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The other natural curiosity to which reference has been made, is “the Bursted Rock," which is not very far from the pinnacles, and forms a part of the frowning and sublime scenery which overhangs the Dan, in its passage through the mountain. You approach it as you do the pinnacle along the level top of the mountain, till suddenly your course is arrested by a perpendicular descent of many hundred feet. The face of the precipice is a smooth rock. Far below every thing appears in ruins-rocks piled on rocks, the timber swept from the earth ; and every appearance indicates that a considerable portion of the mountain has been, by some great convulsion of nature, riven and torn from the rest, and precipitated into the valley, or rather chasm below.
Pendletox was formed in 1788, from Augusta, Hardy, and Rockingham, and named from Edmund Pendleton, president of the Virginia convention of 1775. It is 45 miles long, with a mean width of 22 miles. The country is extremely mountainous, and is watered by some of the head branches of the Potomac and the James: the level of arable land from whence flow these streams, it is estimated must exceed 2,000 feet above the ocean. Over one hundred thousand pounds of maple sugar are annually produced. Pop. in 1840, whites 6,445, slaves 462, free colored 33; total, 6,940.
Franklin, the county-seat, is 171 miles nw. of Richmond, near the centre of the county, on the south branch of the Potomac; and contains about 40 dwellings.
Twelve miles northeast of Franklin, on the south fork of the south branch of the Potomac, stood Seybert's fort, in the early settlement of the country.
In this fort, in the year 1758, (says Withers,) the inhabitants of what was then called the “Upper Tract,” all sought shelter from the tempest of savage ferocity; and at the time the Indians appeared before it, there were contained within its walls between thirty and forty persons of both sexes and of different ages. Among them was Mr. Dyer (the father of Col. Dyer, now of Pendleton) and his family. On the morning of the fatal day, Col. Dyer and his sister left the fort for the accomplishment of some object, and although no Indians had been seen there for some time, yet did they not proceed far, before they came in view of a party of forty or fifty Shawnees, going directly towards the fort. Alarmed for their own safety, as well as for the safety of their friends, the brother and sister endeavored by a hasty flight to reach the gate and gain admittance into the gar
before they could effect this, they were overtaken and made captives. The Indians rushed immediately to the fort and commenced a furious assault on it. Capt. Seybert prevailed (not without much opposition) on the besieged to forbear firing until he should endeavor to negotiate with, and buy off the enemy. With this view, and under the protection of a flag, he went out, and soon succeeded in making the wished for arrangement. When he returned, the gates were thrown open, and the enemy admitted.
No sooner had the money and other articles stipulated to be given, been handed over to the Indians, than a most bloody tragedy was begun to be acted. Arranging the inmates of the fort in two rows, with a space of about ten feet between them, two Indians were selected, who, taking each his station at the head of a row, with their tomahawks most cruelly murdered almost every white person in the fort ; some few, whom caprice or some other cause induced them to spare, were carried into captivity. Such articles as could be well carried away were taken off by the Indians; the remainder was consumed, with the fort, by fire.
From Mr. Samuel Kercheval, the author of the “ History of the
Valley," we have obtained the following additional facts relating to the attack on this fort:
The Indians were commanded by the blood-thirsty chief Killbuck. Seybert's son, -lad of about fifteen, exhibited great firmness and bravery. He had shot two of the assailants, when their chief called out in English, that if they surrendered, their lives should be spared. At that instant young Seybert was in the act of aiming his rifle at Killbuck, when his father seized it from him, observing, “ We cannot defend the fort ; we must surrender to save our lives !" confiding in the faithless promises of Killbuck. The first salutation he received after surrendering, was a stroke in the mouth from the monster Killbuck with the pipe end of his tomahawk, dislocating the old man's teeth ; immediately after which he was massacred with the other victims. Young Seybert was taken off with the other prisoners. He told Killbuck that he had raised his gun to kill him, but his father had wrested it from him. The savage laughed and replied, “ You little rascal, if you had killed me you would have saved the fort ; for had I fallen, my warriors would have immediately fled, and given up the siege in despair.”
PITTSYLVANIA was formed in 1767, from Halifax. It is 35 miles long and 26 broad. It is watered by the Staunton on the the Dan on its s., and Banister River in the centre. Much of the soil is excellent, and produces annually over six millions of pounds of tobacco, besides heavy crops of grain. Pop. in 1840, whites 14,283, slaves 11,558, free colored 557; total, 26,398.
Competition, the seat of justice for the county, is situated on a branch of Banister River, 162 miles southwesterly from Richmond. The surrounding country is healthy and fertile, and the town itself contains a population of about 300. Danville is a large village on the Dan River, 5 miles from the North Carolina line, and 15 south of Competition. It was established by law in 1793, on the land of “ John Barnett, adjoining Winn's Falls." By the provisions of the act, Thomas Tunstale, Matthew Clay, William Harrison, John Wilson, Thomas Fearne, George Adams, Thomas Worsham, Robert Payne, James Dix, John Southerland, John Call, and Thomas Smith, were appointed trustees to lay off the town into lots of half an acre each, with convenient streets. Danville contains 7 mercantile stores, 2 tobacco inspections and warehouses, 4 tobacco factories, 2 banks, 1 male, 1 public, and i private female academy, 1 oil, 2 flour, and 2 saw-mills, 2 iron foundries, 1 newspaper printing-office, 18 mechanic shops, 1 Pres. byterian, 1 Baptist, i Episcopal, and i Methodist church, and a population of about 1500. The canal of the Roanoke Company, around the falls of the Dan River, is about one mile long, which affords eligible sites for manufactories to almost any extent, with abundance of water-power at all seasons. The river is navigable for batteaux carrying from 7,000 to 10,000 pounds, as far up as Madison, in North Carolina, 40 miles distant. With some slight improvements, the river is supposed to be susceptible of steamboat navigation to the town.
POCAHONTAS was formed in 1821, from Bath, Pendleton, and Randolph, and named from the Indian princess : its mean length is 40 and mean width 18 miles. Cheat, Gauley, and Greenbrier Rivers rise in the county, which is one of the most elevated in Virginia. The surface is very broken and mountainous; the southern part is tolerably productive, but towards the northeast the land is more barren. Pop. in 1840, whites 2,684, slaves 219, free colored 19; total, 2,922.
Huntersville, the county-seat, is 190 miles nw. of Richmond, between Greenbrier and Alleghany mountains, on Knapp's creek, 6 miles from its junction with Greenbrier River, and at an elevation of over 1800 feet above the Atlantic. It contains an incorporated academy, 2 or 3 religious societies, and about 30 dwellings. “ Eighteen miles from Huntersville, on Elk Ridge, a very high mountain, is a circular hole of about 70 feet diameter, which is considered a curiosity, its waters being perfectly black and of a bituminous taste: it is called the black hole. It is said if wooden poles are thrust in, they will sink to rise no more.”
Powhatan was formed in 1777, from Cumberland. Its greatest length is 25, and its greatest width 15 miles. The soil is various; much, however, is fertile. The James and Appomattox-bounding two sides of the county at full length—with their numerous branches afford much fertile low ground. Claver and plaster have been much used in agriculture within a few years. There are some coal-mines in the county, but the distance to market has prevented their being worked advantageously. Pop. in 1840, whites 2,432, slaves 5,129, free colored 363; total, 7,924. Scottville, or Powhatan C, H., lies in the central part of the county, 32 miles w. of Richmond, and contains about 20 dwellings. It was named from Gen. Chas. Soott, a distinguished officer of the revolution, and afterwards governor of Kentucky. A traveller who was here in 1981, says that it then consisted of “only two mean huts, one for the purpose of holding the sessions, the other by way of publio house." Smithsville and Jefferson contain each a few dwellings.
In the lower end of this county, about 3 miles from Manakin Town Ferry, on James River, and 17 miles above Richmond, in a healthy and pleasant locality, is Howard's Spring. The waters are something of the character of those of the White Sulphur of Greenbrier, although not so thoroughly impregnated. From its favorable location, it is hoped that this spring will ere long be opened as a watering-place; in which case, it will doubtless secure public favor. It has long been favorably known, and visited with great benefit by invalids of the surrounding country.
This county, near Manakin Town Ferry, was settled by Huguer
nots, (after the revocation of the edict of Nantz in 1685,) many of whose descendants still remain in that section of Powhatan, and the adjacent parts of Chesterfield; as the Subletts, the Michauxs, the Bernards, the Martins, the Flourneys, &c. Near Keswick, the seat of Major John Clarke, runs Bernard's creek, which takes its name from the Huguenot family of Bernard, who settled near its banks. The Manakin tribe of Indians inhabited this county, and near, or on the land given to the Huguenots, they had a town. Mr. Edward Scott's residence is said to be near the site of that town, and it is his ferry across the James River that goes by the name of the Manakin Town Ferry. Beverly, in his History of Va., published in 1722, thus speaks of these early settlers :
The French refugees, sent in thither by the charitable exhibition of his late majesty King William, are naturalized by a particular law for that purpose. In the year 1699, there went over about 300 of these, and the year following about 200 more, and so on, until there arrived in all between 700 and 800 men, women, and children, who had fled from France on account of their religion. Those who went over the first year were advised to seat on a very rich piece of land about 20 miles above the falls of James River, on the south side of the river; which land was formerly the seat of a great and warlike nation of Indians called Monacans, none of which are now left in those parts; but the land still retains their name, and is still called the Monacan Town. The refu. gees that arrived the second year went also to the Monacan Town, but afterwards, upon some disagreement, several dispersed themselves up and down the country; and those that have arrived since have followed their example, except some few that likewise settled at Monacan Town.
The Assembly was very bountiful to those that remained at this town, bestowing on them large donations, money, and provisions for their support. They likewise freed them from every public tax for several years to coinc, and addressed the governor to grant them a brief, to entitle them to the charity of all well-disposed persons throughout the country; which, together with the king's benevolence, supported them very confortably till they could sufficiently supply themselves with necessaries, which they now do indisferently well, and have stocks of cattle and hogs.
In the year 1702, they began an essay of wine, which they made of the wild grapes gathered in the woods; the effect of which was strong-bodied claret, of good flavor. I heard a gentleman who tasted it give it great commendation. Now if such may be made of the wild vine in the woods, without pruning, weeding, or removing it out of the shade, what may be produced from a vineyard skilfully cultivated ? But I don't hear that they have done any thing since, being still very poor, needy, and negligent.
Gen. Wm. H. ASHLEY, of St. Louis, was born in Powhatan county. About the year 1810, being then a poor boy, he emigrated to Missouri, (then Upper Louisiana,) and settled near the lead mines. In 1822, he projected the scheme of the “mountain expedition," by uniting the Indian trade in the Rocky Mountains with the hunting and the trapping business. He enlisted about 300 hardy men in the business, and after various successes and reverses, he and his associates realized handsome fortunes. He also rose to considerable political distinction, and was the first lieutenant.governor of Missouri after its admission into the l'nion, and a M. C. in 1831-3. He died in 1838, greatly respected for his great enterprise, talents, and worth of character.
Dr. Branch T. ARCHER, president of the convention which formed the constitution of Texas, and late secretary of war in that republic, was born in Powhatan.
PRESTON. Preston was formed in 1818, from Monongalia, and named from James P. Preston, a meritorious officer in the late war with Great Britain, and governor of Virginia from 1816 to 1819. Its mean length is 30 miles, and mean breadth 17 miles. Cheat River passes through the county. The general face of the country is mountainous, interspersed, on the eastern and western sides, with large natural meadows called “glades," which afford support for large herds of cattle in summer, and in winter also, when it is mown and cured for food. The glades are destitute of timber, but are covered in summer with grass and weeds, with frequent projecting points of timber, low bushes, &c. The bottom grounds are small but productive, and many of the hill-sides are favorable to grain. Slate and limestone are common; the county is abundantly supplied with bituminous coal, and iron ore is often found. Population in 1840, whites 6,743, slaves 91, free colored 30; total, 6,866.
Kingwood, the county-seat, is 284 miles nw. of Richmond, on a beautiful and healthy eminence, 2 miles west of Cheat River, 20 from Morgantown, 43 from Clarksburg, and 60 from Beverly. It contains several stores, and about 30 dwellings. The German settlement is 18 miles southeasterly from Kingwood.
PRINCE EDWARD. Prince Edward was formed in 1753, from Amelia. It is 35 miles long, mean breadth 12 miles. The Appomattox runs on its northern boundary, and with its branches, waters the county. The soil is much like that in this section of the state, naturally good; but injured by continual culture, without any regard to system. Marl, coal, and copper ore, are found in the county. Pop. in 1840, whites 4,923, slaves 8,576, free colored 570; total, 14,069.
Farmsville is situated 70 miles southwesterly from Richmond, on the northern border of the county, on the Appomattox. It was established by law in 1798, on the property of Judith Randolph ; and Charles Scott, Peter Johnson, John Randolph, Jr., Philip Holcomb, Jr., Martin Smith, Blake B. W. Woodson, and Creed Taylor, were appointed trustees to lay off the town into half acre lots. Farmsville is now a place of considerable commercial importance ; its trade is drawn from Halifax, Lunenburg, Charlotte, Nottoway, and a part of Campbell. It is at the head of batteau navigation on the Appomattox, although boats can go up much higher. It is the fourth tobacco market in Virginia ; and the quality of its tobacco is nowhere surpassed. It contains 2 tobacco warehouses, 10 tobacco factories, 7 or 8 mercantile stores, a branch of the Farmers' Bank, 1 newspaper printing-office, 1 Presbyterian, 1 Methodist, and i Baptist church, and a population of about 1400. The navigation of the Appomattox is good at all seasons, and its navigation from this place to Petersburg gives employment to about 40 batteaux, carrying from 5 to 7 tons each, of the products of the country. Prince Edward C. H., Jamestown, and Sandy River Church, are small places in the county.
“ HAMPDEN SYDNEY COLLEGE originated in an academy in