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The Settlement of the Appalachian Frontier: Jacob Castle

The Settlement of the Appalachian Frontier

Sharing information, stories, and ideas for teaching students about the settlement of the Appalachian Frontier. Focusing on the little-known people and history of Southwestern Virginia, Northeast Tennessee, and Eastern Kentucky.

Location: Nickelsville, Virginia, United States

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Jacob Castle

One of the earliest settlers in the western wilderness was Jacob Castle. In 1746 he traded a rusty musket and butcher knife to the Indians for a small tract of land that later became part of Saltville, Va.. Later, after being involved in some sort of dispute with his neighbors, he moved to the Castlewood section of what became Russell County. There he built a small cabin from which to range on long-hunts in the surrounding area. Sometimes he was gone for months at a time. Like other hunters of his day, he dressed in a dear skin hunting shirt, beaver cap, buckskin moccasins and leggings, and blended in well with the soft tones of the woods. He carried a hatchet, knife, shot pouch, and provisions such as meal, salt, jerked beef and pemmican in a bag slung over his shoulder. He also carried a long-barrelled rifle commonly made by German gunsmiths in eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland, and along the western trail. Originally they were called Pennsylvania Rifles but later became more commonly called the Kentucky Hunter's Rifle. As he ranged about the countryside, he gradually began to encounter more and more other settlers. As hostile Indian activity became more common, settlers were frequently forced to build near others for protection. Soon other settlers also came to "Castle's Woods" and cleared land near his tiny cabin. The fact that the Loyal Land Company claimed ownership of much of the territory, did not deter squatters from building where they chose. If confronted by the owner, they would simply move on. Available land was certainly no problem to the early settlers.
Many notable settlers visited or settled for a time in the Castle Wood area. Daniel Boone, Patrick Porter, William Russell, and many others, were there for "a spell". At least two important forts were built near there for the protection of the settlers and the western frontier, (Snoddy's Fort and Moore's Fort.) We will probably never know exactly why Jacob Castle chose this remote area to settle and he certainly never anticipated that it would become such an important settlement on the frontier.