On July 12, 1749, the Colony of Virginia granted the Loyal Company 800,000 acres in what is today parts of southern West Virginia, southwestern Virginia, and southeastern Kentucky. The Loyal Company promoted settlement in Western Virginia at a time when few pioneers dared to venture west of the Allegheny Mountains.
By 1754, the land company had settled about 200 families, including some along the New and Bluestone rivers. Most of these settlements, though, were destroyed by Indians during the French and Indian War.
The grants to the Loyal Company, and to the Greenbrier and Ohio companies, were early attempts by colonial Virginia to resist English rule. The king of England believed that he alone had the right to award land grants, while Virginia’s leaders felt they should control western lands.
After the French and Indian War, England tried to repress violence on the frontier by forbidding settlement west of the Alleghenies. However, many land speculators and pioneers ignored the order of the crown and pushed into Western Virginia. This westward expansion heightened tensions with England and furthered our nation’s journey toward independence.