BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting


The Secret Doctrine, Volume I Cosmogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky


Paradoxes of the Highest Science

Eliphas Levi


The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour


Annals of Augusta county, Virginia, from 1726 to 1871

by Joseph Addison Waddell

Excerpt:

CHAPTER I.

FROM THE FIRST SETTLEMENT TO FOUNDATION OF THE COUNTY.

As far as known, the country now embraced in Augusta county, was never entered by white men until the year 1716. Six years earlier, however, some portion of the Valley of Virginia had been seen from the top of the Blue Ridge by Europeans. Governor Spotswood, writing to the Council of Trade, London, December 15, 1710, says that a company of adventurers found the mountains ''not above a hundred miles from our upper inhabitants, and went up to the top of the highest mountain with their horses, tho' they had hitherto been thought to be unpassable. and they assured me that ye descent 611 the other side seemed to be as easy as that they had passed on this, and that they could have passed over the whole ledge (which is not large), if the season of the year had not been too far advanced before they set out on that expedition."—[Spotswood Letters, Vol. I, page 40.] It would seem that the adventurers referred to looked into the Valley from the mountain in the neighborhood of Balcony Falls, but no description of the country seen by them is given.

This portion of the Valley was then entirely uninhabited. The Shawnee Indians had a settlement in the lower Valley, at or near Winchester, and parties of that tribe frequently traversed this section on hunting excursions, or on warlike expeditions against Southern tribes; but there was no Indian village or wigwam within the present limits of the county. At an early day, Indians, or people of some other race, had doubtless resided here, as would appear from several ancient mounds, or burial places, still existing in the county.

The face of the country between the Blue Ridge and the North Mountain was, of course, diversified by hill and dale, as it is now; but forest trees were less numerous than at the present time, the growth of timber being prevented by the frequent fires kindled by hunting parties of Indians. Old men living within the writer's recollection, described this region as known by them in their boyhood. Many acres, now stately forests, were then covered by mere brushwood, which did not conceal the startled deer flying from pursuit.

At the time of which we speak, wild animals abounded in this section. The buffalo roamed at will over these hills and valleys, and in their migrations made a well-defined trail between Rockfish Gap, in the Blue Ridge, and Buffalo Gap, in the North Mountain, passing by the present site of Staunton. Other denizens of the region at that day were the bear, wolf, panther, wildcat, deer, fox, hare, etc. It would appear that wolves were very numerous. There were no crows, blackbirds, nor song birds, and no rats, nor honey bees till the coming of the white people.*

The first passage of the Blue Ridge, and entrance into the Valley by white men, was made by Governor Spotswood in 1716.J About the last of July, or first of August in that year, the Governor, with some members of his staff, starting from Williamsburg, proceeded to Germanna, a small frontier settlement, where he left his coach and took to horse. He was there joined by the rest of his party, gentlemen and their retainers, a company of rangers, and four Meherrin Indians, comprising in all about fifty persons. These, with pack-horses laden with provisions, journeyed by way of the upper Rappahannock river, and after thirty-six days from the date of their departure from Williamsburg, on September 5th, scaled the mountain at Swift Run Gap, it is believed. Descending the western side of the mountain into the Valley, they reached the Shenandoah River and encamped on its bank. Proceeding up the river, they found a place where it was fordable, crossed it, and there, on the western bank, the Governor formally "took possession for King George the First of England." The rangers made further explorations up the Valley, while the Governor, with his immediate attendants, returned to Williamsburg, arriving there after an absence of about eight weeks, and having traveled about 440 miles out and back, f


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