Trans-Allegheny Pioneers

Historical Sketches of the First White Settlers West of the Alleghenies, 1748 and After


Author: Hale, John P.
Publication Date: 1886
Reprint Date: 2005
Pages: 330 pp.
ISBN: 9780806351469


Trans-Allegheny Pioneers is, without a doubt, one of the most celebrated accounts of life on the Virginia frontier ever written. However, it is more than that, for it is also the genealogical account of the Draper and Ingles families, who were later memorialized in the novels of Laura Ingles Wilder (Little House on the Prairie, etc.). Mr. Hale’s concern, of course, is on “the progressive frontier explorations and settlements along the entire Virginia border, from the Alleghenies to the Ohio, and from the New River-Kanawha and tributaries in the Southwest, where settlements first began, to the Monogahela and tributaries, in the Northwest and along the Ohio, where the frontier line of settlements was last to be advanced. . . .” His focal point is the region of the New River-Kanawha in present-day Montgomery and Pulaski counties, Virginia. Chronologically, the account picks up in the 1740s but truly hits its stride in 1755 with the Indian attack at Draper’s Meadows, which resulted in the deaths of a number of settlers and the capture (and ultimate escape) of Mary Ingles and Bettie Draper. The author ably uses the device of the Indian raid and subsequent flight to tell us about life along the frontier and the names of the families who settled there. Other chapters are devoted to the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774 and biographical sketches of its participants. Point Pleasant, in fact, prefigured the conflicts that characterized the frontier theater of the American Revolution. Elsewhere Mr. Hale provides a detailed chronology of milestones along the Trans-Allegheny, Daniel Boone’s years along the New River-Kanawha, and a sketch of the early history and progress of nearby Charleston, West Virginia. This is essential reading for anyone interested in frontier history or the genealogies of mid-18th century families who resided in the Valley of Virginia.

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