- a local historian in the area of Saltville and Chilowie VA (Mr. Lawrence Richardson 276-783-5824) in 2005 who had presented research papers on Charles St. Clair told Richard Curtis by phone 1/28/05 following information and story of life of Charles St. Clair from his unpublished historical research. Mr. Richardson hopes to publish in book before too long.
This is Richard Curtis' best recollection of story:
Charles St. Claire was living in a an ajoining county to Smythe County VA around 1742 and had a neighbor by the name of Sawlyers (sp?). This neighbor Sawlyers had heard of a proposal by the then governor of VA that if someone would explore New River in VA and determine where it flowed and document it, that the state would grant them 10,000 acres land as reward. This Mr. Sawlyers got Charles St Clair interested and enlisted to help do this task. This story of exploration according to Mr. Richardson had heretofore been dismissed as too far fetch to be believable. Mr. Richardson says that he has spend 3-4 years researching same and has even found documentation of it in the French archives in Paris France.
He says Charles St. Clair and his neighbors and 2 other men enlisted set out in 1742 to explore New River. The floated it all the way to the Mississippi and down the mississippi to within a hundred miles or so of New Orleans where they were captured by the French and also Indians. The French thought they were spys an so sentenced them to 3 years in prison. They were imprisoned in New Orleans for 2 years when the Mr. Sawlyers and other captives masterminded an escape and did so. The men started back to VA area by land but close to coast and somehow got on board a ship headed for VA. This ship was captured by the French and the escape prisoners were discovered. Charles St. Clair and the others were put off the ship at sea in a very small boat but without paddles. The next morning, the mean discovered their little boat has washed up ashore near Charleston VA. The men in telling of their adventures had been gone about 3 1/2 (three and one half) years.
Charles St. Clair was a long-hunter. Mr. Richardson said these long-hunters would go into the then wilderness back country for periods of about 6 months at a time hunting and trapping. He said that the pelts brought good financial gain.
Mr. Richardson said his research showed Charles St Clair having six sons, the youngest of which was named Alexander, who with his mother following Charles death in 1768 moved to property in Wythe county. Mr Richardson was not aware that Charles St. Clair had a daughter names Agnes Nancy Ann that married William Colyar.
In a publication Historical Sketches and REminiscences of an Octogenarian by Thomas L. Preston (Univ. of VA 1899) and published by B.F. Johnson Publishing Co Richmond VA 1900, on page 14 it states that
" Charles Campbell, the other surveyor of Colonel James Patton's pioneer expedition, in all probability, accompanied John Buchanan in 1749 and surveyed some of the lands which were patented to him and J. Buchanan in 1753. There is a tradition in the family that on the first surveying expedition there came to the camp of the party a hunter, who , after partaking of their hospitality, said that he knew their purpose, and if they would survey a tract of land he had chosen, he would show the best lands in all that section of the country, for he had hunted over it; and, further, that he was on friendly terms with the Indians, and would insure the party against any attack or molestation by them.
This was agreed to and the survey made, and the patent assured to (Charles) St. Clair (pronounced Sinkler) in 1753. Some confirmation of this tradition is found in the fact that the date of the patent to St. Clair is the same 1753 as those to Aspinvale and the "Salt Lick" ( now the Alkaline Works of Smythe county,) patented to Charles Campbell.
St. Clair's "choice", a fine body of land on the South Fork of the Holston, is now known as Sinkler's Bottom. It is well situated, but was the least fertile tract surveyed by those sagacious judges of soils, Charles Campbell and John Buchanan. "
LOCATION OF ST CLAIR BOTTOM VA.
In modern day travel it is found off Interstate I-81 by exiting at exit 35 at Chilhowie VA. Head east on Whitetop Road (state road 107 and 762) about five miles to the flashing caution light which is at the Holston river. (more like a creek at this point). What you see straight ahead is St. Clair's Bottom. It is roughly at Latitude N 36 46 4.4 and longitude -81 39 16.5
- 1745-1748 (Augusta Co Original Petitions and Papers Filed in the County Court. 1745-1748) Undated. "We petitioners, being the frontier inhabitants of this colony, labor under great inconveniences for want of a road being opened from our settlement towards the landing, and there being (as we presume) a sufficient number of inhabitants to open one, we therefore humbly pray that your worship will be graciously pleased to take our case under your serious consideration and grant an order for a road to be opened from Zachariah CALHOUNS, on Reedy Creek, and thence to the Buffalo Lick and from thence the nearest and best way to Woods River, at the upper end of a small island below the mouth of the Little River, and thence towards the forks of Meadow Creek, and thence to the top of the dividing ridge between Woods River and the South Fork of Roanoke, and that John VANCE and Alexander SAYERS be appointed to mark and lay off said road from said CALLHOUNS to Woods River and that John STROUD and James CONLEY mark and lay off from thence to the aforesaid dividing ridge, etc. That John McFARLAND and John CROCKETT be appointed overseers to open and clear said road from said CALHOUN'S to Woods River to the aforesaid dividing ridge, etc. That John McFARLAND and Joseph CROCKETT be appointed overseers to open and clear said road from said CALHOUN'S to Woods River, with the subscribers and the adjacent inhabitants and that William CRISPE and William PELLEM be appointed overseers from Woods River to the aforesaid dividing ridge, etc., and we, your petitioners, shall pray. Hendery BATTAN, Jacob GOLDMAN, Jacob GOLDMAN [sic], Frederick CADOCK [CADDOCK?], John SCOTT, John COMBE, Samuel STONACIE, Robert McFARLAND, John STEAD, Mordecai EARLY, John DOWNING, Charles SINCLER [Sinkler? St. Clair? Sinclair?], William SAYERS, William HAMILTON, Robert V (N)ORRIS, Samuel MONTGOMERY, Andrew LYNAM, James MACEE [McKEE? MACKEY?], James HERIS [HARRIS?], Robert MILLER, John MILLER, Robert ALLCORN, William MILLER, John McFARLAND, Joseph CROCKETT, Val. WILCHER, Humberstone LYON, James MILLER, Stephen LYON, Thomas BARNES, James WILLY, John VANCE, Alexander SAYERS, Jacob CASSALL, John GORMAN. (Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, extracted from the original court records of Augusta County, 1745-1800,; by Lyman Chalkley, Vol. I, GPC, Baltimore, 1974, p. 434, hereinafter Chalkey's Chronicles)
- 1774 - Natural Bridge, a geologic wonder, was purchased by Thomas Jefferson to be preserved as a mountain retreat. This spot was discovered by Johan Peter Salling and Charles Sinclair on their epic journey in 1742
- Washington Co. Va. Deed Bk. 1 part 1 1778-1797
p. 24 Patent of Charles SINCLAIR, deceased sold by John Sinclair, Joseph Sinclair, Robert Sinclair and Alexander Sinclair to Joseph COLE. 1785
- Don W Stephenson
Address : 5297 North Fox Road
Phone : 618-395-3957
Charles owned land on Reed Creek, west side of New River, Washington Co., VA (now Wythe Co.), ca. 1746; he moved his family to Sinclair's Bottom in the summer of 1751. Surveyor's records of Augusta Co., at Staunton, show that 996 acres on South Fork of Holston River were surveyed 14 March 1748, for Charles Sinclair.
The History of Southwest Virginia
gives 1753 as the year that the Sinclair family settled in Sinclair's Bottom. During 1755, Indian raids cause the family to flee Virginia relocating in Orange County, North Caroline. Charles left his will in Orange County when he moved his family back to Sinclair's bottom 1767 - 1768, where he died. (Virginia court records for 1745, 1748, 1749, 1750, 1752 and 1756)
Charles is mentioned in several histories of Virginia including, Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, Annuals of Southwest Virginia, Virginia Historical Managain, History of Tazewell County and Southwest Virginia
Kegley's Virginia Frontier.
His adventures were also feathered in an article printed in the Bristol Herald Courier(VA), Sunday, 6 January 1980.
From "History of Southwest Virginia, 1746-1786, Washington County, 1777-1870" by Lewis Preston Summers (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1966):
(p 45) March 14, 1748 - Charles St. Clair, South Fork Holston River, 996 acres
(p 46) "The Alleghany mountains having been crossed and the waters flowing into the Mississippi reached, the pioneer rapidly sought to bring the wilderness under his dominion. The first company of settlers at Draper's Meadows were at once increased by new arrivals, and numerous tracts of land west of New river and near what were afterwards known as the Lead Mine occupied. Among the early settlers in that section of Southwest Virginia were the Crocketts, Sayers, Cloyds, McGavocks and McCalls."
"James Burke, with his family, settled in 1753 in what has since been known as Burk's Garden, and Charles Sinclair in Sinclair's Bottom. Stephen Holston built his cabin within thirty feet of the head spring of the Middle Fork of Indian [River], since called Holston river, some time previous to 1748, and thus, Burke, Sinclair and Holston gave names to the localities of their settlements."
(p 53) "In the spring of 1754, numbers of families were obliged, by an Indian invasion, to remove from their settlements in Southwest Virginia, and these removals continued during the entire war [French-Indian War]. It will be well here to note the fact that the lands held by Stephen Holston, James McCall, Charles Sinclair and James Burke, the earlier settlers of this portion of Virginia, were held by them under what were known at that time as 'corn rights'--that is, under the law as it then stood, each settler acquired title to a hundred acres for every acre planted by him in corn..."
(p 134) "On March 2, 1773, the court directed John Maxwell, Robert Allison and Robert Campbell, or any three of them, to view the nighest and best way from Catherine's Mill to Charles Allison's and so on to Sinclair's Bottom, and report."
(p 268) "The settlers on the Holston and Clinch, during the years 1776-1777, had been greatly harrassed by the invasion of the Indians, and thereby prevented from making anything like a crop from their lands. They had also been required to furnish supplies to Colonel Christian and his army of two thousand men, upon their invasion of the Cherokee country, and the country was thereby greatly impoverished before the crops in 1777 were harvested. The good citizens, the relatives and friends of the settlers, living in Augusta County, contributed through Mr. Alexander St. Clair considerable sums of money, and provisions, for the relief of the settlers on the frontiers, and the County Court of this county, beside entering the following order, directed Captain William Campbell to have Mr. St. Clair to lay out the money in his hands for wheat."
- Papers of William Preston
1753 Watts, John. Deposition made before James Patton,
JAN. 20 Justice of the Peace for Augusta County, [Va.]
Circumstances of the attack upon the Emperor
1QQ71 of the Cherokee Nation at the house of Erwin
Patterson; John Connolly s part in the affair.
Contemporary copy. 2 pp. (Enclosed in letter
from James Patton to the Governor. No date.)
Endorsed: John Watts Deposition vs Patterson.
175  Patton, James, Justice of the Peace Augusta County,
JAN. 30 [Va.] "Warrant for the arrest of John Connolly.
Charged with having maltreated the Emperor of
1QQ70 the Cherokee Nation at house of Erwin Patter
son, and with having killed dogs belonging to
Charles Sinclair. Signature cut away. 1 p.
Endorsed: Warrent against C[torn].
- Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia
AUGUSTA COUNTY COURT RECORDS.
ORDER BOOK No. III. (cont.)
AUGUST 24, 1752.
NOVEMBER 18, 1752.
(379) Alexr. and Wm. Sayers, Charles Sinclar and Humphrey Baker, to appraise Daniel Murphy's estate, on Reed Creek.
Clark Sinclair Thu Nov 28 10:22:39 1996
Charles SINCLAIR b ca1717 d1766OrangeCoNC mNancyAnn d1789 MontgomeryCoVa.All ch bAugustaCoVa:Joseph;*Johnb1753mRebecca PRUITT dauWm&Mary MARTIN;Robert (RevWar)mSusannah;Charles m Sarah (EUBANKS?);Alexander;Catherine mWm PRUITT;Agnes Ann m William COLLIER/COLYAR.Charles'ch b in what is now WashingtonCo Va.1737 Charles wJohnPeter SALLING,John HOWARD,John POTEET commissioned by VaCouncil to journey the Ms captured by French taken prisoners to NewOrleans. JosephMCLESTER,Amos EVANS,and James HARVEY wit.willJohnBUCHANAN mentioned as beloved friend . His land known as "Sinclair's Bottom" near Chilhowie.Holstein Riv
- Historic Architectural Survey of
Smyth County, Virginia
Hill Studio, P.C. 120 West Campbell Avenue Roanoke, Virginia 24011 (540) 342-5263
Records of encounters with them confirm the presence of the frontiersmen such as Stalnaker, Holston and Sinclair by the early excursion groups of Patton and Walker. These frontiersmen who traded and lived somewhat peacefully with the Indians often provided guidance and advice to these early expeditions. Unlike the early surveyors, these frontiersmen posed no threat to the Indians? territory. In contrast, Sinclair advised John Buchanan in the 1747 expedition that ?should he meet any wandering bands of Indians he would probably have no trouble if he could pass simply as a hunter, but warned him that should they glimpse his surveying instruments he would be in deadly peril of his life.? (Wilson 1932:4) Sinclair also offered to show the early surveyors the best land of the area in exchange for the survey of a 1000 acre tract in his name, which was duly recorded in 1748 (Sayers 1982: 63-64).