Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Quadrule Indians, Harlan County, KY

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 One day I found an unpublished manuscript on Harlan County Kentucky, and contained in this manuscript was a story of the Quadrule Indians.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.

Penny Ferguson

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Cherokee said...

My mouth dropped when I read this story. As a direct descendant from Harlan and Clay County Kentucky CHEROKEE Chief Red Bird, I am highly offended. This story is a joke and an embarrassment to all Cherokee of Southeastern, Kentucky. How dare you knock the Cherokee Tribe as being non-friendly, belligerent and not civilized and not as advanced and as beautiful as the non-sense tribe the Quadrules. I strongly suggest you research the Cherokee of southeastern, Kentucky better and get your facts straight. The facts are...we still are and were the largest Indian Tribe in the country and we claimed more land in the southeastern United States than any other tribe. We were more larger, more advanced and more civilized and are still today. Where is this Quadrule Tribe that was supposedly so advanced, civilized and friendly and more beautiful than the Cherokee???? Ummm doesn't seem to exist. The state of Kentucky has thousands of records on file in their archives about the Cherokee to prove we existed there. Where's the records on this Great Tribe the Quadrules. They don't exist, because the tribe didn't exist and if it did, it is history, but we are still here. That is because Cherokee Chief Red Bird was the one who was friendly to the early settlers and allowed them to hunt in the area, bringing settlers through the Cumberland Gap and then he was murdered by fools. We built the mounds there and we were the civilized, advanced and beautiful CHEROKEE.

I am not mad at you nor am I angry with you, because I don't know you and you may have been told these stories by your grandmother but they are false.

You say your grandmother told you these stories....Stories are just that...stories...Facts are facts and there are plenty of facts that the Cherokee claimed southeastern Kentucky and have many Cherokee ancestors still in southeastern, Kentucky to this day. No matter who you ask in southeastern Kentucky where they came from, they will more than likely tell you the CHEROKEE.

You can view records to back up everything I have just told you about Cherokee Chief Red Bird and the Cherokee in southeastern Kentucky at

Not only his story there but actual government records to back it up. There are none whatsoever of this Quadrule Tribe.

I am very proud to be descended from the Cherokee Tribe and our great Mound building advanced and civilized culture and beautiful people. That's why we are known as one of the only "5 Civilized Tribes", along with the Seminole, Creek, Choctaw and Chickasaw.

jhunt said...

I found the report on the Quadrule Indians interesting. That they are referred to in separate, independent sources is, of course, a strong indication that they did in fact exist. And no amount of belligerent, ungrammatical prose will change that.

Jim Coldiron (FireStorm) said...

May I add something to this? I am actually researching Native American Tribes in Harlan, KY and the Quadrule is something that comes up a lot.

I was raised in Wallins, and my mother and a number of other family members still live there. We have in fact moved back to Harlan County a few years ago, and are well acquainted with the county and its people.

The memory of the Quadrule Indians are still very strong here, and there are many who have their blood in them locally even now. This is no isolated story.

Myself, I have quite a bit of Cherokee blood in me (from 3 grandparents) so I am in a more balanced position to comment. There are a lot of accounts of these Native Americans that was called the Quadrule, though they were a splinter group off of a larger one (probably Cherokee or Shawnee). The name Quadrule "might" be derived from a French word quadrille... 4-square from the type of tribal dance (Cherokee have a rectangular style... Creek have a square for example though there is no evidence that these came from Creek). That is a working theory of some. I don't pretend to know, but the name does seem to be of European origin though. There were Cherokee in the county in other places, but the Quadrule are strongly remembered by many. They are not some false tale.

The bulk of the tribe that was not mixed in with the white settlers were forced to join the Cherokee in their westward march.

One of the more scenic spots of the county on upper Martins Fork now has the name "Quadrule Falls" named after this tribe. They existed. Some blended in with the white settlers, and the rest relocated to the U.S. Government's shame.

I don't think that anyone was trying to attack the Cherokee people in saying that another tribe had good qualities. That is the one thing universally said about those who speak or wrote about the Quadrule, they were extremely peaceful and able to coexist with the white settlers.

The Cherokee were much better at "adapting" than most other tribes and they have a reputation for being pretty peaceful, but they had their own violent times as well. Its like this... there is good and evil in mankind no matter what your skin color or heritage is. But having said that, it is still true that some groups do seem to have a more peaceful history than others.

I hope that this helps.


Douglas said...

I have been to Quadrule Falls many times over the years; such a beautiful and remote location ! S for the Quadrule Indians, it's interesting to speculate about them and whether or not they even existed; yes, stories are stories, but there can sometimes be elements of truth in them; as for differing arguments on their existence, as we know for certain of the Cherokess, I am not knowledgeable enough to actually state an opinion, but I do believe that a tribe called the Quadrules could have lived, along with the Cherokees; interesting possibilities which should offend neither side of debates about these tribes.

smsaylor said...

I found a book in the Harlan County library titled, "The History of Harlan County". It stated that the first county attorney of Harlan County, last name of Howard, cannot remember the first name, was raised in Wallins in close proximity to the Quadrule Indians. He, as a child, hunted and also fished with the the Quadrule Indians of Wallins. Furthermore, there are next to no Cherokee Indians in Southeastern Kentucky. The only one that I know is from Oklahoma Cherokee reservation and is a card carrying member of the tribe. One interesting thing she told me, when she showed me the card, was out west, it almost an embarrassment to be an Indian. She tried to change her appearance to fit in with the whites. Another interesting thing that my grandmother told me, who had Cherokee blood, was that you tried to hide and never mention that you were an Indian. Cherokee says that the Cherokee were the only tribe in the area, that is not so. The Tsoyha Yuchi meaning, "Children of the Sun" also claimed extreme Southeatern Kentucky as their land until 1714 when one of their large villages named Chestowee, was attacked by the Cherokee and the rest of the Yuchi moved west into Tennesse with the Creek Indians and shared an uneasy aliance until they were also moved to Oklahoma.

col. john payne said...

Grave of Indian found on Foresters Creek, Harlan CY., with well preserved artifacts. Living known relatives confirmed this fact. Wonder if DNA test would be possible to identify tribe?

Spike said...

Are their family names connected to the Cherokee or Quadrules from Harlan County. My GGG grandfather settled in the area known as Verda in about 1792 when he came from Virginia. His name was Stephen Jones and his son Stephen, my GG grandfather was born ther in 1793. The younger Stephen joined the 22nd Kentucky Volunteer Infantry in 1861 and was described as 5'8" tall, with a dark complexion, dark hair and dark eyes. There have been rumors of an Indian connection for years but no proof.

Sound familiar to anyone?

Larry Jones

Tina said...

Does anyone know the directions to quadrule falls. Do know how to get to martins fork on 987, any direction from there would be helpful. thanks so much.

Connie Kelly said...

Quadrule could possibly be a play off the word "quadrune" which means someone of mixed heritage. Could it be possible that the quadrules of wallins creek were actually melungeon and therefore acquired the name? This would also explain why they were separate from the cherokee.

D.P said...

I was told that my grandfather was born and raised in Harlan, Ky. My grandmother told me about how they moved to Tn and raised their children there before moving to michigan. It seems that no one alive today knows my grandfather's mothers name. We have always been told that she was Cherokee, however no one knows her last name before marrying my G grandfather. The strange thing is that we have cousins that are white and have blonde a blonde Afro. Does anyone know where I could start in trying to solving tis mystery? you can e-mail me @ I would really appreciate any info anyone would be able to give me or any links to anything that could help.

thank you


Mary Beth said...

I found this highly interesting as my maternal roots lay in Harlan County. My Grandfather used to say very rude words to my grandmother and "tease" her about being Native American. My own mother, recently past, disclaimed any Native American blood. Yet, as I have now been DNA tested, both Native American and Native South American (Origins in Mexico, Ecuador, Guatemala) alleles appear. That fact that no one in my father's lines shows any Native heritage has me leaning toward that belief that BOTH Northern and Southern American peoples somehow found refuge in the mountains of Harlan County. Call me Melungeon and I'll accept it as a complement. In the meantime, I'll keep working out snippets of SNP and trying to determine if there is any Cherokee or Quadrule evidence in my makeup. Should anyone care to compare, I am kit A928899 on GEDmatch.

bertsie said...

I find all of this interesting too. I descend maternally from people in S.E. Ky. I had my HVR1 and HVR2 done years ago having the mtdna test done and my haplogroup shows up as J2 with a subclade of J2b1a. I have read that is from the mid east area and have also read that they intermingled with native americans. Do not know if true or not; I just would like to know for sure. If anyone knows anything about the Thomas Davis and Thursa Fulks family and their descendants, which I am one of or the Samuel Johnson and Sarah Burns, or David Johnson and Dicy Brock I would be interested although David and Samuel would have been the YDNA test and I could not have that done. I already have heard the stories about Dicey being native American but believe that has been debunked on the Brock DNA website. My mtdna names for the purposes of that test was Hale,Davis,Johnson,Burns, Helton. The Hale was from a different part of Ky and originally Va. If anyone has any ideas or knows anything that can help me please let me know.

bertsie said...

I have always been told that we descended also from native americans on my mom's side. Her family all lived in ten, Ky, all the counties close to the border as Knox, Harlan, Bell, Clay, etc.
some of the names in particular are Davis,Johnson,Burns, Helton, and Brock but I believe the Brock has already been debunked on the Brock dna site awhile back. The Mtdna test I did was the HVR1and HVR2 years ago when that was about all that was available and it has me as a Haplogroup J2 with a subclade of J2b1a which I understand is from the mid east and that J2 shows up on the map I received in Scotland. Does anyone know anything about these families and the native American heritage for certain. I mean documentation. I do know Dillion Asher was also J2 so wonder how many from the area was. My grandmother and all her siblings were dark and if you see a photo you would believe they are of native American descent and all documents concerning her father and brothers in military descriptions never has dark brown eyes and hair; it is always Black eyes, Black Hair, etc. I would like to know for sure before I meet these people myself on the other side.
thank you

History Chasers said...

Bertsie; I understand you to be saying you have tested for the HV 1 and 2 of the mitochondria. Your results was J2. You say Dillon Asher's descendants got that same results. But from my information they tested for the Y chromosome. Both can have a J2 result. But it cannot be compared as it is a very different test. The Y traces the person's father's line back indefinitely and the mitochondria (mtDNA) traces a person's mother's line back indefinitely. However in both cases a J2 result *can* be Jewish. But the tests are two different tests. Just wanted you to be aware of this.