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Title: Legends of the Skyline Drive and the Great Valley of Virginia

Author: Carrie Hunter Willis
        Etta Belle Walker

Release Date: June 29, 2010 [EBook #33018]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


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of the

Skyline Drive

and the

Great Valley of Virginia

Carrie Hunter Willis
Etta Belle Walker



The Dietz Press, Publishers


Copyright, 1940


Printed in the United States of America


Tucked away among the hills and valleys in and near the Shenandoah National Park and the Great Valley of Virginia are stories of the beginnings of the white man's life beyond the comparative ease of early Tidewater Virginia. These stories are true ones and they depict something of the courage and hardihood of the early Virginia pioneer. Perhaps in reading of their lives we may catch something of the majesty and charm of their surroundings which were reflected to a marked degree in their way of living. Surely they must often have said, "I will look unto the hills from whence cometh my strength" or how else may we account for the developments which came as the result of their constant struggle for survival?

Stories of colonial Virginia on the eastern seaboard are numerous and usually exciting but they are quite different from the tales beyond the Piedmont. A combination of them may enable us to know Virginia as a whole in a more appreciative way.

Long before the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe ever set foot in the wilds of Virginia, intrepid explorers had passed through various parts of the Valley country.

In 1654—more than sixty years before the Governor's expedition—Colonel Abraham Wood received permission to explore beyond the mountains. His purpose was to establish trade relations with the Indians. His journey carried him through the lower Blue Ridge, crossing the range near the Virginia-North Carolina line.

Reference is made elsewhere of the explorations conducted by the one-time monk, John Lederer, whose journal of the trip was first translated from German and published in London in 1672.

Let us plainly understand however that each of these trips was of a migratory nature; not a thought was entertained by any of the participants of remaining in the Virginia mountains. Any white man found in these sections at this time was there because of good hunting grounds, hopes of good trading, the zeal of a missionary spirit or love of adventure and exploration.

The earliest settlers in the Valley in most part came either from Maryland or Pennsylvania. They came in search of rich, cheap land or for economic reasons or in the hope of establishing greater freedom for themselves and their children.

Two nationalities invaded the Great Valley almost simultaneously: the Germans and Scotch-Irish—both fine, sturdy, healthy and thrifty stock which is reflected in marked degree among the present inhabitants of the region. Their real interest in the new settlements may truthfully be said to have begun about 1730 when land grants were obtained. About two years later the actual move into the country and the house building commenced in earnest.

The German settlers located chiefly along the territory extending from Winchester to Staunton. The Scotch-Irish on the other hand selected Staunton and the valley south of the town for their claims. No nice distinction can be made so easily, for we shall find the two groups interspersed all along the entire length of the Valley. But generally speaking their domains may be defined thus.

So much fighting during the wars of our country could not have been fought in this section of the State without leaving in its wake the stories of chivalry, courage and accomplishment, a few of which are included.

It is our desire that the trips along the Skyline Drive and in the Great Valley country may be enriched and the imagination stirred because of the accounts included in this small book.

Table of Contents

Knights of the Golden Horseshoe1
Progress to the Mines2
Adam Miller and His Neighbors5
Joist Hite, the Pioneer7
German Neighbors, Quakers9
The Scotch-Irish in the Valley12
Indian Tales18
The Moore Massacre20
Washington's Boyhood Friend—Lord Fairfax24
Winchester—The Frontier Town of the Valley26
The Valley Pike31
Front Royal34
Flint Hill36
The Skyline Drive37
Orkney Springs42
Stephens City42
The Story Teller of the Valley—Samuel Kercheval
Pioneer Life44
The Lincoln Family55
New Market56
Endless Caverns57
Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign61
Belle Boyd, the Spy67
Massanutten Caverns73
Grand Caverns73
Massanetta Springs75
Waynesboro and Afton79
Natural Bridge81
The First Academy in the Valley86
Valley Inventions87
Washington College88
The Virginia Military Institute92
Culpeper Minute Men94
Blind Preacher95
Hebron Church96
Hoover's Camp on the Rapidan River97
Charlottesville and Albemarle County98
Jack Jouett's Ride104
Lewis and Clark Expedition105
The Mary Washington House115
Rising Sun Tavern117
Draper's Meadow124
Washington County127
Hungry Mother State Park129
White Top129

List of Illustrations

George Washington's Headquarters, Winchester, Virginia27
View Along the Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Park38
"The Cypress Garden", a Scene in Endless Caverns57
"The Manse", Woodrow Wilson's Birthplace, Staunton, Virginia76
Woodrow Wilson's Bed, Staunton, Virginia78
Natural Bridge81
Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia90
Virginia Military Institute92
"Monticello", near Charlottesville, Virginia99
Rotunda of University of Virginia102
"Kenmore", the Home of Fielding Lewis and Betty Washington
  Lewis, Fredericksburg, Virginia
James Monroe's Law Office109
"The Mary Washington House", Fredericksburg, Virginia116
"Rising Sun Tavern", Fredericksburg, Virginia118
Scenic Highway in Southwest Virginia126
Hungry Mother State Park130

 [Pg 1]

Knights of The Golden Horseshoe

Alexander Spotswood was the first Virginia Governor to become interested in the glowing accounts which the hunters and trappers brought back from the hill sections of the colony. He determined to see for himself those distant blue ridges.

And while historians have not told us who guided him to the upper or western boundary of what was then Essex County, we are told that he became enthusiastic over the rich iron ore which he found in the peninsula formed by the Rapidan River. He decided to build iron furnaces at a point near the river. Later he had his agent, Baron de Graffenreid, go to Germany and bring master mechanics and their families to Virginia.

The first German colony came in 1714 to Virginia and journeyed to Germanna, as they called their new home on the bank of the Rapidan River. They were made up of twelve families and numbered forty-two people in all, men, women and children.

The Virginia Council passed an act which provided protection for the Germans. A fort was built for them, ammunition and two cannon were sent and an order was given for a road to be made to the settlement.

These men and women were brave, loyal and deeply religious. They belonged to the German Reformed Church, which was a branch of the Presbyterian family of churches. Here they organized the first congregation of that faith in America and here they built their church. They had come from Westphalia, in Germany, and of course had brought their own customs and manners, which are not entirely gone even in our modern Virginia. Later, as we shall see, many of this first colony left Germanna and settled on Licking Run near Warrenton.

In 1717 came a second German colony to Germanna. They too were brave, loyal, and devout; but were different from the first, being Lutherans and representing twenty families from Pennsylvania.[Pg 2]

Two years later, the third colony of Germans came to Germanna and from there they settled in Orange and Madison counties.

If Governor Spotswood earned the title of "Tubal Cain of America", it was because these Germans were industrious, thrifty and honest.

The Governor liked the neighborhood so well that he had a palace built for his family. There was a terraced garden, which one may trace in the ruins found there today. A courthouse was built there, for a new county had been cut from Essex and was called Spotsylvania, in the Governor's honor. Nearby was a bubbling fountain spring at which tourists stop today to quench their thirst. This has been marked by the Colonial Dames and over it there is a hand-wrought iron standard, giving the legend of the spring.

In 1732, Colonel William Byrd of Westover visited Governor Spotswood at Germanna. He was one of the Commissioners who ran the boundary line between Virginia and North Carolina. He held many positions of honor and trust in the colony. His writings give an intimate picture of Governor Spotswood's settlement:

Progress to the Mines.

"Here I arrived about three o'clock, and found only Mrs. Spotswood at home, who received her old acquaintance with many gracious smiles. I was carried into a room elegantly set off with pier glasses, the largest of which came soon to an odd misfortune. Amongst other favorite animals to cheer this lady's solitude, a brace of deer ran familiarly about the house, and one of them came to stare at me as a stranger. But unluckily spying his own figure in the glass, he made a spring over the tea-table that stood under it, and shattered the glass to pieces, and falling back upon the tea-table made a terrible fracas among the china. This exploit was so sudden and accompanied with such a noise, that it surprised me and perfectly frightened Mrs. Spotswood. But it was worth all the damage to show the moderation and good humor with which she bore the disaster. In the evening the noble Colonel came home from his mines, who saluted me very civilly, and Mrs. Spotswood's sister, Miss Theky, who had been to meet him en cavalier, was kind too, as to bid me welcome.

"We talked over a legion of old stories, supped about nine, and then prattled with the ladies till it was time to retire. In the meantime, I observed my old friend to be very uxorious and exceedingly fond of his children. This was opposite to the maxims he used to[Pg 3] preach before he was married, that I could not forbear rubbing up the memory of them. But he gave a very good natural turn to his change of sentiments, by alleging that whoever brings a poor gentlewoman to so solitary a place, from all her friends and acquaintances, would be very ungrateful not to use her and all that belongs to her with all possible tenderness.

"We all kept snug in our apartments till nine, except Miss Theky, who was the housewife of the family. At that hour we met over a pot of coffee, which was not quite strong enough to give us the palsy. After breakfast the Colonel and I left the ladies to their domestic affairs, and took a turn in the garden which has nothing but three terraced walks that fall in slopes one below the other.... I let him know that I had come to be instructed by so great a master in the mystery of making iron and that he led the way and was the Tubal Cain of America.... He assured me he was not only the first in this country, but the first in North America who had erected a regular furnace, that they ran altogether upon bloomeries in New England and Pennsylvania, till his example had made them attempt greater works.... At night we drank prosperity to all the Colonel's projects in a bowl of rack punch, and then retired to our devotions....

"I sallied out at the first summons to breakfast, where our conversation with the ladies, like whipped sillibub, was very pretty, but had nothing in it. This it seems was Miss Theky's birthday, upon which I made her my compliments, and wished she might live twice as long a married woman as she had lived a maid. I did not presume to pry into the secret of her age, nor was she forward to disclose it.... She contrived to make this a day of mourning for having nothing better at present to set her affections upon."

It was really from Germanna that the Great Expedition to the Mountains began. Of course we know that Williamsburg was the scene of great excitement when the Governor and some of his staff gathered for the first start. The party consisted of the Governor, Fontaine, whose diary gives us accounts of the journey, Beverley, the historian of Virginia in 1703, Colonel Robertson, Austin Smith, Dr. Robinson, Messrs. Talor, Brooke and Mason and Captains Smith and Clouder. Others were gentlemen, servants and guides. All were delayed when an old trapper told them that their horses' feet would be ruined if not shod. In the sandy soil of eastern Virginia it was not necessary to shoe one's horse, but the rocks, as one travelled inland, would ruin the horse's feet. The party made the best of the long wait by drinking the health of the King, toasts to the maids left behind and in other farewells.[Pg 4]

The party, after five days, reached Germanna and it is from Fontaine's journal that we are told of the details of the trip. He relates the hardships; some, including the writer, had fevers and chills and drank Jesuits' bark tea. Their beds, made of boughs, were not soft enough and the men slept badly and were sore the next day after camping out in the wilderness. They made about six miles a day. Their food was bear's meat, venison, and wild game, which they roasted on long wooden forks over glowing coals. And each time they ate, they also drank the King's health, not forgetting any of his children in their toasts. Fontaine writes—

"We saw when we were over the mountain the footing of elks and buffaloes, and their beds. We saw a vine which bore a sort of wild cucumber and a shrub with fruit like unto a currant. We ate very good wild grapes.... We crossed a river which we called the Euphrates. It is very deep, the main course of the water is north, it is four score yards wide in the narrowest part.... I got some grasshoppers and fished ... we catched a dish of fish, some perch and a fish called Chub. The others went ahunting and killed deer and turkeys.... I engraved my name on a tree by the river's side and the Governor buried a bottle with a paper inside, on which he writ that he took possession of this place in the name of King George the First of England....

"We had a good dinner, and after it we got the men together and loaded all their arms and we drank the King's health in champagne and fired a volley, and the Princess's health in Burgundy and fired a volley, and all the rest of the Royal family in claret and a volley. We drank the Governor's health and fired a volley.

"We had several sorts of liquors, viz Virginian red wine and white Irish usquebaugh, brandy, shrub, two sorts of rum, champagne, canary, cherry punch water and cider."

It was thirty-six days after leaving Williamsburg that the party finally reached the mountain and scaled Swift Run Gap and for the first time a group of Englishmen looked down into the fertile valley beyond.

The Governor was a romantic person, as well as practical, so he wanted to have something tangible by which all of his party might remember their thrilling trip. He asked some of his men what they thought of the idea and someone suggested, no doubt in fun, that they call themselves the "Knights of the Golden Horseshoe".[Pg 5]

Anyway, historians relate that when he returned to Williamsburg, he promptly wrote a letter to His Majesty and told him of the wonderful country "beyond the mountains". He also asked for a grant for the Order of the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe. In due time a proclamation arrived from England creating The Order of the Golden Horseshoe and also fifty tiny golden horseshoes inscribed in Latin "Sic jurat transcerde mantes". There was a seal and a signature and the title of Knight was conferred upon the Governor.

The King also had his own sense of humor and included with all the rest, the bill for the golden horseshoes! And we are told the sporting Governor paid for them out of his own pocket without any regrets.

Let us start our journey from this historic spot and drive along the recently built Skyline Drive. As we go we may look down upon the first settlers' homes, around which are built the thrifty towns of today.

Adam Miller and His Neighbors

Among the earliest settlers in the valley were young Germans, Adam Mueller and his wife and his sister. Adam, as was his family, was born in Germany. Like many others, he had left because of religious persecution, devastating wars and social unrest. His first home in the new country was in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Adam Miller (as his name was soon after spelled) journeyed to Williamsburg, Virginia. There, he told someone, he wanted to make his home. It was not long after the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe had returned with their glowing accounts of the land beyond the mountains. Adam listened with deep interest to the descriptions of the Valley where a native grass grew on which buffalo fattened, where game lived all year and where a forest fringed the fertile valleys. He decided to go with some hunters and he found the kind of land which he wanted. Before he returned to Lancaster he had built a rude log cabin. He returned home by way of Williamsburg, and soon his wife and sister were[Pg 6] getting ready to set forth. Many of his German neighbors were interested also, and historians claim he was the first German to build near Massanutten Mountain.

His neighbors were Abram Strickler, Mathias Selser, Phillip Long, Paul Long, Michael Rinehart, and Jonathan Rood. Some give the date of this settlement as early as 1726. Adam Miller took out his naturalization papers a few years later and today, the visitor may read the quaint document hanging on the walls of the Miller home, near Elkton, Virginia.

His log cabin was soon outgrown. He was a good farmer and his wife and sister helped him. His crops were larger each year. Besides, Adam was a business man. He secured a large land grant and he soon was selling off farms to other Germans who came from Pennsylvania and from Germany.

The Millers built a larger home and they bought some good sturdy furniture to replace the crude tables and chairs which were home-made. They took pleasure in getting the home all ready before they moved into it. They had even spread the beds with the new hand-woven coverlets which his wife and sister had made during the long winter nights. The next night they would sleep in their new home. But during the night, a fire broke out—no one ever knew its origin—and everything was destroyed before the family woke up!

The Millers were undaunted, so they built again. We are told what good neighbors there were in those days. The men took their own axes and cut down the trees. They dressed the lumber, sawed the timbers by careful measurements, laid foundations, and built chimneys. It did not take so long to build a house. The visitor today will see a big white house on the road between Luray and Elkton, almost beneath the shadow of old Massanutten Mountain. He will see the marker which tells him that this house was built by the Miller family. Inside, the visitor will see priceless early American furniture. He will see rosewood and later Empire furniture, too, as other generations added to their heritage. But when one goes into the log cabin kitchen he will stand in reverence before a collection of early Dutch tables, chairs, platters, plates of Delft and pewter, spoons of the same ware. There is a huge corner cupboard[Pg 7] which everyone would like to have for his own. This house no longer has a direct descendant of Adam and his good wife to occupy it, for the last one of his line recently died.

Adam Miller was not only a good neighbor to his German friends but we are told they did not have much trouble with the Indians during the first years he lived in the Valley. However, he was a brave fighter during the Indian Wars and his record is given in Henning's Statutes. He lived through most of the Revolutionary War and no doubt longed to fight in behalf of the country which had given him the opportunity to develop it.

"On Sunday evening, Dec. 3rd, 1749 a young Franciscan went with us (Diary of Leonard Schell, a Moravian Missionary) to show us the way to Mathias Schawb, who immediately on my offer to preach for them, sent messengers to announce my sermon. In a short time a considerable number of people assembled to whom I preached. After the sermon I baptised a child of Holland's. We stayed overnight with Mathias Schawb. His wife told us we were always welcome and we must come to them whenever we came into that district.

"Toward evening a man from another Dutch settlement, Adam Miller passed. I told him that I would like to come to his house and preach there. He asked if I were sent by God and I answered yes. He said if I were sent by God I should be welcome, but he said there are at present so many kinds of people that often one does not know where they come from. I requested him to notify his neighbors that I would preach which he did.

"On Dec. 4th we left Schawb's house commending the whole family to God. We travelled through the rain across the South Shenandoah to Adam Miller's house who received us with much love. We stayed over night.

"On Dec. 5th I preached at Adam Miller's house on 'Whosoever thirsteth let him come to the water and drink.' A number of thirsty souls were present. Especially Adam Miller took in every word and after the sermon declared himself well pleased. In the afternoon we travelled a short distance, staying overnight with a Swiss."

Joist Hite, the Pioneer

When Joist Hite arrived in Virginia he and his family were required to settle on the land bought from the VanMeters. His purchase was made in June 1731. In October of the same year, he and Robert McKay obtained a grant from the Colonial Govern[Pg 8]ment to have 100,000 acres of land surveyed on the west side of the mountain, with the agreement to bring in one hundred settlers within two years. During that year, Hite moved in and settled on that land, but he got an extension of time for bringing in other settlers. By Christmas of 1735 Hite had brought in fifty-four families.

All this land was in the County of Spotsylvania and Hite found that he and his brothers were too far away from the courts so he became interested in getting a new county organized in 1734. This was named Orange, in honor of the Duke of Orange. Later on, having acquired more land, he found himself again too far removed from a court house. And again he applied for a new county. In fact he needed two counties for all his lands and ever-increasing settlers. In 1738 Orange County was divided into three counties, namely: Orange, Frederick, and Augusta to the west of the mountain. With Joist Hite and his wife Anna Maria came their daughters, Mary, her husband George Bowman, Elizabeth and her husband Paul Froman, Magadelena and her husband Jacob Chrisman, and their sons John, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham and Joseph. Hite, we are told, allowed his sons-in-law to choose their own homesteads.

His wife, Anna Maria, died in 1738 at Long Meadows and soon he married again. We read the following quaint marriage contracts between him and his second wife:

"In the Name of Jesus

"Whereas, we, two persons, I, Joist Hite and Maria Magadelena, Relict and Widow of Christian Nuschanger, according to God's holy ordinance and the knowledge and consent of our Friends and Children and Relations are going to enter into the holy state of Matrimony. We have made this Nuptial part one with the others. First promise to the aforesaid Maria Magadalena all the Christian Love and Faithfulness. Secondly, as neither of us are a moment secure from death so I promise her Home or Widow Seat so long as she lives and the Heir to whom the said House shall fall shall provide the necessary Diet and Cloathes and if that do not please but that she rather desire to have her commendations in any other place, so shall the foresaid Heir to the House yearly pay her Six Pounds ready money and this is my well considered desire.

 "Joist Hite."

[Pg 9]

"And Likewise wife, I Maria Magadalena promise the aforesaid Joist Hite. First of all, Love and Obedience. Secondly, I am designed to bring with me to him some cattle, money, household goods which in agreement with attested witnesses shall be Described and should I die before the said Hite so shall the said Hite have the half thereof and the other half shall be delivered back again to my heirs and this is also my well considered desire. Thirdly and Lastly, whoever of the aforesaid persons shall die first the half of the portion the Woman brings with her shall go back to her heirs."

The following goods were brought by the said Mary Magadelena to Joist Hite:

"1 In ready money, twenty two pounds seventeen Shillings and four pence.

2 Two mares one colt value of fourteen pounds.

3 Two drawing steers value three pounds, ten shillings.

4 Two coarse beds Cloathes in all three pounds, Sixteen Shillings and six pence. And said money is adjudged to be in Virginia Currency the 16th day of November, 1741, also one horse mare, six pounds."

Another neighbor pioneering in the Valley was Jacob Stover who secured land grants. History records that he resorted to unusual methods in obtaining them. Upon application, it was necessary to convince the authorities that the applicant could furnish a sufficient number of families to settle the land requested. Stover did not have the required number. He took himself to England to petition the King and in order to be convincing he gave names to every living thing he possessed—dogs, sheep, horses, cows and pigs! After his successful trip which resulted in receiving the land grant, he commenced selling small acreages to the new-comers. He enriched himself materially, but incurred the wrath of his associates.

German Neighbors


Long ago, a shrewd trader from New York, John VanMeter, came into the Valley. He made friends with the Delawares and often went with them on their hunting trips. Once he even fought on their side against their enemies, the Catawbas. While on this visit South, he saw for the first time the fertile native[Pg 10] grass, which grew "five or six feet high", in the Valley. When he returned to New York he told his sons about the rich country, far to the South, and advised them to secure some of it. One of them, Isaac, took his father's advice and came to Virginia in 1736-7 and with a tomahawk cut certain trees, thus making his original claim. This was called the "Tomakawk Right".

Isaac and his brother John secured a warrant from Governor Gooch for forty thousand acres of land. Later on they sold or transferred part of their grant to Joist Hite who was later called the "Old Baron". The latter was one of the hardiest pioneers and in 1734 was appointed by the Virginia Council to act as magistrate. This gave him authority to settle disputes, and to uphold the laws of Virginia as well as to punish all offenders.

Hite soon built a stone house on Opequon Creek and his sons and daughters grew to be splendid men and women. His sons-in-law, George Bowman, Jacob Chrisman and Paul Froman and their families had come with him from Pennsylvania. Robert McKay, Robert Green, William Duff, Peter Stevens and several other families helped each other select land, build homes and a fort.

We are told that the Indians had heard of the kindly relations which existed between the Indians and William Penn's colonists. We know he paid the Indians for their lands, and records show that many of the Germans, especially the Quakers, who settled on Apple Pie Ridge also bought lands from the Indians. These settlers were never disturbed by the Indians. However, when it came to the lands which we now call the Great Valley of Virginia, the Indians were agreed among themselves that no one tribe was to possess any of it. The lands were so fertile and so much game feasted there, that all should be at peace when in the Valley.

So when the first Quakers came we find these names recorded: the Neills, Walkers, Bransons, McKays, Hackneys, Beesoms, Luptons, Barretts, Dillons and Fawcetts.

Another Quaker, Ross, obtained a warrant for surveying lands and his lines were run along the Opequon, north of Winchester, and up to Apple Pie Ridge. Soon many other Quakers from Pennsylvania were moving into the Valley to settle on Ross's surveys. By 1738 these deeply religious people had built homes and were holding monthly meetings to worship God. They had[Pg 11] tiny settlements up and down the Valley. They cultivated their farms, took little interest in politics, cared very little for worldly intercourse and made excellent neighbors. Their manners and dress were plain, their furniture only what was necessary, their homes were crude, but their barns were large and their cattle were well protected.

They refused to pay taxes during the Revolutionary War or to bear arms. Then their neighbors began to ridicule them, calling them cowards, and were no longer friendly. Officers came and seized their crops or property and sold them to raise funds with which to carry on the War against England. The Legislature enacted a law whereby a Quaker either had to fight or pay a substitute to fight for him. Their personal property was put under the hammer and soon they were reduced to poverty. One incident will give us a picture of those far-off days. James Gotharp lived with his neighbors on Apple Pie Ridge. One day during the Revolutionary War officers came, demanding that he should march away with them to join the militia; he refused. The men forced him to come along and later he was made a guard. He was placed beside a baggage wagon and told to let no man go into the wagon who did not have a written order from the commanding officer. Along came an officer who started to climb into the vehicle. James called to him and demanded to see his order of authority. The officer cursed him and stepped up to climb in. James caught him by his legs and pulled his feet off the step. This caused the officer to fall, striking his face against the wagon, bruising his nose and mouth severely.

The dress of the Quakers is still picturesque and many are to be seen in certain sections of the Valley. They wear a broad brimmed hat, a long frock coat, generally black. The women wear full skirts, down to their ankles, black hose, plain black shoes, with round toes. Their bodices, usually black or gray in color, are severely cut, with long plain sleeves, with a high neck, relieved by a white collar. They usually wear a small cap, made of the same material as their dress.


Lending an air of uniqueness yet to the Valley towns is that religious sect called Dunkards. One sees the women of that[Pg 12] denomination, with their little black bonnets, on almost any street in any town along the Lee Highway.

At one time the sect was called Tunkers. They are an offshoot of the Seventh-Day Baptists and had their beginnings in the Valley a little after 1732.

When Dr. Thomas Walker passed through the section on his way westward he noted in his journal on March 17th, 1750, "The Dunkards are an odd set of people, who make it a matter of religion not to Shave their Beards, ly on Beds, or eat Flesh though at present, in the last, they transgress, being constrained to it, as they say, by the want of a sufficiency of Grain and Roots, they having not long been seated here. I doubt the plenty and deliciousness of the Venison and Turkeys has contributed not a little to this. The unmarried have no private Property, but live on a common Stock. They don't baptize either Young or Old, they keep their Sabbath on Saturday, and hold that all men shall be happy hereafter, but first must pass through punishment according to their Sins. They are very hospitable."

The Dunkards built a part of their faith around their disapproval of violence, even for self-defense, and their submission to fraud or wrongdoing rather than resorting to court trials.

The Scotch-Irish in the Valley

Many reasons caused the people of Europe to emigrate during the eighteenth century. In Ireland and Scotland an unrest was spreading as seen in the story of John Lewis.

He was born in Ireland and was a thrifty gentleman. He fell in love with and married Margaret Lynn, daughter of the laird of Loch Lynn, a descendant of a powerful Scotch clan. They were very happy with their three little sons and soon John Lewis rented more lands from a landlord. These lands brought him more and more wealth and the landlord grew jealous. He told Lewis that he would not let him continue to cultivate them, although the lease was not expired.

One day the landlord came to the Lewis home. He brought many of his hirelings and demanded that Lewis vacate the house at once. At the time, Lewis' brother was ill and could not[Pg 13] help him defend his home. Margaret, his wife, and a few servants quickly barred the doors and windows and defied the landlord to enter.

The infuriated man began to fire into the house and one shot killed John Lewis' brother and one wounded Margaret. John could not stand such an outrage any longer, so he rushed out and in the fight which followed, he killed the landlord.

His family and neighbors, knowing the influential Irish would not give him a fair trial, urged him to flee the country. At last he consented to go, but before he did, he carefully wrote down all the details of the trouble and sent it to the proper authorities. Then he hastily left the country and soon was on his way to Virginia. Lewis went to Williamsburg after landing in Virginia. There he met a weaver, Salling, who told him some of the wildest stories he had ever heard.

The weaver had known a peddler, named Marlin, who took his pack far into the land beyond the mountains and traded his pewter ware, beads, compasses and other small articles to the Indians for furs. He told Salling such marvelous stories of the Indians and country that the weaver asked to let him go on one of his trips with him. This he did, and the weaver had plenty of adventures before he finally got back to Williamsburg.

The two men reached the Valley and were far beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains when the Cherokee Indians, thinking they were spies, took them prisoners. Marlin had the good fortune to get away, but Salling was carried farther across another mountain range into what is now Kentucky, where the Indians went to hunt buffalo. Here the Cherokees were attacked by their enemies from Illinois. Salling was again captured and carried off to the southwest. He was adopted by an old Indian squaw as her son and for some time he lived with her. At last a Spaniard bought him and took him as an interpreter to Canada. There he met the French Governor who sent him to New York and after six years, he at last reached Williamsburg.

You would think Salling after this would have settled down and become a weaver again. But life was too tame. When Lewis asked him about the lands in the Valley, Salling decided to take him and the Englishman, John Mackay, who also wanted[Pg 14] to go. Lewis found the country all that Salling had promised him and he decided to settle on a creek which bears his name today.

He obtained authority to 100,000 acres of land in and near the ground on which he built his fort-like house. Before very long, many of his friends and neighbors from Ireland were on their way to Virginia to join him. Many of them settled in Western Augusta near Fort Lewis. One can imagine how happy it made John Lewis to be told that the authorities, upon investigation, had granted him a pardon and absolved him from all blame in the killing of his landlord before he left Ireland. These Scotch-Irish, like their German neighbors, did not have very much trouble from the Indians for several years.

Thomas, a son of John Lewis, studied and went to represent his county in the House of Burgesses. He was a man of sound judgment and voted for Patrick Henry's celebrated resolutions.

Andrew, another son, was a soldier, and made his home in Botetourt County. During the Indian Wars, he was made a General but not until he had proved his worth in many a battle. He served with George Washington on July 4th, 1754 when Fort Necessity was taken, and he was present when the articles of the treaty were agreed upon. When Washington was made Commander-in-Chief, it is said he asked Lewis to accept the commission of brigadier-general. In 1776 he commanded the Virginians when Governor Dunnmore was driven from Gwynn's Island and we are told he gave the order for attacking the enemy and he himself lighted the match to the eighteen-pounder.

General Lewis resigned in 1780 and on his way home was taken ill with fever. He died near Bedford, about forty miles from home.

We cannot give all the accounts of William, Andrew and Charles, the other sons, but if one would read interesting captures and escapes from Indians, he will find that of Charles most exciting.

The sons of John and Margaret Lynn Lewis helped to develop the Valley of Virginia and their name is an honored one wherever it is found.[Pg 15]


Early historians give us some accounts of the various Indians in Virginia. Opechancanough, a warrior chief from the East, went to war with Sherando, a member of the Iroquois tribe. Opechancanough in crossing the mountains on a foraging expedition was once attacked by Sherando who felt his tribe should not have to share its hunting grounds with anyone else and resented the invasion. A fierce battle took place, with no one victor.

Opechancanough liked the country, so when he returned to his town below Williamsburg on the Chickahominy, he left his son and a few warriors to watch the hunting grounds which he had found so rich in game. This son, Shee-wa-a-nee, with his band soon had to fight the main body of the Iroquois and Sherando drove the Chief east of the mountains.

Opechancanough left the lowlands as soon as the news was brought to him by runners. He gathered his warriors and set off with a large force. He fell upon Sherando and in the fierce battles which followed, he slowly drove him from his grounds, and he never returned from his home near the Great Lakes.

Sheewa-a-nee was left again in charge of the Hunting Grounds and from that day the Shawnees held the lovely Valley until the coming of the white settlers.

The settlers kept many of the Indian names for both mountains and streams. Opechancanough river was so called for the Great Chief. Legend and history tell us that in his later years he became blind and could no longer hunt in the lovely Shenandoah Valley.

There were many tribes of Indians in the country and though they did not all speak the same language, they did have a common tongue and could understand each other.

After 1710 all the lands west of the Blue Ridge Mountains were spoken of as Indian Country. The different tribes evidently had understanding among themselves about certain boundary lines as individual tribes had certain domains. When one violated these rights, there was a war in which whole tribes sometimes would be completely wiped out.[Pg 16]

The Shawnees, the most powerful and warlike of all, claimed all the hunting grounds west of the Blue Ridge and as far west across the Alleghany as the Mississippi. They had three large towns in the Valley. One was near where Winchester stands today, one on the North River in Shenandoah County, and one on the South Branch, near where Moorefield is situated. They did allow other tribes to visit them in the Valley on condition they pay them tribute in skins or loot.

The next tribe was the Tuscaroras, and they spent most of their time in what is now West Virginia.

Another tribe was an offshoot from the Sherandos and were called Senedos. They were completely wiped out by the fierce tribe of Cherokees from the South, in 1732.

The Catawbas were from South Carolina and had their towns along the river which still bears that name.

The Delawares came from Pennsylvania and their villages were along the Susquehanna River. The Susquenoughs were a large and friendly tribe on the Chesapeake Bay and they were good to the white settlers until their enemies, the Cenela tribes, drove them away from Tidewater Virginia. Then they went to the upper Potomac River. The Cenelas soon followed them to the same region. Another tribe, the Piscataway, lived along the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay.

The Cherokees had their villages on the Tennessee River down in the Carolinas and Georgia and Alabama. This tribe was made up of the nations of the South, the Muscogluges, the Seminoles, Chickasaws, Choctaws and Creeks. At certain times, all these Indians made forages into the Valley. Besides these there were those from New York—the Senecas, Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas and Cayugas. These were called the Five Nations and they too claimed the right to hunt in the Valley. These Indians believed, we are told, that the Great Spirit had given this Valley to all Indians and it is not surprising that they resented the coming of the white men who soon began to build homes, barns and fences and who claimed the right to shoot the Indians if they came on their property.

Then the French about this time began to build forts along the St. Lawrence River, the Great Lakes and on down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. The French made every effort to[Pg 17] make friends with the Indians and told them the British had no right to take their lands. The French said they would protect their rights if the Indians would let them. Consequently, they became allies of the French and they began to move their villages and towns toward the French lines. They continued to keep a part of their homes and to send back bands of hunters to look after the hunting grounds beyond the mountains.

If the Indians had not been friendly to those pioneers who dared to build homes in the Valley, there would not have been any civilization there until a much later date. But as we have seen, many of them came from Pennsylvania where William Penn and his colonists had dealt so fairly with the Indians. Naturally then, the Indians thought all the settlers would be like those. Besides, there were so few of them, they did not at first realize that their hunting grounds were being taken from them. Consequently, the Delawares and Catawbas in hunting did no harm, though they were bitter enemies and the settlers often saw them with prisoners from the other tribes.

There were Indian villages on the Potomac and on both branches of the Shenandoah. Numerous Indian mounds and graves are still to be seen in certain sections of the Valley. Many of these have been opened and skeletons found to be in a wonderful state of preservation; utensils, pipes, axes, tomahawks, pots and hominy pestles have been found. Their pots and utensils were made of a mixture of clay and hard shells, very crude as to workmanship but very strong.

After twenty or more years of comparative peace, the Indians suddenly left the Valley. In 1753 messengers came from the Western Indians into the Valley and invited them to cross the Alleghany mountains. Historians claim this was done through the influence of the French and later consequences seem to establish the point.[Pg 18]

Indian Tales

In the year 1774 the Indians began to give serious trouble to the settlers on New River. One day several children, those of the Lybrooks' and the Snydow's, were playing down by the river. They heard a dog barking and upon looking up, saw some Indians approaching. One of the boys ran along the edge of the stream trying to make his escape and warn the family. But one of the Indians ran ahead and cut off that means of escape. He also fired at two boys who were farther out in the stream, but fortunately missed them.

While the Indian was aiming at the boys, one of them ran up a rough path which had been made by the animals as they went back and forth to drink. The boy scrambled up this path and darted by the Indian who tried his best to catch him. The Indian gave pursuit and the boy ran until he came to a wide gulley about ten feet wide. This the boy easily jumped, but the Indian hesitated and threw a buffalo tug which struck his head and hurt his back. But he never stopped running until he reached his father's home and slipped into the fort where he told the parents of the attack.

In the meantime, five of the children who were playing in the river climbed into the canoe. The Indians waded out, then swimming to the side of it, pulled out the children, killed them, and took their scalps.

An older girl, about thirteen years old, turned over the canoe and swam downstream, then jumped to the opposite bank. One of the Indians pursued her and she screamed loudly for help. A faithful guard dog came to her rescue and as the Indian reached out to grab her, the dog jumped at the Indian, tearing the flesh in his thigh, and threw him down. This gave the girl time to make her escape.

The Indian struck the dog a blow with his club which finally made him let up on the man. The faithful dog went to the canoe and stood guard over the five scalped children until their people came to take them away for burial. Then the dog refused to leave the spot and began to howl in a most pitiful way. He ran into the woods and back again, keeping up his cries until one[Pg 19] of the men followed him to see what was troubling him. There near a tree, he found a little boy of six years, bleeding to death from a scalp wound.

In 1760 two Indians were seen hiding around Mill Creek. Mr. Painter, his brother John and William Moore went in search of them. After some time they came to a newly fallen pine tree which had a very bushy top.

"We had better be careful," Mathias Painter said as they neared the fallen tree. "There may be Indians hidden in it." As he spoke, an Indian fired from the tree. His bullet grazed John's temple not injuring him. Then the other two white men fired at the Indians, striking one of them who fell to the ground. They supposed him to be dead, so they pursued the one who had fled, leaving his gun and loot behind him.

But the Indian was strong and he outran the two men. Imagine their surprise when they returned, and found the Indian gone whom they had supposed dead, taking the guns and pack of skins with him. The white men picked up his trail and followed him. He hid himself in a sink-hole and when the men came near he opened fire on them. He poured out his powder on the dry grass in front of him so he could reload his gun more quickly. He fired at least thirty times before the two men finally were able to kill him.

The Indian who had gotten away met a young woman of the neighborhood who was riding horseback. He tore her from the horse and forced her to go with him. This happened near where New Market stands today. They travelled about twenty miles or more. The Indian became impatient because she complained of being so tired. People near Keesleton heard cries in the night. The next day when they went to see who had made them, they found a pine knot on which blood was still fresh. Nearby, they found the poor girl, already dead from the cruel blows and from loss of blood.[Pg 20]

The Moore Massacre

One of the most beautiful sections in Southwestern Virginia is called Ab's Valley, in Tazewell County. It was first settled by Captain James Moore, one of the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, who had moved from Rockingham County in 1775. There was no river running through the ten miles of fertile grounds, but several springs watered the tall grass which afforded fine grazing for stock and game. Captain Moore's brother-in-law, Mr. Robert Poage, came to live nearby, but they were the only settlers in that neighborhood. Their nearest neighbors and a fort were over twelve miles away.

In the Spring of 1782 the Indians came to Mr. Poage's house and burst through the heavy door without any warning. They did not expect to find any men there and when they saw there were three they did not attempt to enter the house. The next morning, a man named Richardson, who worked on the place, went out to look at some deer skins which he had soaking in a nearby pond. The Indians crept up and shot him, taking his scalp.

Two years passed before the Indians attacked the Moore family. James, a young boy of fourteen, was sent by Captain Moore to get some horses from a field about two miles from his home. He wanted James to go to the mill and for this he needed an extra horse.

James had gone only a short distance when three Indians sprang from behind a log and caught hold of the boy. He screamed and the Indian laid his hand over his mouth and in the Indian language told him to keep still.

Black Wolf was the name of the middle-aged Indian. His son was about eighteen years old. The other Indian seemed to be one of Black Wolf's men. James said he was not so very much frightened after he was told he belonged to Black Wolf, though he was one of the sternest looking men he had ever seen. Black Wolf gave James some salt and told him to catch some of his father's horses for him. James said he would, meaning he would catch two, and try to make his escape on one of them. But every time he caught a horse the Indians ran up and frightened it so it would get away. At last the Indians gathered up their blankets[Pg 21] and pots where they were hidden in the grass and motioned for James to fall in line. The young Indian went first, then the Indian man, then James, followed by Black Wolf.

James tried to break off pieces of bushes so his father could tell which way he had gone. Black Wolf tapped his shoulder and shook his head. Then he tried to leave signs by digging his toes down into the soft earth. Again Black Wolf shook his head.

After they had gone a long way, about sundown Black Wolf gave a long war-whoop. He did the same the next morning at sunrise. The Indians did this to show they had a prisoner. They gave one cry for each prisoner taken. If they had taken scalps, the cry would have been a different kind.

Before they lay down in the thicket that night, Black Wolf searched James to see if he carried a knife. Then he took out a halter and tied it fast to James' neck and wrapped the other end around his hand.

The next morning Black Wolf left James with the other two Indians and went off to get a Dutch oven which he had taken on one of his other expeditions. He gave this to James to carry. He fastened it to James' back, but after it rubbed a sore place, James threw it down and refused to carry it further. Black Wolf then took off the huge bundle which he carried and told James to take it. But he could not even lift it from the ground. The Indian then pointed to the Dutch oven, and he found it was not so bad to carry after he padded it with leaves.

He found out how long the Indians could go without much food. For three whole days they had only water in which poplar bark had been steeped. On the fourth day they shot a buffalo. They took a small bit of the meat and made a clear broth which they drank but Black Wolf did not let them eat any of the meat until the next day, this being their custom after fasting.

James said he travelled the whole way barefooted. Of course his feet became sore from bruises. He saw many rattlesnakes, but he was not allowed to kill them as the Indians considered them to be their friends.

James knew that the Shawnees, of whom Black Wolf was a member, lived far to the West. He believed they must be nearing their town after he had travelled for twenty days. He told of how they[Pg 22] made a raft of logs on which they crossed the Ohio and other streams. He learned how to twine the long grapevines around the logs to make the raft. He saw how the Indians made crude pictures in the banks of the streams to let other Indians know they had a prisoner. Black Wolf stopped and drew three Indians and a boy.

When the Indians came near their town they painted themselves black. They left him white as an omen of safety. Black Wolf traded James to his half-sister for a horse. James later found out why he was not taken into the town. It was a time of peace and if they had seen the new prisoner, they might have made him run the gauntlet. The old squaw was kind to him and sometimes left him alone in the wigwam for days at a time. He said he prayed to God to keep him safe. We cannot give all his experiences with the Indians, but he was finally sold to a French trader from Detroit. His name was Baptist Ariome and he liked James, for he looked like his own son. He gave the old squaw fifty dollars' worth of silver brooches, beads, and other trinkets in Indian money.

James met a man who was a trader from Kentucky, a Mr. Sherlock. This man promised to write to James' father and tell him of his capture, of his being sold and of his being taken to Detroit. After some time, as we shall see, he did get back to Virginia.

But in the meantime, many other things were happening to the Moore family. In July 1786, several of the hundred head of horses which belonged to Captain Moore came in to the salt block to get salt. Captain Moore went out to see them, about two hundred yards from the house. Nearby were two of his children, William and Rebecca, who were coming from the spring; not far away was another child, Alexander. All at once a stream of bullets began to fly. Thirty Indians had hidden themselves in the tall grass which almost surrounded the Moore home. William and Rebecca were killed instantly. Captain Moore ran to the fence which separated the lot from the house and as he climbed over, he was struck by several bullets. The Indians then ran up and scalped him.

Two men who lived with the Moores were not far away in a field, reaping wheat. When they heard the shooting they ran[Pg 23] toward the house but when they saw it was surrounded by Indians they made their escape and went off to give the alarm to other settlers who were six miles away.

Mrs. Moore and Martha Evans, the girl in the house with her, quickly barred the door when they saw the tragedy. They took down the rifles which had been fired the night before and gave them to an old Englishman, John Simpson, who was ill, to load for them. But the old man could not help them, for he had been struck by a bullet as he lay sick.

Martha Evans soon decided to hide under a loose board in the floor of the cabin. Polly Moore, a little girl of eight, was holding her baby sister who was screaming with fear. Martha told Polly to get under the board too, but she decided to stay with the baby.

Then the Indians burst down the door and lunged in. They took Mrs. Moore prisoner and four children, John, Polly, Jane, and Peggy. They took everything they fancied, then set the house on fire.

Poor Mrs. Moore saw the Indians kill her son because he was sick and could not keep up with them. They killed the baby because it cried so pitiously. They had to have their hands tied, as had James, and they, too, fasted.

When at last they reached the Indian town, Mrs. Moore and Jane were killed by torture and death at the stake. Polly was treated more kindly and was finally sold to a man near Lake Erie, for a half gallon of rum!

Now fate seems to have taken a hand in bringing Polly and her brother James together in that far-away country. While on a hunting expedition James heard about the destruction of his family. He was told that his sister Polly had been bought by a Mr. Stogwell, a man of bad character. It was in the Winter, so James waited until Spring when Mr. Stogwell moved into the same section of the country where he was living.

When James went to see them he found Polly very miserable. Her clothing was only rags and she had almost lost hope of ever seeing any of her people again. James found that Mr. Stogwell was unkind, too, so he went with Simon Girty to Colonel McKee, Superintendent of Indians, to get her release. He had Mr. Stogwell brought to trial, but they did not have[Pg 24] enough evidence and Polly could not leave him. However, after much trouble, James was able to get passage for Polly and himself on a trading boat and came down the Great Lakes. They landed in a Moravian town where they met some friends owning horses. They journeyed to Pittsburgh and stayed until Spring. Then they set off for Virginia, sad, of course, knowing how few there would be to welcome them. Yet they were delighted to find their brother Joseph was still safe. He had been visiting his grandfather in Rockbridge County at the time of the massacre.

Polly met and married the Reverend Samuel Brown, a Presbyterian preacher. They had seven sons, and five of them were ministers.

Washington's Boyhood Friend—Lord Fairfax

"The Proprietor of the Northern Neck," Lord Fairfax, lived at "Greenway Court" after first having a country seat at Belvoir near the Potomac River in what is now Fairfax County.

An interesting character this Fairfax must have been. Born with a title in England, he moved in intellectual circles there, was acquainted with men of letters such as Addison and actually contributed some articles to the Spectator. Either through boredom or a disappointment in not winning the lady of his choice he decided to leave his country and come to Virginia.

It may be of passing interest to learn that Lord Fairfax, although proprietor of thousands upon thousands of acres, lived in a comparatively simple way. His home was an unpretentious story and a half frame building, situated in a large grove of trees, and surrounded by smaller homes for servants and tenants. "Greenway Court," the name given the home, very probably lacked more indications of elegance and grace because of Fairfax's bachelor state.

A mile from the house he had erected a white-oak post which served as guide for those in search of his dwelling. At White Post, the village which derived its name from the signpost, one[Pg 25] may see a replica of the original, located on the site of the first one placed there in 1760 by the proprietor.

His domain, called the "Northern Neck of Virginia," comprised the present counties of Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond, Westmoreland, Stafford, King George, Prince William, Fairfax, Loudon, Fauquier, Culpeper, Clarke, Madison and Page in Virginia and numerous counties in West Virginia.

Lord Fairfax was exceptionally interested in fox hunting and reserved great tracts for this sport. Sometimes he spent weeks at a time hunting. He made a rule that whoever caught the fox should cut off its tail and hold it aloft and should have no part of the expense of the subsequent frolic. As soon as a fox was started all the young men would gallop off at a great rate, while Fairfax waited behind with a servant familiar with the hills and streams and who had a good ear; following the servant's directions he frequently stuck the fox's tail in his hat and rejoined the hunters!

Familiar to everyone is the fact that Lord Fairfax engaged Washington, a boy of about sixteen, to survey his vast lands beyond the Blue Ridge. Through this undertaking the latter gained a thorough knowledge of frontier life and a reputation for dependability and self-confidence. These attributes were to be needed later for participation in the French and Indian War. A warm and lasting friendship grew up between the proprietor and Washington.

Being British by birth and sympathy the course of the Revolution was watched with mingled hopes and anxieties by Fairfax. When news of the final capitulation at Yorktown arrived late in October 1781 the feeble, disappointed and tired old man called his servant and asked to be put to bed since he felt the time had come for him to die. In December of that same year the great proprietor of the Northern Neck of Virginia died.[Pg 26]

Winchester—The Frontier Town of the Valley

The first inhabitants of Winchester were a large tribe of Shawnee Indians. Two houses occupied by white men are supposed to have been standing as early as 1738.

Known as Old Town and Fredericktown it was named Winchester in 1752 in honor of the English home of its founder, Colonel James Wood. The settlement grew so rapidly it was necessary several times to enlarge its boundaries. Colonel Wood and Lord Fairfax both donated additional lots in order to extend the corporate limits of the town.

During the French and Indian War Colonel George Washington was asked to go to Winchester to defend the Valley. He found refugees overrunning the place and determined to build a fort on the outskirts of the town which would afford protection in case of raids. He imported his own blacksmith to do the foundry work, so anxious was he to speed the construction of the fortifications. Fort Loudon was the name given, after Lord Loudon the commander of the colonial forces, and a successful defense was made against the French there. It may be of interest to learn that the fort's bastion still remains and the well which supplied water during the French and Indian War is still in use today.

No account of Winchester would be complete if the story of General Daniel Morgan were omitted. Of Scotch-Irish extraction he came with his parents from New Jersey to the new settlement. As a youngster he was considered something of a bully. The story goes that around "Battletown," an intersection in the roads where toughs used to fight for the joy of combat, young Morgan was in the habit of placing large stones at strategic points. In case he had to retreat he was able to draw on this supply of ammunition!

Tradition has it that on one occasion young Dan Morgan had just arrived in Winchester from the Western settlements on the South Branch—as a driver of a pack for the fur traders. George Washington was ready with his small party to go to the Ohio Country with a message to the French officials not to continue their fort building on English property.

[Pg 27] George Washington's Headquarters, Winchester, Va.

Courtesy Virginia State Chamber of Commerce

George Washington's Headquarters, Winchester, Va.

[Pg 28]

Washington's journal gives the following notes: "On Ye 17th day of Ye month of Novemo,—the party consists of one guide and packer, one Indian interpreter, one French interpreter and four gentlemen." We know now that the celebrated Gist was his guide and Vanbraam his interpreter. It is said that Morgan offered his services too as a guide, and was accepted. It was on this perilous trip, perhaps, that each of these young men realized the fine traits of the other.

It was Daniel Morgan who, at the outbreak of the Revolution, marched a hundred men with one wagon of supplies to Boston to report to General Washington. He fought at Quebec and Saratoga and defeated Tarleton at Cowpens. He had charge of Hessian prisoners captured at Saratoga and there are evidences yet of his supervision of construction of stone walls and homes and the mill at Millwood built with prisoner labor.

"Saratoga" is the name he gave his home near Boyce; it was built mainly by the Hessian artisans. On his way to Gettysburg in 1863 General Lee used the fine old house as headquarters. This estate is on the road between Winchester and Boyce and is in full view of the highway.

There is a wealth of amusing tales told about the old city, some dating as far back as its conception; others have to do with the activities of later times.

The story is still heard in Winchester of the time when guests and village loafers were congregated in one of the taverns at the close of a day to discuss weighty topics over their glasses of ale. From a window they saw an old man get out of his gig, taking with him luggage for overnight accommodation. The gig was comparable to the famed One Horse Shay in its state of near collapse. Comments were passed among the group inside as to the man's shabby appearance, his business and ultimate destination. He was soon forgot in the midst of the ensuing conversation between several young lawyers, one of whom remarked that he had heard a sermon delivered which equalled the eloquence and fluency usually reserved to lawyers pleading their cases. This brought forth eventually a heated discussion of the[Pg 29] merits of the Christian religion, argued pro and con by those present lasting from six in the evening till eleven.

Finally one young fellow turned to the quiet old traveller. The latter had sat with apparent interest and meekness throughout the five-hour debate and had not joined in. The question was asked, "Well, old gentleman, what's your opinion?"

The reply lasted almost an hour; he answered argument for argument in the exact order in which each had occurred and with the greatest simplicity and dignity. At the conclusion no one spoke for some time. At last inquiry was ventured as to his identity. He was Chief Justice John Marshall.

In his Virginia: A History of the People John Esten Cooke relates this story. An Irish laborer and his wife came in 1767 to the lower valley country and stopped at the home of a Mr. and Mrs. Strode, German landowner. For several years they lived with the German family and during the time a son was born. When they decided to push on farther south the Strode children followed, begging that they leave the little boy behind with them. They had become very much attached to the baby and were reluctant to see him go away. The parents naturally refused the request. While stopping for a short rest they placed the baby on the ground and the children would have run off with him if they could.

The family kept its southward course and at last reached the Waxhaws in North Carolina. Here the boy grew up and later his name was familiar to every one—Andrew Jackson, seventh President of the United States.

The legend may or may not be true, according to Mr. Cooke. But at least there was a clear, cool spring on the Strode farm called "Jackson's Spring."

A pamphlet compiled at Winchester on "What To See and How To See It" tells us that the town changed hands seventy-six times during the War Between the States. Other sources give a fraction of a smaller figure. The exact number of times the town was under first Federal then Confederate forces does not matter, but it is well to know that so much of the fighting took place around the neighborhood. More will be said about the Valley warfare later on.[Pg 30]

Beginning in November 1861 and continuing until March of the following year General Jackson had his headquarters in Winchester. After finding suitable quarters he sent for his wife who had remained at their home in Lexington, Virginia. Colonel Henderson in his well-known book, Stonewall Jackson, quotes Mrs. Jackson as saying of her stay that Winter:

"The Winchester ladies were amongst the most famous of Virginia housekeepers, and lived in a good deal of old-fashioned elegance and profusion. The old border town had not then changed hands with the conflicting armies, as it was destined to do so many times during the war. Under the rose-colored light in which I viewed everything that winter, it seemed to me that no people could have been more cultivated, attractive, and noble-hearted. Winchester was rich in happy homes and pleasant people; and the extreme kindness and appreciation shown General Jackson by all bound us to them so closely and warmly that ever after that winter he called the place our 'war home'."

Winchester rightly claims that it is in the "heart of the apple industry," for thousands of acres are devoted to the growing of fine apples. Over a million barrels are harvested annually and at Winchester, we believe, is the largest cold storage apple plant in the world.

Celebrating its crop each year, the city stages an apple blossom festival during the latter part of April or the first of May when the orchards for miles around are filled with the delicately tinted pink blooms. This is a lavish sort of entertainment. A queen is selected to reign over the festivities, her maids are invited from surrounding sections of the country to participate in the parades and balls which are given during the days' programs. If you haven't been already, plan to attend an Apple Blossom Festival and see Virginia in one of her prettiest moods—with gay young ladies and bloom-filled orchards.

You know of the "Tom, Dick and Harry" trio of Winchester and its neighborhood, don't you? They are the world famous Byrd brothers, descendants of the founder of Richmond, Colonel William Byrd of Westover on the James. Tom Byrd is a successful planter and orchardist. Richard Byrd is noted for his polar expeditions; now he is devoting all his energies towards the perpetuation of peace for our country. Harry Byrd was at one time a progressive young Governor of the State and now serves as a Senator in the United States Congress.[Pg 31]

The Valley Pike

"Route Eleven" as the road is called from Winchester to Bristol is one of the most historic as well as the most beautiful in all Virginia. It stretches, like a broad silver ribbon, for over three hundred and fifty miles. It begins at the northern end of the Valley, near the Potomac River, and leads one through the fertile Valley, southward and winding ever westward through the Blue Ridge and the Alleghany mountains.

Let us review this famous driveway. Long before the coming of the white men, the Indians followed almost a natural trail, as they journeyed back and forth into the richest hunting grounds known anywhere in all their world. Along it they found the big elk, bear, buffalo, wolves, foxes, wild turkeys and smaller game.

The first pioneers followed this Indian Trail, as they called it. Then, as they developed the country more and more, they brought in horses and oxen. This made a wider road and soon they were rolling their hogsheads of tobacco and grain over it. They carried their products to market in heavy wagons, swapping their wild bees' honey, venison, grain, and hand-woven linen for the precious salt, sugar, iron and lead. Over this road came an ever increasing number of other pioneers to settle near those already living in the rich Valley. They brought their furniture, guns, and families and a most fervent respect for the priceless liberty to be found there. Liberty where one could worship God as one pleased. Liberty where one's children could share in the development and in a new country, full of opportunities.

Historians claim that the young George Washington surveyed this road through the Valley. Engineers today say that he did a wonderful work and that they would make a few changes in it. Let us look at some of the famous names of those who lived near or travelled over it. Some of them lived within sight of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains while others visited from one end of it to the other. As one travels near Winchester, he reads the names of John Marshall, George Washington, and General Morgan. From Charlottesville one reads of Patrick Henry visiting Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. There, too, were Lewis and Clarke, men famous in the development of our West, the Mc[Pg 32]Cormicks, the Houstons, the Austins and other noted Virginians who went West and settled there.

By now the Road was being called by many names, such as "The Old Indian Trail", "The Great Road", the "Settlers's Road", while still others called it the "Wilderness Road".

Then came peace and prosperity after the French and Indian War and that of the Revolution. Finer horses and carriages were being brought into the Valley and so a better road had to be built. Some thrifty soul suggested having a splendid road which should be maintained by tollgates. And so was built the famous "Valley Pike". This was the pride, not only of the Valley, but of all Virginia and the South.

Interesting stories are told every day, as one travels over this beautiful road, such as that of Charlotte Hillman who kept a tollgate along the Pike. While Sheridan was making his famous raid through the Valley (when he remarked that a crow travelling through the countryside would have to carry a knapsack with provisions for his flight), he came to the tollgate. Charlotte let down the gate and demanded toll from the army before allowing it to pass. The General and his staff paid the toll but he refused to pay for the entire corps. She lifted the gate but cut a notch on a tree for every ten soldiers who passed. At the close of the War she presented the United States Government with a bill—which is said to have been paid in full.

Today Route Eleven is known as the Lee-Jackson Highway, so called in honor of Generals Robert Edward Lee and "Stonewall" Jackson. As you travel through the Great Valley of Virginia may you know more intimately the great men and women who have built not only the Great Valley of Virginia, but who have helped in the making of America. We hope this little book may make you know them and love Virginia more ... and we hope you will come again and again to enjoy the Great Valley of Virginia.[Pg 33] Berryville

Long before the County of Clarke was ordered to be carved from Frederick, a town was established called Battletown. This was so called, says tradition, because of the rough and-tumble fights of the gang who met there to drink their ale.

Daniel Morgan, a picturesque character of the Valley, thought he had the right to stop such fights and so he frequently got into the fray. Old records show that Morgan sometimes had to pay a fine "for misbehavior." But no doubt it was here that he won his strength and learned to out-match the toughs of the neighborhood. Certainly he won a reputation for his prowess, and as a general he won distinction.

The town changed its name in 1798 when it was granted a charter and became Berryville. It was named for its founder Benjamin Berry, who donated the land and when Clark County was formed in 1836, Berryville was chosen as the county seat.

Tradition tells us that George Washington boarded with Captain Charles Smith when he was in the Valley surveying for Lord Fairfax. This home was about a half mile from the present Berryville. His office while in the Valley was a small log building which was used as a spring house for "Soldier's Rest." A cold spring of water flows under the floor of the first room, which is about twelve feet square. George used the room upstairs for his sleeping quarters. It was there he kept his instruments and carefully recorded in his diary his experiences. It was there he made out his reports for Lord Fairfax. Howe, an early historian, tells us about that youth of sixteen. Quoting Bancroft, he writes: "The woods of Virginia sheltered the youthful George Washington, the son of a widow. Born by the side of the Potomac, beneath the roof of a Westmoreland farmer, almost from infancy his lot had been the lot of an orphan. No academy had welcomed him to its shade, no college crowned him with its honors, to read, to write, to cipher—these had been his degrees of knowledge. And now at sixteen years, in quest of an honest maintainance, encountering intolerable toil, cheered onward by being able to write to a boyhood friend, 'Dear Richard, a doubloon is my constant gain every day, and sometimes six pistoles.' He was his own cook, having no spit but a forked stick, no plate but a large[Pg 34] chip; roaming over the spurs of the Alleghanies and along the banks of the Shenandoah, alive to nature, among skin-clad savages, with their scalps and rattles, or uncouth emigrants that would never speak English, rarely sleeping in a bed, holding a bear skin a splendid couch, glad of a resting place for a night upon a little hay, straw or fodder ... this stripling surveyor in the woods, with no companion but his unlettered associates, and no implements of science but his compass and chain, contrasted strangely with his fellows. And yet God had not selected a Newcastle, nor a monarch of the Hapsburg, nor of Hanover, but the Virginia Stripling to give to human affairs and as far as events can depend upon individuals, had placed the rights and destinies of countless millions in the keeping of the widow's son."

While in the Valley of Virginia the young George Washington learned how to tell the age of various trees by the thickness of their bark. The older a tree is, the thicker the bark and it is much rougher and thicker on the north side of the tree. He learned to know the course of the winds and to get to the leeward of his game when out hunting for food or skins. This was done by putting his finger in his mouth and holding it there until it became warm, then holding it high above his head; the side which became cold showed him which way the wind was blowing. He learned that the deer always seeks the sheltered places and the leeward side of the hills. In rainy weather, they keep in the open woods and on the highest grounds. He found that the fur or skins of animals are good in all those months in which an "R" is found in the spelling.

He learned how to track animals, to know the various birds' songs and cries. He watched the hunters build their camp fires and learned how to cook his own game.

Front Royal

As most of us know, Charles II lived in such extravagant style and had such a luxurious court he had difficulty in keeping his bills paid. He was accustomed to resorting to one scheme after another in order to raise revenue. At one time he dreamt of great wealth from the Virginia colony through its tobacco crop—and it did supply him generously with taxes.[Pg 35]

Realizing a lucrative business might be established by trading in furs with the Indians, Charles ordered Governor Berkeley to send explorers beyond the mountains. The governor chose a man of whom history records very little. John Lederer was at one time a Franciscan monk. He obviously had leanings towards an adventuresome life. In 1761 he set out for the West, under the compulsion of Governor Berkeley. The party was composed of five Indian guides and a Colonel Catlett. They went through Manassas Gap in the neighborhood of Front Royal.

The expedition proved a failure because of the unfriendly attitude of the Indians and the roughness of the country. Charles was destined for another disappointment.

White settlers came to Front Royal as early as 1734 and built their little houses in sheltered coves near the Shenandoah. Soon, news of the desirable home sites in the Valley attracted other settlers. Lehewtown was the early name given the settlement.

Rough characters began to find their way here and shootings, brawls and hard drinking were the order of the day—so much so that the place later became known as "Helltown." However, it acquired more dignity and order with the years and about 1788 it was incorporated under the name of Front Royal. And why did the town get its double name? There are several existing legends as to the derivation of the town's present name.

The trails from Page and Shenandoah valleys crossed at this point. One account states that the settlers going from one place to another met at a tavern at the crossroads where the Royalist troops were stationed. Hence ground around the town was a military post. When the sentry on guard called out "Front" and the settlers were not able to give the password "Royal." The name Camp Front Royal was given the post and later it was known by the last two words.

A particularly tragic battle occurred at Front Royal in May, 1862, when the First Maryland Regiment of the Union forces met the First Maryland Regiment of the Confederate Army. It happened when Stonewall Jackson came out suddenly from the Page valley and attacked General Banks' left wing stationed at this town. The Federals were defeated and were driven on through[Pg 36] Rivertown where they tried hard to burn the bridges and cut off the Confederate advance. The cavalry of the latter under Ewell saved the bridges which spanned the two branches of the Shenandoah River. About two weeks later the Confederates themselves burned the bridges, but this was after Jackson had flanked Banks away from the position at Strasburg, followed him to Winchester and won a victory there.

Flint Hill

In 1861 young Albert Willis was a theological student. Like many others, he left his studies to enter the services of the Confederate Army. While he was not a chaplain in Mosby's Rangers in which he had enlisted, he did carry on his pastoral work with the men by giving them Bibles, holding some services, and writing home for those who could not write; no day passed during which he did not find an opportunity to be of service to the men.

One day in October, 1864 he was granted a furlough and was riding southward to Culpeper, hoping to reach his home in that county. Not far away from Flint Hill his horse lost a shoe, so he stopped at Gaines Mill. There was a rickety old blacksmith shop at the crossroads. It had been raining and he was very wet. While the horse was being shod, he stood near the fire to dry his boots. The beat of the hammer on the iron drowned out the sounds of approaching horses on which rode Federal soldiers.

Willis was taken captive and joined another prisoner outside. The two Confederates were told that one of them must die in reprisal for the death of a Federal soldier who had been killed the day before.

The prisoners were carried before General William H. Powell, Union Cavalry leader. Someone told General Powell that Mr. Willis was a chaplain.

"If you are a chaplain," General Powell told him, "your life will be spared."

"I am not a chaplain," the young Confederate replied, "I am a soldier, fighting in the ranks."

General Powell then told the Confederates that one of them[Pg 37] would be hanged within an hour. They would be given straws to draw lots. In this way would one be spared.

Willis replied that he was a Christian and was not afraid to die. He insisted that the other Confederate who was a married man, be set free. The doomed man was led out to a spot on the road near Flint Hill. A rope was placed around his neck while the other end was tied to a young sapling which had been bent down by the weight of several Federal soldiers.

While the preparations were being made, young Willis knelt down and prayed. A witness said he never heard such a beautiful prayer, lacking all bitterness. When he was through, the men released the tree and it sprang into its natural position, swinging Willis high into the air, where the body was left.

When the Federals had gone, Mr. John Ricketts came by with a companion and they cut down the rope, took the body of the brave Confederate and buried it in the cemetery at Flint Hill. Today there is a stone which marks his resting place and every Spring women go and place flowers on his grave. Nearby is a small chapel named in honor of him—"Willis Chapel."

General Powell knew that young Willis was not accused as a spy, but he was carrying out an order, issued in August 1864 by General U. S. Grant, which read: "When any of Mosby's men are caught hang them without trial."

The Skyline Drive

This world famous drive is not very old in point of years, but its lure has and is attracting thousands of visitors every week to see the beauties along its borders. Beginning at the northern entrance at Front Royal, one winds around curving grades of finely built roads which pass through great forests of oak, walnut, maple and wonderful specimens of evergreens.

West of the Drive one sees the eastern section of the Shenandoah Valley and Massanutten Mountain which divides the Shenandoah River into two forks for fifty miles or more. The river winds in and out and at one place the guide will point out eleven bits of blue river spots as it makes as many turns through the Valley. One thinks of old patchwork quilts as he looks into the Valley[Pg 38] below, for there are patches of green fields, oblong bits of blue water, red roofs of barns and homes, besides the various shades of greenwood lots.

View Along the Skyline Drive in the
Shenandoah National Park

Courtesy Virginia State Chamber of Commerce

View Along the Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Park

And no matter when or how often one goes, the views are never the same. Sometimes the blue haze from the Blue Ridge Mountains makes the sunlight turn to a golden mist. Clouds often cast huge moving shadows over the fields and forests below—and sometimes they shut out the patchwork entirely, leaving the visitor in a gray world, with only himself and the clouds below and above. But this is unusual.

Tall stark gray chestnut trees make a striking contrast against the greens and flowers, especially in the Fall when the leaves are[Pg 39] so brilliantly colored. These once-producing nut trees were killed by blight years ago.

Occasionally one's attention is caught by a moving object high above on some peak. This will prove, upon investigation, to be a hiker, or maybe two or more. Every year more and more of these nature lovers are using the Appalachian Trail, which, as you know, is the foot-trail from Maine to Georgia. It was through the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club that this link in the trail was included in the Skyline Drive and they maintain locked shelters for hikers along the way within the park.

Other trails invite one to lofty peaks through wild canyons and into groves of giant hemlocks. Another takes one through White Oak Canyon where a stream of pure water tumbles over huge rocks and makes a snow-white misty spray. Here one sees rare wild flowers, ferns, moss and herbs. There are trout lilies, Solomon's-seal, Hepaticæ and many other varieties of flowers.

There is a trail to Big and Little Devil's Staircases where two hundred foot cliffs protect narrow canyons filled with maidenhair fern, spleenwort, cinnamon, wild parsley, ginseng and ginger. Tall maple and tulip trees are lovingly intertwined by such clinging vines as trumpet vines and honeysuckle while at their feet grow rare ferns and carpets of moss. One hears the songs of the birds and sees the flashing of their brilliant colored wings.

Not far from Mary's Rock is Skyland. Here the tourist finds accommodations for overnight or longer. Big roaring fires at evening make visitors linger to listen to the stories of the Valley.

Horseback riding is great sport for the Skyline guests who explore the various trails nearby.

The visitor may leave the drive at Panorama and go west down the mountain to Luray. Or he may go east from Panorama down a lovely road to Sperryville. Then on Route 211 he may motor north to Washington or, if he would like to go by way of Culpeper, Madison, Orange and Fredericksburg, he would find a rolling country and inviting roads to the west, south and east.

If the visitor would continue the drive to Swift Run Gap, he could go over the Spotswood Trail to Elkton and to the Valley beyond. If he would go east, he would also use the Spotswood Trail to Stanardsville and Gordonsville, then to Orange or to Charlottesville.[Pg 40]

Who dreamed the dream or had the first vision of the Skyline Drive? What farsighted men started the movement which resulted in our national government's making a great scenic park in Virginia?

A bulletin from the Commonwealth gives the following summary:

"The movement which has made this area a national park was begun in 1924 when the director of the National Park Service and the Secretary of the Interior conferred on the establishment of a park in the southern Appalachian Mountains. The Secretary appointed a committee to choose the most attractive and suitable area; in December, 1924, his committee voted unanimously for the area of the Blue Ridge mountains between Front Royal and Waynesboro to be the first large national park in the East....

"Acquisition of the area was a very difficult task. In 1926 the newly created Virginia State Commission on Conservation and Development started field work, and the Shenandoah National Park Association began a campaign to raise funds for the purchase of the land. The required area was made up of 3,870 separate tracts. Most of the owners did not wish to sell; land titles were not clear nor boundaries well defined; sufficient money to make the purchase was not available. Congress reduced the minimum area required for administration, protection, and development of the park by the National Park Service. Certain individuals made large donations. The Virginia legislature appropriated $1,000,000 for acquisition and passed a special law providing for wholesale condemnation of the land. Finally, in 1935, at a total cost of approximately $2,000,000, 275 square miles were acquired, and the deed to the park area was presented to the United States government by the State of Virginia.

"The completion of this tremendous task of acquiring and establishing the Shenandoah National Park has made available to the people of the United States, for recreational and educational purposes, an unusually attractive region of mountains, hollows, dashing streams, forests and flowers.

"The mountains rise to a maximum height of slightly more than 4,000 feet above sea level, or approximately 3,200 feet above the surrounding country."


We can hardly mention a Valley town which has retained its original name throughout the years. What is now known as Strasburg was in the beginning called Staufferstadt, which indi[Pg 41]cates its German background. Peter Stover was the founder from whom the settlement took its name but when he had the town incorporated in 1761 he changed it to Strasburg in honor of his home city in Germany.

There are evidences of the pioneer life of the Valley to be seen near here. A house built about 1755 and occupied by the Hupps was so constructed as to serve efficiently as a fort during the Indian raids; this may still be seen. The home of George Bowman, a son-in-law of Joist Hite, is also close by Strasburg.

Joist Hite had four famous grandsons born at this Bowman home. John was a governor of Kentucky. Abraham was a Colonel in the Revolutionary War and Isaac also served in that war. Joseph served under General George Rogers Clark in the expedition to the Northwest Territory.

The story is told that a party of eight Indians with a white man named Abraham Mitchell killed George Miller and his wife and two children just two miles from Strasburg. They also killed John Dellinger and took his wife and baby prisoners.

A group of white men set out to find them and overtook the Indians in the South Branch Mountains. They fired upon the Indians and killed one of them, allowing the others to make their escape. Mrs. Dellinger was forgotten in their flight so she came home with her neighbors. She told them the Indians had killed her baby by dashing out its brains on a tree—a favorite means of execution with them.

Samuel Kercheval, who so frequently is quoted by us and of whom we have written elsewhere is buried near Strasburg at "Harmony Hall."

The town saw Union and Confederate troops march by during the length of the war and several battles took place not far distant. A few trench lines may still be seen around the countryside. "Banks' Folly" was erected by General Banks when he expected Jackson to invade the territory from the south and later found to his dismay that the Confederates had entered the Valley from the opposite direction. Signal Knob on top of Massanutten Mountain was used by the latter general as a means of communication with the main division of the army on the Rappahannock River.[Pg 42]

Orkney Springs

Orkney Springs, earlier known as the Yellow Springs, was named for the Earl of Orkney and was surveyed by George Washington, according to some accounts. The Springs may be reached by travelling west of Mount Jackson.

"The Orkney Springs are composed of several lively springs and are strongly chalybeate. Everything the water touches or passes through, or over, is beautifully lined with a bright yellow fringe or moss. The use of this water is found beneficial for the cure of several complaints. A free use of this water acts as a most powerful cathartic, as does also a small quantity of the fringe or moss, mixed with common water."

So stated the historian Howe concerning the Springs. Around the waters there grew up a tiny village which accommodates the visitors to the section. An excellent hotel caters to the guests who seek either quiet and rest or zestful games.

Near Orkney Springs there is a beautiful outdoor shrine where the Episcopal Church holds regular and impressive services during the Summer months—Shrinemont.

Stephens City

An act of the General Assembly in 1758 made Stephens City, or Stephensburg as it was then known, the second town in the Valley. The first was Winchester. Lewis Stephens the founder of this town came to Virginia with Joist Hite in 1732.

Later on this was a thriving town manufacturing the Newtown-Stephensburg wagon that was the pride of teamsters who travelled all roads leading south and west. They took merchandise into the wilderness and returned with furs, skins and other products sent back by those settlers who had pushed on farther into the wilds of Virginia. Many a covered wagon which saw the plains of the Middle West had its birth in Stephensburg.

When the Forty-Niners created companies which sent supplies to the gold fields of California they found that few wagons lasted more than six months. At last they began to order those being made in Stephensburg. These were found to be sturdier in[Pg 43] build and could stand the strain of the rough roads and paths longer than other wagons on the market.

The stores in the town were good ones, and often covered wagons came in drawn by splendid horses. The drivers of these teams put up overnight at the old taverns and many of the citizens gathered after supper to hear the news of what was going on in Alexandria or in Tennessee. The drivers would be called personal shoppers today, for they brought lists of articles to be carried back into the far-off country for the convenience of the homesteaders there. The lists probably included sugar, tea and coffee, cloth by the bolt and household articles. You can imagine the joy with which the covered wagons would be sighted days later!

During Jackson's Valley Campaign the village was known as Newtown and mention is made in this book of fighting in the neighborhood.

Today the main industry centers around lime which is found in large quantities close by.


As an early village this was known as Senseny Town, in honor of the doctor by that name who owned the land. In 1795 it was called Middletown. Long ago it was a manufacturing town and was noted for the fine clocks and watches which were splendid time-keepers for the punctual and thrifty Valley folk. In fact, the demands for them came from far and near. The old wooden wheels were first used, then brass was introduced and the watch-makers learned to make the eight-day clocks—the last word in time-keepers until the advent of the modern electric clocks. The manufacturers of the watches and clocks soon made instruments for surveyors as well as the much needed compasses.

The first successful effort to produce a machine to take the place of the flail and threshing floor for threshing wheat from the straw had its start in this same town. The machines were a marvel in their day and the villagers talked for months at the time when the machine beat out one hundred bushels of grain in one day![Pg 44]

The Story Teller of the Valley—Samuel Kercheval


Samuel Kercheval as a boy saw many of the pioneer men and women who had cut their homes out of the wilderness. He never tired hearing of how they had left Germany, and later had come down from Pennsylvania into the Valley. He himself could remember many of the "Newcomers" who were themselves pioneers. He loved the stories of the forts, the Indian raids and the customs of the Germans and Scotch-Irish. He later began to write down many of these stories and after he was older he rode up and down the Valley gathering more and more stories and reading wills and old records. Nothing was of too little value for him to record, even accounts of the freaks of nature, like a six-legged calf, snakes and other animals.

When Kercheval's friends insisted that he write a book about the Valley, he objected until they told him how much the children of the country would enjoy stories of their grandparents. His own children (there had been fourteen of them in all), like all children, loved stories. Now he began to get his notes in shape and about one hundred years after the first settlers came into the Valley, Samuel Kercheval's History of the Valley of Virginia was ready for the publishers.

This was so popular that all the first edition was soon exhausted. How pleased he was with the demands for more of them! However, he died before the second edition came out. He lived at the time of his death in 1845 at "Harmony Hall" near Strasburg. This had at one time been a fort. During an Indian raid, we are told, sixteen families sought shelter within its old stone walls. They lived together so peaceably that they gave it the name of "Harmony Hall."

It is from Kercheval that we get the first pictures of the Valley. He writes that it was long beautiful prairie, with tall rich grasses, five and six feet tall, with fringes of sturdy timbers[Pg 45] following its swiftly running streams. He describes the kinds of soils and tells which is rich and which is poor. For instance he says where one finds slate he may rest assured the soil will not produce very good crops. On the other hand, where one finds limestone the soil will produce fine products, grains and fruits.

Metal was found in some of the hillsides and mountains. An Englishman named Powell found silver ore on the mountain which bears his name. He smeltered the silver and from it made coins. This was breaking the laws, of course, and soon officers were attempting to arrest him. Powell fled to his mountain where he had a small fort hidden, and for years eluded them. After many years men found his little shop where he smeltered the ore and Kercheval himself saw the crude crucible in which the ore was refined and the iron utensils also.

Kercheval tells that many of the farmers found it difficult to plough their lands and to make crops because of the innumerable small and large stones which they found everywhere. At last they decided to get rid of them and built many of the stone walls which one sees up and down the mountain sides, along winding roads and enclosing picturesque homes. He says the soil is so rich that seeds do not need to be planted very deep, as they will germinate if there is only enough soil to cover them.

There were great sugar-maple trees too and he tells of those "sugar hills" in which there are four or five hundred acres of trees. They even look like sugar loaves from a distance and today on Paddy's Mountain you may still see some of them. You may already have guessed that the name Paddy was in honor of the owner Patrick Blake, an Irishman who built in the gap which is named for him.

Kercheval lists carefully all the various healing springs and gives the properties of each. He even gives the names of many persons who were benefitted by drinking from or bathing in them.

Let us pause here and read about these pioneers, how they built their houses, how they dressed, and something of their superstitions, manners and customs.

The first settlers built plain sturdy houses made mostly from rough hewn logs. Some of these were covered with split clap[Pg 46]boards, having weight poles to keep them in place. Many of them had no floors except the earth itself. If made of wood, they used rough logs, split in two and roughly smoothed with a broad ax. However, as they improved the lands and their families grew, some larger houses were built of stone, which the men and boys brought in from the fields.

The married men generally shaved their heads and they wore wigs or linen caps. When the Revolutionary War broke out this custom was stopped for they could no longer buy wigs from Europe and none were made in this country. There was little linen, so they could not get enough for other needs and they could do without caps.

The men's coats were mostly made with broad backs and straight short skirts. These had huge pockets with flaps. The waistcoats had skirts nearly down to the knees and pockets also. Their breeches were so short they hardly reached to their knees, and they were fastened with a tight band. Their stockings were drawn up under the knee-hand and tied with a red or blue garter below the knee so it could be seen. Their shoes were made of coarse leather, with straps and they were fastened with buckles of brass for every day—maybe with silver for Sundays and holidays. The men's hats were either of wool or fur with a round crown three or four inches in height and with a very broad brim. The shirt collar was only a narrow band and over it was worn a white linen stock drawn together at the ends and fastened with a broad metal buckle.

The women wore a short gown and petticoat of plain materials and a calico cap. Their hair was combed back from the forehead and made into a plain knot at the nape of the neck.

The women and girls worked in the fields and wore no shoes except in the winter. They worked from dawn 'til dark, for they milked, churned, made cheese, washed and ironed for the family, cooked, spun and wove, knitted stockings and quilted in their leisure moments. Kercheval tells us how they made apple butter and sourkrout. Of the latter he wrote:

"Sourkrout is made of the best of cabbage. A box about three feet in length and six or seven inches wide, with a sharp blade fixed[Pg 47] across the bottom, something on the principle of the jack plane, is used for cutting the cabbage. The head being separated from the stalk and stripped of its outer leaves is placed in this box and run back and forth. The cabbage thus cut up is placed in a barrel, a little salt is sprinkled on from time to time, then pressed down very closely and covered at the open head. In the course of three or four weeks it acquires a sourish taste and to persons accustomed to the use of it is a very agreeable food. It is said the use of it within the last few years on boards of ship has proved it to be the best preventive known for scurvy. The use of it is becoming pretty general among all classes in the Valley."

Kercheval even tells us what the pioneers did for medicine. When he was a boy he saw a man brought into the fort on horseback, who had been bitten by a rattlesnake. One of the men dragged the snake, fastened to a forked stick, behind the victim. The body of the snake was cut into small pieces, split and laid on the wounded flesh. This, they claimed, would draw out the poison of the bite. When this was done, the snake was burned to ashes. During this process, others gathered chestnut leaves and boiled them in a pot. Wide pieces of chestnut bark were applied to the man's wound and the chestnut-leaf mixture poured over some of the boiled leaves which had been made into a poultice. This was kept up during the first day and if not improved, the treatment was continued the next.

Others suggested using boiled plantain, cooked in milk, which was given to the patient. Walnut fern was another remedy for snakebite. The braver patient submitted to cupping, sucking the wound or having someone cut out the flesh around the bite.

Gunshot wounds were treated with slippery-elm bark, flax seed poultices or by scraping the wound itself and cauterizing it.

The people suffering from rheumatism were rubbed with oil made from rattlesnakes, bears, geese, wolves or any wild animal. This was put on a flannel rag and bound to the parts affected.

There were all kinds of syrups made from herbs such as spike nard and elecampane for coughs and tuberculosis. The Germans used songs or incantations for the cure of burns, nose-bleed and toothache. For one afflicted with erysipelas the blood of a black cat was given. Hence there were few cats which had not lost parts of their ears or tails.[Pg 48]

The sports of the boys in those early days were mostly those which developed their physical bodies. The boys were given a gun almost as soon as they were strong enough to carry one. They learned to make their own bows and to sharpen their own arrows and many of them could shoot as straight as the Indians who still roamed the hills.

Throwing the tomahawk was another favorite sport. This axe-like weapon with its handle will make so many turns in a given distance. With a little practice a boy soon learned to throw his tomahawk and strike a tree as he walked through the forest.

When a boy was twelve, he had his own small rifle and pouch and was made a member of the fort. He was given a certain port hole through which he took careful aim. He was often allowed to go with older men on hunting trips if he had proved himself worthy to be "among men."

Dancing as we know it was unknown, but few ever enjoyed anything more than those boys and girls did dancing their jigs and reels. Their music was simple and singing was something both old and young enjoyed to the fullest. Story-telling was an art then, and year by year, old, old tales grew longer and longer and Jack the hero, always conquered all the giants.

There was witchcraft in the Valley too, and when a crow or calf died or was sick, the owner often thought a witch had shot it with a hair ball or with some kind of curse. When a man lost his cunning in his once good aim, he was sure some one had put a "spell" on him. Some actually believed men were changed into horses and after being bridled, they were ridden all over the countryside. Many men thought this was why their bones ached and they felt too tired to work their farms.

The men who did strange things were spoken of as wizards. Some called them witch-masters, and these claimed they could stop the mischievous work of the witches and cure baffling diseases.

When a child was born with a frail body, or developed rickets, it was often thought to be caused by the spells of someone unfriendly to the family.

If one would get rid of the witch in his neighborhood a picture of the supposed witch was drawn on a board or on a stump and[Pg 49] shot at with a bullet which contained a bit of silver. This bullet, if it struck the picture, was thought to put a spell on the witch.

We may smile at the thought of those superstitions, but few of us, if we are honest, will not admit that we have one pet superstition just as foolish as those referred to above.

Kercheval tells us how difficult it often was for the farmer to retain all of his crops. There were so many animals, like the squirrels and raccoons, which liked their grains. Storms would come and huge trees would fall on their fences, letting their horses and cattle get into the fields.

He makes us realize how difficult it was to procure the necessities of life. Where, for instance did they get the mills with which to grind their grains, where the instruments with which to make their farming implements and their household cooking utensils? Who were their weavers, their shoemakers, tailors, tanners and wagon makers? Of course there were none, for each farmer and his family had to rely on what they could do with their own hands or what they could trade to some neighbor in return for something done for him.

The first mills or hominy blocks were made of wood. A block of wood about three feet long was burned at one end, wide at the mouth and narrow at the bottom, so that when the pestle hit the corn it was thrown up and as it fell down to the bottom it was mashed. Gradually, each grain of corn was ground to a like size. When the corn was soft, as it was in the Fall, this grinding made a fine meal for mush or "journey cake" as they called this form of bread. However, this was slow work later on when corn got hard.

The farmer also used a different kind of mill. He used a sweep made of springy wood, thirty feet or more long. This pole was supported by two forks, placed about a third of its length from its butt end where it was securely fastened to some firm object. To this was attached a large mortise, a piece of sapling five or six inches in diameter and eight or more long. The lower end was shaped like a pestle and a pin of wood was put through it at a proper height so two people could work the sweep at once.

Kercheval says he remembers the one which he helped work in his own home. It was made of a sugar-tree sapling and was kept almost in constant use either by his own family or by the[Pg 50] neighbors who came to use it. He says these sweeps were used to make gunpowder from the saltpetre caves which the settlers soon found.

The women often used a grater for the corn when it was very soft. This was made of a piece of tin, a few holes punched in on one side and then nailed to a block of wood and the corn scraped against it. This produced a form of corn-meal but was a very tedious method. Another kind was a mill made of two circular stones. The one on the bottom was called the bed stone and the upper one the runner. These were placed in a hoop with a spout for discharging the meal. A staff was let into the hole in the upper surface of the runner near the outer edge and its upper end through a hole in a board fastened to a joist above. The grain was put into the runner by hand. This type of mill, is one of the earliest ever known by man.

Then every man tanned his own leather. The tan-vat was a huge tub which was sunk into the ground. A quantity of bark was quickly gotten each spring when the farmer cleared his land. This was first dried then brought in and on rainy days, the bark was stripped, shaved and pounded on a block of wood with an ax or mallet. Ashes were used in place of lime for taking off the hair from the skins of animals. They did not have fish-oil, so the settlers substituted bear's grease, or lard made from boiling the fat of these animals. This oil was used to make the leather soft and pliable. The leather was often very coarse, but it was tough and wore well. They made their blacking or polish for their shoes by mixing soot with lard. Not every man could make shoes, but everyone could make shoepacks, an article similar to the moccasin.

Kercheval's father was a master weaver as well as a fine shoe maker. He made all the shoes worn by his family and would not let anyone else make his thread, as he thought no woman could spin it as well as he could. He made all the woodenware called set work. He hand-carved some of them, making grooves in which he fitted hoops to hold the staves in place. During the days when every man had to serve in some military service, the elder Kercheval was not strong enough to fight. The men brought all their firearms to him and he repaired them. He could straighten a crooked gun barrel with ease and file off any broken edges.[Pg 51]

Kercheval's father had been to school for only six weeks, yet he read, worked hard problems in mathematics and wrote letters, not only for himself, but for many of his friends. He drew up bonds, deeds of conveyance and wrote other articles for them. He taught his boy to use his hands, for Samuel tells that as a boy, he wove garters, belts and shot pouches. He, too, could make looms. He traded well, for he says he would swap a belt for a man's labor for a day, or give one to a man for making a hundred fence rails.

An amusing custom developed among the German settlers regarding their weddings. Young men and women, termed "waiters," were selected to help officiate at a wedding. The groomsmen were proud to wear highly embroidered white aprons on such an occasion, for it was symbolic of protection to the bride. Each waiter tried to keep the bride from having her slippers stolen from her feet during the festivities. If she did sustain the loss the young man had to pay for it with a bottle of wine, since the bride's dancing depended upon its recovery.

Characterized by their strong religious beliefs it was only natural for the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians to build their churches as they built their little homes. Opequon Church south of Winchester is thought by many to be the oldest church in the Valley. Not so with the Germans. They did not attempt to build separate houses of worship for a generation or more after coming to the new section but they did hold regular services in the homes of the settlers and waited until a better time to erect churches.

There was an interesting custom among the Scotch-Irish at their weddings, too. It was called "running for the bottle." Usually the bride and groom went to the parson's home for the marriage ceremony, attended by their friends on horseback. At the conclusion of the ritual the young men took to their horses and dashed for the bride's father's house. The man on the fleetest horse was given a bottle of wine from which the returning bride and groom first drank and then it was passed on to others. In most instances the mad rush to the home was made in spite of numerous trees and small brush which were cut down to serve as obstacles in their paths.[Pg 52]

At Winchester these two distinct nationalities got along fairly well together. An example of their friendly relations is to be seen in their "War of the Guelphs and Ghibellines." The Dutch on St. Patrick's Day would parade through the village streets with effigies of St. Patrick wearing a necklace of Irish potatoes and his wife carrying an apron full of them.

And then on the day of St. Michael, the patron of the Dutch, the Irish retaliated by holding aloft an effigy of the saint decorated with a necklace of sourkrout.

As was to be expected these frolics occasionally went to the extreme and ended before the judge in the log cabin courthouse.

It was hard for those early settlers to get such articles as salt, iron, steel and casting. There were no stores where they could purchase sugar, tea and hundreds of other necessities of today. Pelts, furs or skins were their only money before they had time to raise horses and cattle. In the Fall of the year, after all crops were harvested, every settler's family formed an association with some of their neighbors for starting a caravan.

This consisted of two packhorses. A bell and collar was put on each horse, as were a pair of hobbles made from hickory withes. Bags were packed on the back of the saddles in which to bring back two bushels of alum salt, each bushel weighing eighty-four pounds. Each horse carried two bags on the return journey. This was not such a heavy load for a horse but one must remember the animal also had to carry its own food. Somewhere along the narrow trail, some of this grain was hidden until the return journey. Large pouches or bags were also carried in which were loaves of home-baked bread or "Journey Cake," a mixture of Indian meal and water baked on an iron skillet and boiled ham and cheese.

The men traded first in Baltimore, Hagerstown and Cumberland. They also took along a cow and a calf, which was what they paid for one bushel of the much needed salt. While the salt was being weighed, no one was allowed to walk on the floor.[Pg 53]


First called Muellerstadt after its founder Jacob Miller, Woodstock was granted its charter in 1761 by the General Assembly of Virginia. Miller was farsighted in his plans for the community and provided adequate building sites for homes and businesses.

The historian Kercheval tells an interesting account of the appearance of Indians around Woodstock:

"In 1766, the Indians made a visit to the neighborhood of Woodstock. Two men by the name of Sheetz and Taylor had taken their wives and children into a wagon, and were on their way to the fort. At the narrow passage, three miles south of Woodstock, five Indians attacked them. The two men were killed at the first onset, and the Indians rushed to seize the women and children. The women, instead of swooning at the sight of their bleeding, expiring husbands, seized their axes, and with Amazonian firmness, and strength almost superhuman, defended themselves and children. One of the Indians had succeeded in getting hold of one of Mrs. Sheetz's children, and attempting to drag it out of the wagon; but with the quickness of lightning she caught her child in one hand, and with the other made a blow at the head of the fellow which caused him to quit his hold to save his life. Several of the Indians received pretty sore wounds in this desperate conflict, and all at last ran off, leaving the two women with their children to pursue their way to the fort."

When Lord Dunmore came to govern the colony of Virginia in 1772 the citizens passed a resolution endorsing his administration. They requested that a new county be formed from Frederick which would be called Dunmore County. Five years later, when he began to have trouble with the colonists the people of Woodstock instructed their burgess to get the name of their county changed to Shenandoah. This name is retained to the present time.

About six miles from Woodstock a Mr. Wolfe erected a fort on Stony Creek years and years ago. He had a fine hunting dog and at the time of our story Indians were lurking in the neighborhood. This was during the period when the savages were endeavoring to rid the Valley of the white men.

Mr. Wolfe went out hunting one morning and had not gone far before his dog began to run around and around him, blocking his path. Then he jumped up in front of his master, put his feet[Pg 54] on his shoulders and seemed to try to stop Wolfe's progress. When the dog found he could not stop his master he ran back towards the fort, then back to his master, all the time whining a warning.

The hunter suspected some danger, so he kept his hand on his gun and watched out for Indians. He soon saw two of them behind a tree. Evidently they were waiting for their man to come close enough for them to get a good shot at him. Mr. Wolfe began to walk backward, making a rapid retreat to the fort. Long afterwards someone asked Mr. Wolfe why he did not kill the old dog since his years of usefulness were over and he was apparently uncomfortable. He told the inquirer the story of how the animal had saved his life and added, "I would sooner be killed myself than suffer that dog to be killed."

"There is a time to every purpose under the heaven—a time of war and a time of peace." So spoke one of Woodstock's most famous sons, the Reverend John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, in the Lutheran Church one Sunday morning after the Declaration of Independence had been issued. After delivering an inspired sermon taken from this text in which he reviewed his stand on liberty, he dramatically cast off his black pulpit robes and revealed to his astonished congregation his colonel's uniform of the Revolutionary army. He was about thirty years old then and had served the Woodstock flock for four years.

Dr. Wayland in his book The German Element in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, suggests that the Rev. Mr. Muhlenberg was associated with the Episcopal as well as the Lutheran church and that "he seems beyond question to have received Episcopal ordination.... His connection with the Church of England was probably sought in order that his work as a clergyman might receive the readier and fuller sanction."

Almost immediately after preaching his patriotic sermon he raised a regiment among the Valley folk. Known as the Eighth Virginia, or German Regiment, they saw hard service at Germantown, Brandywine and Monmouth as well as in some of the southern battlefields.

Before the close of the war Muhlenberg was made a brigadier-general and after his retirement he lived in Pennsylvania, his original home before coming to the Valley of Virginia.[Pg 55]

A movement is under way at the present time to restore the little church of the Lutheran faith where the colonel made his firey sermon. Let us hope this may be accomplished so that we may catch the inspiration of his remarks.

Woodstock saw the march of many feet during the War Between the States; almost constantly were the troops passing by, causing fields to be laid waste, crops to be confiscated and stock to be carried off. But the little town conceals her war scars well and today is a progressive community.

Massanutten Academy is located here and draws boys from all over Virginia and a number of other States.

The Lincoln Family

Contrary to popular belief, President Lincoln's forebears were not poor and shiftless, but were influential and prosperous Virginians who lived in the handsome old brick Colonial home which, in a fine state of preservation, is still standing, with the Lincoln family cemetery and slave burying-ground nearby.

The Lincoln homestead is near the little village of Edom, not far from the Caverns of Melrose, and can be reached by turning west from U. S. Highway 11 at these caverns, six miles north of Harrisonburg. Visitors are welcome at this homestead. Exact directions as to how to reach it can be obtained in the Melrose Cavern's Lodge.

Thomas Lincoln, father of President Lincoln, was born in this house. John Lincoln, great-grandfather of the President, moved with his family into Virginia in 1768 where, as an influential pioneer, he built the first brick unit of the beautiful Colonial home.

John Lincoln was known as "Virginia John." Abraham Lincoln, his eldest son and grandfather of the President, lived in this homestead and was captain of a Virginia company during the Revolution.

Captain Abraham Lincoln, with his son Thomas (father of the President) moved to Kentucky in 1782, leaving Jacob Lincoln, a brother of Captain Lincoln, in the Virginia homestead. Many Lincolns, descendants of Jacob and other sons and daughters of "Virginia John," now live near Melrose Caverns, in Harrisonburg and elsewhere in Rockingham county.[Pg 56]

On February 24th, 1829, when Melrose Caverns were known as "Harrison's Cave," Franklin Lincoln, grandson of Jacob and a cousin of President Lincoln, entered the caverns and, by the light of torches or candles, carved his name and the date. He later fought in the Civil War as a Confederate soldier.

Also in these caverns is carved the name of John Lincoln, possibly John Lincoln, Jr., who was one of Jacob's four brothers, or perhaps "Virginia John" the pioneer, great-grandfather of the President. There is no date carved by the name of John Lincoln.

In April, 1862, during the Civil War, a Federal soldier drew a rough portrait of President Lincoln with charcoal upon a wall farther back in the caverns. These Lincoln signatures and this crude portrait can be distinctly seen in Melrose Caverns by visitors today.

New Market

A little later in becoming settled than other Valley towns was New Market, the progressive little place situated at the intersection of the Valley Pike and Route 211 to Luray. Its charter was granted in 1785 as the result of efforts made by Peter Palsel, an early settler.

Thomas Jefferson's father, Peter Jefferson, was among the party of surveyors who ran the land grant boundary for the Proprietor of the Northern Neck, Lord Fairfax. This was done in 1746. The old line is a short distance south of New Market.

The town was the scene in 1864 of the battle in which the young and inexperienced but dauntless cadets from the Virginia Military Institute at Lexington took such prominent part. The wounded from their ranks were cared for by devoted women in nearby houses. And what a percentage there was either wounded or killed! Forty-six of the former and eight of the latter out of a corps of only two hundred and twenty-one!

New Market is the center today of the caverns in the Valley, for Shenandoah Caverns are to the north and Endless to the south, while within a short drive you may reach Luray, Massanutten, Melrose and Grand Caverns. Accommodations for the tourists are numerous and fair throughout the vicinity.[Pg 57]

Several years ago a re-enactment of the Battle of New Market occurred in which the corps from the Virginia Military Institute pitted their strength against the United States Marines. Among the spectators to this stirring War Between the States encounter was the Secretary of the Navy.

He was impressed with the majesty of the Shenandoah Valley and the legend of the name. Later he determined to name the new navy dirigible Shenandoah—"The Daughter of the Stars." For her christening a bottle of water from the meandering Shenandoah River was used. And on her maiden flight from her berth at Lakehurst the graceful ship flew over the lovely, peaceful Valley from whence came her name.

Endless Caverns

On the first of October, 1879 two boys went hunting. Their dog chased a rabbit up the long slope of Mr. Reuben Zirkle's pasture. The rabbit ran for his life and disappeared over a huge rock.

"The Cypress Gardens", a Scene in Endless Caverns

"The Cypress Gardens", a Scene in Endless Caverns

The boys gave chase and boy-like, when they reached the rock and found no rabbit, they pushed aside the heavy stone. Imagine[Pg 58] how their eyes bulged when they looked down into a great hole in the hill. Here was a find! Here was adventure, for who can resist exploring a cave? The boys thought no longer of the rabbit. They went in search of candles and a rope. Soon they were seeing for the first time the lovely and strange kingdom underground.

The boys, no doubt like visitors, wondered how Nature had carved these miracles. Today science has answered the question for us and for the sake of those inquiring minds we will give in part the story of how Mother Nature builds her caves.

"Thousands and thousands of years of surface waters, seeping down through the earth, have dissolved and carried away the limestone rock through various tiny cracks and crevices. As each drop worked its way downward it carried coloring matter—iron, maybe copper, which tints the beautiful columns. Tiny bits of limestone formed and gradually built them up from the bottom; these are called stalagmites. Others slowly forming from the tops of the cave hung there and are termed stalactites. Then through the years these grew until they met and formed the arches and columns."

Though explorations were carried on for several years no end to the rooms was seen. One channel after another was found, and one room after another came into view, hence the name Endless Caverns.

People from far and near came to see the wonders, and dances were held in Alexander's Ballroom. The musicians had a high rock on which they played their fiddles. Huge iron circles were fastened to the ceiling and candles placed in them for lights. One night one of the bold boys took a candle and pushed farther into the cave. By the weird light he saw a glistening lake, sparkling like diamonds. Upon investigation it turned out to be a pool of clearest water and it reflected the white glittering crystal roof which sheltered it. The name "Diamond Lake" was given it and it has been admired by thousands of visitors.

Then for thirty years the beautiful caverns were closed to the public. A party of visitors came to the Valley. Colonel Edward Brown who stopped in New Market was fascinated with the stories of the old caverns. He bought the property and the next year the caverns were opened—in 1920. Today his son, Major E. M. Brown, is the progressive owner.[Pg 59]

"The old entrance house has been replaced by a unique cave house built of limestone boulders from the mountain side. Great gates of hand-wrought iron bar the head of the stone steps which lead downward. A lone lantern hangs from the arch of the stone roof and accurately placed, at the exact center of the top of the entrance, is a huge boulder in the shape of a keystone, set there by the Architect of all the earth many thousands of years ago."

No one can describe the beautiful shapes and designs to be found in the caverns. They must be seen to be appreciated fully and no matter how many caves one has seen, he will not regret the magic time spent here.


The question is often asked as to the origin of the unusual name of the town of Luray. Legend disagrees as to its derivation. There are some who claim it came from the name of an early settler, Lewis Ramey. He was familiarly known as Lew Ramey and the contraction Lew Ray might have followed naturally. The site of Ramey's little log cabin is at the corner of Main and Court streets.

Some citizens of the town insist that the Huguenots who escaped from France and finally migrated to the Valley named the new settlement Lorraine after their province in France and that Luray is a corruption of the former name.

There are reminders near this town of former years of struggle. During the French and Indian War the settlers decided upon building "cellar forts" for protection against Indian raids. These cellars dug under the log homes were large enough for living quarters and were generally supplied with a spring of water. They were so constructed with rocks serving as a ceiling that even in case of fire in the house proper, the occupants of the cellar would be unhurt. Several of these ingenious little fortifications remain in Page County, Rhodes Fort and the Egypt House being good examples of them.

In the Hawksbill neighborhood, not far from Luray, there lived a long time ago John Stone and his family. In 1758 the Indians came to his home while he was away. They had little[Pg 60] difficulty in carrying off Mrs. Stone and her baby, a son about eight years old and another boy, George Grandstaff, who was sixteen.

The marauders sacked other residences in the neighborhood and killed a number of persons. It is possible that when they set out for their own settlements some distance off they found Mrs. Stone's progress impeded because of carrying the baby. At any rate, they murdered those two and continued on their way with the boys.

Three years later Grandstaff escaped as their prisoner and returned to Mr. Stone. Young Stone remained with the savages for a number of years and when he did come home he sold his father's property and with the money in his pockets he went back to the Indian village. No one ever heard of him afterwards.

Luray was laid out in 1812 by William Staige Marye, son of Peter Marye, who built the first turnpike—a toll-road—to cross the Blue Ridge from Culpeper into the Shenandoah Valley. Near Luray is the Saltpetre Cave. During the War Between the States the Confederates established a nitrate plant there and used the products in their manufacture of ammunition.

One of the most beautiful drives in Virginia is that leaving Luray, crossing the mountain and entering the Valley Pike at New Market.

Of particular importance to this section are the Luray Caverns. An entertaining history is attached to them. As far back as 1793 there was knowledge of the existence of the caves, for Joseph Ruffner's son had explored several passages just about this time. Ruffner's property took on the name of Cave Hill.

The Ruffners were among the largest landowners in the Valley, their property extending twelve miles on both sides of Hawksbill Creek. They received a part of the land through inheritance and bought other tracts. Dr. Henry Ruffner, a member of this distinguished family, was at one time President of Washington College, now Washington and Lee University at Lexington.

Fighting during the War Between the States occurred near the town of Luray and about two miles south on the Lee Highway there is an old oak tree which marks the place where Sheridan's famous Valley ride was halted for a time.[Pg 61]

There are interesting landmarks remaining in the town today which have witnessed the pageant of history, among the most pretentious being "Aventine." This home originally occupied the present site of the Mymslyn Hotel.

Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign

Too much space must not be consumed in this book in presenting the facts regarding Jackson's Valley Campaign. We feel justified in devoting more than a comment to this notable feat of war, however, for some of the heaviest fighting of the four years' conflict took place on the land you may see in driving over the Valley Pike and along the Skyline Drive.

At the outbreak of hostilities in the War Between the States Thomas Jackson left the chair of higher mathematics at the Virginia Military Institute and volunteered his services in the Virginia army. Educated at West Point and trained during the Mexican War he was a welcome addition to the Confederate forces, although no one anticipated the conspicuous rôle he would play in the subsequent events. At the early battle of First Manassas he earned the name of "Stonewall" because of his quiet, dignified and unafraid manner in the face of danger.

Lt. Col. C. F. R. Henderson's invaluable two volumes, Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War, were consulted and are the source quoted hereafter in giving the account of the Valley warfare. The First Brigade of the Virginia army was recruited from the Valley and participated under Jackson in the first battle of Manassas and for a long period of time thereafter.

"No better material for soldiers ever existed," said Henderson, "than the men of the Valley. Most of them were of Scotch-Irish descent, but from the more northern counties came many of English blood, and from those in the center of Swiss and German. But whatever their origin, they were thoroughly well qualified for their new trade. All classes mingled in the ranks, and all ages; the heirs of the oldest families, and the humblest of the sons of toil; boys whom it was impossible to keep in school, and men whose white beards hung below their cross belts; youths who had been reared in luxury, and rough hunters from their lonely cabins. They were a mountain people, nurtured in a wholesome climate bred to manly sports, and hardened by the free life of the field and forest. To social distinctions they gave [Pg 62]little heed. They were united for a common purpose; they had taken arms to defend Virginia and to maintain her rights; and their patriotism was proved by the sacrifice of all personal consideration and individual interest."

After the first battle of Manassas the First Brigade was known as the "Stonewall Brigade."

From July to November, 1861, Jackson spent the greater part of every day drilling the men under him and in trying to convert them into well-disciplined, obedient troops. During the first week in November he was sent from Manassas to command the Shenandoah Valley district and this meant parting from the soldiers whom he had reason to admire and who in turn held him in highest esteem. A short time later they were destined to reunite under circumstances which would try the courage of the brigade and commander. To the delight of all, the Stonewall Brigade was assigned to Winchester soon after Jackson established his headquarters there and for the next few months rigid training was given them again.

About the middle of March 1862, Jackson abandoned Winchester. This was after some of the Union concentration near Manassas and Centreville was broken up and General Banks made no move to offer battle, so the Confederates withdrew without a fight and occupied Strasburg eighteen or twenty miles southward. The evacuation of Winchester was made reluctantly, for good roads in each direction connected the city with outlying districts, fertile farms nearby could furnish the invading army with rations and Banks could receive from or send troops to West Virginia or the army south of Washington. Feeling that Jackson's small force was not of any special danger, Shields' corps was sent in pursuit of the Confederates and most of Banks' troops were ordered to another field. Jackson continued up the Valley and stopped at Mount Jackson, hoping the Federals would follow.

The Confederate general learned from Ashby, his cavalry commander, that the enemy was retreating. It was Lee's intention that the Union corps in the Valley be retained there so that assistance could not be offered McClellan, the Northern general who was maneuvering in the eastern part of Virginia with the ultimate aim of striking Richmond. McClellan hoped to attack the capital of the Confederacy by combining his army with that[Pg 63] of McDowell, whom he could call to the area of war when necessary. So it was to be Jackson's duty to keep them in the Valley and perhaps to withdraw some of the Northern troops from near Richmond.

On March 22nd Ashby with his troopers and a few guns engaged Shields in a skirmish just south of Winchester. He believed there was only a small force of Federals present, so well had Shields hidden his men, and he reported to Jackson that the troops were small in number. The next day Jackson sent reinforcements to Ashby and then followed later with his whole force in the direction of Kernstown which is south of Winchester and but a short distance off. There the battle of Kernstown began and continued until dark. Jackson's troops were defeated and retreated southward. As a result of this encounter Shields was reinforced and the strong Union force remained in the Valley.

The Federal generals were apparently satisfied with the victory and in spite of urgings from the Secretary of War, Stanton, to pursue Jackson they remained inactive for nearly a month.

Banks assumed the offensive on April 17th, and surprised Ashby, taking one of his companies prisoner. The Virginians burned the railroad station at Mount Jackson and fell back while the Union cavalry established themselves at New Market.

The Confederate General Ewell had a force of 8,000 men on the Upper Rappahannock which is some distance east of the mountains. This corps was left at its location in order to rush to the defense of Fredericksburg or Richmond or across the mountains to the Valley. Jackson knew that he must not allow Banks to control the mountain pass, thus severing communication between the two Confederate forces. He determined upon a forced march for his men and on the eighteenth they reached Harrisonburg. He continued over to Swift Run Gap and encamped near there.

Banks followed his cavalry to New Market, crossed over to Luray and seized the bridges, driving back a detachment of Jackson's men sent there to defend them. Later he sent two of his five brigades to Harrisonburg and the rest stayed at New Market.

Jackson's next move was to McDowell, a town about twenty-seven miles northwest of Harrisonburg. The march was made in the most circuitous manner: from Swift Run Gap to Port Repub[Pg 64]lic, to Brown's Gap which is about twelve miles southeast of their camp at Elk Run Valley, to Staunton and then west to McDowell. This strategy was used so that he might deceive Banks, Fremont and Milroy, the Federal commanders in and near the Valley, into thinking for a while that he was leaving the Valley to join forces at Richmond. Jackson proposed to strike each Union force located in this section of Virginia but he believed an encounter with Milroy commanding the weakest corps should be made before attacking Banks. The Battle of McDowell occurred on May 8th, and was a victory for Jackson. He followed the enemy in their retreat as far as Franklin. A squadron of Ashby's cavalry spent much time in blocking any of the passes which Fremont might use in crossing the mountains to reinforce Banks. Bridges were burned and rocks and trees were placed across the roadways. Jackson's object was thus thoroughly achieved:

"All combination between the Federal columns, except by long and devious routes, had now been rendered impracticable; and there was little fear that in any operations down the Valley his own communications would be endangered. The McDowell expedition had neutralized, for the time being, Fremont's 20,000 men; and Banks was now isolated, exposed to the combined attack of Jackson, Ewell and Edward Johnson."

Ewell in the meantime had left his post near Gordonsville and had moved into Swift Run Gap in order to go to Jackson if necessary. After the Battle of McDowell, Jackson returned to the Valley. Lee ordered him to make a movement against Banks as speedily as possible, to drive him towards Washington and appear ready to attack the Union capital. Thus he hoped to see some of the Northerners leave the vicinity of Richmond and return to defend their capital.

Jackson entered the Valley at Mount Solon and pushed northward at once. Banks erected earthworks at Strasburg and considered himself well entrenched against the enemy. Ewell, with his Confederates, left Swift Run Gap and moved to Luray. Jackson moved north to New Market. The Confederates now organized into two divisions, Jackson's and Ewell's, numbering about 17,000 men. The troops under Jackson instead of continuing northward in their march turned east and crossed the Massanutten[Pg 65] Mountain and headed north. On May 22nd the advanced guard camped within ten miles of Front Royal. This town was "held by a strong detachment of Banks' small army."

"Since they had left Mount Solon and Elk Run Valley on May 19th the troops in four days had made just sixty miles. Such celerity of movement was unfamiliar to both Banks and Stanton, and on the night of the 22nd neither the Secretary nor the General had the faintest suspicion that the enemy had as yet passed Harrisonburg.... There was serenity at Washington.... The Secretary, ... saw no reason for alarm. His strategical combinations were apparently working without a hitch.... Milroy's defeat was considered no more than an incident of 'la petite guerre'. Washington seemed so perfectly secure that the recruiting offices had been closed, and the President and Secretary, anticipating the immediate fall of Richmond, left for Fredericksburg the next day. McDowell was to march on the 26th, and the departure of his fine army was to be preceded by a grand review....

"So on this night of May 22nd the President and his people were without fear of what the morrow might bring forth. The end of the rebellion seemed near at hand. Washington was full of the anticipated triumph. The crowds passed to and fro exchanging congratulations on the success of the Northern arms and the approaching downfall of the slaveholders.... Little dreamt the light-hearted multitude that, in the silent woods of the Luray Valley, a Confederate army lay asleep beneath the stars. Little dreamt Lincoln, or Banks, or Stanton, that not more than seventy miles from Washington, and less than thirty from Strasburg, the most daring of the enemies, waiting for the dawn to rise above the mountains was pouring out his soul in prayer."

Banks' 10,000 men were distributed in this manner: at Strasburg the largest contingent, at Winchester a small group of infantry and cavalry, with two companies of infantry at Newtown, midway between Strasburg and Front Royal. At Rectortown, nineteen miles east of Front Royal was General Geary with 2,000 infantry and cavalry independent of Banks. Front Royal was held by Colonel Kenly of the First Maryland Regiment, U. S. A. On the morning of May 23rd the Confederates struck Kenly's small force. Every line of communication and reinforcement had been severed during the previous night and "within an hour after his pickets were surprised Kenly was completely isolated."

Banks moved north from Strasburg towards Winchester before Jackson could scatter his troops along the route and cut off his[Pg 66] retreat. Encounters took place at Newtown and Middletown and Kernstown during the early morning of May 24th. The battle of Winchester occurred the following day. Particularly hard fighting was done by both sides, but the surprise movements of Jackson during the past few days, the partial demoralization of the Union forces and the keen fighting of the Confederate divisions drove Banks' army from Winchester and on to Martinsburg.

Lee sent instructions to Jackson to threaten an invasion of Maryland and an attack upon Washington at this excellent time. So on the 28th the Stonewall Brigade set out towards Harper's Ferry and at Charlestown they met a Federal force, routing them within twenty minutes. Ewell came up to support the Brigade and on the 29th the army of the Valley was encamped near Halltown. The greater part of the Federals crossed the Potomac River at Harper's Ferry. Jackson, however, learned that the Union soldiers were advancing to cut off his retreat; Shields' division was approaching Manassas Gap and Fremont had left Franklin and was about ten miles from Moorefield. Jackson felt that Lee's orders had been carried out and decided to retreat along the Valley Pike. The Southerners turned southward towards Winchester. En route Jackson found out that the small force left at Front Royal had been driven back and that Shields occupied the town. The Valley army was ordered to Strasburg, the First Brigade was called back from Charlestown, the prisoners and supplies were picked up at Winchester and moved southward. "From the morning of May 19 to the night of June 1, a period of fourteen days, the Army of the Valley had marched one hundred and seventy miles, had routed a force of 12,500 men, had threatened the North with invasions, had drawn off McDowell from Fredericksburg, had seized the hospitals and supply depots at Front Royal, Winchester, and Martinsburg, and finally, although surrounded on three sides by 60,000 men, had brought off a huge convoy without losing a single wagon."

When the Federals learned that Jackson had moved south Shields was sent towards Luray from Front Royal. Fremont moved towards Woodstock. The Federal cavalry reached Luray on June 2nd and found that the enemy had already been there and burned the bridges, thus cutting off their approach to New Market. A part of the Confederates were repulsed on June 2nd[Pg 67] between Strasburg and Woodstock and the skirmishing continued the next day with the Confederates retreating to Mount Jackson and burning the bridges over the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. The Union troops tried to construct their pontoons across the stream but a driving rain and high waters prevented their doing so. This failure gave the rebels a day's respite.

Jackson with his force passed from Harrisonburg over to Cross Keys and there bivouacked. The Northern generals looked upon this move as a retreat.

On June 8th and 9th the battles of Cross Keys and Port Republic took place, victories for the Southerners. The Confederates moved on to Brown's Gap, a point a bit nearer Richmond. "The success which the Confederates had achieved was undoubtedly important. The Valley army, posted at Brown's Gap, was now in direct communication with Richmond. Not only had its pursuers been roughly checked, but the sudden and unexpected counter-stroke, delivered by an enemy whom they believed to be in full flight, had surprised Lincoln and Stanton as effectively as Shields and Fremont."

Thus the plan of McClellan to fall upon Richmond had been postponed and a division of the Northern forces was made necessary to protect the Federal capital and to supply Banks with troops.

Later in the month Jackson's division moved with great secrecy to join General Lee near Richmond—but that is a story for another time.

Belle Boyd, the Spy

"In a pretty storied house, the walls completely covered by roses and honeysuckle in luxuriant bloom" according to Belle Boyd herself, lived one of the most beautiful women and one of the most famous spies in all history.

Martinsburg, her home in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, was only a village then and she tells us about her neighbors and her childhood—"It was all golden and I was surrounded by devoted and beloved parents and brothers and sisters ... our neighbors are some of the best families of the Old Dominion descended from such ancestors as the Fairfaxes and Washingtons."[Pg 68]

When Belle was only twelve she was sent to Mount Washington Seminary in Washington. At sixteen her education was finished and she made her début. She wrote how brilliant were the Congressional and Senate balls where both Northern and Southern belles met and learned to love each other as sisters.

Then came the dark days of Secession. Belle's own father was among the first to enlist in the defense of Virginia. Belle returned home where with other ladies she helped raise funds with which to equip the Confederate soldiers. The colors were raised and on them one read these words, "Our God, Our Country and Our Women."

Things were dull for Belle after her father and the boys marched away to Harper's Ferry. Soon she went to visit them where she enjoyed the social life until messages came saying the Federal troops were approaching. She was sent home and scarcely had she arrived before the Southern troops withdrew to Falling Waters, near her home. She heard the distant boom of cannon and quickly there followed the battle of Martinsburg. After a skirmish of five hours, Belle saw General Jackson's troops retreat.

Hard upon them were the Federals entering the village with flags flying and the fifes playing the now despised "Yankee Doodle."

Dawned the Fourth of July and Belle woke to see the Yankee flags flying from many homes. She heard the drunken soldiers as they planned to force their way into homes whose doors and blinds were shut tight. Blows began to batter down doors and those of the Boyd home were splintered as well as those of their neighbors.

Some one had told the Federals that the walls of Belle's room were covered with rebel flags. But though they searched none were found. Belle's Negro maid had taken them down and carefully hidden them. The soldiers were furious and began to break furniture, glass ornaments, and abuse the Virginia sympathizers. Then they went out and began to raise the United States flag over the Boyd home. This was more than Mrs. Boyd could stand, so she spoke: "Men, every member of my household will die before that flag shall be raised over us." Let us read Belle's account of what followed:[Pg 69]

"Upon this, one of the soldiers, thrusting himself forward addressed my mother in language so offensive as it is impossible to conceive. I could stand it no longer, my indignation was aroused beyond control, my blood was literally boiling in my veins, I drew out my pistol and shot him. He was carried away mortally wounded and soon after he expired."

Then the Boyd home was set on fire, but it was hastily put out. The Northern commander quickly arrived and an investigation followed. After a long and lengthy trial, during which time the Boyd home was guarded by sentries, the officer declared Belle had acted as any normal person would have under similar circumstances.

From this time on, Belle gave herself to the Confederate Cause. She met and charmed the Federal officers. She remembered their names and got them to tell her their plans. These Belle carefully wrote down and sent to General J. E. B. Stuart. Soon she was under suspicion and one of her letters was seized by the enemy. She was sent for, arrested and asked if she had written the letter. She acknowledged it, was rebuked and the Articles of War regarding such deeds were read to her. Again a trial—and a dismissal.

Belle was undaunted. She not only continued to pick up valuable information, but she picked up small side arms and pistols and these, along with the information, found their way into the Southern lines.

While on a visit to Front Royal the first battle of Manassas was fought. The wounded were rushed into Front Royal and Belle found herself the matron of the large hospital. Soldiers told how she worked night and day, tirelessly giving of herself to comfort and help "the boys." After eight weeks of such a strenuous life, Belle had to go home for a much needed rest.

Before her mother thought she was strong enough, Belle left to visit her father who was stationed at Manassas. Soon she was riding as a courier back and forth for General Jackson and General Beauregard.

On one occasion Belle was in Front Royal waiting for an opportunity to go to Richmond where her family had gone. She had secured passes from some of her Federal friends and she was staying in the same house in which General Shields was stopping.[Pg 70] Belle's room was over the living-room where the officers were making plans. A small hole in the closet floor gave her a good view of the men—and served to let her hear every word of their next maneuvers. Belle listened until one o'clock, writing down in cypher each plan. Then she carefully stole down the back steps, saddled a horse in the backyard and was off, fifteen miles, to carry the message.

Twice she was held up by Federal sentinels and twice she showed them Federal passes. She arrived safely back in Front Royal before day, as fresh as a "morning flower."

We cannot give all of her escapades or her narrow escapes. Once she sped through Front Royal with a message for General Jackson, her white sun bonnet and white apron against a blue dress making her a target for the Federals. Several times she felt bullets tear her wide billowing skirt, but she kept on until she had reached the General—giving him the position of the enemy: General Banks, at Strasburg with 4,000 troops, General White marching to Winchester and General Fremont approaching the Valley—all planning to "bottle up" Jackson's force.

Quickly the Confederates made plans which resulted in victory and General Jackson wrote her, "Miss Belle Boyd—I thank you for myself and for the Army for the immense service that you have rendered your country this day. Hastily your friend, T. J. Jackson, C. S. A."

Romance like danger courted her wherever she was. Finally in 1864 she decided to go to England. President Davis gave her important papers for Southern sympathizers there. She sailed from Wilmington, North Carolina, aboard the "Greyhound." Vivid pictures are given of the crew throwing overboard bales of cotton, but even this did not enable the ship to outrun the fast Union vessels. Captain Bier also dropped a keg of money, over thirty thousand dollars in gold, in order to lighten the cargo. When Belle saw they could not avoid capture she destroyed her dispatch and managed to put into a belt many gold dollars which belonged to her and the captain of the boat. Let us read her description of the Federal officer who said he must take over command of the "Greyhound":[Pg 71]

"I confess my attention was riveted by a gentleman—the first whom I had met in my hour of distress. His dark brown hair hung down on his shoulders, his eyes were large and bright. Those who judge beauty by regularity of feature would not only have pronounced him strictly handsome, but the fascination of his manner was such that my heart yielded." He begged Belle to consider herself still a passenger, rather than a prisoner, which evidently she did.

There was a moon, a soft breeze "which swept the surface of the ocean until it was like a vast bed of sparkling diamonds." Lieutenant Hardinge, the Federal officer, quoted poetry from Shakespeare and Byron and before the vessel reached Boston, Belle had given her heart and her promise to marry the lieutenant.

While their own course of true love seemed to run smoothly enough various forces concentrated to keep them apart.

First of all, soon after arriving in Boston Captain Bier escaped. And while Belle took the credit for that, Lieutenant Hardinge was under suspicion. Besides, while Belle was being treated courteously in Boston her betrothed had gone to Washington in her behalf. The newspapers of the day flaunted the stories of the beautiful Rebel Spy and everywhere she went great crowds pushed themselves upon her.

When Hardinge reached Washington he begged Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, permission for Miss Boyd to visit Canada. This was granted and a telegram ordered an escort for her and her maid. However, notice was given her that if she were caught again in the United States she would be shot.

Her lover was captured next and arrested for aiding Captain Bier in escaping. Finally, he went to Paris in search of the beautiful woman who had promised to marry him. After some time Belle, who was in Liverpool, learned where he was. She wrote to him and they met in London; they were married in St. James' Church. There was a large and brilliant breakfast at which a huge wedding cake was cut. Lieutenant Hardinge promised to run the blockade and carry pieces of wedding cake to his wife's friends. This he did when he arrived in Wilmington. Later he was arrested in Baltimore, charged with being a deserter and was sent to prison.[Pg 72]

Belle interested herself in his behalf and we are told that her charms and the termination of the war secured his release. And so they lived happily ever after!

In the foregoing account of the fearless work done by Belle Boyd and of her visit to Front Royal during the Battle of Manassas we are reminded of an inhabitant of the latter place, a Mr. McLean. Rumor has it that the gentleman resided so close to the scene of battle—and it was a bloody encounter—he resolved to quit the place for a quieter section of Virginia. He had a distinct distaste for battles and bloodshed. So he moved his family to Appomattox County in Virginia and watched the scene of war with a feeling of comparative safety. The reader has guessed the rest of the story.

A little previous to April 9th, 1865 the Union and Confederate forces met at a spot not far from the courthouse and negotiations were started for the surrender of General Lee, in command of the Confederates. And on the ninth the surrender was made at the McLean house which marked the cessation of war in Virginia. Poor Mr. McLean was present at the beginning and conclusion of the fighting!


Harrisonburg is called the Friendly City and its people are noted for their hospitality. It is near famous caverns and historic battlefields. It was named in honor of Thomas Harrison who had fifty acres of his land surveyed and laid out into lots and streets. It might also be called the center of a large German element whose forefathers settled much of the surrounding country. Harrisonburg is the county-seat of Rockingham county, which was formed from Augusta in 1778. This is the third largest county in Virginia.

These people have always been among the sturdiest and bravest in the Valley. They gave the best they had to develop their new homes in a new country and when they were called[Pg 73] upon to fight in the French and Indian War, there were no braver men to be had nor could any endure more hardships than they.

During the Revolutionary War they were among the first to respond to the call for volunteers. They were among the first to resent the closing of the Boston Harbor by the British in 1774. We read an old account or notation of Felix Gilbert who kept a shop near the town of Harrisonburg. He agreed to take food-stuffs from his neighbors and send it to the relief of the Bostonians. One of those entries, made in 1775, reads:

"Rece'd for the Bostonians; Of Patrick Frazier 1 bushel of wheat, of Jos. Dictom 2 bushels of wheat, of James Beard 1 bu. of wheat, Geo. Clarke 1 bu. wheat, Robt. Scott and Sons, 2 bu. wheat."

Massanutten Caverns

The owners of the Massanutten Caverns call them the "gem of the cavern world," for they are a combination of the beautiful and the unusual. They are located east of Harrisonburg on the Spotswood Trail.

These caverns are of rather recent discovery. In 1892 during a thriving limestone industry some workmen blasted rock in the foothills and after the discharge of dynamite was over they looked into a fairyland of strange rooms and strange formations.

The operator of the caverns called the entrance "Discovery Gate" and planned the route through the underground so that visitors begin their journey where the discovery was made.

Vacationists find themselves unloading their luggage and remaining either overnight or for longer periods of time when they see the facilities offered there. The accommodations include a golf course and swimming pool as well as a lodge and cottages.

Grand Caverns

Back in 1804 Bernard Weyer discovered the unusual caves situated on a bluff belonging to his neighbor Mr. Mohler. Nearly a century before, the courageous "Sir Knights of the Golden Horseshoe" had passed by this part of the Blue Ridge—within ten miles of the entrance of the caverns, perhaps, and because of the layout of the land never suspected the underground "Buried[Pg 74] City." Today these are called Grand Caverns and are located between Elkton and Mt. Sidney, the latter town being on the Lee-Jackson Highway.

Young Weyer was a great hunter who enjoyed roaming the fields and hillsides in search of game. The historian Kercheval tells the story of the day when Weyer went to find an elusive ground-hog, having previously set a trap for it. The animal not only had not been captured but for some time had made a successful getaway with each trap set for it. Weyer decided to dig for the ground-hog hide-out. "A few moments' labor brought him to the antechamber of this stupendous cavern, where he found his traps safely deposited." Not content with eleven pages of flattering and minute descriptions of every passageway known then, Kercheval used another page with "Note A" and "Note B" which described later explorations. This makes interesting reading for those who have either visited the Caverns or have not had that privilege and plan to see them. In these accounts he included Congress Hall, The Infernal Regions, Washington's Hall, The Church, Jefferson's Hall and numerous others.

The Historical Collections of Virginia by Henry Howe gives a vivid picture of Weyer's Cave and the author further states:

"A foreign traveller who visited the cave at an annual illumination, has, in a finely written description, the following notice:

" ... Weyer's Cave is in my judgment one of the great natural wonders of this new world; and for its eminence in its own class, deserves to be ranked with the Natural Bridge and Niagara, while it is far less known than either.... For myself, I acknowledge the spectacle to have been most interesting; but, to be so, it must be illuminated, as on this occasion. I had thought that this circumstance might give to the whole a toyish effect; but the influence of 2,000 or 3,000 lights on these immense caverns is only such as to reveal the objects, without disturbing the solemn and sublime obscurity which sleeps on everything. Scarcely any scenes can awaken so many passions at once, and so deeply. Curiosity, apprehension, terror, surprise, admiration, and delight, by turns and together, arrest and possess you. I have had before, from other objects, one simple impression made with greater power; but I never had so many impressions made, and with so much power, before. If the interesting and the awful are the elements of the sublime, here sublimity reigns, as in her own domain, in darkness, silence, and deeps profound."

Bear in mind that this account was given long before 1850 and that Grand Caverns was first known as Weyer's Cave.[Pg 75]

We learned that the Cave was used as a source of income by its owners first in 1836, when the large chambers were converted into temporary dance halls for the countryside youth. Mentioned above is the fact that the caverns were lighted once a year and admission was charged on this occasion. About 1925 the passages were lighted properly and tourists began their trek to this wonder of nature.

A modern note is to be found in the name "Linbergh Bridge"—one not mentioned as such by any of the early writers!

Massanetta Springs

One of the most delightful places in all the Valley is Massanetta Springs. It is one of those beauty spots which one finds after going through Swift Run Gap, famous for being the first gap through which came the English with Governor Spotswood and his Knights of the Golden Horseshoe. It was through here, too, that General George Washington passed on horseback in 1784.

Long ago these springs were known as Taylor Springs and during the War Between the States the wounded soldiers were cared for there. Many famous people lived in and around this lovely spring. We are told that Daniel Boone's wife lived near here, and that Abraham Lincoln's father, Thomas Lincoln, was born not more than twelve miles away on Linville Creek. Not far away is Singer's Glen where some of the first early American hymns and songs were published.

Today various religious denominations hold summer conferences at the Springs.


Near Lewis's Fort a settlement grew up and in 1749 a town was chartered. It was named Staunton in honor of Lady Staunton, wife of Governor Gooch, the official who had given so many land grants to Lewis and his Scotch neighbors. At that time, the town was the county-seat of Augusta (formed from Orange County in 1738), whose boundaries swept far to the west. Old records show that one time the court adjourned in Staunton and[Pg 76] reconvened at Fort Duquesne, the colonial outpost which has long since become Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

If one would search further, he would find this was done during the French and Indian troubles. Five Chiefs, or rather several of the Five Nations, signed this order or treaty and it is to be seen among other historical documents in the Court House in Staunton.

After the Legislature fled from Charlottesville to Staunton during Tarleton's Raid, that body met and held its sessions in old Trinity Episcopal Church. During this short time, Staunton was called "the Capital of Virginia."

The area around Staunton is full of War Between the States history too, referred to in other places.

Woodrow Wilson was born here in a lovely old Presbyterian manse which is now a shrine to one of the greatest Presidents of the United States. Here, annually, thousands of Americans come to honor him.

The Manse Woodrow Wilson's Birthplace, Staunton, Va.

Courtesy Virginia State Chamber of Commerce

The Manse
Woodrow Wilson's Birthplace, Staunton, Va.

[Pg 77] The town is a center of culture, for there are located many splendid schools; among them, for girls are Mary Baldwin and Stuart Hall. Staunton Military Academy and nearby Augusta Military Academy are recognized as outstanding schools for boys. There are two business schools, Dunsmore and Templeton Business College. The one for the deaf and blind is a State institution.

Tarleton entered Charlottesville on the fourth day of June in 1781. Jefferson's term as governor expired four days later. Ex-Governor Patrick Henry had been his guest while the Legislature was meeting there. He now hastened to Staunton where the Legislators had fled from Charlottesville. Mr. Jefferson, according to one historian, concealed himself in a cave in Carter's Mountain and Patrick Henry, in his flight to Staunton, met Colonel Lewis and told him of how the Legislators had fled Charlottesville upon Tarleton's invasion.

Colonel Lewis, not knowing who Patrick Henry was, replied "If Patrick Henry had been in Albemarle, the British Dragoons never would have passed over the Rivanna River."

The Legislators were badly demoralized, for they feared Tarleton would come to Staunton. Many of them left during the night and went to the hospitable home of Colonel George Moffett. During Mr. Henry's hasty changes he had the misfortune to lose one of his boots. While eating breakfast the next morning, Mrs. Moffett remarked, "There was one member of the Legislative body whom I knew would not run." The question was asked by one of the party, "Who is he?" Her reply was, "Patrick Henry," at that moment a gentleman with one boot colored perceptibly. The party soon left and after their departure a servant rode up and asked for Mr. Henry, saying he had forgotten his boot. Of course Mrs. Moffett knew whom the boot fitted.

A tale made more popular perhaps because of a recent revival of interest in Salem witchcraft is that of a woman who lived years ago in Augusta County and who was a great aunt of Governor James McDowell of Rockbridge County. She was born Mary McDowell and married James Greenlee.

It is recounted that she was an unusually attractive and intelligent young woman but was considered highly eccentric in her behavior. Neighbors thought that an early love affair had contributed something to her peculiar manner. Be that as it may, she[Pg 78] was regarded by her acquaintances as a witch. They believed she had made a written contract with the devil—a contract drawn up in duplicate form so that each party might retain a copy!

Once at a quilting party in her home she urged one of the quilters to take a second piece of cake and laughingly remarked that "the mare that does double work should be best fed." The women misconstrued this to be an acknowledgment that she was a witch who rode a mare at night on her excursions to meet the devil. The rumor of her evil activities rapidly spread throughout the countryside.

Woodrow Wilson's Bed, Staunton, Va.

Courtesy Virginia State Chamber of Commerce

Woodrow Wilson's Bed, Staunton, Va.

[Pg 79] The neighborhood thought she was capable of placing curses upon them and attributed such tragedies as fires, loss of family or stock, or poor crops to the unfortunate woman.

The fact that she was never brought before the court with the accusation of being a witch was due in large measure to the standing of the family. That does not mean, however, that Mrs. Greenlee did not live a wretched existence or that failure to declare her a witch made the people less afraid of her powers.

While he was President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson returned to Staunton and placed a tablet on the wall of the First Presbyterian Church in memory of his father, Dr. Joseph Wilson, a former minister. The church in which Dr. Wilson used to preach and in which the President was christened serves now as the Chapel of Mary Baldwin College.

An interesting old home in Staunton is the Stuart House, located on Lewis Street. It was planned by the great architect and builder Thomas Jefferson. Mr. A. H. Stuart, the owner, was a member of President Fillmore's Cabinet.

The main building of the School for the Deaf and Blind is an unexcelled example of Doric architecture. During the War Between the States it was used as a hospital.

Waynesboro and Afton

"Mad Anthony Wayne," the Revolutionary hero, has a town named for him in Virginia—Waynesboro. This is a beautiful place which has become even more popular upon completion of the projected Skyline Drive southward from Swift Run Gap.

The State Conservation Commission has erected an historical marker which states briefly:

"Here on one of the first roads west of the Blue Ridge, a hamlet stood in colonial times. The Walker exploring expedition started from this vicinity in 1748. Here, in June 1781, the Augusta militia assembled to join Lafayette in the East. A town was founded in 1797. It was established by law in 1801 and named for General Anthony Wayne."

In 1854 the countryside was very much excited over the trip made by the first train travelling west of the Blue Ridge. Crowds[Pg 80] gathered to see the phenomenon and half of them left in fright, we are told, as the iron horse chugged off. Incidentally, mules hauled the first passenger engine over the high mountains and set it down for its memorable exodus.

For the most part the buildings one sees in the town have been erected since 1861, for in that year a devastating fire wiped out the landmarks of pioneer days.

The last battle in Northern Virginia during the War Between the States occurred here in March 1865, just about a month before the surrender of General Lee at Appomattox. Hoping to protect Rockfish Gap, General Early had his Confederate forces quartered in the town. Sheridan, the Union General, surprised him and captured more than half the rebels.

Furnishing power for the large manufacturing interests are the numerous springs of Waynesboro, which have a capacity of millions of gallons of water a day. If you are unfamiliar with springs such as Virginia has, you should stop at Brunswick, Baker's, or Basic Lithia Springs for an unusual sight.

Swannanoa, one of the finest estates in Virginia, is on top of the mountain between Waynesboro and Afton. It is said by numbers of people that two of the loveliest views in America may be had from this point: Rockfish and Shenandoah valleys. You will probably agree with the statement when you stand where you may get a commanding view of the country below you. The large home on the estate is now a country club. Nearby is the site of "Old Mountain Top Tavern," widely known years ago for its fine hospitality. A group met at the tavern in 1818 to decide the location of the proposed University of Virginia. Among them were Madison, Monroe, Marshall and Jefferson.

Driving along the roads you see some of the finest peach orchards in Virginia, for the section is famed for its high quality fruit. Not only do peaches abound here, but you will also see splendid apple orchards. If you happen along at the right season you will be able to stop at a roadside market to buy the renowned Albemarle Pippins—the apples which are grown for miles around—and some of the luscious peaches.[Pg 81]

Natural Bridge

"Who first discovered Natural Bridge?" is a question which nearly every one asks, and a second one is, "How high is it?"

The answer to the first is given in an old Indian legend which reads something like this: Long, long ago, years before the Princess Pocahontas saved the life of Captain John Smith, there was a terrible war between some of the tribes. The Shawnees were noted for their cruelty and they joined forces with the Powhatans. They roamed through Virginia and fell upon the Monocans, a more friendly tribe.

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge

[Pg 82] There had been a famine that year and the Monocans were weakened by hunger and many of their braves fell in battle. After a long conflict, the Monocans decided to retreat and they gave way before the enemy. But they were pursued relentlessly. The Monocans sought refuge in a strange forest and suddenly they came upon a high chasm, whose steep walls were of rock. The braves peered over and were made dizzy when they saw the great distance to the bottom below, where a swiftly running river looked like a small silver ribbon.

Even the strongest could not have jumped across the wide chasm, for it was over a hundred feet wide. Their swiftest scouts ran hither and yon, but each brought back word that there was no way around.

The Monocans were in despair and in their distress threw themselves upon the ground and cried aloud to the Great Spirit to spare their lives from the approaching enemy.

One of the braves arose and went again to the edge of the cliff. He stared down at his feet, then turned and shouted, "Our prayers have been granted us—The Great Spirit has built for us a bridge across the great abyss."

"Be careful," cried one of the men. "Send the squaws and children first to test it. If they cross in safety, then we will know it will be heavy enough to carry our weight also."

And so the women and children passed over into the shelter of the forest beyond. Even as they went they could hear the war whoops of the advancing enemy.

But the Monocans were refreshed in spirit. Their courage had returned, for was not the Great Spirit on their side? The braves quickly took positions on the bridge, each feeling he stood on sacred ground, and like the Greeks of old at Thermopylae they turned and faced their enemy and fought victoriously. From that day, we are told, they called it "The Bridge of God" and worshipped it.

The first white man to own Natural Bridge was Thomas Jefferson, and one may see the original land grant still hanging on the walls of Monticello which reads, in part:

"Know ye that for divers good causes and considerations, but more Especially for and in Consideration of the sum of Twenty Shillings of good and lawful money for our use paid to our Receiver General of[Pg 83] our Revenues, in this our Colony and Dominion of Virginia, We have Given, Granted and Confirmed, and by these presents for us, our heirs and successors, Do give, Grant and confirm unto Thomas Jefferson, one certain Tract or parcel of land, containing 157 acres, lying and being in the County of Botetourt, including the Natural Bridge on Cedar Creek, a branch of James River ..."

We are told that George Washington surveyed the land in 1750, and while there he climbed up 23 feet and carved his initials "G. W." on the southeast walls; the guide today will try to point them out to the visitor. A story is also told that George Washington threw a stone from the bottom of Cedar Creek over the Bridge. Evidently he liked to test his strength by such sports, for it is said that he threw a Spanish dollar across the Rappahannock River opposite the town of Fredericksburg.

When this story was told to the late President Cleveland, he replied, "I do not know about that, but I am well assured he threw a sovereign across the Atlantic."

In 1927 another stone was found which scientists think proved George Washington surveyed that territory. This stone is a large one and also bears his initials which are engraved in a surveyor's cross. Evidently he measured the height of the Bridge by dropping a line from the edge of the bridge to the cross below.

Thomas Jefferson called his purchase the "most Sublime of Nature's works." He visited it many times and during his presidency, in 1802, he surveyed the place with his own hands. He later built a log cabin which contained two rooms and one of them was always kept ready for a visitor. Many famous people visited there and the list includes such men as John Marshall, James Monroe, Henry Clay, Sam Houston and Martin Van Buren. While in France, Jefferson collected many plants and shrubs which he sent to America; many of these were planted at the Bridge, and some are still in existence.

Cedar Creek, the parent of the Bridge, has been busy for thousands of years cutting a bit deeper each year.

The answer to the second question, "How high is it?," is found on a Government bench which carries a brass plate, "1,150 feet above the sea." It is 245 feet high and is 90 feet wide.

Boys and men are especially interested in the exciting story of how Dr. Chester Reeds actually measured the wonderful Bridge.[Pg 84] He had a special basket built which was strong enough to hold him. Two hundred and fifty feet of rope was fastened to it and run through a pulley and one end of it was tied to a fence post. He was very dizzy at first and could not take pictures of the side walls of the bridge. Gradually he became accustomed to turning around and was able to get many fine ones at various angles and of the massive supporting walls, the huge slabs of limestone and some of the foliage.

Natural Bridge is a monument to the patience of Old Mother Nature and her skill as an artist. Today, one wonders at the deep gorge—by night, with modern electrification, one is spellbound by its beauty—and when sweet music fills the glen with its symphonies one's soul is lifted to the Greatest Artist of all—to God in reverence and gratitude.


Rockbridge County takes its name from the celebrated Natural Bridge and was formed from Augusta and Botetourt counties. A branch of the James River is called North River and this stream waters the county, flowing diagonally across it. Some of the richest soil in all the Valley is found in Rockbridge. Lexington, which is the county-seat, takes its name from the town of Lexington in Massachusetts and was founded in 1778. The first buildings of the old town were mostly destroyed by fire in 1794 and were replaced with substantial brick buildings. An Englishman who was visiting America long ago described the little town in these words:

"The town as a settlement, has many attractions. It is surrounded by beauty, and stands at the head of a valley flowing with milk and honey. House rent is low, provisions are cheap, abundant and of the best quality."

The settlers were mostly the Scotch-Irish and of the Presbyterian faith. As soon as they had cleared the lands and built their homes they planted orchards, built their barns and settled down. These were thoughtful men and women who kept their emotions under constant guard. Yet when occasion arose, they spoke simply and clearly and were unafraid. They detested civil tyranny and[Pg 85] as they were far away from the seat of government, to a certain extent they made their own laws and rigidly adhered to them.

They were among the first in the Valley of Virginia to rally to the defense of their country during the War of the Revolution.

In their moral life, they were almost Puritanical. This was founded on religious principle and often they were considered austere and stern. Yet those who knew them, felt the kindness and devotion to which they did not give expressions in words. To them, deeds meant more than promises. Though they reproved one without a smile, their eyes often expressed understanding and sympathy and the offending one felt the deep love which had moved the other to speak—always for the good of the offender. And while some other fault would rear its head, not often was the offense repeated which had called forth the reproach.

The men and women were deeply religious and family prayers were the first order of the day. As soon as homes were established provisions were made for religious services to be held. Tiny churches dotted the Valley wherever the Scotch-Irish settled. If the church was far away, as it was from some, on meeting day young and old mounted their horses and rode the intervening miles for the long services.

Many of these old Presbyterian churches are still standing today and they serve as monuments to that hardy race of men and women who braved all for religious freedom and for civic liberty. The building of these churches meant such labor as we of the present generation cannot know. There were no roads and no sawmills. An old historian tells us how one church was built:

"The people of Providence Congregation packed all the sand used in building their church from a place six miles distant, sack and sack, on the backs of horses! And what is almost incredible, the fair wives and daughters of the congregation are said to have undertaken this part of the work, while the men labored at the stone and timber. Let not the great-granddaughters of these women blush for them however deeply they would blush themselves to be found in such employment. For ourselves, we admire the conduct of these females; it was not only excusable, but praiseworthy—it was almost heroic! It takes Spartan mothers to rear Spartan men. These were among the women whose sons and grandsons sustained Washington in the most disastrous period of the Revolution."

[Pg 86]

There was little social life in those early days such as their eastern cousins knew along the James River. Except for their church festivals, they did little entertaining. Twice a year they held the Lord's Supper and this lasted for four days, with religious services each day. During these times families living nearest the church invited those who lived at great distances to stay with them. Often some young couple would be married, either just before or immediately after these services. Then there would be a little merriment, extra cakes and a few playful pranks.

The First Academy in the Valley

Dr. Ruffner has left us a description of Timber Ridge, which was built near Fairfield in Rockbridge County in 1776. The school took its name from the fine oak trees which grew along its ridge. He writes:

"The schoolhouse was a log cabin. The fine oak forest, which had given Timber Ridge its name, cast its shade over it in summer and afforded convenient fuel in winter. A spring of pure water gushed from the rocks near the house. From amidst the trees the student had a fine view of the country below and the neighboring Blue Ridge. In short all the features of the place made it a fit habitation of the woodland muse and the hill deserved the name of Mount Pleasant. Hither about thirty youths of the mountains repaired to 'taste of the Pierian spring.' Of reading, writing and ciphering, the boys of the country had before acquired such knowledge as primary schools could afford; but with a few late exceptions, Latin, Greek, algebra, geometry and such like scholastic mysteries were things of which they had heard—which they knew perhaps to lie covered up in the learned heads of their pastors—but of the nature and uses they had no conception whatever.

"It was a log hut of one room. The students carried their dinner with them from the boarding-schools in the neighborhood. They conned their lesson either in the schoolroom where the recitations were heard, or under the shade of the trees where breezes whispered and birds sang without disturbing their studies. A horn—perhaps a cow's horn—summoned the school from play and scattered classes to recitations.

"Instead of broadcloth coats, the students generally wore a far more graceful garment, the hunting shirt, home-spun, home-woven, and home-made, by the industry of wives and daughters.

"Their amusements were not less remote from the modern taste of students—cards, backgammon, flutes, fiddles, and even marbles were scarcely known among these mountain boys. Firing pistols and rang[Pg 87]ing the field with shotguns to kill little birds for sport, they would have considered a waste of time and ammunition. As to frequenting tippling shops of any denomination, that was impossible because no such catchpenny lures for students existed in the country, or would have been tolerated. Had any huckster of liquors, knicknacks, and explosive crackers, hung out signs in those days, the old Puritan morality of the land was yet vigorous enough to abate the nuisance. The sports of the students were mostly gymnastic, both manly and healthful—such as leaping, running, wrestling, pitching quoits and playing ball. In this rustic seminary a considerable number of young men began their education, who afterwards bore a distinguished part in the civil and ecclesiastical affairs of the country."

Valley Inventions

The Valley of Virginia has often been termed "the granary of the South." It is no wonder that farmers from time to time have tried to shorten their labor in the wheat fields by inventing machines to do their work.

The name Robert McCormick means little or nothing to most of us, yet on his farm, Walnut Grove, near Lexington he made repeated attempts to invent a workable reaper. His son, Cyrus, had watched with growing interest each of his father's undertakings. His regrets must have been as keen as the elder McCormick's when they realized one May morning in 1831 that the clumsy machine could not replace the hand scythe and cradle.

Cyrus knew something of machinery and determined to improve his father's poor invention in time for the next harvesting. During the intervening six weeks he stayed in the workshop as much as the busy growing season would allow and secured the ready help of a slave boy, Joe Anderson.

In July when the wheat was ready to harvest Cyrus and his father moved the machine out to the field. There a crowd of neighbors gathered and watched with fascination as the reaper cut six acres of wheat during the day.

McCormick continued to improve his invention and other farmers risked their money in purchasing the first six he offered on the market. Eventually the news spread to the grain fields of the Middle West and he opened factories to supply the farmers there.[Pg 88]

For years the inventor strove to improve the reaper; he discovered that other labor saving devices were needed equally as badly, and he offered other types of farm machinery to the rich farm lands.

Inventive genius lay near Lexington along other lines, too. It was near here that James Gibbs invented his common sense stitch sewing-machine which was a forerunner of our more modern models. And what a labor-saving machine that was to all the housewives!

Washington College

The Scotch-Irish were determined to have the best schools and colleges for their children. The Hanover Presbytery, which in 1776 embraced all the Presbyterian churches in Virginia, established a school which they called Liberty Hall Academy. This was built in Lexington, Virginia, with the Reverend William Graham, a native of Pennsylvania, as its first president. George Washington, in 1796, gave the school a regular endowment, the first of its kind. This is how it was made:

The Legislature of Virginia "as a testimony of their gratitude for his services," and as "a mark of their respect," presented to George Washington a certain number of shares in the Old James River Company, an industry then in progress. Unwilling to accept anything for his own benefit, he gave it to the Liberty Hall Academy.

In 1812, the Trustees of the school voted to ask the Virginia Legislature to change the name to Washington College. Many others decided to follow George Washington's fine example. A Mr. John Robinson left his whole estate to the college; the next to aid it, we are told, was the newly organized Society of the Cincinnati of Virginia.

Old records of the school throw an interesting light regarding the expenses of a student in those far-off days. The treasurer's bill for tuition, room rent, deposits and matriculation was $45 per year. Board was $7.50 a month. Laundry, fuel, candles and bed amounted to about three dollars per month. The cost of everything averaged about $140 a year.[Pg 89]


When he was beset and overwhelmed, and without supplies, Robert Edward Lee reached Appomattox in April, 1865, and surrendered to General Grant on April 9th. He realized that the people of the South needed courage and strength, and though he was offered many places of honor with splendid salaries, he decided to help rebuild Virginia. When the call came to become president of Washington College in Lexington he accepted and took up his duties there in October, 1865.

As he spoke to the students assembled in the new chapel he saw familiar faces. Many of them had followed him during the years of the War Between the States; they, too, had courage and hope. These boys and men loved the noble man and they were willing to follow him in rebuilding their homes and the Southland.

"All good citizens must unite in honest efforts to obliterate the effects of war, and to restore the blessings of peace. They must not abandon their country, but go to work and build up its prosperity.

"The young men especially must stay at home, bearing themselves in such a manner as to gain the esteem of every one, at the same time that they maintain their own respect.

"It should be the object of all to avoid controversy, to allay passion, and to give scope to every kindly feeling."

In every respect he was prepared to be the president of a great school, for he himself had been a model student at West Point. He had already served as Superintendent there for three years.

He was very happy during the short years he lived in Lexington. He had the grounds improved, planted many trees, and repaired the much worn buildings. He studied and worked over the courses of study and enlarged the faculty.

A young girl who was visiting in the home of General Lee in Lexington, tells the following story. It was soon after the Surrender at Appomattox and his acceptance of the Presidency of Washington College.

General Lee, with his family, was living in one of the comfortable and large houses near the college. Their home at Arlington had been confiscated during the War Between the States, and they had no furniture except some which neighbors had lent them.

[Pg 90] Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Va.

Courtesy Virginia State Chamber of Commerce

Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Va.

[Pg 91] One day a letter came to General Lee, telling him good news. A lady who lived in New York wrote him that her husband had died, and having no children she had decided to give up housekeeping. She had been very happy and had loved her home. Now she wanted the furnishings to belong to someone who would appreciate and would care for them. She wrote she sympathized with them in not having their own furniture and that there was no one to whom she had rather give hers.

General Lee hated the thought of accepting, until he read on, that if he could not use the furniture himself, perhaps he could use it in his college. After some time he wrote the lady he would be very grateful and would appreciate it very much.

In the meantime Mrs. Lee was looking forward to its coming, for her large rooms were indeed very bare. At last the great boxes came. General Lee was busy, so Mrs. Lee waited until he could be present to have them opened.

After lunch one day, General Lee had men come to open them. Mrs. Lee's eyes shone as the first box revealed two huge red velvet carpets.

She looked at the General. His eyes were shining too.

"Look, my dear," he said, "The very thing we need! If we cut them carefully, we will have enough to carpet the platform and the aisles of the new chapel!"

"Of course," she smiled, never saying one word about how warm and lovely they would make the double parlors in their own home.

The next box was opened with intense interest. The men lifted out the upper part of a handsome bookcase. The next brought the lower half, a lovely desk, with many drawers.

"Oh," thought Mrs. Lee. "That will fill up that terrible space between the windows."

"This is the very thing we want," General Lee said, as the men took them to the walk. "We will put that in the basement of the new chapel. We will use it for our records and put our best books in the bookcase, and this will be the beginning of our college library."

And so it went. He used the best of everything for his college, and Mrs. Lee took only the odds and ends which did not fit any[Pg 92]where else. Someone told her she should have taken a stand and insisted upon taking some of the best.

"Oh, no," she laughed, "it was worth giving all of it up to see the joy the General had in putting it to use in his college. The boys come first—both of us are so interested in them."

General Lee died in October, 1870, loved by men and women, boys and girls in both the North and South. His body rests under a beautiful white marble figure, which was sculptured by his friend, Edward Valentine. It is called the Recumbent Statue of General Lee and lies in the Chapel of Washington and Lee. This is now a shrine to which hundreds come daily from all over the world to pay their homage, love and respect to this great man.

Virginia Military Institute

Courtesy Virginia State Chamber of Commerce

Virginia Military Institute

The Virginia Military Institute

Virginia Military Institute was first an academy and was established in connection with Washington College by an act of[Pg 93] the Legislature during the years 1838-9. A guard of soldiers had been maintained at the expense of the State for the purpose of affording protection to the arms deposited in the Lexington arsenal for the use of the militia in western Virginia. It was through the influence of Governor McDowell, who came from Rockbridge County, that this militia was made into an educational unit of Washington College.

One seldom thinks of the Virginia Military Institute without associating with it the noted Colonel Claudius Crozet—soldier, educator and engineer. He was the first president of the V.M.I. Board of Visitors. An imposing hall at the Institute is named in his honor.

In the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hall hangs the painting which depicts the charge of the corps of cadets at the Battle of New Market. "This great painting, not a mural, is one of the largest canvas paintings in the country"—according to authorities there.

Among other memorial buildings is the one erected in honor of Brigadier-General Scott Shipp, a former cadet, instructor and superintendent; Maury-Brooke Hall, dedicated to Matthew Fontaine Maury, the Pathfinder of the Seas and honoring Commander John Mercer Brooke, inventor of the deep-sea sounding apparatus and builder of the first successful iron-clad vessel, the "Merrimac."

During the War Between the States the greater part of the buildings were destroyed by Federal authority. When General Lee heard of this tragedy he wrote to General F. H. Smith, the superintendent there. We quote his letter because of its prophetic message:

 "Camp Petersburg, (Va.) July 4, 1864.

"I have grieved over the destruction of the Military Institute. But the good that has been done to the country cannot be destroyed, nor can its name or fame perish. It will rise stronger than before, and continue to diffuse its benefits to a grateful people. Under wise administration, there will be no suspension of its usefulness. The difficulties by which it is surrounded will call forth greater energies from its officers and increased diligence from its pupils. Its prosperity I consider certain.

"With great regards, yours very truly,

  "R. E. Lee."

[Pg 94] There is a glamor attached to this Virginia school unique in the country. It comes not alone from the bright cadet uniforms, the parade grounds, the gray stone barracks and the esprit de corps evidenced there; part is kept alive by the hundreds of loyal alumni and friends whose devotion is unlimited. This "West Point of the South" maintains the traditions of the time of Stonewall Jackson and graduates young officers for the army and young men for every field of business. A current Broadway show of popular appeal and a cinema of note is that of "Brother Rat" which depicts the life at V.M.I.

Culpeper Minute Men

Who can resist a story about the Revolutionary War? There is a fascination surrounding the heroes and heroines of that era and most of us listen attentively to any legend depicting the action of our forefathers.

From a point along the Skyline Drive one may look toward Culpeper County. (In fact, in all probability you passed through a part of this old county if you took an east to west route to reach the drive.) Among other things Culpeper is justly famous for its Minute Men of the Revolutionary War.

The town was formed from Orange in 1748 and was named in honor of Lord Culpeper, Governor of Virginia from 1680 to 1683. This land was a part of the original land grant to Lord Fairfax. It was here in the old Courthouse that young George Washington produced his commission as surveyor. The record reads:

"20th July, 1749—George Washington Gent. produced a commission from the President and Master of William and Mary College, appointing him to be surveyor of this county, which was read, and thereupon he took the usual oaths to his majesty's person and government, and took and subscribed the abjuration oath and test, and then took the oath of surveyor, according to law."

Speaking years later in the Senate, John Randolph of Roanoke remarked that the Minute Men "were raised in a minute, armed in a minute, marched in a minute, fought in a minute, and van[Pg 95]quished in a minute." These soldiers chose as part of their uniform green hunting shirts with "Liberty or Death" stamped in large letters across the front. Buck tails hung from their old hats and from their belts swung tomahawks and scalping knives. Their wild appearance on reaching Williamsburg, the capital of the colony, set the inhabitants in as much fear as did the thought of invasion by the enemy! Lieutenant John Marshall who was later to become Chief Justice was among the number—as was his father.

The slogan of the Minute Men "Liberty or Death" brought forth humor from one wag who said the phrasing was too strong for him; he would enlist if it were changed to "Liberty or Be Crippled."

Almost upon their immediate arrival at Williamsburg they were marched to Norfolk County and were participants in the Battle of Great Bridge.

Blind Preacher

Not so far from Gordonsville there is a simple marker near the site of "Belle Grove," a little church made famous by a blind preacher. And back of the monument itself is a story well worth repeating. It is a tale told by William Wirt in his British Spy.

In that account Wirt said:

"It was one Sunday as I travelled through the county of Orange, that my eye was caught by a cluster of horses tied near a ruinous old wooden house in the forest, not far from the roadside. Having frequently seen such objects before, in travelling through these States, I had no difficulty in understanding that this was a place of religion."

He stated further that he was filled with curiosity as to the type of minister who would preach in such a wilderness as he was passing through and so he stopped and joined the worshippers. He described the preacher, a Presbyterian in faith, as having one of the most striking appearances he had ever seen and a most remarkable delivery.

"I have never seen, in any other orator, such a union of simplicity and majesty. He has not a gesture, an attitude, or an accent, to which he does not seem forced by the sentiment which he is expressing. His mind is too serious, too earnest, too solicitous, and, at the same time,[Pg 96] too dignified, to stoop to artifice. Although as far removed from ostentation as a man can be, yet it is clear from the train, the style, and substance of his thoughts, that he is not only a very polite scholar, but a man of extensive and profound erudition."

James Waddel was the name of this remarkable old man of God. He was born in Ireland in 1739 and was brought to America as an infant.

Another interesting tale was told in the neighborhood. Waddel's fame as a preacher had spread through the vicinity. On one occasion a committee from a different faith prepared to wait on him and urge him to occupy their pulpit as well as his own. Upon nearing his dwelling they were shocked to hear sweet plaintive notes coming from a violin and resolved to learn who in his household would dare to play the devil's instrument. They crept softly to the window. Such amazement was theirs when they saw their potential minister himself drawing the bow—and with apparent enjoyment and satisfaction. More quickly than they had approached did they leave the yard and felt righteously thankful that they had seen the true nature of the man before it was too late!

Not only did the Blind Preacher serve as minister, but like others of his profession he conducted a school.

And what happened to the old church itself? Long abandoned as a meeting house for the Presbyterians, about 1850 it was sold and taken down by the "Sons of Temperance" and converted into a temperance hall at Gordonsville. Later it housed a school. Finally it was sold to a colored preacher as a church for his flock.

Hebron Church

Outstanding among the old churches in this part of Virginia is Hebron Church in Madison County.

The little colony of Germans at Germanna, to whom we have already referred, and a few immigrants from Holland were responsible for its early establishment. First it was known as "Old Dutch Church." Located on its original site its existence has been in three different counties: Orange, Culpeper and now Madison![Pg 97]

Hebron is the oldest Lutheran church not only in Virginia but in the South. About 1733 the nucleus of the congregation met and sent a representative to England for a pastor. It seems a bit surprising that no English parson felt the call to tend the flock in an outpost of Virginia, but it is true that no one was possessed of the missionary spirit to that extent.

In 1735 a Hessian who had come to America eight years before, the Rev. Casper Stoever, left his home in Pennsylvania and became the first pastor. His annual salary, by the way, was four thousand pounds of tobacco or just about forty dollars in currency. This was paid by the congregation in addition to the taxes which were required of the Non-Conformist churches towards the upkeep of the established English church.

Everyone in Madison is vastly proud of the old pipe organ at Hebron. It was built in 1800 at Philadelphia and brought to its present place on wagon—a journey which took a long time and infinite pains. Jacob and Michael Rouse were entrusted with the task of hauling. The organ cost two hundred pounds sterling. Interesting, too, is the complete old communion service which dates back to the church's early beginnings.

In recent years visiting concert organists have played on the fine old instrument at the request of the congregation.

Hoover's Camp on the Rapidan River

During the administration of former President Hoover a fine camp was built on the banks of the Rapidan River in Madison County where the Chief Executive, his family and friends enjoyed the trout fishing and rustic life that the camp afforded. A main lodge was erected for the President. Guest lodges for the Cabinet members and others were located nearby. This retreat is within easy driving distance of the White House and was in constant use for week-ends during the summer months. From Washington the Presidential parties took route 211 to Warrenton and from there two routes were offered: either a continuation of route 211 to Sperryville, then south to Criglersville on route 16, or from Warrenton to Culpeper to Criglersville.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Hoover became very much interested in the life of the mountaineers who grew to be their friendly neighbors.[Pg 98] You have heard the story, no doubt, of the small unlettered boy who brought a gift to the President and who aroused in him and Mrs. Hoover the desire to see a school built in the neighborhood which would serve a large mountain area. An excellent little frame building nestles among the sloping hills which attracts the children of all ages within a radius of many miles. One part of the building is used for class instruction and the rest for living quarters for the teacher. This school was made possible largely through the efforts of Mr. and Mrs. Hoover.

One may see the school and the entrance to the Rapidan Camp by following the road which leads from Big Meadow, a plateau on the Skyline Drive, to Criglersville.

The camp is still in use at times. Cabinet members and other government officials enjoy its stream and mountain beauties, but not to the extent of former times.

Charlottesville and Albemarle County

The Father of the University of Virginia

Every school child knows the outstanding facts about Thomas Jefferson. He will rattle off quickly that he was born near Charlottesville in Albemarle County, in 1743, that he was at William and Mary College when only seventeen and played his fiddle which he had carried as he rode the long miles between Charlottesville and Williamsburg. He graduated there and was admitted to the bar. Thomas Jefferson drafted, at the request of the Committee, the Declaration of Independence. He was Governor of Virginia during the trying years of the Revolutionary War. We shall not give all the offices which he held, except to mention that he spent some years abroad in France as United States Minister. For almost forty years he served his country, having been President of it from 1801 to 1809.

It is from the quaint letters of his granddaughter, Ellenora Randolph, that one may read of the tenderness, the lovable disposition and the human side of this great American.

She was said to be his favorite grandchild and she writes of how she sat on his knee and played with his huge watch chain. He never went to Philadelphia without bringing her little luxuries[Pg 99] which it was impossible to buy in Virginia. He brought her a Bible, a lady's side saddle, a Leghorn hat, and a set of Shakespeare.

"Monticello", Near Charlottesville, Va.

Courtesy Virginia Conservation Commission

"Monticello", Near Charlottesville, Va.

She tells how Jefferson's wife had died when his daughters were quite young and that he had been so kind and sympathetic in "shaping their lives."

There is an interesting love story here, too, for Ellenora met and fell in love with Joseph Coolidge of Boston. He came a-wooing the Virginia beauty, and according to the custom of that day, he wrote Mr. Jefferson of his intentions to marry his granddaughter before he proposed to her.

The following is Jefferson's reply to Joseph Coolidge:

 "Monticello, October 24, 1824.

"I avail myself of the first moment of my ability to take up a pen to assure you that nothing would be more welcome to me than the visit proposed and its object.... I assure you no union could give me more satisfaction if your wishes are mutual. Your visit to Monticello and at the time of your convenience will be truly welcome, and your stay, whatever may suit yourself. My gratification will be measured by the time of its continuance....

"I expect in the course of the first or the second week of the approaching month to receive here the visit of my ancient friend, General LaFayette. The delirium which his visit has excited in the North envelopes him in the South also ... and the county of Albemarle will exhibit its great affection and unending means in a dinner given the General in the building of the University, to which they have given accepted invitations to Mr. and Mrs. James Madison and myself as guests; and at which your presence as my guest would give high pleasure to us all, and to name, I assure you more cordially than sincerely your friend;

 (Signed) "Thomas Jefferson."

The wedding accounts give the names of fifty distinguished Americans who came to pay their respects to Ellenora and her husband. Every distinguished foreigner came in person; besides these, there came many of the men who had known and loved Jefferson during all his years of service. Imagine all the horses that had to be fed, all the gigs and coaches and all the Negro servants who had to be quartered. No one is surprised that what the man had accumulated was fast disappearing with so much hospitality.

But Ellenora had her troubles upon arriving in Boston. Her[Pg 101] presents and other possessions had been sent by boat and it had sunk! Her letter tells of her great distress at losing the trinkets associated with her happy girlhood. But most of all, she expressed her grief upon losing a writing desk which Grandfather Jefferson had had made for her by his master carpenter, a Negro servant. This was a very talented carver who had faithfully carried out each detailed design which his master had given him. Now he was old and had grown blind and he could no longer make one. This is Jefferson's letter to his granddaughter—and explains how a most historic desk went a-travelling:

"It has occurred to me that perhaps I can replace it (desk) not indeed to you, but to Mr. Coolidge, by a substitute, not claiming the same value from its decorations but the part it has bourne in our history, and the event with which it has been associated.... Now I happen to possess the writing box on which the Declaration of Independence was written. It was made from a drawing of my own, by Ben Randall, a cabinetmaker in whose house I took lodging on my first arrival in Philadelphia, in May, 1776, and I have had it ever since. It claims no merit of particular beauty. It is plain, neat and convenient and taking no more room on a writing table than a modern quarto volume it displays itself sufficient for any writing. Mr. Coolidge must do me the favor of accepting this. Its imaginary value will increase with the years. If he lives till my age, he may see it carried in the procession of our nation's birthday."

So this is how the famous desk went to New England and was finally sent to the State Department in Washington by the Coolidges in 1876.

When Thomas Jefferson was an old man, he began to carry out his dream, one which he had had for a long time, to build a university. All his life he had loved to draw plans and he carefully made his own blueprints. He drew plans for lovely Monticello when he was twenty-eight years old. His friends came from far and near to get him to draw plans for their homes. Ashlawn, Montpelier and others are monuments to this master builder. He had his own ideas about educating the young men of Virginia. He wanted to see them fitted to be fine citizens by having a good education, for he knew it was through good citizens that a good government would be realized. But first he had to educate his friends along this line. Many of them still thought a tutor in the family was the best way. Many did not believe in "mass education." For ten long years he worked to[Pg 102] get a bill through the Legislature which called for the establishment of the University of Virginia. At last, in 1825 the school was opened. But many years passed before Jefferson could get the buildings he had dreamed of and had planned. Then when he was eighty-two, his dream came true.

Rotunda of University of Virginia

Courtesy Virginia State Chamber of Commerce

Rotunda of University of Virginia

[Pg 103] Today one may see his university, set on a sloping hill. The buildings are models of architecture and Jefferson himself superintended the construction of them. It is told that he often watched the carpenters from Monticello through a telescope. Jefferson also planned those early courses of study and helped in the selection of the faculty. The spirit of Jefferson is still felt there today and each generation of students has been enriched by it and the noble traditions of the school.

Many famous students have gone there. Edgar Allan Poe wrote "The Raven" and "Anabel Lee" there. An Arctic explorer from the University was Elisha Kane. Walter Reed studied medicine and, as we know, won the fight against yellow fever by his heroic experiments. Each year, men go out from this great old school who help to build a greater country—just as Jefferson dreamed they would.

After his death on July 4, 1826, someone found a paper on which he had written these words:

"Here was buried
Thomas Jefferson
Author of the Declaration of American Independence
of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom
and Father of the University of Virginia."

And today, one finds his tomb halfway up the hill to Monticello and the words above are cut upon the simple shaft which marks his grave.

Monticello is open to the public and may be reached by a hard surface road leading out of Charlottesville. Through careful research and diligence the Monticello Memorial Association has brought back to the home much of the fine furnishings which Jefferson himself had collected. At the present time the second and third floors of the mansion are being faithfully restored.[Pg 104]

Jack Jouett's Ride

"Here goes to thee, Jack Jouett!

Lord keep thy memr'y green;

You made the greatest ride, sir,

That ever yet was seen."

So reads the last stanza of an inscription on a tablet erected in his memory. But who was Jack Jouett and what of his "greatest ride?"

During the stirring days of the American Revolution Thomas Jefferson was Governor of Virginia. Hearing that the British were expected to reach Richmond he recommended that the capital of the colony be moved to Charlottesville until after danger from the enemy should pass. This was done and Jefferson stayed at his home, Monticello.

At Cuckoo Tavern in Louisa County, fifty miles from Charlottesville, young Jouett was sitting around one night getting the latest news of the rebellion, when Tarleton, who commanded a British force, came into the place. Jouett hid from sight and overheard Tarleton talking with several other English officers. They said they were impatient to be on their way to Monticello to capture Jefferson, Patrick Henry and other Virginia leaders. Jack stayed to hear the route they would take to Charlottesville and then slipped away on his horse.

The famous ride occurred on back roads in order to beat the British to their destination. He crossed to the main road long enough to tell a family of Walkers that the British were coming for the Governor. Later Tarleton drew in at the same home and demanded breakfast from Mrs. Walker. Knowing that time meant a great deal to the rider going ahead with the news, she delayed the meal as long as possible.

As Jouett climbed the last hill to Monticello he heard the horses of Tarleton's party in the distance, so he spurred his animal on and in a last-minute sprint he reached the home. The plans were revealed and Jefferson hurriedly assembled his family. As their carriage left by a back road the English came up another and searched in vain for the Governor.[Pg 105]

Jouett went from there to Charlottesville to warn the members of the legislature of the impending danger and they fled to Staunton—all but seven of the legislators who were overtaken and captured. The story is told of how he saved General Stevens, a member of the Assembly. As they rode along, some British soldiers saw them and set their horses at a great pace. Jack had on a plumed hat which might appear important to the soldiers; he told the general to ride slowly across an open field as if he were the owner out on an inspection tour of his lands. He himself would dash off in the hope of getting the troopers to follow him. The plan worked. Jouett finally left the pursuers far behind and later on he returned to his home in Charlottesville.

Much later the Virginia legislature passed a resolution commending the valor of Jack Jouett and presented him with a pair of pistols and a sword as a mark of appreciation of his service to the State. Swan Tavern, left him by his father, occupied his time after the war. He died in Kentucky where he had moved as an old man.

Lewis and Clark Expedition

Thomas Jefferson knew the two young men whom he wanted to explore the great Northwest, for they had been born almost at the foot of Monticello. They were Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Each of them, almost as boys, had been a soldier and each loved adventure.

Meriwether Lewis had inherited a fortune from his father and he could have settled down to a life of ease. But after eighteen he would not go to school any longer. He had fought in the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania and then entered the army. He was commissioned captain in 1800 and served for three years. Then Thomas Jefferson asked him to be his secretary and it was in this office that Jefferson found his admirable qualities.

William Clark was four years older than his friend Lewis. He was born in 1770 and was a brother of George Rogers Clark. When he was fourteen years old he went with his family to the Ohio River where his brother George had built a fort. There he learned the ways of the Indians and often he was in the thick of their raids. He, too, joined the regular army and received his commission when he was only eighteen years old.[Pg 106] He went to St. Louis and was commissioned as second lieutenant of the artillery and ordered to join the great expedition.

Captain Lewis was first in command and he selected his men carefully. There were fourteen soldiers in the little party and two Canadian boatmen, an interpreter, a hunter and a Negro servant.

Thomas Jefferson did not give them a lot of orders. The following instructions show his wisdom:

"Treat them (Indians) in the most friendly and concilliating manner which their own conduct will admit; allay all jealousies as to the object of your journey; satisfy them of its innocence; make them acquainted with the position, extent, character, peaceable, and commercial intercourse with them; confer with them on the points most convenient as mutual emporiums and the articles of most desirable interchange for them and us. If a few of their influential chiefs, within practicable distance wish to visit us, arrange such a visit with them, and furnish them with authority to call on our officers on their entering the United States, to have them conveyed to this place at the public expense. If any of them should wish to have some of their people brought up with us and use such arts as may be useful to them, we will receive, instruct, and take care of them."

The fact that so little trouble was had by the party is due to the skill which Clark used in handling the Indians. We will not go into the details of the expedition, for everyone knows what a wonderful, rich territory was gained for the United States by that expedition.


Fredericksburg, fifty-five miles south of Washington and about the same distance north of Richmond, Virginia, on Route 1, rightly claims to be one of the most historic cities in the United States. Visitors who make a tour of the Valley of Virginia and the Skyline Drive may want to begin their trip here, for it serves as a hub for long or short visits to neighboring places of interest. From Fredericksburg one may drive to Culpeper, Sperryville and Panorama and enter the Skyline Drive at that point, or he may wish to go from Fredericksburg to Warrenton and thence to the Skyline Drive. Another excellent route is by way of[Pg 107] Orange and Stanardsville and on to Swift Run Gap, the Southern entrance to the Drive at the present time.

"Kenmore", the Home of Fielding Lewis and Betty Washington Lewis,
Fredericksburg, Virginia

"Kenmore", the Home of Fielding Lewis and Betty Washington Lewis, Fredericksburg, Virginia

[Pg 108] A splendid trip from this old city is to "Wakefield," the birthplace of George Washington, in Westmoreland County, and from there to "Stratford Hall," the ancestral home of the Lee family and the birthplace of General Lee, both in Westmoreland County. About two miles from Fredericksburg on this route is "Ferry Farm" where George Washington spent a part of his boyhood.

In the city itself there are shrines to famous folks of an earlier period. The home of Mary Washington, mother of the first President, is open to the public. "Kenmore," former home of Betty Washington Lewis and Colonel Fielding Lewis is well cared for by an association. Both these homes have good examples of eighteenth century furnishings. The Rising Sun Tavern was the scene years ago of the Victory Ball after the surrender at Yorktown; it was host to most of the famous men of Virginia and neighboring States for years. In the Masonic Lodge are a number of relics of Washington's time and an original Gilbert Stuart portrait of the General. General Hugh Mercer, a noted physician of the Revolution had his apothecary shop in Fredericksburg and the visitor may see it upon request. Mary Washington's will is on record at the courthouse here.

On Charles Street in Fredericksburg, Virginia, stands a shrine to the memory of James Monroe, who served his country in more public offices than any other American in the history of the United States. This quaint story-and-a-half brick building, which he occupied from 1786 to 1788, was the only private law office in which Monroe practiced his profession. It was built in 1758 and stands in its original state, even to the woodwork and mantles of the interior. Only the old brick floor and plastering had to be restored. This was accomplished in 1928, when the building was opened to the public as the first shrine to the memory of the fifth President. At that time there was placed in it the largest number of Monroe possessions in existence, handed down for five generations in straight line to his descendants, who made the shrine possible.

[Pg 109] James Monroe's Law Office

James Monroe's Law Office

James Monroe brought his bride, the former Elizabeth Kortright of New York, to Fredericksburg, and in the little shrine are [Pg 110]hallowed intimate possessions of hers as well as those of her distinguished husband; a wedding slipper, a dainty French fan; two handsome court gowns, one of silver brocaded on white satin, the other of cream colored taffeta, richly embroidered with dahlias in natural colors; her bonnet and veil in which she welcomed Lafayette on his return to the States in 1824; her lorgnette, which must have added to the reputation she had for dignity; her Astor piano and her silver service marked "J. M."

Of Monroe's personal possessions there are many. Here too is his court dress with its rare old lace, cut-steel buttons and knee breeches, worn at Napoleon's court; the quaint huge umbrella presented him by the City of Boston on the occasion of Lafayette's return, with its original covering, whale-bone ribs and ivory handle, all contributing to its weight of seven and one-half pounds; his mahogany brass-bound dispatch box in which his Louisiana Purchase papers were carried; his silver-mounted duelling pistols, recalling that Monroe came near fighting a duel with Alexander Hamilton; and other articles too numerous to mention, including interesting historical letters by and to James Monroe from the outstanding men of his day.

Perhaps the outstanding exhibit in the Law Office shrine, however, is the desk on which Monroe signed the message to Congress which formed the basis for the famous Monroe Doctrine. Mahogany, high, brass-bound, this handsome desk forms a part of the furniture bought by the Monroes in France, brought by them to this country in 1798, and now finally shown in the little museum dedicated to their memory. The Monroes, being the first to move into the rebuilt White House after the original one had been burned by the British in the War of 1812, and being confronted with empty rooms, took with them this lovely furniture. Still later, on leaving the White House, the beloved possessions again went with them, and it is to this fact that the happy privilege of the public to see these things today can be attributed.

More than a hundred years later, a successor of Mrs. Monroe was to express her patriotism and interest in historical accuracy through cataloguing and making inventories of the furnishings of the White House. This lady, Mrs. Herbert Hoover, in searching the records, learned of the Monroe furniture and of its ultimate resting place in the Monroe shrine, and asked permission to copy[Pg 111] it at Government expense, the copies to be placed in the White House. Permission was gladly given and today there is a "Monroe Room" in the White House, furnished with the reproductions of this historic furniture. The originals, however, remain in the little museum in Fredericksburg, relics of active, public years spent by a great statesman on two continents.

The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park was established in 1927. Quoting from a booklet which may be secured from the park headquarters we find:

"This park was established ... to commemorate six major battles fought during the great sectional conflict between 1861 and 1865—the two Battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Salem Church, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House—and to preserve for historical purposes the remains of earthworks, roads, and other sites of importance on these battlefields...."

At the Battle of Chancellorsville General Stonewall Jackson, famous Confederate commander, was mortally wounded. A simple shaft marks the place and a wild flower preserve is located near it.

"While the fundamental purpose of the park is historical education, its program is by no means confined to this limitation. It offers important recreational and educational features aside from critical military history. The Jackson Memorial Wild Flower Preserve ... affords excellent instruction in botany.... The deep woodlands of the area threaded with foot trails leading along the old trenches are a delight to lovers of the outdoors...."


Kenmore, the home of Fielding Lewis and Betty Washington Lewis (George Washington's only sister), is an outstanding example of the architecture of Colonial Virginia. It is also intimately connected with the stirring history of Colonial times and with the life of George Washington.

Augustine Washington, about 1739, moved from Hunting Creek to Ferry Farm, across the river from Fredericksburg, with his second wife, Mary Ball, and their five children—George, Betty, Samuel, John Augustine, and Charles—for the sake of community life and the religious and educational advantages it[Pg 112] offered. Here the children grew up and received their education—Betty at a "Dame School," George under the tutelage of Parson Marye. Betty and George were especially intimate companions because of their nearness of age and their similarity in personality and character.

When Betty was sixteen, and a "mannerly young maid," her cousin Fielding Lewis came seeking her hand in marriage. Lewis had come up from Gloucester three years previously with his wife and son. Mrs. Lewis died in 1749. Shortly thereafter, Fielding started courting young Betty. They were married in 1750, the bride being given away by her brother George, and for a time they lived on a plantation adjoining Ferry Farm. In 1752 Lewis bought 861 acres of land, adjacent to Fredericksburg, the survey being made by George Washington, who had been appointed government surveyor in 1748. On this land, with its fine view of the countryside, Lewis built Kenmore (called Millbrook at the time) in accordance with a promise he had made to his bride.

As time went on, Fielding Lewis became closely associated with the political life of Virginia. He was a member of the House of Burgesses for many years. He also served in the French and Indian War and was Colonel of the Spotsylvania County Militia. It is said that the resolution endorsing Patrick Henry in his resistance to the tyranny of Governor Dunmore, passed by the Committee of 600 in the Rising Sun Tavern in Fredericksburg, was written by him in the Great Room of his home, Kenmore, a paper which for all intents and purposes was a declaration of independence.

Colonel Lewis was best known for the part he played in the War of Independence. In 1776 he became Chairman of the Virginia Committee of Safety. Previously, in 1775, the Virginia Assembly had passed an ordinance providing for a "Manufactory of Small Arms in Fredericksburg, Virginia." Five commissioners were appointed to undertake this project, but Colonel Lewis and Charles Dick were the only two who took an active part in the work. They were allotted £2,500 with which to secure land, buildings and equipment. Soon thereafter they were at work manufacturing[Pg 113] arms. The first £2,500 were quickly spent, and Lewis and Dick were obliged to draw from their own funds to carry on. Lewis advanced an additional £7,000 and borrowed £30,000 to £40,000 more. Lewis also built a ship for the Virginia Navy, The Dragon, and equipped three regiments. Kenmore was heavily mortgaged to meet the costs of all these patriotic enterprises. When Lewis died in 1781, little of the estate was left.

Thereafter, Betty Lewis tried conducting a small boarding school at Kenmore, but again money had to be raised and piece after piece of the land was sold to obtain it. Finally, in 1796, the mansion and its contents were sold and Betty Lewis went to live with her daughter. She died the next year.

After many vicissitudes in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Kenmore was saved for posterity, in 1922, through the great enthusiasm and hard work of a group of women who later formed the Kenmore Association. Through the efforts of this association, the exterior and the interiors of Kenmore were expertly restored to their original charming appearance and it has been furnished with original pieces of the period, many of which have an actual connection with the family.

Who the architect of Kenmore was, is unknown. It is very probable that Fielding Lewis himself had much to do with the planning of it, making use of books on English architecture. The mansion is typical of the formal architecture of Tidewater Virginia in the mid-eighteenth century. Flanked on each side by smaller service buildings, both of which are identical in size and appearance, the group is symmetrical around the central entrance. The exteriors present a picture of fine restraint and dignity. Four uniformly placed chimneys in the end walls serve eight fireplaces. The windows are well proportioned in relation to the main walls. The walls, of brick laid in Flemish bond, or brickwork pattern, are two feet thick—unusually heavy construction for a house of even this size.

The principal rooms, of stately proportions, are remarkable for their design and ornament. The richly modelled ceilings, cornices, and overmantels are outstanding examples of ornamental plater-work—quite unsurpassed by anything of its kind in America. It[Pg 114] has always been said and never contradicted that these ornamental features were planned by George Washington himself.

To the right, as one enters the Reception Hall, tinted in pastel blue-gray, is the well designed main stairway, a noteworthy feature of which is the delicately carved lotus leaf ornament. In back is the prized grandfather clock which originally belonged to Mary Washington.

Passing through the arched doorway at the rear of the Hall, one enters the Great Room. For the magnificent ceiling of this room, Colonel Lewis employed the same French decorator whom Washington had employed for the ornamental ceilings at Mount Vernon. The design motif includes four horns of plenty. Tradition has it that the overmantel in the Great Room was done at a later time than the other decorations by two Hessian soldiers captured at the Battle of Trenton. The design, an adaptation of Æsop's fable of the fox, the crow, and the piece of cheese, is supposed to have been suggested by George Washington at the request of his sister; this particular fable being chosen to teach his nephews to beware of flattery. The rich red of the brocade draperies contrasts with the light green of the walls and the white of the ceiling and mantel. A crystal chandelier of old Waterford glass forms a sparkling accent in the middle of the room. The floor is covered almost entirely with an early eighteenth century Oushak rug. The furniture in this room as well as elsewhere generally is American of Chippendale design. Of particular note are two portraits of Fielding, and two of Betty Lewis—all four by Wollaston.

The ceiling of the Library has the four seasons for its decorative motif and the overmantel is a design of fruits and flowers. The walls, like those of the Great Room, are tinted a soft green.

"The Swan and Crown" of the Washington crest is carved in the woodwork under the mantel in the Dining Room. The walls are a deep blue-green, the woodwork a lighter matching shade. Draperies are a soft green brocade. The service building on the Dining Room side of the House contains the kitchen.

On the second floor are the master bedrooms and guest room where General Lafayette and many another distinguished visitor[Pg 115] stayed. These eighteenth century rooms, so well treated and furnished, serve as timeless models of good taste in bedrooms.

Next to Mount Vernon, George Washington was most interested in Kenmore. He had taken a keen interest from the beginning in the building of the House and the landscaping of the grounds. After the War he set out thirteen chestnut trees near the House, one for each of the original thirteen States. One of these still lives. Mary Washington, mother of George and Betty, lived in the cottage on the estate, not far from the Main House; a home her son had provided for her at the beginning of the War.

The restoration of the grounds was undertaken by the Garden Club of Virginia in 1929 with funds obtained from the public participation in the first "Virginia Garden Week." One feature of this work is the brick wall around the premises, built in 1930. The sunken turf driveway is the original driveway that used to surround a grassy circle. Handsome box bushes, ancient and familiar features of Virginia estates, flank the approaches to the House now as of old. The gardens, too, contain flowers that Betty Washington must have enjoyed—bushes of lilac, mock orange, and bridal wreath and beds of pansies, sweet william, phlox, verbena and lilies of the valley.

Kenmore, a background of those lives who helped so importantly to mould the destinies of our nation, vividly portrays the art and the culture of its time.

The Mary Washington House

There stands on the corner of Charles and Lewis Streets in Fredericksburg, Virginia, an unpretentious but charming little house. There is no spot in America more sacred. It was the home of Mary Ball Washington, wife of Augustine Washington, and the mother of George Washington.

It is recorded that on Dec. 8, 1761 lots 107 and 108 upon which the Mary Washington House stands were sold by Fielding Lewis and Betty, his wife, with all houses, trees, woods, under-woods, profits commodities, hereditaments and appurtenances[Pg 116] whatsoever, to Michael Robinson for £250 and bought by George Washington Sept. 18, 1772 for £275.

After remodeling and adding to the house, George Washington moved his mother from the Ferry Farm, which had been her home since 1739, to Fredericksburg and it was here that she spent her last days.

"The Mary Washington House", Fredericksburg, Virginia

"The Mary Washington House", Fredericksburg, Virginia

It was here that she received the courier sent by General Washington to tell her of the victory at Trenton. It was here that Washington came after the Battle of Yorktown with the French and American officers and she received him with thanksgiving after an absence of nearly seven years. It was here he came in December, 1783, when Fredericksburg gave the Peace Ball in his honor, and it was at that time that he made his memorable reply to Mayor McWilliams in which he spoke of Fredericksburg as "the place of my growing infancy."

It was here that the Marquis de LaFayette came to pay his respects to her, who was the mother of the greatest American. She received him in her garden, met all his fine phrases with dignity and gave him her blessing when he bade her goodbye.

It was here, March 12, 1789, that Washington came to receive his mother's blessing before he went on to New York to his[Pg 117] inauguration. This was his last farewell to his mother. She did not not live to see him again. It was here she died Aug. 25, 1789. Town and country assembled to do honor at her burial. Her remains lie near the "Meditation Rock" where she requested to be buried and a stately monument "erected by her country-women" marks her last resting place.

Except for a portion of the house at Epping Forest, where she was born, the Mary Washington House in Fredericksburg is the only house now standing in which Mary Washington lived.

It passed into various hands and finally in 1890 it was about to be sold to the Chicago Exposition but through Mrs. Robert C. Beale and Mrs. Spotswood W. Carmichael, the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities was appealed to. Mrs. Joseph Bryan of blessed memory was at that time President and from her own means advanced the money to purchase it, $4,500, and the place was saved.

In 1929, through the generosity of Mr. George A. Ball of Muncie, Ind., the first work of restoration on the house was done. Mr. Ball also purchased for the A. P. V. A. the adjoining house and garden for a home for the custodian.

In 1930 the house was redecorated and refurnished by Mr. and Mrs. Francis P. Garvan. The original colors have been restored and contemporary fabrics used for all draperies and coverings.

The furnishings, with the exception of a few pieces that belonged to Mary Washington, are authentic antiques loaned from the Mabel Brady Garvan Institute of American Arts and Crafts at Yale University. The original mantels and paneling are interesting.

The old English-type garden is especially beautiful. The boxwood she planted still grows there, as well as the flowers of her time. The original sun-dial still marks the sunny hours.

Rising Sun Tavern

Was built about 1760 by Charles Washington, a brother of George Washington. It was first known as the Washington Tavern and later as the Eagle Tavern. The following advertise[Pg 118]ment appeared in the Virginia Gazette, published in Williamsburg in 1776:

 "Falmouth, March 25, 1776.

"William Smith takes this method to acquaint his friends, and the publick in general, that he intends to open tavern, on Monday the 22nd day of April next, in the house lately occupied by Colonel George Weedon, in the town of Fredericksburg. He has laid in a good stock of liquors, and will use his utmost endeavors to give general satisfaction. N.B. 'A good cook wench wanted, on hire'."

"Rising Sun Tavern", Fredericksburg, Virginia

"Rising Sun Tavern", Fredericksburg, Virginia

It was the favorite meeting place of such patriots as Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, James Monroe, George Washington, General Hugh Mercer, George Mason, John Marshall, the Lees, and other noted men, who gathered here to protest against unjust treatment by the mother country and to discuss the proper steps to rid the country of tyranny. It was said to be a hot-bed of sedition and that here much of the head work of the Revolution was done.

When the news came to Fredericksburg that the governor, Lord Dunmore, had secretly removed twenty barrels of gunpowder from the public magazine in Williamsburg, also the news of the battle of Lexington, there was great excitement and indignation. Immediately six hundred armed men from the town and surrounding country, at the call of Patrick Henry, assembled in Fredericks[Pg 119]burg and offered their services to defend their country. More than one hundred men were dispatched to Richmond and Williamsburg to ascertain the condition of affairs. They were advised there by Washington, Peyton Randolph, Edmund Pendleton and other leaders to disband and delay action at least for a while or until general plans of resistance could be decided upon. Returning to Fredericksburg they called a meeting and reluctantly agreed to disperse, but before doing so adopted resolutions bitterly denouncing Dunmore's action, and without fear or evasion declared that the troops would preserve their liberty at the hazard of their lives and fortune. They pledged themselves to re-assemble at a moment's warning and by force of arms defend the laws and rights of this or any other sister colony from unjust invasion, and concluded with the significant words, "God save the liberties of America."

This was on April 29, 1775, twenty-one days prior to the celebrated Mecklenburg declaration and more than one year before the great Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776.

It has always been said that this meeting was held at the Rising Sun Tavern. (Reference: Quinn's History of Fredericksburg, Howison's History of Virginia, Forces' Archives, quoted in William and Mary Quarterly in October, 1909.)

But in addition to giving their attention to the serious questions of the day, could we but raise the curtain of Time we no doubt would witness a gay scene typical of colonial days with courtly gentlemen in powdered wigs, knee breeches, ruffled blouses, and silver-buckled slippers, or perhaps in the rougher garb of the pioneer traveler playing cards and partaking of the various drinks served by a venerable old slave and his young negro assistants. It is recorded that George Washington played cards here and "lost as usual," and that he was afraid those Fredericksburg fellows were "too smart for him."

Here General Weedon kept the post office. This was a distributing point for mails coming in from the far north and south on horse-back or stage-coach. Picture the eager crowd awaiting the arrival of the slow courier.

LaFayette and his staff of French and American officers visited the Rising Sun Tavern Nov. 11, 1781, en route from Yorktown[Pg 120] to Philadelphia. In December, 1824, LaFayette again visited Fredericksburg, and was given a ball at the Rising Sun Tavern.

In 1907 the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities bought the property from Judge A. W. Wallace, whose family had owned it since 1792. It was in a very bad state of dilapidation, and only the loving interest and hard work of a few patriotic ladies made possible the necessary repairs and saved to posterity this historic old building with its wealth of associations with the people and events which shaped our nation.

The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities has recently completed extensive repairs and the visitor will find it one of the most interesting places in the city to visit. It is attractively furnished with antique pieces of the Colonial period, many having great historic value.

One may see a desk owned and used by Thomas Jefferson, a chair which belonged to James Monroe, a rare copy of an autographed letter from Mary Washington to her son George Washington, brass andirons, pewter-hooded candles, Betty lamp, immense iron key for a wine cellar, brass candle-sticks, iron candle snuffers, pewter ink-well, antique piano, high boy, needle-point sampler worked by a nine-year-old child, spinning wheel and reel, stage coach sign dated 1775, large early American desk, old iron cooking utensils used by slaves cooking by an open fireplace, and many other interesting things.

[Pg 121]


The Gateway To the Great Southwestern Empire

Raw-re-noke is an Indian word for money. The city of Roanoke was originally a land grant to Thomas Tosh, an old settler who came to "Big Lick" and settled there after King George II and King George III had granted him sixteen hundred acres of land along that fertile valley. "Big Lick" was a favorite spot for the wild game and for the Indians too, for there they found the salt so necessary to life itself. One of Tosh's daughters married General Andrew Lewis and became the mother of Major Andrew Lewis and Thomas Lewis.

Later on, as more settlers came into the valley, quite a village grew up around "Big Lick" and in 1874 it was incorporated with John Trout as Mayor. Then in 1881 the village woke up. Saws and hammers were heard from dawn 'til dusk. The Roanoke Machine Works were being built. Nearby, stores and houses were springing up, warehouses and boarding-houses. Surveyors were laying off lots and laying out streets. Contractors and engineers, artisans and mechanics were coming in every day. The men who sold supplies for all of these were indeed busy. The Norfolk and Western Railroad had come to Roanoke!

Old folks can still remember when rabbits ran over the grounds where stands the Hotel Roanoke. Small boys picked up Indian arrow-heads where now the beautiful grounds sweep down to the Station itself. They still tell how Salem Avenue was once a marsh and was later filled in for the fast growing town. Then came the union of the Norfolk and Western and the Shenandoah Valley Railroads. From that day to this, Roanoke has been the "Magic City." It was as if some magic wand had been waved over the one-time little village. But actually it was due to the industry and vision of the city planners who had built for the future. Commercial, manufacturing and industrial activities kept a pace ahead of the fast growing town. Among the first of these were the American Bridge Works and the rolling mills, iron works, West End Furnaces and the Virginia Brewing Company.

Long ago "Big Lick" was known to a few. It was situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains, surrounded by rolling valleys and watered by springs of crystal clear waters. Other streams made[Pg 122] it an ideal place for the herds of buffalo and elk which roamed up and down the Valley of the Great Spirit. Indians came, too, to hunt them and thousands of smaller fur-bearing animals and birds for their feasts.

When the sturdy settlers from Ireland and Scotland came to seek a new home in the wilderness, they chose to follow the Great Road which later was known as the Wilderness Road. This led them along the beautiful valleys and across the mountains; soon tiny cabins, churches and crude taverns were being built.

Near where Fincastle stands today, there came a man years ago from Ireland, Thomas King. He had left behind his second wife, Easter, three children by his first wife, and several younger ones by Easter. He had come to make a home for them in Fincastle County and ran a tavern near where Roanoke stands today.

Then Easter wrote him that his oldest son, William, had arrived in Philadelphia and was working for a merchant. He was peddling merchandise and liked the new country.

Thomas was delighted and eager to see his fourteen-year-old son. He saddled his own horse and led a pony all the miles down the long Valley trail. He passed such settlements as Staunton, Lexington, Winchester, Hagerstown, camping out or, stopping at some settler's house over-night. It took weeks for him to make the long trip.

The merchant in the meantime realized he had a smart salesman in William and he made a bargain with him a few days before his father arrived. He asked him not to work for anyone else and set a time limit for his employment with him.

We can imagine how William felt when his father came, bringing a pony for him to ride back to Virginia. But he kept his word. He continued to go out with his peddler's pack on his back and his bright smile and polite manners helped him to sell his wares long before others sold theirs. The merchant told him he could go peddling to Virginia and that he could leave some of his articles in his father's tavern. William did this, leaving them at other taverns along the Great Road, too. And thus began the early chain stores.

When the pioneers began going on farther down the Southwestern part of Virginia, Thomas King went as far as where Abingdon stands today. He sent William back to Ireland for his[Pg 123] step-mother and his brothers and sisters. William now had a little money and he inherited some from his grandmother, so he not only brought his family over, but he paid for several other Scotch-Irish and charged a little extra as interest until they could repay him.

He liked the people and the lovely country around Abingdon and bought land and built himself a home there. He went to see the salt marsh a few miles away where Saltville is now. This land was owned by General Russell. William urged him to develop the marsh, for at one time Indians had come there to get salt to preserve their game. But General Russell did not think much of the plan, and agreed to sell it to William.

The story of how he laughed, along with others, at William King when he dug and dug and did not find the salt spring is often told. But when William's men had dug for one hundred and ninety feet the "bottom dropped out" and the salt water gushed forth. William made thirty thousand dollars a year out of his salt business and left a fortune to his many nieces and nephews.

Roanoke is the gateway through which the visitor continues down the famous Valley Pike, Route Eleven. From every curve in the road one sees the beauty of nature. One learns bits of early history from the numerous historic signs along the route—for every footstep of the brave pioneers was bitterly contested from here on.

These first settlers were "a remarkable race of people for intelligence, enterprise and hardy adventure." They had come partly from Botetourt, Augusta and Frederick counties and from Maryland and Pennsylvania. They wanted liberty and freedom to worship God as a man's conscience dictated. They were a strong, stern people, simple in their habits of life, God-fearing in their practices, freedom-loving and good neighbors, yet unmerciful in their dealing with their enemies. Who were the trail blazers for these Scotch-Irish and Germans?

Dr. Thomas Walker qualified as a surveyor of Augusta County in 1748. He later set off with Colonel James Wood, Colonel James Patton, Colonel John Buchanan, and Major Charles Campbell, some hunters and John Finlay to explore southwest Virginia.

They were followed as far as New River by Thomas Ingles (or Engles) and his three sons, a Mrs. Draper and her son[Pg 124] George and her daughter Mary, Adam Harman, Henry Leonard and James Burke. They were pioneers in search of new homes in the wilderness. Lands were surveyed for all of them on Wood's River and they made the first settlement west of the Alleghany Divide.

Draper's Meadow

In 1748 Thomas Ingles and his three sons, Mrs. Draper, her children and James Burke moved westward to find a new home for themselves beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains. They chose a lovely spot on a high level plateau in what is now Montgomery County. They called their new home, "Draper's Meadow," and soon their new log cabins were built and their first crops were planted and such a harvest as they reaped that first year! Other neighbors and relatives from their old homes came to join them and for some time all went well in the little settlement. James Burke had been restless and had pushed on down into the southwest and settled in a valley enclosed for almost ten miles by the huge Clinch Mountain. This he called "Burke's Garden" and in telling others about it the old settler said "I have indeed found the Garden of Eden."

The Indians were very friendly and passed and repassed the settlement without molesting them.

Then came the trouble with the French which has been referred to before. The Indians swooped down upon Draper's Meadow without warning and killed or wounded most of the settlers. Those whom they did not murder, they carried off into captivity. Among the latter were Mrs. William Ingles (née Mary Draper) some of her children and another woman. They were forced to march for days at a time until they finally reached the Indian towns on the Ohio River. During the trying days, Mrs. Draper did her best to keep in the good graces of the Indians. She tried to help them, even after they took her sons from her. When they reached Big Bone Lick she helped to make salt for the Indians and made shirts for them from cloth which had been bought from the French traders.[Pg 125]

She often thought of her home over seven hundred miles from the Indian towns and determined to make her escape. She confided her resolves to the other woman who at first objected to going. At last she convinced her the time was at hand, if ever, for them to leave. She left her infant son one night, and with her friend, stole away from the camp. They lived for days on berries and nuts. They finally killed small game and after many adventures reached the home of a settler forty long days later.

Mrs. Draper's friend lost her mind, tried to kill her and then left her. Mrs. Draper reached the homestead of Adam Harmon on New River. There he heard her crying in his cornfield and went out to see who it was in such distress. He and his family cared for her and made her rest before she was taken back to her family.

The Ingles families moved up higher on New River and built another fort near the present city of Radford, Virginia. This was at Ingle's Ferry.

Botetourt County was cut from Albemarle in 1770, and William Preston was made surveyor of the lands. This was a well-paying position. He had fallen in love with Miss Susannah Smith who lived in Eastern Virginia in Hanover County. He built a house for her and called it Smithfield in her honor. Soon the Pattons, Peytons, Prestons, the Thompsons and many others were coming to build homes near them.

When the Prestons moved to Smithfield they took a young orphan boy with them, Joseph Cloyd. His father had died when he was very little and his mother had been killed by the Indians. He grew up with the other pioneer boys and girls and later settled on Back Creek. This home is near where Pulaski stands today and thus began another settlement. He was the father of General Gordon Cloyd and they founded a long line of honorable citizens in our country.

As one goes on he hears many strange tales of other explorers and settlers. For instance there is the sad story of Colonel John Chiswell who found rich lead mines near New River in what is now Wythe County. For some unknown reason, he had killed a man in a personal encounter and was put in jail to await trial.

[Pg 126] Scenic Highway in Southwest Virginia

Courtesy Virginia State Chamber of Commerce

Scenic Highway in Southwest Virginia

[Pg 127] In the meantime, the Virginia Council decided to develop the mines and a fort was ordered to be built. Before the trial came off and before the fort was built, Colonel Chiswell died.

Colonel William Boyd was made supervisor of the building of the fort and he named it for his friend, Colonel Chiswell. Soon settlers began building homes around it, for the climate and rich grazing lands made it an ideal spot for homesteads.

The settlers pushing southwest from Roanoke built a fort and named it for a Mr. Vass. The Indians attacked them and several were killed. This was near where Christiansburg is now located. It was near Vass's Fort that General Washington, Major Andrew Lewis and Captain William Preston had a narrow escape from an attack by the Indians.

Washington County

In 1754 only six families were living in the early settlement west of New River. Two of these were in Pulaski, two on Cripple Creek in Wythe County, one in Smyth County and the Burke family in what is now Tazewell County. The Indians gave the settlers so much trouble that any further attempts to settle was given up until after the French and Indian War.

A small fort, called Black's Fort, was built when the settlers moved into the Valley around where Abingdon stands. Like most of its kind, it was built of logs, and a few log cabins were built within the stockade. Here to these cabins within the fort came the settlers whenever the warning reached them that the Indians were coming.

Near the fort lived Parson Cummings, called the Fighting Parson. He was an Irishman who had come to the Valley from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He fought against the Cherokee Indians in 1776 with Colonel Christian. He first settled in Fincastle, but soon drifted farther south. It was he who drafted the Fincastle Resolutions on January 20, 1775 and served on the Committee of Safety for Washington County.

On one occasion, when the settlers were residing within the fort, food became very scarce. Someone had to go back into the[Pg 128] clearing and bring in supplies. Parson Cummings and a few other men started off with a wagon to get them. They had not gone far when they reached Piper's Hill. A party of Indians surprised the little band and one of them was killed. Everyone made a dash for the bushes. The Parson was very stout and he was wearing a large powdered wig which was considered in those days necessary to the cloth. This made him more conspicuous and of course a target for the Indians.

One Indian ran after him, brandishing his tomahawk. The Parson dodged under a bush and as he left it, his wig was caught by a low hanging limb. The Indian took for granted that it was the Parson's head and made a bound to get it. When he took it in his hands, he was surprised to find no head there! He was disgusted and angry and threw it upon the ground exclaiming, "D—d lie," and doggedly gave up the chase. And thus the Parson escaped. The man who was killed was later buried in Abingdon and one may read his name, "William Creswell, July 4, 1776" on the crude stone which marks his grave.

Dragon Canone was the name of the Cherokee Indian who led his warriors against the white militia. Both white and red men fought with tomahawks and both hid behind trees. Sometimes this brave militia went forth to battle without any higher commanding officer than captain. Three such officers were John Campbell, James Shelby and James Thompson.

Let us look for a moment at what those settlers were denied. They did not have flour or salt until an order was made:

"Jan. 29, 1777. Ordered that William Campbell, William Edmundson, John Anderson and George Blackburn be appointed commissioners to hire wagons to bring up the county salt, allotted by the Governor and council, and to receive and distribute the same agreeably to said order of the council."

Later on Colonel Arthur Campbell rode with seven hundred mounted soldiers against the Cherokees. History gives him the credit of being the first to experiment in attacking Indians on horseback. He destroyed fourteen of their towns and burnt fifty thousand bushels of their corn after giving his men enough for their own horses.[Pg 129]

Hungry Mother State Park

The pathetic legend is told of the pioneer woman in Tazewell County who was carried off by the Indians and was massacred some distance from home. Her small child was left to die of exposure and starvation in the mountain wilds and was at last rescued by a hunting party. The child was pulling at the mother's body, trying to rouse her and was muttering, "Hungry, mother—hungry, mother" when he was found.

That is the origin of the name of the mountain which is not far from Marion, and the peak of the mountain is called "Molly's Knob" in memory of the pioneer mother.

The State has created a beautiful park on Hungry Mother Mountain. Cabins have been erected to house the visitors, a stream has been dammed up to provide a lake—and most astonishing of all to the mountain folk who enjoy their park is the sandy beach. The sand was hauled 375 miles from Virginia Beach to its present location.

Swimming, sailing and canoeing are popular water sports; saddle horses are available and hiking is a favorite occupation. Ample picnic grounds have been provided. Crowds from nearby towns enjoy a day at the Park and the cabins are in great demand from the vacationists in Virginia and surrounding States.

White Top

Iron Mountain has lost that name and today is known far and near as White Top. The visitor looks down five thousand feet below and can see into Tennessee, West Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky. The top is bald, rocky and about three hundred of its sloping acres are covered with a fine white grass. In summer one sees hundreds of wild flowers, sturdy evergreens, similar to Norway spruce, called Lashhorns, berries and many small animals.

[Pg 130] Hungry Mother State Park

Courtesy Virginia Conservation Commission

Hungry Mother State Park

[Pg 131] Wilbur Waters, the hermit, is one of the most colorful characters in the great Southwest and many adventures he had with wild animals. Wilbur's mother was an Indian who died when he was very small. His father, who lived in North Carolina at the time, apprenticed the boy to a shoemaker to learn that trade. The little boy, no doubt homesick, could not stand his new home. He ran away and from that time on made his own living. When he heard how the wolves were making havoc for the settlers in and around Abingdon, he came to get the rewards offered for their heads. He built himself a rude shack on White Top, and if one would read real adventure tales, let him read Wilbur Waters which relates many stirring ones.

Every summer during August a festival is held at White Top where mountain music is played and folk dances are held. John Powell, the noted Virginia composer, is especially active in the preservation of folk music and he has been instrumental in attracting people of influence to the celebration.

The major highways lead to within a comparatively short distance of White Top and the State Highway Department assures the traveler of good secondary roads which are passable in any kind of weather.

Another feature of the festival usually is the presentation of at least one play by the group of Broadway players who summer at Abingdon and conduct the famous "Barter Theatre."

Visitors who include White Top and the Barter players in their itinerary will be delighted with the diversified entertainments found there.

Transcriber's Note.

The following typographical errors have been corrected:

p. 2   a brace of deer ran familiarly [had 'familarly']

p. 24  the Reverend Samuel Brown [had 'Reverened']

p. 31  the Blue Ridge and the Alleghany [had 'Alleghaney']

p. 47  been made into a poultice [had 'poultrice']

p. 49  wagon makers? Of course there were none [had 'Af']

p. 60  Luray is the Saltpetre Cave. [had 'Saltpeper']

p. 61  no one anticipated the conspicuous rôle [had 'conspicious']

p. 80  point: Rockfish and Shenandoah valleys. [Closing . added]

p. 83  Bridge, and some are still in existence [had 'existance']

p. 103 the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom [had 'Statue']

p. 106 Captain Lewis was first in command and he [had 'commond']

p. 108 of the Revolution had his apothecary shop [had 'Reevolution']

p. 112 Colonel of the Spotsylvania County Militia [had 'Spottsylvania']

Inconsistent hyphenation of some words in the original has been retained.

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