National Geographic : 1970 Apr
competed for a lady's hand. Now riders gather annually on an August weekend to try to spear suspended steel rings at full gallop (page 572). Stories of grass so tall it could be tied over a horse's saddle attracted the first settlers to the Shenandoah in the 1720's and 1730's. They were Germans, Scots, Irishmen, Eng lishmen, a few Swiss, and a few Frenchmen. While the Blue Ridge made Virginians hesitate, settlers streamed south from Mary land, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, across the Potomac River and into the valley (maps, pages 562-3). Some obtained land grants from the Virginia governor and council. Some merely squatted. Some paid rent to Thomas, Lord Fairfax, whose 5,200,000-acre proprie torship, the Northern Neck of Virginia, in cluded half the valley. Same Farm Nurtures Eight Generations At Winchester I went to visit Dr. Garland Quarles, who has carefully studied the rec ords of early settlers, to ask what kind of people they were. "A few well-to-do families came in the early 1700's," he said, "but mostly they were just ordinary people-shopkeepers, farmers, artisans." 576 The roots the settlers put into the valley soil went deep. "My children are the eighth generation of Snapps to live on this land," apple grower Roland Snapp told me as we stood at the back door of his home on the Cedar Creek Grade, near Winchester. He pointed into a gently sloping valley. "My father, my grandfather, and my great grandfather were born in a house that stood there," he said. "In a geographical sense, I haven't gone very far in the world." Mr. Snapp showed me the thick, speckled paper upon which Lord Fairfax granted a tract to John Snapp on July 23, 1750. The words, written in a flourishing hand, began: "The Rt. Hon. Thomas Lord Fairfax, Baron of Cameron in that part of Great Britain called Scotland and Proprietor of the North ern Neck of Virginia, to all whom this present writing shall come sends Greeting...." For "compensation to me paid," plus an annual quitrent of "one shilling sterling money" for each 50 acres of land, Lord Fair fax granted to John Snapp 400 acres "on the east side of Little North Mountain beginning at a hiccory and red oak sapling...." Beyond Mr. Snapp's orchard, the sun was setting over a low ridge. "That's Little North Mountain," he said.