Mansions of Elk Garden
The Stuart Family
Leads to Politics
In the decade before the French and Indian War
western expansion in Virginia followed the parallel routes of
either the Clinch River or the Holston River.
The main settlements were in the Holston Valley.
The main threat of Indian incursions was from the Shawnee
and Mingo to the North.
Therefore the passes in Clinch Mountain, which separated
the two valleys, were potential avenues of invasion.
The settlements in Holston Valley set up forward
defensive fortifications at the northern, or Clinch Valley side,
of these passes.
Clinch Valley itself was a desirable site of settlement.
“The Richlands”, Elk Garden, and the “Indian Fields”
around present Hansonville were among the earliest mentioned.
Elk Garden lies astride the main trail down the Clinch
Valley, is a large fertile well-watered basin next to high
mountains, and guards the northern entrance to Hayter’s Gap, the
lowest major pass in Clinch Mountain.
It is not surprising that it was settled and fortified
early on. It would
seem that all the upper crust of the Fine Families of Virginia
came to have something to do with Elk Garden.
The largest landowner in Colonial Virginia was Thomas
Culpeper, Lord Fairfax, who owned all the land between the
Potomac River and the Rappahannock River, a tract of over five
million acres, known as the Northern Neck.
Lord Fairfax lived in England and conducted his affairs
in Virginia through an agent.
Two men had held this position.
The greatest was Robert “King” Carter, who was the
wealthiest man in Colonial Virginia.
His tenure as Fairfax’s agent was divided by a period
when Benjamin Burden held this office.
King Carter later became a Colonial Governor of Virginia.
James Patton was a sea captain who for the first half of
his life made himself wealthy by transporting Scots-Irish
immigrants to the Rappahannock Valley, and by carrying furs on
the return voyage.
He married Benjamin Burden’s daughter, and in 1745 his
connections got him a grant in Southwest Virginia of 100,000
acres. The same
year the colonial government gave an 800,000 acre grant between
the North Carolina line and the Ohio River to the Loyal Land
Col. John Buchanan married James Patton’s daughter, and
became chief surveyor for both the Loyal Land Company and for
He settled at Chilhowie at the southern end of the Hayter’s Gap
Road in Holston Valley.
Hayter’s Gap is the lowest and most direct passage
through Clinch Mountain and connects Elk Garden and Chilhowie,
which is on the Great Kentucky Road.
The Hayter’s Gap Road passes just to the west of
Saltville, the largest source of salt in the Southeastern United
Patrick Henry, Sr., the famous “liberty or death” orator and
future Revolutionary War Governor of Virginia, married Sarah
Shelton, daughter of John ...
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