Edgar Woods.

Albemarle County in Virginia; giving some account of what it was by nature, of what it was made by man, and of some of the men who made it online

. (page 1 of 35)
Online LibraryEdgar WoodsAlbemarle County in Virginia; giving some account of what it was by nature, of what it was made by man, and of some of the men who made it → online text (page 1 of 35)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook



3 3433 0819


\ T


■v^. '.•



Giving some account of AvKat it was
by nature, of wHat it was made by
man, and of some of tbe men w^Ho
made it.

By Rev. Edgar Woods



* ;•• •
- • • • • • • •

" It is a solemn and toucHin^ reflection, perpetually recurring,
o^ tWe -weaKness and insignificance of man, that -while his
generations pass a-way into oblivion, -with all their toils and
ambitions, nature holds on her unvarying course, and pours
out her streams and rene-ws her forests -with undecaying
activity, regardless of the fate of her proud and perishable
Sovereign.*'— Jeffrey.





Copyright 1901 by Edgar Woods.


The Michie Compant, Printers,

Charlottesville, Va.



An examination of the records of the county for some in-
formation, awakened curiosity in regard to its early settle-
ment, and gradually led to a more extensive search. The
fruits of this labor, it was thought, might be worthy of notice,
and productive of pleasure, on a wider scale.

There is a strong desire in most men to know who were
their forefathers, whence they came, where they lived, and
how they were occupied during their earthly sojourn. This
desire is natural, apart from the requirements of business, or
the promptings of vanity. The same inquisitiveness is felt
in regard lo places. Who first entered the farms that checker
the surrounding landscape, cut down the forests that once
covered it, and built the habitations scattered over its bosom?
With the young, who are absorbed in the engagements of
the present and the hopes of the future, this feeling may not act
with much energy ; but as they advance in life, their thoughts
turn back with growing persistency to the past, and they
begin to start questions which perhaps there is no means of
answering. How many there are who long to ascertain the
name of some ancestor, or some family connection, but the
only person in whose breast the coveted knowledge was
lodged, has gone beyond the reach of all inquiry. How many
interesting facts of personal or domestic concern could have
been communicated by a parent or grandparent, but their
story not being told at the opportune season, they have gone
down irrecoverably in the gulf of oblivion.

Public affairs are abundant y recorded. Not only are they
set forth in the countless journals of the day, but scores of
ready pens are waiting to embody them in more permanent
form in histories of our own times. Private events— those
connected with individuals and families— are less frequently
committed to writing. They may descend by tradition
through one or two generations, and then perish forever


from the memory of mankind. Some general facts may be
found in local records ; but memorials of this kind are dry
and monotonous in their nature, and never resorted to by
ordinary readers. Their contents are soon lost sight of
except by the antiquarian, or by those who are compelled
by professional duty to unearth them from the forgotten past.

Such considerations induced the collection of the facts
compiled in this volume. They were taken mainly from the
county archives ; in cases where they were derived from tradi-
tion, or where suggestions were made from conjecture, it is
generally so stated. Except in a few particulars, the narra-
tive was not designed to extend to the present generation.

Some matters that may be of interest to many, may be
found in the appendix. To some now living in the county,
and to others descended from those who once lived in it, the
long list of names therein inscribed may show in some meas-
ure how their ancestors were employed, whither their wander-
ings led, or at what time they passed away from the present
scene of action.

July 1st, 1900.


The settlement of Virginia was a slow and gradual pro-
cess. Plantations were for the most part opened on the
water courses, extending along the banks of the James, and
on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
It was more than a century after the landing at Jamestown
before white men made the passage of the Blue Ridge. As
soon as that event was noised abroad, it was speedily fol-
lowed up, and in the space of the next twenty years the tide
of population had touched the interior portions of the colony,
one stream pushing westward from the sea coast, and
another rolling up the Shenandoah Valley from the wilds of

Besides the restless spirit animating the first settlers, the
occupation of the country was hastened by the rage for spec-
ulation. The laws of the colony allotted fifty acres for
every person transported into its territory; and men of
wealth, in addition to availing themselves of this provision,
largely invested their means in the purchase of land. While
the wilderness was thus peopled, the institutions of civil
government did not linger far behind. As growing numbers
reached the frontiers, and were removed a great distance
from the seats of justice and trade, these necessities of
civilized life were soon established. One by one, the older
counties were cut in two, the limits of the new ones stretch-
ing westward as far as the limits of the colony itself. Those
recently formed were at first represented by public buildings
made of logs, and by the scattered clearings and cabins of
the pioneers ; but men of knowledge and experience were
always at hand to hold the reins of government and admin-
ister the laws. At once the courthouse was erected, and the
power of the magistrate exerted to preserve peace and order
in the community.

The county of Goochland was formed in 1727, a little
more than ten years after Gov. Spotswood's expedition to
the Blue Ridge. The first settlements within the present


bounds of Albemarle were made v/hile they were still parts
of that county and Hanover. They ascended the courses
of the South Anna, the James, the Rivanna and the Hard-
ware, and were met by others proceeding from the foot of
the Blue Ridge, and planted by immigrants who had come
up the Valley, and crossed that mountain at Woods' Gap.

The first patents were taken out on June 16, 1727. On
that day George Hoomes obtained a grant of thirty-one
hundred acres "on the far side of the mountains called Ches-
nut, and said to be on the line between Hanover and Spot-
sylvania," and Nicholas Meriwether a grant of thirteen
thousand seven hundred and sixty-two acres "at the first
ledge of mountains called Chesnut," and said to be on the
same line. That was the first appropriation of the virgin
soil of Albemarle, as it is at present. These locations
occurred in the line of the South Anna River, up which the
increasing population had been slowly creeping for a number
of years. The patent to Nicholas Meriwether included the
present seat of Castle Hill, and the boundaries of the Grant,
as it was termed by way of eminence, were marks of great
notoriety to surveyors, and others interested in the descrip-
tion of adjacent lands, for a long period afterwards.

The next patent for twenty-six hundred acres was obtained
nearly two years later by Dr. George Nicholas. This land
was situated on James River, and included the present village
of Warren. In the year following, 1730, five additional
patents were issued : one to Allen Howard for four hundred
acres on James River, on both sides of the Rockfish at its
mouth ; one to Thomas Carr for twenty-eight hundred acres
on the Rivanna at the junction of its forks, and up along the
north fork ; one to Charles Hudson for two thousand acres
on both sides of the Hardware, the beginning evidently of
the Hudson plantations below Carter's Bridge; one to
Secretary John Carter for nine thousand three hundred and
fifty acres "on the Great Mountain on Hardware in the fork
of the James," and to this day called Carter's Mountain ;
and one to Francis Eppes, the grandfather of Mr. Jefferson's
son-in-law of the same name, for six thousand four hundred


acres "on the branches of the Hardware, Rockfish, and
other branches of the James" — one of the branches of Hard-
ware being still known as Eppes Creek. The same year
Nicholas Meriwether located four thousand one hundred and
ninety acres more, adjoining his former tract, and running
over the South West Mountain on Turkey Run, taking out
an inclusive patent for seventeen thousand nine hundred and
fifty-two acres in one body. From the recital of this patent,
it appears that Christopher Clark was associated in the first
grant, although it was made out to Nicholas Meriwether

In 1731 only three patents were obtained within the present
county : one by Charles Lewis for twelve hundred acres on
both sides of the Rivanna, at the mouth of Buck Island
Creek; one by Charles Hudson for five hundred and forty
acres on the west side of Carter's Mountain ; and one by
Major Thomas Carr for two thousand acres "on the back
side of the Chesnut Mountains." Several other patents were
taken out the same year along the Rivanna within the present
limits of Fluvanna County, one of which was by Martin
King, whose name is still kept in remembrance in connection
with the road which runs from Woodridge to the Union
Mills, where was a ford also called by his name.

In 1732 were made eight grants, still confined to the James
River, and the western base of the South West Mountain.
One of these was made to Thomas Goolsby for twelve hun-
dred acres "on the north side of the Fluvanna," that is, the
James; another in the same region to Edward Scott for five
hundred and fifty acres "at a place called Totier;" another
for four hundred acres to John Key, the head of a family
which subsequently owned all the land between the South
West Mountain and the river from Edgemont to the bend
below the Free Bridge ; and another to Dr. Arthur Hopkins
for four hundred acres "on the south side of the Rivanna,
running to the mouth of a creek below Red Bank Falls,
called Ivcwis' Creek." This last entry included the site of
the future town of Milton,

Only four patents were taken out in 1733. None of them


reached further west than the west bank of the Rivanna under
the shadow of the South West Mountain. One was obtained
by Charles I^ynch for eight hundred acres, which extended up
the Rivanna from the mouth of Moore's Creek, and included
the plantation of Pen Park.

In 1734 thirteen grants were made. These were mainly
located near the bases of the South West Mountain on the
Rivanna and Mechunk. One was obtained by Henry Wood,
the first clerk of Goochland, and great grandfather of V. W.
Southall, for two hundred acres on the south side of the
Rivanna at the mouth of Buck Island Creek, increased subse-
quently to nearly three thousand in different tracts ; and
another by Edwin Hickman, Joseph Smith, Thomas Graves
and Jonathan Clark for three thousand two hundred and sev-
enty-seven acres on the north side of the Rivanna, running
down from Captain MacMurdo's place and embracing the
estates of Pantops and Lego. Another formed a notable
exception to what had hitherto been the rule. It was the
first to leave the streams, and strike out towards the middle
of the county. It was obtained by Joel Terrell and David
Lewis for twenty -three hundred acres, and shortly after for
seven hundred more, lying on both sides of the Three Notched
Road and extending from Lewis's Mountain, which it in-
cluded, to a point near the D. S. The Birdwood plantation
was comprehended in this tract.

From this time the county was settled with greater rapid-
ity. Most of the entries thus far noted were made in large
quantities, and by wealthy men for the purpose of specula-
tion. Few of those who have been mentioned occupied their
lands, at least in the first instance. They made the clearings
and entered upon the cultivation which the law required in
order to perfect their titles, but it was done either by tenants,
or by their own servants, whom they established in "quar-
ters." Now, however, a new order of things began. Grants
were more frequently obtained in smaller amounts by persons
who left the older districts with the design of permanently
residing in the new country. Accordingly in 1735 the num-
ber of patents rose to twenty-nine. Not that this number


was constantly maintained ; in some years, on the contrary,
it greatly diminished. The population of the colony was yet
comparatively sparse. The whole Piedmont region, and the
fertile plains of the Valley were simultaneously opened, and
held out strong inducements to settlers; and at the same
time, inviting sections in the western portions of North and
South Carolina were presented in glowing colors before the
public eye, and soon drew largely on the multitudes given to
change. Still the county steadily filled up. Patents were
taken out this year on Green Creek in its southern part, on
the south fork of Hardware near the Cove, on the south fork
of the Rivanna, on Meadow Creek, on Ivy Creek, and on
Priddy's and Buck Mountain Creeks in the north. Among
the patentees were John Henryj father of the famous orator,
to whom were granted twelve hundred and fifty acres situated
on tributaries of the south fork of the Rivanna called Henry,
Naked and Fishing Creeks, the same land afterwards owned
by the Michies southwest of Earlysville; William Randolph,
who was granted twenty-four hundred acres on the north side
of the Rivanna and Mountain Falls Creek, including the
present Shadwell and Edge Hill ; Nicholas Meriwether, who
was granted a thousand and twenty acres west of the
Rivanna, embracing the plantation known as the Farm;
Peter Jefferson, who was granted a thousand acres on the
south side of the Rivanna, including Tufton; Abraham
Lewis, who was granted eight hundred acres on the east side
of Lewis's Mountain, then called Piney Mountain, including
the present lands of the University ; Thomas Moorman, who
was granted six hundred and fifty acres, extending from the
branches of Meadow Creek to the south fork of the Rivanna,
"including the Indian Grave low grounds ;" Michael Hol-
land, who was granted four thousand seven hundred and
fifty-three acres on both sides of Ivy Creek, including the
prsent Farmington estate; and Charles Hudson, who was
granted two thousand acres on Ivy Creek adjoining the
Holland tract, and lying southwest of Ivy Depot.

In 1736 Robert Lewis obtained a patent for four thousand
and thirty acres on the north fork of Hardware in the North


Nineteen patents were taken out in 1737. Michael Woods,
his son Archibald, and his son-in-law, William Wallace,
secured grants for more than thirteen hundred acres on
I^ickinghole, Mechum's River and Beaver Creek, embracing
the present M .'churn's Depot and Blair Park. The same day
Michael Wo is purchased the two thousand acre patent of
Charles Hudson on Ivy Creek. These transactions took
place at Goochland C. H., or more likely at Williamsburg;
and this fact lends probability to the tradition that the Woods
settlement occurred at the mouth of Woods's Gap in 1734,
Crossing from the Valley into an unbroken forest, as Michael
Woods did, it is almost certain that he made a clearing and
built a cabin, and thus established his right to the estate the
law gave, before he set himself to acquire a knowledge of the
surrounding country and its owners, and to make large pur-
chases. The axe had commenced to resound atbidst the
deep solitudes at the foot of the Blue Ridge, while yet no
white settler had gone beyond the Rivanna at the South
West Mountain. The same year, 1737, Henry Terrell, of
Caroline, obtained a grant of seventeen hundred and fifty
acres on the head waters of Mechums, including the present
village of Batesville. As a suggestion of special interest, it
may be mentioned that in October of that year a William
Taylor patented twelve hundred acres lying on both sides of
Moore's Creek. It can scarcely be questioned, that this was
the tract of land which in process of time passed into the
hands of Colonel Richard Randolph, which was sold by him to
the county, and on which was laid out in 1762 the new
county seat of Charlottesville.

It was not until 1739 that the first patent was located on
Moorman's River. David Mills was by that instrument of
writing granted twenty eight-hundred and fifty acres on its
north fork. Two years later Dennis Doyle obtained the grant
of eight hundred acres on the same stream, and from him
was derived the name it has borne ever since. The same
year, 1741, Thomas Moorman patented seven hundred and
fifty acres lower down the main river, and as often as men
now speak of it, they perpetuate the memory of his name.


All sections of the county had at that time been occupied in
some degree, and the work of laying claim to its unappropri-
ated lands constantly progressed from year to year. As
late however as 1796, Matthew Gambell procured the grant
of twenty five thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight acres
lying in Albemarle, Orange and Rockingham Counties near
Seamond's Gap; and still later in 1798, John Davidson,
who subsequently removed to Hardin County, Ky., took out
a patent for eighteen hundred and seventy-seven acres on
Buck's Elbow.

Reference has been made to the entry of bodies of land
extending over a wide area. It may be further stated, that
Major Thomas Carr patented altogether upwards of five
thousand acres; George Webb, of Charles City, in 1737
upwards of seven thousand, near a mountain north of Ear-
lysville still called by his name; Secretary John Carter in
1738, ten thousand within the present limits of Amherst;
John Chiswell in 1739, nearly thirty thousand on Rockfish
River, mainly within the present bounds of Nelson; William
Robertson in 1739, more than six thousand on Naked and
Buck Mountain Creeks; Robert I^ewis in 1740, more than
six thousand on Ivy Creek; Ambrose Joshua Smith in 1741,
more than four thousand on Priddy 's Creek ; Samuel Garlick,
of Caroline, in 1741 and 1746, thirty-six hundred on Buck
Mountain Creek ; Rev. Robert Rose in 1744, more than thirty-
three thousand within the present counties of Amherst and
Nelson; Rev. William Stith, President of William and
Mary, from 1740 to 1755, nearly three thousand, and Dr.
Arthur Hopkins in 1748 and 1765, nearly four thousand,
on Totier and Ballenger's Creeks; and Allen Howard in
1742, more than two thousand on the lower waters of Rock-

Mr. Jefferson, in a brief sketch of his family, wrote of his
father, "He was the third or fourth settler, about the year
1737, of the part of the county in which I live."

The act establishing the county of Albemarle was passed
by the Legislature in September, 1744. It ordained its
existence to begin from the first of January, 1745; and the


reason alleged for its formation was the "divers inconven-
iences attending the upper inhabitants of Goochland by rea-
son of their great distance from the courthouse, and other
places usually appointed for public meetings." The dividing
lines were directed to run from the point of fork of James
River — that is, from the mouth of the Rivanna, where Col-
umbia now stands — north thirty degrees east to the Louisa
line, and from the same point a direct course to Brook's
Mill, and thence the same course continued to the Appomat-
tox River. These boundaries embraced the county of Buck-
ingham, parts of Appomattox and Campbell, and the
counties of Amherst, Nelson and Fluvanna, the Blue Ridge
being the western line. That portion of the present county
north of a line running past the mouth of Ivy Creek with the
course of north sixty -five degrees west, remained in I^ouisa
for sixteen years longer.

In accordance with a custom already begun of commemo-
rating the governors of the Commonwealth, the name of
Albemarle was given to the new county, from the title of
William Anne Keppel, second Earl of Albemarle, at that
time Governor General of the colony.

The organization took place the fourth Thursday of Feb-
ruary, 1745, doubtless on the plantation of Mrs. Scott, near
the present Scottsville, where the next court was directed to
be held. The commission of the first magistrates was dated
the second of the preceding January. Those present were
Joshua Fry, Peter Jefferson, Allen Howard, William Cabell,
Joseph Thompson and Thomas Ballon. Howard and Cabell
administered the oaths to Fry and Jefferson, and they in
turn to the others. The oaths taken were those of a Justice
of the Peace, and of a Judge of a Court of Chancery, and tlie
Abjuration and Test oaths were subscribed, — the former
renouncing allegiance to the House of Stuart, and the latter
affirming the receiving of the sacrament according to the
rites of the Church of England. William Randolph was
appointed Clerk by a commission from Thomas Nelson,
Secretary of the Council, and Joseph Thompson, Sheriff,
Joshua Fry, Surve3^or, and Edmund Gray, King's Attorney^


by commissions from William Gooch, the Governor ; and all
were sworn in. Patrick Napier and Castleton Harper were
made Deputy Sheriffs, and Benjamin Harris, Deputy Clerk,
the following May. As appears from the Deed Books, John
Fleming was also Deputy Clerk. Thomas Turpin was
appointed Assistant Surveyor, and John Hunter, Adrian
Angle, John Hilton, John Harris, Robert White and Abra-
ham Childress, Constables. The civil offices being filled,
the military side of the organization was duly constituted.
Joshua Fry received the appointment of Lieutenant of the
county, Peter Jefferson of Lieutenant Colonel, and Allen
Howard of Major. William Cabell, Joseph Thompson,
Charles Lynch, Thomas Ballou, David Lewis, James Daniel,
James Nevel, and James Martin were sworn as Captains.
Charles Lynch, Edwin Hickman and James Daniel having
been named magistrates, were subsequently inducted into
office by taking the oaths. Of these officers, Jefferson,
Howard, Cabell and Lynch had already been magistrates,
and Jefferson had also acted as Sheriff, in Goochland. The
William Randolph, who was the first Clerk, was unquestion-
ably Colonel William Randolph, of Tuckahoe, who had
some years before entered the tract of land known as Edge

The original attorneys who practiced in the courts of the
county, were Edmund Gray, Gideon Marr, William Bat-
tersby — whose daughter Jane, the wife of Giles AUegre, was
the mother-in-law of the eminent statesman and financier,
Albert Gallatin — James Meredith, Clement Read and John
Harvie. All except Harvie, and probably Meredith, resided
on the south side of James River.

The routine of public business was at once begun and
prosecuted with stated regularity. The location of the court-
house was a matter of deep interest. It was a conceded
point that it should be fixed on James River. Jefferson,
Howard, Lynch and Ballou were appointed to view the river
and make a report; and as the result, Samuel Scott, son of
Edward, agreed with proper security to erect at his own cost
a courthouse, prison, stocks and pillory, as good as those


of Goochland, the site to be selected b}^ the Court, provided
it was placed on his land. The site actually chosen was on
the plantation of his brother Daniel, and is still pointed
out about a mile west of Scottsville and a quarter of a mile
north of the river bank.

During the next three years a number of ordinaries were
licensed — Giles Allegre, to keep one on Mechunk ; Daniel
Scott and John I^ewis each, one at the courthouse; Wil-
liam Battersby, opposite the courthouse; John Anthony,
in the Glendower section; James Fenly, Isaac Bates and
Gideon Marr, in Buckingham ; William Morrison, In the
Rockfish Valley ; Charles Bond, on Briery Creek, a branch
of the lower Hardware; Joseph Thompson, in the vicinity
of Palmyra; Hugh McGarrough, not far from Afton, and
John Hays, probably in the same neighborhood; and Wil-
liam Cabell, at his ferry at Warminster, Daniel Scott was
licensed to establish a ferry from the courthouse landing
to the opposite side of the river, and William Battersby, one
from his land to the mouth of Totier Creek on Daniel Scott's

The roads received much attention. At that time they
were not so much to be worked, as to be opened and cleared ;
and permission to this end was readily granted under the

Online LibraryEdgar WoodsAlbemarle County in Virginia; giving some account of what it was by nature, of what it was made by man, and of some of the men who made it → online text (page 1 of 35)