Date of Graduation
Farmers in the South Branch Valley in Hampshire County, Virginia (present-day Hardy County, West Virginia), created a commercial agricultural system that made the South Branch Valley the center for beef production in eighteenth-century western Virginia. These farmers improved the traditional methods of cattle raising and driving to increase their profit and, despite the remoteness and isolation of this Appalachian region, maintained important family and economic ties to eastern markets. The first white settlers came to this frontier region with a pre-existing commercial orientation, raising livestock and other agricultural products for external markets, as well as local exchange markets. The coming of the French and Indian War drove many of the early settlers back to the east. Positioned at a strategic point for Virginia's frontier defense, the remaining farmers produced agricultural provisions for the military markets. Lord Dunmore's War and the American Revolution further expanded the opportunities for farmers in the South Branch Valley to engage in commercial markets. After the American Revolution, a number of farmers in the South Branch Valley built large-scale commercial livestock operations, becoming the wealthiest farmers in western Virginia at the end of the eighteenth century. They expanded their network of commercial production to incorporate the newly opened Ohio lands at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Farmers from the South Branch created a network of family and economic ties that reached from the East Coast to Ohio and farther into the Midwest. This commercialism in the South Branch Valley laid the basis for the Midwestern cattle industry and is one of the earliest examples of commercialism on the Appalachian frontier.
Lee, Elizabeth Oliver, ""Potomac's valley shall become a domain we create": Commercialism and the South Branch Valley, 1750-1800." (2008). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 9264.