William C. (William Cecil) Pendleton.

History of Tazewell county and southwest Virginia, 1748-1920 online

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Online LibraryWilliam C. (William Cecil) PendletonHistory of Tazewell county and southwest Virginia, 1748-1920 → online text (page 1 of 65)
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With llluslralions


W. C. Hill Printing Companv

Richmond, Va.


c'opvkiuht, u»2(),
By William C. Pendleton



To the memory of my beloved son
James French Pendleton

He was pure in heart, faithfttl in service, and
the embodiment of truth



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Executive Committte, Tazewell Historical Society,
A. St.Clair, President.





Executive Committee, Tazewell Historical Society,
Jno. S. Bottimore, Secretary.


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

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

2. The Period of Discovery and Colonization, in which the
Spanish Discoveries and Conquests, the French Discoveries and
Settlements, and the English Discoveries and the Settlement at
Jamestown in 1607, are concisely narrated.

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



4. The Ante-Bellum, or Formative, Period, which begins with
the organization of Tazewell County in 1800, and concludes with
the commencement of the Civil War in 1861. Of the various events
mentioned in tliis Period, the one which treats of the forming and
developing of tlie political, social, and industrial thouglit and char-
acter of the people is. possibly, tlie most interesting.

5. The War and Reconstruction Period, which embraces tlie
eventful years 1861-18(39. In this Period I relate and discuss the
potential causes that provoked tlie Civil War. Detailed accounts
of the four raids made by Federal soldiers into and through Taze-
well County, and the battles these raids occasioned, are herein
written into history for the first time.

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

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

My cordial thanks are due, and are hereby given, to the Presi-
dent and Secretary, and to the Executive Committee of the Taze-
well Historical Society; and to the following named gentlemen,
who became my financial backers and made it possible to procure
the publication of my manuscript in book form:

S. C. Graham. A. St. Clair, R. O. Crockett, J. W. Chapman.
W. T. Thompson. Jno. S. Bottimore, Jno. P. Gose, R. jSI. Lawson.
H. P. Brittain, H. G. McCall, H. G. Peery, Chas. R. Brown.


Wni. E. Peery. A. S. Higginbotham. W. O. Earns, W. T. Gillespie,
Geo. R. McCall. G. S. Thompson. A. S. Greever, Barnes Gillespie.
E. L. Greever. C. H. Peery, J. D. Peery, Henry A. Bowen. Henry
S. Bowen. J. Ed. Peery, R. C. Chapman. C. B. Xeel. Jctt \\'ard.
A. G. Kiser. J. A. Greever. H. W. Pobst. O. E. Hopkins. C. P.
Harman, B. I. Payne, Jno. H. Thompson, J. G. Barns, W. R.
Bowen. S. S. F. Harman, M. J. Hankins.

I wisli to acknowledge my indebtedness to certain gentlemen
who have given me valuable assistance, in various ways, in the
prosecution of my work — ^fr. E. G. Swem, who was for years and
until recently the pojjular and most capable Assistant Librarian of
the Virginia State Library, and Mr. Morgan P. Robinson, the
polite and efficient Archivist of the Library. These two gentlemen
responded so generously to every call I made upon them for assist-
ance or information. tJiat I can hardly estimate the extent of my
obligation to them.

I am also heavily indebted to Messrs. H. P. Brittain, County
Treasurer; A. S. Greever. Superintendent of County Schools; S.
]\L Graham. A. St. Clair. C. H. Peery and Jno. S. Bottimore for
helping to gather material used in my woi-k; and to Messrs. W. O.
Barns, Wm. E. Peery and Henry A. Bowen for special substantial

The history has been arranged in as nearly chronological order
as it was possible for me to place it. It is hardly necessary for
me to say that it has been truly a labor of love to write about the
deeds and accomplishments of the splendid men and women who
were the pioneer settlers of the Clinch Valley and other sections
of Southwest Virginia. And it has been a pleasant task to compile
and relate the ways and means that have been used by their descend-
ants and successors to bring this section of Virginia to its present
social and industrial high position. My earnest hope and desire
is, that its people shall continue to advance on these lines until
they have attained the most exalted stage of Christian civilization
and human freedom.

, ^ , ^^T^ Wm. C. Pendleton.

June 1st, 1920.

XoTE — The book has been published under very trying circum-
stances, produced, in the main, by unsettled labor conditions. This


has not only occasioned delay in getting the history ready for publi-
cation, but is, possibly, responsible for most of the typographical
and mechanical errors that appear on its pages. These will be
easily detected and corrected by the careful and intelligent reader.
There is, however, one error in a date to which special attention
is called. It occurs in the sketch of Captain Henry Bowen, Taze-
well's most distinguished son, on page 636. He was born December
26th, 1841, and not in "1815" as appears in the sketch. The lines
that immediately follow the incorrect date in the sketch fully expose
and correct the error.



I Orig-in of the Red men; their distribution, civilization,

character, etc - - - - "^'^^

II. Nations and tribes north of Mexico - 15-57

III. The Indians; their civilization, govemment, manners, and

religion 58-69


I. Spanish and French discoveries and conquests - 73-84

II. French discoveries and settlements— 85-98

III. Birth of American Nation — English Settlement at James-
town 99-129

IV. From death of James I to 1676- - - - 130-137

V. Bacon's Rebellion and discovery of Shenandoah Valley - -138-151


I. Settlement of Shenandoah and Roanoke Valleys - 155-170

II. The Walker and Gist expeditions - 171-185

III. French and Indian war- — -186-203

IV. Drapers Meadows Massacre and other Tragic Incidents-.204-217

V. Holston Valley invaded by Indians— The Sandy expedi-

tion - - - 218-223

VI. Why settlements delayed in Clinch Valley- - - 224-230

VII. The Tazewell Pioneer .settlers - - 231-270

VIII. Frontiers of Fincastle County invaded by Indians- 271-289

IX. Fincastle men called for Ohio expedition— Indians invade

Clinch and Holston settlements - 290-310

X. Battle of Point Pleasant — Kentucky opened for settle-
ment 311-334

XL The Revolutionary War - 335-352

XII. First Constitutional Convention — Declares United Col-
onies free and independent States — Declaration of

Rights and Constitution adopted - - 353-360

Xin. Kentucky, Washington and Montgomery counties are

formed - - - 361-369

XIV. Clark's expedition to Illinois, and Battle of King's Moun-
tain - - •- -370-397




A — Sketches of Pioneer Families 401-433

B — Massacres by Indians - - 434-468


I. Organization of Tazewell County - - —471-485

II. Boundries and Topography of Tazewell County - 486-495

III. Interesting sections of county — The head of Clinch

Valley 496-516

IV. Development of political, social, and industrial character

of its people - 517-529

V. The roads of Tazewell County — Growth in population

and wealth, etc.- - -530-546

VI. The origin and descent of Tazewell County 547-560


1. Principal causes of the Civil War - 563-598

II. The Harper's Ferry Insurrection- 585-592

III. The Presidental election of 1860 — -593-598

IV. Virginia holds convention and secedes from Union 599-605

V. What Tazewell did in the war—- 606-637

Appendix to War and Reconstioiction Period— 638-654


I. County recovers from effects of Civil War 657-664

II. Prosperity returns to Tazewell County -665-672

Appendix — List of men from Tazewell County in World

War 1914— an-nv and navv 673-684



Osceola, Indian Chief - - 24

Sequoya, Cherokee Indian- - -— 41

Tecumseh, Shawnee Chief 49

Plum Creek Valley, Tazewell County, Va.- - 56

Jamestown Tower — ...— 132

Site of Thomas Witten's Cabin — - 233

Campbell House at Royal Oak — 236

Thomas Witten's Fort 242

John Witten's Cabin. 244

William Wynne's Fort 269

Rees Bowen Homestead 296

Statue of General Andrew Lewis 308

Old Powder Magazine at Williamburg 351

Colonel Wilkinson Witten 403

Samuel Cecil — 405

Rees T. Bowen 408

William Moore 415

Oscar Moore, Jr., on "Rose" 416

Major David Peery 419

Residence of Major Hai-vey George Peery ....'. .. 421

Residence of Major David Peery 423

Colonel Archibald Thompson 425

First Brick House Erected in Tazewell County 431

Site of Major John Taylor's Cabin.... 439

Apple Tree in Abb's Valley ,. 450

Rock Under Which Martha Evans Hid 453

Squire Thomas Peery and Son 466

Colonel Henry Bowen 473

First Plat of Town of Tazewell, Va..-. 474

Court House at Tazewell, Va. 484

Residence of Colonel Wilk Witten.- 491

Residence of Samuel Cecil 492

Mill in Plum Creek Gap 494

Grounds of Tazewell County Fair Association 497

Tov/n of Tazewell, Section I 498

To\^Ti of Tazewell, Section II 499

Gap at Burke's Garden 502

Rev. John J. Greever 503

Floyd Estate in Burke's Garden 505

Site of James Burke's Cabin 506

Colonel Peter Litz 507



Captain George G. Goss - - 508

Major Otis Caldwell - - 512

Charles Fitzgerald TifTany 515

Walnut Log from Tazewell County, Va. - 527

Loom and Wheels - - 528

Plum Creek Gap- 532

Residence of Colonel Harvey George- 533

"Hubble Hill" - - 534

Main Street, Tazewell, Va - - - - 535

Dorset Lambs from Tazewell County, Va 537

John Warfield Johnston - - 539

High School at Tazewell, Va - 543

Major Rufus Brittain 545

William P. Cecil - 599

Judge Samuel L. Graham 600

Captain William E. Peery 607

Walnut Tree at Wm. E. Peery's - - 608

Captain Charles A. Fudge 610

Dr. John S. Pendleton and Wm. C. Pendleton 612

Home of Mrs. Henry S. Bowen- - - 614

Colonel Andrew J. May 616

Captain David G. Sayers 617

Major Thomas P. Bowen - - 624

Colonel William L. Graham - 627

Colonel Robert Smith - - - - 630

Captain Henry Bowen - 636

Colonel Joseph Harrison - 639

Colonel Titus V. Williams - - - - - - 640

Colonel Edwin Houston Harman - 641

Captain D. B. Baldwin - - 643

Captain John H. Whitley - 644

Captain Jonathan Hankins - - 645

Captain James S. Peery - 647

Captain A. J. TjTies - 648

Captain John Thompson - 649

Captain James P. Whitman - 650

Residence of Thomas Witten, third — - - 657

Doctor George Ben Johnston - 659

Doctor Samuel Cecil Bowen 666

"An Old Virginia Road" - - 670

The Aboriginal Period

Which Treats of the Origin of the American

Indians, their Forms of Government,

Civilization, Religion, etc.

History of Tazewell County and
Southwest Virginia




There is one thing connected with the discovery of America
which has been settled beyond dispute by historians ; and that is
that the American aborigines received their name from Christopher
Columbus. When the great navigator started out from Palos with
his three little ships, manned with one hundred and twenty men, his
main purpose was to travel to India by sailing a westward course.
After a trying and thrilling voyage of seventy-one days, on the 12th
of October, 1192, Columbus landed on one of tbe Bahamas, took
possession of the island for Spain, and named it San Salvador.
He there foimd a tribe of natives whom he called Indians, believ-
ing he had reached the shores of the Asiatic Continent and had
landed upon the eastern coast of India.

Much has been surmised and a vast deal written about the origin
of the Red Men who were the primitive inhabitants of the American
Continent. All historians have agreed that they are one of the
older races of mankind, but whether they are indigenous to this
continent, or are the descendants of an Asiatic race is still not
only a matter of dispute but seems likely to remain for all future
time an unsolved problem.

Some of the most profound and ardent students of mankind
have confidently asserted that the American Indians are a distinct
variety of the human race. Among these are Blumenbach, the
eminent German naturalist, and Samuel George Morton, the dis-
tinguished American ethnologist. On the other hand quite a number
of able and celebrated ethnologists, philologists and anthropologists
have asserted with equal positiveness that the Indians of both
North and South America are descendants of the Mongolian family
and came here from Asia. But when they reached this continent
or by what route they traveled is completely enveloped in mystery.


4 History of Tazewell County

Dr. Robert Brown, wlio has been re,ii^arded as one of the most acoom-
plishedj as he is one of the latest writers on the subject, in liis
"Races of Mankind" expresses firm conviction tliat tlie American
race is of Asiatic origin. He says:

"Not only are the Western Indians in appearance very like
their nearest neighbors, the Northeastern Asiatics, but in language
and tradition, it is confidentl}' affirmed there is a blending of the
people. The Eskimo, on the American, and tlie Tchuktcliis. on
the Asiatic side understand each otlicr perfectly."

Modern anthropologists, who upliold the theory of Asiatic
origin, are of opinion that the ancestors of the greater part of the
American race came here from Japan, the Kuriles and the regions
thereabout. Baron Humboldt, one of the greatest scientists the
world has ever produced, after traveling extensively in South
America, Mexico, Cuba and parts of the United States, said this
about the aboriginal inhabitants :

"The Indians of New Spain bear a general resemblance to those
who inhabit Canada. Florida, Peru and Brazil. We think we per-
ceive them all to be descended from the same stock, notwithstanding
the prodigious diversity of their languages. In a portrait drawn
by Volney of tlic Canadians we recognize I lie tribe scattered over
the Savannahs of the Apure and thi' Caroncy. The same style of
features exists in botli Americas."

It is a notable fact that the ^Mongolian cast of feature is most
jjronounced in the Indian tribes nearest the Mongol coasts, that is
on our Pacific coast ; and becomes less distinct as we trace the
tribes eastward to the shores of the Atlantic. And it is a generally
accepted historic fact that the tribes on the eastern seaboard gave
as one of their traditions that their ancestors came from the West,
while the Western tribes claimed that their progenitors came from
regions still further West. Though there were at the period about
which Humboldt was writing hundreds of tribes among the American
Indians, all of them bore a striking similarity of physical structure,
personal characteristics, and languages. This similarity of lan-
guages led Albert Gallatin to say:

"Amidst that great diversity of American languages, considered
onlv in reference to tlieir vocabularies, tlie similaritv of their struc-

and Southwest Virginia 5

liiro and grammatical forms lias been observed and ])ointed out bv
the American ))biloIogists. The result appears to confirm tlie
opinions already entertained by Ponceau, Mr. Pickering and others;
and to prove tliat all the languages, not only of our own Indians,
but of the native inhabitants of America, from the Arctic Ocean to
Cape Horn, liave. as far as they have been investigated, a distinct
character common to all. and ajiparently differing from any of those
of the other continents with which we are most familiar."

That all the Indians of both American continents were of
common origin is indicated not only by similarity of the structure
and grammatical, forms of their languages, but by the strong
resemblance of their physical characteristics. These have been
described as follows :

"A square head, with low but broad forehead, the back of the
head flattened, full face and powerful j aws ; cheek-bones prominent,
lips full, ej'es dark and deepl^y set ; the hair long, not absolutely
straight, but wavy, something like a horse's mane, and like that, of a
glossy hue; little or no beard, where it does appear carefully eradi-
cated with tweezers ; color of the skin reddish or co^^per, height of
the men about the average, but looking taller from their erect pos-
ture and slender figure ; the women rather shorter and more inclined
to obesity, but many of them with symmetrical figure and pleasing
countenance; hands and feet of both men and women small,"

Though the learned men who have carefully studied and investi-
gated the aborigines of America have differed sharply as to how
this pecidiar race originated, some holding that it was indigenous
and others that it was of Mongolian descent, all such ethnologists
and philologists have agreed that it had a common origin. Therefore
it has been a matter of surprise to those who have been interested
investigators of its history to find that but three of the many nations
of the American race had attained any considerable degree of civil-
ization when they first became known to the white men.

When Hernando Cortes, in 1519, with his cruelly avaricious
but desperately courageous band of Spaniards, invaded Mexico, he
found there a large and intelligent nation, ruled over by an emperor,
living in walled cities, with sumptuous residences, splendid palaces,
and magnificent temples. This people, called the Aztecs, liad a
code of fixed laws, and were skilled in some of the arts and sciences.

6 History of Tazewell County

especially astronomy. They were excellent argiculturists, engaged
extensively in mining the precious metals, and exhibited much skill
in the manufacture of both useful and ornamental articles. His-
torians, from what they deem satisfactory record and traditional
evidence, affirm that tlie Aztecs wandered into Mexico in the twelfth
century, and succeeded the Toltecs. another tribe of the mysterious
American race. The Toltecs are said to have entered Mexico in the
seventh century. Both of these tribes or families had come from
the same hive in the North, just as the Saxons, Danes, and Normans,
successively, journeyed from Scandinavia and ultimately landed in

The Toltecs, the predecessors of the Aztecs, judging from the
monuments and other indicia they left behind them in Mexico, and
the immense architectural remains of the temples they built in
Central America, were moi*e advanced in civilization than were their
successors, the Aztecs.

The Toltecs were so skilled in architecture that the name Toltec
has been pronounced the synonym of architect. They were skillful
agriculturists and introduced maize and cotton into Mexico. In
making record of events they used hieroglyphics, and left ample
monuments to prove that they were skilled in the arts and sciences.
They knew how to fuse metals, to cut and polish the hardest stones,
to manufacture earthenware, and weave many kinds of fabrics. It
is an astonishing fact that they had knowledge of the causes of
eclipses, made wonderful sun-dials, had a simple system of notation,
and measured time by a solar year of 365 days. The Toltecs were
a people of a gentle, peaceful disposition, but very industrious and
enterprising. Their laws were simple but justly administered, and
their religion was of a mild form. Why and when they left Mexico
has not been definitely settled; but it seems certain that they
migrated to Central America, perhaps impelled by the nomadic
instincts inherited from their Asiatic progenitors.

In the matter of religion the Aztecs were very much fiercer and
more barbarous in their practices than their predecessors, the
Toltecs. They believed in one supreme creator and ruler of the
universe, but this sublime faith was strangely mingled with a belief
that hundreds of inferior divinities existed under the control of the
supreme divinity. Not only were the Aztecs heathenish, but they
w ere cannibalistic in the practice of their religious ceremonies ; and
they were the only family of the American race who offered up

and Southwest Virginia 7

human sacrifices. It is related by historians that in the immediate
years preceding the Spanish invasion and conquest of Mexico, the
Aztecs sacrificed twenty thousand liuman beings annually upon
their altars. The sacrificial ceremonies were performed by their
priests on the summits of their temples, and in the presence of vast
throngs of worshipers. A victim was bound to the sacrificial stone,
the breast was cut open and the heart torn out. This vital organ
of the human sacrifice was either placed before an image of their
gods, or, after being cut into small pieces and mingled with maiz,
was distributed to the assembled worshipers to eat. It was a kind
of sacramental ceremony. This strange admixture of a high con-
ception of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe and a sanguinary
superstition which induced them to sacrifice human beings to their
plural gods puts the Aztecs in a distinct class among the numerous
tribes of the American race called Indians.


Peru, now one of the Latin Republics of South America, was
enjoying its second phase of civilization when Francisco Pizarro,
the Spanish adventurer, in 1531, invaded that country with his
reckless band of freebooters. There were only one hundred and

Online LibraryWilliam C. (William Cecil) PendletonHistory of Tazewell county and southwest Virginia, 1748-1920 → online text (page 1 of 65)