Western Lands and the American Revolution

By Thomas Perkins Abernethy | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
EXTENSION OF THE VIRGINIA FRONTIER, 1769-1773

DURING the French and Indian War the settlement at Draper's Meadows, then the outpost of civilization in the Valley of Virginia, was wiped out by an Indian massacre. Colonel James Patton, the old sea captain who had weathered many voyages bringing over redemptioners to Hobbs Hole and carrying back furs and tobacco, who had spent more than twenty hazardous years on the frontier, now paid the penalty for his hardihood, being slain along with several others. With one exception no other important settlement was made in this area until some time after these hostilities had ceased. This exception was Chiswell's Mine. Colonel John Chiswell of Williamsburg, proprietor of the famous Raleigh Tavern, was son-in-law to Colonel William Randolph and father-in-law of Speaker John Robinson. In 1766 he killed a man in a tavern brawl and committed suicide. Ten years before he had discovered the lead mine on the upper waters of the New or Kanawha River, which came to bear his name. It was put into operation almost immediately under the management of Colonel William Byrd, Chiswell, and Robinson. Byrd built a fort near the place in 1758. The interests of the operators extended at times to land speculation in addition to mining, and Edmund Pendleton, Robinson's protégé, came to take part in this phase of Western development.1

It was not until the year 1770 approached that any other establishments of consequence were made in the neighborhood. At about this time John and Arthur Campbell moved from their home near Staunton and settled on a tract of land at Wolf Hills on the Holston River, where Abingdon now stands. This had been purchased from the Patton estate in 1765, and it did not concern them that it lay west of the proclamation line of 1763. At about the same time other settlers, including several friends of the Campbells from the Staunton neighborhood, established homes in the vicinity. Captain William Russell was the son of a prominent lawyer who had studied in the Temple; he was one of the Knights of the Golden

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1
Edmund Pendleton to William Preston, Feb. 6, 1768, Draper MSS., 2QQ103-104; Va. Mag. Hist. and Biog., IX, 85-88, XVII, 318-319; Samuel M. Wilson, "West Fincastle--Now Kentucky", Filson Club History Quarterly, Apr., 1935, pp. 75-80.

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