Town of Saltville 1896-June 1996 – First Issue of The Appalachian Quarterly. Featuring In Focus Saltville Virginia. Picture: The Wooley Mammoth.
Members of Wise County Historical Society traveled to Saltville in the Spring of 1996 seeking information on the town for the first issue of our magazine, “The Appalachian Quarterly,” (Editor: Rhonda Robertson). It was a very interesting and rewarding trip. From the June issue of Appalachian Quarterly, the following excerpts: Saltville Boasts A Long And Rich History by Roger A. Allison
The Historical Society visited a “dig site” in Saltville; the King-Stuart House, where Flora Stuart, wife of General J.E.B Stuart (deceased) , and her children lived which was built in 1795 by William King, another of Saltville’s early salt manufacturers; the Battle Site; the Salt Kettles site; Mrs. Russell’s Methodist Church and home; the Museum; the Mattheson Chemical Corp. train, which was probably used in the Salt works, and library. (Photos above)
Published by the Saltville Progress,February 22, 1996
Salt, one of the world’s most common substances is the town’s reason for being. It is the presence of salt which assured the town of its rich history. Over the millennia that vital substance had been responsible for drawing into the Saltville Valley giant mammals, now extinct; settlers, colonial and pre-colonial; members of some of early Virginia’s and America’s most prominent families; invading Union armies during the War for Southern independence; and major industry, which ushered the town into the 20th century.
Since that time there have been dozens of recorded finds and, no doubt, scores of unrecorded discoveries throughout the Saltville Valley. Some scientific archaeological digs were conducted following accidental discoveries in 1917 and in the mid-1960′s, and since 1980 the town has hosted summer digs almost annually. The Virginia Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Institute has conducted digs each summer since 1991..”
By Gladys Stallard
Elizabeth Russell was born Elizabeth Henry in 1749 in Hanover County, Virginia, sister to the well-known Patrick Henry, Governor of Virginia. She married first to General William Campbell, of Augusta County, Virginia and second in 1783 to General William Russell, of Revolutionary War fame. They moved to Saltville in 1788. General Russell built salt houses, the first salt wells and a furnace, sometime between 1788 and 1797 with Francis Preston. Russell dug his first brine well in 1788. The well was located near the Russell home where the salt was produced by evaporating brine in a large salt kettles.
“Madame Russell is probably more eminent in the Methodist pioneer history of America than any other woman. In Saltville, in 1824, a Methodist Church, Elizabeth Church, wad dedicated in her name. In 1898 construction was begun on a new Methodist church, located a few feet from the then still standing Russell home. That church, Madam Russell Memorial United Methodist Church, stands today as a monument to Mrs. Russell, the region’s earliest religious leader, and to the pioneer Methodist Movement in the Holston Territory of Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee. In present day Saltville, there now stands a beautiful stone building named “Madam Russell Methodist Church.” Nearby is a replica of the original log cabin where the Russell’s had lived. This is owned by the church. The stone doorstep of the church is said to have been the hearth in the Russell cabin.”