The Longhunters


Page dedicated to William Harrelson 2nd
He was known as LongHunter; Husband of WhiteFeather


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Welcome to WhiteFeather's LongHunter Page

The Long Hunter was peculiar to Southwest Virginia only, and nowhere else on any frontier did such hunts ever originate. Most, if not all of the long hunts originated on the Holston in the vicinity of present day Chilhowie, but were made up of hunters who lived on both the Clinch and Holston rivers...these long hunters were native to the area and were land owners, or residents along the waters of these two rivers. When the pioneer settler moved toward the extreme frontier, he had long since been preceded by the long hunter. There is no braver lot than these early hunters. Not only did they endure the rigorous winters in crude shelters but the danger of sickness, privation, exposure, hunting accidents,etc...

              Photo used with permission
Early Pre-Colonial LonghunterThe long hunter today would be called a scientist, naturalist, explorer, 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, as to whether dry or moist, and could wet his finger with spittle and tell in which direction it was blowing. He could, in numerous ways, tell the seasons, 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 direction by night. He knew the medicinal properties of plants and how to treat his wounds and ailments therefrom. He knew his rifle, how to use it, repair it, and even in some instances how to make one... The long hunters usually went out in October and returned the latter part of March, or early in April. The long hunters seldom hunted in parties larger than two or three men.
Source: Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia: By Emory L. Hamilton. (PUBLICATION 5 - March, 1970)

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From "History of Kentucky" by Collins: It says a group of men were great hunters, among them were, leader Elisha Walden, .....bold "enterprising and fearless"; Henry Skaggs also came. He and his brothers were noted hunters, and "nothing but hunters", and it was from the Skaggs men that Skaggs Creek of Rock castle, crossed and redressed by later travelers along the Kentucky Road, got its name. Other members of the party were Charles Cox, William Newman, and WILLIAM HARILSON, another professional hunter, and like the Skaggs men something of an exception for most hunters practiced at least one other occupation, usually farming.

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Full View Cumberland Gap MapMany of these men were hunting land also..... The hunters would go out in small groups of three or four men with only enough supplies for three or four days. The station site for Walden's party of 1761 was on Wallen's Creek in what is now called Lee County, Virginia. Some hunters were on the Clear Fork, a stream not reached by going through the Gap; WILLIAM HARRELSON and the Blevins men hunted around the mouth of Obeys River. Robert Crockett of the same family, as Davy was killed by Indians in the Roaring River Country on the Plateau, all of which would indicate that at least some of the hunters went in the same general direction as had James Smith and all may have taken Tollunteeskee's Trail up the mountain and over, we do not know. Family Tradition has long held William 2nd Harrelson as being known as "Long Hunter."


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