With its vast territorial rights and claims, Virginia at one time had the most extensive frontier of any of the original thirteen states and colonies. Moreover, Virginia served as a gateway for the various migrations to the west, northwest, and southwest by early colonists, including the intrepid Scotch-Irish. By far the most authoritative and comprehensive account of the advance of the Virginia frontier in colonial times is Kegley’s Virginia Frontier–a mammoth work detailing the social, religious, and family life in Southwest Virginia from 1730 to 1790.
The importance of this extraordinary work to genealogists cannot be overstated. Kegley culled through a multitude of original records to ensure that his work would be the most reliable sourcebook available on this subject. To help the reader understand the migration into this new area, Kegley focuses particularly on the settlers themselves. He identifies each newcomer with his place of settlement, and then examines the pioneer’s experiences and subsequent movements, using nearly three dozen maps to show more definitively the location of settlements and important homesteads. More than sixty additional illustrations further enhance and clarify the text.
The narrative is divided into five parts: Part I covers the Virginia frontier from the beginning of the colony to 1740; Part II covers the period from 1740 to 1760; Part III tells the story of the Virginia frontier in the French and Indian War; Part IV covers the closing years of the war and the settlements from 1760 to the organization of Botetourt County in 1770; and Part V details the organization and development of Botetourt County from 1770 to 1783. Throughout each of these parts–in section after section–there are biographical sketches and countless lists of land grants and deeds of conveyance identifying thousands upon thousands of settlers and their family members. This documentary history is without a doubt the premier source of information on the pioneers of the Virginia frontier.
“Henceforth [Kegley’s Virginia Frontier] will be regarded and accepted as the one necessary and sufficient corner-stone in any collection of books dealing with the history of the Virginia frontier.”–Samuel M. Wilson