Martin's Old Station

Image:Long Boone Cumberland--thin.jpg
Southwest Virginia Project
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This article is one of a series on the forts of southwest Virginia during the period of Indian Hostilities, (1774-1794). The accompanying map shows the location of the forts in the Powell, Clinch, and Lower Holston watersheds. An index to these forts is found at List of Forts of Southwest Virginia. The location of many of these forts is known only approximately, and different sources sometimes suggest different locations. Much of the information in these articles is based on Emory Hamilton's article "Frontier Forts".




Martin's Old Station was located about somewhat more than midway between Moccassin Gap on the east, and Cumberland Gap on the west. Joseph Martin would later describe it's location as

From Moccasin Gap to Martin’s Old Station, 25 miles; from thence to Martin’s New Station, 20 miles; from thence to Cumberland Gap, 2 mile. (Letter from Joseph Martin to the Governor of Virginia, dated 8 November 1791, fide Source:Hamilton, 1968. Note: Martin's Old Station was probably located about 20 miles from Cumberland Gap, but was considerably further than 25 miles from Moccassin Gap.)

Hamilton tells us that it was located on the north side of Martin's Creek. Martin's Creek flows mostly due south eventually connecting to the Powell River, but in its upper reach it flows westwardly along the foot of the Cumberland Mountain. The fact that it is described as being "on the north bank of Martin's Creek (Hamilton, 1968), suggests that it was in this headwater area. Some place it at Rose Hill, in Lee County, but this seems to be a bit too far to the west.

Martin's Old Station was located at approximately point 4 in the above map.


Martin's Fort was a stockade in the shape of a parallelogram. As many as six cabins, separated by about 20 feet, formed part of its walls. Hamilton says it encompassed about a half acre of land, but with only six cabins separated by 20 feet, it would have been much smaller, perhaps less than a tenth acre.


Martin's fort was established in the spring of 1775 by Joseph Martin of Henry County VA. Martin had come to the area in 1769, and was among the first rush of settlers into the former Proclamation lands. After staking claim to substantial land under the Loyal Land Company, he and his company returned to Henry County.

Martin would not return until January, 1775, following the successful culmination of Dunmore's War the previous October. His new party, probably numbering ten to twenty men, staked claims, and laid out out home sites in this area. Known member of this party included

John Redd,
Mordecai Hoard,
Brice Martin (his brother), and
William Parks
Thomas Parks (nephew of William)

Clearly these men did not believe that the Indian Hostilities were over, for sometime that Spring they constructed Martin's Fort. Their concerns were well founded. Martin returned home to Henry County in May of 1776, planning on returning in four weeks, but did not return as planned. A narrative left by John Redd tells us that

we [had] heard nothing from General Martin. The settlers from Priest's and Mump's Forts had all left, and some of our men. Days rolled on and...We became alarmed at our situation. We knew that something of great moment had taken place or Martin would have returned or sent a messenger out to let us know why he did not come at the appointed time. As our number had decreased to about ten (men)..we held a council, determined to remain three days longer, and, if we could hear nothing from the settlement in that time, to start home.

Shortly thereafter William Parks, while working on his homesite, was killed and scalped by Indians.

After going about one mile we came to where some Indians had been lying among some limestone rocks on the Kentucky Trace....we saw old Parks lying dead on his face. On examining him we found he was shot through the heart. ...He was scalped, and a war club left sunk in his brain. We skinned some tough bark and with it lashed old Parks to a pole, and two of us, with an end of the pole on our shoulders, carried him to his cabin and buried him.

That evening, according to Redd,

we found an express sent out by General Martin, informing us that the Cherokee had declared war, and were doing a great deal of mischief. The morning after the arrival of the express we broke up and came to Blackmore's Fort on Clinch River. At this fort, we found the greater part of the men who had left Mump's and Priest's forts.

Martin's Station was never reoccupied.


Martin's Station is mentioned in a number of sites on the web.

  • Sketch of Elisha Wallen, Long Hunter
  • Killing of William Parks
  • Martin's Station, a Wilderness Road State Park A good site to get a feel for what Martin's Station might have looked like. This site indicates that the fort was established as early as 1769. As Hamilton, 1968 points out, the 1769 'visit' was very brief, and expending effort on the construction of a fort was probably unnecessary. Also, Indian Hostilities did not begin until somewhat later (1773). Hamilton believed that the fort was constructed in the spring of 1775. Nonetheless, the site provides some good photographs of the site, including re-enactment footage that gives something of the flavor of the time.


To be worked in eventually

From Summers, 1929:387 [See,M1 Google Books]

On the 17th day of March, 1785, the Indianns visited the house of John Wallen, about fifteen miles from Martin's Station, and killed and scaled his wife, and a Mrs. Cox was shot at by three Indians. On the 24th day of March two families were captured by three INdians in New Garden, about twnety miles from Abingdon, the two families consisting of fifteen persons.