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.
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.
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.”
This is an old log cabin located in the vicinity of Pickaway, Monroe County, West Virginia, on the site of what is believed to have been called “Thompson’s Fort,” on an early large plantation. This is on the “Pickaway Plains” of the Greenbrier Valley – so named by the 18th century frontiersmen who fought in …
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 …
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.
It’s not easy restoring old log cabins. Fortunately, we only have the inside to deal with, since the outside got to keep its board and baten siding, and it now mostly finished. Once the old pre-Civil War plaster comes down off the walls inside, it’s a big mess. Even after it’s cleaned up, it’s still a mess.