Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Left for Dead

This month's Genealogy Blog Party asks the question, "Which of your ancestors deserves to sit on the Iron Throne?" I have never watched Game of Thrones, and probably never will, but after reading the party rules, I quickly decided on Rachel Greist, my 5th-great grandmother.

Rachel was born on February 14, 1765,  to John and Elizabeth Greist. Rachel was the second youngest of five children. Her younger brother was John, but I do not know the names of her three older siblings, or where the Greist family lived when Rachel was born. By the late 1770's they lived on Peters Run in Ohio County, Virginia (now Wheeling, West Virginia).

Rachel was just 12 years old when her family was attacked by Indians. Rachel's three older siblings were killed, and her younger brother, John, who was only 8 years old, was taken captive. He would live with the Indians until he was an adult, eventually leaving them and settling in Belmont County, Ohio. During the attack, Rachel was scalped and left for dead.

Years later, Rachel's daughter and son-in-law, Vachel and Sidney Dickerson, were interviewed by Lyman Draper and gave an account of the attack and Rachel's survival:

"John Griste & family resided probably on the ridge near the head of Peters Run (a small stream above Shepherd's Fort at the Fork of Wheeling), & had, in 1777, gone with his family at Shepherd's Fort, but getting impatient, he took his children on to Peter's Run & left them there a short time - probably Mrs. Greist not among them - when Indians fell on the children & killed and tomahawked them; except John, then eight years old who was taken prisoner & kept several years...

The whites soon learned of the attack on the Grist family & found Rachel tomahawked scalped & thrown behind a log & finding signs of life, was taken in & sent to Washington to be doctored ... and recovered."

Rachel married Henry Jolly, son of Peter and Martha Jolly, on March 27, 1781. They had five children:
  • James, born May 25, 1790 (died July 27, 1792)
  • William Henry, born September 29, 1796
  • Kenzie Dickerson, born April 19, 1798
  • Sidney Jolly, born March 29, 1800
  • Albert Gallatin, born March 5, 1803
Sidney also related to Lyman Draper that Rachel "was feeble several years after marriage, and her death was finally caused by her old wound breaking out afresh." The nine-year gap between the marriage date and  James' birth and the six-year gap after his birth suggest that there were probably some miscarriages along the way, perhaps attributable to Rachel's "feeble" health after the attack.

Rachel died on November 8, 1805, at the age of 41.

Attacked and scalped. Left for dead. Survived and recovered. Led a normal life for 28 years afterward, including marriage and having children, in spite of a scalp wound that never fully healed. For this, Rachel Greist in my nominee for the Iron Throne. 


  1. I can't even imagine how horrible that must have been for your Rachel. Amazing she survived.

  2. It's incredible that Rachel survived the attack. I have a family who lost members through death and captivity in Deerfield, MA during the 1694 attack. They were all brave souls to be living on the frontier.