The Dunkards were a peace-loving group of people, and after a few close calls with Indians, they soon decided that this was not the place for them. Most of those in what is now Pulaski County moved to North Carolina.
John Hamilton was a soldier who trained with troops at Dunkard Bottom in the early 1760s. While there, he had a stock of goods for sale to the officers and soldiers. This was the first store in what is now Pulaski County, and the only one until James McCorkle opened one.
The store was in a settlement called New Dublin. William Davis of Philadelphia had a trading post on the New River in Dunkard Bottom. William Christian’s name first appears in Dunkard Bottom history. He camped there in 1760, and evidently he appreciated the value of the place, because in just three years he would be moving there – buying it in 1771, and moving there in 1773.
In Botetourt County where he had been one of the counties most useful citizens, Christian was commissioned a major in the militia, and one of the justices. He was in charge of troops from Fincastle County in the Battle of Point Pleasant.
When William Christian moved to Dunkard Bottom in 1773, he probably had plans to stay there the rest of his days, but the make-up of the man was such that it caused him to decide after a while to move westward like thousands of Wilderness Road travelers did.
He built a home in Dunkard Bottom, and when Claytor Lake was constructed in the 1930s, the house was raised, but a lone stone chimney was left standing. Today in times when the water level in the lake is down, an outline of the William Christian house is clearly visible. For many years the chimney stood, as a reminder of the area’s past. The chimney was later torn down, its stones saved and hauled by John Ingles Barton of Claytor Lake, to his home.
William Christian was one of the many officers and soldiers who were so outraged by the treachery of Virginia’s Governor Dunsmore that met at the Lead Mines on Jan. 20, 1775, and drew up and signed the famous Fincastle Resolutions, the first formal Declaration of Independence in America.
All signs of the rich history of Dunkard Bottom, including McCorkle’s Store, New Dublin, and the training ground for troops of the Battle of Point Pleasant were covered with water in 1939 , when Claytor Dam reached its level.
-Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski.