The pups and I headed down to see the site (Crab Orchard) of the last great battle fought between the Shawnee and the Cherokee on a salt lick that had been settled by a colonist named Dr. Witten – a noble enough man, he had built an orphanage for boys, raising over a two hundred of them on the frontier, over the course of 47 years.
As I entered the site, I reflected on the accomplishment that surveying the land must have been to Peter Jefferson and Jeffrey Fry around 1750. They would have likely been in a buggy on dirt roads with wheels that may have been fortified with iron if they could find an iron forge when a wheel broke.
They would have been ferried across riverways, and probably navigated the pass through the mountains past the current site of Virginia Tech (founded about 120 years after the Fry-Jefferson-map) with its vet school. They would have had to have had excellent relations with the Native Americans to survive the trips through unpoliced and unmapped areas. Peace would have been bought with gifts. The map would have been a lifetime of work.
We looked over the valley where the battle Knob was fought in 1763, the Native American grave site apparently still visible. This battle would have been at the end of the French and Indian War, preceding the construction of Fort Witten – a militarized outpost from 1774 used to defend with military presence, hostilities between Native Americans and colonists in the area through the rest of the century.
The old pioneer homesite had been reconstructed, and with an obvious passion for buildings, they had separate houses for everything: a dairy house, a smoke house, an apple house, a wool-spinning house, a corn house, in addition to the standard separated kitchen and iron forge.
The many houses on the pioneer homestead.
Petey and Spin outside the corn house.
A little later, we would revisit the little house that I had built in the area 10 years ago. It was still dry in the middle of a heavy storm with a cot inside, having weathered 10 years of 1 foot snows. It’s not quite as big as the corn house…