This is Part 2 on the Virginia New River Lead Mines. Check out Part 1, if you missed it…. These blog posts are excerpts of the materials provided to me by my good friend, Jim Webb, a lifelong resident of the New River area of Virginia, mixed in with some of my editing, commentary, and scavenging experience. One little spot in Virginia, now completely abandoned and mostly lost to history, played an amazing part in American history. During the 18th century on the Virginia frontier, this little known spot was the center of activity, and possibly made the difference between life and death….
This is the story of the logistics fueling the violent struggle for survival on the Virginia frontier. It’s a story of geography, geology, politics, murder, suicide, and wilderness warfare. It’s taken mostly from the handwritten materials of the legendary Jim Webb, a true Appalachian artist, and a close friend of ours, who is perhaps the last man standing to receive the oral tradition and history, handed down through generations, from the beginning to the end of this story. It’s a story about one important spot in Western Virginia, along the New River valley, near the present-day town of Wytheville, Virgina, at a place usually referred to as Fort Chiswell. It’s a story fueled by the desire for wealth, new opportunities, and adventure.
Yes, we know there are those seeking the Holy Grail of the North Carolina rifles styles from before the American Revolution. They can try to point to one gun or another here and there. The facts are there were a great many guns, and they weren’t like what they were or are searching for. So, what is the problem and why the push for a “school” or “schools” of pre-revolutionary rifles?
This is the best way I’ve found so far to clean the interior side of the original (extremely hard) white oak hand hewn logs. This is the Northwest second floor corner. Since this was eventually turned into a formal entry way, long before the plaster was installed over the logs, they were given various coats of whitewash white paint, in order to make the walls look like they were plaster, rather than logs. Such was the trend, since there was nothing glamorous about having a log plantation house.
“The Girl I left Behind”, also known as “The Girl I Left Behind Me”, is an English folk song dating back to Elizabethan era. It is said to have been played when soldiers left for war or a naval vessel set sail. According to other sources the song originated in 1758 when English Admirals Hawke and Rodney were observing the French fleet. The first printed text of the song appeared in Dublin in 1791. A popular tune with several variations, “The Girl I Left Behind Me”, may have been imported into America around 1650 as ‘Brighton Camp’, of which a copy dating from around 1796 resides in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
While Thomas Jefferson became Vice President of the United States in 1797, he also became President of the American Philosophical Society – a position once held by Benjamin Franklin, who founded the society in 1743. When Jefferson arrived in DC to assume these positions, he had with him some massive bones which came out of a cave in the Greenbrier Valley.
This weekend we went and picked up the old dinner bell from the old Sweet Chalybeate Springs resort, or as it was also called, Red Sweet Springs. We also picked up a load of antique handmade bricks from the remnants of the old Crow’s Tavern, in Crows, Virginia – which was just down the road from Sweet Chalybeate.