History of Lee County, Virginia



No comprehensive history of Southwestern Virginia has ever been written, and a seeker after historical information concerning that region must, of a necessity, consult much source material, and check and recheck his findings before he tries to write or to talk about the section. (Brown 1937:501)

To better understand the inhabitants of the Southeast, and examine the context in which Lee County, Virginia came into being, it is necessary to conduct a thorough examination of the history of Lee County beginning with the original aboriginal inhabitants of the area and concluding with present day demographics. The history of the area is important to the community and residents of Lee County, which is evident today in the form of state parks and tourism offices as well as in community organizations such as the Lee County Historical and Genealogical Society. A broad history of the county has not previously been written for the region despite the wealth of knowledge and emphasis placed on history in the county, making this chapter particularly important to the area. The virtual museum created for the county is a community space based on regional heritage and community values; thus the history of Lee County provides the contextual information needed to process the geographic region known as Lee County. This chapter attempts to provide a brief overview of the history of Lee County, Virginia which will serve as a context for the virtual museum. Newly available sources will be utilized and provide a foundation for future research done by Lee County residents.

The history chapter is subdivided into Prehistory, Discovery and Settlement (eighteenth-century), the Growth of the County (nineteenth-century), Civil War in Southwestern Virginia, and the Twentieth-century, and concludes with a section entitled Present-Day Lee County. Figure 1 is a map of the modern boundaries of Lee County noting the original location of Martin’s Station, and shows the location of several major communities and towns, as well as the Cumberland Gap and Boone’s trail, which are referenced in this chapter. This history is by no means all-encompassing, but provides significant background on a specific region of Virginia and the people of Lee County.

Figure 1 Sketch of Lee County, Virginia




© 2017

Martha Grace Lowry Mize