Scott County Historical Society
Scott County, Virginia

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Kilgore Fort House

By JACK HELMS

     During the early years of Scott County, Va., most of the settlers lived in the several forts scattered over the area for protection against Indian attacks.

     By 1789, the Indian attacks had lessened, and many of the settlers started to build strong fortified houses to replace the larger forts. The houses usually accommodated one or two families.

     In 1790, Robert Kilgore built one of these fortified houses about two miles west of the present town limits of Nickelsville at the mouth of Copper Creek.

     Still standing after 172 years, it is the oldest house in the county.

     The house is made of hewn white oak logs that are eight inches thick and 15 inches wide. The logs are notched and placed on top of each other without the use of a single nail. Rocks were placed between the logs and the smaller openings were chinked with mud from' the nearby creek.

     The interior walls of the house were built as strongly as the outer walls. The house is divided into four rooms-two upstairs and two downstairs. This arrangement was so that defense could be made in any portion of the house in case of an Indian attack. If the first room was forced, a retreat could be made to the second, and so on, until a final stand could be made in the northeast room of the upper story.

     There were port holes in each room of the house enabling the residents to defend against the Indians from any approach.

     The old fort house has a large chimney that almost covers one side of it. The chimney is made from limestone found along the creek, and the stone is joined by mud. The chimney is approximately 10 feet wide, three feet thick, and 22 feet high.

     The house is located on the right bank of the creek with a high limestone cliff overlooking it on the left and a large sloping field extending to the right for some 200 yards. This location was probably chosen for defense purposes as well as for the convenient water supply.

     Although there are no accounts of an actual Indian attack on the old fort house, there are several accounts of Indian visitations.

     When there was report of Indians in the area, the settlers living in these fortified houses would usually move to Dorton's Fort located about one mile east of Nickelsville.

     An authentic story preserved in th e Kilgore family attributes a remarkable dream to Robert Kilgore, the builder and first occupant of r the old fort house.

     According to the story, Kilgore dreamed a messenger on horseback came to his house and warned him to flee to the fort that the , Indians were coming. Kilgore awoke, an when he fell asleep, he had the same dream again. When he awoke the second time, he was very much disturbed about the dream, and related it to his wife. When he finally went back to sleep, he dreamed the same thing. In the third dream he also dreamed he opened the door of his house and saw two head of cattle approaching Copper Creek on the opposite side from his house.

     The next morning Kilgore was still disturbed by his dream, and when he opened the door and started out of the house, there were two head of cattle approaching the creek from the side opposite his house.

     Being now thoroughly aroused by the strange coincidence of his dream, Kilgore lost no time in moving his family to the shelter of Dorton's Fort .

     The following night a large band of Indians camped on the cliff overlooking the Kilgore house. The Indians, however, moved on the next day, and did no damage to the house nor disturbed any settlers in the area. Robert Kilgore lived in the old fort house until his death in March of 1854.

     The old house is slowly becoming a ruin; it probably won't be very long before the wood shingle roof falls in and the whole structure collapses. Some of the historical-minded people in the area are wanting to repair and preserve, the old house, but at this time no definite steps have been taken toward its preservation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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