Their place of rest, and Providence their guide
Persons settling in Each Watershed 1752-1777
The foreging data can be used to make a number of interesting points about settlement in southwest Virginia during the period leading up to and just after the start of the Revolution:
1. While there was some settlment in the Holston watershed well before the Revolution, this settlment remained fairly sparse until 1769 when the area was formally opened for settlement.
2. Peak settlement occurred in 1773 in all three watersheds. The drop off in 1774 is probably related to the initiation of Indian hostilities and the events leading up to Dunmores War. Thereafter we see a sharp drop off in the number of settlement dates shown in these records. That may be because a) there were fewer settlements in the area, or b) the data about settlement dates was not consistently collected in the Revolutionary War period; or c) recordation occurred well after the fact, and some of these early settlers may not have survived,or moved out of the area, before recordation could occur.
3. Most of the early settlement seems to have focused on the Holston watershed. This may be misleading because the Holston watershed was larger than the Clinch, and Powell, and therefore, presented more settlement opportunities. Data on watershed size is needed to separate this factor
Most of the land records for Washington County show that the land was obtained on the basis of various types of land warrants. Such warrants were issued either as rewards, such as early settlement in the area, military service, such as participation in Dunmore's War, or by purchase.
Warrants could be "assigned" to someone else. Assignments could be bought and sold, bartered, or inherited as a commodity. Individual warranties could be assigned many times. It is useful to have an idea of pervasiveness of this practice, and the number of times individual warrants were assigned. The following summarizes the frequency of assignments made for all types of land records in Washington County,
Length of Assignment Chains in Preemptive Certificates
NB:These data have not been fully checked for discrepancies, but are approximately correct.
Thus, most of the land records showing early settlement dates have 1 or fewer assignments. Fully one-third of these records have no assignments at all, indicating the the person who originally received the certificate actually used it to settle the property. This is useful for several purposes. For example, in the cases where the assignment chain is greater than 0, it is possible that last person in the assignment chain was not the original settler. That is, the initial settlement may have been made by someone previous in the assignment chain, but not necessarily the very first person. Sometimes the abstract is sufficient to make it clear who was the initial settler, but sometimes it is not. Thus it is more difficult to determine who made the actual settlement in cases where the certificate has been assigned. However, in the cases where the assignment chain is of length 0, we can be assured that the person who is shown making the transaction is in fact the original settler. Thus we can make a tentative list of the very earliest settlers by focusing on the land transactions where the assignment chain is zero.
The above possibility will be examined in more detail in a separate article. For current purposes, a different use may be made of these assignment data. Specifically, it is possible to use these data to develop an estimate of the fraction of the settlers who made initial settlements, and remained in the area long term. In effect, it allows us to estimate which groups of settlers (those in the Holston settlements, those in the Clinch settlements, or those in the Powell settlements) remained long term. There are several uncertainties about using the data in this way [insert discussion] but on the whole, this approach allows us to get some feel for settler satisfaction with settlement in each of these three areas.