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The REAL most interesting man in the world: John Smith

“More than one hundred men sailed across the Atlantic in 1606 to found the Jamestown colony in Virginia. The roster for the expedition lists fifty-nine of them as “gentlemen.” One of those gentlemen, Captain John Smith, wasn’t born with his title. He earned it beheading three Turkish soldiers in a series of single combat duels. Suffice it to say, Smith was not your average English gentleman. Before he sailed for the Virginia wilderness and had his famous encounter with Pocahontas, Smith had been a mercenary, a pirate, a slave, and a mutineer.”

The “Venturesome” Virginia Frontiersman – Part 1

As the 45-year-old frontiersman began his careful descent along the steep western slope of the long flat mountain he had climbed earlier that morning, he could faintly make out rays of daylight ahead, a sure sign of a clearing in the forest, as dark forest turned to bright meadows in the foothills below. Being a veteran longhunter, Joseph Swope immediately recognized the old clearings ahead….

The Search for Renick’s Fort, and the life of an “Indian Spy”

Renick’s Fort was a small frontier “Indian Spy” style fort, in the chain of Greenbrier Valley Virginia frontier forts, during the 1770’s. As is usually the case, there’s nothing left of it, and we actually don’t even know where it stood, despite the fact that records give us the exact location – at least down …

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The Scopes Trial, Leopold and Loeb, Darrow, and William Jennings Bryan

Being a trial lawyer with the last name of Bryan, I’ve always been interested in what many people consider to be the most famous and high-profile trial in American History, the Scopes Trial, or the Scopes “Monkey Trial.” Long before O.J. Simpson even thought of choosing the color of his new Ford Bronco, the country …

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John Kincaid’s Rev War Narrative, Frontier Forts, Lead Mines, Scandal, and Forensic Pathology

I came across this interesting Rev War pension application, signed by one John Kincaid, with some cool local details, pertaining to the harshness of the winter of 1778-1779 in what is now Lewisburg, (West) Virginia, and as always, one thing leads to another, including a doppleganger John Kincaid, references to our fort, other forts, scandal, …

Read moreJohn Kincaid’s Rev War Narrative, Frontier Forts, Lead Mines, Scandal, and Forensic Pathology

The “Singing Cave” of Indian Creek and the making of gunpowder by frontier settlers

A local historian friend sent me this scan of an original 1777 document, signed by early frontiersmen of the Greenbrier Valley, where they are leasing the mineral rights of property belonging to one Jacob Mann, containing a cave with valuable saltpeter, which was used to make gunpowder. From the best that I can read it, …

Read moreThe “Singing Cave” of Indian Creek and the making of gunpowder by frontier settlers