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THE two counties of Frederick and Augusta were laid off at the same session of the colonial legislature, in the year 1738, and included all the vast region of country west of the Blue Ridge. Previous to that time the county of Orange included all the territory west of the mountains.-Orange was taken from Spottsylvania in the year 1734, Spottsylvania having previously crossed the Blue Ridge, and took in a considerable part of what is now the county of Page. Previous to laying off the county of Orange, the territory west of the Blue Ridge, except the small part which lay in Spottsylvania, does not appear to have been included in any county. Spottsylvania was laid off in the year 1720; the act for which is worded as follows:

"Preamble. That the frontiers towards the high mountains are exposed to danger from the Indians, and the late settlements of the French to the westward of the said mountains: Enacted, Spotsylvania county bounds upon Snow creek up to the mill; thence by a southwest line to the River North Anna; thence up the said river as far as convenient, and thence by a line to be run over the high mountains to the river on the north west side thereof, so as to include the northern passage through the said mountains; thence down the said river until it comes against the head of the Rappahannock; thence by a line to the head of Rappahannock river; and down that river to the mouth of Snow creek; which tract of land, from the first of May, 1721, shall become a county, by the name of Spotsylvania county."

Thus it appears that a little more than one hundred years ago Spotsylvania was a frontier county, and that the vast region west of the Blue ridge, with its millions of people, has been settled and improved from an entire wilderness. The country for more than a thousand miles to the west has been within this short period rescued from a state of natural barbarism, and is now the seat of the fine arts and sciences, of countless millions of wealth, and the abode of freedom, both religious and political. Judging from the past, what an immense prospect opens itself to our view for the future. Within the last half century, our valley has poured out thousands of emigrants, who have contributed towards peopling the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and other regions - south and west, and migrations still continue.

It has already been stated that Frederick county was laid off in the year 1738. The first court of justice held in the county was in the year 1743. This delay, it is presumable, arose from the want of a sufficient

*South fork of the Shenandoah..

number of Magistrates to form a quorum for the legal transaction of business. The first court was composed of the following justices, to wit: Morgan Morgan, David Vance, Marquis Calmes, Thomas Rutherford, William M'Mahon, Meredith Helm, George Hoge and John White.James Wood, clerk. This court sat the first time, on Friday 11th day of November, 1743. At this term of the court is to be found on record the following entry: 'Ordered, that the sheriff of this county build a twelve foot square log house, logged above and below, to secure his prisoners, he agreeing to be satisfied with what shall be allowed him for such building by two of the court, and he not to be answerable for escapes.' This was the first jail erected in the county of Frederick.

The county of Hampshire was the next laid off, and was taken from Frederick and Augusta. This was done in the year 1753. The first court held in this county was in December, 1757. Thomas B. Martin, James Simpson, William Miller, Solomon Hedges and Nathaniel Kuykendall, justices, composed the court, and Gabriel Jones the clerk.

Berkeley and Dunmore were taken from Frederick in the year 1772.In October, 1777, the legislature altered the name of Dunmore county to Shenandoah. It does not appear, from the language of the law, for what particular reasons this alteration was made. It had been named after and in honor of lord Dunmore, the then governor under the royal government. But his lordship took a most decidedly active part in opposition to the American revolution; and in order to have the liberty of wearing his head, took shelter on board of a British armed vessel. His conduct is pretty fully related in Mr. Jacob's account of Dunmore's war, given in the preceding pages; and it was doubtless owing to this cause that the name of Dunmore county was altered to that of Shenandoah.

In the year 1769, Botetourt county was taken from Augusta. In the act is to be found the following clause: "And whereas the people situated on the Mississippi, in the said county of Botetourt, will be very remote from the court house, and must necessarily become a separate county, as soon as their numbers are sufficient, which probably will happen in a short time; Be it therefore enacted, by the authority aforesaid, that the inhabitants of that part of the said county of Botetourt, which lies on the said waters, shall be exempted from the payment of any levies to be laid by the said county court for the purpose of building a court house and prison for the said county." Thus it appears that Virginia, at that period, c'aimed the jurisdiction and territory of that vast region of country westward to the Mississippi.

In 1772 the county of Fincastle was taken from Botetourt; and in 1776 Fincastle was divided into the counties of Kentucky, Washington and Montgomery, and the naine of Fincastle became extinct.

In the year 1777 Rockbridge county was taken from Augusta and Botetourt. Rockingham county, the same year, was taken from Augusta, and Greenbrier from Augusta and Botetourt. The years 1776 and 1777 were remarkable for the many divisions of the western counties. West Augusta, in the year 1775, by the convention assembled for the purpose of devising a plan for resisting the oppressions of the mother country, among other proceedings determined, that "the landholders of the district

of West Augusta shall be considered as a distinct county, and have the 'liberty of sending two delegates to represent them in general convention as aforesaid."

This is the first account which the author has been able to find in our ancient statutes in relation to West Augusta as a separate district of 'county. In fact, it does not appear that we ever had a county legally es'tablished by this name. It is presumable that it acquired the name by general usage, from its remote and western locality from the seat of justice. Be this as it may, it appears that the district of West Augusta never had its bounds laid off and defined until the month of October 1776, when it was divided into three distinct counties, viz: Ohio, Yohogania, and Monongalia. By the extension of the western boundary between Pennsylvania and Virginia, the greater part of the county Yohogania falling within the limits of Pennsylvania, the residue was, by an act of assembly of 1785, added to Ohio, and Yohogania became extinct.

Harrison county was established in 1784, taken from Monongalia. In 1785 Hardy county was laid off, taken from Hampshire. In 1786 Randolph county was laid off, taken from Harrison. In 1785 Russell county 'was taken from Washington. In 1787 Pendleton county was taken from Augusta, Hardy and Rockingham. In 1788 Knawha was taken from Greenbrier and Montgomery. In 1789 Wythe county was taken from Montgomery, and a part of Botetourt added to Montgomery. In 1790 Bath county was taken from Augusta, Botetourt and Greenbrier. In 1792 Lee county was taken from Russell; and in the same year, Grayson county was taken from Wythe.


The author has deemed it an interesting part of his work to give a par ticular history of the establishment of our counties, because it goes to shew the rapid increase of our population, and improvement of our country, since the termination of the war of the revolution. To an individual born and raised in the valley, and who is old enough to recollect the passing events for the last half century-who was acquainted with the state of our country fifty years ago, its sparse population, rude log buildings, and uncultivated manners and customs of our ancestors--the great improvement of every thing calculated to better the condition of human life-the astonishing change in the appearance of our country-its elegant buildings, finely cultivated farms, improved state of society, &c.—are calculated almost to raise doubts in his mind whether these vast changes could possibly have taken place within his little span of existence. The author's destiny, when a youth, thew him into a business which gave him an opportunity of exploring a considerable part of the lower counties of the valley, and he has lately made it his business again to explore the same counties; and if he had been for the last forty years shut up in a dungeon, and recently set at liberty, he would almost doubt his own senses and believe himself in another country. A great part of our valley may be said to be elegantly improved*

*Capt. James Russell, of Berkeley, some years ago built a brick barn 150 feet long and 55 wide.

The late Mr. John Hite, in the year 1785, built the first brick house e



ABOUT the year 1738, there were two cabins erected near the run in Winchester. The author regrets that he has not been able to ascertain the names of the first settlers in this town. Tradition however relates that they were German families.

In the year 1752 the legislature passed "an act for the establishing of the town of Winchester." In the preamble are the following words :

"Whereas it has been represented to this general assembly, that James Wood, gentleman, did survey and lay out a parcel of land at the court house in Frederick county, in twenty-six lots, of half an acre each, with streets for a town, by the name of Winchester, and made sale of the said lots to divers persons who have since settled and built and continue building and settling thereon; but because the same was not laid off and erected into a town by act of assembly, the freeholders and inhabitants thereof will not be entitled to the like privileges enjoyed by the freeholders and inhabitants of other towns in this colony, Be it enacted, &c. that the said parcel of land lately claimed by the said James Wood, lying and being in the county of Frederick aforesaid, together with fifty-four other lots of half an acre each, twenty-four thereof in one or two streets on the east side of the former lots, the street or streets to run parallel with the street already laid off, and the remaining thirty lots to be laid off at the north end of the aforesaid twenty-six, with a commodious street or streets in such manner as the proprietor thereof, the right honorable Thomas lord Fairfax, shall see fit, be and is hereby constituted, enacted, and established a town, in the manner already laid out, to be called by and retain the

ver erected west of the Blue ride. This is but a small one story building, and is now owned by the heirs of the late Mr. A. Neill, at the north end of Stephensburg, in the county of Frederick. In 1787 Mr. Hite built a merchant mill, which was at that time considered the finest mill in the valley. It is now hardly considered a second rate mill.

A very aged woman, by the name of Sperry, informed the author that when she first saw the place where Winchester now stands, she was 22 years of age, and from her age at the time the author conversed with her, which was in 1809,) he found the year in which she first saw Winchester to be in 1738, at which time she stated there were but two small log cabins, and those near the run.

Mr. Jacob Gibbon informed the author that he was in Winchester in 1755, and that the court house was a small cabin, and that he saw the court sitting in this cabin.

name of Winchester, and that the freeholders of the said town shall forever hereafter enjoy the same privileges which the freeholders of other towds erected by act of assembly enjoy." This act further provides that fairs may be held in the town twice in each year.

Thus it appears that the late Col. James Wood was the founder of Winchester, and not lord Fairfax as has generally been believed. The latter made an addition to the town. Tradition relates that Fairfax was much more partial to Stephensburg than he was to Winchester, and used all his influence to make Stephensburg the seat of justice, but that Wood out-generaled his lordship, and by treating one of the justices with a bowl of toddy secured his vote in favor of Winchester, which settled the question, and that Fairfax was so offended at the magistrate who thus sold his vote, that he never after spoke to him.*

The late Robert Rutherford, Esq. opened the first store ever established in Winchester. There was soon a mixed population of Germans, Irish, and a few English and Scotch. The national prejudices which existed between the Dutch and Irish produced much disorder and many riots. It was customary for the Dutch, on St. Patrick's day, to exhibit the effigy of the saint, with a string of Irish potatoes around his neck, and his wife Sheeley, with her apron loaded also with potatoes. This was alays followed by a riot. The Irish'resented the indignity offered to their saint and his holy spouse, and a battle followed. On St. Michael's, day the Irish wouid retort, and exhibit the saint with a rope of "sour krout” about his neck. Then the Dutch, like the Yankee, "felt chock full of fight,' and at it they went, pell mell, and many a black eye, bloody nose, and broken head, was the result. The author recollects one of these ris since the war of the revolution. The practice was at last put down by the rigor with which our courts of justice punished the rioters.

In the month of September, 1758, the town of Stephensburg, in the county of Frederick, was established. This town was first founded by Peter Stop' ens, who came to Virginia with Joist Hite, in the year 1732. The ruins of Stephens's first cabin are yet to be seen. Lewis Stephens, the late proprietor of the town, was the son of Peter Stephens. He laid out the town in form, and applied to the general assembly to have it established by law, which was done in the year 1758.

This town was first settled almost exclusively by Germans; and the religion, habits and customs, of their ancestors, were preserved with great tenacity for many years. The German language was generally used in this village since the author's acquaintance with it, which acquaintance commenced in the year 1784.

In the month of November, 1763, Strasburg, (commonly called Stover's town,) was established by law. This town was settled entirely by

*The late John S. Woodcock, Esq. communicated this fact to the author, and stated that he had the information from the late Col. Martin.

Gen. Smith informed the author that this practice was kept up for several years after he settled in Winchester, and that several very dangerous riots took place, in which he with other magistrates had to interpose, to preserve the peace.

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