Early Settlers of Southwest Virginia-Summary by Years

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Southwest Virginia Project


This is one of a series of articles dealing with early settlers in Southwest Virginia. An index to these articles is to be found at Southwest Virginia Project-Early Settlers. An explanation of information sources, and methodology, is to be found at Early Settlers of Southwest Virginia: Introduction


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The Robertson data set used to develop this article includes 552 entries where rights to a certain parcel was obtained, in whole, or in part, by means of a Commissioners Certificate. The following table summarizes the distribution of these parcels by watershed within the Southwest VIrginia area, and by date of settlement given in the certificates. The following conclusions may be drawn from this data:

The Holston River Valley, including all three of its major tributaries (North Fork, Middle Fork, and South Fork) received the most (372) settlers overall. The Clinch River settlements received the next most (172), and the Powell River Settlements the least (38) This may simply be due to the fact that the drainage area for the Holston was larger than the other two major watersheds, and hence had more opportunities for settlement. It may also reflect that the Holston settlements were well to the east of the others, and hence were the first properties that were encountered by settlers arriving from the settlements in the Upper Shannandoah Valley, or from the North Carolina Settlements.
The peak settlement year was 1773, in which a total of 114 parcels were claimed.
Settlement dropped off in 1774, probably due to Dunmore's War. There was a slight resurgence in settlement in 1775, following the end of Dunmore's war. After that, the number of settlers claiming commissioners certificates dropped off rapidly.


Year Clinch River Holston River Powell River Total Percent
Bef 1767 0 1 0 1 0%
1767-1768 0 6 0 6 1%
1769 9 19 4 32 6%
1770 5 31 1 37 7%
1771 12 44 0 56 10%
1772 21 70 0 91 16%
1773 39 75 0 114 20%
1774 24 42 2 68 12%
1775 30 19 23 72 13%
1776 16 26 8 50 9%
1777 15 11 0 26 5%
1778 0 1 0 1 0%
1779+ 1 6 0 7 1%
Unknown 0 2 0 2 0%
Total 172 353 38 563 100%
percent 31% 63% 7% 100%
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