A Father’s Worry

A cool wind whistled at the cabin’s window. At least marching will be pleasant, Benjamin thought, slinging his musket over his shoulder. “Come, Anna, girls; Onkel Martin is waiting for us.”

Martin lived near Drapers Meadow; his wife Anna and the children would be safe there while he was gone. They would have to hurry, though, to get there by sunrise.

They’d traveled the twenty miles so often—every Sunday since moving to Virginia—that his horse required little guidance; he gave Zelter his head and took the opportunity to study his family in the moonlight: Anna, bundled in furs and blankets as if winter already raged; little Lizzie and Eve, their drowsy heads bobbing with each of Zelter’s foot falls. Somewhere under all Anna’s furs was his son, still so tiny that he was concerned the child may never catch up. Already John Gustafson’s son was crawling about, getting into everything. Shouldn’t David be doing that? After all, Anna and Mary were confined at the same time.

Moreover, he worried about leaving his little family fatherless. He knew too well what growing up like that was like. Not that Onkel ever treated him like anything but his own son. Still, it wasn’t quite the same.

He rubbed his brow, trying to erase the furrows he could feel tightening. What would his father think? He tried to imagine a young Elijah looking down from heaven, watching the man he’d become. Would he approve his abandoning Anna and the children for war? Not that he had any choice of course; Dunmore had made it clear what happened to those in the militia who failed to report.

Anna laid her hand on his, loosening his solicitous grip on the reins. “You worry too much, Benjamin Weddle. We will be just fine; Martin will see to that. You just come home to us safely.” She leaned over and kissed his cheek. “We’ll be waiting for you.”

Benjamin Weddle, the only child of Elijah—who, you might remember, died at sea—left his home in Floyd County Virginia, sometime in September-1744, for what would soon be known as the Battle of Point Pleasant, an encounter between Shawnee Indians led by Cornstalk and the Virginia Militia. He left behind his wife, Anna, and three small children: Elizabeth (4), Eve (3), and David (3 m).

Controversy abounds around the battle itself. Some say that Lord Dunmore, governor of the province of Virginia, set the militia against the Indians in the hopes of decimating the militia’s numbers, knowing that war loomed in the near future between the Continentals and the Crown. And while no official rosters exist from this battle, a story persists about Benjamin, captain of his unit, so antagonizing the Governor that a price was placed on his head, forcing him to leave his home at Horseshoe Bend and move to Bent Mountain.

Regardless of the controversy, we know one thing for certain—Benjamin made it home from the war, fathering ten more children in the coming years. He served in the Continental Army during the Revolution, and following, patented 1600 acres, settled in the wilderness on the west fork of Little River, and founded a dynasty of Weddles.

But that’s a story for another day…

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