1928 - Alderson High School - 1968

The Journal Of The
Greenbrier Historical Society
Alderson, West Virginia
Written by Kenneth D. Swope

Early Exploration

The first know exploration of this immediate area was the time Governor Berkeley was Governor of the Colony of Virginia.  He was curious about the land across the mountains.  He commissioned Major Abraham Wood whom the Colonial Assembly authorized to explore and to profit by trade for fourteen years after 1653.  His commission must have expired and have been renewed.  Wood raised an exploration party with Thomas Batts in charge, and Robert Fallam, Thomas Wood, Jack Neasam, an indentured servant, and Perecute as guide. - "A great man of the Appomattox Indians."  Fallam kept a record.  On September 1, 1671, the five men started west from about where Petersburg, Virginia, is now located.  A few days later Wood got sick and had to stop.  This party crossed the mountains.  They had no names for any place and their exact route has been reconstructed.  Evidently they crossed Peters Mountain and continued west through or near where Pickaway is now.  They described the various mountains and streams and followed one to a river which they crossed and then climbed a mountain.  All present knowledge of the country and of the Indian trails would determine that they came down Wolf Creek, crossed the Greenbrier near Griffith's Creek, and climbed by way of an Indian trail up Keeney's Knob.  On September 13  and 14, 1671, they were in or very near the present location of the Alderson community.  From the top of Keeney's they gazed east and west at the row upon row of mountain ranges.  They then went down New River as far as the Falls of Kanawha.  There they had a little ceremony and claimed the whole region for King Charles II.  From the record, these were the first white men to see what is now Alderson.
The English having settled on the Virginia shores were  slow to explore west of the mountains after Batts' journey.  They were even slower to settle.  They wanted the fur trade and quickly resented the success of the French.  Stories of good land on the "Western Waters" excited the greed of Eastern Virginians and led to the earliest settlement of this wilderness.  In 1749 the Greenbrier Land Company was organized and granted 100,000 acres of the best land in the present counties of Pocahontas, Greenbrier, and Monroe.  This land was not in a single tract but consisted of the finest lands, widely scattered, which the company could claim.  This was the rankest kind of political deal given to "prominent men."  The president of the Greenbrier Land Company was John Robinson, Treasurer of Virginia and Speaker of the House of Burgess, with eleven other political favorites and Tidewater planter as owners.  Most were out to make a quick fortune and do little in return.  John Lewis, one of the members, and his sons Thomas and Andrew, both surveyors, were the active working participants.  This grant was based on previous exploration.  By 1755 they had surveyed about one-half of the great give-away and had sold some.
The other land syndicates, the Loyal Land Company with an 800,000 acres grant from the Greenbrier to North Carolina, and the Ohio Land Company, began surveys and explorations. In 1755 Dr. Thomas Walker, manager of the Loyal Land Company, was exploring.  Dr. Walker and his party definitely went through the present location of Alderson.  Dr. Walker left Staunton, Virginia, March 16, 1750, and returned July 13, 1750.  By measuring the distances traveled daily as give in his journal, he passed for the mouth of the Greenbrier up the river through the site of Alderson, July 2, 1750, on his way home.  He wrote in his diary July 6, 1750, "---There are some inhabitants on the branches of the Greenbrier but we missed their plantations."  As an indication of the enormous numbers of wild game, Dr. Walker recorded that his party killed 13 buffalo, 8 elk, 53 bear, 20 deer, 4 geese, 150 turkeys and other wild game.  He said, "We might have killed three times as much meat if we had wanted it."
History of Monroe County, Morton, and numerous other references
Lewis, Virgil A., First Biennial Report of the Dept. of Archives and History, 1906, Tribune Printing Co., Charleston.
Walker, Dr. Thomas, Journal of an Exploration in the Spring of the Year, 1750, Boston, Little Brown & Co. 1888, page 66.

Next, the apparent first settlement, Baughman's Fort.

The contents contained in this series is copyrighted and the sole property of The Greenbrier Historical Society - Lewisburg, WV
Used by permission - November 18, 2008