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On Big Beaver Creek, in this county, are the remains of an ancient fortification, which occupies an area of about 20 square rods. The walls were built of stone, and, it is supposed, were 6 ft high, and at the base 7 ft. thick. The reader will find a plan, drawn by A. Beckley, and a description by Isaac Craig, in the American Pioneer for Sept. 1842.
Floyd was formed in 1831 from Montgomery, and was named from John Floyd, governor of Virginia from 1829 to 1834. It is 35 m. long, with a mean width of 15 m. It is watered by Little River, a branch of New River. The surface is mountainous, and the soil generally more adapted to grazing than grain. Horses, oxen, hogs, and sheep, are the principal staples. There were in 1840. whites 4,123, slaves 321, free colored 9; total, 4,453. Jacksonville, or Floyd C. H., is a small village 215 m. sw. of Richmond.
The Buffalo Knob, in this county, is a very lofty eminence, from the top of which the view is sublime. On the north, east, and west, the beholder is amazed at the boundless succession of mountains rising beyond mountains—while far away to the south, the plain seems to stretch to an interminable length. On the east, the knob is accessible on horseback, being two miles in height from the% beginning of the ascent to the highest point; on the west it breaks off precipitately, and presents the shape of the animal whose name it bears. This mountain is seen 60 or 80 miles, towering above all others. On the highest point is a space of about 30 acres, which is so elevated that not any trees grow there; and in the warmest days of summer, the visitor requires thick clothing to protect him from the cold. The spot is covered with fine grass, strawberry-vines, and gooseberry and currant-bushes. The fruit upon them is of superior flavor, but it does not ripen until two or three months later than that upon the lowlands.
Fluvanna was formed in 1777, from Albemarle. It is 26 m. long, and 16 wide. The Rivanna enters it from Albemarle, and flowing so, through the Co., divides it nearly equally. The surface is generally broken, excepting between the James and the Rivanna, where there is a large tract of barren level land. The soil on the rivers is good, and that on the James extremely fertile. Gold has been found and worked near Palmyra. Much tobacco is raised in the county, and of a superior quality. Pop., whites 4,445, slaves 4,146, free colored 221 ; total, 8,812.
Palmyra, the county-seat, lies on the Rivanna, 62 miles westerly from Richmond. It contains about 20 dwellings. Columbia, on the Rivanna, at its junction with the James, is a village somewhat larger. At the Union Mills, on the Rivanna, in the Nvv. part of the county, is an extensive cotton factory, situated in the midst of beautiful mountain and river scenery.
At the confluence of the two branches of the James, in this county, is a point of land called the Point of Fork, where, in the latter part of the revolution, a state arsenal was established, and a large quantity of military stores collected. When the state was invaded by Cornwallis, Baron Steuben had charge of this post. When Tarleton was detached to Charlottesville, Lieut.-Col. Simcoe was sent to destroy the magazines at the Point of Fork, and he was ultimately to be joined by Tarleton, to assist his intended operations. The following details of this excursion are from Girardin:
With their accustomed eagerness and activity, the two indefatigable and dreaded partisans entered upon the execution of their respective tasks. This double movement rendered Steuben's situation unusually perilous. The extreme difficulty of obtaining prompt and correct information respecting the British and their schemes—the severe precautions which Simcoe took for securing every person met or seen on his route, effectually con cealed his march from the baron. The latter, however, became apprized of Tarleton'* rapid advance. Imagining himself the immediate object of it, he lost no time in transporting his stores to the south side of the Fluvanna, intending himself speedily to follow, with the whole division under his command. When Simcoe reached the Point of Fork the American stores had been removed, and Steuben's detachment had crossed the river, except about 30 men, then awaiting the return of the boats to embark and join their friends. These men unavoidably fell into the hands of the British cavalry. The rivet was deep and unfordable, and all the boats had been secured on the south side of it • Simcoe's main object was, therefore, frustrated. Under the mortification arising from this disappointment, a singular stratagem occurred to his wily mind. It was to impress the baron with the belief that the troops now at the Point of Fork were the advance of the British army, ready to overwhelm him ; and thus to work upon his fears so far as to induce him to sacrifice most of the stores which had been transported over the Fluvanna. For this purpose he encamped on the heights opposite to Steuben's new station, advantageously displaying his force, and by the number of his fires suggesting a probability
The baron, who had been informed that the corps under Tarleton threatened his left, now fancied himself in imminent danger. Retreating precipitately during the night, he marched near 30 miles from the Point of Fork, abandoning to the enemy such stores as could not be removed. In the morning, Simcoe observing the success of his stratagem, and wishing to give it still further effect, procured some small canoes, and sent across the river Capt. Stephenson, with a detachment of light infantry, and Comet Wolsey with four hussars. The former was directed to destroy the stores and arms which the baron had left behind in the hurry and confusion of his premature retreat; and the latter, to mount his hussars, who had'carried their saddles over with them, on such straggling horses as he was likely to find, to patrol some miles on the route taken by Steuben—in short, to exhibit every appearance of eager and formidable pursuit. Both these orders were successfully executed. Stephenson performed, without delay or annoyance, the task of destruction assigned to him ; and Wolsey so confirmed the belief of Steuben that Iho whole British army was close in his rear, that he accelerated his march, retiring still farther from the river. His object was to resume his original destination, and join Gen. Greene; but he received fresh orders not to leave the state, so long as Cornwallis should continue there. On the militia under Lawson, a similar injunction was laid. British historians have greatly exaggerated the loss sustained by the Americans at the Point of Fork. Of their thrasonic accounts, undoubted evidence is in the hands of the author of this narrative.
reached the neighborhood.
Franklin was formed in 1784, from Bedford and Henry: its length is 30, with a mean breadth of 20 miles. The Roanoke runs on its south boundary, and the county is intersected by numerous small creeks. The surface is rolling, and the Blue Ridge forms its western boundary. The soil is on a clay foundation, and is well adapted to farming. The county produces very large crops of tobacco, Indian corn, oats, wheat, and some cotton. The tanning business is extensively carried on. Population in 1830, 14,911; 1840, 15,832. Rocky Mount, the county-seat, lies 179 miles sw. of Richmond: it derives its name from an abrupt precipice in the vicinity. The town contains about 30 dwellings, and near it is an extensive iron furnace. Union Hall is a smaller post-village, at the intersection of the road from Pittsylvania C. H. to Rocky Mount. Iron ore, some of which is of a superior quality, is found in various parts of the county.
Frederick was formed in 1738, from Orange: it is 25 miles long, with a mean width of 18 miles. The soil is highly productive, and its surface diversified. Opequan, Sleepy, and Back Creeks rise in this county, and flow into the Potomac. A rail-road extends from Winchester to the Baltimore and Ohio Rail-Road at Harper's Ferry. Population, whites 11,119, slaves 2,302, free colored 821; total, 14,242.
Newtown, or Stephensburg, is a neat and thriving village, 8 miles south of Winchester, on the macadamized road to Staunton. There are about 100 dwellings, 2 churches, a market-house, about a dozen shops for the manufacture of wagons, (for which the place is noted,) together with other mechanical and mercantile establishments, and a population of about 800. Stephensburg was established by law in 1758, and named after Peter Stephens, its founder, who came to Virginia with Joist Hite in 1732. It was settled almost exclusively by Germans, whose descendants long preserved the customs and language of their ancestors. Middletown lies 5 miles s. of Stephensburg, on the same road. It contains 1 Methodist and 1 Episcopal church, and about 60 dwellings. Gainsboro'» Brucetown, and Whitehall, are small places, the first of which contains 2 churches, and about 30 dwellings. Jordan's White Sulphur Springs, 6 miles N. of Winchester, have lately come into notice, and are growing in popular favor. The waters are said to resemble the celebrated White Sulphur Springs of Greenbrier.
Winchester, the county-seat, is 74 miles from Washington city, 140 from Richmond, and 30 from Harper's Ferry. Next to Wheeling, it is the largest town west of the Blue Ridge. It is in the beautiful and fertile valley of Virginia, and is surrounded by a rich and abundant country. The town is well and substantially built, the streets cross each other at right angles, and are generally paved, and the houses are mostly of brick or stone. As a whole, it is very compact, and has a business, city-like aspect. The public buildings are a court-house, jail, market-house, masonic hall, and a lyceum. There are 2 newspaper printing offices, an academy, 2 banks—the Farmers' Branch Bank and the Bank of the
Valley—a Savings Institution, about 50 stores of different kinds, and a variety of mechanical and manufacturing establishments, 12 churches—2 Presbyterian, 1 Episcopal,* 2 Baptist, 2 Methodist, 2 Lutheran, 1 German Reformed, 1 Friends, and 1 Catholic—and a population in 1840 of 3,454. A rail-road connects Winchester with Harper's Ferry.
"Tradition inform»us that the ground on the edge of the present site of Winchester, was occupied by a large and powerful tribe of Indians, called the Shawnees, or Shawanees, and some springs at that point are called the Shawnee Springs at this day. The earliest accounts of the settlement of Winchester state that there were two houses on its present location as early as 1738, situated near the town run; but its establishment as a town commenced in Feb., 1752, in the 25th year of the reign of George II., when the General Assembly passed an 'act for the establishment of the town of Winchester.' In 1758 it was enlarged in consideration of an additional quantity of land being laid off in lots by Col. James Wood, now called in the plot of the town. Wood's addition. Trustees were then appointed, consisting of Lord Fairfax, Col. Martin, and others ; Vide Henning's Statutes at Large, vol. 7, p. 135. Additions to the town were also made by Lord Fairfax. Col. Wood is therefore entitled to the honor of being the founder. Winchester is mentioned by General Washington as being one of the points in his route, in his celebrated mission, by order of Governor Dinwiddie, to the French authorities on the Ohio. he came from Alexandria to Winchester, where he procured baggage horses, &,c. This was in November, 1753.
• The first Episcopal Church, in the Valley of Virginia, was erected in Winchester. The following relating to it is from Hawks' History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Virginia, published in 1836. "Morgan Morgan was a native of Wales, whence he emigrated in early life to the province of Pennsylvania. In the year 1726, he removed to what is now the county of Berkeley, in Virginia, and built the first cabin which was reared on the south side of the Polemic, between the Blue Ridge and the North Mountain. He was a man of exemplary piety, devoted to the Church ; and in the year 1740, associated with Dr. John Briscoe and Mr. Hite, he erected the first Episcopal Church in the valley of Virginia. This memorial of his zeal, it is believed, is still standing, and now forms that part of the parish of Winchester which is known as ' Mill Creek Church.'"