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The Attack on Donnally’s Fort – a Revolutionary War Battle in the Greenbrier Valley

Few people realize that there was a Revolutionary War battle in West Virginia’s Greenbrier Valley. It wasn’t fought between the British and Americans, but rather between the native allies of the British and the frontier settlers and militiamen of Virginia’s Greenbrier Valley. I’ve previously researched the site, and even found a human tooth, possibly from the battle. Check out the recent drone footage of the site, which provides a unique perspective on one of West Virginia’s few Revolutionary War sites.

The Mantel out of the Nickell’s Mill Homestead

In my last post I mentioned the fantastic fireplace mantel we were able to acquire at the Dickson House auction. Shortly after the auction I was contacted by multiple individuals with information about the origin of the mantel. I’ve since visited the location, taken measurements, and verified the information as accurate. The mantel came out of the parlor of the Nickell Homestead at Nickell’s Mill, which like the Dickson property, is also on Second Creek (downstream) right on the border of Monroe County and Greenbrier County, in West Virginia. It’s also on the National Register of Historic Places. Unlike the Dickson home however, the Nickell house is unfortunately in a state of disrepair, and is perhaps past the point of no return. However, the Nickell house actually retains most of its woodwork, and all of its other mantels. Interestingly, I’m told that the mantel, which adorned the home’s parlor, is believed to have been lost in a 1964 card game by its-then owner, John Hinchman Nickell. The property remains in the hands of Nickell descendants to this day, with the exception of the mill, which was also apparently lost in a card game by the same owner, and is now demolished.

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.

Felix Renick’s Drawings, his interesting family, and his life as a scavengeologist on the Ohio Frontier

When I first came across this map, I immediately recognized the name, “Renick,” though I didn’t recall seeing it associated with the name Felix. In the Greenbrier Valley, there is still a “town” named Renick (though it’s mostly just an unincorporated neighborhood at this point, or even you could call it a “ghost town”), and …

Read moreFelix Renick’s Drawings, his interesting family, and his life as a scavengeologist on the Ohio Frontier

Grandma’s Story About Being Captured by Indians in 1779

One of the most important historical narratives from 18th century Indian captives, came from a woman buried in the cemetery overlooking Union, West Virginia. There are no historical markers to identify her grave, but the story is an amazing one . . . . In the early 1840’s, a little-old-lady living in Lewisburg, (West) Virginia, …

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A Year From Home: a young boy’s Civil War story from the Greenbrier Valley – Part 2 of 2

. . . [There] he was arrested, as stated, telling the Captain in command who he was and what he was there for, he got the messenger to Aunt . . . . [f you missed Part 1 of this story, read it here first, before reading this one… He went from Illinois back to …

Read moreA Year From Home: a young boy’s Civil War story from the Greenbrier Valley – Part 2 of 2

A Year From Home: a young boy’s Civil War story from the Greenbrier Valley – Part 1 of 2

I was born May 11, 1845, in Monroe Co., Va. . . . . NOTE: this is a super-interesting short memoir written by Edden Morris Johnson, born in 1845 in Johnson’s Crossroads, Monroe County, (West) Virginia. He was a member of the same family of Johnsons who later moved from Johnson’s Crossroads to Willowbrook Plantation …

Read moreA Year From Home: a young boy’s Civil War story from the Greenbrier Valley – Part 1 of 2

The hanging of David Creigh

In November of 1863, a struggle took place in this Greenbrier County, WV house, and two men would die in the end. This is the home of David Creigh, who in November of 1863 was a successful merchant. Within 6 months, he would be dead. The home is known as “Montascena,” and is circa 1834. This is one of my favorite local history stories. As the somewhat-nearby historical marker suggests (actually it’s nowhere close to the house, really), this was the site of a Cold Mountain style Civil War drama….