|Scott County, Virginia|
Location in the state of Virginia
Virginia's location in the U.S.
|Founded||November 24, 1814|
The territory now occupied by Scott County was hunted over and fought for by many tribes of Indians. According to evidence found by the early settlers, an Indian village once stood on the south bank of the Clinch River near the mouth of Stony Creek.
Next to the rich virgin soil, wild game was perhaps the greatest inducement to the pioneer hunters to enter a wilderness often made dangerous by the presence of hostile Indians. Some of these men came as Long Hunters and fur traders, explored the country, and marked traces to be followed by adventurous home seekers and their families. These early explorations and settlements would hardly have been possible without the food that the wild game provided.
Forts were built for protection against Indians. The Blockhouse, built sometime before 1782 and situated about 4 miles southeast of Big Moccasin Gap at the meeting point of the pioneer roads from Virginia and North Carolina, was one of the most widely known places on the Wilderness Road. It was possibly the only blockhouse in the county, the other forts being log cabins and stockades.
Fort Blackmore, a famous early fort, was situated on an ancient elevated flood plain on the north side of the Clinch River opposite the mouth of Rock Branch. For many years, this fort was on the extreme frontier of Virginia and was used by hunters, explorers, adventurers, and home seekers for rest and refreshment. Daniel Boone was in command of Fort Blackmore and other forts on the Clinch River in 1774 while the militiamen were engaged in the Point Pleasant campaign of Dunmore's war.
Many other forts were built in the early days. In Rye Cove, Crisman's fort was built in 1776 and Carter's Fort in 1784. Porter's Fort was built on Fall Creek in 1775. Fort Houston was built probably soon after 1774 on Big Moccasin Creek near the present Russell County line and was a place of safety for the earliest settlers in that valley. Dorton's Fort, built 1 mile southwest of Nickelsville about 1790, was not so exposed to Indian attacks as the forts built earlier.
Big Moccasin Gap, a breach in the hard rocks of Clinch River, is perhaps the most important natural feature in the county, for in it centered much of the early history and development. Through the gap, Daniel Boone and his companions carved the Wilderness Road to Kentucky in 1775 and through it thousands of pioneer settlers passed on their way to Kentucky and the Middle West. Most of the goods used by the people who lived north of the Clinch River were hauled through the gap before the coming of the railroad. The first railroad in the county was built through big Moccasin Gap, and most of the main highways now lead toward it.
Thomas McCulloch, the first settler, located in 1769 on Big Moccasin Creek near Fort Houston. From 1769 to 1782, many people came to live in what is now Scott County, and settlements increased until they reached nearly all sections. In 1790, strongly-built houses began to take the place of forts; and one of these, the Old Kilgore Fort House, about 2 miles west of Nickelsville, is still standing. It is probably the oldest house in the county. Convenience to water was one of the main considerations in the selection of home sites, and most of the early homes were located on low land.
The early settlers were mainly Scots-Irish, though some were of English descent. They came from eastern Virginia, from Augusta County, Virginia, from the Yadkin Valley in North Carolina, and a few from Ireland. Some of the thousands who traveled the old Wilderness road on their way westward grew weary of traveling, turned aside, and settled in the Scott County territory. A string of log cabins soon lined the Wilderness Road from the Blockhouse to Cain Gap in Powell Mountain.
Scott County was formed by an act of the general assembly on November 24, 1814, from parts of Washington, Lee, and Russell Counties and was named for General Winfield Scott. In 1856, part of Scott County was taken to form part of Wise County. The first court was held in a dwelling at Big Moccasin Gap in 1815, and the first public free schools were opened in 1870. The county seat is Gate City, at elevation 1304 feet, with a population of 2159 in the year 2000.
The population still consists largely of descendants of the early settlers. Most of the people live on smooth land near streams and on the smoother ridge tops in the valley uplands. Very few live in the steep and rugged mountain country. Much of the land is unsuitable for intensive use. There is relatively little farming or mining in the county, and most employment is in the services, government and trade sectors.
The residents of Scott County Virginia recently received new addresses due to the new 911 emergency contact system. Everyone now has a house number and street address as opposed to the rural route addresses of the past.
As of the census² of 2000, there were 23,403 people, 9,795 households, and 7,023 families residing in the county. The population density was 17/km² (44/mi²). There were 11,355 housing units at an average density of 8/km² (21/mi²). The racial makeup of the county was 98.51% White, 0.59% Black or African American, 0.14% Native American, 0.07% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.15% from other races, and 0.52% from two or more races. 0.42% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 9,795 households out of which 27.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.40% were married couples living together, 9.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.30% were non-families. 26.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.82.
In the county, the population was spread out with 20.60% under the age of 18, 7.50% from 18 to 24, 27.30% from 25 to 44, 26.80% from 45 to 64, and 17.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 93.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.70 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $27,339, and the median income for a family was $33,163. Males had a median income of $28,328 versus $20,553 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,073. About 13.00% of families and 16.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.10% of those under age 18 and 20.50% of those age 65 or over.
Public High Schools
- Gate City High School, Gate City
- Rye Cove High School, Clinchport
- Twin Springs High School, Nickelsville
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