Ridge at Swannanoa Gap, went down that river to the French Broad, then, after passing up Hominy, crossed the Pigeon just below the mouth of East Fork, and entered the valley of Richland a few miles above Waynesville. He then marched up that creek, crossed Balsam to Scott's Creek, and passed down Scott's Creek to the Tuckaseegee, which he crossed at an Indian town called Stekoeh, located on the farm of Col. W. H. Thomas, in Jackson county, a mile from Whittier Station. After an engagement with the Indians on Cowee Mountains, he went down the Tennessee river to Middletown, then on the 14th of September he met Gen. Williamson, from South Carolina. He returned by the same route, afterwards known as “Rutherford's Truce,” having completely subdued the Indians and paved the way for the treaty of the next year.
Gen. Rutherford, we suppose, followed an old Indian trail, but it is curious to observe how nearly he marked out also the line on which the great highways of the country, first the turnpike and then the railroad were located.
Nearly all of the men of the Piedmont section, who afterwards led in the last campaign of 1780-'81 in Western North Carolina, saw their first service under Rutherford in this expedition.