From the Campbell County Historical Society: "In 1782 near Crab Orchard an aged, lame slave defended a white woman and her daughter when Shawnees attacked their cabin. The Black man struggled with a warrior who had entered the house before the woman bolted the door. While he held him, the young girl killed the invader with an ax."
There is no mention of the slave's age in the following accounts.
From Lewis Collins' 1877 History of Kentucky:
In the year 1781 or 2, near the Crab Orchard, in Lincoln County, a very singular adventure occurred at the house of a Mr. Woods. One morning he left his family, consisting of a wife, a daughter not yet grown, and a lame negro [sic] man, and rode off to the station near by, not expecting to return till night. Mrs. Woods being a short distance from her cabin, was alarmed by discovering several Indians advancing towards it. She instantly screamed loudly in order to give the alarm, and ran with her utmost speed, in hope of reaching the house before them. In this she succeeded, but before she could close the door, the foremost Indian had forced his way into the house. He was instantly seized by the lame negro man, and after a short scuffle, they both fell with violence, the negro underneath. Mrs. Woods was too busily engaged in keeping the door closed against the party without, to attend to the combatants; but the lame negro, holding the Indian tightly in his arms, called to the young girl to take the axe from under the bed and dispatch him with a blow on the head. She immediately attempted it; but the first attempt was a failure. She repeated the blow and killed him. The other Indians were at the door, endeavoring to force it open with their tomahawks. The negro rose and proposed to Mrs. Woods to let in another, and they would soon dispose of the whole of them in the same way. The cabin was but a short distance from the station, the occupants of which having discovered the perilous situation of the family, fired on the Indians and killed another, when the remainder made their escape.
From History and genealogies of the families of Miller, Woods, Harris, Wallace, Maupin, Oldham, Kavanaugh, and Brown (illustrated): with interspersions of notes of the families of Dabney, Reid, Martin, Broaddus, Gentry, Jarman, Jameson, Ballard, Mullins, Michie, Moberley, Covington, Browning, Duncan, Yancey, and others, by Wm. Harris Miller, Richmond, Ky. (1907)
Michael Woods, born perhaps about 1746, married Hannah Wallace, a daughter of Andrew Wallace and Margaret Woods. In about the year 1780, he emigrated with his family to Kentucky, and first stopped at Crab Orchard Station, where he was living in 1781-2, when the incident or adventure occured at his house as narrated in Collins' History of Kentucky, and also described by the Tattler further on in this chapter. He afterwards moved to Madison County, Kentucky, and entered, surveyed, and patented 1000 acres of land in Madison County, on Muddy Creek, adjoining of James Bridges' settlement and pre-emption claim on the lower side.
Michael & Hannah bore a son John Woods. John married his first wife, Mary H. (or Polly) Thomas, on July 2, 1812, in Madison County, Ky. Their first child was ...
"Elizabeth Woods, born April 23, 1813, near Milford or old town, in Madison County, Ky. She married Edward C. Boggs, Sept. 19, 1833. Their home was on the Big Hill Road, near the south eastern limits of the city of Richmond, Ky. where they died.
"Mrs. Boggs has many times heard her father tell the true story of an incident related in Collins' History. One night, most likely in the spring of 1782, the Indians made a raid on the Station at Crab Orchard and stole all the horses. The next day all the men in and about the fort went in pursuit, leaving only a negro with a lame hand at Mr. [Michael] Woods' cabin and a white man sickly in another cabin close by. The children had been going to and from the spring all morning and had noticed nothing suspicious, except their sagacious dog would walk slowly in the spring path and look towards the spring and growl, but never bark. Towards dinner time, Polly Woods, then seventeen years old, had gone with her little brother, John to a knoll, not far from the house to gather salad, and the negro man, was in the yard playing on a buffalo robe with little Betsy Woods.
Suddenly, Polly saw a huge Indian stealing up the spring path with his body bent, and on tiptoe leading a band of warriors, and she at once gave the alarm, at the top of her voice. The negro ran to the house in an instant to shut the door, but the Indian leader rushed in the door at the same time and there they clinched in a tremendous struggle, the negro being as good a wrestler as the Indian. During the scuffle at the door, little Betsy though only three years old, slipped in between them. In a minute or two they had gotten inside and Mrs. Woods, the mother of the family had secured the door. In one corner stood a rifle and the struggle was for the gun, the Indian forgetting to use his knife and tomahawk, which hung in his belt, but jabbering all the time to his companions out side who were trying to break down the door with their war clubs. Mrs. Woods ran for a knife near by, but seeing it was of no use, seized the broad axe and hewed the Indian down. Utterly cutting him to pieces before they could stop her. Meanwhile Polly had rushed with her little brother to the house of the sick neighbor, who though hardly able to move, seized his rifle and shot one of the Indians out side. The savages then beat a hasty retreat, taking the dead body of their comrade with them.
They had been concealed near the spring, and seized their opportunity to slaughter the family, but failed. By the continual practice the sagacity of the lower animals in the old days was almost perfectly developed. The intelligent dog mentioned above was a very valuable animal. On one occasion William Woods with his twelve-year-old brother John, had gone to the salt works on Goose Creek, for salt, accompanied by this dog, on their return they had stopped for the night and had lighted a fire when this old dog looked back in the direction they had come and growled, but knew better than to bark knowing that Indians were about, William scattered the fire and came to the station, that night before stopping. A day or two after several men were killed in the same place by Indians.
This slave is not portrayed as lame:
From the Virginia Gazette and Weekly Advertiser (Nicolson & Prentis), Richmond, December 6, 1783:
BEDFORD COUNTY, Nov. 20, 1783. CAME to my house on the 12th inst. a negro man who says his name is DAVID, and that he is free; he brought with him a discharge and pass from Colonel William Davis, dated at Charlestown the 24th of June last, but since has confessed he is a slave, and that he belongs to Michael Woods, living at the Crab orchard in Kentucky. He is about twenty five years of age, five feet ten inches high, well proportioned sensible, and active. Should the said negro remain at my house, the owner may get him, by applying to me, living at the head of Black water. THOMAS ARTHUR.
What if David, traumatized by the invasion of the frontier cabin, sought to return to civilization?