Geography played an important role in the early
history of elected leaders of Southwest Virginia. In 1770, all
of Southwest Virginia west of present day Roanoke, was the county
of Botetourt. As the area became more populated, settlements
began to arise. This led to the formation of new counties. Around
1777, Montgomery and Washington Counties were formed. In 1786,
Russell County was formed from Washington County. Other far Southwest
Virginia counties were later formed from Russell. Both Lee County,
in 1793, and Tazwell County, in 1799, were formed from Russell,
Lee, and Washington Counties. In 1856, Wise County was formed
from Russell, Scott, and Lee with Buchanan formed from Taxewell
and Russell in 1858. The final Southwest Virginia county, Dickenson,
was formed in 1880 from portions of Wise and Buchanan Counties.
Featured in this exhibit are
several elected leaders who served during the change of the Virginia
frontier into the geographic area known as far Southwest Virginia.
Many leaders were shaped by the Civil War, with several of them
being involved in the post-war debt debate. Some of the featured
leaders served in office during World War I with one serving
in the Navy during World War II.
The staff of the Southwest
Virginia Museum Historical State Park hopes you enjoy this brief
"portrait" of our region's political past.