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(Castle's Woods)

Info added 03/09/01

According to my records, Jacob "The Hunter-White Tassel" was born 1717 in Lancaster, Pa and died in the Holsten River Area, VA, Castlewoods VA. His father is Peter Castle who was born is Germany. I am a descendent of Jacob, Jacob,Jr,Zedekiah Allen, Joshua Zion, Allen, Charles, Donald Cassell. Name spelling changed at Joshua Zion to Cassel, then again at Charles, who added an additional L.

Phil Cassell


Forwarded message:

From: (Ron Hall)
To: (ckidd414)
Date: 97-07-28 13:01:48 EDT

Dear Mr./Ms Kidd,

Thank you for your inquiry about Jacob Castle. In response to your question, I am enclosing an excerpt from my family history. If you have further or contrary information, I would appreciate a copy. My mother was a Castle. Would appreciate hearing back from you about your lineage. Maybe we can exchange GEDCOM files to expand our databases.

Best Regards,

Ron Hall

JACOB CASTLE, b. Palatinate Germany CIRCA1718; d. Scott Cty, Va. probably around 1803.


1. Jacob Castle Jr., b. date unknown in Russell Cty, Va;

2. Joseph Castle, b. date unknown in Russell Cty, Va.;


Jacob Castle, for whom Castlewood (Castle’s Woods) is named, is one of the most mysterious and intriguing characters of the early frontier in Russell County. He probably came to America from the Palatinate in Germany with other German settlers who landed in Philadelphia on September 5, 1738. Those settlers moved southward and settled along the New River in Virginia which became Augusta, Montgomery, Carroll and Pulaski counties. Castle sold a tract of land in Augusta County in 1740. Castle, himself, settled in western Russell county long before the treaty of Lochaber in 1770 which threw the area open for settlement by whites. The first permanent settlers came to Castle’s Woods in 1769, but Castle was familiar with the area twenty years before that.

Historians, as well as court records, indicate that Jacob Castle was a "long hunter" and lived for great periods of time with the Indians in the vicinity of what, today, is Castlewood in the western part of Russell County, Virginia. Castle dressed in Buckskin moccasins and leggings, a leather hunting shirt and "breeches" and a cap made of beaver or otter skin. He carried a hatchet, knife, shotpouch, powder horn, rifle (or musket) and enough food for at least 2 days.

Castlewood takes it name from "Castle’s Woods", the vast expansion of forest land that Jacob Castle acquired from the Indians. There are many stories regarding Castle’s acquisition of the land. Some historians say that he traded the Indians a butcher knife and a musket for the expanse of woodland that later took his name. Some say that he disposed of it for "a hound dog, a shotgun and a drink of whiskey".

The area known as Castle Run, as legend goes, was so named because Jacob Castle was once chased by an Indian chief for hunting on his land.

One story has it that Castle was an albino with white skin, white hair and pink eyes. This is pure fabrication by Goodridge Wilson from a story which appeared in the Roanoke Times. It has never been proven that Castle was an albino. Being German and Nordic, he was probably very blonde. Some of the Nordic people appear to be almost albino in coloring except for their eyes. There are hundreds of Castle’s descendents now living in the southwestern part of Virginia and albinism has not cropped up once. Rather, most of his descendents in Russell, Wise and Scott counties bear the traits and appearance of the Indian to whom he was married. He was married legally, according to Indian law, which was the only law on the frontier when Castle was in the southwestern portion of Virginia.

Castle settled in what later became Russell County because he was hounded by Adam Harman in Augusta and Montgomery counties. In 1846, Jacob Castle was detailed with other settlers to build a road from Adam Harman’s house "to the river" and over the Ridge to the north branch of Roanoke River. Castle, being the free spirit that he was, apparently objected to building the road for Harman, who was captain of the Fort in his precinct and overseer of the main road through the community.

Apparently, the new settlers brought grudges and hatreds with them from the old country. The records indicate there was a continual friction between Jacob Castle and Harman. They were bitter enemies, probably from something that occurred between them either in Germany or on the ship coming over in 1738.

According to some accounts, Harman suspected that Castle was in league with some Indians who were living in Russell County and raiding the older settlements in Augusta County. At one time, they reportedly robbed Harman and he believed that Castle had instigated the attacks on him.

In 1749, Harman charged Jacob Castle with threatening to aid the French. Since this was before the French and Indian war broke out and French and English relations were bad, the charge was considered to be treason. Harman took a posse to Castle’s Woods to arrest Castle and return him to Montgomery County. Apparently Castle resisted and according to the accepted legend, the Clinch river got its name from a lame man named Clinch who was in the posse.

During the battle, in which the Indians were assisting Castle, Clinch got separated from the posse while it was retreating across the river. He was either shot by an Indian or fell from his horse. An Indian, seeing that he had difficulty moving in the water, rushed forward to scalp him and was himself killed. For his participation in the incident, the others named the river "Clinch" in his honor. Indeed, Dr. Thomas Walker (for whom Walker Mountain is named) in his journal of his trip through southwest Virginia in 1750, said "Clinch River was named for a hunter whose name was Clinch."

Castle was either arrested or, as some say, turned himself in . At any rate, he was tried and acquitted of the charge. Thereafter, he spent more and more time in Castle’s Woods. He went west permanently about 1750 according to James W. Hagy in his book "Castle’s Woods and Early Russell County 1769 - 1799", but he also retained residence in Montgomery County. It is quite probable that he had a family in the New River Area in addition to his Indian family in Castle’s Woods.

In 1752, Castle was detailed to work on "the Warwick road" from Lunenburg Courthouse to the New River Valley. This order indicates that Castle still had some standing in the New River Settlements.

In 1759 he signed a petition to build a road and act as appraiser and Augusta County records state that he had left the area by 1764.

According to Montgomery Court records, on June 26, 1740, Jacob Stover sold 200 acres to Jacob Castle at the mouth of Hawksbill creek of Shenandoah. Castle later sold 75 acres to Jacob Cager and 125 acres to Elizabeth Douven, wife of Edward Wheat. Jacob Castle still had legal residence in Montgomery County in 1762, for on November 19, 1762, he was named one of a committee of three to appraise improvements on two tracts of land on the New River; apparently for tax purposes.

Jacob Castle is known to have been in the Watauga Settlements in western North Carolina in 1767. After that, little is heard from him. In 1782, a Jacob Castle was granted a warrant for land in Russell County which he claimed in 1798. If this was the same man, he would have been quite old by this time. However, this could have been Jacob Castle, Jr. who lived to be more than 100 years old.

Daniel Boone lived in the Castlewood area from 1773 to 1775 before moving on to Kentucky. Castle would probably have known him and would have had at least 30 years of woodsman experience on him. It is known that Boone took credit for a lot of the deeds of William Russell and it is probable that he claimed some of Jacob Castle’s as well.

The story of Jacob Castle fits the pattern of western activity in pre-revolution days. "Long Hunters" spent long periods of time in the forests away from farmers and civilization. They lived much as the Indians did, depending upon their hunting skills to provide food, clothing and trade goods.

Try as they might, the long hunters often found civilization catching up with them. This was the case in Russell County since the first permanent settlers moved there in 1769. The people who came that year were squatters since several years would pass before they could claim legal title to their land.

In 1982, on a tip from a book I read, I explored a field in Russell County, near the Scott County Line that was said to be an old Indian graveyard. The area was full of depressions indicating sunken graves and many of the graves were marked with broken field stones. One grave was very interesting; it was not sunken and had a cut stone marker barely protruding above the ground.

Investigation found the stone was marked:

"J. Castle, Age 67 years

Died September 26, 18__"


As I live in Minnesota, I have not had the opportunity to return with tools to unearth the tombstone, although I plan to someday. Family legend has it that Jacob Castle traded his Castle’s Woods lands for land in the area of the graveyard, "and a hound dog and a pair of leather breeches" to boot. Identity of this J. Castle is unknown but Jacob Castle had two sons; Jacob Jr. and Joseph. It could be one of them or a grandson.

Some of the family history I have heard over the years states the Jacob Castle showed the Cumberland Gap to Daniel Boone and helped him in his actives.

Daniel Castle

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