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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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The Jeffersonville Historical Society, is the only literary institution in the county.  It was founded August 14th. 1851, through the exertions of H. F. Peery, M. D., and the author.  The movement was warmly supported by John Wynn, Thos. Peery, Rees T. Bowen, William Cox, H. R. Bogle, William Barnes, William Henry Maxwell, and other leading gentlemen in the county, who seemed to be fully awakened to the necessity of exciting in the community a spirit of literary culture.  The following remarks are taken from the Richmond Examiner of 16th January, 1852:

"The recent excitement of railroad subjects in south-western Virginia, seems to have been the means of calling public attention to the subject of literary culture in this section of the state.  The citizens of Tazewell, one of the most isolated counties of the commonwealth, are taking a prominent stand in this cause.  The establishment of the Jeffersonville Historical Society, in a wild, mountainous country, would seem to indicate something more of its citizens, as patrons of literature, than has heretofore been supposed to exist.  The society numbers already about seventy members, many of whom occupy positions not only of high civil trust; but prominent situations in the literary world.

"One principal object of this society seems to be, to preserve the history of the settlement and Indian wars of the south-western part of Virginia---to develop its resources, and scatter knowledge among the people.  A cabinet, in which will be found specimens from the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms, is attached to the institution.  Also, a library containing the principal works which could assist in researches either upon the Indians, who at a former period inhabited this section, their manners and customs, or upon the natural history of the county.  The society receives papers upon most subjects which throw light upon the best means of promoting the interests of this section of the state. *   *   *   

"Whether this society may be able to effect any good, cannot be answered till more time has been allowed for the development of its labors.  Certain it is, however, that if the society publish their reports, as they most likely will, and they are read by the people of south-western Virginia, some good must be done."    *    *    *    *    *    *

There is a moral influence attending the existence of such associations, which cannot be otherwise than sanitary.  The very fact of the existence of such an institution, will incite the surrounding community to prepare themselves to share in its labors.  This society embraces most of the prominent farmers in the county, and is likely to stretch its arms out over the respectable of all classes, and indirectly, if not directly, they will become laborers in the association, and thus interested in its prosperity.

Say ten gentlemen are asked to furnish a report upon the natural history of the black perch; ten more upon the culture of the grape-vine; ten more upon the amount of iron ore, and extent of coal-fields; ten more upon the kinds of roads best adapted to our hill country; ten more upon some subject in geology, or mechanics, or agriculture, or botany, or any other subject coming within the range of the institution.  What will be the effect?  why this---the gentlemen will procure the works which treat of the respective subjects on which they are required to report, and study them.  It is readily seen that in a few years, they will become, more or less, familiar with the principal sciences; and as the acquisition of knowledge engenders a want of more, in a few years we shall have a reading population, who will begin to act upon some efficient means of educating the rising generation.  Nor is this all, the annual exhibitions or fairs will incite a more lively interest in excelling in agriculture, mechanics, etc.  This is too apparent to need elucidation.

A desire to excite this society to a sense of the important work before them and to furnish an index to Tazewell has resulted in this history.

The most important benevolent institution is that of the Independent Order of Oddfellows, a lodge of whom, was established at Jeffersonville, by G. M., Jas. Mc Cabe, 6th December, 1850.  The lodge numbers about forty-five members, and is designated as Floyd Lodge No. 84

The Sons of Temperance have a division, being the one hundred and fifth in the state, which numbers some eighty or ninety members.  There is also a division of the "Sons" at Bluestone, and another at Liberty Hill.  The former of the three, was established at Jeffersonville in 1848; the second, at Bluestone, was established in the summer of 1850; that at Liberty Hill, in 1851.  These three divisions have done much good in reforming the people.

A Circle of the Brotherhood of the Union, encircled in the H. F., was established at Jeffersonville 4th July 1850, and is known as Independence Circle, B. U. (H. F.) C. A. 131-4.  This institution numbers about twenty members, and is calculated to do much good in the cause of reform.  In the summer of 1850, a lodge of Masons was also established at this place.  So there are four secret societies existing in this town, and if their designs be carried out, much good may be expected in the way of social progress.

Their influence is plainly perceivable at Jeffersonville.  Few villages or places in the United States present so much good feeling and brotherly love, so much sound morality, and so extensively diffused, or so little suffering.  There is less backbiting, wrangling, and ill-will among the people of Jeffersonville, than any village to be found in the state; nor is it a bad feature in the character of our people.


At the opening of the presidential campaign in 1847, there was not a single democratic press in south-western Virginia.  The citizens of Tazewell being mostly democratic, felt the necessity of some organ through which to utter their sentiments, and called loudly for a press.  Finally, Dr. H. F. Peery was prevailed on to purchase a second-hand press, then laying idle at Abingdon.  He commenced the publication of the "Jeffersonville Democrat" in August, 1847, and with so much ability and zeal did the worthy editor handle his pen, that the influence of the "Democrat" was felt, to a greater or less degree, throughout south-western Virginia.  A new field of labor seemed opened, and the citizens of the county seemed to fully appreciate the advantages of a press, and fostered its existence with great care.  A spirit of inquiry was stirred up among the people.  Education received an impetus; morality and religion began to look up. and when professional duties compelled the editor to relinquish his task, in August, 1850, there was a general murmur of complaint at the fall of the press.  So urgent were the appeals of the community to the editor to again divide his labors, that he was compelled to make preparations to start the paper again.  While engaged at this, he had an offer from the present editor, which was accepted, and Mr. George F. Holmes, a gentleman of ability, and formerly professor in one of the Virginia institutions of learning, became the proprietor, and in August, 1851, commenced editing the "South-Western Advocate."  The paper has circulation of about three hundred and fifty copies, and with proper caution, might be placed on a firm basis.  Among the pioneer editors of south-western Virginia, few will be found to possess the tact which so eminently characterized the editors of the old "Democrat."


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