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Revolutionary War Narratives and Byrnside’s Fort

I recently discovered additional Revolutionary War veteran pension applications mentioning Byrnside’s Fort. These first-hand narratives, mostly from the 1830s, are the recollections of the 18th century frontier soldiers of the Greenbrier Valley. They’re the best documentation we have on life and service on the Virginia frontier. They paint a good picture of the importance of Byrnside’s Fort, as well as James Byrnside himself during the Revolutionary War era. There’s strong evidence through these narratives that our fort was in active military use from around 1774 through 1782, which for the most part is the entire timeline of Lord Dunmore’s War and the American Revolution.

“Tub Mills” on the 18th Century Virginia Frontier

When you travel in our southern mountains, one of the first things that will strike you is that about every fourth or fifth farmer has a tiny tub-mill of his own. Tiny is indeed the word, for there are few of these mills that can grind more than a bushel or two of corn in a day; some have a capacity of only half a bushel in ten hours of stead grinding. Red grains of corn being harder than white ones, it is a humorous saying in the mountains that “a red grain in the gryste (grist) will stop the mill.”

Locating James Byrnside’s 1774 survey: Tracing Virginia’s Nutty Real Estate History and Translating Handwritten Land Documents

We can trace history through the documentation left by our forefathers in the courthouse land books. When it came to real estate, they spared no ink. I found a circa 1774 survey of the Byrnside’s Fort property from a 1780 land grant by Thomas Jefferson. You’d think it would be easy to use that to …

Read moreLocating James Byrnside’s 1774 survey: Tracing Virginia’s Nutty Real Estate History and Translating Handwritten Land Documents

In 1772, Thomas Jefferson called James Byrnside an obnoxious villain

I stumbled upon some interesting entries in the personal papers of Thomas Jefferson. In his 1772 Memorandum Book, he discusses the real estate ventures of then Colonial, later General, Andrew Lewis’ claims throughout the Greenbrier Valley. And in these paragraphs, he mentions James Burnsides (Byrnside), four separate times, and calls him “obnoxious,” among other things.

Some preservation work on 18th century knives, spoons, and thimbles from Byrnside’s Fort

This was an old knife found in the yard. Fortunately it still had a little bit of the bone handle with the cross cut design on it. Those get really crumbly and want to fall off. Moreover, it’s difficult to restore/preserve the iron portion of the knife without destroying the bone. I did my best though, and glued the bone to the tang, and also put a sealant on it to stop any further crumbling.

Travel chest lock mechanism from Walnut Grove Plantation, an old stirrup, and a wrought iron spoon?

With all of the quarantining going on, I was able to get a little preservation work in on some items which really needed it. First is this really cool lock mechanism from some sort of old chest, or trunk, or strong box. This was found at historic Walnut Grove Plantation just outside Union, W. Va. I wish I knew the story behind it. It cleaned up really nicely.