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7 TheSecondFortVause A Crucial French and Indian War Fort in the Roanoke Valley of Virginia Kim A. McBride This chapter presents a summary of recent archaeological investigations at the second Fort Vause (44My59). Fort Vause was constructed on the Whiteside branch of the south branch of the Roanoke River, in southwestern Virginia in 1756, within modern-day Shawsville, Virginia (figure 7.1). It is a significant site, owned today by Jack and Laree Hinshelwood. Fort Vause is used as the designation because it appears in contemporary literature, although in historical documentation Vause’s Fort, often abbreviated to Vause’s (with several spellings), was more common. As an earthen fortification, Fort Vause is unusual and the only one of its kind known in George Washington’s chain of French and Indian War forts. Archaeological investigations were directed by the author and W. Stephen McBride, McBride Preservation Services, in September 2005 and May 2006. The research was funded by private grants raised by Gregory Adamson and administered by the Pendleton County Historical Society and the Kentucky Archaeological Survey, a joint undertaking of the University of Kentucky’s Department of Anthropology and the Kentucky Heritage Council. This work builds on previous excavations conducted at the site by Ed Heite, whose work led to the site’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places and its designation as a Virginia Historic Landmark in 1969 (Virginia Landmark file 60-17). Fort Vause’s history is well documented, but the fact that there were two forts with this name has led to much confusion regarding their locations . Adding to the confusion was possible transposing of directions on their locations in relation to nearby Christiansburg, Virginia. The first and Second Fort Vause: A Crucial French and Indian War Fort in the Roanoke Valley · 123 second sites are about 10 miles east of Christiansburg, but Koontz’s 1925 book put them 10 miles west of Christiansburg. There were attempts early on to straighten out this confusion and to suggest that the two forts were in different, though nearby, locales. One of the most important early attempts to clarify the situation was that of F. B. Kegley in 1938, followed by the efforts of Pendleton (n.d.), Sammons (1966), and Goode (2006). The Fort Vause file at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources contains several letters to officials as high ranking as the governor, documenting the chain of errors about the fort locations or asking that an inaccurate highway marker be corrected. These pleas, however, have largely been ignored . In many written accounts, from early classic texts such as Hale’s Trans-Allegheny Pioneers (1886), to the Virginia Landmarks Register (Loth 2000) and the highway marker that stands at the site, the locations for the two forts are conflated and the second fort is assumed to have been built on the ruins of the first. We join the many researchers who have suggested that the two forts were in different locales and that site 44My59 is the remains of only the second fort. The historical and archaeological data presented below support this interpretation. Though an exact location for the first Vause’s Fort has not been verified, many sources suggest it was at or near present-day Walnut Grove, less than a mile east of the second fort site (Goode 2006; Kegley 1938; Sammons 1966); more research and fieldwork will be required to document the exact location of the first fort. Fort History Ephraim Vause was a prominent early settler in southwestern Virginia who served in various civic capacities and was designated a Captain of the Horse in 1753. He came to the general area by 1746, settling first on Goose Creek (Roanoke River) within present-day Roanoke and then buying land and moving west to the modern-day Shawsville vicinity circa 1749 (Goode 2006) with his wife, Theodosia, and two daughters. He established a plantation with a house and cabins for slaves (Goode 2006, Sammons 1966; Wells n.d.). It is not known when Ephraim Vause began to fortify his house, but 1755 is likely. This was when conditions were more dangerous and raids such as the 25 July attack on nearby Draper’s Meadow became more frequent. Vause probably didn’t choose the location for his home primarily for defense purposes, but such might have entered into his calculations. There is 124 · Kim A. McBride no documentation on the structure of the first fort, and most assume it was composed of vertical stockading around most major...


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