Settlers of the Bullpasture in Augusta County, Virginia

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1743 - 1775

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Location of Bullpasture

The Bullpasture River is a tributary of the Cowpasture River of Virginia in the United States. It was sometimes referred to as "Newfoundland" or "Clover" Creek.

The Bullpasture River flows through Highland County, Virginia, from its headwaters on the boundary between Virginia and West Virginia. It flows southwest between Bullpasture Mountain and Jack Mountain until joining the Cowpasture River in Bath County, Virginia below the hamlet of Williamsville, Virginia. (Source:, )


Naming History of Cowpasture and Surrounding Areas

The Indians had before named the (Cowpasture) river, Walatoola which meant "winding waters" this described the great bends in the river. However when British settlers arrived in the 1720s they named it the Cowpasture.

There is an interesting story about how the Cowpasture and neighboring rivers the Bullpasture River and Calfpasture River came to be so named. It is said that the Indians once had stolen a herd of settlers' cattle and were driving them westward into the mountains. The calves naturally tired first; they were left behind at the river which is now the Calfpasture. The cows were driven on farther, but they, too, had to be abandoned, the valley in which they were left became the valley of the Cowpasture. The bulls, being somewhat hardier, were still able to continue westward; they finally were left at the river which is known as the Bullpasture. (Source: Wikipedia, )

Bullpasture History

From "A History of Highland County, Virginia", By Oren Frederic Morton:

In the early days of April, 1746, when all Augusta had not 6,000 white people, and when the county seat had no other name than "Beverly's Mill Place," the county surveyor laid off several tracts within the Highland area. He came again at the close of July and still again in September. Altogether he laid off 21 tracts on the Bullpasture and Cowpasture, but almost wholly on the former. Besides running lines for 14 persons, nearly or quite all of whom are reported as being on the ground, he reserved a tract for Andrew Lewis, his brother, and three more for the syndicate of which the two brothers were members. All these surveys came under the order of council of 1743. The 348-acre tract of Andrew Lewis was patented by himself four years later, and the farm of W. P. B. Lockridge is now a portion of it.

Earliest Bullpasture Settlers

From Chalkley's Augusta County records:

1751-1752 Court Records:

1752-1753 Court Records:

  • Petitioners for a road from William Wilson's mill, on Jackson's River, to Captain Ashton's mill, in the Bull Pasture, being direct road to market and also convenient for the head of Green Bryer settlers. John Miller, William Wilson, Stephen Wilson, Samuel Gay, Robert Gay, Robert Carlisle, John Carlile, Hugh Hicklin, John Hicklin, Lostus (Loftus) Pullin, Thomas Hicklin. May, 1753.

From "A History of Highland County, Virginia", By Oren Frederic Morton:

The (Earliest) settlers now here (in 1746) were Alexander Black, John Carlisle and Robert Carlisle, Wallace Ashton, Loftus Pullin, Richard Bodkin, James Miller, Matthew Harper, William Warwick, James Largent, William Holman, John McCreary, Samuel Delamontony, Archibald Elliott, and Robert Armstrong. Black was just above the mouth of the Bullpasture, where Major J. H. Byrd now lives. All the others, with perhaps one exception, were on the Bullpasture itself, and nearly or quite in the order they are named as one ascends the river.

Ashton was on the McClung farm at Clover Creek. The two Carliles were in the broad bottom just below. Pullin was a mile above in another wide sweep of bottom. Bodkin was higher up, lying where the present river road comes back to the bottom after its circuit over a bluff. Harper was where W. T. Alexander lives. Miller was between Bodkin and Harper. Warwick was at the mouth of Davis Run. Largent appears to have been in the vicinity of McDowell. Holman adjoined McCreary, who was between McDowell and Doe Hill, as was also Delamontony. Elliott was at the very head of the river, one of his corners being on the Blackthorn. Armstrong was likewise in this vicinity. The Carliles held two tracts near by on the run named for them. One of these tracts cornered on McCreary.

It may not be affirmed that every one of the settlers was living, at least at this time, on the tract he selected. This is particularly the case with respect to the surveys near the head of the river. Armstrong would appear to be the same Robert who lived on Jackson's River below Warm Spring. Warwick, also, may really have been one of the settlers of that name in Bath. The enterprising pioneer was not slow to seize an additional choice tract, even if it lay at some distance from his home.

[Alexander] Black died in 1764. His son William sold to Thomas Houston and went to Greenbrier, Alexander Jr. moving to Kentucky about 1797. Samuel, probably another son, had a numerous family, and took land in 1774 close to where the county seat now is.

The Carliles lived and died on their homestead, which remained in the family many years later. Wallace Ashton disappears from sight almost at once, and is followed by Wallace Estill, who inherited the farm and lived on it about twenty years. He sold to John Peebles and removed to Botetourt. Estill came from New Jersey with a family partially grown, and reared a second large family in Highland. He owned land at Vanderpool and was a man of ability and influence.

(Loftus) Pullin was a single man when he came. He lived and died on his homestead, being the ancestor of the Pullin connection. The name of his wife, Ann Jane Usher, uncovers a romance. One Edward Usher eloped with the daughter of an English nobleman named Perry and came to America. Their four children were daughters, one dying in infancy. Usher died while they were yet small, and the widow went to England, hoping for a reconciliation with her father. He recognized her on the road as he drove by in his carriage, but being still angry he tossed her a shilling, telling her that was all she would have from him and that she must mind her brats herself. She returned to America, her children, if not also herself, finding their way to the Augusta colony, probably to Fort Dickenson. James Knox became the guardian of Ann Jane,* and with a portion, at least, of her inheritance he purchased for her a negro girl. Several years later she married Loftus Pullin. One sister married William Steuart (Stuart), another Highland pioneer, the third (Martha?) marrying (John Dickinson),a son of Captain Adam Dickenson. The stern parent finally relented and provided for his daughter by will. But the search he instituted failed to discover her, and no knowledge thereof coming to her descendants for many years, the matter went by default.

Bodkin arrived with sons nearly grown. In 1762 either he or Richard, Jr., sold the homestead and went higher up the valley. During the next forty years the connection largely drifted out, the present Botkins being with the exception of a single household the posterity of one only of the pioneer's grandsons.

Miller appears to have come with sons nearly grown and bearing the names of John, William, and Hugh. They often appear in the Augusta records, yet the family does not seem to have remained very long.

Harper sold to Hugh Martin in 1764 and went to Christian's Creek near Staunton. Of Warwick, Largent, and Hoi- man we know nothing, except that Largent gave his name to a hill below Clover Creek. (John) McCreary sold to Bodkin in 1763, but a son of the same name appears to have wedded Margaret Black in 1786. Of Delamontony we have no further mention except as a member of the militia in 1760. Elliott seems to have been only a bird of passage.

It is possible that several other persons came quite as early as those already named. Be this as it may, the settlement received many accessions during the next fifteen years, even in spite of the Indian peril during the latter half of this period. In some instances they appear to have arrived before we find definite mention of them.

Thomas Hicklin and Hugh Hicklin, who lived below the Carliles, are named in 1756. Robert Graham, also a little below the Carliles, was here by 1755, although he did not buy out the Wilson patent until 1761. Samuel Given purchased the Bodkin homestead in 1762.

In 1750 Hans Harper purchased land adjoining Matthew Harper, but six years later moved north of Doe Hill, where in 1765 he again sold out and disappears from view. Between 1754 and 1760, Michael Harper was living on Carlile Run, but died on the South Branch in 1767. He was then up in years, and had a son Michael, although Matthew came from Christian Creek to settle the estate. During their short stay these Harpers figure somewhat often in the county annals. They seem to have been brothers. There is no evidence that the Pendleton Harpers are derived from them. If they were of German origin, as is the case with the latter, they were the only Germans on the Bullpasture for many years. Matthew was a constable, which would not have been the case had he been unfamiliar with written English as were nearly all the German immigrants. Neither is it likely that a solitary German would have been chosen to that office. Hans had a German given name, but this proves nothing.

In 1754 Samuel Ferguson located above McDowell.

In 1757 one George Wilson, a land speculator, bought of James Trimble, another speculator, the Elliott survey at Doe Hill, and the next year sold a part of it to Samuel Wilson (his brother). Very soon afterward, we find William Wilson in this neighborhood. These two men, progenitors of the Wilsons of Doe Hill, were brothers and were sons of (Col.) John Wilson, Sr., the first delegate from Augusta to the House of Burgesses. Colonel John Wilson held this post until his death in 1773. Captain Samuel, his son, fell in battle the next year at Point Pleasant, the fatal bullet passing through his powder horn. The Graham homestead was purchased of one Matthew Wilson, who is named as the oldest brother and heir of William Wilson (who died in 1761). In 1750, a William Wilson had patented this land, but he was not the same as the William of Jackson's River or the William of Doe Hill. An Isaiah, seemingly of the same vicinity and probably the parent or brother of Matthew and William, died in 1758, and his estate was appraised by Hugh and John Hicklin.

In 1754 we see the name of William McCandless and in 1761 that of William Johnson. In 1762, Robert Duffield, already here, purchased the McCreary homestead and lived on it more than thirty years, the family removing to Kanawha County. The Malcomb name does not appear on the records till 1773, when Joseph bought of Richard Bodkin, Jr., a farm and mill near the Dunkard Church above McDowell. But the Malcombs are known to have been in the vicinity of the Clover Creek Mill during the Indian War.

Turning to the Cowpasture we find in 1754 Hackland Wilson at the head of the river, and William Price at "a big spring," doubtless the one a mile above the turnpike ford. Charles Gillam was a landholder in this section, but sold to James Bodkin and he to Robert Carlisle. James Trimble, a deputy surveyor and land speculator, had three tracts on this river, and George Wilson had several, one of which he sold in 1759 to William Steuart, and three years later another to James Clemens.

Steuart, a young Scotchman, had a thrilling experience in reaching these mountains. Being well educated, he expected to follow a profession. The ship on which he took passage was captured by Spanish pirates, and the crew killed. He was the only passenger and was put on the South Atlantic shore with no clothing save a piece of canvas and without his chest- ful of books. Thence he drifted northward to the Augusta colony, doing at first manual labor. His soft hands and intellectual air brought him a welcome invitation to teach school, and he followed this calling the rest of his life. But downcast at the loss of his beloved library, he was content to spend his days in the frontier wilderness. Steuart settled just below the mouth of Shaw's Fork. In marrying Margaret Usher he became brother-in-law to Loftus Pullin.

Turning up Shaw's Fork we find John Shaw in 1756. James, probably his son, bought land of George Wilson in 1759. It is thought that the Shaw cabin stood on the hillside opposite and a little below Headwaters. As the pioneer of this neighborhood he could have found a better choice. The Shaws gave their name to the stream and to a mountain. In 1766 Thomas Devericks became their neighbor across the run.

Proceeding down the Cowpasture, James Anglen was, in 1751, living at the mouth of the tributary which for a while bore his name, but afterward became known as Benson's Run. There is no record that Anglen had title to land. Sarah, perhaps his daughter, married William Knox in 1794.

James Knox, a neighbor to Black and the guardian of Ann Jane Usher, was living on the Floyd Kincaid farm. He died in 1772 and the farm passed to Patrick Miller, remaining with the Millers a long while. There is a tradition that James Jr. was jilted by Anne Montgomery, and that his hunting trip to Kentucky in 1769 was in consequence of this. As leader of a military force he built Fort Knox, which grew into the city of Knoxville, Tenn. He was a soldier of the Revolution, a member for five years of the Legislature of Kentucky, and in that state was known as General Knox. In marrying the widow of General William Logan, he finally won the woman of his choice. He lived until 1822.

Passing to Jackson's River at the mouth of Bolar Run, the earliest settlers of whom we find mention are William and Stephen Wilson in 1753, and David Moore in 1759. William Wilson was married in Dublin, Ireland, and lived a long time on Brandywine Creek, Penn.* In 1747, he came to New Providence Church in Augusta, and thence to Jackson's River. The late William L. Wilson, of West Virginia and Washington and Lee Universities, and a conspicuous member of Congress, was a descendant of his cousin, the Rev. William, who wrote his will, and who united several Highland couples. Stephen appears also to have been a relative.

In 1757, Thomas Parsons had surveyed the tract on the South Branch at the state line which, in 1765, was sold to Peter Fleisher, progenitor of the family of that name. The first known settler in Crabbottom was Robert Cunningham, who in 1761 purchased a patent of James Trimble. Agnes, probably his wife, and perhaps at the time a widow, entered a survey the same year. Trimble seems to have been very much alive to the worth of the Crabbottom. He seized a large and choice portion of it, and in selling the same he pocketed a quite tidy sum.

James Burnside lived a number of years on the Bodkin homestead. Andrew Lockridge in 1774 purchased a large "boundary" of land in Bullpasture Valley just above the Bath line. Dawson Wade lived near the mouth of Davis Run, but sold to William Steuart and went to Botetourt. Edward Hinds was on Crab Run in 1768. At Doe Hill, Abraham Hempenstall became a neighbor to the Wilsons. Tully Davitt lived in the same neighborhood, but at the close of 1775 he sold to John Hiner. John McCoy was another neighbor by 1773. It is said that in coming through Panther Gap most of McCoy's seed potatoes fell into the river.

The limestone soils of Bullpasture Mountain caused this upland to be thought the only one much worthy of being reduced to private ownership. The first entry we find here was that of William Price as early as 1754. In 1772, Thomas Wright appears to have been living on the mountain and he was soon followed by others, especially in the section above the turnpike.

Turning to the Middle Valley, we find that George Nicholas came to the Forks of the Waters in 1770. The first entry on Straight Creek proper seems that of David Bell in 1771. The Bell's were for some time considerable landholders in Highland, and at an early day appear to have lived here. A little over the Monterey divide was David Frame in 1767, and "Frame's Cabbin" is spoken of as a well-known landmark. His neighbors about "Vanderpool Gap" (which was discovered by John Vanderpool) were Robert and John Dinwiddie, William Given, and James Morrow. Robert Dinwiddie was a man of some education and property, but the notion that he was the same as Governor Robert Dinwiddie is entirely wrong. The latter had no sons and after his term of office went back to England and died there. But that the pioneer was a relative is very possible. Down the river at the mouth of Dry Branch was Robert Wiley in 1773.

Peter Hull sold his farm in the Valley of Virginia and became a heavy purchaser in the center of Crabbottom in 1765. Below him were Bernard Lantz about this time, Michael Arbogast and John Gum in 1766, Palsor Naigley in 1768, and Peter Zickafoose in 1772.

Other Early Bullpasture Settlers

Listing of Other Early Bullpasture Settlers (in alphabetical order) from Chalkley's (unless otherwise noted) :

  • Page 33.--232 acres by survey (to John Chesnut), on Bull Pasture Mountain, 15th February, 1768.
  • Page 64 - Land Survey, John Estill, 150 acres, Newfound Creek. Dec. 13, 1766. [Abstract of Land Grant Surveys, 1761-1791, Augusta & Rockingham Counties, Virginia, by Peter Cline Kaylor, pg. 25]. (Note: John Estill was a son of Wallace Estill, and early Bullpasture settler).
  • John Hiner, who was listed as "John Hiner of Dunmore County" in his deed, was living on the Bull Pasture by 1775, when he acquired 140 acres from Tully Davitt on 15 November 1775.
  • Page 173.--17th February, 1762. William Johnson to Thomas Hamilton, £16.10, 215 acres on a small branch of Bull Pasture. Delivered: Thomas Hamilton, January, 1773.
  • Adam Jordan and his wife Sarah were living in the Bullpasture by 1755. He was appointed Constable on the Bullpasture on June 15, 1757.
  • John Jordan obtained a patent for 90 acres on the Bullpasture on 1 March 1773.
  • Thomas Lewis (entered by Andrew Lewis) acquired 200 acres in the Bull Pasture at the foot of the mountain, 19 Jan. 1754, son of John Lewis and Margaret Lynn.
  • Thomas Lewis and Andrew Lewis acquired two 200 acre plots joining Lewis' line near head of Bull Pasture, and two 200 surveys near foot of mountain, north side of Bull pasture not far from Bodkin's land. Thomas and Andrew Lewis were both sons of John Lewis and Margaret Lynn, same as mentioned in transaction above.
  • Abraham Vanderpool applied for a patent on 430 acres in Augusta County, Virginia, on October 19, 1748. His brother, John Vanderpool discovered "Vanderpool Gap", located near the Bullpasture.

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