Elk Garden
© All Rights Reserved
Lawrence J. Fleenor, Jr.
Big Stone Gap, VA  24219
January 25, 2013


Earliest Settlement
The Mansions of Elk Garden
The Great Awakening
The Stuart Family
Lead, Salt, & Cattle
Wealth Leads to Politics

             Elk Garden soon became a hotbed of Methodism. Indeed, the first great Methodist revival in this part of the world, part of the “Great Awakening”, was held in 1788 at Saltville at the home of General William Russell and his wife Elizabeth. Elizabeth, known as “Madam” Russell, was a sister of Patrick Henry. General and Mrs. Russell were among the first converts.  That year Richard Price, Sr., born a Quaker, began holding a Methodist Sunday School class in his home in Elk Garden.  Price was designated “Class Leader”, which meant that he was the leading official of the local church in the long intervals between the presence of an ordained minister. 

             The evangelists who were primarily responsible for the spread of Methodism in the American southern frontier were Francis Asbury and Richard Whatcoat. In 1790 these two itinerant evangelists visited Richard Price in his Elk Garden home.  

             One of the children of Thaddeus and Sarah Price Thomas was John Wesley Thomas, named after the founder of Methodism, and who became the first Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Emory and Henry College, a Methodist institution. 

            Another was W. I. (William Isaac) Thomas, the world famous professor of sociology at the University of Chicago. 

             Richard Price is so revered that stones from his house are placed on the grounds of the present Elk Garden Methodist Church.  Logs presumed incorrectly to have been from his home were reassembled in his honor at the home of State Senator Harry C. Stuart as the Elk Garden Chapel. 

            An oddity of all the churches, both past and present, in Elk Garden, is that they have no cemeteries.  This is because the “Great Awakening” described above brought religion to Elk Garden after its settlement, and after the custom of burial in family graveyards was well established. 

            The Civil War came early to this microcosm of the plantation culture of the South. Many of the tenant farmers, who owned no land and are, therefore, poorly documented, lived in Corn Valley in an area that came to be known as “the Loop”. These people felt their positions to be threatened by the institution of slavery, and they, themselves, tended to be abolitionists. In 1845 the Methodist Church officially divided itself into a Methodist Episcopal Church South, and into a Methodist Protestant church, better known as the “Northern Abolitionist Methodist Church”. The church in the Loop seems to have originally maintained its affiliation with the Southern Methodist Church until the Civil War broken out. At that time, many of its adherents were forcibly driven out of Russell County and settled in the Nordyke -Little Wolf Run area of Washington County, and the Loop Methodist Church finally broke with the Southern Methodist affiliated Elk Garden Church south of Smithfield.

            Richard (1750 or 1764-1803) and Thomas, Jr. (1761-1804) Price were brothers born in Culpeper, Virginia, but of Pennsylvania origins.  Another genealogy has them being born in Philadelphia.  Both moved in to the Elk Garden community around the time of the American Revolution. At some point in time Richard got the settlement right at the current intersection of state 80 going north from US 19 toward Honaker. It appears, however, that Alexander Scott had already acquired a grant for this tract of land (LO O-547), both claimants surveying in 1783. In 1783 Richard Price surveyed out a preemption warrant for LO 0–561. What this means is that the Commonwealth of Virginia gave him rights to this land to compensate him for the settlement right that he had to relinquish due to that prior claim.       ... Continued, Page 26        


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© Elk Garden 2013 Lawrence J. Fleenor, Jr., Big Stone Gap Publishing®
Text may not be copied or reproduced in any form without written permission of the author(s).