History of Tazewell county and southwest Virginia

When I was first requested by certain gentlemen, who are descendants of the pioneer settlers of the Clinch Valley, to write a history of Tazewell County, it was intended to be a purely local history. But, after giving the proposition careful deliberation, conceived the scheme which has made it a history of the Settlement, Development, and Civilization of Southwest Virginia, with Tazewell County as the central figure. The reason for the adoption of this plan will be obvious to every person who is sufficiently interested to read the volume, for the history of the entire Southwest Virginia, Tazewell County included, is, practically, identical. And their history is intimately identified with that of Virginia and of the Nation, as the people who have lived in this region have had much to do with forming and developing the political thought and social character of the State and Nation. In executing this plan, I have separated the book into six distinctly marked Periods, and they are as follows:

1. The Aboriginal Period, which is devoted to that branch of the human family that occupied or roamed over this section of the continent before men of the white race came here to make their homes. And in this Period the origin of the American Indians, together with their social organizations, tribal relations, religious characteristics, et cet., are discussed.

2. The Period of Discovery and Colonization, in which the Spanish Discoveries and Conquests, the French Discoveries and Settlements, and the English Discoveries and the Settlement at Jamestown iivl607, are concisely narrated.

3. The Pioneer Period. This is the most extended Period of the book; and is used to tell who the pioneers were, from whence they came, how they got here, and how they wrought mightily to reclaim this wonderful country from a wilderness waste. The Period begins with the first settlements made west of the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1732, and terminates with the creation of Tazewell County in 1799, thus comprising the settlements made in the Shenandoah, Roanoke, New River, Holston, and Clinch valleys, and Kentucky.

4. The Ante-Belluni;, or Formative, Period, which begins with the organization of Tazewell County in 1800, and concludes with the commencement of the Civil War in 1861. Of the various events mentioned in this Period, the one which treats of the forming and developing of the political, social, and industrial thought and character of the people is, possibly, the most interesting.

5. The War and Reconstruction Period, which embraces the eventful years 1861-1869. In this Period I relate and discuss the potential causes that provoked the Civil War. Detailed accounts of the four raids made by Federal soldiers into and through Tazewell County, and the battles these raids occasioned, are herein written into history for the first time.

6. The Post-Bellum, or Development, Period tells, in brief form, about the immense development of the mineral, agricultural, and other natural resources of Tazewell County and adjacent sections of Southwest Virginia and Southern West Virginia.

In prosecuting this work my chief aim has been directed to gathering and preserving, in the form of written history, many interesting events connected with the performances of the pioneer settlers of the Clinch Valley and Southwest Virginia, that have been handed down by reasonable tradition, or are to be found in authentic records. But I have found it very difficult to select from the great mass of available material only that which I deemed the most important and essential for the proper accomplishment of my task. To that end, I have earnestly examined the records of Tazewell County, and of other counties with which Tazewell was civilly connected before it was organized as a distinct county. I have also acquired many facts from the valuable archives, of manuscript or printed form, that are deposited in the Virginia State Library, and have carefully studied many local and general histories that are recognized as reliable sources of information.


Table of Contents


I. Origin of the Red men; their distribution, civilization, character, etc 3-14
II. Nations and tribes north of Mexico 15-57
III. The Indians; their civilization, government, manners, and religion 58-69


I. Spanish and French discoveries and conquests 73-84
II. French discoveries and settlements 85-98
III. Birth of American Nation English Settlement at Jamestown 99-129
IV. From death of James I to 1676 130-137
V. Bacon's Rebellion and discovery of Shenandoah Valley 138-151


I. Settlement of Shenandoah and Roanoke Valleys 155-170
II. The Walker and Gist expeditions 171-185
III. French and Indian war 186-203
IV. Drapers Meadows Massacre and other Tragic Incidents 204-217
V. Holston Valley invaded by Indians The Sandy expedition 218-223
VI. Why settlements delayed in Clinch Valley 224-230
VII. The Tazewell Pioneer settlers 231-270
VIII. Frontiers of Fincastle County invaded by Indians 271-289
IX. Fincastle men called for Ohio expedition Indians invade Clinch and Holston settlements 290-310
X. Battle of Point Pleasant Kentucky opened for settlement 311-334
XI. The Revolutionary War 335-352
XII. First Constitutional Convention Declares United Colonies free and independent States Declaration of Rights and Constitution adopted 353-360
XIII. Kentucky, Washington and Montgomery counties are formed 361-369
XIV. Clark's expedition to Illinois, and Battle of King's Mountain 370-397


A Sketches of Pioneer Families 401-433
B Massacres by Indians 434-468

I. Organization of Tazewell County 471-485
II. Boundries and Topography of Tazewell County 486-495
III. Interesting sections of county The head of Clinch Valley 496-516
IV. Development of political, social, and industrial character of its people 517-529
V. The roads of Tazewell County Growth in population and wealth, etc 530-546
VI. The origin and descent of Tazewell County 547-560


I. Principal causes of the Civil War 563-598
II. The Harper's Ferry Insurrection 585-592
III. The Presidential election of 1860 593-598
IV. Virginia holds convention and secedes from Union 599-605
V. What Tazewell did in the war 606-637
Appendix to War and Reconstruction Period 638-654


I. County recovers from effects of Civil War 657-664
II. Prosperity returns to Tazewell County 665-672
Appendix List of men from Tazewell County in World War 1914 army and navy 673-684


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Events that seem of little importance at the time of their occurrence are sometimes followed by consequences of such magnitude as to greatly affect the character and material welfare of a nation. The discovery of the Shenandoah Valley by Governor Spottswood was an event of this kind. His expedition across the Blue Ridge, so far as he was concerned, was executed for purely military and commercial purposes. It was certainly nothing more than a pleasure-seeking excursion on the part of Robert Beverly, Colonel Robertson, and the other Virginia gentlemen who accompanied the governor, judging from the account of the expedition related by John Fontaine in his diary. The handsome jewel Spottswood gave to each member of his illustrious Order of "Knights of the Golden Horseshoe," bore the inscription: "Sic juvat transcendere monies," which translated means: "Thus it is a pleasure to cross the mountains."