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boroughs, assembled, and on the 30th day of June, 1619, organized
the House of Burgesses — ^the first representative legislative body
in the New World.

From J^tmestown, as the population was increased by the arrival
of colonists from over-sea, settlements were made at other points
along the great river ; whence they spread, as the years, sped away,
over the Tide-Water Region, and thence into the Piedmont Region,
even to the eastern base of the Blue Ridge. So rapidly did the
population increase, that in 1671 — but sixty-four years after the
settlement at Jamestown — ^there were forty thousand English-
speaking people in Virginia.

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As stated, hardy pioneers had, previously to 1664, extended the
domain of civilization even to tlje eastern base of* the Blue Ridge ;
but of the region beyond that *' Rocky Barrier," nothing whatever
was known, for the most daring adventurer had not, as yet, pene-
trated its vast solitudes. But the exploration and conquest of the
wilderness was the mission of determined spirits, and the time was
near at hand when white men should traverse this hitherto un-
known region, and return to tell the story of its wonderful re-

The first West Virginia river discovered by white men was call-
ed New River, its upper course having been discovered in 1641, by
Walter Austin, Rice Hoe, Joseph Johnson, and Walter Chiles. ^
It was a new river, one flowing northwest, in an opposite direction
from those .east of the mountains — hence the name New River.

The Ohio river, which forms the western boundary of West Vir-
ginia, was discovered by Robert Cavalier La Salle — ^the most emi-
nent French explorer of the New World. It was in the year 1663,
that Europeans first heard of the Ohio river, and this information
came from the Indians to Dallied, a French missionary in Canada.
It was reported to be almost as large as the St. Lawrence. This
information inspired the adventurous spirit of La Salle with a de-
sire to behold the great river. Accordingly, with Indian guides,
he began his journey via Lake Oilondagua, now in New York. In
October, 1669, he reached the Allegheny river, which he descended
•to its confluence with the Monongahela, and thence continued
down the Ohio as far as the Falls — ^now Louisville, Kentucky. He
was the first European on the Ohio river, and the first that saw
the western part of. West Virginia.^

It is probable that the first white men who saw any part of the
eastern portion of the State of West Virginia, were those compos-
ing the party under John Lederer, a German explorer in the ser-
vice of Sir William Berkeley, Colonial Governor of Virginia. In

1, Hening's "Statutes at Largre" of Virginia^ Vol. I., p. 262.

2. Parkman's "La Salle and The Discovery of the Great West," pp. 29, 30.

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14 Abchives Ain) Histobt. [W. Va.

company with Captain CoUett, nine Englishmen and five Indians,
he, on August 30, 1670, set out from York river and proceeded by
way of the Falls of the Rappahannock, near the present city of
Fredericksburg; thence to the mouth of the Rapidan river; thence
along the north side of the Rappahannock, to the base of the Blue
Ridge; and thence to the summit of that mountain barrier, from
which, at a point south of the present Harper's Ferry, the explor-
ers looked down upon and across the Lower Shenandoah Valley —
now included in. the counties of Jeflferson and Berkeley — a first
view of the old part of West Virginia.^

The first English-speaking men within the present limits of West
Virginia, were those composing the exploring expedition under
Captain Thomas Batts, These, in -addition to himself, were Rob-
ert Fallam, Thomas Wood, Jack Neasam, and Per-e-cu-te, the lat-
ter a great man of the Appomattox Indians. This party, acting
under authority of a commission granted fourteen years before, by
the House of Burgesses — ^the Colonial legislative body of Virginia
— to Major Abraham Wood. **For ye finding out the ebbing and
flowing of ye waters on ye other side the Mountains, in order to
ye Discovery of ye South Sea;*' left the Appomattox town near the
site of the present city of Petersburg, Virginia, on Friday, Sep-
tember 1, 1671, and toiling onward to the westward, .crossed the
Blue Ridge, thence over what is now known as Peters' Mountain;
and thence, through the present West Virginia counties of Monroe,
Summers and Fayette, until the 16th of September, when they
**had a sight of a curious River like the Appomattox river in Vir-
ginia, and the Thames at Chelsea, in England, and broad as that
river at Wapping, but it had a fall that made a great noise." The
party had reached the Great Falls of the Great Kanawha river,
distant ninety-six miles from the Ohio. Here, on the 17th, they
took formal possession of the region and proclaimed the King in
these words: **Long live King Charles ye 2d, King of England,
Scotland, France, Ireland and Virginia, and all the territory there-
unto belonging; Defender of ye Faith, etc.'' Guns were fired, and
with a pair of marking-irons, they marked trees; **lst C. R."
(Charles Rex I.) for his Sacred Majesty, ''2d W. B.'' for the
Governor (Sir William Berkeley) : *'3d A. W.'' for Major Abra-
ham Wood, (promoter of the expedition) ; another for Per-e-cu-te
(who said he would turn Englishman) ; and also, another tree for

3. Discoveries of John l^ederer on three Several Journeys from Virginia,
over the Mountains. March, 1669, to September, 1670." London, 1682.

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oach of the company. Then the homeward journey began, and
all arrived at the Falls of the Appomattox river on the first day
of October, except Thomas Wood who died on the expedition.^

In 1716, Governor Alexander Spottswood resolved to learn more
of the Mountain Region of Virginia. He accordingly equipped a
party of thirty horsemen, and heading it in person, left Williams-
burg, the Colonial Capital, June 20th, that year. Day after day the
journey continued until the Blue Ridge was reached and crossed
by way of Swift Run G^ap. Descending to the river, now the
Shenandoah, the party bestowed upon it the name of *' Euphrates."
It was crossed and recrossed; then a night was spent upon its
banks; then the return journey began, and from the Blue Ridge,
the adventurers, looking westward, beheld in the distance, the
lofty peaks of the Great North Mountain, in what is now Pendle-
ton county. West Virginia. On arriving at Williamsburg,' the
Governor established the ' * Trans-Montane Order or Knights of the
Golden Horse-shoe,'' giving to each of those who accompanied
him, a miniature horse-shoe, some of which were set with valuable
stones, and all bearing the inscription, ^'Sic juvat transcendere
monies, — Thus he swears to cross the mountains.

About the year 1725, John Van Meter, a representative of an
old Knickerbocker family early seated on the Hudson, traversed
the valley of the South Branch of the Potomac — ^the Wap-par-tom-
i-ca of the Indians. He was an Indian trader, making his head-
quarters with the Delawares, on the Susquehanna. Thence he
made journeys far to the southward, to trade with the Cherokees
and Catawbas.^ It was he who first told the story of the wonder-
ful fertility of the land in the Lower Shenandoah and South
Branch Valleys. *

First White Settlements in West Virginia — The Frontier in'


The first white man to find a home in West Virginia, was Morgan
ap Morgan, who in 1726, reared a cabin on the site of the present
village of Bunker Hill in Mill creek District, Berkeley county. The
next year, a number of Germans from the Valley of the Susque-
hanna in Pennsylvania, crossed the Potomac at what has been
known for more than a hundred years, as the old ''Pack-Horse

4. Captain Batts* Journal Is printed in Fernow's "Ohio Valley In Colonial
Times," pp. 220-229; and in the "Introductory Memoir" to Darlington's edition
of Christopher Gist's Journals," pp. 18-21.

5. See Kercheval's "History of the Valley of Virgrinia," p. 46.

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16 Abchives aito Histobt. [W. Va.

Ford," and about a mile above on the southern bank of that river,
founded a village which they named New Mecklenberg, in memory
of their early home in the Fatherland, and such it continued to be
called, until changed to that of Shepherdstown, by an Act of the
House of Burgesses in 1762. In 1734 Richard Morgan obtained a
grant for a tract of land in the vicinity of New Mecklenberg, and
there made his home. Among those who came at the same time and
settled along the Upper Potomac in what is now the northern part
of the West Virginia counties, of Berkeley and Jefferson, were
Robert Harper (at Harper's Ferry) William Stroop, Thomas and
William^ Forester, Israel Friend, Thomas Shepherd, Thomas Swear-
ingen, Van Swearingen, James Formanfi Edward Lucas, Jacob
Hite, James Lemon, Richard Mercer, Edward Mercer, Jacob Van
Meter, Robert Stockton, Robert Buckles, John Taylor, Samuel Tay-
lor and John Wright. In 1735, the first settlement wai$ made on
the South Branch of the Potomac by four families of the name of
Coburn, Howard, Walker, and Rutledge. The next year Isaac Van
Meter, Peter Casey and numbers of others found homes in the val-
ley, of that river in what is now Hampshire and Hardy counties ;
and within the next few years, cabin homes dotted the valleys of
the Opequon, the Great and Little Cacapon rivers, and that of Lost
river and Back and Patterson Creeks.

Thus far the early West Virginia settlements had been confined
to the region drained by the upper tributaries of the Potomac river.
Now, we turn to notice the first pioneer of West Virginia in the
valley of Greenbrier river. In 1749, the Greenbrier Land Company
was organized. It consisted of twelve Members or Stock-holders,
among whom were its President, Hon. John Robinson, the Treasur-
er of the Colony of Virginia, and long the Speaker of the House of
Burgesses; Thomas Nelson, for thirty years the Secretary of the
Council of State; and John Bewis the founder of Staunton and
two of his sons, William and Charles, This Company was granted
the right, by the Governor and Council to survey and take up a
tract of land containing one hundred thousand acres of land, lying
and being on Greenbrier river, and now in the West Virginia coun-
ties of Pocahontas, Greenbrier and Monroe. Four years were al-
lowed to make surveys and pay rights for the same. Andrew Lew-
is, (afterward General Andrew Lewis of the Revolution) was ap-
pointed surveyor and agent for the Company and, in execution of
his commission, he in 1754 and prior thereto, surveyed and sold

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small parcels of this land to sundry persons, who hastened to settle
thereon.^ Col. John Stuart the historian of. the Greenbrier Valley,
says, that ** previously to the y6ar 1755, Andrew Lewis had com-
pleted surveys for the quantities aggregating more* than fifty thous-
and acres.^ When Andrew Lewis came to the Greenbrier river in
1749, he found Stephen Sewell and Jacob Marlin, both of whom
had fixed their abode at the mouth of Knopp *s creek on the site of
the present town of Marlinton, in Pocahontas county.''"^

In 1750, Dr. Thomas Walker with five companions two of whom
were Ambrose Powell and Colby Chew, when returning from a tour
of exploration in the Kentucky wilderness, crossed the New river
• at the mouth of the Greenbrier, June 28, 1750, and then journeyed
up the latter stream, July 6th ensuing they were at the mouth of
Anthony's Creek now in Greenbrier county, where Dr. Walker
wrote in his Journal : * ^ There are some inhabitants on the branches
of Green Bryer, but we missed their Plantations."^ Evidently
there was a very considerable population in the Greenbrier Valley
prior to the year 1755.

On February 23, 1756, Captain T^aque sent to the Lords of
Trade, London, a *^List of Tithables'' in Virginia which he had
prepared under the direction of the Government. Upon this as a
basis, he estimated the population of Virginia to be 173,316 whites,
and 120,000 negroes. Taking his estimate for Hampshire county,,
and estimating for that part of West Virginia then included in
Frederick and Augusta counties, we may conclude that in West
Virginia at that date there were about 11,000 whites and 400
blacks.^ If an irregular or broken line be drawn from the Blue
Ridge through Harper's Ferry and Charles Town iit Jefferson
County; Martinsburg, in Berkeley County; Berkeley Springs, in
Hardy County; Petersburg, in Grant County; Upper Tract and
Franklin, in Pendleton County; Clover Lick, in Pocahontas Coun-
ty; and thence through Monroe County to Peter's Mountain, it will
pass centrally through the region in which resided at that time the
pioneer settlers of West Virginia, as shown by contemporary doc-

5. See Call's "Reports of Cases Argued and Decided In the Court of Appeals of
Virginia,' Vol. IV. p. 28.

6. Stuart's "Memoirs of the Indian Wars and other Occurrences," p. 38.

7. Stuart .- "Memorandum," written in 1798, in Deed Book No. 1 in the County
Clerk's OflSce, Greenbrier County, West Virginia.

8. Rive's "Annotated edition of the Journal of Dr. Thomas Walker," p. 67.

9. "DInwiddie Papers,'.' Vol. II, pp. 345, 352, 374.

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1 8 Abchives and Histoby. [ W. Va.



Soldiery op the West Virginia Frontier During the War.
(From 1754 to 1763.)

From the coming of the first white settlers to West Virginia, to
the year 1754 — a period of nearly thirty years — ^the white men and
Indians dwelt together in peace and harmony. The Shawnees
had their wigwams at *'01d Town,'* Maryland, opposite the mouth
of the South Branch of the Potomac; at the ** Indian Old Fields,*'
now in Hardy county, in the valley of that river ; and at the
** Shawnee Springs, '* now Winchester, in Frederick county, Vir-
ginia ; while a band of* Tuscaroras were on Tuscarora Creek, in
the vicinity of Martinsburg, now in Berkeley county. West Vir-
ginia. '*But,'' says Kercheval, **in tlie year 1753, emissaries from
the Western Indians came among the [Shenandoah] Valley In-
dians, inviting them to cross the Allegheny Mountains; and in the
Spring of 1754, they suddenly and unexpectedly -moved off, and
immediately left the Valley. ' '^ This movement was evidently made
under the influence of the French. Both France and England had
been engaged but recently in the War of the Austrian Succession,
and the truce secured by the terms of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle
afforded to both an opportunity to push their schemes of coloniza-
tion into tjie Ohio Valley — a region which both claimed but neither
possessed. But the final struggle for territorial supremacy in
America was at hand. *^The country west of the Great Mountains
is the center of the British Dominions." wrote Lord Hillsborough.
The English occupied the point at the ** Forks of the Ohio" — ^now
Pittsburg — and began the erection of a fort; The French came
down the Allegheny river, dispossessed them and completed the
fort, calling it Fort Du Quesne. In 1755, the English General, Ed-
ward Braddock, with the 44th and 48th Royal Infantry Regiments,
came to Virginia, and having been joined by a large force of pro-
vincial troops, marched against Fort Duquesne; but. when within
ten miles thereof , his army was shot. down by the French and In-
dians on the fatal field of Monongahela. Then began a war of ex-

1. Kercheval's "History of the Valley," p. 58.

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Archives and Histoby.


termination — a border war carried on against the West Vir-
ginia settlements. This continued for seven long years, in all of
which the French and Indians or the latter alone, carried death
and desolation all along the frontier of civilization. The West
Virginia pioneers nevertheless stood their ground and, aided by
companies of rangers from the older Virginia settlements, warred
successfully against their barbarian enemies until the close of the
war in 1763.

The following are partial lists of the Companies of Rangers em-
ployed on the upper tributaries of the Pbtomac, and in the Green-
brier river — the West Virginia frontier — during the French and
Indian War; that is from 1754 to 1763:—

Captain Andrew Lewis' Company op Rangers, in
Service in 1754.

(Source — Crozier's "Virginia Colonial Militia," pp. 9-57.)

Andrew Lewis Captain

John Savage Lrieutenant

William Wright Ensign

John McKully Sergeant

Robert Graham Sergeant

Thomas Stedman Corporal

Joshua Baker Corporal

David Wilkinson Drummer


Ab aham Mushaw
John Biddlecomb
Robert Murphy
Bartholomew Burns
James Fulham
John Thurstan
Thomas Burney
John Maston
Terrence Swiney
John Smith
Patrick Smith
John Mu'holland
James Cammack
Charles Waddey
James Smith
William Stallions
Henry Bowman

Tames Milton
Jacob Gowea
Henry Bailey
John Brown
Henry Nea!e
Benjamin Gauze
John Hart
George Gibbons
William Holland
John Gallihon
Casper Moreau
John Chapman
Samuel Hyden
William Dean
Nicholas Mo-gan
Barnaby Ryley
Nathaniel Deadman

A>adrew Fowler '
John Allan
Thomas King
Wiliam Chaplain
John Davis
Patrick McPike
Michael McCannon
Matthew Jones
Thomas Pierce
Thomas Burras
Samuel Arsdale
George Malcom
Philemon Waters
John Campbell
Francis Rogers
Pledgee Ward
James Ford

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[W. Va.

Captain William Preston's Company of Eangers, Authorized^

BY AN Act op the House op Burgesses June 8, 1757, in

Service Until May 4, 1759, When it was Abandoned.

(flfottrce—Crozier'c- "Virginia Colonial Militia/* pp. 9-57.)

William Preston

Charles Lewis ^

Archibald Buchanan
Charles Smith


Captain William Davis Sergeant

Lieutenant Joshua Cummings Corporal

. . . Sergeant Thomas Saunders Drummer

, . Sergefiut Dr. Thomas Lloyd .Surgeon.

John DavJs
James Hulman
Nicholas Smith
J<^n Johnston
Frederick Fitzgerald
David Graham
William Anderson
William Hutcheson
William Jackson
John Carlisle
John Vachob


Moses Fisher
Bond Estle
John Miller
Thomas Kinkead
William Stewart
FrLucis Riley
John Codare
Lofftus Pullin
William Black
Robert Giahain

Solly Mulliear
Gardner Adkins
Samuel Campbell
John Estle
Thomas McGregor
Robert Hall
John Pryor
John *Kinkead
George Gwinn
Thomas Hicklin

Captain William Phillip's Company op Rangers, in
Service in 1763.

(Source — Crozier's "Virginia Colonial Militia," pp. 9-57.)

William Phi:iips.,
Joseph Bickley....
James Bullock...
William Hughes..


Captain Joseph Terry Sergeant

.Lieutenant Charles Barrett Sergeatat

Ensign John Hall Sergeant

Ensign William Hughes Surgeon

William McGehee
Nathaniel Branham
Robert Hall
James Twopence
Clabourne Routhwell
Phillip Cosby
John EYeeman


John Gilbert
William Bibbs
James Rat cliff
John McCoy
John Lemay
Zacbpus Cosby
Charles Hester

Chapman White
James McGehee
James Smith
John Sanders
Robert Goodwin
Dabney Carr
William Brock

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Captain John Dickinson ^s Company op Rangers, in
Service in 1757-59.

<Sfowrce— -Crozier's "Virginia Colonial Militia," pp. 9-57.)


John Dickinscu Captain Robert Gillispie, Sr Sergeant

John. Bailer Sergeant Humphrey Madison Ensign

Thomas Kelly Corporal


John Fulton ^ William Shields David Galloway

James Johnston Edward McMullin John McMullin

Thomas Carpenter Jacob Parsinger Abraham Parsinger

Philip Parsincrer Patrick Carrigan Andrew Jameson

Solomon Carpenter Ezekiel Johnson Peter Wiley

Joseph Willis John Taylor William Davis

Peter Wiley John Wiley William Hamilton

Captain Peter Hogg's Company of Rangers, in Service
FROM 1754-58.

{Source — Crozier's "Virginia Colonial Militia," pp. 9-57.)


Peter Hogg Captain

James Dunlap Lieutenant

James Taylor Ensign

John Clark Sergeant

Samuel. Powell Sergeant

William Vaugham Sergeant

William Armjstirong Corpforal

David Laird Corporal

Thomas Scott
William Smith
John Johnson
Joh.n Fumace
James Milligan


Thomas Galbreath
James McMahon
George Ehrmantrout
James Shaw
Henry §hackleford

J'^rancis Gibbs
Daniel Grubb
James Riddle
John Pence

Captain Samuel Overtones Company of Rangers, in
Service in 1755-56.

(Source — Crozier's "Virginia Colonial Militia," pp. 9-57.)


Samuel Overton Captain Ansolem Clarkson Sergeant

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John Penix
Charles Jenkins
Thomas Jones
William Foster
John Shepperson

Abchives and History.

[W. Va.


William Watson
James Ratliif
Charles Jenkins
James Melton
Peter Clarkson

Richard Foster
jeorge Sims
Edmond Foster
William Ahorn

Captain Egbert Eutherford's. Company of Kangers, in
Service in 1758-59.

( ^'owrce— Crozier's "Virginia Colonial Militia," pp. 9-57.)


. Robert Rutherford Captain William Darke Corporal

Edward Lruce Sergeant Jonathan Seaman ..Corporal

John Rouse Sergeant


John Dastforan James Shirley Jacob Rush

Joseph Hedges Richard Bowen Alexander Demon

Walter Shirley ' Jervice Sherly Robert Buckles, Jr.

Thomas Bright

Captain William Christian's Company of Rangers, in
Service in 1760-64.

(Source — Crozier's "Virginia Colonial Militia," pp. 9-57.)


William Christian Captain William Carvin Sergeant

James Barnett Sergeant

Thomas Miller
William Melton
James Ritchey


John Collins ^
Dumas L#ane
James Twopence

John Tui'nley
Nathan Gibson
John Lea

. Of other Companies of Rangers in service on the West Virginia
frontier during the French and Indian War were those of Captains
Christopher Gist, John Smith, Joseph Fox, John McNeal, Charles
Lewis, Samuel Meredith, Archibald Alexander, Christopher Hud-
son, Obediah Woodson, Thomas Fleming, Thomas Bullet, James

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McGavok, John Anthony, Eobert Breckenridge, William Cox, Al- '

exander Sayer, John Blagg, George Berkeley, Temple,

and Hubbard. The work of erecting and garrisoning

forts on the frontier during this struggle was performed by the
companies of Washington's First Virginia Regiment, the head-
quarters of which was at Fort Loudoun, now Winchester, the seat
of justice of Frederick county, in the Shenandoah Valley. These
companies were composed of men from this valley and from Vir-
ginia east of the Blue Ridge.

The depredations of the French and Indians upon the white set-
tlements during the years of this War, were particularly fatal on
the frontier settlements of West Virginia. They destroyed the
settlement of Foyle and Tygart on Tygart's Valley river; that of
the Eckarleys at Dunkard's Bottom on Cheat river; and that at the*
mouth of Decker's Creek on the Monongahela. Then scalping par-
ties overran all the region drained by the upper tributaries of the
Potomac and the Greenbrier rivers; and then carried death and
desolation eastward to Jackson's river and to the Lower Shenan-
doah Valley. Everywhere dark mysterious clouds of malignant
spirits hung upon the horizon, threatening every moment to over-
\7helm and exterminate the half-protecfed pioneers in their wilder-
ness homes, and there was scarcely a settlement in all the region
from the Potomac to the New River that did not experience some
of the fatal effects of the terrible storm of savage warfare which
raged so fiercely around them. Then there were battlefields on the
soil- of West Virginia. The battle of Great Cacapon River was
fought in what is now Bloomery Magisterial District, in Hamp-
shire county, April 18, 1756, between a detachment of one hundred
men, of Col. Washington's regiraent, under Capt. John Mercer,
on one side, and a body of French and Indians on the other. The
battle of Lost River was fought in the Spring of 1756, in what is
now Lost River Magisterial District, Hardy county, between West
Virginia frontiersmen under Capt. Jeremiah Smith, and a body of
fifty Indians commanded by a French officer. The battle of the
Trough was fought in 1756, in what is now Moorefield Magisterial
District, Hardy county, between a body of seventy Indians, allies
of the French, and a Virginia garrison from Fort Pleasant near
by. The massacre at Fort Seybert occurred in May, 1758, in what

Online LibraryWest Virginia. Dept. of Archives and HistoryBiennial report of the Department of Archives and History of the State of West Virginia → online text (page 5 of 25)