Prince's Flats
Old Name for Norton

     Since I was a small boy I have heard older citizens refer to Prince's Flats, the old name of Norton, and so used until about the time of the coming of the railroads. I had often wondered in my earlier years why it was called Prince's Flats, until I heard the legend that Prince was a hunter, who had a cabin, or hunting camp near the mouth of Benge's Branch. That on one of his stays at the camp he was hunting in the area on Guest River about one mile above where the bridge crosses that stream on U. S. Route 23, he ate chestnuts and died from acute indigestion.
That he was buried on the bank of Guest River and until a few years past his gravesite was marked by a ring of rocks placed around it. All, from whom I heard the legend did not associate companions with Prince, and I often wondered how he buried himself.
     How much of the legend is true about Prince's hunting camp and untimely death I do not know, but of recent date I have found some interesting facts about the man himself. Prince was a real, not a legendary man, and his name was William Prince. He actually lived in the vicinity of Warrior's Path State park, near Kingsport, Tennessee. He died prior to the 7th of February, 1775, when his estate was ordered to be appraised by the court of Fincastle County, Virginia, with David Looney as Administrator of the estate, and Alexander and Moses Cavett, Alexander Davoe and John Coulter were appraisers of his estate.
     This same William Prince was in Captain William Russell's Company on the Point Pleasant Campaign against the Shawnee Indians, and was listed as wounded on October 23, 1774. This date is however, after the actual battle took place, and how he was wounded then I do not know, but it may have been possible, since Captain Russell was left behind with a detachment of troops at Fort Blair for sometime after the battle.
     In Scott County Deed Book 4, page 338, dated the 8th of February, 1831, is this entry:
     "On the application of George Berry for a bridle way from the widow Berry's on Stony Creek to the county line at Prince's Old Place, it is ordered, etc." This entry is no doubt for a bridle path from Stony Creek across High Knob to Prince's old place on the county line. At this date the county line of Scott County was Guest River, thus placing Prince's camp at the present site of Norton. Recently, by good fortune, there has come into my possession a copy of an old land map made in 1838, which is the earliest map I've seen of the area around Norton, and on this map at the site described above is lettered "Prince's Old Place."
     It is very possible that William Prince did die in Wise County as the legend states and was buried by some of his hunting companions, whose names have been forgotten by history. It is very common for the earliest settlers to go on hunts for extended periods and long distances, such as the Long Hunters who were the first to blaze trails through the then wilderness of Southwest Virginia, long before Christopher Gist or Dr. Thomas Walker made their explorations. Certainly the very earliest settlers knew the location of his camp well enough to name it Prince's Flats, which name it bore for more than a century to be cast off by less appropriate and certainly less historical name of Norton.


 
 
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