Scrapbook Memories

Mildred McConnell's Scrapbook Articles

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Scott County

By OMER C. ADDINGTON

In colonial times in the Common Wealth of Virginia many people lived and died having never visited the county seat of the county in which they had lived because of distance, hostile Indians, no roads and no means of conveyance except on foot.

If a person gave up his land grant to another person, a statement was written on the back of the document saying that he gave up his right to the land to another person signed his name or made his mark, thus a land grant would pass through several different hands and not be recorded until many years later. In marriage a contract was written by a minister or some other person and sometimes banns of marriage were used instead of license, either one was lawful. So there was no need to go to the county seat, unless they were served a summons to appear in court as a witness or named in a lawful suit.

By 1738, people living west of the Blue Ridge Mountains found them a barrier to frequent attendance at Orange County Court. For their convenience, a division was ordered. All that territory and tract of land at present deemed to be part of the County of Orange lying on the northwesterly, and southern beyond said mountain to the utmost limits of Virginia "Shall be separated from the rest of the said county and erected into two distinct counties; to be divided by a line to be run from the spring of Hedgman River to the head spring by the River Potomac." That part of the said territory lying to the northeast of the said line beyond the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains shall be one distinct county, to be called and known by the name of the County of Frederick, and that the rest of the said territory lying on the other side of said line beyond the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains shall be one distinct county to be called and known by the name of the County of Augusta.

The counties thus created honored Frederick, Prince of Wales and his wife, Augusta, Princess of Wales. It was Frederick’s son that became George III, whose harsh rule displeased the colonist and brought on the Revolutionary War.

It was with this division that the territory that is now Scott County had its first parent county. It was part of Augusta County from 1745 to 1769.

The second parent count of the territory was Botetourt County. The County of Botetourt was formed from Augusta in 1770 and was named for Norborne Berkeley, Lord of Botetourt, Governor of Virginia from 1768 to 1770. It was part of Botetourt from 1770 to 1772.

The third parent county was Fincastle County. It was formed from the western part of Botetourt County in 1772. The name Fincastle was derived from the viscouncy granted to the first Earl of Dunmore, and this title of nobility passed by inheritance to Lord Dunmore, Governor of Virginia.

It was during the existence of Fincastle County that Dunmore’s war and the Battle of Point Pleasant took place (October 10, 1774). For this expedition three companies wee raised in Fincastle: one on the waters of Holston by Captain Evan Shelby, one on the waters of Clinch by Captain William Russell, and one on the waters of New River by Captain William Herbert.

It was here at the lead mines the county seat of Fincastle County that the famous Fincastle resolutions were drawn up. Boldly declaring their determination never to surrender the rights and privileges granted to them as Virginian, closing with the assertion these are our real thoughts unpolished sentiments of liberty and loyalty and in them we are resolved to live and die.

In the battle of Long Island Flats on the lower Holston near present Kingsport, Tennessee on July 20, 1776, six captains and 170 men from Fincastle County and undisposed of and to Montgomery went all records of the Surveyor’s Office of Fincastle.

The original Fincastle records are preserved in the archives in the courthouse at Christiansburg, the present county seat of Montgomery County.

The territory that is now Scott County was part of Washington and Russell Counties from 1777 to 1786. Washington County was the firs place or area to be named for George Washington in the United States.

Russell County was formed from part of Washington County in 1786 and named for General William Russell "who distinguished himself at the Battle of Kings Mountain."

The territory that is now Scott Count then became part of Washington, Russell and Lee Counties from 1792 to 1814.

Lee County was formed from the western part of Russell County 1793, beginning one mile east of Big Moccasin Gap, and extending to the Kentucky and Tennessee boundary lines. Lee County was named for General Henry Lee who was Governor of Virginia from 1791 to 1794.

(A portion of the article which appears to make reference to the mountain range along the northern part of the county making reference to Camp Rock, Chestnut Ridge and possibly High Knob is obscured and unreadable.)

Moccasin Ridge crosses the southwestern part of the County just north of Clinch Mountain and has the same trend as that mountain. It is about 23 miles long and reaches an elevation of 2,300 feet at the Russell County line.

Copper Ridge begins in the central part at the junction of the Clinch River and Copper Creek and extends northeastward for about 24 miles. It reaches an elevation of 2,500feet.

Pine Mountain, a narrow ridge lying just south of Clinch Mountain, has an elevation of 1,700feet. Lying between Pine Mountain and Clinch Mountain is Poor Valley.

In the western part of the County are Stone Ridge, Newman Ridge and the Big Ridge. Stony Ridge and Newman Ridge extend southwestward into Tennessee. These ridges have an elevation from 1,200 feet to 1,500 feet.

Just south of Duffield in the western part of the County lies Purchase Ridge. The part in the County ranges from 3 to 9 miles in length and from 2,000 to 2,400 feet in elevation.

The Natural Tunnel passes through Purchase Ridge and is one of the most beautiful natural scenic wonders of the State. The tunnel was cut through solid limestone rock by Stock Creek. Many stories and legends are told about the tunnel and Lover's Leap. The story is told that Daniel Boone was the first white man to walk through the Natural Tunnel. Perhaps the most romantic legend is the one about the Cherokee maiden and the Shawnee brave who were forbidden to marry, by the father of the maiden. They leaped to their death from the highest pinnacle thereby giving it its name, Lover's Leap. If there was a Shawnee brave at the highest pinnacle, he was on the wrong side of the river. His territory was north of the Clinch River. Oh well: love knows no boundary lines.

Rye Cove is an unusual feature in the County. It comprises about 25 square miles of markedly smooth relief. It is about 6 miles long and 4 miles wide. Its elevation ranging from 1,509 to 1,900 feet. It was here the worst tragedy of modern times occurred in Scott County when a tornado of May 2, 1929 destroyed the Rye Cove School building, killing 12 students and one teacher, with scores of others injured.

Outlets for the County are the Clinch River, the North Fork Clinch River, and the North Fork Holston River. The Clinch River flows diagonally across the County from the northeastern corner and crosses the Virginia-Tennessee boundary line near the southwestern corner. Its main tributaries entering from the northwest are Stock Creek, Cove Creek and Stony Creek; Copper Creek which flows from the east.

The North Fork Clinch River crosses the extreme western part of the County and flows into Tennessee at the southwestern corner.

The North Fork Holston River flows in a southwestward direction. Big Moccasin and Opossum Creeks are the main tributaries. Big Moccasin Creek enters from the east out of Russell County. It passes through Clinch Mountain at Big Moccasin Gap which is a water level gap.

Big Moccasin Gap is perhaps the most important natural feature in the County for in it is centered much of the early history and development. Through the gap Daniel Boone and his friends carved the Wilderness Road to Kentucky in 1775, and through it thousands of pioneer settlers passed on their way to Kentucky and the West. Most of the goods used by the early settlers who lived north of the gap as far away as the Clinch River were hauled through the gap, before the coming of the railroads. The first railroad in the County was built through the gap in 1887.

Through the gap passed the Cherokee Indians on their way to the hunting grounds south of the Clinch River, and later to attack the settler who had settled along the Clinch River and Moccasin Valley.

Opossum Creek enters Scott County from Tennessee and flows eastward near the Tennessee boundary line before emptying into the North Fork Holston River.

There are many small streams in the County that have been named. There are 87 branches and 32 creeks that have names and perhaps as many more without names. These streams form an intermittent drainage way extending from the main streams to all sections of the County.

According to evidence found by early settlers and explorers many Indian villages once stood in the territory that is now Scott County. This territory was hunted over and fought for by many Indian tribes. By the time the settlers came there were two main tribes who laid claim to this territory. They were the Cherokee and the Shawnee. These two tribes settled their differences by making the Clinch River the dividing line. The Cherokee Territory was south of the river and the Shawnee territory was north of the river.

Wild game, virgin soil, and plenty of water was perhaps the greatest inducement to the pioneers to enter a wilderness often made dangerous by the presence of hostile Indians. Some of these men came as long hunters and fur traders before any settlement had been made. The long hunters were so called because of the long hunts or time spent away from civilization. They went out in October and returned in April. The best known long hunters were Elisha Wallen, Isaac Bledsoe and William Carr.

There are known to have been nine forts in what is today present Scott County. These forts were built for protection against the Indians and as a stopping place for hunters, explorers and home seekers.

Blackmore's Fort was built on the lands of Captain John Blackmore in 1772. He and his brother, Joseph, had come from Fauquier County Virginia. This fort was built on the north of Clinch River. It is said that the fort was built on the north side of the river to get away from the Cherokee Indians and the Shawnee were too far away (Ohio) to do them any harm, However, this was not the case, being on the extreme frontier of Virginia it was attacked by Indians many times and many people were killed or captured, Captain Blackmore had a son and daughter killed by the Indians. Daniel Boone was in command of Blackmore's Fort and others on the Clinch River in 1774while the militiamen were engaged in the Point Pleasant campaign of Dunmore's War.

Rye Cove Fort referred to as Crissman's Fort and sometimes called Fort Lee was built by Isaac Crissman In 1773 or 1774, the exact date is not known. He entered his land grant in old Fincastle County March 28, 1774. Many people were killed or captured by the Indians including Crissman and two members of his family in 1776.This fort stood about 8 miles from the North Fork Clinch River and about one half mile from Cove Creek on the west side of it.

Carter's Fort was further westward in the Rye Cove than the Crissman's Fort. It was built by the Carter brothers, Thomas Norris and Joseph. This fort was probably built in 1776 or 1777. The date 1777 was given by James Elkins in his pension statement. He said he served at Carter's Fort in the Rye Cove in the summer of 1777. Carter's Fort was the most westward fort in what is now Scott County. The Carter brothers were very early settlers in the Rye Cove with land entries in old Fincastle County in 1774.

The Blockhouse was built by John Anderson sometime prior to 1782. It stood in Carter's Valley on the outer edges of the Holston River settlement about four miles southwest of Moccasin Gap. It was two stories, the upper had the usual port holes and extended out wider than the first floor. The Blockhouse was at the meeting point of the pioneer roads from Virginia and North Carolina, and was one of the most widely known on the Wilderness Road. John Anderson was host to hundreds of people who stopped over on their way to Kentucky and the West. William Bowen, one of the pioneers who stopped at the Blockhouse, wrote, "we waited hereabouts near two weeks and then set out for the wilderness with 12 men and 10 guns, this 'being Thursday 18,July 1782."

Dr. William A. Pusey of Chicago, a descendant of William Bowen, had a monument erected on or near the site of the Blockhouse, the inscription reads as follows,: This tablet marks the site of the Blockhouse, the meeting point of the pioneers roads to Kentucky from Virginia and North Carolina, and the gathering place of pioneer travelers at the entrance to the wilderness.

Porter's Fort was built by Patrick Porter who emigrated from North Carolina in 1772and established his grist mill on Falling Creek near Dungannon in 1775. Porter's Mill was the first mill ever approved for the Clinch, permission being granted by the court of Old Fincastle County Virginia. This may have been the first mill in what is now Scott County. The building was two story log building with a stone chimney. In the second floor of the building the first Masonic lodge was held west of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The Lodge was named Fincastle, today the Masonic Lodge still bears the name Fincastle. The Lodge is now located in Dungannon.

Houston Fort on the waters of Big Moccasin was built by William Houston in 1774 on land assigned to him by Thomas McCulloch, who had settled there in 1769. This was the first settlement in what is now Scott County. He abandoned the land because of fear of Indians. In the late summer of 1776 Fort Houston was attacked by a large force of Cherokee Indians, said by some people who were in the fort to number 300. One person was killed and scalped, a messenger by the name of Samuel Cowan who had come to warn the settlers and was returning to his home at Castlewood.

Duncan's Fort was built by Raleigh Duncan in 1775 and stood between Dungannon and Gray's Island on the Clinch River. Alexandria Ritchie, Jr., in his Revolutionary War statement says that he lived at Duncan's Fort from March 1778to April 1779. His statement shows that the fort was an active military defense in the settlement of Southwest Virginia.

Dorton's Fort was built by William Dorton sometime in the 1700's the exact year is not known. He was kill-

(The remainder of the article is missing in Mildred's Scrapbook.)

 

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