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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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Book II



Introduction to The History Of Tazewell

The local nature of this work precludes the necessity of entering into a lengthy introduction, yet a few remarks seem to be essential, to make the reader somewhat acquainted with the nature of the subject before him.

For many years, the county of Tazewell has enjoyed a very high reputation in Virginia and the surrounding states.  Located in what was not many years ago the wilds of Virginia, immediately in the line of the great Indian road from the Ohio to the western settlements, we might reasonably calculate that many daring deeds and bloody massacres took place within its borders.  And such seems to have been the case, for, perhaps none of the western counties afford such a number of either, as Tazewell.

The lands of the county are open and inviting to the emigrant, and it is essential only, that he should have a correct knowledge of the county, its history and its resources, to convince him that he will nowhere find a more desirable country than this.  The people of the county themselves, need a spur to urge them on to greater exertion.  The rapid growth of the county and its wealth show that it will compare with any in the state.  To those who would spend a summer in the mountains, a more pleasant retreat from the cares and turmoils of business, could not be found.  To the valetudinarian, the pure air, the fine scenery, the mineral water, the good society, all are inviting.  To the capitalist the county opens a wide field of operations.  Occupying a central position in the south-west, it may be looked upon as an average specimen of the surrounding country.  The county has thus far made but a small figure; the south-west has been overlooked; to advocate the claims of the latter and to perpetuate the history of the former, as well as to set the car of improvement in motion, is one of the objects of this work.  The day is not far distant when Tazewell will be an important county; a slight glance at the maps of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina will be sufficient to convince the most superficial, that in the course of things, a new state, at no very distant day, must be hewed out of the corners of the above states.  If we but look at the staple productions, the character of the soil, the distance of market, the sameness of facilities, the climate and character of the population, the distance from the seats of government, and the oneness of interest, we cannot fail to see that the formation of the new state would redound to the interest of the people of the specified district.

It may be said that this new state would be cut off from any navigable stream as much as Switzerland in Europe.  But, when we consider, in this age of "velocity," navigable streams have, and are daily becoming subservient to the speed and utility of the metal horse, whose dreadful stamp and wild scream is spreading life and energy in the veins of the honest yeomanry of the land, we shall all agree that this objection would not be valid.

I would ask, what advantages are now accruing to the people of the specified section from navigable streams?  Do they not roll back upon us, daily, a tide of losses, by bringing us in competition with those who have their every advantage?  Have the people of south-western Virginia, eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, and north-western North Carolina, ever been on a footing with others of their respective states?

Will their respective legislatures vote money to carry on internal improvements in these remote corners, so as to bring them on a footing with their more favored statesmen?  Have they enabled them to sell their corn, wheat, tobacco and stock on as good terms as those nearer market?  Have the states named, tried to put the "corner men" within thirty miles of market, as they might?  No, we must travel thirty days with our stock, grain etc., to market, which, when there, nets little more than half that received by our more favored brethren.

No country can equal ours, and why be poorer than the poorest?  Let us urge upon our respective states the importance of placing us on an equal footing with others, or ask leave to help ourselves, by making us a separate and distinct commonwealth.  Let us do this, and show the world that here is the garden-spot.

Too little has been said, by writers of Virginia history, upon south-western Virginia.  Several works have been written purporting to be histories of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina, and all neglect their mountainous sections.  The last works I have seen upon Virginia, are those of Howe and De Hass.  Neither of these, do that justice to the south-west, which it so justly merits.  The character of Mr. Howe's work precluded the possibility of saying much of any section.  But, De Hass's work purports to be a "History of the Settlement and Indian Wars of Western Virginia."  If he had called it a history of the settlement and Indian wars of North-western Virginia, he would certainly have been quite as near the thing.  It is most undoubtedly a history of north-western Virginia, and as such is an honor to its author.

To write a history of Virginia which should do justice to every section, would be a task greater than could be performed by any one man; for, to use the words of one well versed in Virginia history "the half will never be told."

Local history is rather a new feature in literature, and must be written for the people of its locality.  I write the history of a county and for the people of that county.  After the history of every county shall be written, a condensed work of the whole will be called a History of the South-west.


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