James Sluss (1832-1911) to brother John Sluss (1834-1911):
"I visited the site and area where the Sluss family was massacred. 
The date not definitely known but is believed to be Aug 2nd, 1769 
at Sharon Springs, about two miles from Ceres, Va. I saw the graves
of the two Sluss men that was buried at Sharon Lutheran Church Cemetery. 
The Church is 140 years old - also saw the graves of Mary Sluss Criggar, 
the baby that was left alive in the trundle bed at the time of the 
massacre at Kimberly Church at Black Lick. Also the grave of 
Polly Ann Sluss Sharitz at St. Johns Lutheran Church at Wytheville, Va.
(Elizabeth Sluss Groseclose - at Sharon Lutheran Church , Ceres, Va.) 
Susan Sluss presumably by the first marriage was buried near Kingsport, 
Tenn. It seems that Jared's first children were married and away from 
home at the time of massacre, which accounted for the small number of 
the family that were killed. The mother and 3 of the children were 
killed (part of letter missing)."
James Sluss (1832-1911) to Rev. C. W. Cassell, Rural Retreat, VA
 - Sept.4, 1897:
"My father, Henry Sluss, was out in the fields with his father, 
Jared Sluss, when the Indians came to the house. The Indians had 
been there and killed the mother and 2 of his sisters and one brother . 
They missed getting the baby Mary, who lived and married Michael 
Criggar who died at Black L ick at the age of 103 years. My father, 
Henry Sluss died here at Mud Fork at the age of 90 and was buried at 
Tip Top, Va. Uncle Frederick moved to Missouri, Uncle David lived in 
Scott County, Va. John was killed accidentally from a falling tree. 
Our Aunt Polly Ann Sluss married a Sharitz. Susan married W. M. Ketron 
and was buried near Kingsport, Tenn. Our Grandmother was named Anna. 
Grandfather Jared Sluss and my Grandmother were direct descendants 
from Germany, when they arrived at Sharon Springs where my father 
Henry was born. From Sharon Springs they moved to Wythe County, Va."
The Massacre of the Sluss Family (Southwest Virginia Enterprise):
Interesting Paper Tells of Massacre Which Occurred at Sharon Springs, 
in 1774.
"Through the courtesy of our townsman, Mr. R. P. Johnson we are able 
to give the readers of t e Southwest Virginia Enterprise, an interesting 
article, written by Mr. S. H. Williams, of Lynchburg, one of the 
descendants, on the massacre of the Sluss family.
According to the tradition a number of the Sluss family were members 
of the St. Paul's Lutheran Church on the Lee Highway west of Wytheville
and they would walk from Ceres for the 11 o'clock sermon and back home
that afternoon. The women of the family would accompany the men when 
they attended service, making the trip across the mountains on foot.
The massacre of the Sluss family occurred at Sharon Springs in what was 
then Fincastle County ( now Bland) near the present village of Ceres, 
Virginia, August 2, 1774, the year of the Indian uprising known as 
"Lord Dunmore's War" and just two months prior to the famous battle 
of Point Pleasant.
It was common knowledge among the settlers of this section of 
Southwest Virginia that Indians , particularly the Cherokees and 
Shawnees, had been on the war path since early spring and were 
committing depredations along the Ohio and Kanawha rivers and that 
scattered bands were gradually making their way up New River and 
across the Alleghany mountains toward the fertile valley where game 
was to be found in abundance, massacring all with whom they came 
in contact.
Warning of the close proximity of marauding savages had repeatedly 
sent the pioneers scurrying with their families to the protection 
of a blockhouse fort surrounded by dugouts or rifle pits, (constructed 
by them for just such an emergency) only to learn after days of self 
imprisonment that the rumors were without foundation, when they would 
return cautiously to their homes.
Like the story of the shepherd and the wolf, these false rumors had 
caused so much inconvenience and waste of time that crops in the 
valley were getting little or no attention, yet time after time, 
in response to repeated warnings they retreated within the walls 
of the block house to defend themselves against red skins that never 
put in an appearance.
Late in July 1774, rumors were rife that Elinipsico, son of the 
famous Shawnee Chieftain, Corn stalk, with a party of fifty or 
sixty braves were infesting the neighborhood and that a family in 
Giles County by the name of Lybrook had been massacred by them.  
Jared Sluss, the pioneer, believing this to be another wild rumor 
and loath to lose the remainder of his crop, decided to remain at 
home while keeping a vigilant watch for any indication of the presence 
of Indians in the vicinity, thinking he would then have time to seek 
refuge within the fort. Never permitting himself to get beyond sight 
of his house for four days and satisfied that the Indians were no 
where about, on the fifth day he and his eldest son, James, a lad 
twelve years of age, proceeded to work in a field just over the 
brow of a hill and out of sight of home.
Two of his daughters being away from home at the time (one of 
them afterward married a Mr. Groseclose and the other a Mr. Sharitz) 
he left three of his children, Marion aged seven, Hazel ten, and 
Laura aged four, playing in the bright sunshine of a perfect summer 
morning, their laughter ringing in his ears as he passed out of 
sight. They had been cautioned to go no farther away than the 
"spring" a short distance from the house and to keep a sharp 
lookout Indians. Christine, the mother, after rocking her 
six-months old baby, Mary, to sleep, had placed her tenderly in 
a cradle and shoved it under a high bed in a corner of one of 
the rooms to keep the flies from annoying her while she slept, 
little knowing that this act would save the child from a horrible 
Unaware that savages lurking in the underbrush a short distance 
away had their beady eyes upon them, the children continued 
innocently at their play.
The mother was busy with her housework and the first intimation 
she had of danger was a terrified scream from one of the children 
closely followed by others from the trio. Looking through a partly 
opened door she beheld a sight against which she had for years 
vainly tried to steel herself. A party of Indians had stealthily 
worked themselves between the children and the house and before 
any one was aware of their presence had out off all avenue of 
escape within doors, forcing them to fly for their lives in the 
direction their father and brother had gone earlier in the day. 
A rail fence some fifty yards distant obstructed their way. 
Laura was almost immediately overtaken and her brains dashed out 
with a war club. Hazel managed to climb over the fence and was 
well on her way to safety when glancing back she discovered that 
her seven year old brother, Marion, would certainly be caught 
before he could get over unless someone went to his assistance. 
Without further thought of trying to save herself she darted back 
and bracing herself against the top rail, reached over and lifted 
him across, shielding his body with her own as best she could while 
they ran. But for this heroic act, she paid with her life.
The twang of a powerful bow-string drawn its full length and 
released from the grip of a Herculean savage and an arrow sped 
through to its mark piercing her frail body through and through 
while the impact caused its shaft to quiver for seconds in her 
lifeless form after she had fallen.
The sudden appearance over the brow of the hill of father and 
son just at this time who, greatly alarmed by the screams they 
had heard were on a dead run for home, was a moment too late 
to save this little heroine but did have the effect; however, 
of momentarily halting the pursuers, thereby enabling the boy 
to make his escape.
Meeting his father and brother he was told by them to hurry to 
the fort for help and that was the last time he saw them alive. 
Arriving at the fort bruised and bleeding, the little fellow 
through his tears implored those within to hurry to the rescue. 
After some deliberation, a party sallied forth and reached the 
scene of the massacre without sighting the enemy. The scene they 
beheld was long to be remembered. James, though a lad of tender 
years, and fought and died valiantly by his father's side. The 
habit of the Indians to invariably carry off their dead and 
wounded made it impossible to estimate the extent to which they 
inflicted casualties upon their adversaries, but the condition of 
their bodies, the ground about them and scattered pools of blood 
was mute evidence they had sold their lives dearly in defense 
of their loved ones . Both had been scalped.
The body of the girl lay just over the fence, her scalp missing 
and arrow still in the wound . The mother was found just outside 
the kitchen door, her body hacked to pieces by tomahawks , her 
scalp torn away, her forearm broken and bearing other evidences 
of a terrible struggle , but still alive. She afterward regained 
consciousness and was able to relate some of the terrible details 
of the tragedy, but was unequal to the heart rendering struggle 
for life and after three days of indescribable suffering with 
her torn and mutilated form, the light from Heaven streamed 
down through the gathering mists of death and her soul was wafted 
into that world of blessedness where the great riddle of life, 
the meaning of which we can only guess at here below, was 
unfolded to her in the quick consciousness of a liberal reward.
While their victims were being buried the people grouped 
around their graves could plainly hear the war whoops, howls 
and jeers of the Indians who had appeared on a ridge in the 
distance in full view dancing in glee and defying the settlers 
to pursue them for their deed. Of three of the survivors the 
writer has been able to learn no more than has been mentioned 
in a previous paragraph, but Mary, the six-months old babe who 
was found in her cradle under the high bed in the corner where 
loving hands had tenderly placed her, somewhat fretful at having 
been so rudely awakened but otherwise unharmed, under the 
care of a friendly neighbor grew to womanhood and married 
Nathaniel Cregar. A daughter of this union, Mahala, married 
Abraham Goodman. Another daughter, Delilah, married John Moore 
who for years drove a stagecoach between Christiansburg and 
While Sulphur Springs, having many hair raising experiences. 
He was member of the Moore family of Abbsvalley, most of whom 
were massacred or taken captive by the Indians some ten years 
after the tragedy which practically wiped out the Sluss family. 
John Moore's brother, married Maria Zimmerman and lived at 
Wytheville, Virginia, for several years.
John and Delilah Moore's daughter, Emzy Ann, married Creed 
Shelton and a daughter of that uni n, Mary Jane, married 
Robert P. Williams of Thompson's Valley, Virginia, who died 
in 1890. In the year following his death, she married John M. Yost 
of Richlands, Virginia, and became an ardent and powerful worker 
in the cause of the Women's Christian Temperance Union in its 
early struggles against the liquor traffic. Upon the death of 
her second husband she moved to Lynchburg, Virginia, to reside 
with a son of her first marriage, S. H. Williams, where she 
died May 14, 1928 , at the age of 62.
Just before her death she willed to her son a spinning whell 
given her by Mary Sluss and whi h was in the Sluss home at 
the time of the massacre. Two daughters of her second marriage, 
Mrs . E. A. DeJarnette of South Boston, Virginia, and 
Mrs. Ro Nero of Jacksonville, Florida, survive her. 
Mary Sluss (Cregar) died in 1878, having attained the ripe 
old age of 104.
The mother of the writer was twelve years of age at that 
time and the story of the massacre  f the Sluss family was 
related to her in detail by Mary Sluss (who was the babe in 
the cradle) and she in turn related it to me as has been sent 
forth in this article. The exact spot where the Sluss home 
stood can be located on a farm owned by a Mr. Elbert Crabtree 
and known as the old Crab tree place not far west of the 
North and South Highway near a stiff curve which leaves the 
valley to approach Walker mountain. The graves of the victims 
are in an old cemetery near Ceres. The fort itself was only 
torn away about forty years ago."
S.H. Williams - 1106 Federal St. - Lynchburg, Va. - July 11, 1928
Sluss Family Massacre - From Frank Repass Brown's records:
:One of the stories my mother liked to tell us children, and 
one we liked best to hear, was the story of the massacre of 
the Sluss family...I feel my mother knew more about this than 
most people who wrote or told about it. She had lived near where 
her grandmother, Polly Sharitz, lived, and was eleven years old at the
time of her death. Also, she lived in the neighborhood where 
Aunt Mary Crigger spent most of her life, and was thirty-two 
when Aunt Mary died. Thus she was personally acquainted with 
with two members of the Sluss family who had escaped being 
As to where the bodies of the victims were buried, the traditions 
do not agree. According to most, they were buried in the cemetery 
at the Sharon Lutheran Church, just across the hill from the scene 
of the massacre.
But this church was not organized until a number of years after 
the tragic event. It is hardly likely that there was a cemetery 
here before the church was organized. There are no grave markers 
with inscriptions on them of this early date in this cemetery. 
There, however, two grave markers bearing the Sluss name, both 
to boys in their teens. One was to Joel, who died in 182 5 and 
the other to David who died in 1827. This is a whole generation 
after the massacre. There are a number of graves just east 
of these and just west of the church that are not marked. 
Whose they are, no one knows.
Another tradition gives the place of burial as near where 
they were killed. There is a knoll near there where the land 
slopes three ways about 200 or 300 yards north of the 
of the house that seems to be a suitable place for the burial. 
It is about 20 or more feet wide and 75 or more feet long. 
There are several large boulders and numerous field rocks 
scattered over it . There is a large old locust stump...[but] 
no plants such as you often find where there are graves out 
in a field. The rotten remains of a rail fence are scattered 
over the place, showing that it has been enclosed for some 
purpose, otherwise most of it could have been cultivated with 
the adjoining land. This, it seems to me, is the most probable 
burying ground of the victims of the massacre...
In regard to the number and names of the persons killed and 
escaped the accounts do not agree . My mother's account is 
as follows:
Those killed were Christina the second wife of John [Jared?] Sluss, 
their daughters Katy and Hazel, and their crippled son David. 
Those who escaped were John, the two sons James and Joel , 
and four daughters.
The daughter Polly married Daniel Sharitz. She was my great 
grandmother. She was eleven years old at the time of the tragedy. 
It was she who, when the Indians were seen, ran from the house 
to give the alarm to the father and brothers.
Elizabeth married Peter Groseclose Jr., who lived in the 
neighborhood just west of the Sluss house. I think she was 
married and living in her own home at the time.
Mary was a baby in the cradle. She in her cradle had been 
pushed back under the bed, and was not discovered by the 
Indians. She married Michael Crigger.
The fourth daughter to escape, Susan, must have been married 
and away from the old home at the time of the massacre. 
She married a Mr. Katronand moved to Tennessee, northeast of 
Kingsport. Years ago I visited in the homes of some of her 
descendants and the cemetery where she was buried. There were no
markers with inscriptions to give any information. Her 
descendants knew little of the story, except that she was 
from the Sluss family.
The year and the time of year of the massacre varies with 
the various sources of traditions. Some would set the date 
early in the 1760s, some in the late 1790s. According to the 
tradition in our family, our great grandmother Polly Sharitz 
was eleven years old at the time. She was born in 1775. That 
would make the date of the massacre 1786. But Aunt Mary Creggar 
was believed to have been 103 or 104 years old  when she died in 
1880. As she was a baby at the time of the massacre that would 
indicate 1776 or 17 77. As to the time of year the traditions vary from 
late spring to late summer. The date I believe most probable is 
April of May 1778 or 1779.
I have not given gruesome details of the tragedy as some have 
attempted to do, and for this reason. There were no living eye 
witnesses. No one escaped from the house or yard who saw the 
massacre to give the details of it, or just how it happened. 
The mother and children were at home as usual, not expecting 
anything unusual to take place, so could not have put up much 
of a fight. Polly, the one who escaped to give the alarm, ran 
when she saw the Indians approaching so could not have given 
the details of the horrible tragedy. Then the Indians knew 
they must make quick work of it and get away safely, knowing 
the men of the family and neighbors would soon hear of the 
tragedy and would be after them, and that no mercy would be 
shown them if caught . Almost all the traditions say, "The 
Indians made a quick and safe getaway."
If now, 175 years or more after the tragedy, the traditions 
do not agree as to the number killed, or even the number who 
escaped, or the date of the event, or the place where the victims 
were buried, how could we be expected to know the details of the 
tragedy? My mother never ga e us children a number of them."
About Frank Repass Brown:
Frank Repass Brown lived near Rural Retreat, Virginia. He was 
born March27, 1887, the son o f Michael Dallas Brown and 
Emily V. Repass. He married Virginia Umberger. He died in 
1973 and was buried at Marvin Methodist Church Cemetery, Wythe County.
Frank Brown loved family and local history, spending much of 
his adult life studying and recording local history. The following 
story of the Sluss massacre was photocopied from alarge loose-leaf 
binder containing his memoirs. Although undated, it was possibly 
written about 1953 because he wrote this account "175 years or 
more after the tragedy" and speculated the massacre of the 
Jared Sluss family took place in April or May 1778 or 1779.
It should be noted that there is much speculation and various 
theories concerning the date of the massacre to be found today 
in books and publications. Frank Brown was the great-grandson 
of a survivor, Polly Sluss Sharitz, and grandnephew of another 
survivor, Mary Sluss Creggar. Emily V. Repass Brown, Frank's 
mother, lived near both survivors. She was 11 years old when 
her Grandmother Polly Sharitz died and was 32 years old when 
her Aunt Mary Creggar died. Frank Brown's conclusions 
regarding the tragedy come not only from oral history from the 
family--mai ly from his mother -- but from a considerable amount 
of investigation on his part. For these reasons, his written 
history merits inclusion with other accounts of the event.
At present, most of Frank Brown's records are in the possession 
of his niece, Martha Brown De ord who lives in western Wythe County.
- Beverly Repass Hoch, June 1997
Sluss Family Murders - Jonas Huddle's Account:
Beverly Hoch and Mary Kegley found in a trunk of Huddle family 
papers the following handwritten account of the Sluss Family 
massacre. It was by Jonas Huddle, son of Henry Huddle 
(or Heinrich Hottel), born Woodstock VA, 1768-1846.
"There is living in Black Lick a lady who was an infant in the 
cradle when the murderous tomahawk of the red man was used in 
killing the family of which she was a member and from the best 
information which can now [sic] ascertained was in the year 
1784[.] Having frequently heard my father relate the circumstance
 who at the time had his home near the place where the tragedy 
occurred and thus he was the first person that got to the murdered 
family having outrun his companions and found said child in its 
cradle and that it was then about 18 months old. The above 
depredations were committed in the Rich Valley now Bland County 
on the farm owned by Mr. Crabtree.
Jonas Huddle
There is no history on record of the above that I know of and 
the murdered family was named Sluss."