NICKELSVILLE, VA was named for my Pioneer Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather James Nickels, referred to in history records respectfully as “James Nickels, Esq.” and his sons, who were early businessmen in the area. James Nickels was instrumental in the growth and development of the Scott County, VA area. James (son of Matthias and Elizabeth Allen Nickels), was a large landowner with deeds showing he acquired well over 1000 acres in what is now Nickelsville, VA. He was involved in many businesses and political areas including pump maker, Estillville (Gate City) water company (his father was involved in a water company for Washington Co., VA), Justice of the Peace, Commissioner of Revenue, farmer and probably had wagon teams hauling goods into the area. He was married to Jane Matney and they had 9 children. James married second Serena Jaynes and they had 9 children. From these 18 children descend a lot of family, some still located in the area and other descendants scattered across America. Local Scott County history books and numerous courthouse records document James Nickels history. Cousin Keith Nichols has published an excellent NICKELS family history in two large volumes. James business success was a trait inherited by his children and they carried on the tradition. In 1827 James sold some of his land in the area now known as Nickelsville, VA to his son William Nickels who in partnership with William McConnell formed Nickels & Company which lasted until McConnell left in 1834. The Company was then sold to James's son Walter who, along with other children of James including Great-Great-Great Grandfather Allen Nickels and Mathias Nickels. William moved to Pattonsville, VA and started another store. Walter later sold the store in Nickelsville and joined William. Later William and Walter had a disagreement causing a separation and lawsuits that dragged on for years, resulting in both store ledgers of Nickels & Company, Nickelsville, VA and Nickels, Nickels and Gibson, Pattonsville, VA stored in the Scott County Courthouse, Gate City, VA today. It is interesting family reading, as well as early records of the Nickelsville and Pattonsville areas.
Great-Great-Great Grandfather Allen Nickels was married (Vol II, 9 p22 SW VA lists Allen Nickels married 6/2/1832 by Robert Kilgore, Sr.) to Lucinda Salyer daughter of Samuel Salyer and Sarah Castle. Reverend Robert “Robin” Kilgore is the builder of the “Kilgore Fort House” shown below. Allen was a farmer, wagon master and business associate with his father and brothers William and Walter.
Sarah Castle (daughter of Joseph Castle, Granddaughter of Jacob Castle) is a descendant of the Long Hunter and Pioneer Jacob Castle of “Castle’s Woods” Virginia fame.
Some notes on CASTLE Family in Southwest Virginia
Jacob Castle was one of the first permanent settlers on the frontier. He is the one referenced when researchers mention early Long Hunters and Pioneers traveling in the area known as "Castle's Woods" now Castlewood, Virginia. Most of the early records back to the 1750's reference the area as "Castle's Woods" to locate and identify landmarks without giving credit to Jacob as the settler of the frontier. He survived in an area populated with Indians and apparently was the first landowner in the area, but his trading with the Indians was not documented or recognized as legal. This is most intriguing to me after years of research to see the amount of "historical" records and books referring to "the area near Castles Woods" or similar statements without acknowledging that in all probability the name came from "a Castle" who lived there before them. Because he was on the frontier by himself, it is obvious he did not spend his time writing back home, so no records exist, except for everyone using references like “near Castle’s Woods.”
Family traditions, historians, Court Records and family traditions indicate he was the original Long Hunter. Undocumented traditions are sometimes described as “visualize him dressed in frontier clothing of the day, trading with the Indians in buckskin moccasins and leggins, fringed hunting shirt over leather breeches. A beaver or otter cap completing the outfit. He would carry a musket (long rifle), powder horn, shot pouch and tomahawk. A hunting knife and dried/smoked food pouch would enable him to start the journey while fishing; hunting and gathering would extend the stay indefinitely.”
Records indicate about 1738 he migrated toward the Shenandoah Valley and then the New River Valley. VA records show him acquiring 200 acres land from Jacob Stover on Hawksbill Creek of the Shenandoah in Montgomery County Court Records and then in 1740 he sold his land in Augusta County, Virginia. W. Hagy records details in his book "Castle's Woods and Early Russell County 1769-1799". A reference in Professor Marcus book "History of Jews in Colonial America" says they were Germans of the Hebrew Faith.
Jacob is thought to have moved to Castle's Woods between 1746 and 1749. In 1746 Jacob was ordered along with others to build a road from Adam Harman's house to the river over the ridge to the north branch of the Roan Oak River. Jacob obviously did not like doing this and did not like Harman who was Captain of the Fort in his precinct and had responsibility for roads. Legends indicate Harman was attack by Indians and he blamed Castle for this because he lived with them on the frontier. In 1749 Harman charged Jacob with aiding the French, a treasonous charge. He took a posse to Castle's Woods to arrest him. Again legend says he resisted with the Indians help and in the process a Clinch was in the posse and the Clinch River was named after him. There is no record of this journey or its results, although Jacob was tried and acquitted of the charge (Augusta County Records). By 1750 he was living in Castle's Woods on the Virginia Frontier. In 1750 Dr. Thomas Walker from Albemarle (Charlottesville) VA patented about 6500 acres on the frontier on his return from Ohio and Kentucky country through the Cumberland Gap. In the patent, one line of the property ran to “Castle’s Run” indicating Dr. Walker knew and spent time in "Castles Woods" area. Albemarle County east of the Blue Ridge, adjoins Augusta County west of the Blue Ridge in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. In 1752 Jacob still shows up in the Land Records for Augusta County Virginia. Jacob also had a residence in Montgomery County in the New River Area in which he was active again having to work on the "Warwick Road from Lunenburg Courthouse to the New River Valley" in 1752. He signed a petition to build a road and act as appraiser in 1759. He also sold 75 acres to Jacob Cager and 125 acres to Elizabeth Douven and Edward Wheat. Augusta County recorded Jacob along with about 1000 other people had left the county by 1764 moving to North Carolina or the frontier. Records show Jacob in the Watauga Settlements in North Carolina (Tennessee) in 1767. In 1782 a Jacob Castle was granted a warrant for land in Russell County, which was claimed in 1798. This was probably Jacob Castle, Jr. who reportedly lived to be a 100. Family Traditions say that Daniel Boone who lived in "Castle's Woods" area 1773 - 1775 was credited for some of the deeds of William Russell, Jacob and Joseph Castle as books and records were written by and about only a select few of the individuals in the area. This is true for most of the authors writing Scott/Lee Russell & Wise County Histories. For example page xii HISTORY OF SCOTT COUNTY VIRGINIA author R. M. Addington writes in PREFACE "I have given rather large place to Daniel Boone and the Kentucky Path, for which I make no apology." Settlers were numerous by 1769 and later when they claimed title to their land, we find Thomas Stapleton, Sr., Edward Stapleton, Sr., Zachariah Salyer, Sr., Isaiah Salyer, Sr., Amos Allard and others from North Carolina, living in the same area with the Castles from about 1780 on. The Castle, Stapleton and Salyer families have been in Southwest Virginia for well over 200 years.