Rivers of Humanity (Part II): West of the New River

The settlement of the country surrounding the New River in Virginia continued through the decades of the 1750s and 1760s, despite frequent depredations by marauding Native warriors.  The Journal of Col. William Preston records a number of families who staked out homesteads on Peak (present-day Pulaski County) and Reed (present-day Wythe County) Creeks and other areas west of the New, well beyond the Draper Settlements. 1

During the 1750s lead, the crucial element used to make rifle projectiles, was discovered in significant

quantities near present-day Austinville, in Wythe County.  The discovery was made by a Col. Chiswell, a British army officer and founder of Fort Chiswell, who explored the territory and reported his find to the King’s Council at Williamsburg.2

The discovery of this necessary resource for any frontier explorer/settler certainly would have drawn some adventurous souls to the region.  However, the rich timberlands and pastoral meadows also promised opportunities to potential settlers.

About 1747, John McFarland (b. 1706-1708, Ireland; d. 1784/5), his wife Mary, and their children migrated down the Great Valley from Pennsylvania to the frontier of western Virginia.  John and his eldest son Robert (b. 1730, Lancaster County, PA) recorded a survey of 2000 acres on and near Reed Creek.  This area was then a part of Augusta County.  The McFarlands remained on that stake until native raids forced them to relocate in 1756 to Bedford County, VA, where the elder McFarland died after the Revolution.3

Settlers with the surnames of Noble and Calhoun were located on the Cripple Creek tributary of the New River at least as early as 1753.  One settler, John Noble, made his will in June 1752.  In it, he named “my brother, James Calhoun” to serve as a co-executor of his estate.  Other witnesses to the will were William Calhoun, Agnes Calhoun, and Patrick Calhoun.  John Noble listed the following heirs in his will:  wife Mary, children:  James, Alexander, Patrick, Ezekiel, and Jean.4  [There is also a court record of a lawsuit brought by Col. James Patton against one “James Cohoon”, a variant spelling that is likely James Calhoun, the son of John and the brother of Patrick.

Other early names appearing on the Tates Run branch of Reed Creek, in present-day Montgomery County, include Michael Kinzer (Kincer) who bought land in 1754 which was settled by his son Michael Kinzer Jr.;  Michael Wampler, who purchased 100 acres (1782) adjacent to Jacob Kinzer;  Frederick Moore; Peter Yancey (Yonce).5

Other early settlers on Peak Creek included several members of the Patton family:  Henry Patton, the elder (b. abt 1720, Ireland); James Patton (b. 1751 Augusta Co., VA), who settled a tract in 1771; and Thomas Patton (b. abt 1741), a brother of James.6

For further reading about settlers in this area, you may wish to visit the website “Early Settlers of Old Augusta”.

1Johnson, New River Settlements.

2Hauser, H. M. “A Short Historical and Physical Description of Wythe County, Virginia”.   Published by Order of Its Board of Supervisors for distribution at the Jamestown Ter-Centennial Exposition, 1907.

3Haines, Mary Helen. Our McFarland History From Scotland to Texas, transcribed on the website “Clan MacFarlane Worldwide (http://www.clanmacfarlane.org/public_html/Genealogical-Histories/ch-2-our-mcfarlands-in-america-pennsylvania-and-virginia.html), 2011.

4Kemper, Charles E.  Historical Notes from the Records of Augusta County, Virginia, Part II.

5Price, H. L.  “Kinsers in Montgomery County, Virginia”, Selected passages from a paper, May 1934.  Transcribed on the  website “Kinser, Kinzer, Kincer, Kinsar, Kinsor, Kintzer, Künzer, Kuentzer, Küntzer —

One Immigrant Family” (http://www.kinser.org/places/montgmry.htm); accessed 23 Apr 2013.

6Agricola, David V., M.D.  “Henry Patton Line of Augusta, Montgomery County, Virginia”.  Website (http://www.kentuckystewarts.com/AlexMarthaStewart/HTMDocs/web993alexmarthachildren/HenryPattonAugustaMontgomeryCoVa.htm).