The William Prince Settlement
 

Location: On road leading to High Knob from Norton, between the Ice Plant and bridge crossing Benges Branch.

Date: 1787

Owners: Land granted to Harry L. Smith in 1786, by the Commonwealth. Smith sold to Dale Carter, long before formation of Wise County. Carter sold to John Frazier and Frazier's wife sold to Norton Land and Development Company in 1891. The land was sub-divided and sold in lots to various parties.

Description: No description as to construction of John Prince's Camp can be obtained. Many of the older people have handed down traditions that his camp was on Benges Branch near the Norton Ice Plant.

Historical Significance: In 1786 Harry L. Smith acquired a large tract of land near the Little Stone Gap and the following year (1787) he sent his agent John Prince there to make a settlement, with a small band of pioneers. In the fall Prince ate too many chestnuts and died. After burying him the little band of settlers
returned back over the Blue Ridge to their former homes. Many of the older settlers say that Prince was buried on Guest River above the present site of Esserville and that his grave is on the river bank near the residence of 
George Wells.
     Sometime ago an old man (now dead) related to me the following:
     "When I was a small child I was passing along up Guest River and my Mother pointed out to me on the river bank a grave, saying that was the John Prince grave. The grave at that time was fenced in with a row of rocks, laid alongside of each other around the whole grave."
     The town of Norton or the place where Norton is located bore the name of Prince's Flats until the coming of the railroad in 1891, when the name was changed to Norton, in honor of Mr. Norton, an official of the 
L & N Railroad Company.

Source of Information: Wise County Geography, J. H. Kilgore, Nelson Hamilton (deceased), and Mrs. Martha Beverly of Norton, VA.
 

The Prince Cabin
Charlie Connor Home
 

Location: On foot of stone mountain. Three hundred yards east of Benges Branch. In southside of the town of Norton, one block south of Kentucky Avenue.

Date: Before 1773..

Owners: William Prince never had any title. He, it is said, was an agent of Richard Smith of London, England, who had grants of thousands 
of acres in  this section.
     Samuel Salyer under settlers rights 1850 - and 
Mrs. Charles Connor from _____ to 1937.

Description: The Prince Cabin was a one-room house, built of round logs, underpinned with rough stone. No floor. Door in east side. No window.
     Samuel Salyer house was hewed logs, size 16 x 18 feet. This house was moved back up the hill about five hundred yards when present house was built and is still standing. The Connor house is of frame construction, on same corner stones used by William Prince for his cabin. Faces north. One story in form of cross, the north arm of the cross being on the exact spot where Prince built his cabin.

History: Before 1773, William Prince came into this section and established himself at what was known as Prince's Flats for many years, but the name was changed to Norton on building of the L & N Railroad to the place.
     As to his business in the wilderness traditions disagree. One says that he was an agent of Richard Smith of London, England, who held by grant all the vast territory from near Norton northeastward into Kentucky and West Virginia. Another tells us that he was a prospector and was seeking 
a silver mine in the mountains.
     While living here he was often visited by Tyree Culbertson of Castlewoods, (impossible, Culbertson, was born in 1785) who would spend days and weeks with him, hunting deer, bear and wild bees. They had cut a bridle trail up Guesr River from Castlewoods, and Tyree Culbertson would load his horse with honey and meat and send him alone the thirty miles back home with a note to his wife. She would unload the honey and meat, read the note, write an answer and send the horse back. 
     One day while hunting on Guest River just above the present town of Esserville, Prince ate too many chestnuts and died there in great agony. It is said he asked Culbertson to bury him as close to the water as possible. His grave is found today just above high water mark under a dead chestnut tree.
William Prince died at his home near Warrior's Path State Park in Kingsport, TN.

Source of Information: The late Henry Lee Snodgrass, Mrs. Hattie Taylor and
Mrs. Charles Connor.

 

 
 
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