Oren Frederic Morton.

Annals of Bath County, Virginia online

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Author of

'Under the Cottonwoods, " "Winning or Losing?" "Land
of the Laurel," "The Story of Daniel Boone," "A
Practical History of Music," "History of Pendle-
ton County, W. Va. ," "History of Preston
County, W. Va. ," "History of Monroe
County, W. Va.," "History of
Highland County, Virginia."


Staunton, Virginia

The McClure Co., Inc.

19 17

Copyright, 1918

By The McClure Co., Inc.

All Rights Reserved


Chapter Page

Introduction v

1 . Geography of Bath 1

II. Discovery and Settlement 10

III. The Lewis Land Grant 22

IV. Areas of Settlement 36

V. The Mineral Springs 42

VI. Early Political History 51

VII. Roads and Road Builders 56

VIII. Life in the Pioneer Days 62

IX. Ten years of Indian Wars 79

X. The Point Pleasant Campaign 88

XI. Bath During the Revolution 94

XII. Selim the Algerine ._ 101

XIII. Efforts Tow^ard a New^ County 104

XIV. Organization of Bath 107

XV. The Surnames of Bath Ill

XVI. A List of Early Marriages 127

XVII. Seventy Years of Bath History 134

XVIII. Bath in the War of 1861 143

XIX. The Bath Squadron 146

XX. Roster of Confederate Soldiers 152

XXI. Cloverdale 162

XXII. The Calfpasture Valley 167

XXin. The Bath of Today 172

XXIV. Alleghany Count>' 176

XXV. The Families of Greater Bath 186-




|ATH has a small number of people, and a considerable
share of this small number is a new element. To many
individuals of the latter class a history of the county will
appeal very little. And since the circulation of such a
book must necessarily be small, the price of a full and comprehensive
history would unavoidably be so high as to be prohibitive to persons
of small means. The choice before us was whether to bring out a
very small edition of a very high priced book, or a larger edition of a
comparatively low priced book. If the second choice were taken,
only a small volume was possible. And if the volume were to be
small, it was clearly out of the question to cover as much ground as is
attempted in a local history of comprehensive scope.

For the above reasons we confine ourselves to a presentation of
the more striking and important features in the story of this county.
But while this was the only course possible, we have sought to treat
these features with all the fullness the limits of the book would per-
mit. And since the present volume is a county history in a somewhat
abbreviated form, we entitle it "The Annals of Bath," rather than "A
History of Bath."

Owing to the necessary limitation in space, it has been impossible
to give genealogic records of the old families of the county. A partial
account is all the size of the book will permit. Yet this account
would cover more pages, if there had been a more general response to
our requests for information. What was not furnished to us we could
not put in, and w^e disclaim all responsibility for its non-appearance.

But if, in a commercial sense, this county seemed only a moderate-
ly promising field for a local history, it remains very true that Bath
is one of the best known counties of the Old Dominion. It is one of
the older counties in the Alleghany belt, and it lies on a natural high-
way of travel and commerce. The story of its evolution is one of much

The present work was begun in the fall of 1912. Joseph T. Mc-
Allister, of Hot Springs, had for a long while been collecting material
for a history of the county. But his favorable opinion of the author's

History of Highland County led him to invite the undersigned to his
home, so as to use his collection and write the history himself. The
original manuscript was completed the next July at the house of
George W. Wallace on the Cowpasture. Publication being much
delayed, and the author coming into possession of new and valuable
information, a new and enlarged manuscript has been prepared.

The question of writing a history of Alleghany County was dis-
cussed with several friends, and was decided to be unpromising in a
commercial aspect. But with a view of supplying the lack in a par-
tial way, a special chapter has been added to the new manuscript.

Illustrations were repeatedly solicited, and would have added to
the interest and attractiveness of the book. But as only one was
offered, it has been decided to issue the book without any. This
will explain the non-appearance of the cut spoken of on page 72.

The most sincere thanks of the author are extended to all persons
who have in any way contributed to the success of this enterprise. In
particular, he makes warm and grateful acknowledgment to Joseph
T. McAllister, George W. Wallace, and Houston H. Byrd for their
very substantial assistance, and to Boutwell Dunlap, of San Francis-
co, for valuable data relating to several of the early families. Mr.
Dunlap is not only a historian of repute, but is a descendant of Cap-
tain Alexander Dunlap, the earliest settler on the Calfpasture.

Oren F. Morton.
Staunton, Va., August 22, 1917.




N ALL the states of the American Union there are but two
counties named Bath. One is in Virginia and the other
is in the daughter state of Kentucky. The older of
these came into actual existence May 1, 1791. It was
then larger than any present county in either of the Virginias. It is
still larger than the average of the 155 counties in the two states.

Until West Virginia became a fact, Bath lay near the center of
the Old Dominion. It now lies against the western border of the
parent state. Near its southwestern angle it is crossed by the thirty-
eighth parallel of north latitude and also by the third meridian west
from Washington. In outline the county is a fairly regular quadran-
gle, the four corners pointing very nearly north, east, south, and west.
Between the northern and southern corners the diagonal distance is
27 miles, and between the eastern and western corners the distance is
30 miles. The area is placed at 548 square miles, or 352,720 acres.
The airline distance from the county seat to the state capital is 135
miles, the direction being a little south of east. The city of Washing-
ton is 160 miles away, the direction being northeast.

The western boundary of Bath is the central ridge of the Appa-
lachians, sometimes called the Alleghany Front. It divides the wa-
ters coursing toward the Atlantic from those running toward the
Mississippi. This massive uplft is a natural boundary. On the
eastern side of the county, Walker's Mountain, Sideling Hill, and
Mill Mountain take turns in forming the border line. These three
elevations run almost precisely in the same direction. From the top
of Walter's Mountain the line leaps squarely across a very narrow
valley to the top of Sideling Hill. Four miles southward it passes
with equal abruptness across a still narrower valley to the summit of
Mill Mountain. And yet this complex eastern border opens to the
base line only at the one point where Panther Gap provides an easy
passage for a railroad and an outlet for the waters of Mill Creek.


On the other hand the northern and southern county lines are entirely
artificial. Bath is simply a cross-section of the great valley which
extends nearly all the way from New River to the Potomac. The
bordering counties are Highland, Augusta, Rockbridge, Alleghany,
Greenbrier, and Pocahontas, the last two lying in West Virginia.

The Alleghany Front is lofty throughout, reaching in Paddy
Knob at the northern corner of Bath an altitude of 4500 feet. With-
in the county the most distinctive uplift is the divide running length-
wise through the center, separating Bath into two principal divisions.
For more than half the way this divide is Warm Springs Mountain,
which enters from the south and terminates near Burnsville. Jack
Mountain enters from the north and runs a little past the other ridge,
the distance from crest to crest being one mile. From Duncan's Knob,
Jack Mountain drops quite suddenly into the lower continuation
known as Wilson's Mountain. From the same knob a saddle reaches
across to Warm Springs Mountain and thus preserves a continuity of
watershed in the central divide. Near the center of the county Warm
Springs Mountain forks, the western and lower arm, known as Val-
ley Mountain, running nearly parallel with the eastern, at a distance
from summit to summit of two miles, and passing into Alleghany
county. The portion lying in Bath is pierced by no fewer than six

Midway between the Alleghany Front and the central divide
is a very conspicuous elevation, which to the north of the place where
it opens to give passage to Back Creek, is styled Back Creek Moun-
tain. Southward, it is known as Bollar Mountain. Westward of
this ridge is Little Mountain, separating the valley of Little Back
Creek from that of Back Creek proper. Eastward are Rocky Ridge,
Warwick's Mountain, and Callison Ridge, A little east of Warm
Springs Mountain is Tower Hill, a continuation of the Bullpasture
Mountain of Highland. From the Bullpasture gap on the county
line it runs 10 miles southward to a bend in Dry Run. Southward
from Thompson's Creek to the line of Alleghany County, the space
for five miles east of the crest of Warm Springs Mountain is
crowded with a succession of much lower uplifts. Beard's Moun-
tain, the outermost and highest of these, lies in the same axis with
Shenandoah Mountain, though separated from it by a long depres-
sion. Shenandoah Mountain, after holding for 60 miles an imposing


height and breadth, breaks down very abruptly after penetrating
Bath only six miles. The Sister Knobs mark the forked southern end.
Southward are hill-ridges walling in the basin of Stuart's Creek.
Near Millboro Springs begins the higher and ragged uplift of Rough
Mountain, which terminates all at once in Griffith Knob at a bend
of the Cowpasture on the Alleghany line.

Bath is in fact mainly occupied with mountain ridges, which
vary a good deal in heighth, length and contour. To a person follow-
ing any of the larger watercourses, the river-valley often appears nar-
rower than is truly the case, because of foothill ridges rising sharply
from the edge of the bottom land. Sometimes, as on the upper Cow-
pasture, these heavy bluffs present toward the river abrupt faces of dry,
slaty soil, supporting a thin growth of small pines and a little hard-
wood underbrush.

As is generally the case in Appalachian America, the mountains
of Bath occur in long ridges and present outlines of much grace and
symmetry. This is particularly true of Walker's Mountain, the
skyline of which is almost as horizontal as a house roof. Rough
Mountain is quite exceptional in this respect.

The tendency of the Appalachian ridges to run out, or to be in-
terrupted by watergaps, is of much practical importance. Routes of
travel were thereby suggested to the white pioneers and to the In-
dians before them. The breaking down of Shenandoah Mountain
offers a line of easy approach from the Valley of Virginia to the Cow-
pasture at Fort Lewis. Panther Gap and the pass at Griffith Knob
presented lines of approach to the settlers who occupied Stuart's
Creek and the lower Cowpasture. From the Cowpasture, Thomp-
son's Creek opens a way through a succession of minor ridges to the
very foot of Warm Springs Mountain. A depression in the skyline
of the latter indicated to the early comers the most advantageous place
for crossing that barrier. Then again, the gaps in Valley Mountain
offered a choice of routes into the lower lying valley of Jackson's
River. In short, physical geography has placed Bath on a through
line of travel between the East and the West.

The uplift in the center of the county divides Bath into the two
main valleys of Jackson's River and the Cowpasture. The more im-
portant sub-valleys of the western division are Warm Springs valley
and the valleys of Big and Little Back Creeks. Those of the eastern


division are Dr}- Run, Stuart's Creek, Porter's Mill Creek, and
Padd's Creek. In addition to these is the basin of Mill Creek, which
drains into the Calfpasture and not into the Cowpasture.

Jackson's River has a course of some 20 miles before touching
Bath, and enters this county as a considerable stream. Within Bath
it is swollen by Muddy Run, Chimney Run, Warm Springs Run, and
Cedar Creek, but most of all by Back Creek. To the point of junc-
tion, Back Creek has pursued quite as long a course as the main
stream itself but through a narrower valley.

A half mile south of the Highland boundary the Cowpasture is
joined by the BuUpasture, which is the longer and larger of the two
streams, and is even larger than Jackson's River at the county line.
The united waters also pursue a longer course within the confines of
Bath. But after passing into Alleghany, and at length reaching the
point a little below Clifton Forge where it is joined by the Cowpas-
ture, Jackson's River gains upon its companion both in length and
volume. It is therefore regarded as the head branch of the James,
which is the title the waters assume below the confluence. In colonial
days this section of the James was known as the Fluvanna. The
chief tributaries of the Cowpasture are the five mentioned in a preced-
ing paragraph. None of these, except Stuart's Creek, is ordinarily of
much size. Dry Run is so named because in its lower course there is
no visible water except in a wet season.

The running waters of Bath are nearly always rapid as well as
clear. In the sandstone areas are excellent springs of cool freestone
water. The caverns which underlie the limestone belts attract the
rainfall into underground channels. Near the base level of the val-
leys in which these belts occur, the waters reappear as powerful, never-
failing springs. Except in times of flood, fordable places occur in all
the rivers, although bridges sometimes obviate the need of taking the
rocky bed.

Rock formations are called stratified, when they are due to the
marl, sand, clay, or gravel which has been deposited by water, es-
pecially that of tidal streams. Because of the pressure of newer de-
posits above, these soft materials finally solidify into hard rock. The
internal heat of the earth assists in this process, and when intense it
works a change in structure, causing the rock to be of the kind known
as metamorphic. Of this latter nature is the flinty sandstone, layers


of which, bent into an almost vertical position, may be seen in some
of the watergaps. The stratified rocks of Bath are among the oldest
known to geology. On the eastern and western borders they are of
the Devonian series. There are also small areas of these in the in-
tervening ridges. Elsewhere, the greater portion of the county is
covered by the older Silurian series. Older yet is the narrow rim of
Ordovician rocks in the Warm Springs valley. This rim incloses a
large, oval-shaped area of the yet older Cambro-Ordovician rocks.
Since all these formations are older than the Carboniferous beds, it
is scarcely worth while to look for coal, unless on the extreme western
border. But the deposits of iron ore and building stones are of much
extent and value, although as yet undeveloped. There is also some

Layers of hard sandstone form the cores of the steeper ridges and
tell us why these mountains exist. They protect the adjacent softer
layers, which are more susceptible to wear and tear. It is mainly in
the valleys and on the broad-topped elevations that we find the flaky
slates and the limestones. The former blister from the action of
frost and sun. The latter dissolve under the honeycombing effect of
rainwater charged with carbonic and vegetable acids. Caverns, which
are underground waterways, are thus eaten into the limestone beds,
the presence of which is shown by the sinkholes on the surface above.
But the limestone areas in Bath are not extensive. They occur chief-
ly in the Warm Springs valley and around Burnsville. Shale, more
commonly termed slate, is a characteristic feature of the sterile bluffs
which sometimes hem in the fertile bottoms of alluvial origin.

The soils of Bath differ very much in quality. First in value is
the deep, dark loam of the river bottoms. The soil of the limestone
belts is likewise superor and is particularly suited to grass. Much of
the upland soil elsewhere is light in color and sandy in texture. Tight
or loose stones, sometimes waterworn, occur everywhere, but in vary-
ing frequency. It is only the bottoms, the bench lands, and limited
portions of the higher levels that have been in demand for tillage. A
belt of bench and bottom is sometimes a mile from side to side. Yet
such a strip is not continuous, bold heights sometimes coming close
to the river on either side, as in the case of Jackson's River above
Fort Dinwiddie. Furthermore, the bottoms are confined to the two
rivers and the lower courses of their larger affluents.


With respect to the climate, Bath is highly favored. The ele-
vation gives it a more temperate air than is found in the same latitude
on the Atlantic or the plains of the West. The Alleghany Front
breaks the force of the northwesters that have such free play through-
out the Mississippi basin. It also causes a lower degree of humidity
on the eastern side than on the western. Shenandoah Mountain
scatters the east wind that is so trying along the seacoast. Bath has
not the damp air that one would expect in a mountain region. It has
not the close summer atmosphere and the winter keenness of the sea-
shore, nor the accentuated extremes of heat and cold that are a well
known feature of the Western climate. The air movement is less
than in either of the other sections, high winds being rare. The win-
ters are not usually of a severe type, the summers and falls are par-
ticularly delightful, and the air is pure, healthful and invigorating.
There is, in fact, a fine climate at all seasons.

To be more precise, the climate of Warm Springs valley, with its
altitude of 2200 feet, is but slightly below the average for the county.
In this locality the mean temperatures for winter, spring, summer,
and fall are 31, 51, 69, and 53 degrees. The yearly average, which
is 51 degrees, is about the same as at Harrisburg in Pennsylvania, or
Lincoln in Nebraska, although the climate of this valley is more reg-
ular than that of the other places. The yearly rainfall is 42 inches,
including the snow, which in an unmelted form amounts to 26
inches. Along the two rivers, especally the Cowpasture, the climate
is perceptibly warmer, the altitudes being less by from 500 to 1000

In the old-time solitudes of Bath there was a great deal of animal
life. The buffalo and the elk have been gone much more than a cen-
tury. The wolf, once a great scourge to the young livestock, is
locally extinct, thanks to the large bounty that was maintained so
long as he was here. The name of Panther Gap keeps us from for-
getting that the puma, called "painter" by the pioneer, was once a
co-tenant with the wolf. The fox and the wildcat, and an occasion-
al black bear still linger, and now and then an eagle disports himself
in the air. A very few deer remain in the more extensive woodlands.
yet even the gray squirrel and cottontail are now comparative rare.
Other small mammals are the raccoon, the opossum, the woodchuck,
the skunk, the miiskrat, the chipmunk, and the bat. Turkeys, pheas-


ants, quails, and other game birds are now rather few, and the small
migrants that appear in the spring are not so numerous as the true
interests of the farmer demand. Rattlesnakes and copperheads are
few, unless in their regular haunts. The clear streams contain some
trout, bass, perch, suckers, and eels. The former abundance of wild
game is reflected in the following rhyme, written of William Wilson
of Bolar Run:

Old Wilson could sit at his door,

And count buffalo, elk, and deer by the score.

As is true in all Appalachia, the hills and valleys of Bath take
naturally to a forest covering. The deciduous trees, such as maples,
chestnuts, hickories, sycamores, willows, and oaks, heavily prepon-
derate. Small pines cling to the dry soil of certain river-hills. The
larger specimens on the mountain sides are mostly killed about fifteen
years before the date of this book, by an insect pest, but many of
their barkless trunks are yet standing. A varied undergrowth of
shrubs and small trees is now more in evidence than in the time of
the pioneer. Some of the more conspicuous wild fruits are the black-
berry, the huckleberry, the teaberry, and the common and mountain
raspberries. The wild grapevine grows to large dimensions.

Outside of the bottoms and the small lime stone area, the soils
of Bath are not so favorable to making a good grass sod as in the more
elevated county of Highland. Hence tillage farming is more con-
spicuous than there. The leading field crops are corn, grain, and hay,
and large yields are obtained on the bottoms. The Fort Lewis farm
has produced 2340 bushels of wheat in a single season. Orchard
fruits, particularly apples, have always been grown for home use, but
only of late has there been much attention to the producing of either
large or small fruits on a commercial scale. The county is well suit-
ed to this branch of agriculture. An apple tree just over the High-
land line was set out in 1765 by William Wilson, and in 1908 was
still yielding 35 bushels of good spitzenbergs.

The scenic beautv of Appalachia is at once recognized by the
observant traveler. There is an absence of monotony, because the
prospect distinctly varies from mile to mile. WTien the woods are in
summer foliage, the contour of the numerous ridges assumes the most
graceful appearance. The emerald verdure of the meadows and


pastures then renders the open ground more pleasing to the eye than
in regions where grass is not spontaneous.

The view from Flag Rock, on the crest-line of Warm Springs
Mountain, can scarcely be surpassed with respect to scenic loveliness
and interest. Looking southeastward, the eye passes over the succes-
sion of comparatively low ridges on the nearer side of the Cowpas-
ture. Turning nearly to the east one gazes through a low gap into
the valley of Thompson's Creek, and has distant glimpses of the
Millboro turnpike among the fields around Fairview and Bath Alum.
Beyond the winding course of the unseen Cowpasture there comes
into view, for its entire length, the irregular summit and fluted
slope of Rough Mountain. Beyond is the far smoother outline of
Mill Mountain. Still further beyond, and of a pearly hue from the
effect of distance, are the two House Mountains toward Lexington.
Their short, straight summits and their abrupt endings loom well
above the deeper-hued crest-level of the prominence in front. Yet
the final sky-line in the east is not reached until one makes out the palt*
Blue Ridge, 40 miles away, and dominated by the towering Peaks
of Otter. Looking more nearly east, and in a line with the view
down Thompson's Creek, the observer peers into the deep notch of
Panther Gap. In front of and to the right of this opening are the two
uplifts on either side of Stuart's Creek. Beyond is Sideling Hill and
then comes the remarkable horizontal crest of Walker's Mountain.
A dozen miles away in the northeast are the Sister Knobs, marking
the south end of Shenandoah Mountain and standing like sentinels
above the low expanse in front. In the some direction, but at more
than twice the distance, is Elliott's Knob, one of the loftiest peaks in
Virginia. Turning about and facing the point of sunset, we behold
another rapid alternation of forested heights, the Alleghany Front
occupying the horizon. In the foreground is an exquisite panorama
of Warm Springs valley, which lies a thousand feet below. Whether
one is looking eastward or westward, mountain rises behind mountain
at intervals that are seemingly short. Because these heights arc for-
est-clad, and thus screen the open lands between them, the outlook is
almost as primeval to us as it was to the pathfinder of nearly two
centuries ago. And when the whole prospect is bathed in the clear,
bright atmosphere of a Virginia sky, the picture receives a touch of


Among the natural curiosities of Bath is Ebbing Spring, three
miles south of Williamsville. Intermittent springs are usually quite

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Online LibraryOren Frederic MortonAnnals of Bath County, Virginia → online text (page 1 of 19)