Scott County Historical
Scott County, Virginia
Historic Sketches of Southwest Virginia
family name, Porter, is derived from the Latin verb "portarious"
(to carry). Portarious goes back to the time when the Roman legions
invaded Britain. They were the ones who carried supplies and equipment and
were gate keepers. When the verb portarious was made to conform to English
usage, it became Porter.
the decline of the Roman Empire, some of the Porters moved from Britain to
historical note states that the Porters moved from County Down, in
Ireland, to Pennsylvania about 1726. Benjamin and Ann Campbell Porter were
among the immigrants that came to Pennsylvania. Their son, Patrick, the
early pioneer on the Clinch, was born in Pennsylvania on May 1, 1737. The
HISTORY OF SCOTT COUNTY states he was born in Ireland, but we now know
that he was never in Ireland.
Porters moved to the upper Yadkin Valley in North Carolina. There they met
the Walkers. Patrick married Susanna Walker in 1756. He was living in
Orange Co., NC, when he and others petitioned that a new county be formed
to be called Guilford. He must have lived in Guilford County for some
time. His prayer book lists his children as being born in Guilford Co.,
and some of the Walkers visited Castlewood (Moore's Fort) and part of the
Clinch River Valley in 1769. He was looking for free land, and plenty of
game and water. He returned to North Carolina to get his family. He had
been given a land grant of 214 acres by old Fincastle Co., VA. He and his
family moved to the Clinch in October, 1772.
built his forthouse on Fall Creek (then called Falling Creek) near the
present site of Dungannon. Just below the falls of the creek he built his
grist mill in 1774. Permission to do so was granted by the court of old
Fincastle County, bearing the date of March 2, 1774. The court order to
build the mill is as follows: "On motion of Patrick Porter, leave is
given him to build a mill on Falling Creek, the waters of the
mill house was a two-story log building with a chimney. Many stories have
come down to us concerning this mill.
story is told that the first Masonic Lodge held west of the Blue Ridge
Mountains was held in the loft of Porter's Mill, and that they got the
charter from Ireland. The Grand Lodge of Ireland tells us that no charter
was ever granted for a Masonic Lodge to Patrick Porter, or any other
person on the Clinch. Porter and his three brothers-in- law may have been
Master Masons and formed a lodge without a charter, wishing to enjoy the
rights and benefits of Masonry on the frontier.
was a grist mill so important on the Virginia frontier to the pioneers? It
was because corn was the main food of the pioneers. Cornmeal in some form
was used at every meal as mush, hoecake, Johnnycake, or cornbread. All
these were made with cornmeal, salt (if salt was available) and water. It
was the way they were cooked that made them different. The only dish that
may have contained anything, besides these basic ingredients, was cornpone,
which had small pieces of sliced bacon or rinds of meat in it, and was
baked in the hot ashes of the fireplace. Hoecake was cooked on a hot
griddle, and was sometimes made on a flat stone. The pioneers probably
learned this method from the Indians. When the dough was baked on a smooth
board before the fire it was called Johnnycake.
the time that Patrick Porter came to the Clinch, there was neither law nor
gospel on the frontier. He and a few other settlers were alone in the
wilderness, over a hundred miles from the court at the lead mines, in the
county seat of old Fincastle County. It was only natural that they take
the law into their own hands now and then, when they had to deal with
horse thieves, Indians and renegade whites. Unfortunately, punishments
were not always mild.
of the pioneers were reverent. They believed as Daniel Boone did. He said,
"All the religion I have is to love and fear God, do all the good to
my neighbors and myself that I can, and do as little harm as I can, help
and trust God's mercy for the rest."
living on the Clinch, Patrick Porter lived in the counties of Fincastle,
Washington and Russell, without ever moving from his original home.
According to court records he was very active in the affairs of all three
counties. He is listed on the roster of troops at Moore's Fort as a
sergeant in 1777, when all the frontier of Southwest Virginia was under
attack by the Cherokee and Shawnee Indians.
Patrick and Susanna Walker Porter came from North Carolina and settled on
Fall Creek, the waters of the Clinch, they brought with them eight
who was born in Guilford Co., NC, in 1757. He died in what is now Scott
County around 1800. His wife's name was Mary. Some think her maiden name
was Alley and that she was a sister to John Alley, who married Patrick's
daughter, Mary. If the wife of Samuel Porter was Mary Alley, then she was
the Polly Alley who was captured by the Indians in 1777. The Indians, on
their way northward, also captured Jane Whittaker near Moore's Fort, and
took them as prisoners to their town at the present site of Sandusky,
Ohio. Their escape and arduous journey back home has become on of the
classic stories of Virginia's last frontier.
court order in Russell County dated February, 1803, reads:
that the overseer of the poor bind Elizabeth, Jane, Samuel, Jr., Joseph
and Alexander Porter, infant orphans of Samuel Porter, Sr.,
deceased." There were two other children who were not minors, James
Walker Porter was born in Guilford Co., NC, April 19, 1759. He married
Martha (Patsy) Hutchenson. They moved to Floyd Co., KY, where they lived
and died. He served on the Virginia frontier as an Indian fighter and
Porter was born in Guilford Co., NC, September 7, 1761. She first married
James Green in 1781. James was killed by the Indians while on a hunting
trip near the mouth of Indian Creek, in what is now Wise Co., December 31,
1782. Jane married again in 1785 to Robert Kilgore, who in 1786 build the
Kilgore Fort House.
Porter, Jr., was born in Guilford Co., NC, February 1766. He married
Elizabeth Pendleton on April 3, 1814. He moved to Floyd Co., KY.
Porter was born in Guilford Co., NC, June 9, 1768. She married Dale
Carter, the son of Norris Carter, who with his two brothers. Thomas and
Joseph, built the Rye Cove Fort. Dale and Katherine lived and died in the
Rye Cove section of Scott County. Both are buried in the Carter cemetery.
Porter was born in Guilford Co., NC, February 25, 1771. She married John
Alley. They were married by Bishop Whatcoat, a traveling companion of
Bishop Asbury, the noted circuit riding Methodist, on their first visit to
Porter's birth date was not listed in Patrick Porter's prayer book as the
other children are, and her date of death is not know. She married Samuel
Ritchie. Ritchie was a very prominent man in his day. He was one of the
commissioners selected to determine a site for the courthouse, when the
act to form Scott County was passed November 14, 1814. He was also the
first presiding justice of the Scott County court.
and Samuel separated and he asked the Russell County Court to annul the
marriage. The annulment was not granted, so he took a common law wife,
and Samuel had no children. Samuel died sometime in 1818. No one knows
what became of Ann. Patrick Porter and his wife, Susanna, are known to
have more than sixty grandchildren.