The Story of the Kimball Massacre

By Ruth Kimbell Charles


Isham Kimbell is a son of Ransom Kimbell and Jane Harris. The parents of Ransom are: Mary (Ransom) Kimbell and Benjamin Kimbell, Sr. The parents of Jane are: Isham and Jane (George) Harris.

This account of the Kimbell-James Massacre comes from the book by Halbert and Ball entitled The Creek War of 1813 and 1814. Originally published in the 1880's, it was reprinted by the University of Alabama Press in 1969. In the introduction is stated that author Ball was well acquainted with Isham Kimbell, a survior of the Kimbell-James Massacre. The following taken from page 177-183 of the reprint.

Ransom Kimbell with his family came from South Carolina to the Tombigbee River, settling near McGrew's Reserve about 1807, but in 1812 the family removed into the Bassett's Creek Valley into the Bassett's Creek Valley, near to the home of a settler whose name was Sinquefield. when the stockade was built bearing this pioneer's name, as a protection from the dreaded Muscogee incursions, the Kimbell family with the others in that neighborhood left their plantation home for a residence in the stockade. After a time, no Indians appearing East of the Alabama, and the small stockade being crowded, the Kimbell family and the family of Abner James retired to the cooler and more roomy plantation cabin. They were spending their days of that last week in August, 1813, knowing indeed that there was danger, but not thinking how unexpectedly Indians fro the eastward might come upon them.

On Tuesday evening August 31st, quite late in fact into, the night, as young Isham Kimbell and a daughter of Abner James were sitting up with a sick member of the household, the dogs ran out furiously and barked violently while sounds of running human feet were distinctly and alarmingly heard, that Miss James with admirable presence of mind, blew out the candle. Yet when morning came the families neglected to return to the stockade. It was their last opportunity. It seems to be deeply imbedded in human nature not to heed warnings. On Wednesday, September 1, 1813, at about three o'clock in the afternoon, suddenly from the creek bottom, Francis called The Prophet, and his warriors appeared. Ransom was was away from home. Isham, a youth of sixteen, with a little brother was at the blacksmith shop, distant from the house one hundred and fifty yards. Hearing guns and immediatley after seeing the Indians in his father's dooryard killing the inmates of his home he also started at once with his brother for the stockade. The distance was more than a mile. The brothers avoided the roadway. The Indians saw them and fired a gun, the shot cutting the chincapin bushes near them but harming neither. Crossing a little stream that flows between the two localities, the elder brother fell. Regaining his feet and looking around, to his surprise his little brother was not in sight. He was with him when the gun fired, and was not hurt, and that seeems to be the last certainly know of this child. Of his death or of his captivity among the Indians nothing was ever heard. Like the disappearance of Gineva of Modena, all that was ever known was the brief record that he was not. On the first day of September, 1813, that young boy passed strangely out from the knowledge of all white dwellers in Clarke County. The young Kimbell, finding himself alone, hurried on towards the stockade.

Of the onslaught at the Kimbell home, in the dooryard, quick, savage, and merciless as it must have been there were not witnesses, except the helpless victims and the Muscogees. There was not much scattering of the families after the two men (Abner James and a visitor named Walker and the four children (James's children Thomas and Mary, Isham Kimbell and the missing child, themselves making a hasty retreat. (Note: Abner James was not near the house; he fled when the Indians first showed themselves, without aiding those at the house.) Scaps were removed, the domestic animals were killed, the house pillaged, and in a short time the Muscogees were out of sight in the densely wooded region that bordored on the creek, leaving of women and children, all supposed to be dead, fourteen bodies in the house and dooryard. It is said above, in a short time, and short it must have been, perhaps not more than twenty minutes, for Ransom Kimbell, away on hourseback, hearing the guns, started for home. He reached it in time only to find the work of death completed. He then went to the fort. (As it turned out) Sarah Merrill, daughter of Abner James was not dead and neither was her one-year old boy.

The remaining bodies of the dead were bought up the next day and buried near the stockade. Ransom Kimbell did not long survive. He died at Fort Madision.

Isham grew up to be an influential citizen on Clark County. My g,g,g, grandfather Benjamin Kimbell, Jr. was brother to Ransom Kimbell. Teresa's line, David Kimbell, was a brother also (all sons of Benjamin Kimbell, Sr. of Warren Co., N. C.) Isham Kimbell was born in Waren County, March 31, 1797.

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