Highland County, Virginia
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An Overview of Highland County History

Compiled from "The History of Highland County" By Oren F. Morton, 1922.

Like Pendleton, Highland has Shenandoah Mountain on the east and the Allegheny Front on the west. Its geographic features are therefore very much like those of the northern county. But since its valleys are crossed by the series of saddle-ridges that separate the waters of the Potomac from those of the James, the average elevation is greater and the climate is cooler. The first line between Pendleton and Augusta followed the cross-divide and was consequently a natural boundary. Furthermore, the first settlers south of the divide were almost wholly Scotch-Irish. North of it the German element was much in the lead. But in 1796 the Pendleton line was moved southward from four to twelve miles, and so remained until 1847.

The magisterial districts of Highland, counting from west to east, are Bluegrass, Monterey, and Stonewall. The area of the county is 390 square miles. The population in 1850 was 4227. In 1900 it had risen to 5647. In 1910 it had fallen to 5317, and in 1920 to 4931.

The choice lands south of the saddle-divide were covered by an order of council issued in 1748 to Andrew Lewis and certain associates. Settlement began in 1746, but perhaps in 1745.

The formation of Highland in 1847 was not so much because Pendleton and Bath were too long as because the Staunton and Parkersburg Turnpike had been opened in 1838. This circumstance gave the Highland area an important advantage.

County government was organized May 20, 1847 in the house of John Cook, which stood near a spring behind the office of E. B. Jones in the town of Monterey. The first justices were George W. Amiss, Emmanuel Arbogast, Abel H. Armstrong, David H. Bird, James Brown, Andrew H. Byrd, James B. Campbell, Benjamin Fleisher, George Hicklin, Peter Hull, Thomas Jones, John H. Pullin, Samuel Ruckman, John Sitlington, Reuben Slaven, Adam Stephenson Sr. , and Charles Steuart.

Major Peter Hull, was the first sheriff and his deputies were David G. McClung and Peter H. Kinkead. Adam Stephenson Jr. Was the first clerk, and Thomas Campbell the first surveyor. The constables for the five districts into which the county was set off were Andrew J. Jones, John M. Rexrode, James H. Ryder, Houston F. Gwin, and William S. Thompson.

A contract for the courthouse and jail was awarded to Robert Johnson for $4935. The voting places established in 1847 were Samuel Ruckman's and Sitlington's mill in Bluegrass, John Cook's and John Wiley's in Monterey, and William McClung's and the village of McDowell in Stonewall.

The members of the first grand jury were George Carlile (fOrenan), Thomas Beverage, George H. Bird, John Chestnut, George Colaw, William Curry, Adam Fox, Moses Gwin, James Gwin, John C. Gwin, William T. Johns, John Lightner, Jacob Newman. Thomas Parks, Loftus Pullin, David Steuart, David Varner, John Vandevender, Sampson Wagoner, Samuel Wilson, and Amos Wimer.

The most conspicuous events of the Indian wars were a battle near the head of the North Fork, the attack on the home of William Wilson on Jackson's River, and the building of Fort George on the farm of L. M. McClung. The chief events of the Civil War were the battle of McDowell, May 8, 1862, and the raids by Federal Cavalry in 1863 and 1864.

Listings of actual on-line records of Highland County

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