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"Famous Traitor Simon Girty Was Here"

Fairmont Times-West Virginian
May 14, 1972

Here is a story about Simon Girty, famous traitor and renegade, and his visiting this area as an old man. in 1805. It comes from Peter Malotte, of Los Angeles, Calif., a descendant of Girty's brother-in-law, Peter Malotte, whose wife's father, a pioneer in our valley, was a long-time resident of old Monongalia County (the part now Taylor County), and lies buried near Knottsville a short distance from Grafton. For reasons too numerous to mention, I accept this story as true and expect to republish it, with certain genealogical data, in the forthcoming edition of "Awhile Ago Times."

Sometime prior to 1805, Girty, now suffering terribly from arthritis, heard that a Dr. Jehu Lash, living some 20 miles south of Morgantown, had, using certain herbs, cured his brother-in-law's father-in-law, Jacob Jones, of a "most severe case of rheumatism." The news gave Girty hope.

(Dr. Jehu Lash was many years a resident of the Prickett Settlement, Marion County area. His common-law wife was Phebe Morgan; their son, Jehu Lash, Jr., was first to purchase a lot in old Middletown, now Fairmont).

Later, in the summer of 1805, Girty and his brother-in-law, Peter Malotte (the name is sometimes spelled Malott), set out "a-horse-back" for the region at the mouth of Three Forks Creek (now Grafton) where, they had learned through correspondence with Malotte's relatives, the Jacob Joneses, Dr. Lash was .then living. (Dr. Lash died at the Prickett Settlement, now Marion County, in 1816, and supposedly, was buried in the Prickett cemetery.) The journey of Girty and Malotte, that began at Girty's farm near Malden, Canada, and ended at present Grafton, was slow and (for Girty) very painful. It was mid- August when the two men finally arrived at the Lash cabin on Three Forks Creek.

Waited for Doctor

Here they were disappointed by the information that the doctor had gone into the mountains "herb-diggin" and might not return for weeks. Girty and Malotte went on, then, to Malotte's father-in-law's homestead near present Knottsville, and here, with Girty using the name of a first cousin, Simon Eckerlin, they remained for several days, until word came that the doctor was at "the Davisson farm" on Simpson Creek, treating a child for "horse-kick in the head."

In a day or two the doctor returned home, to the mouth of Three Forks Creek, and Girty stayed with him there for "some days," taking treatment.

No one anywhere around is known to have even so much as suspicioned that the old, gray-haired, arthritic man, hobbling about with a cane, was the once infamous "White Savage," Simon Girty, tall, lithe, astonishingly athletic. Certainly the Jacob Joneses did not have such suspicion or being total patriots, they would not have permitted him to enter their house. And Dr. Lash, had he even surmised the true identity of his patient, no doubt, would have shot him or fed him poison.

Whether the doctor's "cure" was effective is not known; but, if it was, the results were only temporary, for in his "Our Western Border," McKnight says that for several years before his death, in 1815, Simon Girty was stricken almost helpless by rheumatism and was totally blind. Girty died at his home near Malden, Canada.

Concerning his marriage to Katherine Malotte, sister to Peter Malotte, who accompanied Girty on his visit to our valley in 1805, McKnight says: "In March, 1779, a family of French descent, by the name of Malott (Malotte), left Maryland for Kentucky. At Fort Redstone (Brownsville, Pa.), on the Monongahela, where it was general for all emigrants to take arks or boats for Kentucky, they were joined by some other families, and embarked in two boats, one of them a stock boat under charge of Peter Malott, the head of the family. Mrs. Malott and her five children were in the rear of the boat, commanded by Capt. Reynolds. Mrs. Reynolds and seven children, and others, were also in the boat.

Indians Attack

The Reynolds boat was attacked and captured by about 25 Indians, (in the Ohio River) some 40 miles below Wheeling. Capt. Reynolds was shot dead in the first onset, and another man and a child of Mrs. Hardin were also killed. The Indians secured much booty and no less than 19 prisoners.

Catherine Malott, the oldest child of Peter Malott, was 15 years old at the time of the capture, and was carried to one of the Shawnees towns on Mad River. Here Simon Girty came across her; and fell violently in love with her. This happened about three years after her capture, and while her mother was known by Girty to be in Detroit trying to collect her family from captivity.

The Indians refused to give the girl up, but on Girty's promising to return her to them after she had seen her mother in Detroit, they let her go with him. Once in 'Detroit, Girty married her. They had several children, and she survived her husband many years and died at a very advanced age.

Mrs. Malott died soon after her daughter's marriage to Girty, and her husband, Peter Malott Sr., returned to Maryland, his old home, and (Draper says) there married again.

His son, Peter, Jr., in 1790, married an Indian captive, Mary Jones, daughter of Jacob Jones, then living in Detroit in the home of Gen. McCoombs. She and her husband settled on their own farm on Grosse Isle, and later moved to Kingsville, Ont., after living for a short while near Malden.

It was while they lived near Malden that Mary Jones' husband, Peter Malott. Jr., accompanied his brother-in-law Simon Girty to the site of Grafton, Taylor County, W. Va., for Girty to take "the herb cure for arthritis" from Dr. Jehu Lash, a pioneer physician in the Marion County area.

Sources on Simon Girty