When you possess knowledge of your ancestors you gain knowledge of your self.

The BUFORD Brothers
of Bedford County, Virginia

Fern K. Buford Walker
Copyright April 2007©

The introduction to Bedford County, Virginia to the BUFORD family came shortly after the formation of the county in 1754.  There were four Buford brothers who came into the area from their birth home in Culpepper County, Virginia.  They were the sons of John Buford and Judith Early Buford.  There has been written in several books that Judith’s surname was Phillippe or Phillipps and this is not true.  I suppose one of the most widely read genealogy books “Our Kin” would be a good example.  Who and where this error began I do not know but I try to correct it every time I see it.  The Buford family and the Early families have inter-mingled from the late 1600’s.  The fact that John, who at one time, was one of the largest landowners in Virginia owned land that neighbored the land of William Phillipps and these two men had land dealings dated 26 June 1739.  Perhaps someone tried to put two and two together and came up with five.  J

The four brothers were James, William, Thomas (John Thomas) and Henry.  Thomas and Henry received several hundred acres in ‘land grants’ located in the Gap of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Bedford County.  This Gap became known, and still is to this day, as Buford’s Gap.

Thomas’s land was located where Montvale, of today, is located and his plantation was known as “The Holstein Plantation” and contained well over 6,000 acres.  From Parker’s History of Bedford County, Virginia:  “Thomas Buford owned land on both sides of Goose Creek in the vicinity of Montvale, and on Bore Auger Creek in the Western part of the county.  In 1754 and 1755 he served as Sergeant under General Braddock, in 1775 as Lieutenant under Colonel George Washington, and in 1758 and 1758 as lieutenant under Colonel Byrd, and in his lifetime received no satisfaction  in land for his services.  His will, made in August 1774, and proved the following November mentions his wife Ann Watts Buford; sons John and William and daughter Nancy.  His inventory and appraisement were recorded January 23, 1775.  The division of his estate, October 23, 1797, which according to the terms of his will, did not take place until after the death of his wife, mentions four lots of land on Bore Auger Creek – 1433 acres in all – and his three children, John, William and Nancy, now the wife of Martin Wales.” END

John and Ann’s story is covered extensively in my new Buford Book of 2005.  Begin on page 39.  The address by Landen C. Bell is included on page 40.  Anna remarried a man by the name of James Scott and they had one son Nicholas Scott who married Mary Pate Harrison.  Nicholas and Mary Pate Buford had a son named Nicholas Scott Jr. who died in Kentucky.

Henry’s plantation was located to the West of Thomas’ estate extending into the ‘Gap’ Northward from the mountain.   The town that sprang up was called “Bufordsville”.  Henry built his home near what was then called the Indian Trail Road.  This trail was, and had been used for years by Indians and local game animals.  From the book written by The Peaks of Otter Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution entitled “Bedford Villages Lost and Found” they claim this trail was used by the Cherokee at the Peaks of Otter, the Sioux in Bufords Gap, the Tuscarora on the lower Goose Creek, the Saponi in the Southern part of the county and Tutelo Indians in Big Lick which later became the town of Roanoke.  This Game/Indian trail extended into North Carolina  and eventually was used by Whites as the valley became populated.  Henry married Mildred Blackburn on the 22nd of  March 1771.  Soon after Henry’s home was completed he and Mildred opened up their home to travelers on their way to the Western lands.  It turned into a very profitable venture and by 1790 the ‘one room ordinary’ had grown into an enlarged Tavern which supplied food and lodging for the travelers as well as feed and shelter for their animals.  It was widely known as “Bufords Tavern.”  The Indian trail crossed paths with another road at Bufords Tavern and soon a settlement developed and was named Bufordsville at the Stage Coach Cross Roads. Later the Stage coach road in the Northwestern part of the county  wound over the Blue Ridge Mountains from Buford’s Tavern excluding the ‘Toll House’ of the Black Horse Tavern, terminating at Obenchains Tavern located between Lithia and Fincastle down in  the Shenandoah Valley.  The coach road continued on past Buford’s Tavern East to Liberty, and from Obenchain’s Tavern Northwest to Fincastle and White Sulphur Springs.  From there the ‘road’, as they knew it, ended and the traveler who was headed West into the wilderness had to travel on foot or horseback as the trail was not wide enough for wagon or coach. Many times the Buford families and the McDowell families of Kentucky had to brave this scary Indian infested area to visit their kin in Virginia.

There is an interesting story I found in Parker’s History of Bedford County, Virginia.  The stages loaded with passengers and mail coming from the Shenandoah Valley up to the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains where the road entered Bedford County would continue on down  the mountain about a quarter of a mile to the protected shelf where the Black Horse Tavern was located.  The spent horses were exchanged for new, rested ones while the dusty traveler partook of the clear mountain Spring water or quite possibly a more customary, stronger drink for the men (it wasn’t called The Black Horse TAVERN for nothing).  If the arrival was too soon to eat, the travelers would climb back on board and continue down the mountain to Buford’s Tavern in the valley.  When this happened, one of the men at the Black Horse Tavern would sound a Stage Horn telling Paschal Buford the number of passengers to expect so he would know how many chickens to kill and toss into the frying pan and how many biscuits would be needed etc etc.  This worked so well that when the passengers arrived at the Buford Tavern, the table would be set and laden with steaming hot food under the huge vast beamed dinning room that was located down the hill a bit from the main house built by Henry Buford.  Henry’s original house remains to this day but the dinning room and cook house is gone.

There is a bit of controversy surrounding the name of the Black Horse Tavern located on the top of the mountain.  It was part of the Henry Buford Grant and was sold to David T. Thaxton in 1863 and the deed states that on this particular location there was a toll house named “Mountain Gate”.   I will say that most of what I have read refers to the tavern in question as “The Black Horse Tavern.”  The only time I have read anything that calls it “Mountain Gate” is in Harpers History of Bedford County.

When the request went out to each state in the Union for a sample of their own states stone to be used for the “Washington Monument” Captain Henry Buford sent some of his men up the mountain to get a rather large boulder that had tumbled down The Peaks of Otter mountain.  It was a piece of this stone, from Henry’s land, that went to the Washington Monument.  Part of the left over stone went to the Liberty Court House and placed on the lawn.  The rest of the stone was taken to Locust Level and two large bowls were chiseled out of the top of it and the words ‘Peaks of Otter” were cut into the face of the stone.  It is now in the Buford cemetery across the creek where some of the Buford family now sleeps.

When Henry died he left the Tavern to his son Paschal who continued the operation of the Tavern.  He added to the land holdings and in 1822 built a rather ugly, some call stately, two story Federal style brick house and named it Locust Level. He later built a frame house in the yard which was called “The Hall’ and this house was in constant use by friends and family.  The rather lavish hospitality of Frances and Paschal Buford was unsurpassed.  During the Civil War the wife and daughter of General Robert E. Lee spent an entire summer in “the hall” at Locust Level. The four Buford brothers were the most prominent land owners in the Bufordsville area.   Not only did Paschal receive the Buford Tavern, he purchased all of the remaining estate, both real and personal from his brother Abraham.  I believe this included all of Henry’s slaves.  

Because the two intersecting roads, that crossed near Bufords Tavern, was an important one due to the trading of goods such as corn, Tobacco and other farm goods between settlements Paschal became a rather wealthy man.

Other families besides the Bufords were the Sinklers/St. Clair whose land grand was for 244 acres and 169 all bordering Henry Bufords land.  Robert Sinkler/St Clair, the father, built a two story log home for his family on his 244 acres  and purchased another 475 acres in the Gap from Christopher Saunders.  Robert’s total land holdings were over a thousand acres by 1812.  Isaac Sinkler owned the 169 acres bordering his father’s land.  Also bordering Henry Bufords land was a Scotchman named Samuel Davidson.  

A Gentleman named William Bramblett was also one of the earliest settlers in Bedford County and the man whom Bramblett’s Station was named.  Bramblett’s daughter Elizabeth married James Buford on the 14th of July, 1761.  James was one of the four Buford brothers who came to Bedford County.    James was one of the men who laid out the town of Liberty for the new county seat.  He was a presiding Justice for many years; a member of the House of Burgesses in 1778.  In 1782 James was appointed by the Court to let the contract for the erection of the Court House, Prison, and Stock.  He served in the Revolutionary war as Captain and in the Revolutionary Archives of the Virginia State Militia, under the date of March 22, 1777 he was allowed pay and rations, etc., for his company to the 14th instant, 997 pounds, I shilling, 9 pence. James and Elizabeth moved to Kentucky in 1792.  James died in 1798..

The natural Spring which is located on the old Buford land is still there and pours forth the same crystal clear water that was so welcome to the thirsty, dust covered travelers and their horses.

The railroad to Salem from Lynchburg was finished in 1852 after many months of very hard labor in the blasting of rock and laying the ties.  Paschal Buford donated some of his land for the right of way to the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad and land was also supplied by Paschal to build the Train station which was named, of course, Bufords Depot.  Now, since the train tracks ran but a short distance from the Buford Tavern, I would say Ole Paschal was a very prudent man indeed.  In exchange for his “generosity” the railroad agreed to make regular stops at the Buford Depot.  Bufordsville was renamed ‘Montvale’ in 1890/1893.  Now, why in the Devil did they have to go and do that???

In 1880 Bufordsville/Bufords Depot boasted a General Merchant, a Tanner, and two Grist Mills both of which belonged to the Bufords, two Saw Mills and three doctors. By 1884 it had grown to include a Coach and Wagon maker, two Dentists, two Hotels, three Doctors, three Grist Mills, three Saw Mills and two general Merchants.  The two Grist mills that Paschal Buford owned was located on Goose Creek downstream from the Scott Mill and the same point where the current concrete bridge crosses Goose Creek.  This Mill was known as “Bufords Mill” and was the only mill on Goose Creek, according to old Civil War maps, between Bufordsville and East of the Flat top Mountain.

At one time Paschal Buford owned “Fancy Farm” the home of his wife Frances Otey.  He bought the property from Frances’ father Major Isaac Otey and Elizabeth Matthews Otey.  This farm was located at the foot of the Peaks of Otter on highway 45.  Paschal did not keep the property for very long.

One of Paschal’s sons, John, married a girl by the name of Jane Terry whose father William Terry owned about 800 acres in the Eastern part of Bedford County.  He built a beautiful plantation style home there and called it “Oakwood”.  When William died in 1814 the estate went to his son William Terry Jr.,  In 1862 John bought over 767 acres for his bride Jane.  For a wedding present Paschal installed a beautiful Maple floor in the parlor.  John inherited his father’s generous nature and the doors of Oakwood were always open to family and friends.

As I continue my Bedford County research
on our Buford family I will be adding to this periodically.
I encourage any input or corrections you might have.


BUFORD Families in America Book 2005

Addendum to Buford Book 2005






And my ALL-TIME favorite ~ TRIVIA

~~~Clouds by Torie~~~