King and Queen Group Retraces Route of Knights of Golden Horseshoe (October 2005)

On Saturday, October 15, donors to the King and Queen County Historical Society's Endowment Fund ventured to retrace the 1716 trip of Gov. Alexander Spotswood and his Knights of the Golden Horseshoes to find a passage across the Blue Ridge Mountains. The "knights" acquired their name from the small golden horseshoe the Governor gave each of the travelers upon their return to Williamsburg for their help in opening the "west." Not many have realized that one-third, or four, of the twelve gentlemen travelers resided in King and Queen County, Virginia, and the group stayed in King and Queen County homes as they made their way to the mountains.

The modern group left from Mattaponi Baptist Church, near King and Queen Court House, and headed toward the northern end of the County by bus. They paused at the community of Salvia, near Beverley Park, where Robert Beverley, clerk of the King and Queen Court, lived and where he joined the 1716 expedition. At Beverley Park Spotswood left his carriage and proceeded on horseback. The modern group proceeded to the Germanna Museum in Orange County, where Tom Faircloth, Director of the Museum lectured on the Germanna Colony, the iron mines, and Spotswood's stop there in his procession to the mountains. It was at Germanna the Spotswood group's horses were shod to handle the expected rocky soil of the mountains. This was the origin of their now famous name. The modern group next visited nearby Salubria, the home of Mrs. Spotswood when she remarried after Spotswood's death, and enjoyed box lunches on the Salubria grounds. From Salubria, the King and Queen group followed Spotswood's route along the Rapidan River, through the present towns of Rapidan and Orange to Swift Run Gap in the Blue Ridge, where they stopped to see the monuments that commemorate Spotswood's passage and looked for Mounts George and Spotswood named by Spotswood, now called Hightop and Saddleback. From Swift Run Gap, they proceeded down into the Shenandoah Valley a short distance to the Shenandoah River (Spotswood called it the Euphrates) to Elkton. In Elkton they were hosted by the Elkton Historical Society for a tour of the Miller-Kite House, Stonewall Jackson's headquarters for planning his Shenandoah Valley campaign during the Civil War. Like Spotswood, the group celebrated their achievement in passing through the mountains by toasting King George, Queen Anne, King William and Queen Mary and others. From Elkton, they returned to King and Queen where they stopped, as Spotswood did in 1715, at Locust Grove where their host was Jerry Walker, a descendent of Spotswood's host, Thomas Walker, before ending the day back at the Mattaponi Baptist Church.

The King and Queen County Historical Society's Endowment Fund has been established to benefit the operations of the Historical Society's Courthouse Tavern Museum located at King and Queen County Court House. The group plans additional trips in the future for donors to the Endowment Fund.