Waddell's Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, from 1726 to 1871


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lakes. Having on that occasion found an easy passage over that ridge of mountains w’ch before were judged unpassable, I also discovered, by the relation of Indians who frequent those parts, that from the pass where I was it is but three days’ march to a great nation of Indians living on a river w’ch discharges itself in the Lake Erie; that from ye western side of one of the small mountains w’ch I saw, that lake is very visible, and cannot, therefore, be above five days’ march from the pass afore-mentioned, and that the way thither is also very practicable, the mountains to the westward of the great ridge being smaller than those I passed on the eastern side, w’ch shews how easy a matter it is to gain possession of those lakes.”—[Spotswood Letters, Vol. II, pp. 295-6.]

The country thus discovered by Governor Spotswood, and claimed by him for the British crown, became a part of the county of Essex, the western boundary being undefined. Spotsylvania was formed from Essex and other counties in 1720, and Orange from Spotsylvania in 1734.

The expedition of the “Knight of the Golden Horseshoe,” trivial as it may now appear, was at the time regarded as very hazardous; and it no doubt led to important results. The glowing accounts given by Spotswood’s followers, if not by himself, of the beauty and fertility of the Valley, attracted immediate attention, and induced hunters and other enterprising men to visit the country. Of such transient excursions, however, we have no authentic account; and at least sixteen years were to pass before any extensive settlements were made by Europeans in this region.

In Vol. I of Palmer’s Calendar of Virginia State Papers we find various documents throwing some light upon the history of Augusta county, and from them make the following extracts:

First, in regard to the early settlement of the country. In 1727, Robert Lewis, William Lynn, Robert Brooke, Jr., James Mills, William Lewis and Beverley Robinson petitioned the Governor and Council as follows: “That your Petitioners have been at great Trouble and Charges in making Discoveries of Lands among the Mountains, and are desirous of taking up some of those Lands they have discovered; wherefore your petitioners humbly pray your Honours to grant him an order to take up Fifty Thousand Acres, in one or more tracts, on the head branches of James River to the West and Northwestward of the Cow Pasture, on seating thereon one Family for every Thousand Acres, and as the said Lands are very remote and lying among the great North Mountains, being about Two Hundred Miles at least from


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