William Byrd

Major General Abraham Wood, sent out Thomas Batts and Robert Fallam in 1671 to discover something of the west for King Charles II and for the trade. Those emissaries proclaimed King Charles at New or Wood River, but dreading the Salt Indians of the misty beyond, they returned to the Appomattox, having contributed little to knowledge. At the Totero town, on the upper Roanoke, near the mountains, they learned that Captain William Byrd of James River Falls was in the neighborhood with a company of explorers. Captain Byrd and General Wood were in 1671 competitors in the Indian Trade to the South.

An interesting year for the trade, 1673. Captain William Byrd was twenty-one that year, had reached his majority with a sound head for business, courage, and promptitude in going after it. His uncle, Thomas Stegg, a man of business and solid business connections, had settled upon the Restoration at the Falls of James River, and during the ten years to 1671 had pretty certainly organized a pack-horse trade to Indian towns South.

To William Byrd that business was bequeathed in 1671. He and Major General Abraham Wood were then competitors, and it is very likely that General Wood sending out Batts and Fallam, Captain Byrd thought it well to show himself explorer also on their path. The Indian trade was, of course, a sphere-of-influence affair. General Wood was convinced of that. His statement regarding his extraordinary attempts of 1673 was - "That I have been at the charge to the value of two hundred pounds starling in the discovery to the South or West Sea declaro." His men Needham and Arthur, the summer of 1673, went all the way, indisputably, all the long way from Appomattox Falls to the Little Tennessee River.

In 1728, Colonel William Byrd surveyed the Virginia / North Carolina boundary, accompanied by Saponi hunter Ned Bearskin. On this trip, Byrd reported the presence of abandoned Saura cornfields along the Dan River with southwest Pittsylvania. He noted that the local natives had left the area due to depredations of the northern Iroquois tribes. In 1731, Byrd passed through the area again, noting evidence of a large Iroquois raiding party have just passed present-day Danville on the way south toward their long-time enemies' tribal centers in central North Carolina.


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