Ask A Librarian

1797 Document Shows Payment of Scouts in 1795 at end of Northwest Indian War

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 20th, 2015

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.


Recently, during the course of work on the Harrison County Court Records collection (at the West Virginia and Regional History Center), a document was discovered that gives tangible evidence of the frontier war between native Americans and the United States in the Ohio country, a region west of the Appalachian Mountains between the northern Ohio River and Lake Erie.  Described as a “pay abstract,” it documents the names of seven scouts “ordered into service” in 1795 by General Benjamin Biggs (ca. 1752-1823), a militia commander with responsibility for defending the Virginia frontier.

Document describing the payment of scouts in 1795

“Pay Abstract” for Scouts Hired in 1795,
1798 Copy of Document Created in 1797.


Although the Northwest Indian War (1785 to 1795) had concluded with the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, and officially ended with the Treaty of Greenville on 3 August 1795, this document apparently attests to lingering doubts, since the scouts, according to the text, were hired “for the defense of Harrison County in the year 1795.”


Oil Painting of Treaty of Greenville

Treaty of Greenville Negotiations,
Between General Anthony Wayne and Native Americans, 1795.
An officer of Wayne’s staff is believed to have created this oil painting.


General Biggs, who hired the scouts, was a native of Ohio County, Virginia, and was a veteran of Indian warfare.  Having fought in Lord Dunmore’s War in 1774, and in the Revolutionary War as a Captain in the 7th Virginia Regiment (defending Fort Henry from Indian attack in Wheeling, among other duties), he was a seasoned soldier who brought needed experience to his role as a commander during the Northwest Indian War.  Documents found on the Papers of the War Department website give some additional evidence of the role Biggs played during this time.


The West Virginia and Regional History Center looks forward to the continued processing of the Harrison County Court Records Collection to see what further historical treasures may be uncovered.


Pile of assorted Harrison Cuunty Court Records

Example of documents typically found in the Harrison County Court Records Collection.
The pay abstract featured in this blog was found filed among papers like these.

Comments are closed.