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For others of the same name, see John Stuart.

Colonel John Stuart (17 March 1749 in Augusta County, Virginia – 18 August 1823 in Greenbrier County, Virginia [now West Virginia]) was a Revolutionary War commander and pioneering western Virginia settler. A veteran of the Battle of Point Pleasant (1774), he surveyed and settled the Greenbrier Valley and is known locally as the “Father of Greenbrier County”.

Biography[]

Stuart's father, the Scotsman David Stuart, was among the supporters of Charles Edward Stuart ("Bonnie Prince Charlie") as king of Great Britain. They were distant relatives.[citation needed]} Soon after the failure of the Prince's cause at Culloden (1746) David found it necessary to immigrate to America.[1] He settled in Augusta County, Virginia on the Shenandoah River, some distance from the town of Staunton.

At the age of twenty, John Stuart was a member of the 1769 survey by citizens of Augusta County, Virginia, who explored the wilderness of the Greenbrier Valley to the west in preparation for European settlement. The following year he built the first mill in present day Greenbrier County, at Frankford. In 1774, he led a company of Greenbrier troops in the Battle of Point Pleasant; four years later he was commander of troops when the last Indian raid on Fort Donnally, near Lewis Spring (Lewisburg), occurred.

In 1777, Stuart at Fort Randolph on the Kanawha River, witnessed the slaughter of four Indians including the Shawnee Chief Cornstalk who had been there to explain the Shawnee attitude toward the British and Americans. His own desire was peace but the young Shawnee youth wanted war. These murders by a mob was denounced by Patrick Henry and Congress.

Stuart was among the city of Lewisburg’s first trustees and in 1780 he became the county’s first clerk, leaving many historic records behind. (His first office in Lewisburg—in his own yard—is still standing.) He attended the 1788 Virginia Ratifying Convention and advocated ratification of the U.S. Constitution. In 1789 Stuart built a large stone house (“Stuart Manor”) at Fort Spring (which he ended up commanding and which was later called Fort Stuart) near Lewisburg. The land on which the first county courthouse and the Old Stone Church in Lewisburg are situated was donated by Stuart. Stuart was a correspondent of Thomas Jefferson and in 1796 he sent Jefferson fossil bones he had obtained from a salt petre cave about five miles from his home. These specimens fascinated Jefferson and were eventually determined to be tens of thousands of years old and to represent Megalonyx jeffersonii, or Jefferson's Ground Sloth. Stuart died in 1823 and is buried in the family cemetery at “Stuart Manor" with his wife Agatha Lewis Stuart, daughter of Augusta County, Virginia resident Thomas Lewis and granddaughter of pioneer John Lewis.[2]

References[]

  1. Cole, Joseph R. (1917), History of Greenbrier County; Lewisburg, West Virginia (Reprinted in 1998 by Higginson Book Co), pp 51-60.
  2. Gravestone Inscription

Works[]

  • Stuart, John (1799; 1st published in 1833), Memoir of Indian Wars and Other Occurrences by the Late Colonel Stuart of Greenbrier (Reprinted in 1970 by Ayer Company Publishers [68 pgs] with Charles A. Stuart as editor; Series: Eyewitness Accounts of the American Revolution, No. 3), this memoir includes an account of the Battle of Point Pleasant and of Cornstalk’s murder.

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