Historical Society of Southwest Virginia
Russell County 

Old Russell County Courthouse
Route 58A

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 Even before Russell County was formed, Daniel Boone and his family lived in Cassell's Woods from 1773 to 1775. He was a Lieutenant and Captain of the Virginia Militia and

a Commander of three forts along the Clinch River.

The Great Wilderness Road, first cut by Daniel Boone and his men passes through Abingdon, VA and on into Russell County at Little Mocassin Gap through Castlewood, Dungannon, Duffield, Jonesville and on into Cumberland Gap.

William Russell

Madame Russell

Russell County was named for General William Russell, born in Culpepper County, Va, who assisted in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. He attended William and Mary College and married Tabitha Adams, daughter of Samuel Adams. He moved to Castlewood where he served in the militia and as tax collector. He was elected to the House of Delegate in 1775. He became a soldier in the 13th Virginia Regiment in 1776. He served in the French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, and commanded rangers under General Braddock. He was taken prisioner to the West Indies but returned to Yorktown where he became Brigadier General in 1783. The Russells had nine children. Upon the death of Tabitha Adams Russell, he married Elizabeth Henry Campbell, sister of Patrick Henry and widow of General William Campell.

Petition to form Russell County, VA

The petition of sundry inhabitants of Clinch River, Mocassin Creek, Powell's Valley, and others, Citizens of Washington County humbly represent that your petitioners are situate from the line of Montgomery as it crosses near the source of Clinch River, down the same eight miles; thence to the extreme settlements of Powells Valley forty more.
The greatest proportion of our petitioners have to travel twenty-five to fifty miles and some eighty to a hundred; moreover are interrupted by Clinch Mountain and the north branch of Holston river; the former affording very difficulty in crossing it in spring and after considerable rain. Contigious to its southern bank, a chain of hills almost as difficult as Clinch Mountian, so that great difficulty arises to your peitioners not only in attending courts, but general musters and court martials. And from the extent of schism between our small settlements made it exceeding difficult to arrange companies without subjecting some to travel fifteen or twenty miles to private musters, and to difficulties in the militia law that principally affect your petitioners. These are evils, small indeed, compared to the feelings we constantly undergo when obliged to leave our helpless families exposed at so very great distance to obey the laws of our country. And however evident they may appear to us, will not certainly on our failure of duty plead our excuse, a circumstance alone whereby sufficient to claim the honored respect of the legislature to remove the grievance.
We therefore pray your Honorable House will take our case into consideration and divide the county. We further pray a line may be fixed along Clinch mountain with the Montgomery line to the Carolina line; or with the line at present dividing the county into two regiments to the aforesaid Caroline line thence with the said line to the Cumberland Mountain, including the extent of county between Cumberland Mountain and Montgomery line, and Clinch Mountain as the aforesaid regimental line, etc., for the new county; and southeast of the said Clinch Mountain remain Washington County, and we, your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, etc.

There were 343 or more signers to this petition


On January 2, 1786, Russell County was established from a section of Washington County. L.P. Summers, a Washington County historian later wrote, "Washington County lost a great extent of country and many valuable citizens when Russell County was formed."

The first court met in May of 1786 in the Castle's Woods settlement (present-day Castlewood) in the house of William Robinson. The structure used as a courthouse still stands, and is referred to as "The Old Courthouse." This former courthouse was built in 1799 by Henry Dickenson. A stone building, the structure replaced a log courthouse that was burned during the Revolutionary War. A brick wing was added to the stone structure by the Robert Dickenson family between 1830 and 1850. Used as a residence until the 1970's, the courthouse began to undergo a restoration process in 1976.

Later, a new place was built to house the County Seat. The present Courthouse, located in Lebanon, has been in use since 1874. The County has been home for many well-known persons such as Daniel Boone, Governor H.C. Stuart, and State Senator M.M. Long. Russell County was also the birthplace of other counties. The counties of Wise, Lee, Tazewell, and Scott were formed from parts of Russell County.

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