Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Ronald L. Lewis.


The thesis of this dissertation is that Indian-related violence and warfare had a profound influence on the duration and nature of the frontier experience of those men and women who settled in the western Virginia backcountry between 1749 and 1794. Recurrent attacks by Shawnees, Delawares, Mingos, and Indians from the Great Lakes region caused such widespread death, destruction, and depopulation that it effectively prolonged the period of austere and difficult living conditions for over forty years. This conclusion contradicts the assertions of some recent scholars who have argued that crude living conditions lasted for only a year or two on the Appalachian frontier, and that economic conditions improved rapidly. While this may have been the case in some sub-regions of Appalachia that experienced minimal upheaval from Indian attacks, this was not the case in trans-Allegheny "West Virginia." The negative influence of Indian-associated violence manifested itself not only in how long it took Euro-Americans to gain hegemony over the region, but also in the household economies of the individual families. By using "competency" as a model for understanding household economics, it is demonstrated that although many settlers embraced the commercial economy when possible, the rigors of life on the oftentimes-violent frontier frequently left them no option but to shift their focus of their household production away from commercial production in favor of subsistence activities.