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First Permanent Settlement by Whites

 

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First Permanent Settlement by Whites

 

In 1732, the first permanent settlement by whites west of the Blue Ridge, was made near where Winchester Virginia now stands. Sixteen families from Pennsylvania, headed by Joist Juliet, composed this little colony, and to them is due the credit of having first planted the standard of civilization in Virginia, west of the mountains. In 1734, Benjamin Allen, with three others, settled on the North Branch of the Shenandoah, about twelve miles south of the present town of Woodstock. Other adventurers pushed on, and settlements gradually extended west, crossing Capon River, North Mountain and the Alleghany range, until finally they reached the tributaries of the Monongahela.

 

The majority of those who settled the eastern part of the Valley were Pennsylvania Germans ; a class of people distinguished for their untiring industry, and love of rich lands. Many of these emigrants had no sooner heard of the fertility of the soil in the Shenandoah valley, than they began to spread themselves along that stream and its tributaries. " So completely did they occupy the country along the north and south branches of that river, that the few stray English, Irish or Scotch settlers among them did not sensibly affect the homogeneousness of the population. They long retained, and for the most part do still retain, their German language, and the German simplicity of their manners.

 

Tradition informs us that the Indians did not object to the Pennsylvanians settling the country. From the exalted character for benevolence and virtue enjoyed by the first founder of that State, (William Penn,) the simple-minded children of the woods believed that all those who had lived under the shadow of his name, partook alike of his justice and humanity. But fatal experience soon taught them a very different lesson. Towards Virginians, the Indians had a most implacable hatred. They called them, by way of distinction, "Long Knives," and "warmly opposed their settling in the Valley.  For twenty years after the settlement about Winchester, the natives, inhabiting the mountains and intervening vales, remained in comparative quietude.

 

Shortly after the first settlement at Winchester, a circumstance occurred which speedily led to settlements along the upper part of the Valley, and opened to the public mind the fine regions lying west of the Alleghenies. Two resolute spirits, Thomas Morlen and John Sailing, full of adventure, determined to explore the "Upper Country," about which so much had been said, but so little was known. Setting out from Winchester, they made their way up the valley of the Shenandoah, crossed the waters of James river, not far from the Natural Bridge, and had progressed as far as the Roanoke, when a party of Cherokees surprised them, and took Sailing prisoner. Morlen made his escape, and returned in safety to his friends. Sailing was carried captive into Tennessee, and finally habituating himself to the Indians, remained with them several years. While on a hunting excursion with some of his tribe, some years afterwards, they were attacked by a party of Illinois Indians, with whom the Cherokees were at bitter variance, and Sailing a second time borne of a prisoner.

 

These transactions took place in Kentucky, whither the Southern, Western, and Northern tribes resorted to hunt. By his new captors, Sailing was carried to Kaskaskia; afterwards sold to a party of Spaniards on the lower Mississippi subsequently returned to Kaskaskia; and finally, after six years' captivity, was ransomed by the Governor of Canada, and transferred to the Dutch authorities at Manhattan. Thence he succeeded in making his way to Williamsburg, in Virginia. His captivity became the subject of general conversation. The accounts which he gave of the extent and resources of the great West, embracing almost every variety of soil, climate, and production, and extending into remote parts, where human foot had probably never penetrated ; where majestic rivers, issuing from unknown sources in the far North, rolled their volumed waters in solemn grandeur to the South where vegetation was most luxuriant, and game of every description inexhaustible, were enough, as they proved, to excite a deep interest in all who heard his glowing accounts.

 

Shortly before the return of Sailing, a considerable addition had been made to the population of Virginia by recent arrivals at Jamestown. Of this number were John Lewis and John Mackey, both of whom, desirous of securing suitable locations, were much interested in the statements of Sailing. Pleased with his description of the Valley, they determined to visit it, first having induced Sailing to accompany them as guide. The three penetrated the fastness of the mountain, descended into the luxuriant valley, and pleased with the physical appearance of the country, determined to fix there their abode. Lewis selected the place of his future residence on a stream still bearing his name. Mackey chose a spot on the Shenandoah; and Sailing, having concluded to remain, made choice of a beautiful tract of land on the waters of James river, and built his cabin.

 

Early in the Spring of 1736, an agent for Lord Fairfax, who held, under a patent from James IL, all that part of Virginia known as the Northern Neck, came over, and after remaining a short time at Williamsburg, accepted an invitation to visit John Lewis. among his sojourn at the house of Lewis, he captured, while hunting with Samuel and Andrew, (the latter afterwards the distinguished General,) sons of the former, a fine buffalo calf. Returning shortly after to Williamsburg, he presented the mountain pet to Governor Gooch, which so much gratified that functionary, that he forthwith directed a warrant to be made out, authorizing Burden (the agent) to locate 500,000 acres of land on the Shenandoah, or James rivers, west of the Blue Ridge.

 

The grant required that Burden should settle one hundred families upon said land within ten years. The grantee lost no time in returning to England, and in the following year came out with the required number, embracing among his little colony many who became the founders of some of the most distinguished families in our state. Of these were the McDowell's, Crawford's, McClure's, Alexander's, Wallace's, Patton's, Preston's, Moore's, Matthew's, & The spirit of adventure now slumbered for a season, and but few additional improvements were made beyond the limits of the Burden grant, until 1751, at which time an influx of population took place and then it was, the prophetic line of Bishop Berkeley began to be realized, Many of the new settlers in the Valley had come in with Governor Dinwiddle, and were men of undoubted worth, and great probity of character. They embraced the Stuart's Paul's, McDowell's, etc., names distinguished in the annals of Virginia. Most of those who thus forsook the pleasures, refinements and enjoyments of comfortable homes in the old world, to find a dwelling-place in the untraded wilds of the new were Scotch Covenanters  those stern, inflexible sectarians, who preferred religious freedom abroad, to ease and oppression at home. How defilement was this class of people from the Spanish adventurers who subdued Mexico and South America ; those bloody conquerors, whose remorseless cruelty to the simple-minded natives, cast so much obloquy upon Spain, and darken her history with some of the foulest stains that ever disgraced a civilized nation! Who can wonder, that the smiles of Heaven attended the one, while the avenging hand of an outraged God smote the other

 

FIRST SETTLERS WEST OF THE ALLEGHENIES.

 

Previous to 1749, Western Virginia was untraded by the foot of white man, if we except an occasional trader, who may have ventured upon the heads of some of the tributary streams which take their rise in the Alleghany Mountains. Some time during this year, a man laboring under aberration of intellect, wandered from Frederick county into the wilderness of the Greenbrier country. Although a supposed lunatic, there seemed yet enough of "method in his madness, to tell his friends, on returning home, that he had discovered rivers flowing in a contrary direction to those of the Valley. His description of the country soon induced some to visit it, among whom were Jacob Martin and Stephen Sewell.

 

These men settled on the Greenbrier river, where they built a cabin but soon disagreeing about some trivial matter, Sewell left his companion, and took up his abode in a hollow tree. In the Spring of 1751, when Andrew Lewis visited the country as agent for the Greenbrier Company, he discovered the lonely pioneers in the deep seclusion of their mountain home. Upon inquiry as to the cause of their estrangement, the gallant Lewis soon reconciled matters, but only for a brief time, as Sewell shortly afterwards removed farther into the wilderness, where he fell a victim to Indian barbarity. Further attempts to colonize the Greenbrier country were not made for many years.

 

John Lewis, and his son Andrew, proceeded with their explorations, until interrupted by the breaking out of the French war. In 1762, a few families began to penetrate the region on Muddy creek, and the Big Levels but a royal proclamation of the next year, commanded that all who had settled, or held improvements on the Western waters, should at once remove, as the claim of the Indians had not been extinguished and it was most important to preserve their friendship, in order to prevent them coalescing with the French. Those families already in the enjoyment of their improvements, refused to comply with the King's mandate, and most of them were cut off by the savages in 1763-4. From the date of these occurrences, up to 1769, the Greenbrier country contained not a single white settlement.

 

In that year, Captain John Stuart, with a number of others, made improvements, which they continued to hold despite every effort of the Indians to dispossess them. Seven years later, (1776) settlements were made on New river. The lands taken up in this region, being held by what were known as ''corn rights" whoever planted an acre of corn, acquired a title to one hundred acres of land.

 

LAND OPERATORS IN THE WEST.

 

Time had scarcely been allowed to dry the ink on the signatures to the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, ere the British government proceeded to carry out one of its well matured plans for forestalling the movements of the French, and taking immediate possession of the country lying west of the Mountains, and east of the Ohio. This scheme was the formation by an act of Parliament, of a great landed corporation, which was designed to check the encroachments of France, despoil the Indians of their inheritance, and secure permanent possession of the valley of the Ohio We will quote from Sparks, the nature, of this corporation.

 

In 1749, Thomas Lee, one of His Majesty's Council in Virginia, formed the design of effecting settlements on the wild lands west of the Alleghany Mountains. With the view of carrying his plan into operation, Mr. Lee associated himself with twelve other persons in Virginia and Maryland, and with Mr. Hanbury, a merchant in London, who formed what they called " The Ohio Company. " Five hundred thousand acres of land were granted almost in the terms requested by the company, to be " taken on the south side of the Ohio river, between the Monongahela and Kanawha rivers. Two hundred thousand acres were to be located at once, and held for ten years free of quit-rent, provided one hundred families were settled on it within seven years, and a fort erected of suitable strength to protect the inhabitants.

 

This may be considered the first decisive step on the part of the English, to take possession of the country bordering the Ohio river. Other companies were organized about the same time by the colonial authorities of Virginia, under direct instruction from the mother country. Of these, were the Greenbrier Company, with a grant of 100,000 acres and the Loyal Company, incorporated on the 12th June, 1749, with a grant for 800,000 acres, from the "line of Canada, North and West." The British Ministry had evidently become alarmed at what they were pleased to term the encroachments of the French ; and it was to forestall their movements by throwing into the disputed territory an "armed neutrality," in the shape of several hundred American families, that made the English Government and its Virginia agents, so solicitous to colonize the regions of the West We will revert to this subject in another chapter, and now resume the thread of our narrative.

 

Early in 1750, the Ohio Company sent out Christopher Gist on an exploring expedition. He is represented to have crossed from the south branch of the Potomac, to the headwaters of the Juniata thence to the Alleghany, crossing that river a few miles above where Pittsburgh now stands. Descending the Ohio to the mouth of Beaver, he went up that stream, thence across to the Muskingum, and down to the Miami. After an absence of several months, he returned to the Kanawha, and made a thorough examination of the country lying east of that river and south of the Ohio.

 

In 1751, as already stated, Andrew Lewis, afterwards so distinguished in the military annals of our State, commenced a survey of the Greenbrier tract. The movements of both these agents, however, had been closely watched, and information conveyed to the French, who by this time had fairly got their eyes open as to the policy and designs of the English. Determined to maintain their rights, and to assert their claim to the country bordering the Ohio, the French crossed Lake Champlain, built Crown Point, and without delay proceeded to fortify certain other positions on the waters of the upper Ohio. With this view, they erected a fort at Presque He, on Lake Erie ; another about fifteen miles distant, which they called Le Boeuf  and a third, at the mouth of French Creek, now Venango. But lest, while these little fortresses were quietly rising in the wilderness, the English might attempt corresponding means for defense, a company of soldiers was dispatched by the French Commandant, with positive orders to keep intruders out of the valley of the Ohio ; but to use no violence, " except in case of obstinate continuance, and then to seize their goods.

 

This party doubtless heard of the movements of Gist, and the presence of English traders on the Miami. Thither they directed their steps and demanded that the intruders should leave, or be given up as trespassers upon French soil. The traders refusing to depart, and the Indians being unwilling to give them up, a fight ensued, in which fourteen of the Twigtees or Miamas were killed, and the traders, four in number, taken prisoners. This occurred early in 1752, as the Indians referred to the fact at the treaty of Logstown, in June. It may justly be regarded as the prologue to that long and bloody drama, the catastrophe of which, was the expulsion of the French from the Ohio valley, and the consequent loss to France of all her territory east of the Mississippi.

 

Thus stood matters in the spring of 1752. The English thwarted in their attempt to locate lands on the Ohio, deemed it expedient to invite the chiefs of the neighboring tribes to a convention at Logstown, when they hoped to have the claims of Great Britain recognized, as they were clearly determined to possess themselves of the lands in question, by fair means or foul. Accordingly, in June 1752, Joshua Fry Lunsford Loamax, and James Patton, commissioners on the part of Virginia, met the Sachems and chiefs of the Six Nations, and desired to know to what they objected in the treaty of Lancaster and of what else they complained.

 

They produced the Lancaster treaty, insisted upon its ratification, and the sale of the Western lands but the chiefs said " No ; they had heard of no sale of lands west of the warriors' road which ran at the foot of the Alleghany ridge. The Commissioners finding the Indians inflexible, and well aware of the rapid advance of the French, decided to offer great inducements in goods, for the ratification of the treaty, and the relinquishment of the Indian title to lands lying south of the Ohio and east of the Kanawha.

 

The offers and importunities of the Virginians at length prevailed, and on the 13th June, the Indians consented to confirm the Lancaster deed in as full and ample a manner as if the same was here recited, and guaranteeing that the settlements south-east of the Ohio should not be disturbed by them. The Virginia Commissioners, both at Logstown and Lancaster, were men of the highest character, but treated with the Indians according to the ideas of their day. The French in the meantime had not been idle observers and no sooner did they ascertain the result of the conference at Logstown, than it was resolved to check the English the moment they should set foot upon the banks of the Ohio. Vigorous measures were taken to complete their line of fortifications on the head-waters of the Ohio, and to supply each post with an abundance of ammunition.

 

 In the spring of 1753, the Ohio Company directed Gist to lay out a town and erect a fort at the mouth of Chartier's Creek, two and half miles below the forks of the Monongahela and Alleghany. This order, however, was not carried into effect, as Washington, in his journal, uses the following language: About two miles from this place, (the forks,) on the southeast side of the river, at the place where the Ohio Company intended to lay off their fort, lives Shingiss, king of the Delawares. Well do we remember, how often, in the joyous days of ripening youth, we have roamed over the beautiful grounds celebrated as the once residence of the noble and generous Shingiss. The spot is a short distance from the river, and a little south by west from McKee's rocks rugged promontory just below the mouth of Chartier's Creek. Associated with this locality are many wild and startling Indian legends.

 

FIRST SETTLEMENTS AT AND NEAR WHEELING.

 

A NEW impulse to "Western emigration seemed given with the commencement of the seventh decade of the eighteenth century. A spirit of inquiry and enterprise was awakened in many parts of the East, and men of indomitable courage and great energy of character pushed out into the illimitable wilderness, to explore the country and find themselves homes in the outspread bosom of the great west. It was in this year that the Zanes first settled at the mouth of Wheeling creek, and the elder Tomlinson broke the silence of the wilds at Grave creek by the shrill echo of his never failing rifle. The number, however, of those who ventured to the Ohio were few, indeed. It was considered extremely unsafe for the self-protecting hunter, but would have been deemed madness to expose a family to so much hazard. Along the upper branches of the Monongahela settlements were made at several points. Of those who thus early struck for a home in the beautiful and highly fertile valleys of Western Virginia, were James Booth and John Thomas. They settled on what is now known as Booth's creek.

 

history of that State, as Tell for the many excellencies of his private and public life, as for the untimely and perfidious manner of his death. In the succeeding year Jacob Van meter, John Swan, Thomas Hughes and some others, settled on the west side of the Monongahela, near the mouth of Muddy creek, where Carmichael town now stands. In the same year, the place winch had been occupied for a while by Thomas Decker and his unfortunate associates, near where Morgantown now stands, was settled by a party of emigrants ; one of whom was David Morgan, who became so conspicuous for personal prowess, and for the daring yet deliberate courage displayed by him during the subsequent hostilities with the Indians.

 

It was in June, 1770, that Joseph Tomlinson, from near Fort Cumberland, first visited the flats of Grave creek. He has accompanied by his brother Samuel. Delighted with the beauty, extent and fertility of the bottom, he determined to fix here his abode. Building a cabin, he remained during the summer and fall, and then returned east of the mountains to remove with his family in the following spring. Increased apprehensions of Indian troubles induced him to delay the final removal until the spring of 1773. About the same time that Mr. Tomlinson first visited Grave creek, came Ebenezer Zane to Wheeling. Soon after, he was followed by his brothers, Andrew and Jonathan, with several others, from the south branch of Potomac.

 

In 1772 came Bonnet, Wetzel, Messer, Silas Zane, and many other hardy pioneers from the same region men whose means and influence contributed greatly towards breaking the power of the savage and subduing the country to the wants of civilized life. The emigrants crossed from Redstone by way of Cat-fish, (Washington,) and Scotch ridge, to the head of little Wheeling valley, thence down over the same path, afterwards taken for the National road. When within a few hundred yards of the forks of Wheeling, an incident occurred, trivial in its character, but important in its results. Wetzel was riding in advance of his company, when suddenly the girth of his saddle broke, and he was compelled to get  there to repair it.

 

Meantime Silas Zane passed on, and soon came to the forks, and greatly admiring the locality, commenced tomahawking his "right." The land thus secured, (one thousand acres,) is now one of the most valuable and highly improved farms in Western Virginia. At this point the company separated, Wetzel, Bonnet and others, going up big Wheeling, while Zane, with one or two others, went down. Other emigrants soon followed, and the fine lands along Wheeling, Buffalo and Short creeks, were not long unclaimed by actual settlers. Some of the earliest occupants of the fine creek and river bottoms above Wheeling, were George Leffler, Benjamin Biggs, Joshua Baker, Zachariah Sprigg, Andrew Swearengen, David Shepherd, the McGollogh's, Mitchells, Van Metres, Millers, Kellers, During this year (1772) many emigrants also pushed into the fine regions along the upper Monongahela. The spirit of adventure seemed aroused, and many of the sturdy settlers from the south branch found their way into the fertile Valleys of Western Virginia.

 

It was in this year, says Withers, that the comparatively beautiful region lying on the east fork of the Monongahela, between the Alleghany mountains, on its south-eastern, and the Laurel hill, or as it is there called the Rich mountain, on its north-western side, and which had received the denomination of Tygart's valley, again attracted the attention of emigrants. In the course of this year, the greater part of the valley was located, by persons said to have been enticed thither by the description given of it, by some hunters from Greenbrier who had previously explored it. Game, though a principal was not however their sole object. They possessed themselves at once of nearly all the level land lying between these mountains—a plain of 25 or 30 miles in length and varying from three-fourths to two miles in width, and of almost unsurpassed fertility. Of those who were first to occupy that section of country, we find the names of Hadden, Connely, Whiteman, Warwick, Nelson, Stalnaker, Rifile and Westfall : the latter of these found and interred the bones of Files' family, which had lain, bleaching in the sun, since the murder of these unfortunate settlers, by the Indians, in 1754. Cheat river too, on which no attempt at settlement had been made, but by the unfortunate Eckarly's became an object of attention.

 

In this year (1772) settlements were made on Simpson's creek, West-fork river, and Elk creek. Those who made the former were John Power, James Anderson and Jonas Webb. On Elk, and in the vicinity of Clarksburg, there settled Thomas Nutter, near to the Forge-mills; Samuel Cottrial, on the east side of the creek and nearly opposite to Clarksburg; Sotha Hickman, on the west side of the same creek, and above Cottrial ; Samuel Beard at the mouth of Nanny's run; Andrew Cottrial above Beard, and at the farm now owned by John W. Patten ; Daniel Davison, where Clarksburg is now situated ; and Obadiah Davison and John Nutter on the West-fork ; the former near to the old salt works, and the latter at the place now owned by Adam Hickman, Jr. There was likewise at this time, a considerable accession to the settlements on Buchanan and Hacker's creeks. So great was the increase of population in this latter neighborhood, that the crops of the preceding season did not afford more than one-third of the breadstuff, which would be ordinarily consumed in the same time, by an equal number of persons.

 

Such indeed was the state of suffering among the inhabitants, consequent on this scarcity, that 1773 is traditionally known as the starving year. These were the principal settlements made in North-Western Virginia, previous to 1774. No sooner, however, was it known that such outposts had been established on the confines of civilization, than hundreds eagerly pressed forward, impatient to join their more adventurous brethren, and all anxious to secure themselves homes in the expanseless domain stretched out before them. The same spirit actuated those hardy pioneers which has since so distinguished their descendants. That spirit, which spurning all restraints, subduing all to their will, breaking over every obstacle, has planted down the standard of liberty that standard which their fathers first raised in the valley of the Ohio, in 1774 on the shores of the distant Pacific. It Avas the true spirit of the old Anglo Saxon, bending purposes to his will; it is now the proud impulse of every American heart, and will go on to subdue other people, and conquer other territories, until the whole of the "boundless continent" of North America is ours.

 

The men who settled North-Western Virginia, knew, when they commenced it, that 'twas to " do or die." A fierce, implacable, and deadly foe met them on every hand. To succeed, required caution, energy, courage and hope. These, severally and united, they exercised, and by them conquered the savage and reclaimed the land. Many of the first settlers along the Ohio, differed somewhat from those who improved farther back. They were the same restless, energetic and enterprising people, united together by the same bonds of fraternal union, but looking for support through different channels. The fine facilities afforded by the Ohio for transporting their surplus produce to market^ rendered them more ambitious, and more anxious of promoting their pecuniary interests, than their brethren in the interior. Others, again, looking forward to the time when the Indians would be divested of the country north-west of the Ohio river, and it should be open to location in the same manner as its south-eastern shores were, selected this as a situation, from which they might more readily obtain possession of the fertile land, with which its ample plains were known to abound. In anticipation of this period, there were some who embraced every opportunity, afforded by intervals of peace with the Indians, to explore that country and select in it what they deemed its most valuable parts.

 

Around these they would generally mark trees, or otherwise define boundaries by which they could be afterwards identified. The cession by Virginia to the United States, of the north-western territory, and the manner in which its lands were subsequently brought into market, prevented the realization of those flattering, and apparently well founded expectations. There were also, in every settlement, individuals who had been drawn to them solely by their love of hunting, and an attachment to the wild, unshackled scenes of a wilderness life. These were, perhaps, totally regardless of all the inconveniencies resulting from their new situation ; except that of being occasionally pent up in forts ; and thus debarred the enjoyment of their favorite pastimes. Although hunting was not the object of most of the old settlers, yet it was for a good part of the year, the chief employment of their time. And of all those who thus made their abode in the dense forest, and tempted aggression from the neighboring Indians, none were so well qualified to resist this aggression, and to retaliate upon its authors, as those who were mostly engaged in this pursuit. Of all their avocations, this " mimickry of war " best fitted them to thwart the savages in their purpose, and to mitigate the horrors of their peculiar mode of warfare.

 

Those arts which enabled them, unperceived, to approach the watchful deer in his lair, enabled them likewise to circumvent the Indian in his ambush ; and if not always punish, yet frequently defeat him in his object. Add to this the perfect knowledge which they acquired of the woods, and the ease and certainty with which they consequently, when occasion required, could make their way to any point of the settlements and apprize the inhabitants of approaching danger and it readily admitted that the more expert and successful the huntsman, the more skilful and effective the warrior. But various as may have been their objects in emigrating, no sooner had they come together, than there existed in each settlement, a perfect unison of feeling. Similitude of situation and community of danger, operating as a magic charm, stifled in their birth those little bickering, which are so apt to disturb the quiet of society. Ambition of preferment and the pride of place, too often hindrances to social intercourse, were unknown among them. Equality of condition rendered them strangers, alike to the baneful distinctions created by wealth and other adventitious circumstances. A sense of mutual dependence for their common security linked them in amity; and conducting their several purposes in harmonious concert, together they toiled and together suffered.

 

In their intercourse with others they were kind, beneficent and disinterested; extending to all the most generous hospitality which their circumstances could afford. That selfishness, which prompts to liberality for the sake of remuneration, and proffers the civilities of life with an eye to individual interest, was unknown to them. They were kind for kindness sake; and sought no other recompense, than the never failing concomitant of good deeds the reward of an approving conscience. Such were the pioneers of the West ; and the greater part of mankind might now derive advantage from the contemplation of "their humble virtues, hospitable homes and spirits patient, noble, proud and free their self-respect, grafted on innocent thoughts; their days of health and nights of sleep their toils, by danger dignified, yet guiltless their hopes of cheerful old age and a quiet grave, with cross and garland over its green turf, and their grandchildren's love for epitaph.

 

It represents the sturdy pioneer in his true character and could only be drawn by one who was an eye-witness to the scenes he so aptly, tersely and touchingly describes. Although a dark cloud hung upon the horizon, and fear trembled upon the heart of the pioneer as he looked tenderly devotedly and class knowing at what moment the shaft of the destroyer might fall upon him, yet all was joy and happiness within. Content smiled upon his humble home. Sunshine was all around him, on the earth, in the sky, and beaming from the faces of little innocents who looked into his own, smilingly, touchingly, affectionately Such was the Western Pioneer. How many are there not in the haunts of civilized life, who would gladly exchange their condition for that of the rude frontiersman At the time of the formation of these settlements, all was comparative peace with the Indians. But the restless and reckless character of some who had come out, not for the purpose of opening up the country, but to depredate upon the Indians, soon made it manifest that the reign of peace would be short, as the Indians had threatened retaliation, unless the wrongs which they daily received should cease.

 

Many little stockade forts had sprung up at different points on the Ohio and elsewhere, previous to 1774, which seemed to inspire confidence, and induce settlers to come on Up to the spring of 1774, the tide of emigration flowed very steadily into this part of Virginia. But the atrocious murders committed near the mouth of Yellow creek, and at Captina, stirred the Indians up to vengeance, and for a long time checked the advancing footsteps of civilization. The great object with all who emigrated hither was land. It could then be obtained literally, "for taking up." Erecting a cabin and raising a crop, entitled any one to a settler's right of four hundred acres, with a pre-emption claim to one thousand more, to be secured by a land-office warrant. These certainly were great inducements, and the lands thus obtained became princely fortunes to the descendants of the primitive settler.

 

Most of the early settlers in this part of North-western Virginia were from the upper counties of Virginia and Maryland. Many of them were men who had seen service, and been inured to the hardships of frontier life. They brought with them but little, as their removal had to be effected entirely on horseback. They were generally persons of staid habits and sterling worth; possessed of great energy of character and incorruptible patriotism. As a description of the habits, customs, mode of living, of the primitive settler may not be uninteresting to their descendants as well as the general reader, we will give from Dr. Doddridge's unpretending little volume a short account of some of these interesting features of pioneer life. The writer having been an eye-witness as well as an actor in most of the scenes he so aptly and graphically portrays, we doubt not he has drawn a faithful picture, and one which every old pioneer will be able to recognize. Only one who had been an eye-witness to such scenes, or derived them directly from the pioneer fathers, could properly describe them.

 

 

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