Pioneer Hero-Heroine

Historic marker #919 in Whitley County commemorates the heroism of Charles H. Gatliff and his wife Christina Gatliff.

Captain Charles Gatliff was an early pioneer and settler in Kentucky. On May 28, 1748, he was born in Virginia to James and Martha (Farris) Gatliff. In 1773, Charles Gatliff married Christina McGuire, born February 10, 1753. In October 1779, the couple packed up their lives and moved to Kentucky near Logan’s Station. Charles helped build Ruddle’s Station in Kentucky and fought against the Shawnees alongside Colonel John Bowman.

In 1780, Charles Gatliff was appointed captain at Martin’s Station. In that same year, Martin’s Station came under attack. British Captain Henry Bird led the attacking unit comprised of 150 troops and 1000 Native Americans. At the time of the attack, Charles was out on a hunting trip and thus avoided capture. However, his family was not so lucky. They took prisoner all of the inhabitants of Martin’s Station including Christina Gatliff and her four children. After also destroying the nearby Ruddle’s Station, the British forced the prisoners to march over twenty six days to Detroit and then Canada, carrying packs on their back along the way. Finally in 1794, Charles Gatliff reunited with his wife and children at Staunton, Virginia. The family then resettled in Kentucky.

During the period of his family’s imprisonment, Charles Gatliff served as a spy and pilot for the army. He took command of Logan’s Station and tracked the movements of British and Native American units. In addition, Gatliff met with and travelled from Kentucky to Virginia with Daniel Boone. After reuniting, Charles Gatliff continued to serve as a spy and pilot for campaigns against the Native Americans in the region.

Christina Gatliff died in 1807. Charles Gatliff remarried to Rachel Cummins but little is known about her. On June 30, 1838, Charles Gatliff died at approximately 90 years old. Both Charles and Christina were buried in Whitley County, Kentucky between Williamsburg and Pineville. Many Gatliff decedents still live in the Whitley County area.

Images

Filson's Map of Kentucky

Filson's Map of Kentucky

This map of Kentucky was created during the time when the Gatliffs settled on the Kentucky frontier. John Filson Map, 1784. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

Charles Gatliff's Grave

Charles Gatliff's Grave

Kentucky pioneer, Charles H. Gatliff™s grave. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

Martha Gatliff's Grave

Martha Gatliff's Grave

Martha Gatliff™s grave. She survived years of imprisonment by the British after being captured at Martin™s Station in 1780. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Whitney Todd, “Pioneer Hero-Heroine,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed May 23, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/738.

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