The Wiley Children

by Russell L. Whitlock, Secretary
Excerpt from the Jenny Wiley Association Newsletter

       The names of the first five children of Thomas and Jenny Wiley are known by tradition only.  There are no records to indicate the names which are given to them today are in fact correct.  The names by which they are currently known have been handed down through generations, and are more or less accepted by historians and researchers.  Adam Brevard Wiley, one of Jennys sons, records the facts of Jenney's ordeal and later furnished this information to noted historian William Elsey Connelley.  Adam Brevard may have been the source of these names, although no record exists to indicate he, in fact, was.

            Jenny was a devout Christian throughout her entire life, having been reared in a strict Presbyterian home, and her father Hezekiah Sellards was a lay minister in that church.  Once notices the first four children of Jenny and Thomas, Hezekiah, Ruth, Naomi, and Thomas, have names taken from the Holy Bible, and this fits well into Jennys background.  Robert Bruce was born while Jenny was held in captivity on the Cherokee Fork of Big Blain Creek [Kentucky], and lived for only a very short while.  According to the records of Adam Brevard Wiley, when the child was a few weeks old the Indians decided to test him to determine whether or not he would grow up to be a great warrier.  They took the child from Jenny and placed him on a piece of wood floating in the icy water of the creek.  The child began to cry, and Jenny ran into the water to retrieve him.  Because he cried, the Indians decreed he would not be a great warrier, at which point one of the chiefs snatched him from his mothers arms and dashed out his brains against a tree, the same manner in which they had killed Jennys other baby several hours after their capture.  (The other three children had already been slain at the Walkers Creek cabin.)

            The name of Jennys fifteen year old brother, who had also been killed at Walkers Creek, is not known for certain.  Tradition indicates his name to have been "Batt" Sellards.  It is said this was a nick name given to him by one of the Wiley children who could not speak his full name.

            The date of the attack on the Wiley cabin is most generally accepted as having occurred on 1 October 1789.  Adam Brevard gives the date as 1787, and still other dates are given by others.  The Calendar of Virginia State Papers supports the date of 1789.  In Vol. 5, page 181, J. D. Smith, county Lieutenant, in a report of July 4, 1790 to Governor Beverley Randolph, states, "I doubt not your excellency has been informed of Mrs. Wyleys oath, who was taken prisoner last fall and runaway from the Indians late in the winter.  [Jennys escape was actually in the early spring months but still cold weather.]  I am credibly informed that her deposition was taken in Montgomery county and reports that the Indians informed her they would bring four hundred braves against Blewstone this summer.  There has lately been much sign of Indians discovered on the Big Sandy River."

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