State Historical Markers in Tazewell County
These are the texts of the State Historical Markers placed in Tazewell County. The list is current as of December 31, 2003 per the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
X-10 Wlliam Wynne’s Fort:
Business Rt. 19, Tazewell: On the hillside to the north stood Wynne’s Fort. A settlement was made here as early as 1752. Some years later William Wynne obtained land here and built a neighborhood fort. After 1776 the State government built a fort and garrisoned it.
Business Rt. 19, Tazewell. The town was laid off as the county seat iln 1800 on land given by William Peery and Samuel Ferguson. First known as Jeffersonville, the name was changed to Tazewell. It was incorporated in 1866.
X-12 Burke’s Garden:
Rt. 61, 1.8 miles east of Tazewell. Eight miles east is Burke’s Garden, discovered by James Burke in 1749. Major Lewis’s expedition against the Indians, 1756, camped there, and Burke’s Fort was there in 1744. In 1791 Indians raided into Burke’s Garden, carrying off the wife and children of Thomas Ingles. X-12o Rts. 666 and 623. Known for its fertility and great natural beauty, the bowl-shaped Burke’s Garden is the highest valley in Virginia. James Burke discovered it during the 1740s while hunting and settled here about 1754. X-12o+ Rts. 666 and 623. Burke’s Garden was first settled about 1754 by James Burke who had been hunting in the area during the previous decade.
X-13. Maiden Springs Fort:
Rt. 91, 12 miles southwest of Tazewell. On the hillside to the west stood Maiden Springs Fort, also known as Reese Bowen’s Fort. It was garrisoned in Dunmore’s War, 1774. Rees Bowen, the founder, fought at Point Pleasant, 1774, and was killed at King’s Mountain, 1780.
X-14 Big Crab Orchard or Witten’s Fort:
Rts. 19/460 and Business Rt. 19, Pisgah. On the hillside to the south stood Big Crab Orchard Fort, also known as Witten’s Fort. Thomas Witten obtained land here in 1771 and built the fort as a neighborhood place of refuge. It was garrisoned in Dunmore’s War, 1774.
X-15. Bluefield, Virginia:
Rt. 19 at entrance of Bluefield. The place was first known as Pin Hook. In 1883 the New River branch of the N&W Railroad was completed here and the first coal shipped from the Pocahontas mines. The town of Graham was incorporated in 1884 and named for Thomas Graham of Philadelphia. The town was reincorporated and the name changed to Bluefield in 1924, to conform to its sister city.
X-16. Indian-Settler Conflicts:
Bus. Rt. 19 two miles west of Tazewell. Nearby to the south, an early conflict occurred in the upper Clinch River Valley, when Indians attacked and killed John Henry, his wife and their children on 8 September 1774. Additional conflicts took place during this period, including a March 1782 Indian attack on the house of James Maxwell that killed two of his daughters.
X-25. Pisgah United Methodist Church:
Rt. 19/460 and Bus. Rt.19, Pisgah. The Reverend John Kobler preached the first sermon by a Methodist in Tazewell County here in 1793 and received eleven members into the church. The church building, constructed on a parcel of land donated by Thomas Peery, was the first church of any denomination in the county.
X-27. Mathias Harman Sr.:
Rt. 637, seven miles north of Rt. 460. Just east of here is the last home site and grave of Mathias Harman Sr. (1736-1832), early explorer, hunter and Revolutionary War veteran. Harman helped establish the first permanent English settlement in eastern Kentucky in 1755. In 1789 he founded Harman’s Station on the Levisa River near John’s Creek in present day Johnson County. He and his wife Lydia settled in this area in 1803.
X-20 Roark’s Gap Incident:
Rt. 631 and Rt. 637. During the winter of 1780, a food shortage caused hardship for people and animals. While James Roark, an early settler of this region, and two of his sons went on a hunting trip, Indians attacked his home, on 18 March 1780. The Indians, alleged to be Shawnee, killed Roark’s wife and seven of their children.
X-31. Bluefield College:
Rt. 102, 0.3 miles west of West Virginia line. Bluefield College was chartered in May 1920 as “an institution of learning for the instruction of boys and men and girls and women in literature, philosophy and the liberal and useful arts.” Opened as a junior college in 1922 with three buildings and strong support from the Baptist General Association of Virginia and the citizens of the area, Bluefield College was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as a four-year institution in 1977.
XH-1 Molly Tynes’ Ride:
Rt. 61, 1.8 miles east of Tazewell. To the north was “Rocky Dell,” the home of Samuel Tynes. From here on July 17, 1863, his daughter Molly rode across the mountains to Wytheville to warn the town of an attack by Federal forces under Colonel J. T. Toland.
XH-2. Shawver Mill:
Rt. 61 at Rt. 64. The Shawver Mill community grew up around the gristmill that George Shawver built before 1860. William Leffel and Adam Britts soon built sawmills, and the community developed like many in Virginia during the 19th century. By 1992 only the mill dam, the cemetery on the hill, and Chestnut Grove Church survived.
Rt. 460 at west entrance to Richlands. This fertile region was known as Richlands from an early period. In 1782 and later Richlands was a militia station for frontier defense. The town was laid off in 1890, with the coming of the Norfolk and Western Railroad, and was incorporated in 1891. It is the center of an agricultural section.
XL-5. Site of James Burke’s Garden:
Rt. 623 in Burke’s Garden. In this fertile soil James Burke, who discovered this “hunters’ paradise,” planted potato peelings by the campfire of a 1748 surveying party led by Col. James Patton.
Rt. 102, just east of Pocahontas. This region was visited by the explorer, Dr. Thomas Walker, in 1750. Following a report by Captain I. A. Welch in 1873, the first coal mine was opened here in 1882. Shipment of coal followed in 1883, when the Norfolk and Western Railroad reached this point from Radford. First known as “Powell’s Bottom,” the town was incorporated in 1884 and named for the Indian princess Pocahontas.
XP-5 Abb’s Valley:
Rt. 102, just east of Pocahontas. Five miles southwest is Abb’s Valley, discovered by Absalom Looney. James Moore and Robert Poage were the first settlers, about 1770. In July, 1786, Shawnee Indians raided the valley, killing or carrying into captivity the Moore family. Mary (Polly) Moore, Martha Evans and James Moore (captured earlier) finally returned. They are known as “The Captives of Abb’s Valley.”
XP-6 Engagement at Falls Mills:
Rt. 102 at Rt. 643. Here at dawn on 20 July 1863 the Confederate cavalry of Maj. Andrew J. May surprised a Union raiding party led by Lt. Col. Freeman E. Franklin. Aroused from its bivouac in Brown’s Meadow, where it was preparing to build the Falls Mill, the Union cavalry fled north toward Abb’s Valley. Brig. Gen. John S. Williams’s Confederate cavalry struck the raiders as they withdrew up the valley, compelling them to abandon captured livestock and contraband slaves.