Floyd County: Times Past #4

[Part four of five] There was at best a primitive road through the creek bed beyond the three bridges, and the same along the source headwaters of Goose Creek at the time of the Civil War. Consequently, given its isolation and difficulty of access, deserters from both armies are said to have hidden from bounty hunters in a large, still-roadless area nearby, locally called Free State, as well as in the several side-creek creases of the rugged valley in which we live. [Some Sissons who had lived in this area were vocal advocates for secession of Southwest Virginia from the state. That they knew this area well contributed to the fact that it became a deserters’ stronghold. [ ref Sam’s wall]

Those of a more gregarious nature, or who could afford better-lying land, might have gained access into Floyd County from Christiansburg (a prominent lodging place for travelers on the Wilderness Road) onto the plateau some 600 feet higher than our home (at 2100 feet) where they could farm fertile, relatively level and day-long sun-lit soils. (Our hours of daylight are some 3 to 4 less than for our lofty neighbors who live up on Daniels run. We miss seeing sunrise and sunset, but we don’t miss the wind.)

Our house was built by the brothers of John Lemuel Boone (our best guess is around 1880), so you could get here from there, but it was not easy, to be sure. I try not to complain too much about our treacherous single-lane slow road. Carved into this rocky ravine worn down through the mountain bedrock over the ages by Goose Creek, it was the last road in the county to ford and travel through a stream bed (until the early 70s.)

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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