Elisha Wallen - True Longhunter

     The long hunter today would be called a scientist, explorer, naturalist, or some other high sounding name, for he had to be master of many arts. He knew the sky and what a sunset foretold; he knew the wind and could tell it by smell, whether moist or dry, and could wet his finger with spittle and tell in which direction it was blowing. He could in many ways tell the season, predict the weather, and by the stars he could tell the time and direction. He knew the plants and where they grew, and by feeling the moss and shaggy bark of a tree, determine the north and find his directions by night. He knew the medicinal properties of plants and how to treat his wounds and ailments therefrom.
     He knew his rifle, how to repair it and even in some instances how to manufacture one. He knew how to use the hunting and skinning knife, and other tools and weapons of the hunt and kill, which was oft times the kill of an Indian whose skill and cunning he was forced to match and outwit to survive.
     He knew the habits and calls of animals and birds and was able to distinguish the true from the imitation of such by an Indian. He received his training from masters, for all who lived on the frontier were woodsmen and hunters. His training was thorough and started in childhood. His toys and games from babyhood were imitations of his future. Such was Elisha Wallen from whom Wallen's Ridge and Creek were named.
     The first known station camp established in Powell Valley was that of Elisha Wallen in 1751, although John Redd says that it was later than this. It is thought his party consisted of eighteen or nineteen men, but since no list has been preserved only the names of a very few are known certainly to have been in the party. Wallens Station Camp set up at the mouth of Wallen's Creek in present Lee County, was probably like most other station camps, built of poles, sometimes only eight by ten feet, covered with puncheons or bark, walls on three sides, the front open, along which a fire was built for warmth. Upright poles were set up - often a forked pole driven into the ground, with a cross pole on which the bark or puncheons were laid, sloping toward the back in order to drain melting snow and rain away from the fire. This type of shelter was known as "half-faced" camps. Other times either a large already fallen log or rock was used for the back wall.
     Some of Wallen's party are said to have seen the eleven year old initials and name of Ambrose Powell of Dr. Thomas Walker's party of 1750, carved on the trees and so named the mountain and valley, as well as Powell's River.
     John Redd who came to Martin's Fort in Lee County in January, 1775, says that when he knew Wallen on Smith's River in Pittsylvania County (now Henry County) in 1774 he was then some forty years old and had been a long hunter for many years before, that he never farmed or raised grain, but lived strictly by hunting. That he usually hunted on a range of mountains lying on the east of Powell Valley and from Wallen the mountain took its name. Wallen described the ridge and surrounding country on which he hunted as "abounding in almost every known specie of game." The animals and birds had been intruded on so seldom they did not fear his presence, but rather regarded him as a benefactor, but soon learned to flee his presence." it will be recalled that on into the 1770s Powells Valley was a fine buffalo hunting ground.
     Redd further states: "Wallen, along with the Blevinses and Cox families, who were connected to him by marriage, lived on Smith's River at a place called "The Pound" in Pittsylvania (now Henry) County, in 1774. They owned no land, but were squatters. During the Revolutionary War the Virginia Legislature passed a law that British subjects who owned land must come and take the oath of allegiance, or their lands would be confiscated. Some in Pittsylvania County did this, but Wallen, the Blevins and Cox families packed up "enmass" and moved to the frontier for fear they would have to pay many years back rent as squatters. The Blevinses and Coxes settled on Holston River above Long Island (Kingsport) and that Wallen settled on the Holston River, about eighteen miles above Knoxville, and that in 1776 he stopped by to see him, and was informed by his wife that he had been on a hunt for the past two months. That Wallen later moved to Powell Valley near Martin's Station where he lived for a short time and then moved to Tennessee, to Draper by Colonel William Martin, son of Joseph Martin of Martin's Station in which he tells of going on hunts with Wallen who lived near his father's station in Powell Valley. This would be 1785 or after, since William Martin did not come to Martin's Station that year. Martin further tells of Wallen informing him of going back and forth to Pittsylvania County where he lived in years past, of his being at Fort Loudon (1761) and helping to build a fort at Long Island (1776) of Holston. Also of helping Colonel William Byrd establish Fort Chiswell (1761).
     In Wallen's party of 1761, or whatever year it really w as, some are known to have hunted as far away as the Cumberland River in western Tennessee. Among those known to have been in the party, beside Wallen, was his father-in-law, Jack Blevins, his brother-in-law, William Blevins, Charles Cox, William Newman, William Pitman, Henry Scaggs, Uriah Stone, Michael Stoner, James Harrod and William Carr.


 
 
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