Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Virginia's Westward Expansion

from A History of Rockbridge County, Virginia, by Oren Frederic Morton, published 1920, The McClure Co., Virginia:

    The house that John Lewis built near the site of Staunton in the summer of 1732 was not within the recognized limits of any county. Until 1744 the Blue Ridge was the treaty line between paleface and redskin. The first county organization to cross that barrier was Spottsylvania, which became effective in 1721. Yet it came only to the South Fork of the Shenandoah, one extremity of the line touching the river in the vicinity of Elkton, the other about midway between Front Royal and Bentonville. Orange was created in 1734, and organized in 1735. It was defined as extending westward to the uttermost limit claimed by Virginia. Four years later, the portion of Orange west of the Blue Ridge was divided into the counties of Frederick and Augusta by a line running from the source of the Rapidan to the Fairfax Stone at the source of the North Branch of the Potomac. The present boundary between Rockingham and Shenandoah is a portion of this line.
    During the westward march of population in Virginia, the practical area of a county has always been co-extensive with its settled portion. The fact that Augusta once extended potentially to the Mississippi, did not mean that a juryman might have to travel hundreds of miles to attend court. When the first division of Augusta took place in 1769, probably not less than three-fourths of the inhabitants were living within a radius of fifty miles around Staunton. Of the other fourth, nearly all were within a few miles of a trail leading from Buchanan to Abingdon.
    The first county to be set off from Augusta was Botetourt, which became effective January 31, 1770. ...