Scott County Historical Society
Scott County, Virginia

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Wednesday, September 7, 1988 ---- Virginia Star

Kilgore Fort House,
Oldest Structure In County

The Kilgore Fort House

     The Kilgore Fort House on Rt. 71 west of Nickelsville is the oldest structure in Scott County. Built in 1786 by early settlers, Robert and Jane Porter Kilgore, it is unique to the area because it is a two story log home. Most log structures in Southwest Virginia of that circa are one story. Jane Porter was a widow when she married Robert Kilgore. Her first husband, James Green, was killed by Indians in 1782 and some say she told Robert that she would marry him only if he built a fort for her to live in.

     Robert and Jane settled down in the house on Copper Creek with their eight children. In 1808, Robert became an ordained minister and for many years he served the Primitive Baptist Church also on Copper Creek. Between 1815 and 1852, he performed 285 marriages a the Fort House. Robert lived a long life and died at the age of 89 in 1854. Jane died 12 years earlier.

     At the time the Fort House was built, it was one of a chain of fortresses. There were others in Dungannon, Ft. Blackmore, Rye Cove, Lebanon, Royal Oak (Marion), Bristol and Kingsport. The fort is all the more valuable to Southwest Virginia because it is the only one remaining today. Visitors will wonder why it was called a fort, since it is a small structure. On the second floor, over both the front and the back doors, there is a small port hole. In case of Indian attacks, the early settlers would shoot from these portholes which were placed over the doors in order to protect the most vulnerable part of the house. In addition to the port holes the house had two rooms downstairs and four upstairs. Each room could be barricaded during an Indian attack. The Indians had to break through all four barricades to get to the settlers. It was a dangerous time to live. Shawnee and Cherokee Indians roamed the area. When they were victors in a battle with the settlers the men and small children were often killed. Older children and women were marched to Cincinnati, Ohio where they were sold to the Canadian French as slaves.

     The Kilgore Fort was never actually attacked by Indians, but it was under siege at one time. And, according to a legend, Robert Kilgore had a dream one night of an Indian attack. He woke and went back to sleep. Again he dreamed of an attack and woke. This time he told his wife. For the third time he had the same dream. In the dream a horseman rode up to the house and told him that when he saw two cattle in the Copper Creek beside the house, the Indians would attack. In the morning when he rose and saw two cattle in the creek, he decided there might be something to his dream. He packed up the family and they left. While they were gone Indians did camp on the cliff above the fort. Supposedly, the dream saved the whole family.

     Paul Repass of Nicklesville and several other countians have been instrumental in restoring the Ft. House. In 1966 the home became a Historical Landmark. The Kilgore home has a rich and interesting history, to find out more about it, and to enjoy a day of entertainment, crafts, and fine art, make plans to attend the 1st Annual "Echoes From the Past" gathering on Sat., Sept. 24 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p. m.

Artists wishing to display their work should contact Vickie Ecker at 479-2081. Choose your best piece. Judging will be by popular vote.

The last picture probably ever published of Kilgore Fort before restoration. Contract has been let for this work. Paving of the entrance has been completed.

 

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