Howe's History 1845

Submitted by Alice Warner

Book Title: Historical Collections Of Virginia By Henry Howe, 1845

Clarke (p. 233-237)

[[Please keep in mind this was written in 1845]]

Clarke was formed in 1836, from Frederick, and named from Gen. Geo. Rogers
Clarke; it is 17 miles long, and 15 wide. Its surface is undulating, and the
soil not surpassed in fertility by any other county in the state. The Shenandoah
runs through the eastern part, at the foot of the Blue Ridge, and the Opequon
near its western line. Pop., whites 2,867, slaves 3,325, free colored 161;
total, 6,353.

Berryville, the county-seat, is 160 miles NW of Richmond, and 12 east of
Winchester. It was established Jan. 15, 1798, on 20 acres of land belonging to
Benjamin Berry and Sarah Strebling, and the following gentlemen appointed
trustees: Daniel Morgan, William McGuire, Archibald Magill, Rawleigh Colston,
John Milton, Thomas Strebling, George Blackmore, Charles Smith, and Bushrod
Taylor. It now contains an Episcopal church, and about 35 dwellings. About the
year 1733, (says Kercheval,) Joseph Hampton and two sons came from the eastern
shore of Maryland, settled on Buck marsh, near Berryville, and lived the greater
part of the year in a hollow sycamore tree. They enclosed a piece of land and
made a crop, preparatory to the removal of the family.
The village of Berryville is often called /i/ Battletown /i/, from having been
the scene of many of those pugilistic combats for which Gen. Daniel Morgan, of
revolutionary memory, was remarkable.
This officer resided, for a time, about a half a mile N of Battletown, at a seat
called "/i/ Soldier's Rest /i/". It is a plain two-story dwelling, originally
built by a Mr. Morton, and afterwards added to by Morgan. It is now the
residence of Mr. John B. Taylor.
Morgan subsequently built another, a beautiful seat, now standing in this
county, two miles NE of White Post, which he very appropriately named Saratoga.
It was erected by Hessians taken prisoners at Saratoga. About 200 yards from
"Soldier's Rest," stands an old log hut, which well-authenticated tradition
states was occupied by Washington while surveying land in this region for Lord
Fairfax. It is about 12 feet square, and is divided into two rooms; one in the
upper, and the other in the lower story. The lower apartment was then, and is
now, used as a milk-room. A beautiful spring gushes up from the rocks by the
house and flows in a clear, crystal stream, under the building, answering
admirably the purpose to which it is applied, in cooling this apartment. Many
years since, both the spring and the building were protected from the heat of
the summer's sun, by a dense copse of trees. The upper, or attic room, which is
about 12 feet square, was occupied by Washington as a place of deposite for his
surveying instruments, and as a lodging -- how long though, is not known. The
room was lathed and plastered. A window was at one end, and a door -- up to
which led a rough flight of steps -- at the other. This rude hut is, perhaps,
the most interesting relic of that great and good man, who became "first in the
hearts of his countrymen." It is a memento of him in a humble life, ere fame had
encircled his brows with her choicest laurels, before that nation, now among the
highest through his exertions, had a being; but the vicissitudes and toils of
his youth -- as beautifully described in the annexed extract from Bancroft --
combined to give energy to his character, and that practical, every-day
knowledge, which better prepared him for the high and important destiny that
awaited him:
At the very time of the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, the woods of Virginia
sheltered the youthful George Washington, the son of a widow. Born by the side
of the Potomac, beneath the roof of a Westmoreland farmer, almost from infancy
his lot had been the lot of an orphan. No acadamy had welcomed him to its
shades, no college crowned him with its honors: to read, to write, to cipher --
these had been his degrees in knowledge. And now at sixteen years of age, in
quest of an honest maintenance, encountering intolerable toil; cheered onward by
being able to write to a schoolboy friend, "Dear Richard, a doubloon is my
constant gain every day, and sometimes six pistoles;" "himself his own cook,
having now spit but a forked stick, no plate but a large chip;" roaming over
spurs of the Alleghanies, and along the banks of the Shenandoah; alive to
nature, and sometimes, "spending the best of the day in admiring the trees and
richness of the land;" among skin-clad savages, with their scalps and rattles,
or uncouth emigrants "that would never speak English;" rarely sleeping in a bedl
holding a bear-skin a splendid couch; clad of a resting-place for the night upon
a little hay, straw, or fodder, and often camping in the forests, where the
place nearest the fire was a happy luxury; this stripling surveyor in the woods,
with no companion but his unlettered associates, and no implements of science
but his compass and chain, contrasted strangely with the imperial magnificence
of the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle. And yet God had selected not Kaunitz, nor
Newcastle, not a monarch of the house of Hapsburg, nor of Hanover, but the
Virginia stripling, to give an impulse to human affairs, and, as far as events
can depend upon an individual, had placed the rights and the destinies of
countless millions in the keeping of the /i/ widow's son /i/.

Col. Charles M. Thruston, a patriotic clergyman of the Episcopal denomination,
who became an officer of the revolutionary army, resided for many years on a
beautiful farm in this county, called Mount Sion, one mile above the Shenandoah.
For a biographical sketch, see Gloucester County.[[Will also be in the archives]].
Four miles NE of Millwood is the "Old Chapel," built in 1796, in which the Rt.
Rev. Wm. Meade, Bishop of the Episcopal church in Va., officiated for many
years. It is a venerable looking stone edifice, partly in a grove, and has
adjoining it a grave-yard, in which lie buried many respectable people of the
neighboring country.
Gen. Rogers Clarke, from whom this county derived its name, was an officer of
the revolution, of undaunted coolness and courage. In addition to the facts
given on p. 116, [[In Archives, statewide files]] we have a single anecdote to
relate, published in the "Notes of an Old Officer." At the treaty of Fort
Washington, where Clarke had but 70 men, 300 Shawnees appeared in the council
chamber. Their chief made a boisterous speech, and then placed on the table a
belt of white and black wampum, to intimate they were ready for either peace or
war, while his 300 savages applauded him by a terrific yell. At the table sat
Clarke with only two or three other persons. Clarke, who was leaning on his
elbow with apparent unconcern, with his rattan coolly pushed the wampum on to
the floor. Then rising as the savages muttered their indignation, he trampled on
the belt, and with a look of stern defiance and a voice of thunder, that made
the stoutest heart quail, bade them instantly quit the hall. They involuntarily
left, and the next day sued for peace. Gen. Clarke died in Kentucky in 1817.
The subject of the above notice had a brother, Gen. Wm. Clarke, who was scarcely
less distinguished. He was born in this state in 1770. When 14 years old, he
removed with his father's family to Kentucky, where the city of Louisville now
stands. It then consisted only of a few cabins surrounding a fort, then recently
established by his brother, Gen. Rogers Clarke. He entered the army, and was
lieutenant in 1790. He was the companion of Lewis on the expedition to the
Pacific. In 1806, he was appointed governor of the territory of Upper Louisiana,
and governor of Missouri from 1813 to 1820, when it was admitted into the Union.
He held various offices, among which was that of superintendent of Indian
affairs. He made many important treaties with the Indians. He well understood
their character and won their most unbounded confidence. "His name was known to
the most remote trives, and his word was everywhere reverenced by them. They
regarded him as a father, and his signature, which was known to the most remote
tribes, whenever shown was respected." He died in 1838, aged 68, at St. Louis,
where he had resided for over 30 years.
Millwood, 11 miles southeasterly from Winchester, contains an Episcopal church,
and about 30 dwellings. It is the centre of a beautiful and fertile country, and
enjoys a considerable trade with it. White Post, (* So named from a /i/ white
post /i/ which Lord Fairfax planted as a guide to his dwelling one mile
distant), 12 miles SE of Winchester, contains a church, 2 mercantile stores, and
16 dwellings.
Thirteen miles southeast from Winchester, near the village of White Post in this
county, is Greenway Court, the seat of the late Lord Fairfax, the proprietor of
the Northern Neck of Virginia; and at present the residence of the Rev. Mr.
Kennerly.
Part of the immense tract among the rich valleys of the Alleghany mountains,
were surveyed by Washington, and divided into lots, to enable the proprietor to
claim his quit-rents and give legal titles. Washington set off on his first
surveying expedition in March, 1748, just a month from the day he was sixteen
years old, in company with George Fairfax, the eldest son of William Fairfax,
whose daughter, Washington's eldest brother, Lawrence, had married. Sparks, in
his Life of Washington, gives the annexed account of the proprietor of the
Northern Neck:
Lord Fairfax, a distant relative of William Fairfax, was a man of an eccentric
turn of mind, of great private worth, generous, and hospitable. He had been
accustomed to the best society, to which his rank entitled him, in England.
While he was at the University of Oxford he had a fondness for literature, and
his taste and skill in that line may be inferred from his having written some of
the papers in the /i/Spectator/i/. Possessing by inheritance a vast tract of
country, (** The domain of Lord Fairfax, called the Northern Neck of Virginia,
included the immense territory now comprising the counties of Lancaster,
Northumberland, Richmond, Westmoreland, Stafford, King George, Prince William,
Fairfax, Loudoun, Fauquier, Culpeper, Clarke, Madison, Page, Shenandoah, Hardy,
Hampshire, Morgan, Berkeley, Jefferson, and Frederick. Charles II granted to the
ancestors of Lord Fairfax all lands lying between the headwaters of the
Rappahannock and Potomach to the Chesapeake Bay; a territory comprising about
one quarter of the present limits of Virginia. For a full history of the
Northern Neck, the reader is referred to Kercheval's History of the Valley of
Virginia.) situate between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, and stretching
across the Alleghany mountains, he made a voyage to Virginia to examine this
domain. So well pleased was he with the climate and mode of life, that he
resolved, after going back to England and arranging his affairs, to return and
spend his days amidst this wild territory. At the time (1748) of which we are
now speaking, he had just arrived to execute this purpose and was residing with
his relatives at Belvoir. This was his home for several years; but he at length
removed over the Blue Ridge, built a house in the Shenandoah Valley, called
/i/Greenway Court/i/ and cultivated a large farm. Here he lived in comparative
seclusion, often amusing himself with huntin, but chiefly devoted to the care of
his estate, to acts of benevolence among his tenants, and to such public duties
as devolved upon him in the narrow sphere he had chosen; a friend of liberty,
honored for his uprightness, esteemed for the amenity of his manners, and his
practical virtues.
The prominent building shown in the view at Greenway Court, was appropriated to
the use of the steward of Fairfax. It was the commencement of a series of
buildings which Lord Fairfax had intended to erect but did not live to complete.
His lordship lived and died in a single clap-board story and a half house, which
stood just in front of the modern brick dwelling of Mr. Kennerly, and was
destroyed in 1834. There are now several of the original buildings standing at
the place: among them is a small limestone structure, where quit-rents were
given and titles draw, of his lordship's domains. Fairfax had, probably, 150
negro servants, who lived in log huts scattered about in the woods.
A few years since, in excavating the ground near the house, the servants of Mr.
Kennerly discovered a large quantity of joes and half-joes, amounting to about
$250; they were what is termed cob-coin, of a square form, and dated about 1730.
They were supposed to have been secreted there by Lord Fairfax. Under a shelving
rock, 9 feet from the surface, there was also found a human skeleton of gigantic
stature; supposed to be that of an Indian.
When Lord Dunmore went on his expedition against the Indians in 1774, he came on
as far as this place with a portion of his troops, and waited here about a
fortnight for reinforcements. His soldiers encamped in what was then a grove --
now a meadow -- about 300 yards N of Mr. Kennerly's present residence. The spot
is indicated by a deep well, supposed to have been dug by them; an old magazine,
destroyed in 1843, stood near the well. Washington, when recruiting at
Winchester, often visited this place.
Lord Fairfax had but little cultivated ground around his premises, and that was
in small patches without taste or design. The land was left for a park, and he
lived almost wholly from his rents. The following, as well as much of the
foregoing, respecting him, is traditionary: His lordship was a dark, swarthy
man, several inches over 6 feet in height, and of a gigantic frame and personal
strength. He lived the life of a bachelor, and fared coarse, adopting in that
respect the rough customs of the people among whom he was. When in the humor, he
was generous -- giving away whole farms to his tenants, and simply demanding for
rent some trifle, for instance, a present of a turkey for his Christmas dinner.
He was passionately fond of hunting, and often passed weeks together in the
pleasures of the chase. When on these expeditions, he made it a rule, that he
who got the fox, cut off his tail, and held it up, should share in the
jollification which was to follow, free of expense. Soon as a fox was started,
the young men of the company usually dashed after him with great impetuosity,
while Fairfax leisurely waited behind, with a favorite servant who was familiar
with the water-courses, and of a quick ear, to discover the course of the fox.
Following his directions, his lordship would start after the game, and, in most
instances, secure the prize, and stick the tail of the fox in his hat in triumph.
Lord Fairfax died at the advanced age of ninety-two, in the autumn of 1782, soon
after the surrender of Cornwallis, an event he is said to have much lamented. He
was buried at Winchester, under the communion table of the old Episcopal Church.
[[See Frederick County History in the archives]]

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Clarke County, Virginia

 

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