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History of the
Settlement and Indian Wars
of Tazewell County, Virginia.

By Geo. W. L. Bickley, M. D. (1852)


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1492.]  America was discovered by Christopher Columbus.  Its discovery has since been claimed by the Icelanders, the Welsh, and the Norwegians.

1497.]  Giovanni Gabota, or John Cabot, sailing under a charter, obtained from Henry VII, of England, discovered Prima Vista, or New Foundland, the island of St. John, and the rugged cliffs of Labrador on the continent.  As was to be expected, Cabot declared he had found a New World, little dreaming that a vast body of land extended from Labrador to Cuba, the point at which Columbus had realized all his hopes.  Nor is he justly entitled to share the merit which attaches itself to the father of navigators; for the existence of land in the west, and the practicability of reaching it had been demonstrated by Columbus five years before.

1498.]  This year, the Cabots (John and his sons), had their charter renewed, in consequence of which, an expedition was fitted out and placed in charge of Sebastian Cabot, who pursued a more northerly course than that taken by his father.  The immense barriers of ice, and the severity of the weather, however, forced him to abandon his scheme of finding a N. W. passage to the Indies; he accordingly changed his course and sailed south as far as Virginia.

1500.]  The Spaniards were busily engaged discovering and colonizing Central America; the Portuguese were rapidly insinuating themselves into the interior of South America; while the French in Canada, and from the sources to the mouth of the Mississippi, were winning for themselves the admiration of Europeans, as discoverers in the New World.

1520.]  But of all the discoveries hitherto made in America, none were so brilliant as those of Mexico and Peru.  Cortez in Mexico, and Pizarro in Peru, seemed to have found countries which, if not the Indies proper, were equal to them in wealth and importance.

1539-40.]  De Soto, acting under a Spanish commission, extended his discoveries from the south of Florida, inland to Virginia and Carolina on the north, and to the Mississippi on the west.  But as I propose only to touch the Outline History of Virginia, I pass over such incidents as belong more properly to a history of the United States, and proceed as briefly as possible to the settlement of Virginia.

1576-8.]  Under the patronage of Elizabeth, who was now upon the British throne, Martin Frobisher sailed in a northwesterly direction, and entered Frobisher's straits.  He carried home a stone mingled with gold, which paved the way for fitting out two other larger expeditions by the British queen and her merchants, whose avarice was awakened by the glittering rock brought home by Frobisher on the return of his first expeditions from the icy wilderness of the north.  Both these expeditions were, however, fruitless of importance.

1579-83.]  Sir Humphrey Gilbert made two voyages, which likewise proved failures.  Gilbert, together with most of his men, was lost in his second voyage: only one of the five vessels which had sailed from England returned in safety.

1584.]  Sir Walter Raleigh, step-brother of Gilbert, regardless of the fate of his relative, fitted out an expedition, and having obtained a charter, set sail for a more southerly region than those visited by his countrymen.  On the 13th of July, the English entered Ocracoke Inlet, within the limits of the present State of North Carolina.  Remaining here some time, they set sail for England; and, so glowing was the description given of the country, that Elizabeth called it Virginia, in commemoration of her unmarried life.

1585.]  Raleigh sent out a second expedition, in which were one hundred and eight colonists; and, among them, several persons of learning.  But, being over-anxious to acquire wealth, the English brought upon themselves the hatred of the natives, by attempting to coerce them into a disclosure of the locality of their treasures.  In a short time, the English found themselves reduced to a deplorable condition, and were meditating a return to England, when fortunately Sir Francis Drake arrived upon the coast, and would have rendered them the necessary aid, but for a storm which destroyed a great portion of his fleet.

1586.]  The colony, seeing their prospects in the future so gloomy, begged Drake to take them home, which he did.  Raleigh sent out other vessels to their relief; but, finding no colonists, they returned.  Sir Richard Grenville, who commanded one of the relief squadrons, seeing the island deserted, left fifteen men on Roanoke Island, to keep possession, in the name of Great Britain.

1587.]  Raleigh was not to be beaten off from his purpose, by a few failures, as will appear from the fact of his sending out another expedition, with orders to build a town, to be called the city of Raleigh (a name since revived in the present metropolis of North Carolina), on the shores of the magnificent Chesapeake Bay.  John White, who had been appointed governor, was, however, compelled to establish himself upon Roanoke Island; a step much against his wishes.  White was soon compelled to repair to England, to procure succor for the colony.  The generous Raleigh loaded his vessels, and sent him forth, but White commenced a crusade against Spanish merchant ships, regardless of his subjects, till finally he was captured himself, and compelled to return to England.

1590.]  Peace having been restored, White was again dispatched to the relief of the colony: but, when he arrived, they were gone; a rough inscription, upon a tree, indicated Croaton as the place whither they had gone.  It is supposed that this unfortunate colony became amalgamated with the Hatteras Indians.  Humanity can but wish it were true.


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