This day and age, there is no excuse for erroneous history. As a native of Wythe County, Virginia,
I can truly say we are intolerant of falsehoods that are perpetuated by those with money or power.
I want to set the record straight about one thing that has been bothering
me for decades as I trace my Wythe County history back to Captain William Herbert, a patriot and a religious leader.
He was more than that. Without his expertise, there would not have been a Shot Tower on the New River and perhaps
there would not have existed AMERICA!!
tribute made by William Herbert who was asked to come to the "then wilderness" of Virginia by Col. John Chiswell has gone
without recognition for too long!
The Civil War era
Jackson family has taken credit for what my ancestor did. William Herbert is barely mentioned and Thomas Jackson has
been credited with building the Shot tower in 1802?
Herbert was a Welshman and he was working for William Watts in Bristol England, helping him build the first ever Shot Tower
in existence. When Chiswell asked for the best metalist and ore mining expert in England, he was given my ancestor's
name. William Herbert knew how to build a shot tower and produce lead for ammunition only because he had helped
William Watts. Many years later, Watts patented the method.These facts are told in the great books by
Mary Kegley and family of Wythe County.
There are old
postcards telling of the Shot Tower producing the ammo needed for the Rev War. Little else.
William Herbert was convinced to come to Fort Chiswell as Col Chiswell had
discovered rich ore mines while exploring a cave nearby. He could find no one who could make a go of mining this
rich ore. He convinced Herbert and his extended family to come live here. Herbert was given many acres of land
and homes were built for his families.
the facts were brought up by those in charge, that the mines were located on land that had been protected in a
treaty to the "Indians". The operation was shut down and Chiswell took the homes and land away from the Herbert families.
As folks who had lived in the city most of their lives, they knew not how to farm or make any other living. Herbert's children
and grandchildren, nieces and nephews had to move and find any work they could.
As plans were made for the American Revolution, those in power including another of my ancestors, William Byrd, and
his parter Chiswell, rushed to Herbert to ask him to again produce the lead ammo needed for the impending war.
William Herbert did as asked and they sent to him, dozens of slaves
for helping work the furnace and mines. We know the Revolution would have been lost without this vast resource of ammuntion
and the knowledge that William Herbert possessed in making the first Shot Tower in this country. Unfortunately the slave
workers will never be thanked or acknowledged.
also ran the first Ferry across the New River. It's possible that the Shot Tower was improved or rebuilt after Herbert's
death by the Jacksons who lived on a small part of Herbert's land much later on.
And the ferry was then operated by the Jacksons and what had been called Herbert's Ferry is now called Jackson's
I feel William Herbert deserved credit where
due. His descendants are many and we celebrate the victory of America and we know the true story.
I've asked the State Dept of VA many times to erect one roadside sign to honor
the acheivements made by Herbert.
And I've asked my
contemporary, Delegate Thomas Jackson of Wythe and Carroll Counties, VA to help with this. We were classmates at Austinville
Elem. School in the 1960's. I've yet to have a reply from either the State Dept or Mr. Jackson.
Below is the Historical Marker on display near the Shot Tower; deceptive wording
and incorrect date for Herbert's arrival.