It was while trout fishing in the spring of 1938, in Big Stony Creek, that I first saw the old Carter Mill. I well remember taking two beautiful, brightly speckled, brook trout, each of them thirteen inches long, right out from under the old mill house. It was on that day that I first met Glen and Mary Carter and we have been friends ever since. From time as I fished Big Stony I would stop and visit with them. As I got to know them better and began to learn their family history, I became fascinated with the record of this pioneer family.
The Carters were one of the earliest families to settle in the area. It was with the death of Dale Carter in 1774 that we pick up the first record, and the first Carter to settle on Big Stony Creek. It was in 1774 that Dale Carter was killed, he was tomahawked to death by the Indians when they caught him before he could gain the safety of Fort Blackmore.
Dale Carter left four orphan children, John Ray Carter, who was born in 1769, the oldest child. Little is known of his early childhood, but we do know he was perhaps the first of the Carters to build a home on Stony Creek.
It was John Ray Carter, Jr. who was born in 1796 who opened the first Carter Store on Big Stony Creek. This small country store, opened some time before the Civil War, wasn’t an elaborate affair, it didn’t have a big stock of merchandise. Pioneer settlers could afford only the barest necessities and those were what the first store offered. Gun powder, lead for bullets, lead shot, a few steel traps. Salt, pepper, needles and thread, and a few simple hand tools made up most of the stock.
It was in 1832 that John Ray Carter Jr.’s son Pinkney was born. Pinkney was to become one of the best remembered of all the Carters. Thirty years after his birth Pinkney was a Confederate soldier, fighting along with his company in several of the battles that were fought in Eastern Virginia.
In his letters home, letters still in the possession of Glen Carter, Pinkney described the hardships he and his fellow soldiers had to endure. After the war was over, Pinkney, like many other Civil War veterans, didn’t have very much money; the war had taken its toll and times were extremely hard, but Pinkney had a dream.
He was a skilled wood-worker, a good carpenter, a cabinet maker, a millwright, and he had a will to work. When he came home the first thing he wanted to do was to build a good house for him and his family.
He found the kind of place he wanted was a few hundred yards below the confluence of Straight Fork and Mountain Fork of Big Stony Creek. Here he built a big two-story log house, a house that would be a home to several generations of the Carter family.
Today, more than a hundred years later, Pinkney’s great, great grandson, Glen Carter, still lives in part of that house. Not all of the original house still stands; part of it was blown away years ago when Rye Cove and other parts of Scott County were hit by a tornado, but the ground, floor of huge logs, held together by wooden pins, withstood the cyclone winds and stands today, a monument to Pinkney Carter’s skill as a carpenter.
When Pinkney came home from the war and settled here, the surrounding mountains were still covered with virgin hardwood forests. The sound of axe and saw had never been heard from hill to hill. Huge poplar trees soared up for a hundred feet or more; down in the deep hollows, streams, towering hemlocks pushed their green fingers to the sun.
In early spring big sugar maple trees furnished gallons of sweet sap to make maple syrup and maple sugar; in the fall its leaves of red and yellow mixed with the bright yellow of beech and hickory and the red leaves of sourwood and black gum to turn the hillsides into a riot of color.
from “Carter’s Store,” by Virgil Craft, from an unidentified newspaper article collected in Scott County, VA resident Mildred McConnell’s Scrapbook, and published online by the Scott County Historical Society at www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~vaschs2/carters_store.htm
(article has been slightly edited here)