While my brother and I were this far east, we decided we would visit the town named for our ancestor, Jacob Castle. Castlewood, Virginia, is located in Russell County in southwestern Virginia. From West Liberty, Kentucky, where many of Jacob’s descendants migrated, it was about a 3-hour drive.
According to legend, Jacob traded the local Indians a butcher knife and rusty musket (or “a hound dog, a shotgun, and a drink of whiskey”) for forested land that became known as “Castle’s Woods,” while still maintaining his permanent residence in Montgomery County. While Castle’s life in Montgomery County can be proven by tax and court records, his life in Castle’s Woods has little to document it, except for the name of the area. In any case, the area was known by this name long before Daniel Boone set forth from the settlement for Kentucky in 1774.
Since no statue of Jacob Castle exists to visit (although there really should be), my brother and I did our best to find some locales associated with our ancestor Jacob. A nice drive to the country outside of town took us to an area known as Castle Run. The story is that the area got its name because Jacob was chased there by an Indian upon whose hunting lands he was trespassing.
We had no directions specific enough to find either site that has been proposed as the grave of Jacob Castle. My cousin Fred Castle had described on a genealogy message board a site on Copper Creek that he felt to be Jacob’s resting place, but no directions were given. A very nice history of Jacob Castle by a descendant named Ron Hall includes Mr. Hall’s description of a gravesite in a field near the Scott County line, but again, we had no directions specific enough to get us there. The best we could do was gaze into the woods on either side of the road as we drove, imagining Jacob in his longhunter garb, blazing a trail through the forest.
On the way out of Virginia to our next stop in Tennessee, we stopped near Nickelsville on Highway 71 to read a historical marker entitled “Early Settlers in Russell County.” It said: “In 1787, Isaiah Salyer (1752-1818), son of Zachariah Salyer (1750-1789) of North Carolina, settled on Copper Creek, two miles southeast of here. Isaiah’s brothers, John, Benjamin, and Zachariah, and sisters Sarah, wife of Solomon Saylor, and Rebecca, wife of Stephen Kilgore, settled on nearby land. The Salyer land was officially surveyed in 1790. The Salyers intermarried with other Virginia pioneer families – Castle, Isaacs, Nickels, Stapleton, Vicars, and Byerley.”
The marker stood in front of a church and graveyard where we found several Castle graves, undoubtedly from the Virginia branch of the family descended from Jacob Castle.
For more information about Jacob Castle, see my post "Jacob Castle the Longhunter."