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“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.”

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, …

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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 …

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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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John Bradshaw: Greenbrier Indian Spy and Vet of the Battle of Yorktown

In Frontier Defense: Colonizing Contested Areas in West Virginia, archaeologists Kim and Stephen McBride, who specialize in the frontier forts of Kentucky and the Virginias, explained that: The use of “Indian spies” or scouts was another crucial element of the frontier defensive strategy. During the French and Indian War, spies functioned in an offensive capacity, …

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A beautiful historic home in the Greenbrier Valley you never knew was there. The Gwinn Plantation.

Samuel Gwinn is believed to have settled on the Greenbrier River at the same time as his friend James Graham, building a log cabin across the Greenbrier River from Graham, circa 1770. The log cabin is now gone, unlike the Graham cabin, but I did track it down. And there is an old photo of it still standing. Originally this was in Greenbrier County. Then Monroe County…. and finally, Summers County.