Floyd County: Times Past #2

I am gathering my thoughts to describe our local habitat, as a way of sharing the source of my sense of place with readers of this book that I may eventually put between covers. I’m having to do it all by dictation now, which is very frustrating, and there will be times I will not attempt to correct mistakes of capitalization and that kind of thing. These are some of my thoughts, not the store glee verified, but my gut feeling about the lady at the land. [make that historically verified and lay of the land. Grrrr!]

This is just a starting place. I will hope to come back and make the writing compelling and interesting, and not just pseudo-factual. I will add a few more paragraphs to this during the remainder of the week — if we have power!

Floyd County has never been an easy place to get to. Especially from the East and North, a traveler on foot or horseback would realize that Floyd County — along with counties of Carol and Grayson — presents an elevated plateau that stands forbiddingly higher than the North Carolina Piedmont to our south and east, and from the Roanoke Valley to our north. The path of least resistance for those migrating west was the Shenandoah and contiguous valleys that run northeast to southwest. Consequently, early settlers were far fewer in number than those who have discovered and been drawn to Floyd in the mid-1970s and since.

The first white man to enter Floyd County, Col. Abraham Wood, assaulted the Blue Ridge escarpment head on,  cresting the plateau with no small effort at what is still known as Woods Gap, on his way to explore the reaches of the river we now call the New. A decade or so later, he commissioned excursions up the Roanoke River, originating at the coastal Roanoke colony. These explorers probably crossed the Blue Ridge and may have entered Southwest Virginia by way of the Great Valley passing near Floyd County in that journey as well.

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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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  1. Thanks, Gary — I’d found this thesis and downloaded the three main chapters yesterday. Reading them superficially is where I came up with the information about the Sissons (whose later generations continue to live nearby) and the deserters in Floyd County. I was not able to walk myself back to the introduction and summary that’s included at this link, so thanks!