Image is from website: Nature Preserves KY
Quadrule Indians in Harlan County Kentucky
When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to tell us the story about our Indian heritage, Indian was the word she used. She told us that our heritage came from the Quadrule Indians who lived on Wallins Creek in Harlan County Kentucky. She said the Cherokees were in Harlan too, but Quadrules were NOT Cherokee Indians, that they were more advanced, and friendly, and that they made beautiful pottery. Grandma said they were there when the first white man came, and they had always been there. She said the women were very beautiful, and that they married in with the white settlers. I used to love hearing grandma tell this story, and she told it from the time I was little, until she passed away when I was 27 years old.
In all these years, as soon as I could read, I have searched for the word Quadrule, and have never found it among any Native American tribes. I've never found it to be a clan of any tribe. This is a wonderful story in my family, and I mostly just considered it that--- a grandma story and we loved hearing it as children. One day I found an unpublished manuscript on Harlan County Kentucky, and contained in this manuscript was a story of the Quadrule Indians. Needless to say, I started my search to find more written words on these Indians whom I have loved since I was a child.
Edmon Middleton, 1905-1935, was murdered by a dynamite blast in his car September 4, 1935. Evidence showed that the dynamite was wired to the ignition the night before, and exploded when he started his car. The explosion could be heard all over the city of Harlan, Kentucky. Mr. Middleton was in his second year of his second four-year term as County Attorney in Harlan County. (Harlan Dailey Enterprise, September 4, 1935; Edmon Middleton 1905-1935 by Kathryn H. Trail, Harlan Mountain Roots) Mr. Middleton contributed many ways in his short life---one was by writing a history of Harlan County Kentucky, which to my knowledge was never published. His daughter, Mary Elmon Middleton graciously allowed this history to be placed in the "Harlan Mountain Roots."
According to my research so far Middleton was the first to write a history on Harlan County, all others seem to refer to his work or use his work almost word for word in part. I was surprised and pleased to see that Mr. Middleton not only mentioned Quadrule Indians but elaborated on them in his history and told much the same story my grandmother had told. In other words he confirmed a family story. Middleton said, "The early settlers at first found the Indians who were living in Harlan County, but no roving bands, friendly and hospitable towards them." He goes on to tell that later as the Indians became alarmed of the growing danger of losing their lands, they became hostile. These hostile Natives were soon either killed or driven from Harlan County. The friendly Indians "remained until comparatively recent years." Some married in with the surrounding families.
He writes, "The chief tribes of Indians in Harlan County were the Cherokees and Quadrules. The Quadrules inhabited Wallins Creek, and the Cherokees were scattered in smaller bands throughout the county, some of them on Wallins Creek. The Quadrules were friendly and mingled freely with the whites. The Cherokees usually were unfriendly and lived more secluded from the whites. The Quadrules were very adapt at spinning and weaving woolens and flax and making beautiful pottery. Often they did the spinning for the White people. The women wore beautifully colored clothing, and were just as fond of pottery of many colors. They made this pottery from the clay around Wallins Creek. S.J.C. Howard, who died in Harlan just a few years ago, and who was formerly County Attorney for Harlan, gave many interesting accounts of this colony of Quadrule Indians at Wallins. When a boy he used to hunt and fish with those Quadrule Indian boys. They lived as a tribe at Wallins Creek until after the Civil War, and then many went West when the Indians were colonized by the Government.
It is said that the Quadrule Indian girls were very beautiful. Some of the older Indians returned to Wallins Creek after the colonization, and later scattered about through the County. After the mass of the Indians from Harlan moved west, it is reported that occasionally some of them would return, and take back packages of very heavy materials, which they would allow no one to see, and which the old settlers thought were some kind of very valuable Minerals." Mr. Middleton tells of an Indian mound that was unearthed just off main street in Harlan, giving up all kinds of flints, arrowheads, tomahawks, a little pottery, beads, and Indian skeletons. He mentions that in a large portion of Harlan County Indian relics have been found, giving evidence of early Native American existence there. Lisa Kirk, of the Enterprise Staff wrote an article titled "Wallins Named For An Early Surveyor." It tells that Wallins Creek was named after the longhunter who early on came into the area.
Kirk says, "The Quadrule Indians were a settled, peaceful people living at Wallins Creek, and when the early settlers came in the Quadrules accepted them as friends. -------------Eventually the Quadrules were moved to a western reservation. The exact year is not known, but it is believed to have been sometime after 1865, following the close of the Civil War. --------Forests, parks and other sites were named for the belligerent Cherokees and Shawnees, but few remembered the Quadrules ever existed. As a belated honor to the friendly people, one of the scenic spots in the county, on Upper Martins Fork, now bears the name of Quadrule Falls." I spoke with the Virginia Parks Department historian, and he felt that the Indian mounds would have contained the earlier Native Americans who lived in the area, and that these Quadrules were more than likely a group of Natives who had broken off from a local tribe, probably the Cherokee or Shawnee. Everything I find separates these Quadrules from the Cherokees, as did my grandmothers story. All accounts seem to point out that they were not the same.
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