The first of these hunting companies visited this part of the Clinch Valley in 1766; of their acts nothing is known. In the following year another company came out, in which were two men named Butler and Carr. They were, also, in the first company.
1767.) When this second company was ready to start back, Butler and Carr concluded to stay and wait the arrival of a company expected out that fall. They built a small cabin at a place now known as the Crab orchard, about three miles west of the present seat of justice. During the spring they opened a small field, and planted some corn, which they received from a band of Cherokees. In the fall, the expected company of hunters arrived, and were joined by Butler and Carr, who had, by this time, acquired a correct knowledge of the geographical features of the country. They hunted till spring, leaving Butler and Carr to spend another summer in the mountains. Having received, from the last company, a supply of ammunition, etc., they became settled in their resolution to make the wild backwoods their home, and, accordingly, began to improve around their camp, and open lands, on which to raise bread.
1768.) Early in the summer, about two hundred Cherokee warriors camped near them, to spend the summer and kill elk, which frequented a lick near, and on the present plantation of, Mr. Thomas Witten. These were, however, soon disturbed by the appearance of several hundred Shawanoes; men and women. The Shawanoes and Cherokee had long been deadly enemies, and it was not to be supposed that they could camp near each other, and hunt at the same lick, without a battle.
The Shawanoes, as a people, are overbearing: and they were not long in exhibiting this feature of their character. The Shawanoe chief sent a peremptory order to the Cherokees, to evacuate their position and seek a new hunting-ground. This was early in the day. The messenger was sent back to defy the Shawanoes, who soon began to prepare for battle.
The Cherokees retired to the top of Rich mountain and threw up a breastwork, which was finished before night. It consisted of a simple embankment, about three or four feet high, running east and west along the top of the mountain about eighty yards, and then turning off at right angles to the north or down the mountain side. The Shawanoes commenced the ascent of the mountain before night of the first-day, but finding their enemies so strongly fortified, withdrew and posted themselves in a position to commence the attack early the following morning.
Long before day the fiendish yells of the warriors might be heard echoing over the rugged cliffs and deep valleys of the surrounding country. Day came, and for the space of half an hour, a deathlike stillness reigned on the mountain top and side. With the first rays of the rising sun, a shout ascended the skies as if all the wild animals in the woods had broke forth in their most terrifying notes. The sharp crack of rifles and the ringing of tomahawks against each other; the screams of women and children and the groans of the dying now filled the air for miles around.
Both parties were well armed and the contest nearly equal. The Shawanoes having most men, while the Cherokees had the advantage of their breastwork. Through the long day the battle raged with unabated vigor, and when night closed in, both parties built fires and camped on the ground. During the night the Cherokees sent to Butler and Carr for powder and lead, which they furnished. When the sun rose the following morning the battle was renewed with the same spirit in which it had been fought the previous day. In a few hours, however, the Shawanoes were compelled to retire. The loss on both sides was great, considering the numbers engaged. A large pit was opened and a common grave received those who had fallen in this last battle fought between red men in this section. Both parties left Virginia for their homes in the south and west, leaving Butler and Carr in posession of the Elk lick, which was the cause of dispute. My informant had this account from Carr, an eye-witness. The battle-ground, breastwork, and great grave are yet to be seen.
[1769.] Carr separated from Butler and settled on a beautiful spot on one of the head branches of the Clinch river, two miles east of the present town of Jeffersonville. Peace being restored among the Indians, more hunters came out, who returned laden with peltries and giving such glowing descriptions of the country (which still perhaps failed to come up to its true description) that the desire to emigrate began to exhibit itself among the substantial men of worth.
1771.] In the spring of this year Thomas Witten and John Greenup moved out and settled at the Crab orchard, which Witten purchased of Butler. Absalom Looney settled in a beautiful valley now known as Abb's valley. Matthias Harman, and his brothers Jacob and Henry settled at Carr's place. John Craven settled in the Cove, Joseph Martin, John Henry, and James King settled in the Thompson valley, and John Bradshaw in the valley two miles west of Jeffersonville. The settlers, this year, found but little annoyance from the Indians, who were living peaceably at their homes in the west and south. The consequence was the settlers erected substantial houses and opened lands to put in corn, from which the reaped a plentiful supply, in the fall.History of the Settlement and Indian Wars of Tazewell County by Geo W L Bickley, M.D., 1852.
1772.] The following persons moved out, this year, and settled at the several placed named. Capt. James Moore and John Pogue, in Abb's valley; Williams Wynn, at the Locust hill (the place that Carr settled), which he purchased from Harman. John Taylor, on the north fork of Clinch, and Jesse Evans, near him. Thomas Maxwell, Benjamin Joslin, James Ogleton, Peter and Jacob Harman, and Samuel Furguson, on Bluestone creek. William Butler,* on the south branch of the north fork of Clinch, a short distance above Wynn's plantation; William Webb, about three miles east of Jeffersonville; Elisha Clary, near Butler; John Ridgel, on the clear fork of Wolf Creek; Rees Bowen, at Maiden Spring; David Ward, in the Cove, and William Garrison, at the foot of Morris's knob.
*Perhaps the same from whom Thomas Witten purchased the Crab Orchard, and the first settler.
1773.] Thomas, John, and William Peery, settled where the town of Jeffersonville now stands; John Peery, jr., at the fork of Clinch, one mile and a half east of the county seat; Capt. Maffit, and Benjamin Thomas, settled about a mile above, and Chrisly Hensly, near them. Samuel Marrs settled in Thompson's Valley; Thomas English, in Burk's garden; James and Charles Scaggs, Richard Pemberton, and Johnson, settled in Baptist valley, five miles from where Jeffersonville now stands. Thomas Maston, William Patterson, and John Deskins, settled int he same valley, but farther west - Hines, Richard Oney, and Obadiah Paine, settled in Deskins valley, in the western part of the county.
1774-76.] The settlers who came in during the years of '74-5 and '6, generally pitched their tents near the one or other of the localities already mentioned. Even yet there is a preference manifested for the older settlements. This may be accounted for, from the fact that the first settlers generally chose the most desirable localities; the lands being now better improved, and society more advanced, still render these places more attractive than other parts of the county settled at a later period.
Cresop's war, as it is sometimes, though perhaps erroneously, called, broke out in 1774, which drove the settlers into neighborhoods where they might have the advantages of blockhouses, forts, and stations. The Revolution was soon resolved upon, and the frontiermen, having to combat the Indians, who had become allies to the British, were much from home. This tended, also, to draw still closer the families then settled in the county. Whatsoever contributed to the safety of one, conferred a like boon upon the rest. In speaking of the Indian wars, we shall see the utility of general rendezvous for families.
Our market at this time was in eastern Virginia, or the old settlements, and by the continued passage of the traders, a line of communication was kept open, over which was transmitted, with some dispatch, news of what was transpiring in the east. Even before the battle of Lexington, the subject of revolution had been talked over by the frontiermen, and we shall see, hereafter, how they conducted themselves during the war. After the declaration of war, emigration slackened, though a few, who either sympathized with the mother country, or felt no interest in the contest, moved out. Having now given such an outline of the settlement as will enable the reader to know the position in which the people were placed, during the first few years of the settlement, I shall proceed to a period somewhat later, that he may have an idea of the formation and outline geography of the county.
Transcribed and submitted by: Nancy Hannah