Augusta County

Augusta County VA. Augusta and Frederick Counties were split off from Orange County VA in 1738 at the Blue Ridge Mountains. Frederick County was the “Northen Neck” of Virginia along the Potomac boundary with Maryland. From the SW tip of Maryland a straight line 45 degrees SE to the Blue Ridge crest in the middle of the Orange County boundary. Fredericktown, now Winchester was the county seat which got into business five years after formation. It served several of todays,s Virginia and West Virginia counties. It took off growing after the Joist Hite caravan cut a roaad from Lancaster PA and people from the ports of Philadelphia, New Castle, and Baltimore in addition to some river traffic began to spill into the Shenandoah Valley. Augusta County was the rest of Virginia beyond the Blue Ridge. That meant Southwest Virginia, most of West Virginia and all of Kentuchy, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michiga, Iniana, Ohio, and Western Pennsylvania as the ROyal governor chose to claim from the French, the SPanish, and the Indians who also had interests, though mostle sparse in parts of Augusta County. It’s population grew with three big events, the Beverly Manor Grant, the Patton Grant and the Thomas Walker Expedition. Staunton was the County seat with inluence gradually shipting from Albemarle/Charlottsville to Frederick/Winchester over time.

Peek at Old Augusta Map

Augusta County had an influence on BKM because second generation settlers needed a place for their plantations. From the average family of five or six sons, four or five moved on down the western side of the Blue Ridge. They built three long standing forts which did get remodeled, expanded, and rebuilt some.
Tellico BLockhouse was on the Little Tennessee River across from the capital of the Overhill Cherokees, Chotah (Vonore TN), the big pow wow place for the Cherokee Nation. It was mostly unmanned, just an outpost where the white men could have shelter when they were coming to Chota, more of an embassy in the capital of another nation than a fort. Tellico worked while Fort Loudon failed. Across the Little T, a South Carolina expedition made Fort Loudon. The Indians thought of it as an embassy in their capital, but the construction crew didn’t go home. The white men thought of it more as a new county seat for a new South Carolina District. There were perhaps four white traders in the area with cabins for a decade or more who grew prosperity for themselves and the Indians. They’s disappear for months before coming back from the port cities with a pack train og goodies for the Indians. That picture was not Fort Loudoun and after a year it fizzled by mutual agreement not to mention armed conflict.
The second Augusta Conty fort was at Long Island of the Holston. Augusta County did not think Tellico BLockhouse was their land, but agreed with the Indians that Long Island, later FOrt Patrick Henry, later Kingsport was theirs. We’ll come back later to Long Island, the surveyors, Squabble State, Henderson’s Line, and Walker’s Line.
The third Augusta County fort was Fort Chiswell. It was a center of activity for two decades before BKM. It was on New River which flows into the Ohio. The settles discovered very productive lead deposits near Fort Whiswell. They built ferries which sure beat fords in rainy weather if not all the time. South of Fort Chiswell were gaps where New River cut through the ridges and a “Fancy Gap” right in the middle of I-77 through the Blue Ridge into North Carolina.
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These three geographical features made Fort Chiswell a hub mentioned by many of the troops and in many military orders during the BKM era. Settlers oozing on down from Philadelphia reached New River and had three choices, upstream, downstream, or across the raging river. Then there was the Proclamation of 1763. We’ll tell that story later. Basically it meant Fort Chiswell was already out of bounds, downstream was strictly prohibited. Straight ahead was already out of bounds. Upstream was the way out of the penalty box and back onto the ice. More settlers in the uplands of the Carolinas came through FOrt Chiswell than through New Bern.
Some of the BKM DD-214s (a pension file is about as close as you get to a DD-214) mention the Battle of Point Pleasant, guarding the lead mines, and taking prisoners to Fort Chiswell phonetically misspelled every imaginable way (and a few unimaginable) in the sloppy hand caused by walnut stain, quill pen, and cheap grade (but not cheap price) paper by a clerk in a poorly lit drafty building on a crude table recording what his illiterate pensioner of fading memory stammered to him with mispronounced wrong words and nicknames. Then he makes his mark X-Mark where the clerk points. Ladies and gentlemen thaat is the Merry man Webster definition of a Revolutionary War pension declaration. And it assumes the experienced, though perhaps unschooled clerk and a literate judge or panel instead of a substituteshuffled in because Johnny the soldier came for miles to file it and he is old and feeble. A Tryon County soldier at BKM might remember Fort Chiswell from moving to his farm years ago, because he guarded it during the war, because he delivered some Red Coats there to take them off the Carolina playing field, to get bullets, or because he knows it it a landmark on the way to see his brother back on the old family farm in Augusta County.