Land Patents in Washington Co., Va; Russell Co., VA; and Sullivan County, Tennessee
by W. Dale Carter, copyright 2002
Many historians are not aware of the fact that very early in the history of the settlement of Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee patents for land were issued for several large tracts. The Sapling Grove Patent and the Pendleton Patent have been explored in some detail but there are other Patents that are not so well known.
Thomas Walker in his famous journey into the wilderness in 1749/50 was on a expedition to evaluate the land holdings of the Loyal Company. In reading his journal of the venture, one could conclude that he was the first explorer to wander into the area of the Clinch and Holston rivers. What is not so well known is that James Patton, a crusty old sea captain and land speculator, about the same time was selling claims and having surveys made for land that Walker was exploring. While Walker was finding his way from the New River to the head waters of the Holston River, then down the river to Abingdon and down Reedy Creek to the North Fork of the Holston, John Buchanan, the son-in law of James Patton, was in the area surveying claims for individuals who had purchased claims from Patton. Land records show that the survey for sapling grove patent was made 22 February 1749/50. (1)
Walker did not reach the sapling grove area until 30 March 1749/50.
Note: The dates as shown in the patent 22 February 1749/50 and 30 March 1749/50 were used to show that the survey was made in 1749 according to the Julian calendar or was made in 1750 if the Gregorian calendar was used. The Gregorian calendar was adopted by England on 2 September 1752
So roughly one month before Walker reached the area, Buchanan had already blazed the trees as corners and surveyed the Sapling Grove and Timber Grove tracts. The first patents issued in the area were under the claims from James Patton.
- Sapling Grove where the cities of Bristol is located, 1970 acres (1)
- Timber grove northeast of the sapling grove tract 1000 acres (2)
- Hazel Land located on the South Fork of the Holston about four miles below the South Holston Dam (3)
The first patent in Tennessee was issued under the claim of the Loyal Company, and it was the Pendleton Patent (4) issued 16 Aug 1756 for 3,000 acres. It was located on Reedy Creek in Sullivan County, Tennessee.
Thomas Walker reserved a large land holding in his name known as Wolf Hill and received a patent for his claim. The town of Abingdon is located on this tract.
Three years later there were four patents issued to John Shelton 16 August 1756.
- Holly Bottom, located immediately below the South Holston dam 940A (5)
- A tract of 1400A at Hansonville in Russell County (6)
- A tract of 1000A at Lebanon in Russell County (7)
- A tract of 650A located in Elk Garden, Russell County (8)
It seems that James Patton was more aggressive in development of his claims than the Loyal Company headed by Thomas Walker. Patton was actively engaged in surveying claims and was killed by the Indians at Drapers Meadow (Blacksburg) while viewing his holdings for future development. After his death, the process slowed down and almost came to a stop.
Other than the Pendleton Patent and the Wolf Hill claim, very little was done to promote the Loyal Company holding until late in the 1760s. The application for the Loyal Company Patent was twice renewed because the terms of the application had not been met and it finally was rejected outright.
The John Shelton Russell County patents are very interesting. It is impossible to determine their location by the description of the surveyor. The 1,400-acre Hansonville tract is described as “being on a branch of Clinch called moccasin creek”. Apparently the surveyor thought the stream flowed into the Clinch River, as it was on the north side of Clinch Mountain and less than 10 miles from the Clinch River. The 1,000-acre Lebanon tract is described as “on two small creeks of Clinch River”. The 650-acre Elk Garden tract is described as “waters of Clinch River”. This is not much information to go in locating the patents.
Augusta County land records show that John Shelton mortgaged his six patents in Southwest Virginia to Patrick Henry, Jr. 19 November 1767 (9), his son-in-law and on 3 August 1768, he deeded the Hansonville patent to Patrick Henry, Sr. (10) I can find no record of what happened to the Lebanon and Elk Garden patents; however, I do find that the Elk Garden patent was conveyed by Alexander McClenachan to Samuel Erwin. (11) The metes and bounds of the patent and the deed are identical.
The Lebanon patent is more puzzling. William Gilmore deeded three tracts of land to William Jr., his son; John Cowan and Andrew Cowan. Several survey points of the three Gilmore deeds and the Lebanon patent are identical; therefore, I believe William Gilmore ended up with the Lebanon patent.
Let me add to the confusion. When I plotted the deeds of the partition of these grants they would not fit within the boundary of the original patent. The sum of the acreage of the deeds was much larger than the acreage of the patents. I ran upon this problem with an earlier attempt to place a patent on a USGS map. The conclusion was the surveyor did not use a standard 16 ½ foot pole in making the survey but used a pole length of about 22 feet. Whether this was due to faulty survey tools or by design is debatable. I tend to think it was by design. Any surveyor worth his salt would know that the standard pole length was 16 ½ feet and he would know by sight the difference if he were in possession of a measuring device that was 36% longer than the standard.
The record of the disposal of the Hansonville patent gives some insight as to the family connections and to the possible location of the Glade Hollow and Elk Garden forts. You will recall that the three Russell County patents to Shelton were mortgaged by Shelton to Patrick Henry, his son-in-law. The Hansonville patent was deeded to said Henry most likely because the mortgage requirements were not met. Patrick Henry must have conveyed the patent to William Christian or Christian acting as agent deeded the patent to Benjamin Estill. Christian was a brother-in-law to Henry as he married Patrick Henry’s sister Anne.
William Christian was in charge of the defense of the frontier and was familiar with the terrain and land holdings. One would think that the Shelton patents were obtained because they offered great advantages over the surrounding county side such as a good supply of water, access either by paths made by herd animals or Indians and possible cleared old Indian fields. Since William Christian was in charge of building fortifications it would seem logical that the Shelton patents would be a logical choice for the location of forts because of their advantages and that his brother-in-law was involved in the legal acquisitions of the Shelton patents.
As to the location of the Glade Hollow and Elk Garden forts, I cannot find any creditable documentation that would lead one to their exact location.
After studying the land records and the terrain of the area around Lebanon, Virginia, I have concluded that the Glade Hollow Fort was located on the William Gilmore land grant recorded in the State Land Office in Book O, page 117. Gilmore obtained the grant as an assignee of Robert Dale, and the surveyor’s description of the location of the survey as being on little Cedar Creek, and one of the calls of the survey states that the call crossed Glade Hollow. Adjacent surveys to the Gilmore grant refer to the grant as the Glade Hollow tract or the old Glade Hollow tract; however, the grant is not located in the Glade Hollow as shown on a modern USGS map. In 1782, the location of Glade Hollow was different that shown on modern maps. It would be logical to conclude that the Glade Hollow Fort was located on the Glade Hollow tract.
Captain John Carr in his letter to Lyman C Draper states that the Glade Hollow Fort is the same as Dale’s Fort and that the fort was located on the Abraham Dale property. William Gilmore was an assignee of Robert Dale then the Gilmore Grant and the Dale claim are the same. Although the names are different, there must be a connection between Abraham Dale and Robert Dale. Carr further states that a man by the name of Crabtree was captured near Elk Garden fort and that the party that captured him proceeded to the Glade Hollow Fort.
“They went on to a point on a ridge where they could overlook the fort, it being in a valley, about three quarters of a mile off. There they stopped and the chief gave his men a talk and they kept pointing to the fort. He knew they could take it, for the men were careless; the gate would be open, and the men scattered about.”
This tells us that the fort was located in a valley and ¾ of a mile to the east is a point of a ridge from which the fort is visible. The Gilmore grant [LO O-117] has only two possible sites that fits this description:
- A point of a ridge West of Lebanon one can look up the valley along little cedar creek to the intersection of state route 660 and US highway 19 which is a little less than ¾ of a mile.
- A point of a ridge south of the intersection of route 660 and US 19 one can look directly west down the valley ¾ of a mile and at that point a stream flows out of a of cave in a north direction and the stream is identified as the glade hollow branch on a survey made for James Taylor LO 83-607. An earlier survey LO 21-241 made for John Latham also mentioned the glade hollow branch. The Latham grant joins the Taylor grant. The Taylor grant joins the Gilmore “Glade Hollow” grant.
After studying the USGS topo map very carefully, I tend to believe the fort was located at site No 2.
- Land Office Grant Book B, page 235
- Land Office Grant Book B, page 253
- Land Office Patent Book 32, page 153
- Land Office Patent Book 33, page 208
- Land Office Patent Book33, page 210
- Land Office Patent Book 33, page 202
- Land Office Patent Book 33, page 319
- Land Office Patent Book 33, page 197
- Augusta County Deed Book 14, page 109
- Augusta County Deed Book 15, page 212
- Russell County Deed Book 2, page 90
Patrick Henry (29 May 1736-1799) married (1) in 1754 to Sarah Shelton who died in 1775, and (2) Dorothea Dandridge. In 1764 he moved to Louisa County.
Sarah Shelton was a daughter of John Shelton (1713-1777) and Eleanor Parks.
Glade Hollow Fort
The following story was written in 1854, by Captain John Carr, to Dr. Lyman C. Draper. John Carr was a son of William and Hannah Carr and was born on Carr's Creek in Russell County in 1773. It was for them that the creek was named. His father, William Carr (sometimes spelled Kerr) died on Carr's Creek prior to November 18, 1778 and his widowed mother sometime in the 1780s moved with her children to the Cumberland settlement in Tennessee.
This family of Carrs were sheltering in Moore's Fort in 1774, for Hannah Carr was one of the women who went out from the fort with Rebecca, wife of Daniel Boone and one of Boone's daughters to shoot off their rifles like Indians to scare the men who had become indolent and careless in defending the fort, then ran into the fort and closed the gates, leaving the careless men outside. The Carrs were sheltering in Houston's Fort in 1776, when the Indians killed Samuel Cowan and attacked the fort. John says that he recalls his father holding him up to a port hole to see the Indians firing on the fort. At that time he would have been a three-year old boy. In the story written to Draper, he says:
"My father settled on the head of Big Moccasin with some 15 or 20 families from Houston's Fort. The Indians became so troublesome that he built a new fort; it was called Tate's Fort, where we stayed in the summer and returned home in the winter. (Note: This was the home of John Tate). There was a fort some 8 or 10 miles from ours, on the water of Clinch River, called Dales Fort, owned by Abraham Dale. (This was Glade Hollow Fort). A circumstance took place there that is worth relating. There was a man by the name of Crabtree who lived in that fort, and had a wife and child. He was a brother of the big Crabtree of Boonesboro.
A Crabtree lived at Boonesboro. He was the active man in all the country. He was like SAUL among the people. He went out hunting one day and as he returned about the middle of the evening, at a place called Elk Garden about 3 miles from the fort, the Indians lay in ambush by the path. They shot his mare out from under him and never touched him. Before he could get clear of his horse, they sprang upon him like tigers, took him a prisoner, and tied his elbows, back. They appeared to be greatly elated at their prize. They viewed him from head to foot, and the largest man would come and stand by him. At length, they untied him, stripped him, viewed him again, felt his limbs, patted him on the back, and told him he should have a squaw when they got home. They put on his clothes again, tied him and two of them came to scuffle with him. He said he soon discovered that if his hands were loose, he could handle both of them. He said he became so taken with his new acquaintances, that had it not been for his wife and child, he would have gone with them, but when he thought of them he resolved to make his escape the first opportunity. They killed some shoats and skinned part of his mare, and made preparations for a great supper. When the supper was ready, they invited him up to eat. He said he partook with them without either bread or salt. When bedtime came on, they laid him down and tied his feet, guarding him securely all the night. The next morning they had early breakfast and started on toward the fort. He said he knew their intention was to take the fort, there being some 25 or 30 of them. He said no human being could describe his feelings, to think his wife and child were to be murdered and he there a captive. They went on to a point on a ridge where they could overlook the fort, it being in a valley, about three quarters of a mile off. There they stopped and the chief gave his men a talk and they kept pointing to the fort. He knew they could take it, for the men were careless; the gate would be open, and the men scattered about.
At length the Indians laid him down, tied his feet together, left a couple of boys, with one gun, to guard him. They had not gone far before one of the Indians came running back and took the gun, which was a very fine looking gun, from the boys, and gave them a small shot-gun. He said that did him good, for he was determined to make an effort to effect his escape. They had not stopped far from the path that led out from the fort, the Indians had not more than got out of sight, when as Providence would have it, a man came riding along, either going to or from the fort.
The Indian boys discovered him, although the man was unaware of them. They immediately commenced untying his feet and motioned to him that they must go further. The moment he was on his feet, his hands loose and his elbows tied behind him, he sprang to the boy that had the gun, jerked it out of his hands, broke it over his head and knocked him down. He kicked the other boy heels over head, gave him a stamp, and then started at the top of his speed to get to the fort before the Indians. He was very swift and succeeded in getting there, though tied.
They had thought it very strange of him staying out at night. He speedily told them (people in the fort) the circumstances. He was untied, the men collected in, the fort closed, and every arrangement made for their defense. It was supposed the Indian boys ran and overtook the company, and they lost their great prize, for no attack was made upon the fort. It was ever viewed as an act of Providence, for if Crabtree had not been taken prisoner, there was no doubt the fort would have been taken. Crabtree was a man of great humor, and it would amuse anyone to hear him tell about the evening and night spent with his new acquaintances.”
The Curious History of the Gregorian Calendar: Eleven days that never were
by Ben Snowden
September 2, 1752, was a great day in the history of sleep. That Wednesday evening, millions of British subjects in England and the colonies went peacefully to sleep and did not wake up until twelve days later. Behind this feat of narcoleptic prowess was not some revolutionary hypnotic technique or miraculous pharmaceutical discovered in the West Indies. It was, rather, the British Calendar Act of 1751, which declared the day after Wednesday the second to be Thursday the fourteenth.
Prior to that cataleptic September evening, the official British calendar differed from that of continental Europe by eleven days—that is, September 2 in London was September 13 in Paris, Lisbon, and Berlin. The discrepancy had sprung from Britain's continued use of the Julian calendar, which had been the official calendar of Europe since its invention by Julius Caesar (after whom it was named) in 45 B.C.
Caesar's calendar, which consisted of eleven months of 30 or 31 days and a 28-day February (extended to 29 days every fourth year), was actually quite accurate: it erred from the real solar calendar by only 11½ minutes a year. After centuries, though, even a small inaccuracy like this adds up. By the sixteenth century, it had put the Julian calendar behind the solar one by 10 days.
In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered the advancement of the calendar by 10 days and introduced a new corrective device to curb further error: century years such as 1700 or 1800 would no longer be counted as leap years, unless they were (like 1600 or 2000) divisible by 400.
If somewhat inelegant, this system is undeniably effective, and is still in official use in the United States. The Gregorian calendar year differs from the solar year by only 26 seconds—accurate enough for most mortals, since this only adds up to one day's difference every 3,323 years.
Despite the prudence of Pope Gregory's correction, many Protestant countries, including England, ignored the papal bull. Germany and the Netherlands agreed to adopt the Gregorian calendar in 1698; Russia only accepted it after the revolution of 1918, and Greece waited until 1923 to follow suit. And currently many Orthodox churches still follow the Julian calendar, which now lags 13 days behind the Gregorian.