1932 Social and Economic Survey of Washington County, Virginia

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A Social and Economic Survey of Washington County, Virginia

University of Virginia Record Extension Series
Vol. XVII, No. 6, December, 1932

by Ben Bane Dulaney

This text is offered on Jeffrey's Store on Lulu. Jeff's Store has some of the texts offered on this website, and several other historic texts, not on the website.  They are offered as reprints.


    Often in a day's work questions arise about one's county or town and because of the lack of a convenient and authoritative source of information, these questions must go unanswered. Almost daily, local chambers of commerce receive detailed inquiries from outsiders interested in the county from a business or residence point of view; and for a similar reason, the replies must be only partial or general in nature. The civics, history, geography and other courses in our public schools are incomplete because there is no comprehensive source book of definite information on the economic and social life of the county. Annually, the program committees of numbers of women's clubs search for worth whfle topics of study, and no time can be better spent than that which is used in gaining a thorough knowledge of their home counties in the several phases that go to make up the life of such a unit.

    During the past several years, among the courses offered in rural social economics at the University of Virginia one has been listed as "Economic and Social Surveys of Virginia Counties: a laboratory course in rural social economics dealing with the economic and social problems of the counties in Virginia. These studies when completed will be published as bulletins of the University." It is clear from this excerpt of a catalog statement of the course that the work of these surveys is a part of the student's class room instruction, and that he receives regular college credit for it as one of the five or more courses he is entitled to take as his normal load of work during the academic year.

    Usually, two or these studies have been published each year. Unfortunately, straitened financial circumstances due to the depression have necessitated a reduction of this program at present to one such bulletin a year.

    At the present time, seventeen such surveys, including this one of Washington County, have been completed and published. Others are under way in varying stages of completion. The work proves exceedingly interesting to the good student, particularly when, as is usually the case, he or his forebears are natives of the county which he surveys. The bulletins when pub]ished are made widely available mainly to the thoughtful citizenship of the county concerned. Out of these surveys has come an interesting series of County Geography Supplements, which are prepared in the Summer Quarter of the University by a group of teachers from the particular county. These supplements conform in arrangement with the State adopted geography text, and have proved very interesting and worth while subject matter for the geography pupils in the graded schools of the several counties for which the work has been done.

    The following pages of the Washington County Survey are the result of a year of class work, and much outside labor in addition, on the part of Mr. Ben Bane Dulaney, of native Washington County stock. An unusually capable student, true to the best traditions of one of the outstanding counties, not only of the Commonwealth but of the Nation, he has applied himself unsparingly and devotedly to the task. The outcome is an excellent piece of work in the reading of which every thoughtful citizen of Washington County will experience time interestingly and profitably spent; and the large array of statistical material included makes the survey valuable for reference purposes. Mr. Dulaney has made a significant contribution to the existing literature on a county with a distinguished record, and this survey will not become less valuable as historical source material in future years.

    School of Rural Social Ecoitomics.
    University, Virginia,
    January 21,1933.


    A really comprehensive survey of this type is very difficult to make. To begin with, one is buried under an avalanche of statistics-statistics from a hundred sources on everything under the sun. Many of these figures are continuously changing, others seem to contradict each other. They must be assorted, correlated and interpreted. And when this is done, the job is not half way complete. For statistics, no matter how exhaustive or well presented, still show the county as more or less of a machine. From perusing a page full of numbers, one cannot get the "feel" of an area, cannot fully realize that here are people, individuals who live and love and work and die.

    So a survey of this kind must be humanized to a degree. To do this there must be contacts-letters, conversations and observations. To make a perfect representation of Washington County, the figures and humanizing contacts must be combined with a very real personal knowledge of the territory. And for one of college age-and a non-resident of the county at that-this is a rather tough proposition. So at the outset, before they are discovered, we want to apologize for any errors or biased views which may have crept into this booklet.

    We want to express our gratitude, first of all, to Dr. Wilson Gee, head of the School of Rural Social Economics of the University, who initiated these county surveys some ten years ago and who has been the guiding light before each one. Dr. Gee's strong personal interest and criticisms of this survey have made it possible. Many thanks are also due to Miss Hazel Key, Rural Social Economics Librarian, who seems to consider it her duty to do most of the dirty work for students of this department. Mr. W. L. Leap and Mr. S. L. Charlton, instructors in the department, also cheerfully volunteered aid at all times.

    Further, there are many residents of the county and city of Bristol who have taken enough interest in this survey to help out in various ways. Grateful acknowledgment is made to Mr. Lewis Preston Summers of Abingdon for his history of the county and for permission to reprint parts of his comprehensive book, and to Mr. T. W. Preston of Bristol for his very interesting sketch of that city and his condensed history of the county. Attention is called to the insertion of the two histories-one rather complete and detailed and the other touching the high spots, the more interesting phases of the county development.

    Thanks are also expressed to Mr. P. L. Barker, Rev. Goodridge Wilson and Mr. S. C. Hobart, District Forester, the first two for their help in preparing sketches of towns and the last for his complete report of the forests of the county.

    Some of the other individuals who cooperated in the completion of this survey are Mr. Sam Keys, Mr. W. P. Buchanan and Miss Anne Asbury of Glade Spring, Mr. Joe Phipps, County Agent, Mrs. Baxter W. Mock of Damascus and Mr. John Blakemore of Abingdon. Sincere appreciation is accorded Mr. C. W. Keatner, County Engineer, for the time he took in explaining the more intricate processes of government.

    Organizations and clubs which helped us immensely include: Southwestern Virginia, Inc., The Bristol Chamber of Commerce, the Norfolk and Western Railway, the Mathieson Alkali Works, the Bristol Herald-Courier, various service clubs and manufacturing concerns which were kind enough to give us information as to their business.

    To all these people and organizations and to the many others who offered criticisms, gave helpful hints and new slants, the author wishes to express his sincere appreciation.

    B. B. D.



    By T. W. Preston

    In the year 1738 an act was passed establishing the County of Augusta. The new county embraced all of the territory south of Frederick County and west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and extended in a westerly direction to the Mississippi River. In 1769, the House of Burgesses of Virginia passed an act for the division of Augusta County, and all of the territory lying south and west of the North River was given the name of Botetourt County.

    In 1772, the inhabitants on the Holston and New Rivers petitioned the House of Burgesses to set up a new county, by reason of the remoteness of these settlements from the seat of government. This was accordingly done, and the territory west of New River was established as Fincastle County, with the Lead Mines as the County Seat.

    On the 6th of December, 1776, the General Assembly of Virginia passed an act dividing the County of Fincastle into three separate counties: Montgomery, Washington and Kentucky. The boundaries of Washington County were to he as follows: "That all of that part of said county of Fincastle included in the lines beginning at the Cumberland Mountains, where the line of Kentucky County intersects the North Carolina (now Tennessee) line; thence east along the said Carolina line to the top of Iron Mountain; thence along the same easterly to the source of the South Fork of the Holston River; thence northwardly along the highest part of the Highlands, ridges and mountains that divide the waters of the Tennessee from those of the Great Kanawha, to the most easterly source of Clinch River; thence westwardly along the top of the mountain that divides the waters of the Clinch River from those of the Great Kanawba and Sandy Creek to the line of Kentucky County; and thence along the same to the beginning, shall be one other distinct county, and called and known by the name of Washington." (Hening's Statutes. 1776).

    Washington County was the first place in the United States named for George Washington. Since its establishment in 1776, eight counties of southwest Virginia have been carved from it. They are Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Lee, Buchanan, Dickenson, and Wise.

    The first court of Washington County was held at Black's Fort in January, 1777. The justices present were: Arthur Campbell, John Coulter, William Campbell, Daniel Smith, William Edmiston, Joseph Martin, John Campbell, Alexander Buchanan, John Kinkead, James Montgomery, John Snoddy, George Blackburn, and Thomas Mastin. Nearly all of these men rendered valiant service at King's Mountain and in other battles of the Revolutionary War.

    The first county court of the new county was held at Black's Fort, which had been erected in 1776 for protection against the Cherokee invasion in the summer of that year. This fort was situated on Eighteen Mile Creek, just south of the present Norfolk and Western Railroad yards.

    One of the first acts of the court was to appoint commissioners to bring up the salt allotted to the county by the General Assembly of Virginia. This is interesting from the fact that inexhaustible salt beds were discovered shortly thereafter within the borders of the county and only a few miles distant. Washington County was supposed to embrace all of the territory north of the Holston River, and county officials exercised jurisdiction far into what is now Tennessee.

    One of the next nets was to fix the price of liquers, which was done as follows: Rum, 16 s. per gallon; rye whiskey, 8 S.; corn whiskey, 4 S.; a bowl of rum toddy, with loaf sugar, 2 s, with brown sugar, 1 s.

    Horse stealing was considered a more grave offense than murder, as evidenced by the fact that Thomas Jones was acquitted of a charge of murder but was remanded to the General Court at the capitol, Williamsburg, on the charge of having stolen a horse.

    When Dr. Thomas Walker first visited this section in 1749, he followed the Buffalo, or Indian Trail, down the Shenandoah Valley and across the Allegheny Mountains to Big Island (Kingsport), and this route became the main highway to the West. Numerous orders were entered by the first courts for the viewing and estaMishing of sections of this road. The present Lee Highway follows the ancient route very closely.

    In the lower end of the county, a short distance from Big Island, was a place called "Anderson's Block House". This point was the beginning of the Wilderness Trail, which was cut out by Daniel Boone and his party in March, 1777. It is estimated that over one hundred thousand emigrants passed through Abingdon and via the "Anderson Block House" on the way to Kentucky during the decade, 1780-1790.

    In 1773, the first permanent church west of the Blue Ridge Mountains was founded at Abingdon. It was the Presbyterian Church, which is still flourishing at this time. The Reverend Charles Cummings was the first pastor.

    An order was entered at the April, 1779, term of court for the erection of the pillory and stocks. This form of punishment was used for many years in the county.

    In 1780, the militia of Washington County, under Col. William Campbell, rendered splendid service in breaking up Tory bands on the headwaters of New River. In October of the same year, Col. Campbell in command of four hundred men, took part in the King's Mountain campaign, which ended in such a signal victory.

    In 1759, Col. William Byrd headed an expedition, consisting of nearly one thousand men, for the relief of Fort Lowden on the Little Tennessee River, which was besieged by the Cherokee Indians. He was compelled to cut out a new road from Eastern Virginia through this section. It took a year to reach Long Island on the Hoiston, where Fort Robinson was erected.

    He built Fort Chiswell in what is now Wythe County, then a part of Washington County. [Erroneous - Fort Chiswell was never in Washington County, it was in Montgomery, and later Wythe County - JCW, May 1, 2000.] This fort became a very prominent frontier refuge, and was, for a time, the county seat of Fincastle County.

    This route from Fort Lewis to Long Island was the first through road to the west, and all future roads followed its course very closely. It led to the beginning of the "Wilderness Trail", which started at the Anderson Block House, and followed tbrough Cumberland Gap into Kentucky.

    Practically all of the southwestern states, including Tennessee and Kentucky, were settled by emigrants from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. The majority of these followed the old trail up the Shenandoah Valley, and thence over the route above described.

    Three governors of Virginia have been furnished by Washington County: John B. Floyd, Wyndliam Robertson, and David Campbell. For more than one hundred years the County has been progressive in educational matters, and noted for its culture. Emory and Henry College and Martha Washington Collegel were founded nearly a century ago. There are three other colleges in the county at the present time--Stonewall Jackson[1], Sullins, and Virginia Intermont. There are a number of high schools and grammar schools scattered throughout the county at strategic points.

    Washington County has splendid natural resources in timber, minerals, and grazing lands. There are numerous industries located in the county, such as: The Mathie son Alkali Works, the Columbia Paper Company, the Charles A. Schieren Company Tanneries, and many woodworking industries. The county has grown rapidly in population, which is given by the last census as 33,841.

    1. Martha Washington and Stonewall Jackson College--both at Abingdon--have been closed since the writing of this sketch.


    By Lewis Preston Summers

    It is with a great deal of hesitation that I undertake to prepare a brief history of Washington County.

    Washington County was a part of what was originally Fincastle County, Virginia. Fincastle County embraced all of the territory in Virginia west of the line which ran about four miles west of Salem in a north and south direction and as far west as the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Fincastle County was organized pursuant to an act of the House of Burgesses of Virginia in 1772, and at a time when the population of all Western Virginia was sparse and settlements but few. All of the measures formulated by the patriots living in Fincastle County prior to January, 1777, were developed at the Lead Mines, the county seat of Fineastle, now in Wythe County, Virginia.

    By the year 1776, population had increased greatly throughout Southwest Virginia and numerous setflements were found in Kentucky and what is now a part of East Tennessee. The extent of the territory Included in Fincastle County was so great that there was an insistent demand that Fincastle County be divided into two or more counties; and in the year 1776, the settlers in Kentucky assembled and selected General George Rogers Clark and Hon. John Gabriel Jones as their representatives, and sent them to Richmond to the Genjeal Assembly of the new Commonwealth, to demand a division of Fincastle County.

    At this time Col. William Christian, who lived on New River, was the representative in the Senate of Virginia, and Col. William Russell of Castle Woods, now Russell County, Virginia, and Col. Arthur Campbell represented Fincastle County in the Legislature of Virginia. It will he observed from this statement that the territory afterwards embraced in Washington County furnished both of the representatives from Fincastle County in the General Assembly of Virginia.

    The representatives from Fincastle County, having and exercising all the powers of government, were very much averse to the division of Fincastle County and of being deprived of their power and position in government. When General George Rogers Clark and John Gabriel Jones appeared at Richmond they found the measure proposed by them vigorously opposed by Col. Arthur Campbell and Col. William Russell and probably by William Christian. The question of the division of Fincastle County was brought to the attention of the General Assembly of Virginia and was submitted to a committee of which Hon. Carter Braxton was Chairman, and Thomas Jefferson, a member. The question of the division of the County of Fincastle was referred to Thomas Jefferson by the committee of which he was a member; and, after a long and bitter struggle, Mr. Jefferson recommended to the committee, and the committee recommended to the General Assembly that Fincastle County be divided into two counties. And on motion of Col. William Christian, the recommendation of the House Committee was amended in the Senate, and the bill provided for a division of Fincastle County into three counties, to-wit: Montgomery County, Washington County, and Kentucky County. Montgomery County was named for Robert -Montgomery, a Revolutionary patriot; Washington County, for General Washington; and Kentucky (Kentucke) County was given an Indian name. This bill became a law on the 6th of December, 1776, and provided that the first court of Washington County should assemble at Black's Fort on the 28th of January, 1777. On the 28th of January, 1777, the first court of Washington County assembled at Black's Fort, now Abingdon, Virginia, with the following officers present, and members of the County Court commissioned by Governor Patrick Henry on the 21st day of December, 1776:

    Arthur Campbell Joseph Martin
    Evan Shelby John Campbell
    James Dysart Alexander Buchanan
    John Anderson John Kinkead
    Daniel Smith James Montgomery
    John Coulter John Snoddy
    William Campbell George Blackburn
    William Edmiston Thomas Mastin

    On the same day, acting under commissions from Governor Henry, the following officers qualified for Washington County:

    Sheriff--James Dysart
    County Lieutenan--Arthur Campbell
    Colonel--Evan Shelby
    Lieutenant Colonel--William Campbell
    Major--Daniel Smith
    Attorney for the Commonwealth--Ephriam Dunlop
    County Surveyor--Robert Preston

    The extent of the boundary of Washington County at the time of its formation was as follows: the boundary of Washington County as defined in the act establishing the County provided that all that part of the said County of Fincastle included in the lines beginning at the Cumberland Mountains where the line of Kentucky intersects the North Carolina (now Tennessee) line (Cumberland Gap), thence east along the said Carolina line to the top of Iron Mountain; thence along the same easterly to the source of the South Fork of Holston River; thence northwardly along the highest part of the highlands, ridges and mountains that divide the waters of the Tennessee from those of the Great Canawan (approximately Rural Retreat) to the most easterly source of Clinch River; thence westwardly along the top of the mountain that divides the waters of the Clinch River from those of the Great Canawan and Sandy Creek to the line of Kentucky County, and thence along the same to the beginning, shall he one distinct county and called and known by the name of Washington.

    The territory included in Washington County at the time of its formation is now embraced in the following counties:

    Washington Russell Scott
    Smyth Tazewell Lee
    Buchanan Dickenson Wise

    a territory sufficient in extent and wealth to constitute a great state.

    The formation of this county and the giving of the name of Washington to the county constituted this county the first locality in the world to receive the name of WaAhington, in honor of our first President, the Father of his Country, the one man who was "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen". As to who suggested the name of Washington County, we do not know; it may have been Hon. Carter Braxton, or Thomas Jefferson, Col. Arthur Campbell, Col. William Russell, or Col. William Christian; but one thing is certain, that before and subsequent to the division of Fincastle County, Abingdon and the territory included in Washington County was, for possibly sixty years, the center of the political, religious and educational activities of Southwest Virginia, and continues after a period of more than 150 years to exercise an influence in the councils of state second to no other county in Virginia.

    At the time of the formation of Washington County, and until the year, 1781, it was believed that all of the lands north of the South Fork of Holston River and as far west as the present Rogersville, Tennessee, was within the territory of Virginia, and the officers of Washington County exercised all governmental authority over the territory mentioned until the year, 1781.

    The first representative from Washington County in the General Assembly of Virginia was Col. William Cocke, afterwards United States Senator from Tennessee, and Major Anthony Bledsoe, afterwards, a distinguished citizen of Tennessee, both of whom were later ascertained to he citizens of North Carolina, now Tennessee, at the time of their election as representatives in the General Assembly of Virginia.

    It will be further noted that the first representative in the Congress of the United States was General Francis Preston, a son of Col. William Preston of Smithfield, and a son-in-law of General William Campbell of Kings Mountain.

    It will be of interest to note the qualifications of voters at the time of the formation of our government. The qualification of electors was as follows: every free man, who at the time of the election, shall have been for one year preceding in possession of 25 acres of land with a house and plantation thereon, or 100 acres of land without a house or plantation, or having the right of an estate for life at least in the said land in his own right or in the right of his wife. The first election held in the county was at Black's Fort, the one and only voting precinct in the county, at which election there appeared at the voting precinct, in person, 946 men from Powell's Valley, Clinch Valley, Carter's Valley, and Watauga, afterwards Tennessee. Voting was compulsory at that time, and each man was required to vote or suffer a penalty for not doing so.

    The county seat of Washington County, as designated by the act establishing the county, was Black's Fort, which stood about one-fourth of a mile southwest of the present court house. This fort was erected by possibly 500 settlers, upon the opening of hostilities with the Cherokee Indians in the year, 1776. It was erected upon land given to the county by Dr. Thomas Walker, Joseph Black, and Samuel Briggs, and received its name from Joseph Black. It was one of those rude structures which the pioneers built for defense against the Indians, consisting of a few log cabins surrounded by a stockade. Prior to the building of Black's Fort, in the year, 1776, this locality was known as Wolf Hills, deriving the name from Daniel Boone, who upon one of his hunting expeditions in the year, 1760, spent the night in this locality, and he and his,dogs were so disturbed by wolves with their home in the cave that underlies the Town of Abingdon, that he gave to the locality the name of Wolf Hills.

    A remarkable incident connected with Black's Fort has been preserved by Benjamin Sharp, who in an article in The Pioneer, published at Cincinnati in the early years of the nineteenth century, stated that he was an occupant of Black's Fort in 1776. He describes the fort and its occupants, and states that upon one occasion, men from the fort captured and scalped about nineteen Indians at a point five miles south of the fort; and upon the following day, they cut the tallest tree they could find in the forest, tied the scalps of the Indians to the top of the pole, and erected the pole at the gate of the fort.

    Upon the organization of the Town of Abingdon the name of Black's - Fort disappeared. This locality was known by the name of Abingdon in honor of Martha Washington, the wife of General Washington, the name being that of the parish in which she was reared and worshipped in Eastern Virginia.

    Washington County was largely settled by Scotch, Irish, German, Dutch and Swiss people. They were protestant people. Most of them landed at Philadelphia, traveled down the Cumberland Valley, down the Valley of Virginia, and into Southwest Virginia. They came to America because of religious persecution. They were rebels at heart, cultivated their rebellious spirit, and at the first opportunity afforded them, they gave voice to their sentiments. On the 20th day of January, 1775, at least four months prior to the Mecklenburg Declaration, in the Fincastle Resolutions adopted by the freeholders of Fincastle County at the Lead Mines, they gave expression of their resentment and their disposition and determined purpose to have freedom of conscience and self-government. Four of the active participants in the Revolution from this section of Virginia-General William Campbell, Colonel William Christian, Colonel Thomas Madison and General William Russell--were brothers-in-law of Patrick Henry, and the entire citizenship was actively in sympathy with the purposes of the Revolution. The members of the Committee of Safety that drafted the Fincastle Resolutions of date January 20th, 1775, were as follows: Rev. Charles Cummings, Col. William Preston, Col. William Christian, Capt. Stephen Trigg, Major Arthur Campbell, Major William Inglis, Captain Walter Crockett, Captain John Montgomery, Captain James McGavock, Captain William Campbell, Captain Thomas Madison, Captain Daniel Smith, Captain William Russell, Captain Evan Shelby and William Edmiston.

    Subsequently, Col. William Campbell with a company of men from Washington County, was at Williamsburg under Col. Patrick Henry and assisted in the rescue of the powder from Governor Dunmore. One or more companies of volunteers from this county participated in the Battle of Great Bridge, where the first blood on Virginia soil was shed in the Revolution.

    It may be mentioned, at this point, that in 1774, at least four companies of men from Fincastle County participated in the Battle of Point Pleasant, and in winning that battle, forever expelling from this country the Indians from north of the Ohio River.

    In the year, 1778, two full companies of men from Washington County volunteered, accompanying General George Rogers Clark upon his expedition to Kaskaskia and Vincennes, and assisting in expelling the British forces from the Great Northwest.

    In 1780 when the Whigs, the lovers of liberty, had been practically expelled by Lord Corawallis from the states of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, and when the hopes of the most enthusiastic lovers of liberty were at lowest ebb, four hundred men from Washington County, under the command of General William Campbell, marched to the Sycamore Shoals (Happy Valley), Tennessee. There they joined forces with Col. John Sevier, Generals Evan Shelby, McDowell, Cleveland and others from North Carolina, made a hurried march to King's Mountain, South Carolina, where they surrounded, captured or killed an entire division of the British Army under the command of Col. Ferguson, turned the tide of the Revolution, pursued and harassed Corawallis from King's Mountain to Cowpens, Guilford Court House, and on to Yorktown and to his surrender, with a dogged persistence and a relentless purpose such as has actuated but few men in the history of the world.

    With the opening of the War of 1812, possibly 1,000 volunteers from Washington County and Southwest Virginia under the command of Col. Alexander Smyth, Col. David Campbell and others, participated in all of the battles of that War.

    With the opening of the War with Mexico in 1846, Col. Arthur Campbell Cummings led volunteers from this county and took an active part in the Mexican War.

    In the year, 1860, the descendants of the men who had so materially aided in the establishment of this Republic were very loath to join in the secession of the South. In the elections held early in 1861, Robert E. Grant and John A. Campbell, advocates of union, were elected to the Constitutional Convention of Virginia over John B. Floyd and William Y. C. White, advocates of secession, by an ovenvhelming majority, and it looked at that time as if Washington County would not join in the secession. But, when President Lincoln called upon the states to furnish 75,000 troops to suppress the rebellion, the citizens of Washington County, placing their fealty to the state above their fealty to the nation, joined heartily in the cause of secession and organized and sent to the Confederate Army many regiments of men, who upon the field of battle demonstrated a fighting quality that was unsurpassed in the Confederate Army. The 48th Regiment under the command of Col. John A. Campbell, the 37th Regiment under the command of Col. Samuel V. Fulkerson, and the 33rd Virginia Regiment under the command of Col. Arthur C. Cummings constituted a part of the Stonewall Brigade and brought great honor and distinction to the people of this county by their bravery and their indomitable purpose.

    With the coming of the World War in 1917, great numbers of the stalwart sons of Washington County volunteered; and large numbers passed through the Selective Board, constituting an army of nearly 1,000 fighting men. As a part of the 80th Division, they made a record of which all of our people are proud.

    Space will not permit me to discuss this subject as fully as I would like to, and I will have to close with the statement that if there is a more fertile delightfully pleasant and attractive land, inhabited by a more enterprising and patriotic people than Washington County, it has never been my pleasure to know of it.

    I cannot close this article without calling attention to the fact that Washington County has furnished three Governors of the Commonwealth of Virginia -- Hon. Wyndhans Robertson, Hon. David Campbell, and Hon. John B. Floyd, all of them residents of Abingdon, Virginia; and, in addition thereto, this county has furnished several United States Senators, many Congreesmen, Judges of our highest courts, as well as distinguished soldiers, notably, General Joseph E. Johnston, General Wm. E. Jones and others.



    Probably no county in the State has such a variety of different types of towns within such a small radius as does Washington County. A thirty-mile circle includes Bristol, a thriving industrial city; Abingdon, a very old town and the centre of a prosperous farming section; Emory, a typical quiet college village; Glade Spring, many of whose inhabitants work for the railroad; and places similar to Saltville and Plasterco, owned almost entirely by great corporations. Washington Springs is a summer resort, while Clinchburg and Konnarock are the centres of large lumber operations.

    There are six incorporated towns in Washington County, a short sketch of each being included in this chapter. They are:

    Bristol (Independent city-population, 1930, 8,840 in Virginia, 12,005 in Tennessee).
    Glade Spring
    Saltville (post office and most of town in Smyth County).

    The unincorporated villages with post offices are:

    Meadow View Alvarado Emory Clinchburg
    Wallace Wyndale Konnarock Taylor's Valley
    Benham's Plasterco Greendale Holston
    Lodi Robuck Wolfrun Cole
    Alum Wells Glenford Green Cove Zenobia

    In addition to this imposing list, there are a number of small places listed on more detailed maps and known because they are crossroads, resorts or railroad sidings. They include:

    Phillip Mountain Brumley Gap Ora
    Hayter Watauga Vail's Mill Laureldale
    Creek Junction Drowning Ford Washington Springs Grassy Ridge
    Litz Fleet Friendship Lindell

    Following are brief summaries of the histories and characteristics of the incorporated towns.


    By T. W. Preston

    Bristol is located geographically in a kind of "No Man's Land", lying between the States of Virginia and Tennessee. This strip of territory was a bone of contention between the two states for more than one hundred years. The dispute was brought about by an error in running the original line. The dividing line between the states of Virginia and North Carolina was designated as Latitude 360 30' 20", and the original line was surveyed by Col. Wm. Byrd in 1728, starting at Curritucket Inlet. He ran it due westward for two hundred and forty-one miles. In 1749 the line was extended westward by Frye and Jefferson to a point on Steep Rock Creek, a distance of eighty-eight miles, making a total of three hundred and twenty-nine miles from the coast. The point reached was carefully marked and the work abandoned for the time being.

    This original line was never again located and various other boundaries were surveyed from time to time, with a variation north or south of as much as five miles. The matter was not settled until 1890, when the Supreme Court of the United States held that the compromise of 1808 should be the dividing line.

    Few sections have a more interesting historical background than the Bristol territory. The first record we have of this location was a survey made by Charles Lewis, deputy surveyor of Augusta County, Virginia. In February, 1749, he surveyed a tract of nineteen hundred and forty-six acres for John Tayloe, Jr., of Richmond County on Shallow Creek, a branch of Indian River. This grant was sold to Col. James Patton for nine pounds, seven shillings and one sixpence, and is on record in the Land Office at Richmond, Virginia. The present city of Bristol just about covers the original grant of nineteen hundred and forty-six acres.

    At that time, the Province of Virginia claimed sovereignty over territory that is now embraced in Hawkins County, Tennessee. Bristol is probably the only town in the United States whose corporate limits have been under the jurisdiction of five sovereign states at various times without changing its location.

    In 1779, a new survey was made by Col. Henderson, Dr. Thomas Walker, and Daniel Smith. This survey gave the Sapling Grove Tract to North Carolina. In 1785, the state of Franklin was set up, which included the Tayloe, or Sapling Grove Survey, within its limits. The new state had only one governor, John Sevier, and lasted but four years.

    In 1789, we find the territory in question once more under the jurisdiction of North Carolina. In this same year, however, North Carolina ceded all of her territory west of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Federal Government President George Washington appointed William Blount, governor of the new territory, which was designated as "The Territory South of the Ohio River". On October 1st, 1795, Governor Blount took up his residence and official duties at the home of William Cobb on the Watauga River. A record tide of emigrants flowed into the new country; in 1796, Tennessee was received into the Union, and John Sevier was elected as the first governor.

    About 1768, Col. Evan Shelby and Isaac Baker purchased the Sapling Grove Tract of nineteen hundred and forty-six acres from the executors of James Patton. The land was divided equally- each one receiving nine hundred and seventy-three acres. Col. Shelby did not live to take title to his one-half of the Sapling Grove Tract, he having died in 1794. The deed made to Isaac Shelby, executor in 1798. The consideration was three hundred and four pounds.

    Col. Evan Shelby took up his residence on his portion of the Sapling Grove Tract about 1771. He built a fort and stockade on the hill overlooking Beaver Creek. The fort was a haven for thousands of emigrants on way to Kentucky and Tennessee. It must have been formidable, for there is no record of its ever having been attacked by the Indians.

    Here at this fort, Col. Shelby opened a store and started the first commercial enterprise in the Holston Valley. The goods had to he brought from the eastern markets on pack-horses, and were purchased by the exchange of furs and skins that were brought in by the frontiersmen and traded for powder and lead. Daniel Boone often visited Shelby's Fort and traded at his store. It was within this fort that Campbell, Sevier, and Shelby met and planned the campaign which led to the battle of King's Mountain.

    Col. Isaac Shelby removed to Kentucky after the Revolutionary War, and became the first governor of that state. Col. James King, a prominent Revolutionary officer, purchased the Shelby interest for the sum of $10.000. In 1814 he built a brick residence, which is designated on John Wood's map of Washington County (1820) as "Col. James King's Brick House. The original of the map is on file in the State Library at Richmond. James King operated extensive iron-works and foundries a short distance below Bristol. It is believed that his was the first iron furnace in the State of Tennessee.

    In 1852, Joseph R. Anderson bought one hundred acres of land in is now the very heart of Bristol. In 1856, the Atlantic, Mississippi and Railroad reached Bristol, and in the fall of the same year, the East Tennessee Railroad reached Bristol from the south. Joseph R. Anderson had the forsight to see that Bristol had a strategic location and would be a railroad terminal. He divided his one hundred acres into town lots, secured a town charter, and became its first mayor. He also founded the first bank in this section, which is now the First National Bank of Bristol, the sixth oldest bank in the state of Tennessee.

    The town furnished its full quota of soldiers to the Southern Confederacy, and such able leaders as Col. John S. Mosley, Col. S. V. Fulkerson, Col. Abram Fulkerson and others.

    After the war, the town continued to grow slowly until the latter part of the nineteenth centory when both towns were incorporated as cities. In 1890, the Virginia and South Western Railway was built to Big Stone Gap, making connection with the Louisville and Nashville Railway, and another line was constructed connecting Bristol and Elizabethton.

    In 1899, there was a great industrial awakening in Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee. Iron and steel furnaces were established at Bristol and many other industries were attracted by the cheap coal and iron.

    Bristol industries have always heen well diversified. They include lumber manufacturing, mill work, paper mills, tanneries, extract plants, car wheel factories, overall factories, and textile plants. For many years it has heen an important jobbing center and the distributing point for the agricultural products for Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee. There are three colleges in the city and fifteen colleges within a radius of one hundred miles. Bristol is today a city of twenty-one thousand population and is the commercial center of a territory with a population of one-half million.


    (Condensed by permission from L. P. Summers' History of Southwest Virginia and Washington County)

    Abingdon, the county seat, is by far the oldest town in Southwest Virginia. In early days, its site was the crossing of two Indian trails, one which followed in a general way the route taken by the Lee Highway today and another which came through Cumberland Gap and wound on to the southwest toward North Carolina.

    When Dr. Thomas Walker and his company of explorers visited the country in 1749, they followed this Indian trail; and later, King George II granted Dr. Walker a large body of land surrounding the present town. He made no immediate effort to settle the land, and the next mention we have of the territory is when Daniel Boone and a companion camped there in 1760, They were greatly disturbed by the depredations of a number of wolves which lived in a cave under the site of the town, and gave the section its first name, "Wolf Hills". A creek to the west of the town still bears that title.

    By 1774, a great number of people, including James Douglas, Andrew Colvill, George Blackburn, Joseph Black, Samuel Briggs, and James Piper, had settled in the vicinity and a Presbyterian church was built.

    Because of uprisings among the Cherokee Indians who had determined to drive the whites from what had been their exclusive hunting grounds, Black's Fort was built in 1774. When the ferocious bands of Indian marauding became more frequent and dangerous, nearly four hundred men, women and children assembled at this fort for protection. This date, July, 1776, should he considered that of the true founding of Abingdon.

    A large amount of guerrilla warfare then took place between the Cherokees and whites. After much bloodshed, the settlers succeeded in ambushing a party of red men and killed eleven. Tired of being scalped, they turned the tables on their foes and hung their trophies on a pole in front of the fort.

    The State Assembly established the County of Washington in 1776, and the first meeting of the County Court was held at Black's Fort on January 28, 1777. The court ordered that the lands given the town by Walker, Black and Briggs be disposed of and this was done by public auction. A log courthouse was constructed, as also, was a prison "fourteen feet square". A couple of examples of that good old Puritan institution, the stock, were also erected and were said to have been unparalleled as corrective measures. A square area of about eight acres, embracing the "gaol" at one corner, was laid off and designated as "prison bounds". This was used until 1850 as a place of confinement for delinquent debtors, and it would he a matter of great surprise if the present generation could read the names of the prominent citizens who were confined for this reason.

    In October, 1778, the town of Abingdon was established by an act of the Assembly and Evan Shelby, William Campbell, Daniel Smith, William Edmiston, Robert Craig, and Andrew Willoughby were named as trustees and given considerable power.

    The origin of the town's name is in dispute. Some say that it is in honor of Martha Washington, whose country seat near Mount Vernon here that name, others that William Campbell named it after his friend, Lord Abingdon, an English nobleman, and still others that Daniel Boone called it after his first residence in America, Abingdon, Pennsylvania. As it may be, the county seat thrived. In 1783, it contained, in addition to the courthouse, jail and residences, four taverns and a general store. The country was settled with English of several classes, Irish, who are everywhere, and Germans, who emigrated from Pennsylvania.

    Abingdon steadily grew. From time to time additional lots and streets were laid off. In 1792, a town market was constructed, and Tuesdays and Saturdays were designated as market days, those selling meats on other days being vigorously prosecuted. A Masonic lodge was built in 1796 and the Abingdon Academy opened in 1803. It is interesting to note that a lottery was conducted by the trustees to provide funds for its library and apparatus.

    The first post office in Southwest Virginia was established at Abingdon in April, 1793, and it was the only one in the county until 1833. Until about 1835, Abingdon was the centre of the business life of Southwest Virginia, East Tennessee and Kentucky. All mails for the sections were distributed there, and a large per cent of the wholesale trade for the same section was controlled and supplied by Abingdon merchants.

    In 1834, a new charter was given the town. It greatly extended the corporate limits and provided for the Mayor and Council form of government which still endures.

    The Council, in 1837, passed an act which for sheer word twisting should be given a prize: It reads: "If any person within the corporation shall sell by retail (other than an ordinary keeper), be drunk in or at the place where sold, or in or upon the premises of which such person has control, or within the said corporation, any wine, rum, brandy, or other ardent spirits, or a mixture thereof, he or she so offending shall pay a fine of $5.25 for each offence."

    Abingdon was described in 1835 as having a population of 1,000, two schools, five hotels, thirteen attorneys, three physicians, one manufacturing flour mill and forty-eight business enterprises.

    Improvements in the next twenty years included a new court house in 1850, and the arrival from the north of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad in 1856. Then came the Civil War, most of the able-bodied men left and the rest of the town busied itself in nursing the injured and doing all they could for the absent fighters.

    Although there were several threatened invasions of Union troops, none actually arrived until December, 1864, when General Stoneman and 10,000 men marched in. They burned the railroad depot, the commissary, barracks and other government property, and continued on to the east. Later in the day a single renegade entered the town on horseback and proceeded to fire all property on both sides of Main Street before he could be killed. The courthouse and most of the buildings of Abingdon were destroyed, valuable records were burned and many of the people were left homeless.

    Abingdon at present has a population of 2,877, and is the centre and market place of a prosperous, rolling farm land. The town has several large business enterprises, notably the new plant of the Pet Milk Company. It is one of the few cities in Virginia which have wide, tree-lined streets, throughout, and is probably the longest town for its width in the world. Martha Washington College for girls and the George Ben Johnson Hospital are located in Abingdon.

    Glade Spring

    (Revised from article by Goodridge Wilson in Roanoke Times, June 7, 1930)

    There is an old brick Presbyterian church two miles east of the town of Glade Spring whose members for more than one hundred and fifty years have lived in various communities scattered over a wide area of as fine farming land as ever raised tobacco and blue grass cattle. It was built near a spring in a glade noted among pioneer settlers, and called Glade Spring Church. All that wide territory in which its far flung congregation has dwelt for generations takes its name, which is indicative of the pervading and prevailing influence of that old church. When a man says he lives at Glade Spring, he may actually live there, or somewhere five or six miles away.

    The Beatties, emigrating from Kerr's Creek in Rockbridge County about 1772, were the original settlers of this locality. They "forted" the Indians in the glen where the Old Glade Church now stands, and began preaching at the Ebbing Spring Meeting House on the Middle Fork of the Holston, later moving the church to the site of the fort. The whole Beattie clan were active and energetic pioneers. They fought Indians, English, and hardships and made great estates out 0£ the wilderness. The old homesteads around Glade Spring, now in 6ther hands, are eloquent witnesses to the energy and foresight of these settlers and their sons.

    The railroad in 1856 put a depot where a branch led off to Saltville and called it, for some unknown reason, Passawatomie, but the Beatties, Allisons, Edmondsons and Ryburns, the four families which comprised the village, soon put a unanimous quietus on this and called the town Glade Spring. A year later, W. B. Dickenson and J. S. Buchanan built a large storehouse southwest of the station which, still standing, was the town's first business enterprise.

    It is a fine type of Southwest Virginia town, solidly substantially prosperous, holding on to the old and yet sanely progressive in taking up the new. There are modern homes; bungalows, cottages, more pretentious residences, and mellowed brick houses with fine old shade trees. There are substantial brick churches, a new high school... rolling hillsides, cultivated fields... rich meadows in the immediate background and a beautifully broken fresco of mountains on the northern sky line. According to Mr. Lew Summers, Washington County's recognized historian, Glade Spring is situated in the best section of the county.

    Primarily a railroad town, serving as a junction point for the entire products of the industrial towns of Saltville, Plasterco and Clinchburg, Glade Spring could, nevertheless, exist as the centre and shipping point for the nearby agricultural lands. Tobacco, cattle, produce, rare herbs and cabbage are the principal exports.

    In bygone times, Glade Spring was also a college town with a Baptist girls' school inside of it and a Methodist boys' school several miles outside it. The Methodist boys are still where they were, at Emory and Henry, now enlarged to take in girls, but the Academy at Glade Spring burned and was moved to Bristol where it has become the Virginia Intermont College.

    The Seven Springs (side by side and each having a varying mineral content) and Washington Springs are near at hand, and because of them Glade Spring was once a fashionable and popular summer resort, with Wytheville in the visitors that came to its hotel and private boarding houses to enjoy the scenery and partake of the health-giving mineral waters Washington Springs Hotel still operates and is famed throughout the section for its restful atmosphere and excellent home cooking.

    Glade Spring has a present population of 669, modern stores of all descriptions, six churches, one of the county's best schools, and flour mill several wholesale produce companies. The Bank of Glade Spring is one of the oldest and most firmly entrenched financial institutions in the region. The town has an up-to-date water system and is served by a state highway and numerous paved county roads.


    By Goodridge Wilson

    Damascus, industrial town of the forest, is the National Forest town of Southwest Virginia. It is the only town of considerable size within the Unaka National Forest and the Forest Rangers headquarters are located there. Its industries are and have ever been based on forest products. An extract plant and wood-working plants are carrying on there and formerly great sawmills employing hundreds of workmen operated there, feeding on the magnificent timber in the virgin forests for many miles around until they ate it all up. Now under the watchful care of the government rangers the mountains and their water course valleys are being clothed again with a fine thick growth of new timber and the attractive little town is almost surrounded again by forest running up to its very edge. It is a beautiful town from the outside, and not ugly from the inside. Driving in from the northwest over the state highway along the bluff, one looking out over the town built on level land below, and seeing the clear mountain streams running through, snugly sheltered by wooded mountains all around, feels like stopping for a while to take in the unique beauty of the scene.

    A post office called Mock's Mills was located in the only water gap through Iron Mountain between New and Watauga Rivers, and when a railroad was projected through the gap it became the site of a future great city. In 1892, streets were laid off, plans for a magnificent hotel and for numerous business enterprises were projected, and the name was changed to Damascus, because, it is said, somebody thought it looked like the town in Syria where St. Paul was converted. Then the so-called Cleveland hard times hit the country, and stopped everything around Damascus for six or eight years. That great hotel was never built, but after the lapse of time, many business enterprises did materialize and are still materializing. In February, 1900, the first train carrying passengers arrived in Damascus, and trains are now earrying passengers and freight through the water gap and on into a rapidly developing section of North Carolina. Damascus may yet he the city the boomers dreamed, because it is in the water gap, and because it is in the National Forest, and because it has excellent water power and other natural advantages for industry, and because it has an aggressive and substantial citizenry. Whatever it may become, it is now a corking good forest town, and it has the most picturesque and one of the all-around best public school plants in Southwest Virginia.


    By P. L. Barker

    Mendota is situated on the North Fork of Holston River, in the west end of Washington County, Virginia, about half way between Bristol and Gate City, opposite the noted Kinderhook Farm and immediately on the Southern Railway.

    The excellent river-bottom lands at Mendota were patented by the Commonwealth to Thomas Kendrick, Wflliam Todd Livingston and others, and the home of Peter Livingston was but a short distance below Mendota at the time the noted half-breed Benge made his raid thereon in the year 1794, burning the homestead and carrying off the wife of Peter Livingston. After several days hot pursuit the Indians were overtaken, the savage Benge was killed at long range by Lieutenant Vincent Hobbs. Mrs. Livingston was struck with a tomahawk by an Indian and left for dead-the remaining Indians fleeing-but after being senseless about an hour was revived by the rescue party.

    The river-bottom land opposite Mendota, some time previous to 1860, became the property of Adam Hickman, a native of Kinderhook, N. Y. Upon his acquisition of this property, he gave it the name of Kinderhook, and from this farm Kinderhook magisterial district derived its name.

    The post office at this point was for many years Kinderhook, but the name was changed to Mendota by Henry C. Holley, who for many years was a merchant at the place.

    Hamilton Institute was established at Mendota in the year, 1874. It drew a large, earnest and determined patronage from the Cumberlands on the north to the Blue Ridge Mountains on the south, and is said to have sent more Christian young men and women into the professional and common walks of life than any other institution of learning of its class in its wide territory.

    As to the old settlers, it may be remarked that it was no ordinary people who pushed the frontiers back and settled this section. They were of the best stock that Virginia had to offer, and were as high-minded and far-seeing as they were brave and adventurous.

    Mendota is the center of the glass sand industry in Virginia. It has one of the finest deposits of silica, used in the manufacture of glassware, pottery, etc., in the United States, said to be inexhaustible in quantity. While industrial development at present is in its infancy, the great number and variety of natural resources, the place being touched by a river and great trunk line railway, it is destined to increase greatly. At present there is considerable prospecting for oil and gas in this vicinity. The town has two flour mills, plAning and lumber mills, five stores, and is served by a high-powered electric line, the East Tennessee Light and Power Company, a subsidiary of Cities Service.

    The Blue Grass Trail, State Highway No.42, has lately been constructed into the town.


    Located in a level valley beside the North Fork of the Holston River, in both Smyth and Washington counties, Saltville has one of the most interesting histories of any town in this section. Formerly a number of salt springs flowed into a large lake which covered the lower portion of the valley. Wild animals of all kinds came here for the salt necessary to their lives, and Indians boiled the spring water for it. Numerous Indian relics as well as bones of prehistoric monsters have been found. In 1848, a piece of rib over six feet long was unearthed and a short time later the skeleton of a seven-foot man was brought to view.

    First surveyed in 1748, when a party led by Colonel James Patton of Augusta County explored the entire section, the land comprising the present town of Saltville was patented in 1768 by Charles Campbell. The grant was at that time in Augusta County, which extended all the way to the Mississippi. It was inherited by General William Campbell, hero of King's Mountain and brother-in-law of Patrick Henry. After his death, his widow married General William Russell, and in 1788, he dug a well on the property and started the first salt operations. It is interesting to note that practieally everyone connected with the early history seems to have been at least a general.

    To give a detailed description of the various owners of the two saline estates in this famous valley, and the sundry disputes which they engaged in, would be boring. Salt was refined here by Colonel Thomas Madison, cousin of the President, General Francis Preston, and many other famous men.

    In 1863, George W. Palmer and William A. Stuart, the father of Governor Henry Stuart, bought the valley, organized the Holston Salt and Plaster Company, which they operated until 1898, when the Mathieson Alkali Works, present owner, took charge.

    During the Civil War, Saltyille was the only source of salt for the Confederate armies, and a number of battles were fought near the coveted wells. The Union troops were repulsed several times with heavy losses, hut finally captured the town, destroyed tile salt works, and filled the wells with cannon balls. Salt was distributed at that time by fiat boats which floated down the Holston to the Tennessee and on into the South. Legends tell us that during the War, wagons were often lined up for miles, awaiting their turn for salt. They were loaded half with wood for the furnaces and half with Confederate currency, which was about worth its weight in wood.

    Palmer and Stuart, besides their salt operations, conducted a large farm, on which registered cattle and purebred Clydesdale horses were raised.

    The Mathieson people, an English concern, discontinued the manufacture of salt and made great alterations. At first, the plant manufactured caustic soda, bleaching powder, and baking soda. Now many other products are made.

    The Mathieson Alkali Works owns 12,000 acres in the vicinity and, with the exception of a row of independent stores, the entire town of Saltville. They operate a clubhouse, commissary, drug store, and hospital. The Company also maintains a medical department, including a modern hospital, and contributes to the upkeep of the schools. Saltville has five Churches-Methodist, Episcopal, Christian, Presbyterian, and Baptist, and one bank, with 1931 resources of $326,183. Its people have been for many years ardent baseball enthusiasts, and have recently become interested in a newly constructed golf course.

    Total business in and out of Saltviile has been estimated at $18,000,000 yearly. If the entire annual output were to be hauled out in one train, over the Norfolk and Western Railway which serves the town, that train would be 162 miles long.

    Products shipped by Mathieson, by the two gypsum plants outside the town, and by others, include: gypsum, ash, varieties of plaster, caustic soda, plaster board, agricultural lime, bicarbonate, baking soda, gypsum rock, lumber, and cattle. In thirty-nine years the plant has never been shut down a day on account of lack of business. During the depression it has run practically to capacity.

    Saltville's population (1930) is 2,964, of which 557 are in Washington County.




    Washington County is in the extreme southwestern portion of the State. Shaped roughly as a triangle, it is bounded on the south by Tennessee, for a short distance on the southwest by Scott County, on the northwest by Russell County, and on the northeast by Smyth County. It is Mso touched for a few miles in the extreme southeast portion, where the northern line of Tennessee makes one of its queer turns, by Grayson County.

    Washington County, striefly speaking, is at the southern end of the famed Valley of Virginia, but here the Valley is cut by many knobs and minor mountain ranges and it is difficult to distinguish it. The western bounding line runs through the summit of the Clinch Mountain Range, at a height of 3,000 feet, while on the east is Iron Mountain with an altitude of 3,500 feet. The county also includes most of White Top Mountain, the summit of which, in Grayson County, attains the height of 5,520 feet, one of the highest points in Virginia. The central portion is rolling land and, for the most part, very fertile.

    Washington County is drained principally by the three forks of the Holston, all of which flow into the Tennessee, but in the eastern portion, are a few small tributaries of the New River, which winds northward through West Virginia anti eventually empties into the Ohio.

    The elevation varies from 1,400 feet in Poor Valley to 5,100 feet in the extreme southwest. The altitude of Bristol is 1,689 feet, of Abingdon, 2,114, and of Damascus, 2,000. Its area is 602 square miles, ranking it eleventh in the State.


    The climate of Washington County is typical of this section; due to the high altitude, the air is clear and bracing. Over a period of fourteen years, the highest temperature ever recorded at Bristol was 96 ° Fahrenheit. The mean temperature in the summer is about 71 degrees, and in the winter, 35 degrees. The average growing season, or period between killing frosts, is six months.

    The average annual rainfall at Bristol is forty-one inches and about forty-eight inches at Mendota. Though greatest precipitation occurs in July and August, the rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the twelve months. A record heavy rainfall of 50.85 inches was reported from Mendota in 1906 and 1912, while the lightest ever measured was 29.42 inches, reported from Damascus in 1930. The average annual snowfall of only twelve inches is almost the lowest in the State.

    The following tables collected from climatological Data of the United States Weather Bureau indicate weather conditions at the county's two stations:

    Monthly Seasonal and Annual Temperature and Precipitation at Bristol (Fifteen Year Period, 1894-1908)
    Degrees Fahrenheit
    Expressed in Inches
    Month Mean Highest Lowest Mean Total Amount
    Driest Year - 1904
    Total Amount
    Wettest Year - 1895
    December 36.9 67 -11 3.26 3.80 1.00 1.3
    January 34.3 70 -15 2.79 1.87 1.59 4.6
    Feburary 33.7 84 -20 3.40 1.56 2.51 3.1
    Winter 34.9 84 -20 3.15 7.23 5.70 9.0
    March 47.1 86 2 4.58 3.10 7.87 1.5
    April 53.6 88 20 2.78 2.47 1.94 0.6
    May 64.7 91 30 2.05 2.23 3.00 Trace
    Spring 55.1 91 2 3.47 7.80 12.81 2.1
    June 70.9 94 40 4.31 4.68 4.23 -
    July 74.1 96 48 5.64 3.98 7.74 -
    August 73.2 94 46 4.19 3.09 7.63 -
    Summer 72.7 96 40 4.71 11.75 19.60 0
    September 68.0 92 27 2.28 trace 3.17 -
    October 55.4 86 23 2.00 trace 1.05 trace
    November 44.8 78 11 2.72 3.91 5.47 0.8
    Autumn 56.1 92 11 2.33 3.92 9.69 0.8
    15 year period 54.7 96 -20 40.00 30.70 47.80 11.9


    Monthly Seasonal and Annual Temperature and Precipitation
    at Saltville 1924 - 1930
    Degrees Fahrenheit
    Precipation at Mendota
    1905 - 1930
    Expressed in Inches
    Month Mean Highest Lowest Mean Total Amount
    Driest Year - 1925
    Total Amount
    Wettest Year - 1929
    December 36.2 79 -1 4.19 1.53 1.98 2.8
    January 35.0 71 -4 4.52 4.57 3.85 4.5
    Feburary 39.5 76 10 3.27 3.44 4.48 3.2
    Winter 36.9 79 -4 3.99 9.54 10.31 10.5
    March 44.2 86 12 4.87 1.86 5.59 1.5
    April 53.9 88 18 3.84 2.73 2.97 0.1
    May 61.7 95 32 3.78 1.67 7.28 -
    Spring 53.3 95 12 4.16 6.26 15.84 1.6
    June 70.8 99 41 4.93 5.86 7.49 0
    July 75.3 102 45 4.92 1.80 6.96 0
    August 74.6 100 46 4.61 2.12 1.59 0
    Summer 73.6 102 41 4.82 9.88 16.04 0
    September 68.9 94 34 3.67 1.10 1.72 0
    October 57.9 92 24 3.18 7.07 5.48 trace
    November 44.7 81 2 2.61 3.39 4.81 0.8
    Autumn 57.2 94 2 3.15 11.56 12.01 0.8
    Year 55.2 102 -4 49.39 37/.14 54.20 12.9

    Mineral Resources

    Washington County lies in the physiographic section called by geologists, the Appalachian Province, which extends throughout the entire western portion of the State and far to the northeast and southwest. This Province is divided into three sections, the Allegheny Vafley ridges, the Great Valley Region, and the Blue Ridge Region.

    The Allegheny Valley ridges extend from the western boundary of the State to the Clinch Mountain range and include little of Washington County save a wide and sparsely populated plateau in its northwestern portion. The Blue Ridge Region extends westward to Iron Mountain and takes in the extremely mountainous section in the southeastern part of the county. Most of Washington lies in the Great Valley Region, noted for the complexity of its geological formation.

    Commercially, the most important mineral is gypsum, mined on a large scale at Plasterco and North Hoiston. This small area is the only spot in the South in which this mineral is found. Gypsum, or hydrous calcium sulfate (CaSO4.2H2O), is used as a wall-plaster, as a fertilizer, as a filler in paper, as a bed for plate glass during its grinding and polishing. It is also manufactured into plaster of Paris, and is a minor constituent of Portland cement.

    These deposits were mined from the surface as early as 1835. Now, at Plasterco, the United States Gypsum Company carries on operations on an extensive scale. The beds now being worked are reached by two main shafts, each about two hundred feet deep. Various levels branch off these shafts, the gypsum being mined in a way similar to coal. When the large chunks of the mineral are brought to the surface, they are carried to the mill in electric cars, roasted and pulverized in preparation for their manufacture into plaster board and some of the products enumerated above. Statistics on this enterprise may be found in the chapter on Industries.

    Before white men ever set foot in the area now known as Washington County, salt seepages were known in the lowland south of the present town of Saltville and this spot was frequented by Indians and wild animals. Later, pioneer settlers sunk shallow wells and boiled the salt from the brine that flowed from them and from natural springs. In 1836, two wells, each 212 feet in depth, were in operation. The brine was carried some two miles in wooden pipes, impurities were filtered and boiled out. The annual production was 200,000 bushels and, even with the crude methods of purification, the salt was free from magnesium and calcium chlorides. During the Civil War, these wells were practically the only source of salt for the Confederate armies.

    About fifty wells have been drilled in this district, and some twenty-five are now in operation. The Mathieson Alkali Works purchased the field in 1895, and since that time no salt has been produced. Instead, the brine is manufactured into soda ash, used in glass and pottery production, sodium bicarbonate, used as a basis of baking powder, sal soda and caustic soda.

    In this process, large quantities of pure calcium carhonate are needed. Limestone for this purpose is mined at the Company's quarry, three miles east of Saltville. Here is mined limestone which is ninety-seven per cent pure CaCO3. Phosphate rock has been discovered and analyzed at a point on Tumbling Creek on the southeastern slope of Clinch Mountain, some four miles west of Saltville. The creek has cut through a thick bed of chert-bearing limestone, and has exposed a vein of phosphate rock about a foot in thickness. It is thought that this bed extends along the foot of Clinch Mountain for a good distance in both directions, though it is covered by sandstone debris from above. Another phosphate-bearing bed is indicated by outcrops which run from a point about a mfle west of Emory, along the southeastern slope of Walker Mountain, northeast into Smyth County.

    Considerable manganese (used principally as an alloy for steel) is mined in Scott and Russell counties and manganese ore is definitely reported in Washington County, on Clinch Mountain, five miles northeast of Mendota. The bed has never been mined commercially.

    Near Abingdon are scattered deposits of ferruginous limestone, hematite and magnetite which have been mined in a small way. The limestone, as mined, contains about so per cent metallic iron.

    Barium sulphate, or barite, occurs near Bristol and at a point four and one.half miles west of Glade Spring. Used principally as a white pigment in paint manufacture, it was mined for a number of years outside of Bristol.

    Mineral springs of pronounced medicinal content are situated at Litz, two miles west of Glade Spring, and at Washington Springs, two miles north of the same town. The former consist of seven springs, side by side, each containing a different kind of water. Formerly this water was bottled and sold, but the springs have now fallen into disrepair. Washington Springs has been for many years a summer resort and its waters are famed through-out the section.

    In bygone years, several oil wells have been sunk in the vicinity of Mendota without success. It is reported, however, (Bulletin 27, Virginia Geological Survey) that there are oil and natural gas possiblities in the vicinity of Early Grove, just over the line in Scott County.

    In June, 1931, a gas well was brought in at this point by Davis Elkins and associates. According to The Mountain Empire, organ of Southwest Virginia, Inc., the flow was estimated to be one million cubic feet per day This well, together with favorable geological reports, has brought much interest in oil and gas possibflities in the section. The Davis Elkins associates drilled another well in Washington and many other lands of Southwest Virginia have been leased for drilling purposes. "A well is being drilled on the John M. Arnold property, six miles north of Abingdon, by Behn and Company, Inc., of Washington, Pennsylvania."

    There are also coal deposits in Washington County, but not of sufficient quality to warrant mining at this time.

    As a summation, Washington County's mineral resources include gypsum, salt, phosphate, barite, iron, coal, pure limestone, manganese, medicinal springs, and possibly oil and natural gas. No comprehensive geological survey has ever been made of the county, but in view of its peculiar geologic structure, there are great possibilities of mineral development.


    No detailed study of the soils of Washington County has ever been made. Outcropping of a great number of limestones, ordovician, and lower cambrian sbales are in evidence. In the western section the carboniferous Pennington frirmation of red and green shale and sandstone and several types of limestone are the principal soils.

    Comprising the most common soil in the rolling broken valley which includes the central part of the county is the Jonesboro limestone, the fertility of which is exceUent for general garden crops, corn, and tobacco.

    Several heavy black loams found in the bottom lands of Washington are extraordinarily fertile. Poor Valley, in the west, is covered with a sticky yellow soil which for years was good for very little. It has been discovered recently, however, that it is capable of raising very fine tobacco.


    Location and Area

    By S. G. Hobart, District Forester

    It is supposed that the white man found prackeally the whole of what is now Washington County in forest when he first visited that section about the middle of the eighteenth century. In preparing lands for agriculture, the original forests on the richer and smoother sites have been destroyed, until in 1930, 54.4 per cent of the land area was crop land, unforested pasture, or other unforested farm land.

    According to the 1930 Census, the land area was classified, as follows: total area, 385,280 acres; land in farms, 274,168 acres; crop land, 74,974 acres; plowable pasture, 68,686 acres; woodland pasture, 18,441 acres; other pasture, 54,246 acres; woodland in farms, not pastured, 46,148 acres; all other land in farms, 11,673 acres; land not in farms, 111,112 acres.

    No exact data are available as to the present area of forests. However, from the census figures and from observation in the county, it is estimated that the present forest area is not far from 174,000 acres, or about forty-five per cent of the total land area. This includes all farm woodland and most of the land not in farms. Although definite data are lacking, it is certain that the amount of barren land not in farms is quite small.

    A large portion of this forested area lies either northwest of the North Fork of Holston River, on the slopes of Clinch Mountain, or southeast of the South Fork, along Iron Mountain. The area between the North and South Forks is for the most part smooth and fertile and much of this por- tion of the county is cleared for agriculture and grazing. Such forests as are situated in this central valley, between the two high mountains, are for the most part relatively small. The only large continuous wooded areas are on the slopes of the mountains.

    Unaka National Forest

    The mountainous section of Washington County lying southeast of the South Fork of Holston River is within the purchase boundary of Unaka National Forest, and within this boundary, 14,534 acres of forest land have been acquired by the United States Forest Service in Washington County. This is a part of a total of more than 200,000 acres comprising this national forest, which extends along this mountain range from Unicoi County in Tennessee into Wythe County in Virginia.

    General Description of the Forests

    The forests as a whole consist of a mixture of both broad-leafed and coniferous species, with the broad-leafed trees, or hardwoods, usually predominating. This is not always the case, however, as pure stands of pine or spruce are often found, and, likewise, in many places mixed stands of hardwood species may occur with no mixtures of conifers.

    Early records indicate that the original forests consisted for the most part of a dense stand of large trees of high quality, except on the exposed mountain tops where conditions of site were such as to produce scrubby, limby timber. Practically all of these original forests have been removed, and the present forests are largely second growth stands which vary widely in stand and in condition. Fires have taken their toll, and through the removal of the better trees, inferior species have been enabled to crowd in and replace the more valuable timber trees.

    The present area of virgin timber is so small as to be negligible. Lightly culled forest-land areas which, although considerable timber has been removed, still have sufficient timber left to make logging economically possible under a normal lumber market, make up about twenty-three per cent of the total forest area. About sixty-five per cent of the forested area has been heavily culled, with no considerable amount of merchantable trees remaining. The remaining twelve per cent must be classified as brush land, covered with scrub oak and other worthless species. This cover, although of no commercial value, serves to protect the soil and regulate stream flow, and with proper protection from fires will gradually give way to valuable timber-producing species.

    Forest Types

    Forest types, usually based upon site characteristics and dominant species, are the result of the division of the whole forest into stands that differ from each other so materially that they should be managed differently. There is seldom a distinct line of demarcation between types. They usually merge from one into another by gradations difficult to distinguish. Five distinct types may be recognized in this region.

    SPRUCE ALPINE TYPE. Red spruce is the dominant species with a tendency toward pure stands, especially at the higher elevations. Mixtures of sugar map]e, chestnut, chestnut oak, scrub pine, red oak, and occasionally white oak may be found at lower elevations, but this type is seldom found lower than 4,500 feet above sea level. This type is of small importance in Washington County and is limited to a few acres on the highest peaks of Iron Mountain, with a few scattering spruces on the highest portion of Clinch Mountain. The crest of White Top is covered with a pure stand of spruce, but this is outside of the county. Trees at this high elevation are typically short and scrubby and the type is of little commercial importance.

    CHESTNUT AND CHESTNUT-OAK RIDGE TYPE. As the name implies, chestnut and chestnut oak are the most abundant trees of this type, which covers the most of the high ridges, grading into the spruce alpine type at the extreme elevations of the high peaks. Associated with these species may be found red oak, hickory, sugar maple, black oak, white oak, scarlet oak, locust, black gum, scrub and pitch pines, and occasionally white pine in exposed elevations. As in the spruce alpine type, timber is characteristically short and scrubby. The chestnut blight has infected and is rapidly killing the chesnut, and this species will gradually give way to others in most cases probably to chestnut oak. Where fire damage has been severe, scrub pine sometimes tends to encroach upon this mixed hardwood type. From the same cause, heavy and dense growths of the laurels often result, which robs the site of much of its timber-producing possibilities. Proper fire protection will eventually cure this condition by permitting the crown cover to close and gradually shade out the undesirable species. Heavy yields of high grade lumber cannot be expected from this type. It may more profitably he managed to produce tan bark, cord wood, cross ties, posts, and similar forest products.

    This type, together with the spruce alpine type, embraces about twenty per cent of the forest area of the county.

    WHITE OAK SLOPE TYPE. Associated in this type with the white oak, which is one of the most valuable timber trees of the southern Appalachians, may be found sugar maple, buckeye, black birch, black cherry, basswood, cucumber, white ash, red oak, black gum, walnut, locust, white pine, chestnut, chestnut oak, yellow poplar and hemlock. Commercially it is the most important of the types, since it covers fully sixty per cent of the forest area of the county and, along with the cove type, it produces the most valuable lumber. It is a highly complex type, gradually merging into the ridge type on the upper slopes and varying widely in composition with variations in exposure, altitude, soils, and other site factors. This type should be managed primarily for the production of lumber, endeavoring to favor the more valuable species and to discourage the further encroachment of the undesirables which produce inferior lumber and grow slowly.

    YELLOW POPLAR COVE TYPE. Another complex type, in which the yellow poplar appears as dominant species, associated with a large number of subordinate species such as white oak, basswood, cucumber, white pine, hemlock, white ash, red maple, buckeye, locust, black gum, hickory, chestnut, black and river birch, pin oak and others. The deep soil in the coves, enriched by an abundance of humus which is formed by the rapid decomposition of the leaf litter which accumulates in these sheltered areas through the action of wind and water, enables the yeflow poplar and its most valuable associates to make its thriftiest growth. The site is protected from undue drying effects of sun and wind, and hence serious fire damage is least to be expected in this type. The trees are likely to be tall and straight, and a large amount of upper grade lumber is therefore cut from, cove-grown trees. Not more than fifteen per cent of the forest area of Washington County is included in the yellow poplar cove type.

    HEMLOCK BOTTOMLAND TYPE. In the bottomlands, hemlock displays a tendency toward almost pure stands on some sites. Elsewhere, it may occur with a heavy mixture of hardwoods. Its usual associates in this type are river birch, black gum, buckeye, sycamore, red maple, pin oak, and occasionally basswood and poplar. Hemlock and river birch reach their best development here, and hemlock in this type produces much high grade framing lumber and tan bark. This type occupies perhaps five per cent of the forest area, and because of this small relative area is of less importance from a commercial standpoint than either the cove or slope type.

    Chestnut Blight

    The chestnut bark disease caused by the parasitic fungus known as Endothia parasitica (Murr.) was brought into this country from Asia early in the present century. From the initial infection in New York City, where it was first observed in 1904, it has spread to almost all parts of the range of the chestnut, probably reaching Washington County about 1924. At the present time (1931), probably between eighty and ninety per cent of the chestnut trees in the county are infected and perhaps five per cent are dead. The infection may be expected to continue to increase until the entire chestnut stand is killed. This is likely to have been accomplished before 1940. The chestnut timber should, therefore, be cut and utilized as rapidly as market conditions will permit, not only as a salvage operation but also in order that the infected and dying trees may not continue to occupy space in the forest which might well be used in growing healthy timber. The immediate future of chestnut is hopeless. It is hoped that a blight-resistant strain of the native chestnut may be developed, but this cannot possibly be accomplished for many years to come.

    Protection Against Forest Fires

    Until 1922 there was no organized protection against forest fires except on the Unaka National Forest. A beginning was made during that year by the appointment of a number of forest wardens within the forest areas, and the organization has been improved and strengthened until at present twenty wardens, each with a well organized fire-fighting crew and equipped with proper tools, are in readiness to make an immediate attack on such forest fires as they may discover. Further strengthening of the fire protection system is needed, with properly located towers and lines of communication, which can be supplied when additional funds are available for the work.

    The Importance of the Forests

    WOOD PRODUCTS. Complete statistics are not available as to the amount or value of the lumber cut annually in Washington County. One rather large band sawmill and several smaller outfits manufacture rough lumber, and a considerable portion of this is. shipped out of the county. Neither the exports or imports of lumber is definitely known, but it is likely that exports slightly exceed imports.

    Other important forest products cut in the county include pulp wood, chestnut extract wood, cross ties, poles, and oak and hemlock tan bark. The manufacture of lumber and other forest products gives employment to a considerable number of persons, as well as providing profitable work for farmers during seasons when their full time is not required at farm work.

    PROTECTION TO SPRINGS AND STREAMS. Forests play an important part in the regulation of the flow of springs and streams. The floor of a well-managed forest has an accumulation of humus and a deep mulch of leaves which act as a huge sponge, retarding run-off at times of excessive rainfall, and holding back a supply of water to feed the springs and streams during dry seasons. It is important that a large proportion of the steep land be permanently wooded and that the forest floor be protected from fires and excessive grazing if we are to prevent floods during wet seasons and keep water in the springs and streams when rainfall is deficient.

    IMPROVEMENT OF THE CLIMATE. Through transpiration a tree returns a large amount of water to the atmosphere. The amount returned by a forest is immense. Large areas of forest, therefore, tend to bring about a more even distribution of rainfall. It is also observed that they tend to moderate both the extreme heat of summer and cold of winter.

    PROTECTION OF THE HABITAT OF WILDLIFE. We derive many benefits from the birds and animals which find food and cover in the forest. Not only do they furnish us food and sport, but many of them are the natural enemies of insects and other pests of mankind. Without the insectivorous birds the earth would become uninhabitable. The removal of the forests by axe or by fire destroys the homes of birds and the food of the game animals.

    BEAUTY AND SHADE. With its high mountains, its forests, and pleasant streams, Washington County is a county of great natural beauty. This beauty has a very real economic value. Tourists and pleasure-seekers are attracted who contribute through the purchase of necessities to the general welfare of the county. This value can be enhanced by the proper care of the trees, or destroyed by neglect.

    What Must Be Done to Preserve the Forests and Increase Their Usefulness

    2. CUT TIMBER CONSERVATIVELY. Look forward to a new crop by cutting only in accordance with the principles of forestry. Leave the land in good condition to replace the trees cut.
    3. REFOREST WASTE AREAS. The lands now unproductive could be made to raise valuable crops by re-establishing forests on them.


    Regardless of a county's (or an empire's) resources, size, or natural beauty, it is always the people who make or unmake it. This chapter is devoted entirely to a statistical study of the population of Washington County.

    Total Population

    Over a period of many years, the population of Washington County has increased very little. Reports of the 1930 Census indicate a population of 42,690, including Bristol. In 1920, the corresponding figure was 39,105; in 1910, 39,077; and in 1900, 33,574. This is little more than the natural increase of its excess of births over deaths; for most of its families have been living there for several generations.

    The area of Washington County is 604 square miles and, as the population is 42,690, the density of population is 70.6 inhabitants per square mile. This is considerably greater than the State average of 57.4, and ranks the county 20th in this respect. Arlington is most densely peopled, with 1,110 inhabitants per square mile, while Highland's population is most sparse, with only 11.7 people per square mile. As the United States Census defines all towns under 2,500 as urban, we subtract the population of Bristol, Abingdon and Saltville, and discover the rural population to be 30,416 or approximately 50.6 persons per square mile.

    The following table compiled from United States Census reports shows the county's population (including Bristol) by decades, 1840-1930:

    YEAR Population Increase YEAR Population Increase
    1840 13,001 1890 29,020 15.1
    1850 14,612 11.4 1900 31,574 15.7
    1860 16,802 15.6 1910 20,077 16.4
    1870 18,516 -0.4 1920 39,105 0.1
    1880 25,205 49.8 1930 42,690 9.1

    Total population Increase (1840-1930) over 328 percent.

    Civil Divisions

    Washington County is divided into seven minor civil districts, not including Bristol City. They are: Abingdon, Glade Spring, Goodson, Holston, Kinderhook, Saltville, and North Fork. As in most Virginia counties, the supervisor system of county government is used; one representative is elected from each district and these seven form the County Board of Supervisors. The Goodson district has the largest population with 7,571 inhabitants, and the North Fork district in the western and more mountainous portion has fewest people-2,670.

    Following is a detailed table, showing growth by districts:

    DISTRICT 1910 1920 1930
    Abingdon 7,120 6,370 6,822
    Glade Spring 3,575 3,547 4,106
    Goodson 5,811 6,143 7,571
    Holston 5,765 5,565 5,268
    Kinderhook 3,918 3,316 2,789
    Saltville 3,642 4,492 4,624
    North Fork 2,999 2,994 2,670
    Bristol City 6,247 6,729 8,840

    When the county was first divided into districts, each division contained approximately the same number of people. It is interesting to note the population changes since that time, which have made the districts vastly unequal.

    Rank of Towns

    The table below gives the rank of the seven incorporated towns in Washington County, according to population. Figures are from the 1930 Census.

    Rank TOWN Population: 1930 Population: 1920
    1 Bristol 8,840 6,729
    2 Abingdon 2,877 2,532
    3 Damascus 1,610 1,599
    4 Glade Spring 669 281
    5 Meadow View 618 609
    6 Saltville 557 448
    7 Mendota 223 258

    NOTES--Bristol has a population of 12,005 in Tennessee. Saltville has a population of 2,407 in Smyth County. The marked increase of the population of Glade Spring is due to an enlargement of town boundaries. At the date of printing, Meadow View is no longer incorporated.

    The following table showing the population ratings of unincorporated villages is compiled from a Rand-McNally atlas and the figures are merely estimates based on the 1920 Census. These figures do not approach accuracy, but the tab~ation is included to give a general idea of the size of unincorporated towns

    TOWN Population TOWN Population
    Konnarock 517 Roebuck 38
    Wallace 270 Benhams 33
    Emory 192 Plasterco 28
    Lodi 153 Watauga 25
    Wyndale 128 Green Cove 16
    Clinchburg 121 Fleet 15
    Greendale 80 Brumley Gap 15
    Friendship 62 Cole 15
    Taylor's Valley 56 Litz 13
    Alvarado 54 Gleford 12
    Holston 52 Ora 12
    Lindell 51 Zenobia 12
    Alumwells 50

    Note: Since the atlas was compiled lumber operations have ceased at Konnarock. The railroad has been removed and the town now contains but few people.

    Color and Nativity

    Washington Courity, including the City of Bristol, had in 1930 a population of 42,690, of which 89,962 were native-born white persons. There were, at that time, 2,641 negroes and 84 foreign-born whites residing in the county. This gives the low rates of 6.1 per cent negro, and 0.2 per cent foreign-born population.

    A table might indicate these facts somewhat more clearly:

    1930 WASHINGTON COUNTY BRISTOL CITY City and County Combined
    Number Per Cent Number Per Cent Number Per Cent
    Native-born whites 32,314 95.6 7,588 85.8 39,962 93.6
    Foreign-born 19 0.1 55 0.7 84 0.2
    Negroes 1,457 4.3 1,184 13.4 2,641 6.2
    Oriental, Indians 3 3

    Irrespective of the independent city of Bristol, the county average of 4.3 per cent negro population ranks it eighty-sixth in that particular among the counties of Virginia. Charles City County leads the list with a colored population of 75.2 per cent, and Buchanan is last with 0.8 per cent negroes. The percentage of colored inhabitants has been slowly decreasing for several decades; for in 1920, they constituted 5.5 per cent of the inhabitants, in 1910, 7 per cent, and in 1900, 7.6 per cent of the whole.

    It can be seen that the foreign-born population of the county is negligible. There have been few emigrants to Washington County. Over 90 per cent of her people are native-born, of native parents, and the great majority of these have ancestors who have lived in this same county for generations.


    Using the 1930 Census as a basis, we discover that of the total combined population of Washington County and Bristol there are 21,285 males and 21,305 females. This difference of only 120 persons in the ratio of the sexes is extraordinarily small. There are fewer male negroes in the county than females, the figures being 1,278 men and boys, and 1,363 girls and women. Statistics on the white population are as follows: males-20,005; females-20,041.


    According to the Census Bureau, an illiterate is a person over ten years of age who is unable to write his own name, regardless of his ability to read. 'This, of course, is a very lax definition of illiteracy and denotes "sheer illiteracy", but as census takers can scarcely be expected to give in- telligence tests to every one enumerated, they are the best data that can be had on the subject.

    On this basis, 11.2 per cent of the State's inhabitants were illiterate in 1920. The figure was reduced to 8.9 per cent in 1930. One of the reasons for this relatively high average is the large number, 19.2 per cent, of illiterate colored people. Figures for Washington County are much the same as those of the averages for the State in 1930. Eight and seven-tenths per cent of the total pppulation and 16.3 per cent of the negroes were unable to write their names, the first figures ranking Washington 49th in the roll of counties in this respect. Dinwiddie has most illiterates proportionately, with a percentage of 20.7 and Arlington has the least with a total illiteracy of only 1.7 per cent in 1930. Fifteen and nine-tenths per cent of all males, twenty-one years of age and over, are illiterate, as are 12.2 per cent of all females above that age. The percentage of illiterate older persons is higher than the total, indicating that the young are being educated and in a few years will lower, appreciably, the illiteracy figure.

    Those who could not write formed 14.9 per cent of the total population of Washington County in 1910 and 11.2 per cent in 1920. The two decades showed, therefore, a substantial reduction in the number of illiterates.

    Birth and Death Rates

    In 1930, according to data compiled by the Virginia State Department of Health, there occurred 860 births in Washington County, not including Bristol, giving the county a rate of 25.41 per 1,000 population and a standing of 24th among the counties of Virginia. Arlington ranked last with a birth rate of but 7.18, and Buchanan was first with 41.16 nativities per 1,000 inhabitants. The white birth rate of Washington was 25.93, while the colored rate was 13.78. For the seven years, 1922-28, the county's average yearly birth rate was 30.43. The county rate in 1920 was 31.57, and in 1929, 29.20 per 1,000, indicating a decline in the rate of births.

    Bristol led all the independent cities of Virginia in this respect by reporting 297 births, or a rate of 83.60 per 1,000. In the county there were but 20 negro births, making a rate of 13.78 per 1,000 of the negro population, and placing it 93rd in this respect. Bristol's high white rate may be partially explained by the fact that the hospital which serves both the Virginia and Tennessee sections is located on the Virginia side.

    In 1930, deaths within the county numbered 335, 311 of which were white persons and 24 colored. The total mortality rate was 9.90 per 1,000 of the population, well under the State rate of 12.53. The white rate of deaths to 1,000 of the population was 9.60 and the negro, 16.47. The total rate ranked Washington County 74th among her sister counties, James City County leading the list with 28.99 and Arlington County coining last with 6.24. Each year the county makes substantial gains in cutting down the death rate. Bristol, in the same year, reported 137 white and 24 colored deaths, or a rate of 18.21 per 1,000 of the population, placing it 14th among the twenty-one independent cities reporting.

    Attention should be called here to the phenomenal decrease in deaths in the short space of two years. In 1928, the county had a rate of 11.80 which placed it 87th. In 1930, it reduced its rate to 9.90 and jumped to 74th position among the counties, this in spite of the unusually high percentage of old people. The United States Census of 1920 lists 7,284 persons in the county, or almost one-fifth of the population, who are over forty-five years of age. This is much higher than in most counties of Virginia and, the majority of deaths came from what are known primarily as "old age diseases".

    The infant mortality rate is well below the average. In 1930, 53 infants died under one year of age; for every 1,000 living births, there were 62 deaths among those under one year of age. This placed Washington County 73rd among thg counties of the State, and below the State figure of 77. Between 1922 and 1930, the county showed steady improvement in reducing infant mortality.

    Marriage and Divorce

    Two men and two women out of every 1,000 persons in Washington County were married in 1928. To the woman hater, these statistics are very cheering, but in two years the rate jumped from 2.59 to the 1930 figure of 6.32 marriages per 1,000 population. There were in 1930, 207 white, and seven colored marriages in Washington County, or a ratio of 6.32 per 1,000 people. This rate pulled the county from undisputed last place in 1928 to 68th in 1930. Greensville County ranked first with a rate of 44.59 and Powhatan last with 3.58. In the City of Bristol, there were 254 marriages, or a rate of 28.73 per 1,000, which is abnormally high. This city is a haven for North Carolinians seeking to evade the more rigid marriage laws of the Tar Heel State.

    Washington County in the same year had thirty-seven divorces with a rate of 1.09 per 1,000 of the population. Twenty-five decrees were granted in the City of Bristol giving it a rate of 2.83. The total divorce rate for the state of Virginia was 1.35, and Washington's 1.09 placed her 22nd in the ranking of counties having most divorces per 1,000 population. Arlington led the field with 5.60 divorces per 1,000 people, and King William was last with no divorces.

    There were 5.78 marriages for every divorce in the county, placing it 76th among the counties of Virginia. King William was first with no divorces and Arlington was last with only 1.24 marriages to every divorce.

    Church Membership

    The church membership in Washington County, as in other counties in Southwestern Virginia, is fairly low according to the last Federal Census of Religious Bodies in 1926. Of the 33,850 persons in the county, not including Bristol, only 11,378 of them, or 35.1 per cent are members of some church. Among her sister counties, Washington ranks 79th; Gloucester leads with a percentage of 78.7, and Dickenson is last with 9.1 per cent as its figure. A slight increase is noted over 1916, when there were 10,194 church members in the county.

    In contrast to the county, Bristol stands very high. Five thousand three hundred persons, or 74.6 per cent, of the population are church members. This ranks Bristol third among the independent cities of the state, which were led by Charlottesville, with 75.2 per cent of the people church members. Radford was last with 27.5 per cent. These figures for Bristol cannot, however, be taken as entirely accurate, because the town is half in Tennessee and residents of that state naturally belong to Virginia churches and vice versa.

    A detailed chart, showing membership by denominations in 1926, follows:

    DENOMINATION County Bristol Combined
    Total Population - 1930 33,850 8,840 42,690
    Church members - 1920 11,378 5,300 10,678
    Methodist Episcopal, South 4,303 1,872 6,175
    Southern Baptists 2,430 1,072 3,502
    Presbyterian 1,909 495 2,404
    Methodist Episcopal Church 1,174 357 1,531
    African M. E. Zion 379 83 462
    Disciples of Christ 319 477 790
    Negro Baptists 304 505 809
    Protestant Episcopal 70 151 221
    Roman Catholic Church 231 231
    United Lutheran Church 134 80 164
    Conservative Dunkards 99 99
    Methodist Protestant 54 54
    All other bodies 168 37 205

    Statistics Concerning Washington County People

    Following is a summary of the standing of Washington County, in various population items as compared with the other 99 counties of the State:

    Rank Category Value
    11th In size in Virginia, land area in square miles
    Pittsylvania ranked first with 1,015 square miles and Arlington last with 31 square miles. Total area of the State, 40,262 square miles.
    7th In county population, 1930
    Pittsylvania ranked first with 61,424; Craig ranked last with 8,562. This does not indude independent cities. Total Virginia population was 2,421,851
    20th In density of population, per square mile, 1930
    Arlington ranked first with 1,064.6 per square mfle; Craig last with 10.7. This does not include independent cities.
    86th In percentage of total population that is negro, 1930
    Charles City ranked first with 75.8 per cent negroes; Buchanan was last with 0.8 per cent negroes. Colored in the total population of Virginia, 26.8 per cent.
    49th In percentage of total illiteracy, 1930
    Dinwiddie was first with 20.1 per cent of its inhabitants illiterate. Arlington was last with 1.7 per cent. State average was 8.7.
    78th In percentage of negro illiteracy, 1930
    With 83.8 per cent of all negroes unable to write, Patrick led the list. Arlington was last with 9.9 per cent illiterate. As has been noted, Buchanan and Craig had practically no negro population. The State percentage was 19.2.
    26th In percentage of white illiterates over 10 years of age, 1930.
    Buchanan was first with 17.4 per cent; Arlington was last with 0.4 per cent State average, 4.8 per cent.
    24th In total birth rate per 1,000 population, 1930
    Buchanan ranked first with 41.16 births per 1,000 population, and Arlington was last with a birth rate of 7.18. Rate for State, 22.64 per 1,000 population.
    16th In white birth rate per 1,000 population, 1930
    Buchanan ranked first with a rate of 41.49, and Arlington last with with 6.45. State average, 22.04.
    93rd -In negro birth rate per 1,000 colored population, 1930
    Lee was first with 37.81 births per 1,000 negroes; Frederick ranked 98th with 8.73, and Craig and Buchanan reported no negro births.
    74th In death rate per 1,000 population, 1930
    James City County was first with 28.99; Arlington was last with 6.24. The State mortality rate was 12.53 per 1,000 of the population.
    47th In death rate per 1,000 white population, 1930
    James City County was first with 86.13 deaths per 1,000 whites; Warwick was last with 5.06. State figures were 10.51 per 1,000 of the population.
    37th In death rate per 1,000 negro population, 1930
    Craig stood first with 133.83; Scott ranked last with 3.61. The State rate was 18.01 per 1,000 of the negro population.
    68th In marriage rate per 1,000 population, 1930
    Greensville County was first with 44.59; Powhatan was last with 3.58. The figures for Virginia were 9.92 per 1,000 of the population.
    59th In marriage rate per 1,000 white population, 1930
    Greensyille County's total of 53.62 was first in this respect, Accomac was last with a figure of 2.88. The State average for white marriages per 1,000 white population was 9.82.
    86th In marriage rate per 1,000 colored population, 1930
    Greensville again was first with 88.75. Shenandoah was 97th with 2.00 and Buchanan, Craig and Page had no negro marriages. The State figures were 10.19 per 1,000 of the colored population.
    22nd In divorce rate per 1,000 population, 1930
    Arlington led with 5.60 per 1,000 persons; Surry County was 99th with a rate of .14 and King and Queen last with no divorces. The State rate was 1.85.
    77th In number of marriages for each divorce, 1930
    King and Queen was first with no divorces; Greensville was second with 35.29 marriages to each divorce decree and Arlington was last with 1.24 marriages to each divorce. The State average was 7.4.

    Following are a few comparisons of the City of Bristol with the other independent cities of Virginia.

    Rank Category Value
    16th In total population, 1930
    Richmond was first with 182,929; Williamsburg was last with 8,778.
    17th In percentage of total population that is negro, 1930
    Petersburg was first with 44.1; Buena Vista last with 6.6 per cent.
    18th In percentage of total population that is foreign-born, 1930.
    Hopewell was first with 4.4 per cent foreign-born, while Buena Vista was last with 0.1 per cent
    1st In total birth rate per 1,000 population, 1930
    Charlottesville was last with 15.15 per 1,000.
    1st In total white birth rate per 1,000 population, 1930
    Portsmouth with a rate of 16.89 was last in this respect
    17th In negro birth rate per 1,000 negro population, 1930
    Buena Vista stood first with a rating of 34.09; Charlottesville last with 11.01.
    7th In total death rate per 1,000 population, 1930
    Staunton was highest with a rate of 32.03; Radford was lowest with 9.15 per 1,000.
    6th In white death rate per 1,000 population, 1930
    Staunton led in this respect also with 34.20; Newport News was last with 5.50 per 1,000.
    15th In negro death rate per 1,000 population, 1928
    Fredericksburg ranked first with a high rate of 44.00; Buena Vista reported no negro deaths.
    7th In total marriage rate per 1,000 population, 1928
    Danville was first with 49.75; Radford last with 7.16 per 1,000.
    6th In number of marriages for each divorce, 1930
    Danville ranked highest with 59.85 and Norfolk was last with 2.99.


    Strictly speaking, there is no possible way that one can judge the true wealth of a county. The only practical way is by analyzing the tax assessments, and tax assessments vary enormously from county to county and from district to district, depending on the individual whim of the assessor. In Washington County, he is supposed to assess upon a basis of twenty per cent of a fair market price for personal property. Real estate, formerly assessed every five years upon this twenty per cent basis, was valued by appraisers appointed by the court. This law was changed, effective 1930, and an equalization board was set up, not to assess, but to adjust any inequalities that might be found between the various sections of the county or between individuals. Contrary to conditions in many counties, Washington's equalization board really works and has corrected many faulty and erroneous assessments in its year and a half of existence.

    Let us now plunge into the avalanche of figures concerning Washington County and the City of Bristol.

    For the fiscal year 1928, the aggregate assessment, including everything, for Washington County was $11,720,235, ranking it thirtieth among the hundred counties of the State. For the City of Bristol the figures were $10,739,410, placing her sixteenth among the twenty-three cities of the State.

    According to the system of segregation which went into effect in 1927, taxes levied on real estate, tangible personal property, merchants' property, and property of public service corporations are taxed by the local government and intangible personal property, capital other than merchants' capital, bank stock, corporation incomes, etc., are levied on by the State.

    Then let us take the aggregate value subject to local and state taxation and analyze them - $11,720,235 - aggregate assessed value for Washington County and - $10,739,410 - aggregate assessed value for City of Bristol.

    Aggregate Assessed Value for Washington County and City of Bristol
    Taxable Category 1928
    Washington County
    County Collects Taxes On
    Tracts of Land - Improvements $4,063,674
    Town Lots - Improvements 1,097,007
    Standing Timber 36,295
    Mineral Lands 136,288
    Total Real Estate $5,333,264
    Tangible Personal Property 910,845
    Machinery and Tools 1,040
    Merchants' Capital 147,400
    Public Service Corporations 2,021,307
    Total Value Subject to Local Taxes $8,413,856
    State Collects Taxes On
    Intangible Personal Property $2,823,911
    Bank Stock 482,468
    Total Value Subject to State Taxes $3,306,379
    Aggregate Assessed Value $11,720,235
    City of Bristol
    City Collects Taxes On
    Real Estate & Town lots - Improvements $5,972,715
    Tangible Personal Property 483,855
    Public Service Cornorations 727,971
    Total Value Subject to Local Taxes $7,184,541
    State Collects Taxes On
    Intangible Personal Property $3,057,719
    Bank Stock 497,150
    Total Value Subject to State Taxes $3,554,869
    Aggregate Assessed Value $10,739,410

    NOTE. - The figures for 1930 were practically the same as the above.

    The following table is inserted as the clearest way to show the comparison of values between 1918 and 1928.

    Aggregate Assessed Value Comparison for Washington County and City of Bristol (1918 & 1928)
    Taxable Category Assessed Value
    1928 1918
    Washington County
    Real Estate $5,333,264 $4,137,093
    Personal Property 3,734,756 2,691,129
    Bank Stock 482,468 358,257
    Pulic Service Corporations 2,021,307 1,261,508
    Aggregate Assessed Value $11,571,795 $8,447,987
    City of Bristol
    Real Estate $5,972,715 $3,101,808
    Personal Property 3,541,574 1,141,588
    Bank Stock 497,150 167,810
    Public Service Corporations 727,971 258,870
    Aggregate Assessed Value $10,739,410 $4,670,076

    Though the foregoing table is not strictly accurate, due to the changes in tax procedure over the ten-year period, it indicates clearly the remarkable advance in value made in Washington County and Bristol over the period.

    Following is a compilation condensed from County Government in Virginia, a survey made by the New York Bureau of Municipal Research, which compares the per capita wealth and expenditures of Washington County with that in several other Virginia counties.

    County Rank Per Captia
    Taxable Wealth
    County Rank Per Capita Expenditures
    Arlington 1 $2,818 Arlington 1 $39.50
    Washington 87 625 Washington 84 9.80
    King and Queen 100 456 Patrick 100 6.80

    County Rank Ratio of Expenditures
    to Taxable Wealth
    Norfolk 1 .0229
    Washington 39 .0157
    Grayson 100 .0065

    The most important fact to be gleaned from the above figures is that there are 83 counties in the State whose inhabitants pay more taxes per capita than the people of Washington County.

    Agricultural Wealth

    The figures in this section come from the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Census. In 1930, the total value of all farm property in Washington County was $21,785,346 ranking it 7th in that respect. Rockingham was first with farms valued at $32,810,333 and Arlington was last with $1,891,725. The average value per county of farm property in Virginia was only $9,168,925.

    Other statistics and comparisons would perhaps be clearer in tabular form:

    County Rank VALUE of FARM
    Augusta 1 $31,118,195
    Washington 6 21,152,847
    Arlington 100 1,367,000
    Average value per county $8,558,496
    Value of Farm Buildings
    Rockingham 1 $13,149,671
    Washington 8 6,351,333
    Arlington 100 $397,500
    Average value per county $3,219,418
    Value of Farm Implements
    Augusta 1 $1,616,654
    Washington 16 632,499
    Arlington 100 $24,725
    Average value per county $443,192
    Value of All Live Stock
    Augusta 1 $3,291,878
    Washington 5 $2,232,292
    Arlington 100 41,997
    Average value per county $926,557

    These simple tables indicate that in all phases of farm wealth, Washington County is far above the State average and ranks well up to Augusta and Rockinghnm, larger and more populous counties.

    Statistics as to increased values are also best expressed in tabular form.

    Farm Wealth in Washington County: 1930 From U. S. Census of Agriculture
    YEAR Total Farm
    Land Buildings Implements
    1930 $21,785,340 $14,801,514 $6,351,333 $632,499 $2.232.292
    1925 23,494,151 15,952.121 5,385,970 597,027 1,559,033
    1920 27,661,717 19,532,540 4,454,330 834,999 2,839,848
    1910 14,245,972 10,044,272 2,164,327 302,847 1,734.526
    1900 6,610,594 4,436,950 1,091,670 157,520 924,554

    A close inspection of the above table brings out some rather peculiar things. It is noted that values between 1910 and 1920 doubled and in some items almost tripled, but that between 1920 and 1925 there was a startling decline, especially in the case of livestock. An explanation which partially accounts for this is as follows: Department of Labor Statistics show that a dollar which would buy a dollar's worth of goods in 1913 had a value of $1.24 in 1900, $0.63 in 1925 and only $0.44 in 1920. In other words, during the World War the buying power of the dollar declined over 55 per cent, and during the five-year period, 1920-25 it increased over 43 per cent again.

    Taking "implements and machinery" as the easiest example, and placing all figures on the basis of the 1913 dollar (considering, from necessity, the 1910 figures as of 1913), we get the following: 1900-$195,824; 1910-$302,847; 1920-$367,399; 1925-$376,127.

    If these transformations were made on all figures the same steady and substantial increases would be noted.

    The value of livestock, though cattle raising is still the principal industry of Washington County, is the only item that shows a real decline. The County, however, still ranks sixth among its fellows in this respect.

    Farm Mortgages: 1930

    Of the 3,818 farms in the County, 2,677 or over 70 per cent are operated by owners, and 2,214, or about 58 per cent, are operated by full owners. Of this number operated by owners (part and full) 451 or 16.8 per cent report mortgage debt. This ranks Washington 78th in this item; Southampton had the dubious honor of leading the field with 41.4 per cent and Buchanan was last, and best, with a percentage of 4.1. The State average was 22.8 per cent. Washington's proportion increased but two per cent between 1925 and 1930. Considering the depressed straits of the nation's farm population in that time this is a most excellent showing.

    Farms run by full owners are the only ones for which the census gives figures; so we are confined to a study of the debts of those. There were 384 full owner-operated farms reporting mortgage debt which amounted to $1,030,321, or 25.2 per cent of the total value of these farms. This is below the State ratio of 31.61 per cent.

    The financial condition of the farmers of Washington County in 1925 was much better than that of the average agricultural county in Virginia. Today, it is still far from being the worst of all the counties but the nationwide drought of 1930, coupled with the serious financial depression has thrown its farmers much deeper into debt.

    Value of School Property

    The value of school property is more clearly and briefly explained by means of tables.

    County Rank Total Value of School Property: 1928 - 29
    Arlington 1 $1,878,080
    Washington 9 762,842
    New Kent 100 61,500
    Richmond 1 $8,588,068
    Bristol 12 532,500
    Williamsburg 23 105,000
    County Rank Total Disbursements 1928 - 1929
    Wise 1 $626,936
    Washington 12 $314,522
    King George 100 32,063
    City Total Disbursements 1928 - 1929
    Richmond 1 $3,084,975
    Bristol 16 127,600
    Buena Vista 23 27,554


    Five banks are located in Washington County and two in Bristol, Virginia. Two of these institutions are national banks. These eight institutions with combined resources of $8,298,243, together with several institutions on the Tennessee side of Bristol, are sufficient to meet the financial demands of the section.

    The following is the combined financial statement at the close of business, Decemher 31,1930. (For the two national banks at the close of business, December 31, 1929.)

    BANK Capital Resources Deposits Surplus and Profits
    Dominion National Bank $300,000 $2,827,317 $2,002,544 $178,773
    Washington Trust and Savings 100,000 960,889 754,352 101,196
    Total for Bristol $400,000 $3,788,206 $2,756,896 279,969
    First National Bank of Abingdon $200,000 $2,048,328 $2,502,315 $117,689
    Farmer's Exchange Bank of Abingdon 75,000 134,835 42,318 4,016
    Bank of Glade Spring 50.000 528,678 385,279 74,899
    County Bank (Meadow View) 12,500 186,273 147,258 25,750
    Bank of Damascus 35,000 344,797 289.060 11,264
    Bank Of Mendota 10,000 48,105 29,905 2,200
    Total for county $382,500 $3,271,0l6 $3,416,135 $235,818

    NOTE: Of course the general depression has since hit these banks with harder force. One of them, the Bank of Mendota among the smallest in the State, has closed its doors. Deposits and resources have fallen off in the others. But the present banks of the county are on unsually firm foundations and have helped mightily in keeping up the credit and courage of the entire area. Washington is to be congratulated for having its quota of intelligent bankers capable of seeing and planning for the future.

    Inheritance Tax

    Inheritance taxes, based on a sliding scale according to the size of the estate changing hands, were paid in 1929 in all but 18 counties in the State. The sum of $2,182.07 collected in Washington County ranked her 12th in amounts collected. Rockbridge led the list with $21,129.

    Bristol's total of but $398.46 placed her 17th among the 18 cities reporting inheritance taxes.

    Income Tax

    The State income tax for the assessment year 1928 amounted, in the county, to $3,915 and in Bristol to $11,422, placing Washington 34th among the counties and Bristol 17th among the 23 cities.

    In the county and city combined, 437 persons (one out of every 97) paid state taxes on an aggregate income of $775,086. Three hundred and seventy-six people paid taxes on income under $8,000, 29 on incomes between $8,000 and $6,000, and 82 on incomes over $5,000.

    Automobiles and Other Conveniences

    The year 1925 is the last that the State auditor reported on the number and value of motor vehicles in the various counties. At that time, Washington County had 1,496 automobiles ("and bicycles", strange to say) valued at $157,540 and Bristol contained 501 worth $156,500. The County ranked 26th as to the number, and 47th as to value. Assessments at the time were very low. There was approximately one automobile for every 20 persons in the county and Bristol.

    The United States Census of 1930 lists automobiles on farms alone. The total of 1,623 is more than were in the entire county in 1925 and indicates the enormous increase of this mode of transportation. There were also 169 trucks and 69 tractors.

    There were 788 farm telephones in 1930, or about one for every five farms. One farm in twelve had running water and one in fourteen had electricity.


    Of the three different governments that levy taxes, the national, the state and the county, the local government taxes by far the greatest proportion. This is true because it is the local government which renders the great majority of immediate services to the population. It is the county which pays for most of the schools, which formerly has built most of the roads, which supports local justice, which, in fact, runs the entire little government within a government. It is then to local taxes and local expenditures that we look first.

    It might be a good idea to include here a condensed statement of the receipts and disbursements of Washington County and to indicate just how much money is spent, where it comes from, and how it is disposed of.

    Washington County Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1929
    Receipts Amount
    Taxes (Real estate, personal property, capital, etc.) $280,607.50
    Delinquent Levies 819.74
    Funds from State (School funds, gas tax, etc.) 132,166.50
    Loans 22,852.95
    Dog Tax (less 15% for State) 3,939.26
    Miscellaneous (Donations, rent, bounties, etc.) 26,652.24
    Total Receipts $467,039.19
    Disbursements Amount
    General County Purposes (Judicial, law enforcement, utilities, etc.) $56,369.69
    Roads and Bridges 129,249.28
    Schools 246,620.73
    Extraordinary School Disbursements 11,915.50
    Treasurer's Commissions 9,778.13
    Delinquents, Insolvents, Erroneous Assessments $3,983.40
    Total Disbursements $457,914.73

    It is easily seen that in Washington County, as almost everywhere, local taxes comprir by far the greatest source of revenue. Sixty per cent of all receipts are from this source. Money from the State Treasury comprises 28.1 per cent of the total. Besides school funds and a number of minor items, this included $80,113 as Washington's share of the gas tax, one which produced an increased revenue every year. On the disbursement side, it is noted that a sum of $246,620 or 53.8 per cent of the total is expended for schools. This condition of using between 50 and 60 per cent of county expenditures for schools is general all over the State and seems to indicate that the establishment and maintenance of educational facilities is the greatest duty of county government. The Byrd Road Plan doing away with county road levies, now places education as an even more important function.

    Virginia's segregation plan of taxation which went into effect in 1927 has done much to clear up a complex tax situation. Formerly with state and counties taxing rather haphazardly and with county assessments being vastly unequal, the amount of burden that inhabitants of various counties bore of the State's taxes were grossly unfair. General property is assessed in some counties as high as 60 per cent and in others as low as 10 per cent of its actual value. Under the present plan, the Inter-county rate of assesement makes no difference as all funds derived from this source are used in the counties themselves. Subjects reserved exclusively for State taxation are intangible personal property, rolling stock of corporations operating rail roads, insurance taxes and insurance company licenses. Taxable properties which are segregated for local levies are: Real estate, tangible personal property, tangible property of public service corporations (except rolling stock) and merchants' capital.

    The following table shows the county tax levy for individual towns and districts, for the year 1931.

    Tax Abingdon District Abingdon Town Goodson District Holston District Kinderhook District Northfork District Saltville District Damascus Town Glade Spring District
    County levy $ .50 $ .50 $ .50 $ .50 $ .50 $ .50 $ .50 $.50 $.50
    County schools .50 .50 .50 .50 .50 .50 .50 .50 .50
    County roads .40 .40 .40 .40 .40 .40 .40 .40
    County pensions .06 .06 .06 .06 .06 .06 .06 .06 .06
    District schools 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00
    District literary fund .15 .12 .15 .38 .30 .10 .15 .18
    District school indebtedness .20 .29 .40 .42 .70 .10 .50 .45
    District roads .40 .40 .40 .40 .40 .15 .40 .40
    District sinking fund .20 .15 .15 .20 .40 1.45 .15 .85
    District road maintenance
    District construntion fund .30 .30 .20
    Total $3.41 $1.06 $3.72 $3.56 $4.16 $4.46 $4.26 $3.66 $4.64

    Note: Since the recent Byrd Road Plan has become effective, all county road taxes have been abolished.

    It is noted that the four county taxes and the levy for the district schools are the same in every district, but that the other district levies vary considerably in size. This condition is brought about principally through the fact that the various districts owe different sums of money and must plan their assessments in order to take care of the retirement of bonds and so forth. Formerly the totals for the different districts were vastly unequal. Glade Spring District, with a total 1928 levy of $5.49 per one hundred dollars assessed value, had the highest rate in Virginia. The new comprehensive budget system which came into being with the County Manager has succeeded, however, in cutting down the total for every district and making them much more uniform. Glade Spring District, still the heaviest taxed, has road bonds to the sum of $174,000 outstanding, compared to only $15,000 for Kinderhook. It also has some $40,000 yet to be paid on school bonds, an amount far in excess of any other district.

    The independent city of Bristol has reduced its tax rate from $2.80 to $2.60 per $100 assessed value. Further, the budget for 1931-32 was cut $15,128.50. This saving was brought about not by abolishing any department of the city government but by careful reductions all along the line.

    The seemingly rather high rate of tax assessment on both Bristol and the county is deceptive due to the low values of assessment. Bristol, with a population of almost 10,000 was assessed for local taxation at $7,185,661 while Charlottesville with a population of 15,000 (and not an appreciably richer town) was assessed at $14,641,445, or more than twice as much. Though the tax rate in Charlottesville was but $2.52, per capita cost was $37.68 while the per capita figures for Bristol were but $29.75. Harrisonburg with a city tax rate of 2 per cent harl a per capita rate of $62.10. Though the rate of taxation in Washington County is among the highest in the state, the per capita levy assessed is only $8.67, placing it below fifty-one other counties.

    Per capita disbursements for all purposes of county funds received from all sources amounted, in 1928, to $14.15 in Washington County. This ranked the county 55th with Arlington again placing first, spending $78.57 per person and King and Queen standing 100th with per capita outlay of $8.70.

    Bonded Debt

    At the beginning of 1928, Washington County had outstanding debts of $767,650, of which $586,900 was in long term school bonds, $141,629 was in Literary Fund Leans and $89,121 was in temporary loans. During the year, $28,122 was paid off leaving on December 31, 1928, a total of $739,528 outstanding. The county ranked 14th with these figures, Norfolk leading with a debt of $8,381,180 and King and Queen placing last, owing but $5,923.

    Bristol had an outstanding debt of $1,062,800.



    Though Washington County has always leaned on agriculture as its predominant industry, it had in 1860 a total of 199 manufacturing concerns and was exceeded in this respect by only two counties in the entire State-Henrico and Rockbridge. These 199 concerns manufactured 28 different types of goods. Practically everything that man needed in the business of living was made in the county then-farm implements, shoes, carriages, all manner of clothing, firearms, leather, flour, furniture, pottery, salt, various metals, lumber, liquor and tobacco, even coffins were manufactured directly for the consumer, without the necessity of transportation.

    But that very thing-improved transportation facilities-has changed the entire manufacturing aspect of Washington County. Formerly it was necessary for the people to make for themselves everything that they needed; now, with the help of macadam and steel, gasoline and coal, most commodities, which in 1860 had to be laboriously created by hand, can be imported from other localities at a much cheaper figure.

    This is an age of specialization--and Washington County, along with the rest of the world has specialized and combined. The county has tripled in population, and yet, compared to 199 establishments employing 342 men, in 1800, there are only 80 today. But these 80 have 2,249 employees-six and one-half times the man power used 70 years ago-and, whereas the value of the finished products was $360,066 in 1800, it was $12,089,913 in 1925-thirty-three times the former figure.

    The following is a table, indicative of the growth and condition of industries in the county, including Bristol, from 1860 to date:

    Washington County Manufactures: 1860 - 1930
    Year Number of
    Employees Wages Rent and Taxes Cost
    1860 199 342 $92,738 $193,786 $360,066
    1870 59 215 17,745 230,481 349,621
    1880 112 252 44,922 234,182 384,398
    1890 70 556 140,333 242,897 519,646
    1900 181 1,019 312,501 $59,538 914.853 1,641,901
    1920 80 2,248 2.192.363 274.188 6,886,492 12,039,913
    1930 81 2,906 2,489,548 7,878,740 14,167,720

    In spite of the specialization and combination of industries that is prevalent today, Washington County continues to foster a wide variety of products. Its natural resources, mineral and otherwise, are excellent. Strategically situated for trade, both to the North and South, it has unexcelled rail facilities in both directions. The dual freight rate basis from Bristol is helpful in making that city an advantageous business shipping point.

    Bristol is not a town in which one industry is prevalent; it is a city of heterogeneous businesses: There are 56 manufacturing plants located there (in both Tennessee and Virginia), and they produce 36 distinct types of commodities. Labor in the section is plentiful, and the wage scale is beneath the figure in larger cities.

    The population, as has been seen, is over 99 per cent native-born, has a high type of general intelligence and a capacity for learning quickly.

    It is better though, instead of dealing in generalities for page after page, to present separate paragraphs describing representative concerns of this civil division. This cross-section of the enterprises of Washington County should, in no wise, be taken as a complete and exhaustive study of every business house. It is merely an exhibit panel, not arranged according to the size or merits of the respective manufacturing concerns.

    United States Gypsum Company

    This company, with general offices in Chicago, received its charter in 1901, and now owns and operates fifty plants, located in various parts of the United States and Canada, and has sales offices in all principal cities. The Plasterco plant, opened in 1907 and run continuously since, is extremely important as it supplies the major portion of the South.

    At the start, only gypsum wall-plaster and land-plaster (agricultural lime) were manufactured, but due to careful and farsighted management, the company has been prosperous and now lists about sixty building materials and a great number of industrial materials among its products.

    The most important step forward was the invention of sheetrock fireproof wall board. Other products include plaster bases, such as metal lath gypsum lath, insulation lath, plastering systems, all forms of gypsum plasters and finishes, Keene's cement, hydrated and quick limes, wall boards, stucco, insulation board, paint products, metal bathroom tile, coal doors, basement windows, expanded metal, poured gypsum roofs and floors, partition and furring tile, acoustical plaster, sound insulation systems, sound proof machine bases and numerous industrial manufactures.

    Officers of the United States Gypsum Company are: S. L. Avery, President; O. M. Knode, Vice-President in Charge of Operations; C. F. Henning, Vice-President in Charge of Sales; R. G. Bear, Secretary.

    Bristol Steel and Iron Works, Inc

    Incorporated March 1, 1917 as Twin City Boiler Works, Inc., with capital stock of $15,000, this company continued under that name until March 1, 1930, when its charter was amended, changing its name to the present one and increasing the capital stock to $200,000, $60,000 of which has been paid in.

    Located in the corporation of Bristol, the concern manufactures structural steel for bridges, buildings and all industrial purposes; tanks, boilers, stacks, hoppers, bins, run-ways, and miscellaneous iron work. The total value of the annual product is $300,000. Fifty persons are employed by the iron works and receive an annual pay of some $50,000. The officers are: J. G. Tilley, President and General Manager; W. L. Griffin, Vice-President; W. J. Tilley, Secretary and Treasurer; and G. M. Stone, Chief Engineer.

    The Bristol Herald Courier and the News Bulletin

    A great number of newspapers have in past years been published in Bristol but they are all now combined in the Herald Courier, published every morning in the year, and the Net's Bulletin, printed every afternoon except Sunday. The two papers are issued by the Bristol Publishing Corporation and are widely read to distances of a hundred miles from Bristol. With a net circulation of 15,000 the Herald Courier is the most read newspaper between Roanoke and Knoxville. Complete carrier service has been established, even in such distant places as Norton and Big Stone Gap.

    Carrying the full wire services of the Associated Press and United Press, the papers are well made up and printed, and modern in every way. Seventy-five full time adult employees are required in publishing the two newspapers.

    Munsey Slack, President, and C. S. Harkrader, Vice-President, jointly own the Bristol Publishing Corporation.

    John H. Heald Company

    This corporation, with head offices at Lynchburg, bought the extract plant at Damascus in February, 1929. It manufactures Chestnut Wood, Oak Bark and Hemlock Extracts, all used in the making of heavy sole and harness leathers. This locality of enormous old trees is excellent for a plant of this kind. The extract is sold in liquid form to tanners in densities ranging from 25 to 35 per cent tannin and practically all shipments are made in tank cars, although a few of the smaller tanners buy by the barrel.

    The capital stock of the Damascus division of the Jno. H. Heald Company is $250,000, and the value of the annual output is $200,000. The total number of employees is 45 and the annual pay roll is $40,000. W. M. Heald is President of the organization.

    The Edmonson Electric Company

    The Edmonson Electric Company operates a power plant at a dam on the Middle Fork of the Holston, several miles east of Meadow View, and supplies electric current to the towns of Abingdon, Glade Spring, Damascus, Meadow View, and surrounding rural territory. The company also controls the water system of the town of Abingdon. F. W. Harris is head of the organization, the annual products of which are valued at $100,000 and which yearly pays $30,000 to its fifteen employees.

    Enterprise Wheel and Car Company

    William F. Daniel organized this company in Bristol in 1900 as the Enterprise Foundry and Machine Works, and operated it as a general jobbing and repair shop until 1909, when the manufacture of the present line of business wheels, roller bearing trucks, and cars for coal mines was started. In 1922, the name was changed to its present style, and two years later, another similar plant was put into operation at Huntington, W. Va.

    The company has products in use in nineteen of the twenty-one coal producing states of the Union and five foreign countries. Virginia and Kentucky use almost exclusively Enterprise products. The capital stock and surplus amount to $400,000, and the value of the annual products is approximately one million dollars. From two hundred to two hundred and fifty men are employed, and collec{ively paid $150,000 to $175,000 yearly. The officers are: W. F. Daniel, President and Treasurer; C. P. Daniel, Vice-President and General Manager; S. B. Lyon, Secretary; and V. K. Simpson, Assistant Secretary.

    Virginia-Lincoln Furniture Company

    Plant number Two of this company is located in Bristol, It was organized as the Lincoln Furniture Manufacturing Company in 1923 and merged with the Virginia Table Company in 1930 to form the present corporation. Bedroom furniture is the principal output, the value of the annual product being one million dollars. The annual pay roll of $190,000 is paid to 250 employees. C. C. Lincoln is President, J. D. Lincoln, Vice-President, J. W. Home, Vice-President, and J. P, Buchanan, Secretary.

    Dielold-Hassinger Corporation

    The plant of this company in Damascus is engaged in the manufacture of oak and maple flooring. Opened in 1923, it operated full time until January, 1930, but only on quarter time since. In normal times the annual value of flooring produced is $600,000; 100 to 125 persons are employed and the pay roll ranged from $80,000 to $100,000. S. H. Hassinger is President, A. S. Diebold is Vice-President, George S. Boucher, Treasurer, and C. W. Bondurant, Secretary. The capital stock is $125,000.

    Big Jack Company, Inc.

    This company, engaged in the manufacture of overalls, was established in 1908 with $10,000 capital and with its customers largely limited to local retail stores. It now has capital stock amounting to $150,000 and yearly makes overalls valued at $2,000,000. The product is shipped to every state in the Union and many foreign countries. 850 men receive a yearly pay roll of $500,000. Officers of the organization are C. L. Kidd, President; C. D. Holt, Vice-President, S. S. Lipscomb, Vice-President and C. S. Todd, Secretary and Treasurer.

    Charles A. Schieren Company

    The Bristol plant of this company was established thirty-eight years ago. The plant covers about fifteen acres, and includes the main tannery and works for manufacturing tanning extracts. Leather belting is manufactured in addition to the extracts. The industry is owned by the Chas. A. Sehieren Company of New York which, established in 1868, is one of the oldest and most extensive houses of the kind in the country. In Bristol the leather is manufactured for making the belting in New York, as well as in the local belt factory. The works there are contiguous to the forest from which the raw material-chestnut oak bark-is obtained. The company utilizes what are known as "packer steer" hides, the best suitable for the manufacture of transmission leather belting. The tannery turns into leather about 100,000 hides yearly.

    The company has capital stock amounting to $1,500,000, and its annual output is valued at $2,000,000. One hundred and seventy-five employees are paid $150,000 yearly. Officers are: Chas A. Schieren, President; G. Arthur Schieren, Vice-President; D. P. Tumbull, Treasurer; R. C. Moore, Secretary; D. H. McPherson, Sales Manager. General offices of the company are in New York City.

    Central Glass Company of Virginia

    This concern manufactures mirrors and does job work in rags of every description. It was organized in 1925 with a capital stock of $100,000, employs about forty men and has an annual pay roll of some $60,000. The company ships glass and mirrors to most eastern and southern states as well as to many foreign countries. The annual sales total almost half a million dollars.

    Officers are: C. C. Lincoln, President; C. W. Kendle, Vice-President; Z. V. Speas, Manager; Frank Hefley, Office Manager; and J. J. Burke, Secretary-Treasurer.

    Bristol Paper Box Company, Inc.

    This company is engaged in the manufacture of set-up paper boxes, most of which are sold to local concerns. Their customers include hosiery, underwear, drug and candy companies and department stores. The Bristol Paper Box Company was organized in August, 1920, has a capital stock of $25,000 and an annual output valued at $75,000. $12,000 is paid yearly to the twenty-five employees.

    Officers are: A. L. Hickman, President; James K. Hickman, Vice-President; J. Fred Tauscher, Jr., Secretary-Treasurer and General Manager.

    Bristol Coffin and Casket Company, Inc.

    Organized thirty years ago on a very small scale, this business has steadily grown until there is now a well-equipped plant, eighteen employees and an annual pay roll of between twelve and fifteen thousand dollars. Salesmen cover the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky. The capital stock is $25,000 and the annual output is valued at $100,000.

    Officers are: Mrs. D. W. Wagner, President and Treasurer, and Karl Harmeling, Secretary and Manager.

    Pet Milk Company

    Several years ago, the Pet Milk Company of Saint Louis opened a large plant in Abingdon. Pioneers in the condensed milk industry, the company was founded in 1885 and now operates thirty branches in the United States and three abroad. The total output of these plants is 30,000,000 cases yearly.

    The works at Abingdon have become the county seat's largest industry and have done much to boom the dairy business in Washington County and to give many farmers a profitable income. In 1930, the national company had net sales amounting to twenty-four and one-half millions of dollars.



    The Leading Interest

    With a total of 3,813 farms, comprising 71.2 per cent of her total area and ranking her within the first ten counties of the State in the output of almost every agricultural product, Washington County claims the soft as its principal industry. Long noted as one of the best balanced agricultural sections in Virginia, it raises corn and wheat and tobacco and hay and cattle and sheep--in fact, every crop, with the exception of peanuts and cotton, that is giown anywhere in the entire State. Ranging from 26,351 acres given over to the growing of corn to the one acre reported planted with lettuce, almost everything is grown in Washington County. Farm property aggregated $21,785,346 in 1930 and did a $8,652,838 business (175 farms not reporting) in 1930.

    But in spite of the fertility of the soil, a desirarne climate, and the variety of crops grown, few farmers are really well-off. Since 1921, few farmers in the entire country have been well-off. The agriculturalist knew real depression while the remainder of the nation was still wallowing in hysterical prosperity. The condition of the farmers of America has grown steadily worse until today the great majority of them are hopelessly in debt, unable to sell their products for enough to supply them with even the barest necessities of living.

    The general condition of American agriculture is a thesis too evolved, too complicated, tee thoroughly vital to be discussed here. It cannot be summarized into a few paragraphs. An enormous amount of material has been printed on the subject.

    Suffice it to say that Virginia has escaped the worst force of the agricultural hurricane and that Washington County, bad as conditions are, is better off than the State as a whole.

    The 26,372 cattle reported in the agricultural census of 1930 ranked Washington fourth among the counties of the State. Both dairying and the raising of beef cattle are principal industries. Long neglected, tobacco is now a chief crop. Good prices have been received for it during the last few years and there is now some danger of a surplus.

    But let us take this subject of agriculture, pry it apart, and examine its components more closely.

    Idle Land

    There are 386,560 acres included in the total area of Washington County. Almost three-quarters of this total, or 274,168 acres, is at present included in farms, placing the county eleventh in the amount of land embraced by farms. As the ten counties above Washington in the list are all considerably larger, this indicates that she is making a very creditable showing. This and the fact that the total area of all farms has remained approximately the same for over thirty years shows that there is very little land outside of present farms which is suitable or adaptable to agriculture.

    Farm land is classified by the 1930 Census of Agriculture in thece general ways: crop laAd, pasture land and woodland not used for pasture. Crop land totals 7,4,974 acres, only 27.4 per cent of the total; pasture land, 141,373 acres, or 51.3 per cent; and woodland, 46,148 acres, 16.8 per cent of the whole. The remaining four per cent of the farm land is taken up by buildings, roadways, and so forth. The proportion of all this terra firma in farms that was improved in 1920, i.e., "all land regularly tilled, land lying fallow, land in pasture, which has been cleared or tilled, land lying in gardens, orchards, vineyards and nurseries, and land occupied by farm build- ings," is 67.5 per cent, placing the county eighth in Virginia and comfortably above the State average of 51 per cent.

    Emerging from this maze of statistics, we discover that Washington County has 8,597 acres of crop land lying idle. This is an unusually high amount. Under ordinary conditions this land could he reforested but considering the present state of the farmer, it is probably best left as it is. The agriculturalist today should not expand but concentrate. There is a surplus of almost every product on the yearly market and the wise farmer is not the one who tries to produce more, but the one who tries to produce more economically. He is the man who, by better fertilization and more care, grows a crop that is superior to his neighbor's.

    Farm Tenancy

    The problem of farms occupied by tenants is one which is growing increasingly serious. Before the Civil War, this phase of agricultural life was not so large a problem, but the disappearance of public land, the breaking up of large plantations, have made the total of rented farms grow steadily from decade to decade until, in 1925, 38.6 per cent of all farms in the United States were occupied by others than their owners. In 1932, it is estimated that this total is nearing fifty per cent.

    Dr. Paul Vogt in his "Introduction to Rural Economics" comments: "The average length of lease is about four years. As leases are now written, this results in a lack of interest in the upkeep of the farm, on the part of both owner and tenant. It also results in the adoption of systems of farm management that tend to get the largest cash returns within a limited time, regardless of the effect on the fertility of the soil. This is a national menace and deserves the careful consideration of statesmen everywhere." This is a representative opinion of the great number of authorities the country over.

    Virginia, with 28.1 per cent of its farms operated by tenants in 1930 is under the national average and is favorably ahead of all other Southern states. The Old Dominion between 1920 and 1925 was one of the few commonwealths which cut down their proportions of leased farms, although in the next five years tenancy gained three per cent.

    But we have strayed far from Washington County. In 1930, 29.6 per cent, as compared to 23.2 per cent in 1925 and 25.9 per cent in 1910, of the county's farms were run by tenants. Of these 1,127 farms, almost half were run by croppers, who are in this county mainly tenants giving definite portions of their products for the use of the land, but furnish their own implements and animals. This is the least harmful form of tenancy, as the operator usually treats the farm more or less as if it were his own. There is little absentee landlordism.

    Washington's tenancy rate which decreased systematically over a long period of years, took an alarming jump between. 1925 and 1930 and is still climbing. From 890 farms under some form of tenancy in 1925, the total grew to 1,127 five years later. Almost all of these changes of tenure were due to mortgage foreclosures, and though Washington County has suffered heavily, and there is no ready money in the area today, it is still better off than many sections of the nation. In the fall of 1932, sentiment was brighter and the first glimmerings of recovery were seen.

    Great men have racked their brains in the last year or so in a search for the solution to the growing problem of absentee landlordism. How can the country remain a democracy if the only large proprietorial class, the so-called "backbone of the nation" are deprived of their land? What will be the ultimate result of banks and insurance companies constituting unwilling landlords for great areas? How shall the whole precarious situation of the farmer be solved? Specific topics lead to broader themes which in turn wander in a maze of speculations, counterplots and mathematics.

    Size, Number, and Value of Farms

    The prevailing size of farms in the United States on the average is that known as the family farm, or one which may be operated largely by the labor of the farm family. This condition is considered to be a wholesome development. The actual sizes of the farms of Washington County may be best summarized in a table.

    Classification of Washington County Farms According to Size
    ACRES Number in 1930 Number in 1925 Number in 1910
    Under 3 6 - 6
    3 to 9 529 425 447
    10 to 19 605 594 476
    20 to 49 1,057 1,084 892
    50 to 99 837 856 796
    100 to 174 458 506 558
    175 to 259 163 186 214
    260 to 499 111 125 147
    500 to 999 37 38 54
    Over 1000 10 13 16
    Total 3,813 3,829 3,602

    It is noted from the above table that the general tendency has been toward decrease of the smallest and largest farms and marked increase in those of 20 to 100 acres.

    The average size farm in Washington County was 71.9 acres in 1930-just about what it should be for the most efficient growing of the products now raised. Highland County, with farms averaging 256.8 acres in size, led the list of the 85 counties whose farms average bigger than Washington's. Mathews' farms averaging 24.3 acres ranked one hundredth. The average for the State was 98.1 acres.

    The aforementioned 3,813 farms of Washington County were exceeded in number by four counties only, all of which are much larger in total area. Pittsylvania County led with 7,563 farms and Arlington was last with only fifty-one.

    The average value of $62.57 per acre placed the county fifteenth in this respect. Arlington, with her urban population, led with $336.38 and sandy Appomattox was last with $14.70. The State average was $40.75.

    Machinery on the Farm

    The value of all machinery used on Washington County farms was, in 1930, $632,499, ranking her sixteenth in Virginia. Considering that the county is tenth in farm acreage, this is not a very creditable showing, but even so the county leads all other Southwest Virginia units. Per acre of crop land the value of machinery is $7.15, below fifty-one other counties of the State.

    It is easily seen from the above that Washington is below par in the use of machinery on her farms. But the county has a large percentage of pasture lands. Under present conditions it would not be wise for the farmer to expand mechanically, even if he had the capital.

    Over-expansion in the use of mechanical aids has been the downfall of many a farmer. Today, there are universal surpluses of crops and labor, the best policy is that of retrenchment, of carrying on scientific manual farming. The agriculturalist will do well to remember that the cause of most bankruptcies is excessive overhead and debt.


    Placed fourth in Virginia, with a total value of $2,232,292, Washington County may safely call livestock its principal industry. Cattle and sheep raising and dairying, may be considered the principal subdivisions of this head. Only three counties exceed her in total number of cattle-26,372. The value of domestic animals per acre of all land in farms is $8.17, considerably higher than most counties.

    An interesting way to compare a county's livestock resources is to work out a table of animal units. An animal unit may be one horse or mule or dairy cow, two beef cattle or colts or calves, five hogs, ten pigs, or one hundred poultry. An average farm in this section should have one unit to each five acres of land.

    Washington County's Total Livestock Resources
    ANIMALS Units
    5306 horses and mules 5306
    70 horse and mule colts (1/2 unit) 35
    9,368 dairy cattle 9368
    3,075 calves (1/2 unit) 1537.5
    13,929 other cattle (1/2 unit) 6964.5
    13,769 sheep (1/5 unit) 2754
    6,145 hogs (1/5 unit) 1229
    5,363 pigs (1/10 unit) 536.3
    150,440 chickens (1/100th unit) 1504.4
    Total animal units 29.231.7

    Taking the 216,347 acres of crop and pasture land as a basis for figures it is found that according to this unique method the county is but 67 per cent supplied with animals. In other words, 14,035 more units are needed to supply one for each five acres of improved land.

    But, in this case, this analysis is misleading in some items. There is, of course, plenty of room for more livestock. As it is, Washington County supplies all her own egg, chicken, dairy and beef needs, besides exporting milk, poultry products, butter, condensed milk, wool and many carloads of beef cattle and lambs yearly.

    A weekly livestock market established in Bristol in June, 1932 has stabilized prices, cut out much speculation by the traders at the expense of the farmers and helped the business of the town. It is discussed in more detail in the chapter on Evidences of Progress.

    Horses and Mules

    Man's ancient friend, the horse, is speedily being drowned in the gasoline of this motorized age. Foflowing the national trend, there has been a decided decline in the number of these animals in the county. In 1910, there were 7,008 horses valued at $718,140, while in 1925, the number was but 5,263, worth $844,240. Nine hundred more disappeared in the next five-year period, bringing the total to 4,398 in 1930. It should be noted that while the number decreased less than one-third, the value of the animals was in 1925 less than half the former one.

    Bearing in mind the old adage that "horses and men may come and go but mules kick on forever", a slight increase in that noble beast occurred in the same fifteen-year period. In 1910, there were 1,327 mules and in 1925, 1,304. In 1930, however, depression hit the mule business, the total number being but 913.

    It is to be regretted that the breeding of pureblooded horses is an industry almost extinct in Washington County. Portions of the terrain compare with the famed Blue Grass regions of Kentucky, and yet little interest has ever been taken in this, one of the highest of rural pursuits.


    In 1910, the United States Census counted 12,989 swine valued at $82,744. Fifteen years later, the number had decreased to 8,408, valued at $74,667. According to the Federal Census of 1930 this number was raised to 11,508 (though the count was taken in April instead of January.)

    Washington County ranked nineteenth among her sister counties in the number of pigs. It is an industry which though not exactly neglected could be intensified on certain farms and made a paying proposition when markets are favorable.


    In 1930, Washington, with 16,800 sheep, worth $185,000, ranked eighth in the State. For a long period, the production of mutton and, to a lesser extent of wool, has been a steady industry, not varying enormously from year to year. The thousands of acres of rolling pasture lands particularly fit the section for this industry.


    According to estimates in Virginia Farm Statistics for 1928, Washington County ranks sixth in the State in the number and value of poultry. There were 214,000 chickens, valued at $220,400 raised in that year.

    A feature of this phase of agriculture is that there are few great chicken farms, as there are in other sections of the State located nearer large cities, but every farmer has a large chicken yard as an adjunct to his property and sells to local produce houses which ship when the market is good.

    Here, again, is a possible form of specialization. If some few men would concentrate by conservative stages on chickens they could, by means of mass production and the elimination of the middleman or local produce house, realize good dividends.

    Beef Cattle

    Washington stands next to Augusta and Rockiagham-much larger counties-in the raising of beef cattle. Several hundreds of carloads are shipped each year to the northern stockyards. Estimates by the Virginia Division of Agricultural Statistics and the United States Census over a period of several years indicate an average total of some 25,000 cattle. About half of this total are beef cows and beef heifers. Certain sections of Washington County together with some half dozen adjoining counties in Virginia and West Virginia produce on pasture land without grain a higher quality of beef than is similarly produced anywhere else in the nation.

    In 1928, 6,551 head of cattle were shipped by rafl, mostly to the Jersey City stockyards. This was an increase of 1,170 head over the previous year.

    Though the cattle producers throughout the district complain that their's is a dying industry, that it each year becomes increasingly difficult to get good cattle, there is no reason why this condition should exist. The county is suited to grazing, transportation facilities are excellent in all directions, and there will ever be a good market for the eastern raised cow. The industry is slipping-if it is slipping-because cattle men do not go about breeding in an efficient manner, or because several successive lean years have discouraged them. The only reason for the decline of the cattle industry is that cattle men seem to lose money every year, a situation in common with the general agricultural condition.


    In 1929, a total of 8,315 cows were milked in Washington County, placing the county fifth in the State. The dairy business is an up and coming one. In 1929, 3,448,417 gallons of milk were produced, an increase of 598,527 gallons over the production in 1919. The county ranked fifth in butter production with 644,600 pounds in 1929, and the total value of dairy products was $534,910.

    Dairying, as is true of several other agricultural branches touched upon, is merely a side line with most farmers. They produce enough butter, cream and milk for their own needs and send their surplus to some creamery within the county, or to a collection station for shipment, or to the condensed milk plant at Abingdon.

    The quality of the milk is good. Jersey cows head the list of registered animals but there is a goodly number of Holsteins and Guernseys also.

    Of the twenty-three Washington County dairymen reporting to a special survey of the Virginia Department of Agriculture, seven indicated their principal difficulty as the low price of milk, six as labor trouble, and four as high-priced feeds. None mentioned the high cost of production, poor roads, or insufficient pasture--all three obstacles in other sections.


    According to United States Agricultural Census of 1925, Washington County ranked third, next to Loudoun and Augusta, in corn production, raising 796,216 bushels. In 1920, the county was fourth with a harvested production of 746,791 bushels.

    It might he interesting to compare the yield-by-acre figures for several years. In 1910, 32,191 acres were utilized in producing 893,507 bushels of corn, or 27.7 bushels per acre. In 1924, the figures had risen to 31.2, and in 1927, were 34, giving Washington a very creditable showing among her sister counties, yet still leaving room for increase up to the forty bushels per acre of the leading counties. Individual farms of the county have boasted occasional yields up to seventy-five and one hundred bushels.


    Tobacco is an industry which has grown phenomenally in the last several years, and which, at present, is slightly overemphasized. In the production of burley tobacco, used almost exclusively in the cigarette industry, Washington, with 2,070,000 pounds in 1927, nearly three million in 1928 and 4,068,160 pounds in 1929, is far ahead of all other counties. In 1927, the total value of burley grown in Virginia was $1,160,000; Washington's crop was worth $852,600, or almost three-fourths of the whole.

    Prices offered for burley tobacco are much higher than those paid for any other kind. In 1928, buyers at Abingdon paid 30.4 cents per pound. These prices so aroused the farmer that the next year 330,000 additional pounds were grown-and prices fell to 24.5 cents. Those two sentences should point a moral.

    Undoubtedly, tobacco production is an important industry of Washington County. In 1921, 770,000 pounds were grown in the burley district of Virginia, (comprising Washington and small parts of Russell and Scott). In 1929, 6,950,000 pounds-nine times as much-were produced. Tobacco is by far the richest yield-per-acre crop that can be grown.

    And it is quite obvious that the semi-mountain soil of Washington is more suitable to this crop than any other in the State. If not emphasized out of all reason, tobacco should remain one of the county's greatest industries.


    Ranking second in acreage, both in the State and among the crops in the county, Washington's hay crop reached a total of 35,300 tons in 1927, placing her fifth in yield among the counties. The average yield per acre was 1.6 tons as compared with a State average of 1.37, and a district ratio of 1.57 (the district comprises the seventeen Southwest counties whose physical features and products are, in general, the same). Mixed timothy and clover is the principal type.


    There were 13,429 acres given to wheat in 1930, yielding a total of 158,996 bushels, and ranking the county fifteenth in the State. The average bushels per acre were eleven, against a Virginia total of 12.2. Wheat is a crop that has declined a good deal in late years, as an increasing population has discovered that tobacco, truck farming and such interests bring in greater dividends. Besides commercial wheat production is done most profitably in larger farms than generally characterize the agriculture of Washington County.

    Other Grains

    The only additional cereal crop grown in any quantity is oats, of which 29,875 bushels were produced in 1929, as compared with 51,763 bushels in 1925 and 69,070 bushels in 1910. The decline, of course, is due to the fact that much of the crop was used as horse feed and those animals are fast disappearing.

    Some 11,000 bushels of buckwheat were harvested in 1925, compared to 18,000 fifteen years before.

    The production of rye has increased over 400 per cent in the last fifteen years. There were 1,083 bushels raised on 91 acres in 1910 and 4,265 bushels were grown on 362 acres in 1925. Ia 1925, 464 bushels of barley were produced. Some twenty acres planted in sorghums complete the cereal grain crops of Washington County.


    Six hundred and fifty-two acres were devoted to the growing of white potatoes in 1929 and 56,222 bushels were produced. These figures, though the county lies far from the lowland where potatoes thrive, rank her twenty-third in the State. According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, the average person consumes about three bushels of potatoes per year. As the per capita production of this vegetable is only 1.3 bushels, it is seen that not only does the county have no export surplus, but it has to import them from nearby regions, such as Wise County, where there is a production beyond local needs.

    A View of White Top Mountain
    A View of White Top Mountain

    Fruits and Truck

    The fifteen-year period, 1910-1925, showed an increase of some 12,000 apple trees, and 34,000 bushels produced. In the latter year, 224,293 bushels were grown on 128,184 trees, placing Washington fifteenth among the counties of the State. This industry, however, declined in 1930 by some 34,000 trees. Though a few carloads are shipped yearly from Konnarock and small consignments are made, the great majority of the apples are produced on a non-commercial basis. Peaches, pears and grapes are also grown exclusively for home consumption and the number of tree and vines has more than doubled since 1910. Figures for 1925 give, 22,396 peach trees, 6,353 pear trees, and 6,389 grape vines.

    Situated somewhat south of the great cabbage growing country, Washington, however, devoted some forty-five acres to their production and in good seasons many Northern shipments are made. Tomatoes and sweet potatoes are also grown in abundance. The fertile lowlands near Washington County's river beds are adapted to intensive truck farming. Cantaloupes, strawberries, sweet corn, onions, lettuce, watermelons-practically every type of fruit and vegetable is grown in greater or less quantities.

    Statistics Concerning Washington County Agriculture

    Figures below are from U. S. Census of Agriculture unless otherwise noted.

    Washington County Agriculture Rankings
    Rank Category Value
    5th In total numbor of farms (1930)
    Pittsylvania was first with 7,568. Arlington's 51 farms rated her last.
    5th In farm population (1930)
    Again Pittaylvania led with 41,394 and Arlington was last with 851.
    7th In value of all farm property (1930)
    Rockingham's property valued at $32,810,883 placed her first while Arlington trailed with $1,391,725.
    18th In value of land per acre (1925)
    Arlington ranked first with $371.60, Buckingham was last with $14.46.
    8th In crop values per acre of crop land (1925)
    First was Accomac with $139.15 and one-hundredth was Charles City with $9.85.
    16th In value of farm machinery. (1930)
    Augusta was first with machinery worth $1,616,654 and Arlington was one-hundredth with $24,725.
    12th In value of all crops produced (1930)
    Accomac ranked first with crops valued at $11,747,779 and Arlington was last with $21,246.
    5th In value of all livestock (1930)
    $3,291,878 was Augusta's total to rank her first and Arlington was last with $41,997.
    11th In value of gross farm incomes (1929)
    Accomac was first with $12,812,700; Arlington was last with $96,560.
    16th In production of wheat in bushels (1930)
    Rockingham led with 789,555 bushels, Dickenson was 98th with 50 bushels and Isle of Wight and Southampton reported no production. State-8,575,461 bu.
    6th In production of corn in bushels (1930)
    Accomac led, producing 1,079,377 bushels and Arlington was last with 1,980. State-32,772,810.
    4th In hay produced in tons (1930)
    Augusta led with 50,112 tons and Arlington was last with 221. Stat~980,737 tons.
    1st In the production of burley tobacco in pounds (1927)
    Scott was second with 350,000 pounds and Buchanan was eighth and last with 14,000 pdunds. State total 2,811,000 pounds.
    6th In the value of all tobacco (1928)[1]
    Pittsylvania was first, growing tobacco valued at $3,896,100 and Orange was last among tobacco producing counties with $1,300. State total-$19,460,000.
    8th In the production of buckwheat in bushels (1930)
    Floyd headed the list with 42,062 bushels, Middlesex ranked 61st with six bushels and 89 counties grew no buckwheat. State-183,566.
    9th In the production of oats in bushels (1930)
    Augusta, with 69,696 bushels, was first, Isle of Wight was 99th with 13 bushels and Arlington reported no production. State- 1,127,824 bushels.
    54th In the production of rye in bushels (1930)
    Fauquier lead with 27,960 bushels, Norfolk was 98th with 12 bushels, and Mathews and Arlington reported no production. State total-440,384 bushels.
    25th In production of potatoes in bushels (1927)[1]
    Northampton was far in front with 5,950,000 bushels while Arlington was last with 4,000 bushels. State total -19,760,000 bushels.
    51st In production of sweet potatoes in bushels (1927)[1]
    Accomac led with 8,360,000 bushels and Tazewell was last with 600. State total-5,805,000.
    29th In the production of apples in bushels (1928)
    Frederick led with 3,630,000 bushels and Arlington and Charles City shared last with 1,000 bushels each. State total-16,100,000 bushels.
    7th In the number of horses (1930)
    Augusta led with 7,931 and Arlington was last with 64. State total-203,174.
    4th In total number of cattle (1930)
    Rockingham was first with 35,243; Arlington last with 414. State total-832,946.
    6th In number of milk cows and heifers (1930)
    Loudoun was first with 10,666 and Arlington last with 296, State 337,862
    8th In number of sheep and lambs (1930)
    Augusta ranked first with 56,671; Arlington 100th with 6. State-828,626.
    13th In number of swine (1930)
    Southampton led with 32,635; Arlington was last with 360. State-699,867.
    7th In number of chickens (1930)
    Rockingham County led with 381,205 and Arlington brought up the rear with 4,051. State approximation-7,648,808.
    18th In value of dairy products (1930)
    Londoun was first with $1,127,990; New Kent last with $14,663.
    73rd In percentage of farm tenancy (1930)
    Southampton was high with 66.4; Gloucester was low with 5.2. County average was 28.1.
    59th In percentage of farms located on unimproved dirt roads
    Dickenson was high with 91.9 and Henrico was low with 12.2. Average per county was 60.1.

    1. Figures from Virginia Farm Statistics.

    1930 Farm Census

    The following table is a three year comparison of the facts relating to Washington County contained in the United States Census of Agriculture for 1920, 1925 and 1930.

    Washington County Agriculture
    Category 1930 1925 1920
    Total Farms 3,813 3,929 3,459
    Operated by
    White farmers 3,776 3,787 3,420
    Colored farmers 37 42 39
    Owners (including part owners) 2,977 2,935 2,567
    Managers 9 14 24
    Tenants 1,127 890 838
    Farm Land
    All land in farms 274,168 298,951 312,194
    Cropland 74,674 83,448 210,590
    Pasture Total 141,373 144,162 -
    Plowable pasture 68.686 92,094 -
    Woodland pasture 18,441 21,346 -
    Other pasture 54,249 30,722 -
    Woodland not in pasture 46,148 60,971 79,308
    All other farm land 11,673 10,370 4,912
    Farm Values
    All farm property $21,785,346 23,393,151 27,661,717
    Land 14,801,514 15,952,121 19,532,540
    Buildings 6,531,333 5,385,970 4,452,330
    Implements and machinery 632,499 597,027 834,999
    Livestock on farms 2,232,292 1,559,033 2,839,848
    Detailed Livestock
    Horses 4,452 5,263 5,987
    Mules 924 1,304 1,216
    All cattle 26,372 25,610 26,568
    Beef cows and heifers 4,468 6,871 3,225
    Diary cows and heifers 9,368 5,827 9,711
    Sheep 30,207 13,769 13,522
    Swine 11,508 8,408 13,185
    Chickens 150,440 191,945 180,305
    Principal Crops
    Corn-Total acres 25,197 26,351 29,523
    Harvested for grain, bushels 746,741 796,316 903,469
    Cut for silage, tons 4,739 5,866 -
    Cut for fodder, acres 258 180 -
    Wheat-acres 13,429 13,110 25,271
    Bushels 153,996 164,466 317,541
    Hay-Acres 20,503 21,069 27,368
    Tones 25,938 22,672 32,937
    Tobacco--Acres 4,044 2,548 1,481
    Pounds 4,068,160 2,330,333 1,275,935


    In the early days, before improved transportation, before modern canning and refrigerating methods, before mass production-in the era before this age of specialization, each area produced almost everything it needed for its existence. Ample corn was grown for its people, and livestock raised; just enough fruit and potatoes and wheat and all other necessary foods were raised to supply the local demand. Similarly, each locality grew its own flax, made its own clothing, candles, sweets. Only such things that were impossible to grow or manufacture were imported.

    In most of these Virginia County Surveys attempts have been made to work out an agricultural balance sheet, to find if each locale produced a surplus or deficiency of individual food products. If this were being done a hundred years ago, the job would be simple. Perhaps we would discover that Washington County was producing 964,000 gallons of milk yearly, and that its 12,000 people each required eighty-five gallons per annum. This deficit of 56,000 gallons could in those days indicate but one thing-that the people were not consuming as much milk as their bodies required. Today, however, it might mean that, or it could indicate that they were using canned milk or importing the necessary amount. And because of the great difficulty in getting accurate statistics from thousands of farmers, it might mean nothing at all.

    All attempts to estimate modern food production and consumption invariably strike a snag. First, it is discovered that every section of the country now produces a great surplus of one or two materials-commodities for which each is particularly adapted-and brings from other places the majority of its necessities and luxuries. Then, the figures with which the mathematician is forced to work comprise so many estimates and approximations that when his job is complete it may be some forty-five degrees from the correct angle. Notwithstanding all this, we shall try briefly to make a balance sheet for Washington County agriculture, using at all times figures and estimates based upon data from the United States Agricultural Census, and related reports.

    The average inhabitant of the United States consumes yearly some sixty-two pounds of beef, eighty-four pounds of pork and lard, 5 pounds of lamb and sheep, forty-six pounds of corn, one hundred and seventy-six pounds of flour, three bushels of potatoes, nine hundred and ninety pounds of dairy products, eighteen pounds of chicken and fifteen dozens of eggs.

    By multiplying these approximations by the population it is possible to arrive at a figure somewhere in the neighborhood of the amount which the people of Washington County should yearly consume of these foodstuffs. Comparing this with the actual production data given by the Census of Agriculture, the surplus or deficit can be determined. As we have said, these figures are far from accurate but their study may nevertheless give an idea of the products in which the county is self-sustaining.

    Surplus Products

    At sixty-two pounds per person, the amount of beef required within the county in 1925 was 2,535,800 pounds. The approximate beef production (live weight) was 8,875,000 pounds. Deducting one-third for loss in dressing, we have 5,816,000 pounds remaining, or a surplus of 3,280,000 pounds. This bears out the fact that the cattle industry is one of the great proportions in the county.

    The staggering total of 40,491,000 pounds of dairy products was needed to supply each inhabitant with his yearly 990 pounds. Unofficial figures indicate an actual production of 49,427,000 pounds, giving us a surplus of 9,000,000 pounds. The dairy industry is especially suited to the section and is growing every year.

    Sheep and lambs to the live weight of some 1,620,000 pounds were slaughtered in 1925. At five pounds per person, the weight needed for home consumption was 204,500 pounds, leaving a surplus of 1,415,500 pounds.

    The quantity of corn needed for human nourishment was, at forty-six pounds per person, 1,881,400 pounds. Production of this grain in 1925 amounted to some 44,698,700 pounds, leaving a huge surplus most of which of course, was used for the feeding of livestock.

    Taking fifteen dozens as the number of eggs required by each resident of Washington County, we find that the total amount needed in 1925 was 618,500 dozens. According to the Census of the United States Department of Agriculture, 769,316 dozens were produced. This surplus of 155,816 dozens is shipped to the nearby manufacturing and mining areas and to the northern markets.

    At three and seven-tenths bushels per person, 151,330 bushels of wheat were needed within the county. 1925 statistics shows the production of 164,466 bushels. Washington, in the growing of wheat, is self-sustaining but not to any considerable extent, exporting.

    Deficient Products

    Conceding that each inhabitant requires three bushels of potatoes yearly, we find that this totals to 122,700 bushels. Only 51,050 bushels were produced in Washington County, leaving a deficit of 71,650 bushels. As the freight rate on potatoes is low and as sections in Eastern Virginia are vastly better adapted to this industry, this deficit is perhaps wise.

    Some 880,000 pounds (live weight) of pork and lard products came from the county in 1925. At eighty-four pounds per capita, 3,485,600 pounds are needed yearly. This leaves a most enormous deficit.

    In recapitulation, Washington County has surpluses in corn, wheat,beef, eggs, dairy products, and deficits In potatoes, and pork products. Though figures would be difficult to tabulate, the county also undoubtedly raises more chickens, cabbage and tomatoes than it consumes.

    If some cataclysmic calamity should come to pass and cut the county entirely off from the rest of the world, it could still collectively live on much as It does today. This is a condition which, in these specialized days, exists in few localities in the country. There would, of course, be some limiting of sugar, as not enough sorghum is grown to adequately supply the people with the necessary sweet ingredients, and high prices on potatoes would prevail, but from a food standpoint, at least-Washington County, because of its diversified farfning, would be able to exist quite well.


    Ever increasing in these latter days of drought and hard times is the problem of credit. Practically all industry is founded on a basis of credit, and though the farmer probably uses it less than the average business man, several successive poor seasons often force him to the point of either getting sound collateral or starving.

    It is short-term credit which the agriculturalist principally requires; the farmer who raises one major crop, tobacco for instance, receives practically his whole year's income at one kme. If the price is low, or if he budgets himself incorrectly, he often discovers around the next spring that he hasn't enough left to keep up himself and his farm until August when his crop is due. This is but one of the numerous instances of the farmer's need for short-term credit.

    It has been an old Southern custom for the tiller of the soil to obtain his needs from the various stores of his town and charge them until such a time as his crop is sold. This, in a bad year, tends to bankrupt storekeeper and farmer alike. The merchant has no cash with which to buy products and the farmer gets low prices for his because there is no demand.

    The new system, the one which is now appearing largely in Virginia, is that of making short-term loans from local banks. These institutions, invariably home-owned, have the interests of the farmer at heart and are backed by the Federal Reserve System. The banking situation in Washington County is as sound as in any locality in the country.

    Because he presents the problem in the best possible manner, we quote Clarence Poe, an agricultural authority, as he is copied in another volume of this series.

    "There are three important ways to change Southern merchandising from a time-prices, to a cash or nearly cash basis; three ways whereby almost any man of character and industry can change from a store-account farmer to a bank-account farmer, as follows:"

    1. "We should change our farming system so as to make each farm feed itself." This, while it does not necessarily condemn specialization, advocates that at least enough diversified products be raised to care for the humans and animals on the individual farm.
    2. "We should change our farming system so as to have at least two important sources of cash income from crops or plant production, and at least one important source of cash income from some form of animal production." This, of course, suggests that the farmer should raise at least two widely varying major crops and one animal product. Then he is much more unlikely to have to depend on charity in years when he is beset by drought, floods, pests, or blight.
    3. "We can find out on what terms, and by what policies business men are able to borrow money from bankers." These men are horrowing money at from six to eight per cent interest; at the same time farmers are paying from forty to sixty per cent for time-prices credit.

    And here, in Mr. Poe's estimation, are the four regulations with which farmers must comply before they can get bank loans:

    1. "He must learn the religion of the due date." He must understand that the date on the face of the note means that date and that the banker means basiness.
    2. "Farmers must learn to keep fair average balances in the banks from which they borrow. If the loan is to be applied for in the spring, the farmer should keep a fair balance in the bank during the fall and winter. But in case he does not carry this balance. he should borrow an extra twenty per cent of the necessary loan and keep this in the bank, advising the banker of this action at the time."
    3. "The financial statements which banks require business men to fill out promptly and definitely, must also be filled out promptly and definitely by the farmer." Agriculturalists are too prone to guesswork and estimates.
    4. "He must keep books, like the business man, to tell whether he is making or losing money." A simple account book is enough, but it quite clear that thoughtful farmers must have some account system.

    Too much emphasis cannot be laid on the problem of rural credit and the important part the bank should play in it. A sane credit basis and a sound mutual understanding between farmers and bankers will go a long, long way.

    The Local Market Problem

    There are no more than five ways in which the farmer can market his product:

    1. Direct sale to the consumer.
    2. Sales to local stores.
    3. Shipments to dealers in large cities.
    4. Sales to local middlemen.
    5. Shipments through cooperative associations.

    Every one of the five is employed in Washington County and it is difficult to say if this helter-skelter method is best or not.

    Cooperative marketing agencies in the county have never been very successful. The 1925 Census of Agriculture shows but $48,954 worth of products sold in this manner and $6,085 worth of supplies bought. A tobacco combine effected several years ago was a particularly dismal failure. If an efficient and well-grounded organization of this type could be established, it would undoubtedly be a great aid in out-of-county shipments. It would reduce cost and trouble to the individual farmer and in the end get better prices. There seems, however, to be little immediate likelihood of anything like this coming to pass.

    In respect to the first marketing means listed, "direct sale to the local consumer", it seems that it could be developed more than it is. Truck farmers could get greater prices if more of them would run their own wagons into nearby towns and sell direct. There are also possibilities of further parcel post sales of eggs, honey and so forth.

    Individual shipments to dealers in large cities is the marketing plan most to be discouraged. This is very similar to selling to local commission dealers except that the city man is a total stranger, uninterested in the farmer, not even particularly interested in the price he gets, but engrossed primarily in keeping the farmers' wares moving at any cost, and thereby reaping his commission.

    Cooperative Marketing Methods

    It might bebof interest in passing to glance at the methods used in the cooperative selling of potatoes by the farmers of Virginia's Eastern Shore. This is by far the best organized and most efficient organization of its type in the State and its workings can be applied to the marketing of any other crop. The following description is taken for the most part from a report of the Federal Trade Commission.

    The Eastern Shore of Virginia Produce Exchange was organized in 1900 and was the first association of this kind in the entire United States. It was started from necessity: the potato growers were starving to death. There was a great surplus of their product and no adequate selling facilities in the large cities. According to one farmer, the proceeds from a shipment of ten barrels, after the deduction of transportation charges, sometimes amounted to but a two-cent stamp.

    A group of the leading farmers organized a centralized association on the capital stock basis. In addition to the stockholders' membership, there are two other classes: Tenants of stockholders who market through the association and receive the same patronage dividend as stockholders, and shipping privilege owners who purchase what are called certificates of membership. The stockholder membership is divided into forty-five local districts, one member of the hoard of directors being elected from each district. Each shipping point is in charge of an agent who sees that potatoes are properly graded, packed and labelled.

    All shipments are made in carload lots, and all sales for the day are pooled, and returns made within ten days. The association also sells strawberries, onions and cabbage. It is estimated that it handles approximately sixty-five per cent of the available crops in the territory in which it operates. Its total membership, including all the classes, ranges from 5,000 to 6,000 individual producers. A supply department also furnishes members with seed and containers.

    A Southwest Virginia organization similar to this could handle produce, cabbage, tomatoes, tobacco, apples and many lesser vegetables. If such a business enterprise could be put over, its advantages would he innumerable.

    Facts About Food and Feed Production

    Washington County Rankings
    Rank Category Value
    19th In per capita production of butter in pounds (1920)
    Floyd was first with 48.5 pounds and Arlington was 100th with .01 pounds. State average-l1 pounds.
    26th In per capita production of beef in pounds (1920)
    Highland led with 582.6 pounds per capita and Arlington was last with .05 pounds. State average-52.4 pounds.
    16th In per capita production of oats in bushels (1924)
    Floyd led with 4.53, Nansemond was 98th with .002 bushels and Arlington and Accomac grew no oats. State average .45 bushels.
    84th In per capita production or pork in pounds (1920)
    Isle of Wight was first with 318.88 and Arlington last with 2.1. State average-65.2 pounds.
    24th In per capita production of corn in bushels (1924)
    Loudoun headed the list with 46.45 and Arlington trailed with .04 bushels. State average-l1.44.
    60th In per capita production of sweet potatoes in bushels (1924)
    Accomac was first with 72.17 bushels, Alleghany 96th with .001 bushels and Arlington, Bath, Highland and Wythe reported no production. State acerage-1,591 bushels.
    49th In per capita production of eggs in dozens (1920)
    Shenandoah was first with 62.7 dozens, and Arlington was last with .02. State average- 15.2.
    42nd In per capita production of wheat in bushels (1924)
    Clarke with 28.11 bushels per inhabitant was first, Southampton was 98th with .0008 bushels and Isle of Wight and Nansemond grew no wheat. State average-8.30 bushels.
    48th In per capita production of white potatoes in bushels (1920)
    Northampton was first with 383.29 bushels; Arlington was last with .04. State average-6.89.
    83rd In bushels of wheatper acre (1928)
    Westmoreland led with 19 and Floyd was 97th with 8. State average-14.5.
    39th In per capita value of live stock
    Highland led with $244.43 and Arlirgton was last with 1.39.
    8th In percentage of farm land improved (1920)
    Loudoun led with 81 per cent; Buchanan was last with 28 per cent, State average-51.0 per cent.
    68th In per capita production of chickens (1919)
    Mathews led with 24.77 and Arlington trailed with .08. State average 5.54.

    By analysis of the above it is noted that Washington outranks the State average in practically every particular. As the per capita production of commodities is in no wise affected by the size of the county, this is a thing well to be proud of.

    Below are found estimates as to the total value of food required by humans and domestic animals in the county and the total value of food and feed produced.

    Washington County Balance Sheet
    Value of Food and Feed Needed
    40,900 people @ $120 $4,908,000
    6,567 work animals @ $50 328,850
    5,827 dairy cattle @ $50 291,350
    19,783 other cattle @ $20 395,660
    18,769 sheep @ $5 68,845
    8,408 swine @ $15 126,120
    Approximate value of food and feed needed $6,118,325
    Value of Food and Feed Produced
    Total value of crops $2,514,270
    Beef 1,537,500
    Mutton and Lamb 113,400
    Swine 88,000
    Dairy products 316,645
    Chickens 199,993
    Eggs 200,022
    Turkeys, geese, ducks, etc. 14,000
    Total value of food and feed produced $4,983,830
    Approximate deficit 1,134,495

    The above statement, however, includes the populsion of Bristol. Taking 33,113 as the 1925 population of the county alone we find that the total deficit is but $200,055.



    Though the saying is trite, it is neverthekss true that among the school children of today are found the leaders of tomorrow. For the purpose of the building and maintenance of her sehoMs, Washington County spends some 54 per cent of her total revenue, and this is a fair average of every county in the State. Education is a paramount business.

    Because schools are all important and because the subject affords one more means of comparison, this chapter is undertaken. In it the subject is approached from the financial, educational, and personnel viewpoints.

    Comparative Study of Index Numbers

    From 1919 until 1928, the State Department of Education published yearly index numbers of the various city and county schoool systems. These numbers, based on 100 as an almost perfect score, are derived from five financial and five academic factors. The financial items are: Total cost per room, average annual salaries of teachers, and total per capita cost on enrollment, population and per cent of attendance. The academic items are: Per cent of teachers holding certificates above first grade, per cent high school students of total enrollment, the term in days, per cent of attendance on population, and adequacy of educational facilities. It is very difficult to transpose into statistics such an intangible thing as quality of education, but it has been done and, though the figures are doubtless none too adequate, they must serve as the only milepost of comparison which we have.

    Below are given the index numbers assigned Washington County from 1919 to 1928. By comparison with the set standard of 100 and with the leading and trailing counties, a fair idea of her standing may be procured.

    Washington County Index Numbers 1919 - 1928
    County Index Number Rank County Index Number Rank
    1919 - 20 1924 - 25
    Prince George 85 1 Arlington 107.08 1
    Washington 62 39 Washington 61.53 46
    Franklin 36 100 Franklin 40.82 100
    1920 - 21 1925 - 26
    Elizabeth City 85.5 1 Arlington 101.60 1
    Washington 58.5 61 Washington 62.26 43
    Franklin 36.5 100 Patrick 39.69 100
    1922 - 23 1926 - 27
    Elizabeth City 103.41 1 Warwick 99.16 1
    Washington 69.14 50 Washington 71.89 21
    Greene 39.81 100 Franklin 40.56 100
    1923 - 24 1927 - 28
    Elizabeth City 105.78 1 Arlington 99.64 1
    Washington 77.83 37 Washington 69.64 34
    Greene 50.29 100 Franklin 42.83 100

    It is seen from the above that Washington County, with the exception of one year, ranked within the first half of the list but never moved closer to the top than the twenty-first position. It might be interesting to examine the detailed charts fpr several years and discover in which of the ten factors the county was particularly retarded. In 1924-25, the county's index was 61.53. The average of the five financial factors was 56.95 and that of the five academic factors 66.11, indicating that the monetary side in general was holding it back slightly. On the academic side, by far the lowest average is that of "per cent of teachers, holding above first grade certificate". Three years later, in 1927-1928, we discover the county's general index to he 69.64. Even further apart are the financial and academic indices, the former being 59.81, the latter, 79.41. That low average of teachers holding above first grade certificates has increased, however, from 44 per cent to more than 73 per cent, and the rating based on the number of high school pupils had jumped from about seventy to one hundred and five.

    It is rather obvious then that it was the financial side of things that held Washington County from better ratings. Arlington County, leading the list in 1928, spent only about 21 per cent of her total revenues for school purposes, Warwick, ranking second, spent 54 per cent of all her receipts for this use, and Henrico, standing third, disbursed only 42 per cent of her revenue for schools. Washington County ranked 34th, yet spent 54 per cent of all her receipts for educational purposes. This is further substantiation of the thesis in the last chapter of this survey that more money has been spent on education in the county than the quality of education would seem to indicate.

    Bristols School System

    Though the State Department of Education ceased compiling school indices with the year 1927-28, Bristol school officials, using identical methods, evolved their own for the year 1929-30. Bristol's total financial index for that year was 69.59, as compared with her rating of 64.86 two years before and the average of 85.18 for all independent cities in 1927-28. Her academic index was 93.48, a gain of more than six points over her 1927-28 figure, and well above the State average of 88.58. Bristol's abnormally high academic index is counterbalanced by her very low financial figure. All five of the financial subheads have been raised, however, in the two-year period. The town lags worst in the average annual salary of teachers. The index figure for all independent cities is 90.60, while Bristol's latest figures are but 69.26.

    The Bristol schools, with the exception of the colored school, are organized on the six-six plan-six years in the elementary school and six in the high school. There are two primary schools-Robert E. Lee and George Washington-which carry pupils through the first four grades. The Thomas Jefferson School is the largest in the city and is organized in the platoon system-half the teachers teach the home-room subjects-reading, arithmetic, languages, etc.-while the others teach the special subjects-music, art, nature study, ete. The Virginia High School, enrolling all pupils through grades seven to twelve, and the Douglas High School, for colored, complete the Bristol educational system.

    The total enrollment in Bristol, Virginia's schools was in 1930-31, 2,152, of which 1,921 were white and 231 were colored. Four hundred and fifty-seven children were attending the white high school, and forty-five, the colored one. Seventy teachers and four principals presided over the in- stitutions anl received an average annual salary of $1,039, below the independent cities' figure of $1,413. Approximately twenty-five per cent of these instructors held collegiate professional certificates and twenty-four of them had taught in Bristol for over ten years. The median number of years for teachers in Bristol was seven.

    Over five thousand volumes are in the various school libraries. The Virginia High School has a full-time librarian in charge of its three thousand books and besides checking the volumes she does her best to guide the reading of the students.

    High Schools

    With twelve high schools in the coauty proper, and one in the city of Bristol, Washington leads every county in the State in number. Augusta is second with eleven and Accomac is third with ten. The policy has been not to have one or two large, centralized schools, forcing students to come long distances and spend much money for transportation, but to have smaller centers of education almost within walking distance of everyone.

    Several tentative surveys have been made to the end that this number be cut down. In this era of good roads, it would undoubtedly be more efficient and economical to have four or five large centralized high schools to serve the whole county. In the past, whenever an effort was made to consolidate a school, the people of the affected area raised such a row that proceedings were dropped. In the near future it is hoped that this old fashioned prejudice can be overcome.

    William King, in Abingdon, is the largest with an enrollment (1928) of 161; Konnarock, the smallest with 45 students. The other ten schools vary in size between these two and are located at strategic positions through the seven districts.

    The per capita cost of high school instruction ranges from $84.96 in the Konnarock school to $49.61 at the Cleveland school, located in the mountains near the Tennessee border. The average per capita cost of $66.56 per school rates the county above the majority of her sisters in individual expenditures. As in many Virginia counties, a monthly fee of from two to five dollars has heen charged for high school work. At the beginning of the 1932-33 session this fee was happily abolished.

    Seventy-nine of the 125 high school graduates in 1928 went to college. Considering the rural nature of most of the schools, this number-64 per cent-is a pretty high average. Taking a few other localities at random, we discover that in Orange County, 25 per cent of the graduates went to college; in Prince George, 25 per cent; in Roanoke, 29 per cent; in Wise, 45 per cent and in Rockingham, 32 per cent.

    Eight thousand seven hundred and five volumes were in the libraries of the various high schools in 1928. This large number distributed well through all twelve schoMs is only exceeded by the libraries of Norfolk and Prince Edward counties. The number of books in all school libraries (including grade schools) in 1904 was 200. The county can well be proud of its leadership and growth in the library department.

    Washington County also led, in 1928, in the number of full-time high school teachers employed. Her 48 instructors ranked her ahead of Pittsylvania's 47 and Norfolk's 26-the counties which placed second and third. The average monthly salary paid to Washington County high school teachers was about $135. Although this amount seems small, there are many counties-both in and out of Virginia-where the figure is much lower. Teachers are the most notoriously underpaid of all our public servants.

    The Virginia High School in the city of Bristol had in 1930 a total enrollment of 457, and 16 full-time and five part-time teachers. Thirty of its 47 graduates matriculated in colleges the country over. Per capita cost of education was $56.55, ranking it seventeenth among the 32 high schools located in the independent cities of Virginia. No fee is charged students.

    In recapitulation, the condition of the county's high schools-at least from the financial and statistical sides, as the quality of education is well nigh impossible to measure is good on paper. There are 873 students in the higher branches, over one-third of the grade school enrollment of 2,375. The county leads the State in number of high schools, teachers, and library books. Whether the citizens are really getting their money's worth of education, however, is a matter which is causing much discussion in the county. It is treated more fully in the final chapter of this bulletin.

    Twenty-Five Years of Progress

    In the last quarter century, the people's ideas towards education have changed enormously. Formerly few rural children except those of the well-to-do, advanced beyond the elementary grades. They received a small smattering of readin', 'ritin', and 'rithmetic and were turned loose upon the world. Now standards have entirely changed; not only do many children get through high school but even those that stop in the earlier grades get a much better education than their prototypes of twenty years ago. Money is being spent on a basis unheard of in 1905; teachers are vastly more competent; educational methods have been modernized and systematized.

    There follows a short table in which almost every item is an eloquent witness that rural education is beginning to come into its own:

    Miscellaneous Comparison of Washington County Schools: 1903 - 1929
    Category 1903 - 04 1928 - 29
    Total number of schools 137 103
    White 126 96
    Colored 11 7
    Total number of rooms 151 243
    Total seating capacity 6,990 -
    Number of books in all libraries 200 12,500
    Total number of teachers 139 253
    Average monthly salary - Male 33.53 158
    Average monthly salary - Female 25.45 75
    Value of school property $62,200 $762,842
    Grade school enrollment 6,982 8,025
    Average daily attendance 3,846 6,166
    Per cent attendance - White 73 80
    Colored 77 76
    Number of session days 111 163
    Number of Teachers--White 128 243
    Number of Teachers--Colored 11 10
    Total amount expended $31,525.16 $314,522.81
    Total teachers' wages $21,595.35 $177,850.54

    The principal facts contained in the table may be summarized as follows: 1. There was a decrease of 24.8 per cent in number of schools, but an increase of 60.9 per cent in number of rooms. 2. There were sixty-two times as many library books. 3. The mean salary for men has been raised some 350 per cent; for women, some 200 per cent. 4. Value of school property has increased twelve-fold. 5. Length of term was five months in 1904; is nine months today. 6. The number of teachers was almost double the figure in 1904. 7. Ten times as much money spent for schools in 1929, as was spent in 1904. 8. Total teachers wages were seven and one-half times as great.

    Dividing the total enrollments into the total number of rooms, we find that in 1904, there was one room for each forty-six pupils and today one for every thirty-three. We discover by further delving into the records that "the whole cost of public education per month per pupil enrolled" in 1904 was sixty-one cents. The total yearly cost in 1929 was twenty-eight dollars. Assuming that the 1904 rating was based on a five-month term, the per capita cost has increased from some three dollars to twenty-eight dollars.

    America, including Washington County, is fast coming of age. She collectively realizes that in an age of specialization, of machines, of labor-saving devices of every description, the manual laborer is more and more out of luck. Every year the surplus of common laborers increases and increased educational facilities are the only means of coping with the problem. This realization and the consequent vastly greater appropriations, more competent instructors, good roads and the use of school buses have been the contributing factors in Washington County's phenomenal improvement.

    The Public School System

    In succeeding paragraphs, various items already touched upon concerning the school system will be gone into more fully.


    Washington County's schools are under the supervision of a county school board and are headed by Division superintendent W. J. Edmondson, with offices in Abingdon. He has held the position for more than thirty years.

    The grand total of $314,522 used for schools in 1929 was received in five different ways. Forty-two per cent was paid in through the individual school districts, 31 per cent came from State funds, 16 per cent was the county's contribution, 2 per cent was the income from bond issues, and 9 per cent was received from all other sources. It is thus seen that, though the county government has been spending over half its revenue on education, it is the smaller districts which bear, the brunt of the burden. Since 1922, six of the seven districts have issued school bonds to the amount of $203,000. These bonds were, for the most part, to pay school debts incurred through faulty budgeting and other reasons. Though the School Board was not required to, and did not issue detailed statements of expenditures, a special report of the State Auditor in 1928 showed that at that time $189,900 of the bonds remained unpaid. Further quotations from this report in the chapter on Washington County problems shed more light on the county's tangled school finances. The total of $814,522 places Washington twelfth among the counties of the State in school expenditures.

    Bristol City, in 1928-29, collected a total of $127,600 for school purposes. $86,913 or about 69 per cent of this came directly from city funds. The remainder was derived, 18 per cent from the State, 14 per cent from bond issues and 4 per cent from misceflaneous agencies. About one-fourth of Bristol's total disbursements were made for schools.

    On the detailed disbursement side of the ledger we find that by far the greatest expense incurred, both in city and county, was teachers' salaries. $177,850, over 56 per cent of the total, went to this in the county's schools and $70,373, about 55 per cent in those of Bristol. The remaining funds were divided in relatively small amounts for administration, laboratory and individual expenses, maintenance, auxiliary agencies and so forth.

    The growth in educational expenditures in the last twenty years is truly amazing. Though the population has increased very little, the total amount disbursed increased from $28,000 in 1904 to $377,000 in 1928-29.


    The competence of teachers has increased enormously. State requirements for certification are constantly being raised and modernized, and this, coupled with gradual but steady salary increases, are bringing more and more of the higher types of minds to this work.

    However, there are still two paramount obstacles in the path toward teaching perfection. The first is explained by A. D. Mueller in his "Progressive Trends in Rural Education": "The rapid turnover in the rural schools makes it necessary to take on beginners and these are sorely in need of guidance. It has been figured that in places with a population of 8,000 and over, teachers remain in the same school 9.47 years, while in the one-room school they remain 1.3 years. This poor situation tends to cheapen schools. Farmers with ambition for their children move to town, thus depriving the community not only of their financial support, but also, and far more seriously, of future leaders." This condition makes itself felt in Washington County in 1928. Eighty-two of the 207 elementary teachers had less than three years experience; thirty of these were teaching for the first time. Over one-fourth of the staff is too much to "break in" annually into any business. Some plan should be devised to lower this to one-eighth.

    The other problem is adequate administrative and instructional supervision of teachers. Mr. Mueller continues: "There are in the United States approximately 400,000 rural and village teachers, and about eleven million children attend these schools. About 300,000 of the teachers have no supervision other than that of the county superintendent-only 18 per cent of the counties employ assistant superintendents and the average territory over which superintendents have to travel is 1,672 square miles. Add to this fact that only 45 per cent of the one-room teachers in the country are high school graduates and less than two per cent have completed normal school, and the need for some sort of supervision is apparent." This lack of supervision is noticeable in Washington County. The 1929 report listed no supervisors and supervising principals employed, and what work along these lines that is accomplished is done by the superintendent himself.

    Length of Term and Attendance

    The terrn of Washington County's white schools is 164 days, and of her colored schools 188 days. For efficient operation, authorities say that the length of terms should be 180 days. All Bristol schools now run on this basis.

    The total enrollment, in 1928-29, of Washington County schools was 8,025, and the total attendance, 6,402 pupils. This percentage of only eighty ranks the county far down the list, 72nd in total percentage attendance and 78th in white percentage attendance. Bristol, however, with a total enrollment of 2,215, leads all counties and cities of Virginia with a combined attendance rating of 96 per cent.

    Extra-Curricular Activities

    Outside activities in the high schools have greatly multiplied in the past few years. Inter-school athletic and literary competition is becoming more important. Glade Spring, Greenfield, Damascus, and William King (Abingdon) High Schools have well-trained football teams, all but the latter being organized in the last three years. Every institution in the county has both boys' and girls' basket ball teams which play from the opening of the fall term until the county tournament, held around December first in the gymnasium at Emory and Henry College. The winners of this competition advance to the district tournament. Though it is not a well-organized sport, most of the county's high schools try their hands at baseball as well.

    Commercialism in coaching of athletic teams is pretty generally lacking. Though the athletic associations of several schools hire men to train football candidates most of the work is done by teachers or by public-spirited townspeople.

    The County Literary Contests are an important phase of extra-curricular work. Held in Abingdon in April, they embrace competition in Public Speaking, Reading, Spelling, Declamation, Music and Essay Writing. Each school is allowed one student in each division and the winners of the county contests compete in the State-wide competitions of the Virginia Athletic and Literary League, held at the University of Virginia in May.

    A sort of musical appreciation course is taught in several schools with the help of a phonograph, and an annual public school music contest is held at Meadow View.

    Clubs include public speaking, dramatic and literary organizations. There are also active 4-H and Hi-Y clubs in most schools. The dramatic associations are primarily engaged in the production of plays and the literary societies have been helpful in the establishment, within the past year, of bi-weekly or monthly newspapers in the schools at Damascus, Glade Spring, and Abingdon.


    Within a radius of fifty miles of Bristol there are six institutions of higher learning. Below appear sketches of the three which are situated in Washington County or Bristol.

    Emory and Henry College

    Originally proposed as a manual labor school, the subject of a Methodist institution for higher education was first brought up in October, 1835 at the twelfth annual session of the Hoiston Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The Rev. Creed Fulton and a committee were appointed to select a site. Emory, Virginia, ten miles north of Abingdon, was chosen because of its excellent topography and the interest of its people.

    The cornerstone was laid September 30, 1836 and the new college was christened after Bishop Emory and Patrick Henry. On April 2, 1838, the doors of Emory and Henry were opened to students who were taught by the Rev. Charles Collins and a faculty of three.

    The enrollment of the school grew constantly until 1863, when it reached 283 men. Then contingencies of war turned the school into a hospital and Emory and Henry, as a college, vanished for several years. Since 1922, the institution has been coeducational.

    Emory and Henry is located in a large shaded valley, on both sides of the Norfolk and Western Railway. In 1928, the new administration building was burned to the ground and since that time an even larger edifice has been built. Other new buildings include the Creed Fulton Observatory which houses the department of Astronomy and Physics and the college broadcasting station, and a large gymnasium, containing a swimming pool, track and all modern facilities. An athletic field lighted for night games attests the fact of a rather remarkable football team. The faculty numbers 21 and is headed by Dr. J. N. Hillman. The enrollment for the regular session of 1930 was 417 and the net student list including summer school was 596.

    Sullins College

    Sullins College occupies the coolest spot in the town, a 300 acre campus surmounting Virginia Heights in Bristol, and overlooks the entire city and the mountain ranges straggling away into Carolina and Tennessee. Founded in 1870 by the Rev. David Sullins, the buildings were totally destroyed byfire in 1915 and were not rebuilt until 1923 when the City donated the present site.

    Sullins, an accredited girls' junior college, consists of three large colonial type buildings, connected by sun-rooms and has an enrollment of 350 students from all parts of the country. The school is headed by President W. B. Martin and the faculty consists of six men and seventeen women.

    Virginia Intermont College

    Opened in 1884 in the town of Glade Spring, Virginia Intermont College, a junior college for girls, was burned in 1892 and subsequently moved to its present site in Bristol.

    Rev. J. R. Harrison was its founder and the property is held in trust by a Board of Trustees appointed by the Baptist General Association of Virginia. During the first term, the school had thirteen boarders and three teachers. Now President H. G. Noffsinger heads a faculty of twenty-five and an enrollment of 395. The students represent twenty-five states and six foreign countries.

    Virginia Intermont consists of six buildings and is located on a shady hill overlooking Bristol. Its campus is large and tree-lined and the college has all modern improvements.

    Facts and Figures about Washington County Schools: 1928 - 29
    Rank Category Value
    12th In total expenditures
    Wise led with $626,987.28 and King George was last with $82,063.17.
    7th In total enrollment
    Pittsylvania led with 17,857 and James City was last with 788.
    76th In per cent of attendance of those enrolled
    Patrick led with 94 and Louisa was last with 68. State average, 84.
    7th In number of teachers
    Pittsylvania led with 443 and James City was last with 30.
    24th In average annual salary of all elementary teachers
    Arlington led with $997 and Cumberland was last with $358.
    73rd In average annual salary of all high school teachers
    James City led with $1,520 and Northumberland was last with $690.
    66th In per capita cost of instruction, maintenance, and operation
    Warwick led with 56.16 expended per capita and Scott was last with $10.85.
    9th In total value of school property
    Arlington led with a valuation of $1,878,080 and Greene was last with $57,900.
    6th In total number of school buildings
    Pittsylvania led with 181 and Warwick and York were last with 9 each.
    1st In total number of accredited high schools
    Augusta was second with eleven and Stafford and New Kent have none.
    45th In average number of days in school term
    Arlington led with 193 and Patrick was last with 131. State average was 162.7.


    County Government

    Irrespective of how able and efficient any board of supervisors may be, one of the chief difficulties in the way of efficient county government has been the antiquated and unrelated set of laws under which county governments of the State of Virginia have been operated. Pursuant to recommendations by the Commission on County Government, the State Legislature in its 1932 session passed laws which, if the several counties so desire, will help them in untangling the mass of needless inefficiencies which has tangled county government for years. Most important of these were the statutes empowering the counties to adopt complete county manager or county executive Systems and to combine with each other or to consolidate any or all of a great number of functions. But before the passing of these laws, Washington County had already done more than any other county in the State, and as much as existing statutes then permitted, toward evolving a general system unparalleled for smoothness, efficiency and results.

    The Board of Supervisors which took office January 1, 1928 organized a system under which all of the business of the county, excepting schools, was so coordinated as to bring the management-particularly non-statutory expenses under a single official responsible to the Board of Supervisors. It was impossible under legal status also to bring in the school department Accordingly, effective January 1, 1931, they adopted the modified county manager form of government under which all departments except schools are brought directly under the control of that office insofar as expenditures and management are concerned. Several other counties had adopted a milder form of county manager government before Washington but that county was the pioneer in Virginia in that its system was the most complete possible under the law of that time. All purchases for the clerk's office, the treasurers office, the commissioner of revenue, commonwealth attorney, poorhouse, jail, courthouse, roads, and repairs and additions to plant and equipment were done through the county manager's office. All purchases for sums in excess of five dollars were under competitive bids. No payment of any character, including monthly salaries of various officials and attendance fees for the supervisors, were paid except upon vouchers duly certified by the County Manager and then passed by the Board in formal session. During the first year, this system was in effect, economy and general savings were marked and a vastly improved tone in the entire business of the county was noted, The head of each department formerly bought all his own material, a procedure which led to waste, the purchase of much useless material, the buying of separate identical articles for each subdivision when one would serve the whole county. The newly installed competitive bidding not only brought great savings, even in such seemingly unimportant items as office supplies, but resulted in the acquisition of better equipment as well.

    A modern accounting system in the county manager's offices, embracing every phase of county finances except schools, provided daily information as to receipts, disbursements with details, and balances on hand in the various funds. A novel feature of this was the use of definite colors on forms for the various departments and the allotment of permanent numbers to the various expenditure heads. For example: a green sheet-it may have been a check or a ledger or a folder-bearing the number eight meant, to an initiate, that it referred to the purchase of equipment for the department of roads. Individual disbursement items in the files were indexed by a system of carbon copies of checks and these same individual items were daily listed in a detailed ledger where at a glance one could see all disbursements for a given length of time. It is almost impossible, probably uninteresting, to describe in detail an accounting system, but Washington County had one that was almost letter perfect. At any time the exact net worth of the county could be discovered in several minutes. Over a year after Washington County had installed its complete accounting system, the Commission on County Government advocated a bill requiring every county to adopt a somewhat similar system.

    On March 31, 1932, the Legislature approved legislation known as the Byrd Road Plan under which all county roads were to be taken over by the State as a secondary road system. This plan did away with county levies for roads, effecting savings especially in less thickly populated sections. The State ceased paying to the counties their gasoline tax allotments and began using this money for direct road work. The new law also provided that a representative of the State Road Commission meet with each Board of Supervisors twice a year for the purpose of discussing local road projects and that each county had the privilege of selling or giving their road equipment to the State or of disposing of it in any other way. This law went into effect on July 1, 1932. Fifteen counties held elections in August to decide whether or not they would vote out, and all but Arlington, Henrico, Warwick and Nottoway remained under the Byrd Plan.

    After but five months under the Byrd Plan, those who are up on the affairs of the county are unanimous in their praise of its efficient operation. A tax reduction of some thirty per cent has been effected and the secondary roads are better than ever. The only possible criticism of the system is that it is conducive to the slighting of the main highways in favor of the former county roads. Some tendency toward this is noted but many claim that the highways which connect the farmer to the outside would have always been slighted and are but now receiving their just due. Because the county's roads under the new regime are being administered in practically the same way by practically the same personnel there follows a description showing just how far Washington had progressed before the Byrd Act.

    C. W. Keatner, former modified County Manager and an experienced highway engineer, had absolute and complete control of all road work to the extent that no other official in the county was permitted to buy or employ anything whatever in connection with the building and maintenance of the roads in the county. Under his direction a first class central road machinery repair shop was established, modern machinery for road building and repair purchased (all these things paid for out of current revenues) and an efficient experienced road force built up to carry on the work. Formerly maintenance was carried on through a great number of foremen scattered all over the county. These men, for the most part farmers, would take a few odd days in the year, hire some of their neighbors and, after a fashion, work the roads. Each one of these men had a complete set of hand tools. It was found that the county was hiring about three times as many men as were needed and yet, because of little organization and a woeful lack of equipment, was receiving poor work. The foremen were farmers, knew little and cared less about the science of road construction; they used the county's tools perhaps twenty days yearly on the roads, the rest of the time on their own farms. These and many other inefficiencies had been done away with. All road work thereafter was done from the central depot in Abingdon by men who did that work and nothing else.

    And the road shop was a model! A neat, well-fenced square in the middle of the county seat, its buildings housing all manner of modern machinery bought second hand at a fraction of its new value. Two men did nothing but grease and oil equipment and, for the same purpose, a truck was dispatched twice daily to machinery at the various construction jobs. Tremendous savings were effected through buying tar and gasoline in car lots through State cooperation and storing them in tanks at the shop. A travelling trouble wagon, dubbed "The Ark"', carried everything from automobile parts and carpenters' tools to red lanterns and was ready for all emergencies. All tools were painted a distinctive orange and all equipment was numbered like railroad rolling stock. An accurate check was kept on truck mileage and repairs, the use of gasoline and oil, and the actual working hours of laborers. The byword was efficiency and the result was good work with the lowest possible overhead.

    Because of this efficient road organization the Byrd Act changed highway administration in Washington County in a technical way only. Mr. Kestner was appointed resident engineer in charge of the county subject to the district engineer's office in Bristol. All the aforementioned equipment was sold to the State at a nominal figure and remains in Abingdon where operations go on much as before-except for the added responsibility of the primary highway, and the fact that the Commonwealth now finances them wholly from gas tax funds.

    In Washington County there is now operated by the State a central prison camp with a capacity of fifty prisoners. The labor of these men formerly was furnished for work upon the roads in the county upon the following basis: The State erected and maintained the camp, fed, clothed, supervised and guarded the prisoners in consideration of which Washington County paid to the State the sum of fifteen dollars per day, or thirty cents per prisoner. It was figured, allowing two dollars a day as the value of their labor and deducting the average loss of time on account of weather, that this transaction represented a net profit to Washington County of seventy- two dollars a day. The prisoners were short termers. In addition, the State Department of Public Welfare and the Prison Board of Virginia have agreed to establish at some central point in the territory a modern jail farm to take care of the surplus jail population in the region west of Roanoke. These progressive steps resulted from effort upon the part of the Board and repair purchased (all these things paid for out of current revenues) and an efficient experienced road force built up to carry on the work. Formerly maintenance was carried on through a great number of foremen scattered all over the county. These men, for the most part farmers, would take a few odd days in the year, hire some of their neighbors and, after a fashion, work the roads. Each one of these men had a complete set of hand tools, It was found that the county was hiring about three times as many men as were needed and yet, because of little organization and a woeful lack of equipment, was receiving poor work. The foremen were farmers, knew little and cared less about the science of road construction; they used the county's tools perhaps twenty days yearly on the roads, the rest of the time on their own farms. These and many other inefficiencies had been done away with. All road work thereafter was done from the central depot in Abingdon by men who did that work and nothing else.

    And the road shop was a model! A neat, well-fenced square in the middle of the county seat, its buildings housing all manner of modern machinery bought second hand at a fraction of its new value. Two men did nothing but grease and oil equipment and, for the same purpose, a truck was dispatched twice daily to machinery at the various construction jobs. Tremendous savings were effected through buying tar and gasoline in car lots through State cooperation and storing them in tanks at the shop. A travelling trouble wagon, dubbed "The Ark"', carried everything from automobile parts and carpenters' tools to red lanterns and was ready for all emergencies. All topls were painted a distinctive orange and all equipment was numbered like railroad rolling stock. An accurate check was kept on truck mileage and repairs, the use of gasoline and oil, and the actual working hours of laborers. The byword was efficiency and the result was good work with the lowest possible overhead.

    Because of this efficient road organization the Byrd Act changed highway administration in Washington County in a technical way only. Mr. Kestner was appointed resident engineer in charge of the county subject to the district engineer's office in Bristol. All the aforementioned equipment was sold to the State at a nominal figure and remains in Ahingdon where operations go on much as before-except for the added responsibility of the primary highway, and the fact that the Commonwealth now finances them wholly from gas tax funds.

    In Washington County there is now operated by the State a central prison camp with a capacity of fifty prisoners. The labor of these men formerly was furnished for work upon the roads in the county upon the following basis: The State erected and maintained the camp, fed, clothed, supervised and guarded the prisoners in consideration of which Washington County paid to the State the sum of fifteen dollars per day, or thirty cents per prisoner. It was figured, allowing two dollars a day as the value of their labor and deducting the average loss of time on account of weather, that this transaction represented a net profit to Washington County of seventy-two dollars a day. The prisoners were short termers. In addition, the State Department of Public Welfare and the Prison Board of Virginia have agreed to establish at some central point in the territory a modern jail farm to take care of the surplus jail population in the region west of Roanoke. These progressive steps resulted from effort upon the part of the Board of Supervisors of Washington County to relieve the overcrowded condition of their jail-practically all calabooses in Virginia being similarly overcrowded. It should be emphasized that the State made no cash contribution to Washington County in the matter of the prison camp; the daily thirty cents per prisoner represented the difference between what these prisoners already had cost the State, lying idle in jails, and what the cost was under road camp conditions. The move saved Washington County from the necessity of building a new jail at a cost (architect's estimates) of between $50,000 and $60,000.

    Under the Byrd Plan, of course, all these county and state finances were abolished. The state now has complete charge of the camp and it, as an adjunct to the road system, is also run entirely out of the gas money.

    Through no fault of Washington County, a recent movement for a number of Southwest counties to join in the building of a district home has fallen through. Conditions at Washington's almshouse have been generally improved however, to the extent, for example, that the superintendent is required to feed the inmates exactly the same food and at the same time that his own family eats; and yet through efficient management, the cost of each inmate per month is only approximately nine dollars, including overhead and all general expense in connection with operation of the home and farm.


    It is useless again to put on paper the platitudes of the wise men concerning the supreme importance of the educational system. In these enlightened days everyone knows the great advantage-in fact, the necessity-of efficient and smoothly running schools. There are a great many things to be said for Washington County's educational system and a great many things to be said against it. In this chapter the good points will be stressed.

    In 1900, the total school population (those from five to twenty years of age) was 11,828. In 1920 the same population was accurately estimated at 12,900, an increase of only about ten per cent Yet, despite the fact that the number of children has increased but slowly, the enlargement and expansion of the school system has been phenomenal. The teaching corps has been increased from 189 in 1904 to 258 in 1929, salaries have been raised and requirements for certification have been made much higher. The total amount expended for schools in Washington County increased from $81,525 to $814,522-a ten-fold gain while the school population was growing but ten per cent.

    One can go on down the line pointing out betterments in every phase of education: An increase in twenty-five years from one small high school to twelve accredited ones (though whether this is a change altogether for the better is a subject open to considerable argument)-the lengthening of the school term from one hundred and eleven to a hundred and sixty-three days-the number of books in school libraries increasing from almost nothing to the imposing sum of 12,500 volumes.

    There are other things besides cold statistics which indicate progress. The numerous variations of the old bromide about children hating to go to school are now not even acceptable vaudeville jests. For the vast majority of students now actually look forward to education; they occaisionally gripe about it because that is the thing to do, or take a day off to go swimming because spring is in the air, but they would be lost without the schoolhouse on the hill. This change is largely due to modern methods of instruction and increase in outside activities. Teachers are now trained to make their courses interesting; it is realized today that to educate one must first have attention. Personality and native intelligence are also stressed. Pupils' enthusiasm is aroused through a great number of outside activities-various clubs, dramatic organizations, school newspapers, and inter-school competitions. All the high schools have athletic teams and many grade schools engage in basketball, volley ball and the like.

    There is yet another factor in the progress of education-that of modernization of facilities and equipment. Formerly, any old shanty was good enough for a schoolhouse. A one-room structure was made of pine boards; rude benches and an antiquated stove were installed, a coat of red paint slapped on and the result was called a school. Now even the fast disappearing one-room school is built of concrete or stucco, has ample windows and heat, finished desks and adequate sanitary facilities. Fleets of buses haul children over good roads to a place where there is warmth and color and friendliness in addition to education.

    Turning to Bristol's schools, we find even greater improvements. The decade between 1920 and 1930 showed an increase in enrollment from 1,739 to 2,149 and an increase in the number of teachers from 49 to 70. Pupils per teacher (based on average attendance) totaled 29.2 in 1920 and 25.5 in 1930. The average annual salary for all teachers grew from $951 to $1,059 and the total school budget was raised from $70,426 in 1920 to $126,026 in 1930. 1,238 children were inspected by the Health Department in 1930 for defects in sight, hearing, teeth, throat, and weight. Seven hundred of these were found to have defects of some kind and 312 were corrected. During the year a number of night classes were held for illiterate adults. Taught for the most part by volunteers, the evening schools resulted in the teaching of ninety men and women the elements of reading and writing.


    Along with the rest of the country, Washington County has doubled the efficiency of its highways in the last decade. The two federal roads, the Lee Highway running the full length of the county and Route 19 cutting off at Abingdon westward over the mountains, are now in excellent shape and almost all of the primary roads are hard surfaced. Total primary road mileage is 127.4, ninety miles of which is paved or rocked.

    As was pointed out earlier in this chapter, the late county road system was exceptional. Almost one-third of Washington County's total receipts were used for roads and each district was assessed a further amount. The result of this money's judicious handling is that the county (until the work was taken over by the State) was yearly hard-surfacing more and more roads, improving dirt ones and eliminating grade crossings. For almost every primary road an alternate secondary road may be taken, one which connects the homes of farmers with the outside world. The alert maintenance force repairs damages, cleans snow and keeps the rights of way in condition. There is a grand total of 756.42 miles of highway in Washington County.

    Two Kinds of Wealth

    Although the title of this section refers primarily to money and tangible things capable of being transformed into money, it should also be taken in a deeper and broader sense. Wealth should include the capacity to enjoy life, the capacity and means for the few luxuries that make living worth while.

    All manner of monetary wealth has advanced enormously. The value of farm property increased from $6,610,694 in 1900 to $28,494,151 in 1925. The total value of manufactured products in the county and Bristol was $1,641,902 in 1900, $12,039,913 in 1920-a figure undoubtedly somewhat affected by the change in the value of the dollar but surely not to the extent of a ten-fold jump. The above are but two isolated comparisons picked at random. In every phase of wealth-land, machinery, buildings, amount of taxes collected-Washington County has shown enormous gains. Banks are larger and stronger; there are more exports, more business concerns. The total taxable wealth in 1900 divided by the population gives $135.87 as the gross per capita taxable wealth; the same process based on 1929 figures gives $488.10 to each person in the county and city.

    Yes, though the old heads in time of depression speak of "the good old days", Washington County has grown almost immeasurably richer. Money has come and with it something else-freedom. The farmer, the business man, the railroad worker are no longer tied in one spot for life. The trip to the seashore, to the city, or to Uncle Jake in Iowa is no longer an event but an annual occurrence.

    For the new regime has brought freedom to the rural man. Good roads stretch to the ends of the earth and automobiles are not considered luxuries any more. Railroads have improved; buses run to the most isolated points. Labor-saving machines have helped the farmer and business man alike to do better work in half the time. Man now has leisure to read and think and travel and he who utilizes this leisure realizes that life is better than it was thirty years ago.

    Added comfort has come with the modern era also. Electricity is almost universal and even the smallest towns have water systems. Improved methods of preserving and shipping have brought the most exotic foods within reach of the middle classes.

    In spite of the good old days--colored in the minds of the old heads with the pink haze of romance-the twentieth century has brought changes which even the most prejudiced are bound to admit are for the better. The rural man may now have all the conveniences of his city brother, and moreover has freedom and air and sunshine and silence.

    Even the depression has had its bright side. In the years immediately following the Armistice, the whole country-farmers and ruralities included-was caught by the god of the Dollar. Almost every act was gauged by its capacity to bring wealth. Prices and values jumped-unheard of extravagances became luxuries while luxuries became necessities. The nation embarked upon a wild revel of golden dissipation. Then, the crash.

    After more than three years of floundering among the ruins of a faulty and artificial economic structure, the country has returned within striking distance of old-fashioned ideals. People are beginning to realize that it is quite possible to be happy without embarking on a keeping-up-with- the Joneses spending spree. They lack cash-sometimes are mortgaged to the cars-but a happy balance is coming into being. America is returning to old-time standards with all the multiform comforts of modernity. She has learned the value and the pitfalls of wealth.

    And that is what we mean by two kinds of wealth.


    The turn of the century not only brought a great increase in manufacturing to Bristol and Washington County but signaled a drastic economic change. Formerly there were no great plants. In 1880, there were a hundred and twelve establishments which put out products worth $384,398; in 1920 there were only eighty plants but their output was worth $12,039,913. This peculiar condition is brought about through the fact that the locality has ceased making things which it can more cheaply buy from other places and is concentrating on those products for which it is best suited.

    In 1880, there were only 252 persons who earned their living directly through manufacturing; now there are upward of twenty-five hundred. Paper and plaster and wood and chemicals and metal products and knitted goods and many other things are made. Milk and vegetables are canned. Because of its resources, its location near both northern and southern markets, the abundant supply of coal and water power, and plentiful labor, the locality is fast realizing that it is not only a farming and agricultural country, but has wondrous industrial possibilities as well.

    Washington County is becoming industrialized slowly, sanely-not with the mad rush that has turned so many southern communities into turmoils of strife, discontent and starvation. The steady, unhurried growth of manufacturing is one of the prime evidences of progress.


    For over one hundred years Washington County has been one of the leading farming sections of the State. The past few decades have brought little increase in the amount of land tilled, but they have brought other things. Modern machinery has intensified the work, made farm life easier. County demonstration agents instruct as to what crops are most suitable and how to grow them.1 Farmers no longer raise everything they need for food; they have found that by eliminating those crops which are not particularly suited to the locality, they can import them more cheaply from other places. Many practice a form of modified specialized farming, including a well balanced garden, which is ideal.

    The greatest single change in Washington County agriculture has been the raising of burley tobacco. This industry, but lately gone into on a large scale, will, if not carried to extremes, be one of the most consistent money makers.

    The farm is yet the predominant industry and will be for a great many years to come. Most of the soil is extremely fertile, suitable for the growing of almost every crop, the grazing of cattle and sheep and the raising of al1 manner of feed. Pronounced progress has been made and will continue to be made.

    Recently a State Experimental Farm, under the supervision of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, has been established at Lits, two miles west of Glade Spring. Here in neat little plots ventures in crop rotation to determine which are best for the fertility of the soil (and for profit) are being carried on. A great variety of clovers and alfalfa are grown and many other experiments tried which in several years should yield a rich harvest, probably not of clover and alfalfa but a useful knowledge. There is a popular misconception among the people of the county that this farm is engaged in demonstration work; and this might be the place to enlighten one and all that this is not the case. Those who operate are just as much in the dark about the outcome of most of the experiments as everybody else. The purpose of the station is to determine new and unknown facts about the soil and crop possibilities of Washington County and Southwest Virginia, things by which every farmer will benefit.

    In June, 1932, Mr. L. S. Hamilton established in Bristol a livestock market similar to those in the Blue Grass region of Kentucky. Each Friday farmers bring all kinds of cattle to be sold. Under a system of individual numbering they are weighed, graded, identified and auctioned to the highest bidder, The buyers all have the advantages of the adjacent Norfolk and Western Railway. The producer gets his check within twenty-four hours and by the very nature of the auction, is assured of national prices.

    This centralized livestock clearing house was the first of its kind in the area, is a permanent proposition and is destined to be widely copied. It affords grading and shipping facilities hitherto unknown in the vicinity; is a protection to the farmers and a convenience to the buyer. Further it has stimulated the livestock market amazingly. Horses, mules and hogs are also sold.

    Another agricultural innovation is the State Lime Plant at Brook Hall, located near Meadow View, from early in 1931 until November, 1932. The legislature appropriated $25,000 for the construction of this portable station which grinds up limestone rock at the quarry and sells it at cost to farmers for fertilizer. Under present conditions the agriculturalist can get as much lime as he needs for little more than drayage costs.


    In 1870, 30.40 per cent of the total population of Washington County confessed their inability to write a single word; in 1930 this number was reduced to 8.6 per cent. That is the most significant sentence which can be written regarding literacy in the section. Greatest strides have been made among the small colored population. In 1870, but five years out of bondage, 60.8 per cent of the negroes could not write. This number reduced to 29.3 per cent in 1900 and 16.3 per cent in 1930.

    The city of Bristol, separated from the county since 1900, shows slightly lower illiteracy figures but parallels Washington's gain very closely.

    In the not far distant future, census reports will undoubtedly cease to include literacy tables, for everyone will be able to write. Washington County is far from the fore in this respect but her steady gains indicate that it will not be long before she will have at least slightly educated all her people.


    Transportation is a type of progress in which the whole world has participated in the last decade or so. This county, however, has moved more than most. In 1910, there was scarcely a road worthy of the name in the whole section and to drive from Bristol to Washington or other northern cities was a four or five day adventure. Now the trip is made in one day and it is possible to travel on wide hard-surfaced roads to Canada, Florida, and Mexico.

    The Lee Highway, traversing the entire length of the county is one of the nation's traffic arteries. The United States road, cutting off at Abingdon, leads to Cincinnati, Cleveland and cities of the west. Automobiles are the accepted mode of transportation and there are buses of all types from the giant machines which follow the Shenandoah to Washington, to the local jitneys which traverse secondary roads and connect the smaller towns.

    The Norfolk and Western and Southern raflways also supply efficient freight and passenger service. Three limited trains in both directions daily connect the locality with New York, New Orleans, and Memphis. Bristol is now but seventeen hours from New England.

    Another great transportation factor, air travel, is now being noted. Though no regular airplane route has yet been instituted in the county, Bristol in the near future hopes to secure regular air mail service. The town has completed an up-to-date landing field meeting Department of Commerce requirements. Almost every town in the county has a cleared space referred to as "the flying field" and useful for exhibition flights or emergency landings. It will be a matter of but a few years until residents will be able to have breakfast in their Washington County homes and be in New York in time for a walk before dinner.


    In the past few years the section has been entertaining a class of people hitherto almost unknown-automobile tourists. Fortunately endowed by nature with climate and scenic beauty and by the government with good roads, there is a great future for this, the prime business of many an American community. Through the eastern end of Washington County runs the boundary of the Unaka National Forest. Here, off the beaten paths, is beauty-tall friendly mountains reaching for the sky and clear streams hurrying toward the Gulf and quiet pools dozing in the shade, holding rich rewards for the fisherman. A recently completed private road which winds to the summit of White Top, one of the loftiest of Southern mountains, has brought hundreds of travellers to gaze at the magnificent panorama of lesser mountains, forests, fields. Towering some twenty miles from Abingdon, White Top, named because its summit is above the timber line, is an aristocrat of mountains; President Roosevelt discovered the coldness of its springs and the beauty of its trees, for the most part Larghorn Spruce, a huge variety of Balsam fir seldom found. Sometimes the mountain is above the clouds and watchers look down on billowy whiteness; on other and clearer days, they can gaze into five states.

    There are other attractions. Washington Springs, buried in the hills, attracts a yearly quota of humans who rest in its peaceful solitude. Abrams Falls, two miles from Mendota, is a supernally beautiful cascade which has never been exploited and which most tourists miss entirely. Natural Tunnel, a few miles west of the county, is considered one of the wonders of the country and has of late been given much attention. Pick a spot on a map with your eyes closed; go there and you will find rolling hills and vistas of distant purple mountains and friendliness.

    Bristol, founded because it was at a junction of Indian Trails, is now a crossroads of tourist routes. The city combines all urban comforts-good hotels, shops and amusement-with proximity to the mountain resorts of Carolina and Tennessee. It is a logical stopping place for travelers.

    Tourists there are now and many more will come in future years. It is to be hoped that they are the right kind of tourist those who come for rest and relaxation and not to destroy, those who marvel and do not profane. This, truly as much of a modern business enterprise as manufacturing or agriculture, holds much more in store for Washington County.

    Miscellaneous Evidences of Progress

    There are a great number of specific items which indicate progress. Taken individually many of these seem rather minute but the sum of all these widely differing changes adds to a total of improvement that cannot be ignored.

    The City of Bristol is growing steadfly. Most recent construction projects include a large addition to the Columbian Paper Company's plant and a new theatre valued at $250,000. A great amount of concrete paving work has been carried on during the past year and the Lee Highway now approaches the town from the north on a magnificent right of way, throwing into the discard the narrow, winding death-trap of a road which was formerly the only entrance from that direction. A library, contributed to jointly by the Tennessee and Virginia corporations, was opened in 1930.

    Two local radio stations, WOPI in Bristol and WEHC at Emory and Henry College, have been established in recent years and have done much to awaken interest in what is becoming one of the greatest recreational businesses of the country. The plant at Emory is operated almost entirely by students and judging from the chortles of glee which float over the air they gain a mighty kick from it.

    General health conditions are better in the country than they were fifteen years ago. The white death rate per 1,000 people in 1913 was 12.1; in 1930 it was 9.60. Closer investigation indicates that deaths from typhoid fever, whooping cough and other preventable diseases have declined. The county maintains a sanitation officer and works in close cooperation with the State Board of Health. The George Ben Johnson Hospital in Abingdon amply cares for the whole section and handles charity cases for the county.

    White Top Falls
    White Top Falls

    Clubs and Organizations

    Bristol and the county have more than their quota of service clubs and similar organizations. Abingdon has a Chamber of Commerce, American Legion Auxiliary, Rotary (R. T. Stevens, president) and Civitan Clubs. The latter, of which Con. T. Rush is President, conducts essay contests throughout the county schools, presents a handsome scholarship medal and is behind all progressive moves.

    No less than sixteen clubs which fall under the head, "progressive organizations", flourish in the city of Bristol. They include the four luncheon clubs, Lions, Civitan, Kiwanis and Rotary, headed by C. W. Ferguson, L. S. McGhee, J. W. Kirk and S. E. Massengill, respectively, which carry on locauy the national work of the organization-good fellowship and social welfare. The Retail Merchants' Association, Fred Hammer, President, keeps the local store owners in touch with each other and plans a yearly shopping week which brings thousands of nearby residents to Bristol. The James K. Brewer Post (0. D. Hamerick, Commissioner) of the American Legion is located there.

    The Red Cross maintains an office in the city and a full-time field nurse spends her time in ministering to the poor. An active Parent-Teachers' Association is headed by Mrs. Lee Casil. The Ann Carter Lee and Bristol Chapters of the United flaughters of the Confederacy are led by Mrs. T. C. Smith and Mrs. H. F. Lewis, and engage in historical and commemorative work. Two separate organizations of the Daughters of the American Revolution are also located in Bristol. Mrs. Irene Newman is Regent of the Fort Chiswell Chapter and Mrs. Prank Goodpasture occupies the same position in the Sycamore Shoals Chapter. Other organizations include: Federation of Women's Clubs, Mrs. R. H. Rice, President; and Business and Professional Women's Club, Mrs J. J. McQueen, President.

    Statistical Evidences of Progress

    There follows a brief resume of miscellaneous items in which Washington County leads or has progressed greatly:

    Miscellaneous Rankings
    Rank Category Value
    5th In value of all livestock (1928)
    Augusta led with a figure of $2,867,200 and Arlington was last with $50,700.
    24th In total birth rate per 1,000 population (1930)
    Buchanan led with 41.16 births per 1,000 people and Arlington was last with a rate of 7.18. State average was 22.64 per 1,000 population.
    19th In per capita production of butter in pounds (1920)
    Floyd led with 43.5 pounds and Arlington was last with .01 pounds. State average was 11 pounds.
    8th In percentage of farm land improved (1920)
    Loudoun led with 81 per cent; Buchanan was last with 28 per cent. State average was 51.0 per cent.
    7th In value of all farm property (1930)
    Rockingham led with $32,810,883 and Arlington was last with $1,391,725.
    8th In crop values per acre of crop land (1925)
    Accomac led with $189.15 and Charles City was last with $9.85.
    4th In tons of hay produced (1930)
    Augusta led with 50,112 tons and Arlington was last with 221. State total-980,787 tons.
    1st In the production of burley tobacco (1927) pounds
    Scott was second with 350,000 pounds and Buchanan was eighth and last with 14,000 pounds. State total was 2,811,000 pounds.
    9th In production of buckwheat (1930) bushels
    Floyd led with 42,062 bushels; Middlesex ranked 61st with 6 bushels and thirty-nine counties raised no buckwheat.
    9th In the production of oats in bushels (1930)
    Augusta led with 69,696 bushels and Arlington was last with no oats threshed.
    4th In total number of cattle (1930)
    Rockingham led with 35,148 and Arlington was last with 414.
    8th In number of sheep and lambs (1930)
    Augusta led with 56,671 and Arlington was last with 6.
    78th In percentage of negro illiteracy (1930)
    Patrick led with 33.8 and Arlington was last and best with 9.9 per cent. State percentage was 19.2.
    1st In total number of accredited high schools (1930)
    Augusta is second with 11 and Stafford and New Kent have none.
    6th In number of school teachers (1931)
    Pittsylvania led with 438 and James City was last with 29.
    7th In total value of school property (1931)
    Arlington led with a total valuation of $2,019,480 and King George was last with $56,000.
    74th In total death rate per 1,000 population (1930)
    James City County was 1st with 28.99. Arlington was last and best with 6.24. State mortality rate was 12.58 per 1,000 of the population.


    In the following pages there will be discussed some of the many problerns that face the citizens of Washington County and Bristol and some of the deficiencies which are apparent. It is best first of all to list these deficiencies, then discuss them. Some of the changes that will benefit the county are:

    1. Adoption of one of the optional county executive or real county manager plans whereby afl the functions of the county will be placed in the hands of one man responsible to the Board of Supervisors. Savings in money, efficiency and general good government will be immense.
    2. Reorganization of the school system in such a manner that its finances will cease keeping the county endlessly in debt and so that the children of citizens will receive a better brand of education. Adoption of the county executive or real county manager plan should automatically insure this. In recent months, a special act of the 1932 legislature has already brought the finances under strict control.
    3. Abolition of the infamous fee system as it affects the sheriff, treasurer, clerk and other county officers. Adoption of the county executive or real county manager plan will automatically insure this.
    4. Careful consideration of the new state law on administrative areas, whereby similar functions of adjacent counties can often be combined at great saving to give better service.
    5. The closing of the Poor Farm and the setting up of a modern District Home not for the diseased but exclusively for the poor and aged. The new law encourages this but the cooperation of adjacent counties is necessary.
    6. Formation of a Welfare Board to replace the Overseers of the Poor.
    7. Abolition of all of the functions of the system whereby the county is divided into seven districts, (except for the purposes of taxation for existing district indebtedness.)
    8. The building of a new and adequate court house.
    9. Sensible control in the planting and marketing of crops.
    10. Some method that will keep many of the more intelligent from migrating to cities.
    11. The establishment of a full health unit to he supported jointly by the county and Bristol. 12. Adequate protection in BristM against future flood menaces and the further covering of dirty Beaver Creek.

    Picked from the statistical summaries of other chapters are a number of items which are not sources of pride to Washington County. They appear helow and are most clearly and concisely stated in their original form.

    Miscellaneous Rankings
    Rank Category Value
    68th In marriage rate per 1,000 population (1930)
    Greensville was first with 44.59; Powhatan was last with 8.58 State average-9.92.
    77th In number of marriages to each divorce (1930)
    King and Queen was first with no divorces; Greensville was second with 85.29 marriages to each divorce decree and Arlington was last with 1.24 marriages to each divorce. State average-7.4.
    16th In value of all farm machinery (1930)
    Augusta was first with machinery worth $1,614,654 and Arlington was last with a figure of $24,725.
    26th In percentage of farm tenancy (1930)
    Southampton was high with 66.4; Mathews was low with 5.2. The State average was 28.1.
    59th In percentage of farms located on unimproved dirt roads
    Dickenson was high with 91.9 and Henrico was low with 12.2. Average of all counties was 60.1.
    87th In average annual salary of all high school teachers
    Montgomery was first with $1,051; Bedford last with $677.
    76th In per cent of school attendance of those enrolled
    Dickenson, Dinwiddie and Henrico were first with 94; Sussex was last with 68. The State average was 86 per cent.

    Marriage and Depopulation

    The marriage rate of 6.82 per one thousand population is one of the lowest in the State. However, as has been pointed out in a previous chapter, the rate of 15.21 for Bristol is unusually high. Moreover, a great number of the county's inhabitants go to Tennessee to get their ceremonies performed. The fact that there are few marriages in Washington County is an easily explainable problem, but one connected with it is harder to solve.

    Like many another rural section, the county loses a great proportion of its youthful population. Over a great period of time, the population, excluding Bristol, has stayed substantially the same. The birth rate is high and the death rate is average, yet the population does not increase. Almost half of the young people grow up, get their education, then leave for New York or Washington or Akron or some other large city. The ones who leave-who get jobs as government clerks or tire makers or law assistants-are pretty generally envied by those who have to remain. And the ones who migrate are often the most talented, the best minds in the region. The net result is that the county can improve but little when much of the cream of each generation goes cityward.

    The problem of rural depopulation yearly grows more acute. The best solution is through intelligent education. Children should he taught that (unless they have extraordinary talents) they have far more chance for success and happiness on the farm or in the small town than they would have in the large and unfamiliar city. They should be taught that today there exists a greater surplus of labor in urban zones than in the country and that just now there is a crying need for intelligent far-seeing inhabitants in rural territory. The county is more healthy, more peaceful; it is the only antidote that we have today for the horrible hurry and super-efficient robotism of the machine age.

    Even though the farmer in these abnormal times is desperately poor, he is still one up on many a city man: He has a roof over his head and food to eat. The reaction from the cityward trek has already started. Within the last three years almost twice as many persons have returned to the country as have left it. To a great number of men has slowly come the realization that the urban game is not worth the candle. There are outstanding examples. Sherwood Anderson, after a lifetime in the north, came several years ago, to the town of Marion, ten miles north of Washington County, bought the two weekly newspapers and lives at peace in the mountains. William Allen White never leaving his home town in Kansas, has made an international reputation. Right now farms have a brighter future than factories and dingy offices. Population is increasing, farms are decreasing. Some day in the future the farmer may rule the land.

    Farm Problems

    There is no need to enter into a long discussion of what the greatest farm problem is. It is simply that most farmers of the region are not making money. The most immediate reason for this is the old economic one saying that wholesale prices are the first to change. The farmer, being the wholesaler of raw material, was the first to feel the depression which still endures at this writing and, with the inevitable reaction, will be the first to hecome prosperous once more.

    There are deeper reasons than this, however, for the continued poverty of the average farmer. Dr. James Ernest Boyle writing in Country Life of a Nation, a correlation of experts' opinions edited by Dr. Wilson Gee, seems to sum the trouble up. He lists the greatest enemies of profitable farming as disorderly development, disorderly production and disorderly marketing of perishable products. "Anarchy in development may he illustrated by the simple fact that in the decade ending in 1920, we plowed up grass lands and cut down forests and thus put into cultivation forty-five million acres of land, most of which was not needed for crops. (The Boulder Dam Irrigation development is an example of this.) During the next five years thirty-one million acres of this forty-five million went back out of cultivation. No wonder the records show an increase in farm bankruptcies." Dr. Boyle advocates the sensible plan of less farm land, reforestation, and some sensible control in the planting of crops.

    Applying this to Washington County, we point out as possible examples-cabbage and tobacco. The county is well suited to both crops. They are money makers. Yet invariably after a year in which good prices are received, there follows a distinct depression. This is because farmers, scenting easy money, plant vastly too much of the crops. An intelligent coordination between demand and supply should be created. After a good year in any crop, exactly the same acreage-or possibly a little less should be planted. So much for development and production.

    Dr. Boyle, commenting on disorderly marketing says, "(It) is the least important of the three kinds of anarchy on the farm, but it is the one we have heard the most about. I wish to state emphatically that disorderly marketing is a serious problem only with our perishable crops and has no significance when applied to cotton and wheat. . . . The term, orderly marketing, should be saved for our perishable fruits and vegetables and for livestock, fields where market gluts and market famines make the market place seesaw and cause the producer to get whipsawed. Why ship seventyfive cars of ripe peaches to Pittsburgh, when that market is asking for fifteen carloads? Why give New York City two hundred cars of ripe grapes when she asks for fifty? These perishable crops represent a business of a billion dollars a year, of which ten per cent, or a hundred million a year, is estimated to be the avoidable loss through disorderly marketing."

    This brings us back to the marketing question. As most of the crops grown for export in Washington County are perishable ones, correct and orderly marketing is an absolute necessity before your average farmer can hope yearly to realize a living wage. The most vital need is control of production. A cooperative marketing plan in which every farmer would help the other, instead of the present idea of each battling the outside world singly and sometimes even entering into a species of civil war with his neighbor, might at some future date be feasible.

    The cooperative marketing question has been gone into quite fully in the chapter on food and feed production, so the matter will not be repeated here. The plan has been tried at least once in the section and was a flat failure. It fell through because farmers absolutely refused to cooperate, the ones who were not in the plan sold at a profit and the others were left holding the bag. To have a really efficient cooperative marketing system, a majority of the agriculturalists must participate and must stay to the end.

    Undoubtedly it will never exist in the county, but nevertheless cooperative marketing is the sanest way out of present farming difficulties. If a number of leaders would draft a plan, the others might help to put it in execution-but "might" is a pretty big word.

    Let us now take a look at the principal agricultural deficiencies as listed at the beginning of this chapter. Washington County ranks sixteenth in the value of all farm machinery and twelfth in the total value of all rops produced. At first glance these figures seem to be rather good than otherwise, but when consideration is taken of the fact that the county stands eleventh as to size, sixth in total number of farms, sixth in total farm population and seventh in value of all farm property, they appear a trifle worse. In the light of today this item of farm machinery is becoming less important. It appears that the farmers who are yet solvent are usually the ones who have not had the overhead of expensive machinery. Washington County has machinery to the value of $7.15 per acre of crop land and ranks fifty-second in this respect.

    The problem of farm tenancy has been discussed at length in another chapter. The county's figure of 29.6 per cent tenant farmers places her below seventy-four others in this respect, and she is above the state figure of 28.1. Further her tenancy rate increased 6.4 per cent in the five year period 1925-1930 and twelve counties passed her. The tenant farmer treats his pro tem land exactly as a man treats a rented house. The house is good enough but somehow it isn't really home, and the man seldom gives it perfect care. So with the farmer. He doesn't worry about the ultimate end of the land or improvements; he merely wants to make as much as he can and leave.

    Even though most of the county's tenants are of the best type, those who help the owner in return for a share of crop-even though there is little absentee landlordism, this condition is not conducive to the future of farming. The ratio of tenants must, in some manner, be reduced hefore the program to make every Washington County farm a paying one is completed.


    In 1931, eight citizens of Washington County were asked what, in their opinion, were the greatest problems of the county. All mentioned the school system among the first two or three which they named. A considerable portion of the county was dissatisfied with the way its educational system was being operated. The principal Contention was that a great amount of money was going in and, a very inferior brand of education coming out. For a number of years, budgets failed to carry the school system for the full term of nine months and as a result, debt accumulated without the knowledge of the taxpayer. In the spring of 1931, a great number of schools had to be closed early hecanse funds for teachers' salaries were totally lacking.

    As things now stand, the school funds are handled entirely separately from other monies of the county. Taxes and money from the State and other sources go in and are paid out, but the public receives no adequate detailed report of expenditures. In 1926, a huge deficit became apparent and the school board issued bonds to the sum of $84,000 to cover it; one year later they were in exactly the same fix with several months still to run and no money, and were again forced to issue bonds to the sum of $84,000. A special audit conducted by the State Auditor and covering the period, June 1926 to June, 1928, indicated outstanding school bonds to the sum of $189,900, outstanding literary bonds of $120,250 and a great number of outstanding unpaid warrants, many of which were for teachers' salaries.

    Mr. C. Lee Moore, the late State Auditor of Public Accounts, in a statement which he submitted with the audit, said in part:

    "The audit shows the income for the school year 1927-28 from all sources amounted to $232,755.51, which was in excess of the budget estiamtes of the superintendent of schools, which was $218,404."

    "The actual disbursements were paid warrants amounting to $229,696.21, the estimate of disbursements of the superintendent was $218,250, the excess of actual receipts over actual disbursements was $3,079.30."

    "The audit further shows that the school board and the superintendent of schools incurred a debt and issued warrants for the amount of $12,577.74, and for that year negotiated two loans, one for $6,000 and another for $1,000. The Board of Supervisors, by an order entered on its minutes, authorized these loans, but subsequently rescinded its action. These loans were negotiated solely upon the responsibility of the school board and the superintendent of schools."


    In the above is embodied the greatest grievance that some of the people of the county have had against the operation of their schools. Summarized it is this: 1. Without the authority of the people the School Board, an appointive body, greatly increased the debt of the county. 2. In 1929, 53.8 per cent, $246,620, of all the county's expenditures went for schools. This amount is about the average of the State and is as much as the county can pay, yet teachers' salaries are relatively low and equipment and quality of education is only average-according to some, very low. A possible reason for this is operating inefficiency combined with the fact that much of the revenue must he used to pay principal and interest on the large existing debt accumulated as a result of repeated failures to balance budgets. 3. Detailed reports as to expenditures seldom come from the superintendent's office and the yearly budgets have not been accurate.

    In the 1932 session of the General Assembly, acts were passed which should go far toward correcting these conditions. Both by general acts applying to the whole State and by a special Washington County act the School Board and Superintendent were prohibited from issuing warrants in excess of funds available and on hand. They were required to audit and approve all bills before warrants are issued, to keep a record of all warrants on forms supplied by the State and are subject to regular audit by the State. In addition the Washington County act required the superintendent to countersign all warrants and made him responsible under a $5,000 bond for monies expended illegally by his authority.

    While these bills should improve the situation, in order to place the management of school finances on the proper basis a further step should be taken. School finances should be placed on the same high standard as the other county funds which are handled by the Manager. There is no reason in the world, why this should not be done. Schools are as much an integral part of the county as roads or the poor farm, yet they and the money that the taxpayers put on the line fur them are segregated and its expenditure beclouded.

    Because of the new law, it is a simple matter to place the affairs of education with the other government of the county. A majority vote in a special election will bring the county executive or real county manager system to Washington County. This is another and imperative reason of those which are piling up why this should be done.

    Getting away from finances, there are a few other items which merit attention. The average annual salary of all teachers in 1931 was $703; the average salary of all white female teachers was $632. This rate of $78 a month (nine-month year) as an average for all teachers and $70 as an average for a white female teachers is too small. The salary average for white female teachers is below those in sixty-seven other counties.

    We are yet faced with the age-old problem: often the best minds, the most competent educators, unless they have private means and wish to indulge in a species of philanthropy, do not enter the public school teaching field. It is a sad job supporting a wife and two children on eighty dollars a month, nine months a year. A man, educated enough to teach school, can make more than that in almost every venture he undertakes.

    Sixty-one per cent of all school funds in the county now goes to pay teachers' salaries. Picking five other counties at random we discover their percentages in this respect to be: Pittsylvania, 65 per cent; Augusta 45 per cent; Northumberland, 69 per cent; Bedford, 56 per cent; and Pulaski, 61 per cent. Washington seems about the average. But this figure must be raised. More important than new buildings is a stricter selection of teachers and stronger monetary inducement to make that stricter selection possible.

    Washington County ranked lower yet in the salaries of high school teachers. In 1931, it stood eighty-seventh among the counties with salaries averaging but $858 yearly. One of the ways suggested by means of which this figure can be raised is by consolidating some of the schools, thereby bringing more pupils under each teacher. This would create a small loss of efficiency due to large classes but the fact that more competent teachers could be secured would counterbalance this loss. Consolidation in large counties however is often not wise. The average annual salary of high school teachers in other big counties are: Albemarle County, $1,009; Augusta, $1,084; Rockbridge, $1,095; and Pittsylvania, $918.

    The only other school item which warrants attention in this chapter is that of attendance. The county, with a percentage of eighty, ranks seventy-sixth in the percentage of attendance of those enrolled. Bristol, after leading an counties and cities in 1929 with a figure of ninety-six, slipped to seventy-eight per cent the next year. The State average is eighty-six per cent. There is a Virginia statute requiring compulsory attendance and it is evidently not being rigidly enforced. The buildings are there; the teachers are there; the transportation is there, and when twenty per cent of the pupils do not attend money is lost-about $45,000 in the county alone. For it costs no more to teach one-hundred per cent of the children than it does to instruct four-fifths of them.

    County Government

    One cannot criticize a single county government without speaking of all county government. The county has absolutely no say in the executive scheme of things. It is forced to accept whatever laws the State makes and is forced to put into effect those laws. Much less can be said against Washington County's management than against that of most counties in the State. But what is wrong with Virginia's whole system of county government is plenty.

    In December, 1931, the Commission on County Government with RobertH. Tucker as Chairman and George W. Spicer, W. Emory Elmore, Charles C. Reed and W. Conway Saunders as members, submitted a concise report to the General Assembly in which were summarized the greatest faults in county government. A number of recommendations were made to the Legislature as to needed laws to help unravel the snarl of county government. The Committee advised laws giving each county the option of taking a county manager of county executive form of government or continuing under the old regime; it suggested further that a measure be passed empowering any two or more adjacent counties to combine any of a large number of functions. These suggestions were made into laws at the 1932 session of the General Assembly.

    Also the Commission presented a number of other specific suggestions: -Bills to provide for uniform accounting and effective budgetary and auditing procedure in the counties; to provide for organized purchasing and control of supplies; to restore the State Auditor of Public Accounts as a member of the Fee Commission: to empower the Governor to withold State appropriations to counties whose bonds are in default; to provide that each county receiving $10,000 or more annually as its allotment from the returns on the gasoline tax shall employ separately or with one or more other -counties, a competent road engineer to authorize the consolidation of counties, when approved by popular vote of the counties concerned; to empower the board of supervisors to inquire into the conduct and affairs of county offices; to empower the board of supervisors to provide for insurance of county property; to make it a misdemeanor for a county or city treasurer knowingly to omit delinquent property from the delinquent list; to provide a trial justice and to reduce the number of justices of peace in the county." A few of these measures failed, another was made obsolete by the Byrd Road Plan but most of them were passed on favorably by the General Assembly. However, the majority of them Contained the little word, "may" -any county "may" adopt This is the proMem now: to educate the people into accepting these optional laws and forms.

    These new laws simplify the general conditions of county government considerably. The biggest problem at present is to get some of the counties to vote favorably for the adoption of the optional plans of county executive or county manager and on the scheme of administrative areas.

    As has been pointed out Washington County was one of the pioneers in the installation of a county manager. But he was not a real county manager. What he really was was a road engineer who controlled further all the county purchases, disbursements and budgeting excepting schools. Now that the highways have been removed from county jurisdiction, he is little more than a purchasing agent.

    The only important difference between the real county manager and county executive is that the former is appointed by the board of supervisors and shall himself "appoint all officers and employees in the administrative service of the county . . . on the basis of ability, training and experience of the appointees" excepting only the sheriff, county clerk, and commonwealth attorney, while the latter is also appointed by the board of supervisors but they also make the other appointments under the executive's recommendation.

    Upon the petition of one hundred voters of any county a special election will he held in that county to decide whether that county shall change its mode of government and, if so, which of the two new methods it shall adopt. A majority vote is sufficient for the change.

    Let the Report continue: "The Commission believes that the foregoing plans will commend themselves to the people of the State. The controlled executive plan would, in both forms proposed, promote efficiency and at the same time, in restoring popular control. It would promote economy both through reduction on overhead expense and through provision for more effective control in the expenditure of public funds. It would establish definite lines of authority and responsibility and thus afford the people a definite source to which criticism might be directed in case anything should go wrong. It would provide for the choice of routine officials on grounds of fitness rather that] for personal or other external reasons. In other words, such a plan could be expected to unify and coordinate the government of the county, to clarify it to the people and to afford an opportunity for replacing the present chance methods with definite ideals."

    Washington County was among the first to assume the most powerful type of centralized govemnient possible under old statutes; it should he among the first to ratify one of these new forms.

    Under the new plan the county manager is the executive who controls all the functions of government. All finances including those troublesome ones of the school system are under his hand. He must keep modern and letter-perfect books. He must handle 'the jail and the health department and the records and the public works and the law enforcement and the other functions of county government. He is responsible only to the Board of Supervisors who may remove him at any time. If the people are dissatisfied and the board refuses to act, they can remove the Board of Supervisors. The system is excellent, modern and as fool-proof and graft-proof as any governmental system can be. It most certainly should be speedily adopted in Washington County.

    Many counties especially the smaller ones in the Tidewater, would do well to consider the new statute which permits them to combine. Although Washington is not suited for any action as drastic as this, its citizens should in the future avail themselves of the chance of combining many of its functions into administrative areas, that is, for instance, having one board of health, hospital and accessories for, say Washington, Smyth, and Russell. Expert advice could also be obtained on the advisability of combining more primary functions of government, as the schools.

    These plans which the Commission on County Government presented are not theoretical and fanciful concoctions of the minds of swivel-chair experts, neither are they political machinations with ulterior design. The Commission is an intelligent, hard-working non-partisan body of experts working to that end that Virginia, already noted br her governmental reforms, shall make further strides.

    Here is what the Report states in regard to "The Obligations of the People":

    "The foremost purpose of this Commission, throughout its study and deliberations, has been to make such proposals as will, if adopted, result in a more democratic government for the counties of Virginia. By this the Commission means a county government democratic not merely in theory, but rather a government which gives to the taxpayer the greatest possible return for his tax dollar and which is, at the same time, definitely and continuously responsible to the people. In short, the aim of the Commission is democratic efficiency for the counties. It is assumed without question that the people wish to realize this purpose."

    Before the report of the Commission, Wylie Kilpatrick published Problems in Contemporary County Government, an all embracing book of over six hundred pages comprising a complete study of the workings of Virginia counties. Many of the major problems he brings up have been well handled by the Commission but there are others which are almost as vital.

    It is astonishing in reading Mr. Kilpatrick's book to note how many of the most urgent problems which he lists as general among the counties of Virginia have already been well handled in Washington County. Only a few of Mr. Kilpatrick's ideas on still existing problems will be mentioned in succeeding paragraphs.

    There is a most paramount need for reorganization and enlargement of the health work now being carried on in the counties. The budget for this public service is small in Washington County, the salary of a sanitation officer and a small amount for expenses are all that the $2,500 annually can possibly cover. It should be one of the aims of the county some day to increase the budget to embrace a complete health unit, and by adequate and efficient organization and control completely handle all features of the health situation. It has been suggested that the county and Bristol combine forces in the health work.

    Accomac County, for instance, with a total budget of $21,810-but $5,300 of which is appropriated by the county employs a medical officer, four sanitation officers, two nurses and a clerk. Functions of the health unit should include: Complete registration of vital statistics, assistance to the State control of vital statistics, assistance to the State in control of typhoid, diphtheria, and other contagious diseases, sanitary engineering including water, dairy and food inspection, educational work in social hygiene, work toward the building of county or inter-county hospitals and child welfare.

    Of course, before a health unit can be organized in Washington County, the problem of financing must first be solved. The county at present appropriates $1,500 annually for the work, the state gives $700 and the United States Public Health Service donates $300. The Rockbridge-Lexington Health Unit affords an example which might well be emulated. The county and town each supply $2,625, the International Health Board, $2,500 and two schools $500 each. This pays for a doctor, sanitation officer, nurse and clerk. Washington might enter into a working arrangement with Bristol and devise a similar plan.

    Another problem of function is that of public welfare. Very few counties have the proper facilities for the handling of delinquents and paupers. Washington has its Poor Farm in good shape but is in need of a Board of Public Welfare. At present there are seven overseers of the poor, one for each district. These men, resident farmers for the most part, are empowered to investigate pauper cases and issue requisition slips for food and supplies which are taken by certain stores and redeemed by the county at full retail prices. The system does not work. Some of the overseers are not equipped for welfare work: it is an extremely secondary job with all of them. Moreover, there is waste in helping the poor by paying retail prices for foods. A Welfare Board, composed of seven public-spirited citizens who will get no salaries, and which will meet regularly and decide just what cases merit the county's aid, and one full-time paid worker whose duties will be to do field and investigation work are needed.

    Dr. Wilson Gee in a report to the Education Commission said: "Of the rural population of Virginia, 96.6 per cent is without public library service and only 11.7 per cent of the urban population is so deprived." This statement stands without comment. With the exception of school libraries, which in a sense arc not public, the rural citizen is without free access to books. This is one of the grosser inequalities between the county and city which need attention.

    One solution of this problem is to have a library on wheels, operating out of Abingdon or Bristol, which would visit every village in the county at stated intervals. There are many other ways of getting books to rural and suburban populations and one of them should most certainly be adopted.

    Most of the finance problems have already been cleared up by the county. The few that have not are regulated by obsolete state laws. The county treasurer has the custody of all monies collected by the county except the small items of county clerk's and sheriff's fees. Every county has a treasurer but no treasury; funds are deposited in various banks and often mixed with the treasurer's personal assets. This helter-skelter and unbusinesslike method is confusing and conducive to malfeasance and should be remedied, not only in Washington, but in every county. For over two years a neighboring Southwest county has been in a hopeless financial snarl because of it.

    Another problem is that of the infamous fee system. The Legislature by an act passed April 1, 1932 afleviated a part of this ancient evil by abolishing fee payments to county treasurers and commissioners of revenue (except those paid for issuing licenses and making transfers) and placing them on salaries identical with the amount of fees collected in 1930.

    But portions of this system are yet with us- The sheriff, county clerk and other officials all still get some of the money they collect and fees for other services. There have been for many years long discussions pro and con on this subject and many, many printed pages have been covered with research figures upon it, but the only solution is to turn all fees over to the county treasury and pay all officials decent salaries. Then perhaps peace justices would not have to lay speed traps to earn their daily bread and sheriffs would not be forced to turn chef for jail inmates in order to buy baby shoes.

    The Report of the Commission on County Government also speaks strongly on the subject:

    "The fee system has been a source of dissatisfaction and bad government in Virginia since the beginning of the State's governmental history. The latest law on the subject purports to set up a compromise between the unlimited right of the fee officer to retain all fees and this payment of salary. . . . If the total receipts of an office including whatever salary, if any, may attach to it, less expenses of operation, exceed the maximum allowed, the excess goes in the State or local treasury. It is required that the expenses be approved in advance by the State Fee Commission, on the basis of estimates furnished by the officers themselves.

    The soundness of the Virginia Fee Law will depend upon the effectiveness of the expense limitations, the proper relation of net fees collected to work performed, and the justice of the plan as it relates to professional salaried officers. The fee system of Virginia will be found defective from these points of view.

    Besides the inequalities and iniquities resulting from the system, it encourages bad administration by tempting officers to neglect the difficult and unremunerative tasks for the easier and more lucrative ones. It is doubtless not saying too much to state that the operation of the fee system in Virginia counties is alone enough to justify a complete reorganization of county government to make certain of its abolition as a method of compensating county officers."

    The way automatically to do awav with the fee system is to adopt the county executive or real county manager method of government.

    The debt of the county in 1927 was $761,213, a per capita indebtedness of $23.51. Bristol owed $1,018,500, giving it a per capita ratio of $143.45, a little higher than the independent city average. The total debt of the county, Bristol, and incorporated towns was $2,142,094, a ratio to assessed valuation of 14.09. Only seven counties in the state had higher ratios.

    The problem of area is another taken up in a somewhat different way by the Commission on County Government. The plan aims in some way to balance the poor with the rich, the large with the small counties until equality is reached. The economic resources of the counties vary from Greene County's $3,682,147 to Arlington's $96,523,821 and the ratio of expenditures to resources vary from Culpeper's .60 to Norfolk's 3.77. Governmental functions cost the poor counties two or three times more per capita than they do the rich otes. And even though the more poverty-stricken counties pay more per capita, their roads and schools are invariably worse. The two ways of coping with this unjust condition are by state-aid and by cooperation or changing existing; boundary lines. Washington, one of the richer counties with a per capita resource valuation of $1,194.28 has little to do with this problem but it should be of interest to everyone who studies the many faults and discrepancies of county government.

    Some consideration should be given to the proposition of abolishing the seven districts of the county. Before the State took over the roads, the endless detail in applying each district funds exclusively to that district's roads destroyed efficiency and wasted much effort better spent at more profitable enterprise. The former district school levies were equally Unwieldy and cumbersome. At present, the districts serve for little more than voting areas. The Board of Supervisors and other county officers are elected by districts. The psychology of this is bad. The people should get the habit of thinking of the county as an unbroken unit, should realize that its government is an entity working for the common good. As soon as outstanding school obligations are paid, districts should be forever abolished as taxing and voting areas.

    The problem of personnel: "The structure of the county personnel system reveals a combination in methods of selecting officials that is irrational, on the one hand, in a political timidity that refuses to bring county officers closer to the people they are serving, and, on the other hand, is inconsistent in insisting upon popular election of others who are clerical in character. The methods of choice possess no logic; and the manner of compensation guarantees that injustice will marl: the salary and fee payments to the officials."

    Mr. Kilpatrick continues to explain that of the six county boards only one, the Board of Supervisors, is popularly elected. Four of the others are named by the circuit judge who is elected by nobody but appointed by the legislature. The other body, the board of health, is an odd mixture of state appointees and voters' choices. "The result is to remove control of the active management of all county functions from the agencies directly responsible to the people of the county."

    But the principal objection here is really the irrational and helter-skelter manner in which these appointments and elections are made. This is no logical order of reasoning, only the chaotic mass of gradual governmental accumulations. At the risk of being unjustly accused of undue propagandizing, we again point out that the adoption of a real county manager system wotlid break down this network, create order out of the mess.

    Some form of definite classification of all county workers is a needed reform. This placing of all employees into shnilar groups such as law enforcing administrators, professional service, skilled labor service, and so forth, will improve the administration of each county, facilitate the selection of employees and help readjust salary scales.

    The prison farm, mentionpd in the last chapter, has cleared up Washington County's grave jail situation and also given relief to adjoining counties. The present jail, though very old, has a capacity of fifty and will be well able to care for all prisoners who are unable to work. Another problem touched upon previously, that of the county sheriff as restaurant proprietor, still exists, He gets a set daily amount for feeding prisoners-ranging from a dollar to sixty cents per inmate daily depending upon the number fed, and anything he can save through cheap food, tight buying, or other means, belongs to him. Many sheriffs annually realize far more from this business than from salaries and all other sources of income. The result of this is obvious. The sheriff cuts down on everything, usually feeds his involuntary boarders but two plain meals per day and sometimes depends on relatives of the prisoners to provide them with vegetables and more expensive food. The transient is out of luck. "This system is not necessarily harmful in itself. As an incentive to economy, it doubtless prevents waste in food handling. The system, however, is a disguised method of paying a salary to the sheriff not merely for running the mess but for all his services as a county official. . .. For the state as a whole, the prisoner is victimized by being the object of profit-making for the entire sheriff's office; the sheriff is victimized by being compelled to enter the restaurant business to earn a salary for his position; the public is victimized by a disguised salary method that puts a premium on the sheriff's ability as a farmer and cook to the neglect of preserving the peace." This is but another phase of the fee situation and would be killed by the adoption of the new system.

    When the county has surplus funds, a time which may be far off, the first thing that should be thought of is a new court house. The present edifice, built after the burning of the former one in the Civil War is woefufly inadequate and is not a particularly pleasing ornament to the town of Abingdon. Worse still, in it are stored all records since the founding of the county, many of them of historical value and the building is far from fireproof. Witness rooms and a new index to deeds are badly needed.

    Bristol's Needs

    One of Bristol's problems is the need of some kind of adequate protection from its periodic floods. Water drains into the town from every direction and after a cloudburst up the valley portions of the business section are sometimes under three feet or more of water. The channel of Beaver Creek was recently deepened but the menace still remains. Some kind of huge sewer system should be devised to carry this surplus rain away. Some years ago portions of Beaver Creek, into which is dumped all manner of industrial filth, were covered. The stream is a disease carrier, has a most evil smell and should he entirely covered. Bristol also requires a municipal auditorium. There is now no public meeting place whatsoever for conventions, mass meetings and the like. More organized health service, a paid fire department to replace the present volunteer one, and further improvements in the water supply are other requisites.