Kinyon Digital Library

Civil War Rosters
County/Local Histories
Census Transcriptions
Local Maps and More

Home  ||  What's New?  ||  Notes  ||  Census Data  ||  Data By State  ||  Military Records  ||  Links  ||  Tombstones  ||  Poetry  ||  Privacy

Custom Search

Kinyon Digital Library

Copyright 1999-2013,
 all rights reserved.

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

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


Virginia Index || - || Previous Page || Table of Contents  || Next Page



Book II




Owing to its elevation, the climate, in winter, is more severe than in the surrounding counties.  Snow appears generally before the commencement of the first winter month.  The inhabitants, at this season, are much exposed in feeding and caring for their stock.  Ice is seldom seen over six inches thick, and attains that thickness only a few times in the course of the winter.  Less snow falls than would be supposed, from the latitude and elevation of the country.  It lies but a short time, and is generally succeeded by rain, which is plentiful at this season.  The water-courses are usually high during the winter, though seldom impassable, except for a short time immediately after long rainy spells.  The reflection of light from the mountains, when covered with snow, renders a sunny day remarkably light: and to this circumstance is owing the absence of that gloomy appearance so often seen in level countries during the winter; except, indeed, when snow is falling, at which time the mountains are obscured and a death-like shadow is cast over everything.  During the winter season the country presents a business air to be seen at few other seasons of the year.  This is owing to the return of the drovers, who supply the people with the almighty dollar, the influence of which is felt everywhere.  Its plentiful presence seems to instil life, energy, and action into those ordinarily lethargic and idle.  Contracts, based upon the credit system, are now discharged and pledged faith redeemed.

During the middle of winter comes Christmas, with all its joys and pleasures.  It is here celebrated as in England four hundred years ago.  The young people commence the dance, which is kept up for several weeks.  The figures are mostly the variety of reels.  The violin, triangle, and tambourine, constitute the band.

Dancing is an amusement greatly loved by the people of Tazewell and in which they excel.  The intimacy and good cheer existing at these gatherings (in which even the older people sometimes participate), will doubtless account for the general good feeling which exists among the people of the county, and which is proverbial.

The new year steals in amid all their hilarity, and is welcomed with hearty good-will.  The end of winter puts a stop to all these amusements, and the people return to the plow, the loom, and the anvil.



Spring, which succeeds the cold and amusements, is the most beautiful season imaginable.  At the earliest dawn of spring, the sap begins to flow in the sugar-maple (Acer saccharinum), and then begins the process of sugar-making.  This is effected by boring auger holes in the body of the tree, and introducing part of an alder stalk, or something of the kind, to serve as a conductor for the sap, which falls in a trough, and is conveyed in pails thence to the kettles, where it is boiled into sugar.  The water is evaporated while the saccharine principle remains.  It is a dark, compact sugar, which might be improved by slightly altering the mode of manufacture.

The following remarks are taken from a work published by the American Tract Society: "The sugar maple is a beautiful tree, reaching the height of seventy or eighty feet, the body straight, for a long distance free from limbs, and three or four feet in diameter at the base.  It grows in colder climates, between latitudes 42 and 48, and on the Alleghanies to their southern termination, extending westward beyond lake Superior.  The wood is nearly equal to hickory, for fuel, and is used for building, for ships, and various manufactures.  When tapped, as the winter gives place to spring, a tree in a few weeks, will produce five or six pailsful of sap, which is sweet and pleasant as a drink, and when boiled down will make about half as many pounds of sugar.  The manufacturer selecting a spot central among his trees, erects a temporary shelter, suspends his kettles over a smart fire, and at the close of a day or two will have fifty or a hundred pounds of sugar, which is equal to the common west India sugar, and when refined equals the finest in flavor and beauty.

"When the sap has been boiled to a sirup and is turning to molasses, then to candy, and then graining into sugar, its flavor is delightful, especially when the candy is cooled on the snow.  On this occasion the manufacturer expects his wife, children, and friends, if near, to enjoy the scene."  The person in the engraving on page 65, is represented as blowing the candy or wax, to ascertain how far the boiling has advanced.  41,341 pounds are annually manufactured in Tazewell county.

The Sugar Camp.

When the sugar-making season is over, spring has fairly begun; though few trees exhibit full grown leaves, those of the maple and buckeye, or horse-chesnut ( Aesculus glabra), being earliest.  The soft green foliage of these trees, the few spring flowers, the verdant meadows, the sweet warbling of forest birds, and general activity of the animal kingdom, make this the paradisian era of the year.  By the first of June, nothing can exceed the beauty of this mountain region; the hill sides are variegated with a profusion of flowers; sweet odors stimulate the olfactories at the inhalation of every breath, and these

"Pleasant breezes, and alight showers,
And the sweet odor of flowers,"

produce a carelessness, and happy contentedness, known to few other than oriental lands.


This does not differ much, in appearance, from spring; yet materially in it's effects.  The grains are now nearly ready for harvesting, except corn, which is not gathered till fall.  The summers are warm for a country so elevated, yet not so warm as the surrounding counties: there is, too, less rain at this season.  But little traveling is done, and business dull; the farmers being closely engaged at home.  About the fourth of July harvest begins, and continues several weeks.  This ended, the farmers begin to gather their cattle for the drovers, who carry from the county, annually, about 7,000 head, starting usually in the latter part of August and beginning of September.  At times, the roads may be seen lined with cattle for miles, many of them passing through the county, from Kentucky and Tennessee, on their way to the eastern markets.  The labors of the farm slacken till frost appears.


Fall is remarkable for the great beauty of the decaying foliage.  Numerous plants are now in full bloom, and with the varied colors of the forest, present a sight of loveliness rarely seen.  The nights become cooler, till fire is required, and soon in the month of October frost appears.  Snow sometimes falls in this month, but most generally, not till November.

Soon after the appearance of frost, in October, the Indian summer sets in---a season as beautiful as its name.  The air is pleasant, and a smoky haze fills the atmosphere.

This season, of all others, would be preferred for a perpetual climate.  It lasts from ten days to three weeks.  Many beautiful Indian love-tales are connected with this season, but are better suited to the pages of a magazine than this place.  The seasons of Tazewell are objectionable only for one thing, Viz: sudden changes, as mentioned under the head of Meteorology.


Virginia Index || - || Previous Page || Table of Contents || Next Page


Home  ||  What's New?  ||  Notes  ||  Census Data  ||  Data By State  ||  Military Records  ||  Links  ||  Tombstones  ||  Poetry  ||  Privacy

Site Statistics By

since 17 December 1999.

Copyright 1999-2013
Kinyon Digital Library,
All Rights Reserved.