Review of The Captives of Abb’s Valley, Revised and Annotated

The Captives of Abb’s Valley, by The Reverend James Moore Brown, D. D., Revised and Annotated by Dennis Eldon Bills, New Martinsville, WV: ReformingWV Publications, 1854, 2019, 110 pp.

This is the true story of a pioneer family in southwestern Virginia who is raided by Shawnees Indians. The first raid sees the capture of a son, the second raid the death of the father and others and the capture of all of the family then present. The story then follows the plight of the captives (and the pursuit of them by other family members) across the Ohio river, to Detroit, and into Canada. Throughout the volume Brown emphasizes the trust that each of the captives had in the Lord. The book concludes with biographical details of the survivors and their descendants, many of whom were members or ministers in the Presbyterian church.

As the revision editor Dennis Bills tells us, The Captives of Abb’s Valley is “one of the few books written by a nineteenth-century Presbyterian minister from West Virginia.” The author, James Moore Brown, was a descendant of one who survived the events recorded in the book. The reader is benefitted by the addition of a historical sketch of him. Not having read the original but only the present revised edition I can at least say that I found this version eminently readable while I suspect the original might have had more challenging period language.

I was fortunate to read a review copy of Bills’s revision of this book which is expected to be available March 1, 2019.