History of Rockbridge County, Virginia

There is but one Rockbridge County in the United States. The unique name is due to a great natural curiosity within its limits. The position of the county is nearly midway in the longer direction of the Valley of Virginia. The latitudeómostly to the south of the thirty-eighth paralleló is that of the center of Kentucky, the south of Missouri, and the center of California. In Europe it is that of the south of Spain and the island of Sicily. In Asia it is that of central Asia Minor and central Japan. In form, Rockbridge is an irregular rectangle, the longer direction being nearly northeast and southwest. The length of the county is nearly thirty-two miles, and the extreme breadth is nearly twenty-six miles. The area is officially stated as 593 square miles, which is considerably more than is true of the average county in Virginia.

In form, Rockbridge is an irregular rectangle, the longer direction being nearly northeast and southwest. The length of the county is nearly thirty-two miles, and the extreme breadth is nearly twenty-six miles. The area is officially stated as 593 square miles, which is considerably more than is true of the average county in Virginia.

The curving eastern boundary follows for forty miles the crest of the Blue Ridge, and is therefore a natural geographic line. The western line begins on Camp Mountain, and passes to North Mountain, then to Mill Mountain, and finally to Sideling Hill. The short lines by which the boundary crosses from one to another of these elevations are determined by valley-divides, so that the western boundary may likewise be regarded as natural. But the northern and southern boundaries of the county are straight lines, entirely artificial, and they set it off as a cross-section of the Valley of Virginia.

Table of Contents

I. The Local Geography 1
II. Scenic Features 6
III. The Ulsterman and the Pathfinder 12
IV. The Borden Land Grant 21
V. Early Pioneer Days 33
VI. Civil Government: 1737-1852 45
VII. Annals of 1737-1777 54
VIII. Strife with the Red Men 61
IX. Rockbridge County Established ; 76
X. The Calfpasture 83
XI. The War for Independence 92
XII. Middle Period 104
XIII. A Year of Suspense 111
XIV. The War of 1861 123
XV. Recent Period 136
XVI. The Negro Element 141
XVII. The Town of Lexington 147
XVIII. Buena Vista and Glasgow 153
XIX. Villages, Hamlets, and Summer Resorts 156
XX. Highways, Waterways, and Railways 161
XXI. Industrial Interests 168
XXII. The Churches of Rockbridge 172
XXIII. Temperance Societies and Other Fraternities 180
XXIV. Old Field Schools and Free Schools 183
XXV. Washington and Lee University 188
XXVI. The Virginia Military Institute 199
XXVII. The Ann Smith and Other Academies 207
XXVIII. The Franklin Society 214
XXIX. Journalism and Literature 217
XXX. Old Militia Days 221
XXXI. A Rockbridge Hall of Fame 224
XXXII. Stonewall Jackson at Lexington 233
XXXIII. Robert E. Lee as a College President 238
XXXIV. Family Sketches and Biographic Paragraphs 244
XXXV. The MacCorkle Family 278
XXXVI. Rockbridge in the World War 293
XXXVII. Supplementary Items 299
XXXVIII. Rockbridge Inventions 307
Section I. Given Names and Surnames 339
II. Conveyances in Borden Tract, 1741-1780 343
III. Early Patents Outside the Borden Tract 351
IV. Secondary Land Conveyances Prior to 1778 355
V. Tithables of 1778 365
VI. Taxpayers of 1782 370
VII. Taxpayers of 1841 378
VIII. Present Surnames 388
IX. Militia Officers Prior to 1816 396
X. Soldiers of the Revolution 402
XI. Rockbridge Artillery 405
XII. Soldiers of the World War 444
XIII. Various Lists 456
XIV. Miscellaneous Data 469

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Death of Cornstalk

The Shawnees, "the Arabs of the New World," were a small but valiant tribe dwelling on the lower Scioto. In education they stood much above the average level of the Native American tribes, and it was an ordinary occurrence for a member of the tribe to be able to converse in five or six languages, including English and French. According to the Indian standard, the Shawnees were generous livers, and their women were superior housekeepers. They were so conscious of their prowess that they held in contempt the warlike ability of other Indians. It was their boast that they caused the white people ten times as much loss as they received.

The most eminent war-leader among the Shawnees was Cornstalk. It is not probable that he headed the band that struck Kerr's Creek in 1759, although the warriors may have been of his people. We do know, however, that he was the leader in the terrible raid of 1763. Within a few days his band blotted out the settlements on the Greenbrier, won a victory over two companies of militia at Falling Springs in Alleghany county, raided the valleys of Jackson's River and the Cowpasture, and then crossed Mill Mountain to work still further havoc on Kerr's Creek. With slight loss to themselves, they killed, wounded, or carried away probably more than 100 of the whites. At Point Pleasant, the Shawnees were the backbone of the Indian army, and Cornstalk was its general-in-chief. It was only because of loose discipline in the camp that the Virginians were not taken by surprise. Technically, the battle was little else than a draw. Cornstalk effected an unmolested retreat across the Ohio, after inflicting a loss much heavier than his own. But his men were discouraged and gave up the campaign. Cornstalk was not in favor of the war, but was overruled by his tribe. During the short peace that followed, he from time to time returned to Fort Randolph at Point Pleasant horses and cattle that had been lost by the whites or stolen from them.

In 1777 the Shawnees were again restless. They had been worked upon by British emissaries and white renegades. Cornstalk came with a Delaware and one other Indian and visited Fort Randolph under what was virtually a flag of truce. He warned Captain Arbuckle, the commandant, of the feeling of the tribesmen. His mission was an effort to avert open hostilities. According to the Indian standard, Cornstalk was an honorable foe, and he knew he ran a risk in putting himself in the power of the whites. Arbuckle thought it proper to detain the Indians as hostages. One day, while Cornstalk was drawing a map on the floor of the blockhouse, to explain the geography of the country beyond the Scioto, his son Ellinipsico hallooed from the other bank of the Ohio and was taken across. Soon afterward, two men of Captain William McKee's company, a Gilmore and a Hamilton, went over the Kanawha to hunt for turkeys. Gilmore was killed by some lurking Indian, and his body was carried back. The spectacle made his comrades wild with rage. They raised the cry of, "Let us kill the Indians in the fort," and without taking a second thought they rushed to the door of the blockhouse. They would not listen to the remonstrances of Arbuckle, and threatened his life. When the door was forced open, Cornstalk stood erect before his executioners and fell dead, pierced by seven or eight balls. His son and his other companions were also put to death. The slain chieftain was about fifty years of age, large in figure, commanding in presence, and intellectual in countenance. Good contemporary judges declare that even Patrick Henry or Richard Henry Lee did not surpass Cornstalk in oratory.

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