Annals of Southwest Virginia

Lewis Preston Summers Annals of Southwest Virginia ,1929, Southern Historical Press, Greenville, SC and History of Southwest Virginia, 1903

Annals in two volumes show transcribed court records from the southwest Virginia counties which descended from the dissolution of old Fincastle County. They contain minor typographical errors, but are quite a service to the student of the early history of the region. Summers concentrated on the settlement of the frontier through the Revolution and the people who set the direction of local government after the war. He made no attempt to record what happened into the 19th century.

Volume I contains transcribed court records of Botetourt, Fincastle, and Montgomery counties as well as journals from the 1671 Batts and Fallam expedition, Thomas Walker’s expedition, Christopher Gist’s expedition, and the Fincastle Resolutions.

Volume II contains court records of Washington and Wythe Counties with a few other lists.

The court journals show what Washington County (when it contained several of today’s counties) did about survivors and casualties of Kings Mountain wounds.

The alpha list of Revolutionary War soldiers apparently merges several sources of rosters and individual entries into a single list. There is no apparent cause to question the names contained even though their sources are not divulged.

UVa archives did not produce Summers’ original sources. Intermediate sources indicate struggles with merging names into alphabetic order. Without a computer, the resulting order has chunks out of sequence. The archives did produce typed preliminary partial lists partially alphabetized with additional names penciled in their places among the double spaced entries. Apparent use of dittos in columns other than names drooled onto subsequent names. The resulting list of militiamen erroneously placed many at Kings Mountain. Summers shows about twice the 400 Virginians at Kings Mountain as other sources recorded. The Summers list obviously drooled dittos down pages listing patriots.

One example of the Kings Mountain overstatement is in the 1903 publication History of Southwest Virginia. Young Samuel Colville was the orphaned nephew of militia captain Andrew Colville. Page 857 states that Samuel was mortally wounded at Kings Mountain in November 1780. Samuel Colville’s estate was settled earlier in 1780 (p 1053, March 1780). He was conspicuously deceased long before the September 1780 musters which led to Kings Mountain. It is probable that Samuel was in militia service being a single young man without family responsibilities in a family of patriots. His death could have been while deployed as a scout or with a frontier construction or defense patrol. Regretfully, others have relied on Summers to spread this and other errors into their recounts of Washington County militia service. Some are in print distributed from Washington County Historical Society. Other copied errors have been cast in bronze, such as on a monument in Bristol.

Another example of Summers’ Kings Mountain errors is Captain Joseph Black. Black was locally famous. The original county seat was named Blacks Fort and later renamed to Abingdon. A number of Captain Black’s soldiers mentioned serving under him, but none of them mentioned that service being at Kings Mountain. Instead they were serving in deployments elsewhere on the frontier such as working on the wilderness road to Colonel Benjamin Logan’s Fort. In a 1823 letter to Governor Campbell, Joseph Black’s half brother, Samuel Newell, named all the officers from Virginia who departed Sycamore Shoals to cross the mountain except one he had forgotten. ’Newell could not recall Ensign Robert Sinclair. Sinclair had been dispatched from Shelving Rock to accompany sick soldiers and bothersome cattle back to Blacks Fort. Newell did not recall his own brother being at Kings Mountain because Joseph Black was not there.

Summers’ list of militiamen is thus useful for finding the name of a patriot soldier, but not for the soldier’s specific deployments.

Kings Mountain 07Oct1780 Overmountain Victory trail National Park History Battle Casualties Patriots