From the 1938 Centennial Edition of the Times-Register
When the white man first settled permanently in this section in 1740 the country was probably more beautiful than it is today since the artificial splendor that man has built has not compensated for the natural grandeur of the primitive abode of the Indian hunters.
At that time there was more luxuriant foliage to be seen; none of the land had been cleared for cultivation. Nature had endowed this section with such a variety of plant life that the blend of the trees, vines, flowers, blue grass was a thing of beauty.
When the first white man built his home in Roanoke county the buffalo were making their last stand in this vicinity and they soon disappeared to be found only in the states further west. For years previously the buffalo had roamed the fields in this section but had almost disappeared by 1740. In Kentucky and Tennessee they lingered until 1810 when the march of the white man caused them to move further west.
Dr. Thomas Walker, an early explorer, in one of his journals made the comment that one of the favorite sports for buffalo in this section had been at the “Great Lick” which is the place where Roanoke is now located. He stated that game was in abundance there and that only the short-sightedness of the hunters in killing buffalo for sport and other animals for their skins caused the animals to become less abundant. Wild animals, especially buffalo, were wont to gather at salt licks to get sale.
But after the buffalo moved on there remained an abundance of game. Bear, wolves, deer and many different varieties of birds were to be found here.
Ebenezer Brewster who lived in this vicinity died in 1850 and in an obituary notice it was stated that during his life time he had killed 1200 bears. In the early days this was a hunters paradise.
In this wild and beautiful county the pioneers settled to build a civilization. A word picture of this section of the state is given in a most pleasing manner by Pendleton in his history of Southwest Virginia who wrote as follows:
“The wondrous scenery of Southwest Virginia caused her fame to be spread far and wide. Here in primitive days the lofty mountains and peaks, clothed with the living green in summer time and clad with fleecy snow and icy pendants in winter season, stood as silent sentinels above and around the magnificent forests of oak, poplar, walnut and sugar maple, that transformed each mountain hollow and valley into a sylvan palace. In these sylvan homes the nightingale, thrilled by the soft moonbeams, warbled its liquid melodies; and the mocking bird, thrush and oriole, screened from the scorching rays of the noonday sun by the refreshing shade of the sugar tree, carolled their richest and sweetest songs. And Diana and her companion nymphs might have discovered thousands of crystal springs, in whose pellucid depths they could have seen their ravishingly beautiful forms reflected as no highly polished hand-made mirror could present them. If the fabled gods had once drunk of these sweet, sparkling waters, they would have thrown aside their cups of nectar and declined to quaff again their beverage of distilled honey. Here, too, as native to the soil, luxuriantly grew the sweetest and most nutritious beverage for animals the wide-world has ever known, the wild pea vine and nature’s richest pasturage, the blue-grass. Instinctively, from all regions, east, west, north, and south came the ponderous buffalo, the heavy antlered elk, and fleet footed deer to feed and fatten upon the succulent herbage that was of spontaneous growth in this wonderful country.”
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