Source:Miller, 1912 is the commonly cited "book" on the Carter family of Virginia. He devotes considerable space to the Carters of Sourthwest Virginia. His conclusions may or may not be correct, but because of the frequency with which his work is cited by Carter genealogists, its useful to have an overview of what he had to say about the Carters of Southwest Virginia.
John Carter of Corotowan
Miller makes reference to John Carter of Corotowan in nearby Essex County. He does not provide any substantive examination of the John Carter family line, and mentions it mostly in passing. Robert "King" Carter, at one time regarded as the wealthiest man in Virginia, was in the line of John of Corotowan. Miller also makes mention of John Carter, a son of "King" Carter, who appears in the records of Southwest Virginia, along with his sons, John and Landon Carter. It seems likey that this John Carter was indeed related to Robert King Carter, it is not clear at this point that he was his son. These individuals settled south of the modern Virginia-Tennessee border in the Wautauga Settlement. Carter's Valley, a long NE-SW trending valley in Washington County, TN, is named for them.
Thomas Carter of Barford
Miller's principle interest lies with the descendants of Thomas Carter of Barford who settled in Lancaster County, Va shortly after the deposition of Charles I of England. Thomas Carter married Katherine Dale, and her surname appears prominently in her descendant lines, as a given name.
Son Thomas Thomas Jr (1672-?) married Arabella Williamson and had various sons and daughters, of which two are of interest with respect to the Carters of Southest Virginia:
Peter Carter left a particularly useful summary of his family, which he inscribed in a sermon book toward the end of his life. The inscription provides information on DOB's, identifies the surviving children at the time of the record, and notes where the surviving children were living. Son George was then living with his father in Fauquier County, son Peter in Amherst County, and the rest of the surviving boys were stated as living in Southwest Virginia. This included: Thomas, Joseph, and Norris. Five children had predeceased their father:Judy, Arabella Chatherine, Dale, Job, Person:Soloman Carter (1), and Daniel.
According to some researchers Charles Carter initially settled in Overwharton Parish, Stafford County, Virginia, but later moved to the portion of Albemarle County, which became Amherst County in 1761. Charles of Amherst had five known daughters, and three sons. At least three of the daughters (Judith (1747-1750), Lucy (1750-1751), Catherine (1753-<1766)) died relatively young. the fate of a fourth daughter, Elizabeth, is unknown. Miller indicates that sons John, Dale and Charles, along with unmarried daughter Susannah, were among the early settlers of Southwest Virginia, settling in Rye Cove. We have numerous records for persons by these names in the area, and generally speaking Miller's conclusions here are not disputed.
There is, however, one point of confusion. A person by the name of Dale Carter figures prominently in the early history of Fincastle County. County records identify his wife as "Mary". Dale was killed by Indians in 1774, during an attack on Fort Blackmore. Person:Charles Bickley (1), mary's brother, appears in the Castle's woods area by 1775. A brief obituary published in Christian Advocate, notes that:
A Person:John Bickley (1) lived in Amherst County about this time, left a family record which identifies his son Charles and daughter Mary. This this seems to confirm the idea that Charles and Mary Bickley came from Amherst county. This makes it particularly plausible that Mary, the wife of Dale Carter was indeed Mary Bickley, and that Dale also came from Amherst county. The idea that Dale was from Amherst County makes it seem likely that he was a son of Charles Carter of Amherst County.
In point of fact, Source:Miller, 19912 identifies Dale Carter of the Clinch with the family of Charles Carter of Amherst. That is consistent with the appearance of some of Charles other children on the Clinch at this time (John, Charles, and Susannah). However, children of Peter of Fuaquier, brothwr of Charles of Amherst also moved to the Clinch River area. Miller identifies these children as:Thomas, Joseph, and Norris. as it happens, both Charles of Amherst, and Peter of Fauquier had sons named "Dale". We know from Peter's family description that his son Dale was dead by 1786; he could in theory have been the Dale who was killed on the Clinch. On the whole, it seems more likely that Dale was the son of Charles, simply because his wife Mary Bickley came from Amherst County, but its also true that both lines of Carters had immediate family members living in Amherst County. On the whole it seems to be a toss up as to who was the father of Dale, husband of Mary Bickley.
Two major lines of Carters appear in the records of Southwest Virginia. These lines trace descent to Carter families who settled in the adjacent counties of Lancaster and Essex in Virginia in the mid 1600's. While the ancestors of these families, commonly referred to as John Carter of Carotowan, and Thomas Carter of Barford, are known to have had business dealings with each other, they are not thought to be related.  Both lines used similar given names, and it is not surprising that it is sometimes difficult to tell which descendant belongs with which ancestor. The following table provides links to articles about various Carter descendants who appear in the records of Southwest Virginia. Carter's in the Corotowan line settled south of the modern VA/TN border in the Wautauga Settlement. The Carters of the Barford line settled in Southwest Virginia Proper, primarily on the Clinch Watershed. Note that most of the linked articles are skeletons, waiting to be filled in.