|MASSACRE OF THE SCHLUSS FAMILY
The weather was warm and mild for the season of the year, it was the last of April, 1788. The location was in what is now near Ceres, in Bland County, Virginia. The place was very thinly inhabited. The Schluss and Spangler families lived a short distance away from each other, for they lived a little less than a mile apart. The family consisted of Old Mr. and Mrs. Spangler, Mrs. Spangler’s two sons, John and Gideon Hubble, by her first husband. Young Frederick Copenhaver, son of a neighbor that lived a couple miles away, was at Spanglers on this significant morning, and the three young men began the necessary but somewhat playful work of shearing the sheep.
The Schluss family consisted of John Schluss, the father, and Mary, his wife, their two daughters, Jemima and Katie, age 16 and 20 years, and just maturing into womanhood, and Peter, a child of 10, David a lame boy about 7, and Mary a baby about 6 months old.
Rather early one morning Mr. Schluss and his son Peter harnessed the horses and started off to plow new ground that was about a mile away from their home. As they passed through a dense forest that lined their farm, their horses snorted and shied noticeably at some large “Root heads” near the path, along which they rode. Peter said, “There must be some bears around here!” A keen watch for a few minutes revealed no bears. Seeing no bears father and son continued on to their work. How near to death the father and son were while looking around for the bear, no one will ever know! Needless to say, as was normal in these difficult days, they had their guns with them, and these probably saved their lives, but they rode on away from death themselves, yet innocently leaving their family to fate behind them.
About 10:00 o’clock the attention of the Spanglers was arrested by the violent barking of the farm dogs and the screams of the women up at the Schluss’; a sheep half sheared was on the shearing board at the time.
One of the young men said, “Boys, there are Indians at the Schlusses, run for the guns; let’s go! Hands off.” The last of the flock, unsheared, was freed and permitted to run free, the whole summer long half shorn in memory of the sad intrusion.
Before the young men could come near the house, the massacre was over and the brutal murderers were gone. Three stalwart Indians had come into the house. The three women, taken by surprise and unarmed, fought a moment as best they could. Just inside the door Mrs. Scluss’ head was hacked off by one of the tomahawks.
Katie was found tomahawked and scalped in the rear of the house, and Jemima, who had snatched up David, the lame boy, and tried to escape with him, reached a fence at the woods, a short distance from the rear of the house and flinging the lame boy over; she had just attempted to climb over the fence when one of the Indians caught the poor girl by her long flowing hair, for which she was noted, and pulled her back, and drove his dreadful weapon into her skull and then scalped her in savage mirth.
The Indians didn’t cross the fence, or they would have seen the little lame boy hidden behind a tree. The little boy witnessed his sister being murdered.
It is thought that the nearing of the young men from Spanglers prevented the Indians from crossing the fence to look for the lame boy.
In the house was a singularextraordinary case of preservation. May -- little May, the infant, was lying in her cradle asleep when the Indians rushed in on the family, and they were in such a rush that they didn’t notice the child in the cradle. She escaped!
When the young men from Spanglers arrived at the house, they found murdered ones as described earlier.
Poor Jemima, the rosy cheeked girl with the long, flowing hair, was not found for some time. A search was made with the hope of finding her alive, perhaps hidden somewhere. She was betrothed to one of the young Hubbles - Gideon. In his anxiety and anguish he called aloud and searched everywhere, and started to the woods. Gideon was the first to come upon Jemima finding his dear intended wife dead. Could anyone have ever passed through a more heart rending, awful hour than poor Gideon Hubble did at the side of his dead intended wife?
There was a search party for the Indians by these young men and others by the aid of dogs, but the Indians beat the dogs back and fired the mountains in their rear, and so made good their escape to the valleys of Ohio. The graves of the three murdered women may still be seen just inside of the little grave yard at Sharon Church. Nothing but smooth round stones lie at the head of the graves. A closer search of the Old “Root-heads,” where the horses were startled, revealed the fact that the Indians were at that time lying there hidden in the pile of leaves.
There were no doubt members of the Shawnee, who on the 14th of July, fourteen months before, had murdered the Moore family who lived in Abbs Valley about 35 miles north of the Schluss family.
Source: 1961 Ceres Mountaineer Yearbook