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


            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 Company. 

            Col. John Buchanan married James Patton’s daughter, and became chief surveyor for both the Loyal Land Company and for his father-in-law.  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 States. 

            Patrick Henry, Sr., the famous “liberty or death” orator and future Revolutionary War Governor of Virginia, married Sarah Shelton, daughter of John  ... Continued, Page 3

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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).