The Squabble State
by W. Dale Carter, copyright 1997
For a brief period of time in the history of Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee (from1779 to 1802), there was a strip of land along the border of Virginia and Tennessee less than three (3) miles wide that was considered to be a “no-man’s land”. People living within its boundary owed allegiance to no state or county government. They could refuse to pay taxes. They could refuse serve in any state militia, and their right to vote could be challenged. This disputed territory was referred to by the inhabitants of the area as the “Squabble State”.
Webster dictionary defines “Squabble” as, a noisy altercation or quarrel usually over trifles, to quarrel noisily and to no purpose: Wrangle.
This evening I will:
- Review the circumstances that led to the formation of the “Squabble State”;
- Determine the boundaries of this disputed land and how this controversy was resolved that led to the Virginia-Tennessee state line being placed at its present location.
I first ran upon the term “Squabble State” while reading Revolutionary War pension application statements. Several of the pension applicants mentioned that they had lived in the “Squabble State”. The Revolutionary War pension application of John Fields best defines the location of the Squabble State. I will read a portion of his statement.
On 8 February 1852, John Fields declared that he served in Capt. Thomas Vincent’s Company with Lt. Samuel Brashears in Col. John Sevier’s Regiment, and that at the time of his enlistment, he "...was a resident of squabble state, State of North Carolina, that part of the territory that laid between what was called Walker’s Line and Henderson's Line, and if there was any country covering it at that time, he does not recollect it..." Fields added that the operations of his company were "...mostly confined to the valley of the Holston River as that was then the western frontier...that forces under the command of Col. Sevier were dispatched to the settlements for the protection of the immigrants, that they moved from one place to another and in building block houses and forts....”
The "Squabble State" defined by Henderson-Walker line mentioned in Archibald Stewart grant
Several events led to the territory between the Henderson line and the Walker line being called the Squabble State. One occurred in the Washington County election for House of Delegates on 20 May 1777.
An election for representatives to the House of Delegates from Washington County, Virginia was contested when Arthur Campbell and William Edmiston claimed that Anthony Bledsoe and William Cocke had secured their election through votes of citizens of North Carolina. The contest of the election was resolved in favor of Bledsoe and Cocke as the Court declared that the boundary line between Virginia and North Carolinia extended down the north side of the South Fork of the Holston River as far as the Long Island, Kingsport, Tennessee.
Another incident occurred 30 September 1779, when William Cocke, who lived in West Carter's Valley, now Hawkins County, refused to pay taxes to Virginia. The Court Minute Book of Washington County, Virginia, has the following entry:
"On Complaint of the Sheriff against William Cock for Insulting and obstructing Alexander Donaldson Deputy Sheriff when collecting the publick Tax about the Thirtieth of September last and being Examined saith that being at a fourt on the North Side of Holstein River in Carters Valley collecting the publick Tax the said William Cock as he came to the Door of the House in which said Sheriff was doing Business said that there was the Sheriff of Virginia collecting the Tax and asked him what Right he had to collect Taxes there as it was in Carolina and never was Virginia that he said the people was fools if they did pay him publick dues and that he dared him to serve any process whatever that he said Cock undertook for the people upon which sundry people refused to pay their Tax and some that had paid wanted their Money Back again." The Court ordered that "the Conduct of William Cock Respecting his Obstructing
Insulting and threatening the Sheriff in Execution of his office be represented to the Executive of Virginia," and that "if William Cock be found in this County that he be taken into Custody and caused to appear before the Justices at next Court to answer for his conduct for obstructing the Sheriff in Execution of his office. William Campbell."
These are but two incidents leading to the controversy about the location of the state line between North Carolina and Virginia. To understand why old William Cock refused to pay taxes to the state of Virginia, one must go back in time about 340 years.
The 1665 King's charter for the Proprietorship of Carolina specified its boundary as "All that Province, Territory, or Tract of ground, situate, lying, and being within our Dominions of America aforesaid, extending North and Eastward as far as the North end of Carahtuke River or Gullet; upon a straight Westerly line to Wyonoake Creek, which lies within or about the degrees of thirty six and thirty Minutes [36° 30'], Northern latitude, and so West in a direct line as far as the South Seas.”
No attempt was made to determine the boundary between the colony of Virginia and Carolina until 1709. At that time both colonies appointed commissioners to survey the boundary between North Carolina and Virginia. North Carolina appointed Moseley and John Lawson; but Lawson left his deputy, Colonel Win. Maine to act for him. In 1710, the Carolina commissioners met Philip Ludwell and Nathaniel Harrison, commissioners from Virginia, but the Carolina commissioners insisted that the surveying instruments used by the Virginians were not to be trusted, and the meeting broke up without having accomplished anything except the charge from the Virginians that Moseley did not want the line run because he was trading in disputed lands. When the commissioners from these two colonies did meet in March 1728, it was found that our commissioners had been right in 1710 as to the inaccuracy of the Virginia instruments, and the Virginians frankly admitted it.
In 1728, the Virginia-Carolina line was finally surveyed by Alexander Irvine and William Mayo from the Atlantic Ocean to Peters Creek a stream that flows through present day Surry County, North Carolina and Patrick County, Virginia. This placed the point of termination well beyond any settlements by the Virginians and Carolinians. As the Piedmont became settled, the Line between Virginia and North Carolina was extended from Peters Creek to Steep Rock Creek near white top mountain in Grayson County by a Survey made in 1749 By William Churton and Daniel Weldon of North Carolina and Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson of Virginia, being a distance of 90 Miles and 280 Poles. Peter Jefferson was the father of Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States.
At that time there were no claims to land beyond Steep Rock Creek. However, shortly thereafter, James Patton, a noted land speculator, obtained a land grant from the Colony of Virginia for thousands of acres on the western waters and began having surveys made to the west of Steep Rock Creek as was Thomas Walker, a representative of the Loyal Company and Edmund Pendleton another land speculator.
One of Patton’s surveys was for the sapling grove tract, the site of present-day Bristol Virginia-Tennessee and the Pendleton survey included the reedy creek bottoms from the mouth of reedy creek to the present Holly Springs Church on highway 11W. The Patton survey lay on both sides of the present-day State line and the Pendleton patent laid entirely within the state of Tennessee.
The French and Indian war 1753-1763 prevented these land speculators from selling off tract of land out of their land grants. To further create problems for these speculators, the King of Great Briton issued a decree in 1763 that stated that a title to land on the western waters would not be issued and it was illegal for anyone to settle there. James Patton was killed by the Indians in 1756, so he dropped out of the picture, but Thomas Walker and other prominent politicians continued to lobby the Colonial government to open up settlement of the western waters and in 1769 they prevailed.
Starting about 1769, many settlers and land speculators were filing claims for land that laid within present-day Virginia counties of Washington, Scott and Lee, and present-day Sullivan County, Tennessee. It became apparent that the state line must be extended westward from Steep Rock Creek.
In the year 1778, Anthony Bledsoe and Arthur Campbell were elected to the house of Delegates; Bledsoe authored a bill which was passed that provided for the extension of the line between Virginia and North Carolina with Thomas Walker and Daniel Smith appointed as surveyors. North Carolina's legislature also passed legislation to extend the North Carolina-Virginia line, appointing as commissioners any three of Orandatus Davis, John Williams, James Kerr, William Baily Smith and Richard Henderson.
The appointments of Walker by the Virginians and Henderson by the Carolinians guaranteed a disputed line.
Thomas Walker was a member of the Loyal Company of Virginia that laid claim to 800,000 acres in southwest Virginia. He attended William and Mary College and studied medicine, although he rarely practiced his chosen profession. He became better known as a land speculator and explorer. He was a close friend of Peter Jefferson and at the early demise of Peter Jefferson, Thomas Walker was appointed guardian of Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States. It was to Walker’s advantage to run the line to the south as the Loyal grant was issued by the colony of Virginia.
Richard Henderson, a member of the Transylvania Company of North Carolina, had purchased a vast tract of land from the Cherokee Indian nation that included most of the state of Kentucky, Middle Tennessee and a portion of Southwest Virginia. Later his purchase was ruled illegal by the Commonwealth of Virginia and the state of North Carolina. It was to Henderson’s advantage to run the line to the north, thus keeping more of his Transylvania Company purchase in the state of North Carolina.
Daniel Smith was an officer in the militia and fought at the battle of Point Pleasant in 1774. He lived on the Clinch River in present-day Russell County but later moved to Sumner County, Tennessee and became active in politics. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives and later as a U.S. Senator. Daniel Smith was an accomplished surveyor and attempted to run the line as described in the King’s proclamation of 1655, but was a close friend of Walker and appears to have conformed to Walker’s wishes. Smith kept a diary of the daily activities of the survey and can be viewed online.
Thomas Sharp and Anthony Bledsoe led the militia company that was to act as escort to the commissioners, and they met with the Commissioners in the summer of 1779 at Steep Rock, where they encountered the first of many obstacles to come: "The place where Messrs. Fry and Jefferson ended their line on Steep Rock Creek could not be found. They spent about two weeks in an attempt to find evidence of the termination point of the Jefferson-Fry survey using calculations, both mathematical and astronomical but they could not find it. The Commissioners nevertheless agreed upon a starting point and began the line, which they extended forty-five miles to Carter's Valley (later Hawkins County, Tennessee). Once at Carter's Valley, however, the Commissioners disagreed, the North Carolina party declaring that the line was running too far south, it being "supposed the variation was caused by some iron ore influencing the needle of their instrument." They could not come to a resolution of the disagreement and the Virginia Commissioners suggested that two lines be run, the correct one to be determined later. This was initially agreed to, then declined by the Carolinians; however, two lines were run as far west as the Cumberland mountains and they were known as the Walker line ( the line run by the Virginians) and the Henderson Line ( run by the Carolinians). The “Squabble State” was now in existence. The North-South difference between the two line was about 2 ¾ miles and the land that laid between the lines was thereafter called the Squabble State by the settlers who had staked out land claims within its boundary. They didn’t know which state their claims were in. Land grants were issued by both states for land lying in the Squabble State, but the majority of the grants were issued by the state of North Carolina.
The location of the Henderson line and the Walker line can best be established by studying the land grants in the Weber City-Lynn Garden area. Land grants in this area were plotted and their locations were placed on a modern topographical map. The trick to determining the exact location of these grants was to find survey points of the surveys that could be recognized today, such as bank of the river, top of a hill or knob or head of a spring. Once the true location of a survey was known, a composite of adjoining surveys could be built to include a larger area. I was lucky. I found such a survey. On the 24th day of April 1780, John Carnes entered a tract of land with the State of North Carolina land office that was located on the North Fork of the Holston River. He had the land surveyed and a grant was issued 10 November 1784. The survey began on the bank of the river and had another survey point on the river. Also the surveyor states that one of the survey lines went along the Virginia state line. This gave me enough information to accurately place the plot of the survey on a modern map.
I then found that Jacob Wills was issued a grant 16 Aug 1792 by the state of Virginia, and the surveyor’s description of the survey states that the southern line of the grant followed the Henderson line due west. The Wills grant joined the Carnes grant along the Henderson line or the Virginia State line. The surveys of the grants were plotted and placed on a modern map, and the location of the Henderson line was determined to run near the Holston Springs and crosses U.S. Highway number 23 near the southern boundary of the Holston View Cemetery.
The location of the Walker line can be determined by studying a Virginia land grant issued to Archibald Stewart 9 May 1800. The North-South line of the western boundary of the survey states that the north corner lies on the Henderson Line, and the south corner lies on the Walker line, the distance between the corners being 870 poles or 2 ¾ miles. This would place the Walker Line in Lynn Garden. It would cross Lynn Garden drive near Gravely Street.
In 1802 a compromise was reached between the states of Virginia and North Carolina (area now Tennessee). It was decided that the boundary between the two states would run equal distance from the Henderson line and the Walker line… that is, they would split the difference between the two lines and that is the location of the state line as it exists today.
After this decision was made, the Squabble State ceased to exist; however, the compromise line did not settle the disputes between the two states, and the controversy was finally resolved by the United States Supreme Court on 30 April 1900 which re-established the state line as fixed in the year of 1802. The Squabble state is no more.
The Squabble state presents many challenges to historians and genealogists. Where does one look for the records of the land claims and grants, court records, and other documents for the Squabble State? They may be found in the Virginia Land Office, the North Carolina archives, Washington County, Virginia, Sullivan County, Tennessee, Scott County, Virginia, Fincastle County, Virginia, Botetout County, Virginia and Augusta County, Virginia.
Here are some interesting what ifs:
- What if the Henderson line were declared the official state line? A part of Weber City would now be in the State of Tennessee.
- What if the Walker line were the official state line? Most of Lynn Garden would be in the state of Virginia.
- What if the state line were run as declared by the King in 1655? That is the line would be run at latitude 36 degrees and 30 minutes, then Kingsport as far south as the Patrick Henry Dam would now be in the state of Virginia. There would be no need for the citizens of Kingsport and Bristol to travel across the state line to avoid the high sales tax recently imposed upon the taxpayers of Tennessee. They would all be citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Loyal Company Grant, July 12, 1749.
In 1749, a number of prominent Virginia adventurers established the Loyal Company with the purpose of petitioning for a large grant of land west of the Allegheny Mountains. Charter members of the company included Peter Jefferson, Joshua Fry, Thomas Walker, James Maury, and Thomas Meriwether (Meriwether Lewis’s grandfather). In 1749 the company received a patent for 800,000 acres located along the southern border of Virginia (now southeastern Kentucky). The grant contained a provision that required settlement of the land within four years. The Loyal Company twice secured a renewal of the grant. In 1763, however, the crown rejected further extension of the grant as part of the ban on western settlements that accompanied the Proclamation of 1763. Nevertheless, by this time the Loyal
Company had completed many surveys of its land patent and the company’s land claims were later upheld. Legal activities involving the company continued until 1842.
Treaty with the Cherokee
Treaty of Sycamore Shoals
a.k.a Henderson’s Purchase
Transylvania Land Company
Mar. 17 1775 | Private Purchase
Hawkins County Tennessee Deed Book
The transcription is made from a typescript copy.
Original transcriber unknown.
[This is a copy of the original deed recorded in Deed Book 1 Page 147. There may be typographical errors or misspelled word in this copy.]
This indenture made this 17th day of March in the year of our Lord Christ 1775, between Oconistoto, chief warrior and first representative of the Cherokee Nation or tribe of Indians, and Attacuttuillah and Sewanooko, otherwise Coronok, chiefs appointed by the warriors and other head men to convey for the whole nation --- Beginning the aborigines and sole owners by occupancy from the beginning of time of the lands on the waters of the Ohio River from the mouth of the Tennessee River up the said Ohio to the mouth or emptying of the Great Canaway or New River, and so cross by a southward line to the Virginia line by a direction that shall stretch or hit the Holston River six English miles above or eastward of the Long Islands therein, and other lands and territories thereunto adjoining [Great Grant*], on the one part, Richard Henderson, Thomas Hart, Nathaniel Hart, John Williams, John Lutterell, William Johnston, James Hogg, David Hart, and Leonard Hendly Bullock, of the province of North Carolina, of the other part, witnesseth that the said Oconistoto for himself and the rest of the said nation of Indians, for and in consideration of the sum of ten thousand pounds lawfull money of Great Britton to them in hand paid by the said Richard Henderson, Thomas Hart, Nathaniel Hart, John Williams, John Lutterell, William Johnston, James Hogg, David Hart, and Leonard Hendly Bullock, the receipt whereof the sai Oconistoto and his whole nation do for themselves and the whole tribe of people, have granted, bargained, and sold, aliened, enfeoffed, released, a confirmed, and by presents do grant, bargain, and sell, alien, enfeoff, releas and confirm to the said Richard Henderson, Thomas Hart, Nathaniel Hart, John Williams, John Lutterell, William Johnston, James Hogg, David Hart, and Leonard Hendly Bullock, their heirs and assigns forever, all the tract, territory, or parcel of land beginning on the Holston River where the courses of Powels Mountain strikes the same, thence up the said river as it meanders to where the Virginia line crosses the same, thence along the line run by Donelson & C to a point six English miles eastward of the Long Islands in said Holston River; thence a direct course toward the mouth of the Great Canaway until reaches the top of Powels Mountain, thence westward along the said ridge to the beginning [Path Deed*], (End of Page 147) and also the reversion and reversions, remainder and remainders, rent, services thereof and all the estate, right, title, interest, claim, and demand whatsoever of them, the said Oconistoto and aforesaid whole band or tribe of people of, in, and to the same premises and of, in, and to every part and parcel thereof, to have and to hold the said Messuage territory and all and singular the premises above mentioned with appurtinances above mentioned unto the said Richard Henderson, Thomas Hart, Nathaniel Hart, John Williams, John Lutterell, William Johnston, James Hogg, David Hart, and Leonard Hendly Bullock, their heirs and assigns in severallity and tenants in common, and not as join tenants, that is to say one eighth part to Richard Henderson, his heirs and assigns forever; one eighth part to Thomas Hart, his heirs and assigns forever; one eighth part to Nathaniel Hart, his heirs and assigns forever; one eight part to John Williams, his heirs and assigns forever; one eighth part to William Johnston, his heirs and assigns forever; one eighth part to John Lutterell, his heirs and assigns forever; one eighth part to James Hogg, his heirs and assigns forever; one sixteenth part to David Hart, his heirs and assigns forever; his heirs and assigns forever; and one sixteenth part to Leonard Hendly Bullock, his heirs and assigns forever; to the only proper use and behoof of them, the said Richard Henderson, Thomas Hart, Nathaniel Hart, John Williams, John Lutterell, William Johnston, James Hogg, David Hart, and Leonard Hendly Bullock, their heirs and assigns forever. Under the yearly rent of four pence as to be holden of the chief Lord or Lords of the fee of the premises by the rents and service thereof due and to right accustomed. And the said Oconistoto and the said nation for themselves do covenant and grant to and with the said Richard Henderson, Thomas Hart, Nathaniel Hart, John Williams, John Lutterell, William Johnston, James Hogg, David Hart, and Leonard Hendly Bullock, their heirs and assigns that they, the said Oconistoto and the rest of the Nation and people now are lawfully and rightly seized and in their own right of a good, sure, perfect, absolute, and indefeasible estate of inheritance in fee simple of and in all and singular the said Messuage and premise above mentioned and of all and every part and parcel thereof, with the appurtinances without any manner of condition, mortgage, limitation of use or uses, or other matter, course, or thing to alter, change, charge, or determine the same and also the said Oconistoto and the aforesaid nation now have good right, full power, and lawfull authority in their own right to grant, bargain, and sell and convey the Messuage territory and premises above mentioned with appurtinances unto the said Richard Henderson, Thomas Hart, Nathaniel Hart, John Williams, John Lutterell, William Johnston, James Hogg, David Hart, and Leonard Hendly Bullock, their heirs and assigns to the only proper use and behoof of the said Richard Henderson & Co. according to the true intent and meaning of these presents and also that they said Rich Henderso (End of page 148) Thomas Hart, Nathaniel Hart, John Williams, John Lutterell, William Johnston, James Hogg, David Hart, and Leonard Hendly Bullock, their heirs and assigns shall and may from time to time and at all times hereafter peacebly and quietly have hold, occupy, possess, and enjoy all singular the said premises above mentioned to be granted with the appurtinances without the least doubt, hinderance, molestation, interruption, and denial of them. The said Oconistoto and the rest or any of said nation, their heirs or assigns and of all and every other person or persons whatsoever claiming or to claim by, from, or under them or any of them and further that the said Oconistoto, Attacullacullah, Sewanooko, otherwise Coronok, for themselves and for and in behalf of their whole nation and their heirs and all and ever other person or persons and his and their heirs anything having or claiming in the said Messuage territory and premises above mentioned, or any part thereof by, from, or under them shall and will at all times hereafter at the request and costs of said Richard Henderson, Thomas Hart, Nathaniel Hart, John Williams, John Lutterell, William Johnston, James Hogg, David Hart, and Leonard Hendly Bullock, their heirs and assigns, make, do, and execute, or cause or procure to be made, done and executed, all and every further and other lawfull and reasonable grants, acts, and assurances in the law whatsoever for the further, better, and more perfect granting, conveying, and assuring of the said premises hereby granted with the appurtinances unto the said Richard Henderson, Thomas Hart, Nathaniel Hart, John Williams, John Lutterell, William Johnston, James Hogg, David Hart, and Leonard Hendly Bullock, their heirs and assigns to the only proper use and behoof of the said Richard Henderson, Thomas Hart, Nathaniel Hart, John Williams, John Lutterell, William Johnston, James Hogg, David Hart, and Leonard Hendly Bullock, their heirs and assigns forever, according to the true intent and meaning of these presents and to offer none other use, interest, or purpose whatsoever; and lastly the said said Oconistoto, Attacullacullah, Sewanooko, otherwise Coronok, for themselves and the whole nation aforesaid have so ordained, constituted, and appoint and by these presents do make, ordain, constitute, and appoint Joseph Martin and John Fair [Sevier] their true and lawfull attorneys jointly and in either of them severally for them and in their anms [names] unto the said Messuage territory and premises with the appurtinances hereby grant and convey or mentioned to be granted conveyed or into some part thereof in the name of the whole to enter in full and peaceble possession and seizing thereof for them and in their name to take and to have and after such possession and seizing so thereof and had the lawfull and peaceble possession and seizing thereof or of some part thereof in the name of the whole unto Richard Henderson, Thomas Hart, Nathaniel Hart, John Williams, John Lutterell, William Johnston, James Hogg, (End of page 149) David Hart, and Leonard Hendly Bullock or their own attorney or attorneys in their behalf to give and deliver to hold to them the said Richard Henderson, Thomas Hart, Nathaniel Hart, John Williams, John Lutterell, William Johnston, James Hogg, David Hart, and Leonard Hendly Bullock, their heirs and assigns forever according to the purport true interest meaning of these presents ratifying, confirming, and allowin all and whatever their attorneys either of them shall do in the premises. In witness whereof the said Oconistoto, Attacullacullah, Sewanooko, otherwise Coronok, the three chiefs appointed by the warriors and other head men to sign for and in behalf of the whole nation hath hereunto set their hands and affixed their seals the day and year above written. Signed, sealed, and delivered in the presence of
William Bailey Smith
Oconistoto (His Mark) Seal
Attacullacullah (His Mark) Seal
Sewanooko, otherwise Coronok (His Mark) Seal
Joseph Vann Linquister
1. County land offices (1778-1796): these offices were similar to offices in other North Carolina counties. Vacant land was identified, a claim was recorded with the county entry taker, a warrant for survey was issued by the entry taker, the survey was done, a grant was issued (signed by the governor and secretary of state), and the grant was recorded with county register of deeds.
Fees were paid at each step. The major part of the fees was originally 50 shillings per hundred acres; in 1783 this fee was increased to 10 pounds per hundred acres. The first county office in Tennessee opened in 1778 in Washington County. The entry takers in this office were Col. John Carter and (later) his sons Landon Carter and John Carter, Jr. Offices were opened in Sullivan, Hawkins, and Greene Counties when these counties were created. Entry takers were John Adair, Gilbert Christian, John Grimes, & William Snodgrass (Sullivan & Hawkins Counties) and Joseph Hardin Jr (Greene County). One can identify the office that issued the warrant because the entry taker signed the warrant. The entry/claim book for Washington County doesn’t exist; there is a partial book for Sullivan County; there is a small book for Greene County. No separate book was kept for warrants, but one was created (about 1804) for Washington County using the loose warrants in the secretary of state’s office in North Carolina. Loose warrants, loose surveys, & grant books for Washington County reside in the North Carolina Archives and are on film there and at some libraries in Tennessee. Entry books for Sullivan and Greene County are in the Tennessee Archives. More details about the Washington County office are found in Reference 14. About 36% of North Carolina’s grants were due to claims in county land offices and Washington County accounted for about 75% of the county files. There are about 130 grants and 190 loose surveys filed under 10 other counties or under “no county” because that’s the way the land was described when it was surveyed. These were counties formed from Washington, Sullivan, Hawkins, or Greene Counties. ___________
THE FIRST SURVEY. In 1709, both colonies appointed commissioners to settle this boundary. North Carolina appointed Moseley and John Lawson; but Lawson left his deputy, Colonel Win. Maine, to act for him. In 1710 these commissioners met Philip Ludwell and Nathaniel Harrison, commissioners from Virginia, but our commissioners insisted that the surveying instruments used by the Virginians were not to be trusted, and the meeting broke up without having accomplished anything except the charge from the Virginians that Moseley did not want the line run because he was trading in disputed lands. 8 When the commissioners from these two colonies did meet in March 1728, it was found that our commissioners had been right in 1710 as to the inaccuracy of the Virginia instruments, and the Virginians frankly admitted it.
NORTH CAROLINA AND VIRGINIA BOUNDARY. " On the 27th of February, 1728, William Byrd, Will Dandridge, and Richard Fitzwilliam, as commissioners from Virginia, met Edward Moseley, C. Gale, Will Little and J. Lovick, as commissioners from North Carolina, at Corotuck Inlet, and began the survey on the 27th day of March, and continued it till the weather got "warm enough to give life and vigor to the rattlesnakes" in the beginning of April, when they stopped till September 20, when the survey was renewed; and after going a certain distance beyond their own inhabitants the North Carolina commissioners refused to proceed further, and protested against the Virginia commissioners proceeding further with it. In this they were joined by Fitzwilliam of Virginia. This protest was in writing and was delivered October 6, when they had
proceeded 170 miles to the southern branch of the Roanoke river "and near 50 miles without inhabitants," which they thought would be far enough for a long time. To this the two remaining Virginia commissioners, Byrd and Dandridge, sent a written answer, to the effect that their order was to run the line "as far towards the mountains as they could; they thought they should go as far as possible so that "His Majesty's subjects may as soon as possible extend themselves to that natural barrier, as they are certain to do in a few years;" and thought it strange that the North Carolina commissioners should stop "within two or three days after Mr. Mayo had entered with them near 2,000 acres within five miles of the place where they left off."
BYRD AND DANDRIDGE CONTINUE ALONE. The North Carolina commissioners, accompanied by Fitzwilliam of Virginia, left on October 8th; but Byrd and Dandridge continued alone, crossing Matrimony creek, "so called from being a little noisy," and saw a little mountain five miles to the northwest "which we named the Wart." On the 25th of October they came in plain sight of the mountains, and on the 26th, they reached a rivulet which "the traders say is a branch of the Cape Fear." Here they stopped. This was Peters Creek in what is now Stokes County. It was on this trip that Mr. Byrd discovered extraordinary virtues in bear meat. This point was on the
northern boundary of that part of old Surry which is now Stokes county.
THE "BREAK" IN THE LINE ACCOUNTED FOR. A glance at the map will show a break in the line between Virginia and North Carolina where it crosses the Chowan river. This is thus accounted for: Governors Eden of North Carolina and Spottswood of Virginia met at Nansemond and agreed to set the compass on the north shore of Currituck river or inlet and run due west; and if it "cutt [sic] Chowan river between the mouths of Nottoway and Wiccons creeks, it shall Continue on the same course towards the mountains; but it it "cutts Chowan river to the southward of Wiccons creek, it shall continue up the middle of Chowan river to the mouth of Wiccons creek, and from thence run due west." It did this; and the survey of 1728 was not an attempt to ascertain and mark the parallel of 36° 30', but "an attempt to run a line between certain natural objects . . . regardless of that line and agreed upon as a compromise by the governors of the two States."
THE REAL MILK IN THE COCOANUT. Thus, so far as the Colonial Records show, ended the first survey of the dividing line between this State and Virginia, which one of the Virginia commissioners has immortalized by his matchless account, which, however, was not given to the world until 1901, when it was most attractively published by Doubleday, Page & Co., after careful editing by John Spencer Bassett. But Col. Byrd does not content himself in his "Writings" with the insinuation that the North Carolina commissioners and Mr. Mayo had lost interest immediately after having entered 2,000 acres of land within five miles of the end of their survey. He goes further and charges (p. 126) that, including Mr. Fitzwilliam, one of the Virginia commissioners, "they had stuck by us as long as our good liquor lasted, and were so kind to us as to drink our good Journey to the Mountains in the last Bottle we had left!" He also insinuates that Fitzwilliam left because he was also a judge of the Williamsburg, Virginia, court, and
hoped to draw double pay while Byrd and Dandridge continued to run the line after his return. But in this he exultantly records the fact that Fitzwilliam utterly failed.
THE NINETY-MILE EXTENSION IN 1749. In October, 1749, the line between North Carolina and Virginia was extended from Peters Creek, where it had ended in 1728-which point is now in Stokes county-ninety miles to the westward to Steep Rock creek, crossing "a large branch of the Mississippi [New River], which runs between the ledges of the mountains" as Governor Johnston remarked-"and nobody ever drempt of before." William Churton and Daniel Weldon were the commissioners on the part of North Carolina, and Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson on the part of Virginia. "It so happens, however, that no record of this survey has been preserved, and we are today without evidence, save from tradition, to ascertain the location of our boundary for ninety miles. "17
This extension carried the line to within about two miles east of the Holston river; and we know from the statute of 1779 providing for its further extension from that point upon the latitude of 36° 30' that it had been run considerably south of that latitude from Peters creek to Pond mountain, from which point it had, apparently without rhyme or reason, been run in a northeastwardly direction to the top of White Top mountain,' $ about three miles north of its former course, and from there carried to Steep Rock creek, near the Holston river, in a due west course. The proverbial still-house, said to have been on White Top, is also said to have caused this aberration; but the probability is that the commissioners had a more substantial reason than that.
THE LAST EXTENSION of THIS LINE. In 1779 North Carolina passed an act reciting that as "the inhabitants of this State and of the Commonwealth of Virginia have settled themselves further westwardly than the boundary between the two States hath hitherto been extended, it becomes expedient in order to prevent disputes among such settlers that the same should be now further extended and marked." To that end Orandates-improperly spelled in the Revised Statutes of 1837, Vol. ii, p. 82, "Oroondates"-Davie, John Williams Caswell, James Kerr, William Bailey Smith and Richard Henderson should be the commissioners on the part of North Carolina to meet similar commissioners from Virginia to still further extend it. But it was expressly provided that they should begin where the commissioners of 1749 had left off, and first
ascertain if it be in latitude 36 30', "and if it be found to be truly in" that latitude, then they were "to run from thence due west to the Tennessee or the Ohio river; or if it be found not truly in that latitude, then to run from said place, due north or due south, into the said latitude, and thence due west to the said Tennessee or Ohio river, correcting the said course at due intervals by astronomical observations. " 20 (Colonial Records. Vol. iv, p. 13.)
THE LINE RUN IN 1780. Richard Henderson was appointed on the part of North Carolina, and Dr. Thomas Walker on that of Virginia, to run this line, and they began their task in the spring of 1780; and on the last day of March of that year Col. Richard Henderson met the Donelson party on its way from the Watauga settlements to settle at the French Lick, in the bend of the Cumberland. (Roosevelt, Vol. iii, p. 242.) But nine years before, in 1771, Anthony Bledsoe, one of the new-comers to the Watauga settlement, being a practical surveyor, and not being certain that that settlement was wholly within the borders of Virginia, extended the line of 1749 from its end near the Holston river far enough to the west to satisfy himself that the new settlement on the Watauga was in North Carolina. 21
Gov. John Sevier's Diary owned by the McClung Museum Knoxville starting on Page 19
March Sun 8 1795 Fair & pleasant. Mon. 9 warm snowed at night. Tues 10 snowed in the morning. Bought of Mr. Paine 150 B. corn at 2/. Paid him Liere 7. (?) (?). Wed. 11 clear & cold. thur. Cold snowed at night. Fry 13 cold. Jno. Fickee 1 pr. overals 12/. Sat. 14 very cold.
eb. 1796: Sun. 20 came home. cold. Mon. 21 cold. Tues. 22 Mrs. & Mr. Casson, Mr. & Mrs. Weir & Miss Jimmy & Betsy, Mr. McKee & his Lady, Mr. Debardeliben, James Sevier his Lady, Mrs. Jack Sevier, Capt. Harrison & Mr Evans staid at night. Wed. 23 Capt Harrison, Mr Waddle & Mr. Evans took Brak. & set out for Jonesbo. Rained some in the evening, Thur. 24 Rained some in the evening. Thur. 24 rained in the morng. Frost in the morng. Memo. Paid Mr. Doake for schooling Wasington & Saml. a half Joe(?). Paid Mr. James Paine towards Rye had some time ago 1 Guinea. Memo. Paid Alex Nelso for Expenses at Rodgers pr. order from Rogers 34/9. put into the hands of Walter King a patent of 25660 acres on waters of Cumberland. etc. December 1796 Sun. 25 very cold Dined at Mr. Sherrills Mon. 26 V. cold. Dined at Mr. McKees. Tues. 27 Reuben Paine set in to be Overseer at 40 Liere pr. annum pd. Ruble the B. Smith 1/9. in full of all due for S. work ---pd. Richd. Campble 14/. for a pr. shoes. Wed. 28 very cold Thur. 29. 29 ditto. Fry 30 ditto. Sat. 31 ditto.
July 1797 Sat. 29 came home in Co. with Col. S. Weir, Whorton Rector & a son of Col. Arthrus. rained a little in the night. Sun 30 light shower in the morining. Memo purchase yesterday from Wharton Rector this goods in Knoxville - for which I am to give him 25 pct. in advance. Samuel Weir, James Paine & young Arthur Wittens (?) Mon. 31 Fair & hot.
October 1798 Sun. 28 cloudy & very cool. Memo. recd from James Paine at So. W. point 4 dollars towards pay of thirty-three gallons of whiskee. Mon. 29 cool & dry hard frost. Tues. 30 cloudy & cold snowed a little in the night - dined at Colo. Henleys with Capt Henly & others. April 1799 Thurs 25 Give Mrs. Field an order to Capt. Croziers for 19/ on acct. of John Miller. Let John Miller have 30 lbs of bacon at Sundry times. Let him have Cr. with James Paine at Simerals store for 30/. Messrs. Miller have had bacon at Sundry times also Cr. in Capt. John Croziers store - had a middling of bacon at one time. Memo. Robert Reynolds red. of Walter King pr my order some time ago 1136 ls. Castings.
Feb. 1800. Sat. 22 early in the morning 16 rounds of cannon fired - at 12 the army & Citizens in great numbers moved in procession in condolence of the death of Gen. Washington. Gove. Sevier & Wm. Blount. 2 monuments (?) Genl. White, Maj. McClung, Capt. Sparks, Maj. Roane Pall bearers guns fired all day &c. The day very fine.
April 1800 Fry 18 ditto - ditto. Bob horse run away. Sat 19 sent Tobe after the horse. The forge began to work. Sun 20 myself and Mrs. King went to meeting at Combs Ferry. Mon 21 the forge began to work. Memo. to inquire after Aaron Ryley his mother lives near this place. Boil one quart of N. milch half away, with a half pound old bacon therein (good to cure the botts on a horse) Turn eggs with the small end down in good wood ashes. Change them onst a week and they will keep several months. Tues. 22 Tobe returned with the horse. Sun. 27 Mrs. Cuningham and Mrs. Combs dined with Mrs. King. Mon. 28 Reuben and James Payne came to the works. Cash on hand 34 & Eat fish for Brakfast. (*Note - First time he spells Payne)
June 1800 Tues. 10 set out in Co. with Colo. Harrison for Knoxville – Mr. Sherrills continued very ill. Reuben Paine let a person living on old Kennedys place have 6 bushels of wheat to sow last fall.
The rest of the entries regard his thoughts of how settlements were going on land in the Southwest Territory along with his notes on the survey of 1803.
Memo. I left enclosed in a letter with Wm Sherrill a bond on Charles Robertson Ducased (?) directed to Maj. Sevier to bring suit for the recovery of the debt date Sept. 6, 1782. The sum 50 pounds payable 6 July, 1783 John Garny security and William Murphy deceased a witness. The bond taken in the name of John Sevier administrator of Robert Sevier. Colo. Harrison and myself dined at Waddle. lodged all night at Mr. Henry Ernests. September 1800; Fry. 26 Indorsed a note of hand on John McDonald for 65 dollars and one of 15 on John Fultons to John Sherrill in payment of a debt dues from Wm Sherrill of 100 dolls dues for a negro boy. Elisha Walling vs. James Barry a verdict by a Jury in the Suprior Court in Hamilton district in favour of the plantiff for lands in Powels vally. both parties had entered in Carters office in the year 1799 late. Berry had his land run off by Walter Evans the surveyor and the patent issued signed by Gov. Davie all in the year 1799. This observation is to show that all the different governors and secretaries have paid the same respect to the Carter warrant as they have to others wheresoever they were made.
September 1802 Self & Mr. Fisk started for Abingdon, Va., to meet the Commissioners to extend the division lines between the States Virginia and Tennessee.......
Fry 1 day of October We arrived at Abingdon - Gen. Martin one of the Virginia Commissioners arrived..... Sat. 2 Mr. Taylor & Mr. Johnson arrived in eveng. F. day Sun. 3 Still stayed at Mr. Carmacks. Mon 4 We all met at Cap Craigs & agreed to meet Tuesday morning on the line, near Cap. Duncans on Holsen.... Tues. 5 We met, made a Tryal to find the latitude on Henderson line. It was thought the observation was imperfect. It being some miles so. of 36 d 30 m the true latitude - We then agreed to meet next day on Walker (?) (?) We met on Walkers line made observations - Mr. Fisk on the part of Tennessee & Mr. Laws on the part of Virginia. By Mr. Fisk we appeared to be in Latitude 36 d 16 m. By Mr. Laws 36 d. 12 m....... Thurs 7 We proceeded to Henderson line Made observations - by Mr. Fisk we found it to be in latitude 36 14 by Mr. Law Lat 36 1..... Fry 8 We made observations on our side at the same place. Mr. Fisk the Lat to be 36 21 ... Mr. Law who took it about one mile from us made it to be in Lat. 36 47..... Sat. 9 we sent Mr. Markland off as express to Gov. Roane... Memo. Paid expenses since I set out from Home 13 1/4 dollars to this day..... Mon. 18 Set out for Mr. Keewoods to meet the Commissioners - left with Mr. Keewood 10 dollars for him to give unto my brother Jos. Sevier & for him to give the same unto Mr. David Deadrick..... Tues. 19 set out from Mr. Kings and met the Virginia Commissioners at Cap. Craigs Tarried all night..... thru. 21 We rapaired to William Kings Tarried all night after taking some observations... Sat. 23 After some notes passing between the Virginia & Tennessee Commissioners we mutually agreed to run an intermediate line between Walkers and Hendersons 7 sent the surveyors to measure the distance between the two lines - Rutledge & Martin attend the runing... Sun. 24 ... Gen. Martin retd. & the surveyors who reported that the true distance between the two lines was found to be two miles 1/2 & 25 poles; which was begun on Walkers line & run 2 1/2 degrees wt. of due north
Mon. Nov. 1802 Mr. Fisk went on to Hawkins C. H. Self and Genl. Rutledge crossed Clinch (?) Mountain at Loonys Ganp (?) traveled down lower creek to Abs. Loonys came up with the surveyors at Daws Rogers plantation. The line crossing at Waddels ford on Clinch river near mouth of Shelbys creek one mile above - lay there all night. Mr. Fisk retd. brought with him $50 Recd from Nelson sheriff of Hawkins out of which I received 18 dollars.... Wed. 24 Lay here this day & night Genl. Martin & Majr. Taylor arrived. Thur. 25 Rained Lay at Roberts Fry. 26 Clear day. We all sit out from Robert's crossed newmans Ridge & lodged all night on black water creek at Gibsons...Mssrs. Fisk and Taylor left us. Sat. 27 We st Y Crossed Powells mountain and lodged at Sanders mill 7 miles...Left the surveyors coming on from Blackwater. On our route today passed Daniel Flanarys on No. side of mulbery Gaup. Mulbery creek runs down into Powels river between Powels mountain and Waldens Ridge. Sun. 28 We measured the Cross line and found our course on quarter too far to the So - Lodged at same place. Mon. 29 We rectfied our course & still remained at Sanders.
December, 1802 Thurs. 2 Cleared up - We all sit out Crossed Waldens Ridge and powells river near 3 miles above Martins Creek - Lodged myself and Genl. rutledge at James Overton near James's salt lick. Fry. 3 We measured the cross line at James salt lick Found ourselves with the line five poles too far So. Sat 4 rectified the line, and sit out run through the lick leaving the pitt a few poles in Virginia....Myself and Genl. Rutledge retd. to Overtons Tarried all night, as we had on Fryday night.... Sun. 5...We sit out from Mr. Overtons after brakfirst. Lodged all night at Shadwilly (?).... Mon. 6 We sit out for Cumberland Gaup.. Arrived about 8 o'clock at Colo. Charles Cocks. Stayed all night.... Tues 7 Sit out again found the commissioners and surveyors at William Robertsons, near the gaup. We took up Camp here and lodged all night.... Wed. 8 Finished the line, which struck the Caintucky line about one Quarter So. of the Gaup - this day we made out our reports & exchanged on each side - Snowy day and very cold Lodged at same place. Thurs. 9 Myself & our Commisrs. and surveyors sit out for home. Very cold. Lodged all night at Claibornes Court House. Fry. 10 We traveled on to Gordon Beens old station.... Sat. 11 We again sit out early in the morning - Lodged all night at Crosses (Bulls Gap)..... Sun. 12 Set out early 18 miles to Babbs mill - 9 to Tho. Gillespy 2 to Mr. Mcallisters & 4 home, which we arrived at in the evening.
That was all concerning the survey of 1802.