Sunday, November 11, 2007

John Lewis, First Settler of Augusta County

From History of Augusta County, Virginia, by John Lewis Peyton, pub. 1882, Samuel M. Yost & Son:

    Among those whose attention was now directed to our Valley was John Lewis, who had been for some time in Pennsylvania, quietly awaiting the arrival from Europe of his wife and children. This remarkable man was born in the north of Ireland, descended from a French-Protestant family, and was educated in Scotland. In Ulster, where he resided until fifty years of age, he commanded the confidence, respect and esteem of the people, and occupied that position of influence, and took that leading part in society and county affairs, which had been traditionally the role of the O'Donnells, Chichesters and O'Doghertys. In youth he was of impetuous temper, but the varied experience of an active life had taught him to control his spirit. He was endowed with a high order of intellect, a valorous soul, and soon became noted for his virtuous principles. A deplorable affair, but one alike honorable to his spirit and manhood, terminated his career in Ireland. He had been sometime in America, when, in 1732, Joist Hite and a party of pioneers set out to settle upon a grant of forty thousand acres of land in the [Shenandoah] Valley, which had been obtained, in 1730, by Isaac Vanmeter and his brother, by warrant from the Governor of Virginia. Lewis joined this party, came to the Valley, and was the first white settler of Augusta....John Lewis' settlement was a few miles below the site of the town of Staunton, on the banks of the stream which still bears his name. It may be proper to remark here, that when the circumstances of the affray [in Ireland] became known, after due investigation, a pardon was granted to John Lewis, and patents are still extant, by which his Majesty granted to him a large portion of the fair domain of Western Virginia.
    For many years after the settlement of Fort Lewis, great amity and good will existed between the neighboring Indians and the white settlers, whose numbers increased apace, until they became quite a formidable colony.