Abraham Wood (about 1615–80), who was responsible for some of the early explorations of present West Virginia, came to the Virginia colony as an indentured servant as a youth. By 1635 he was living on the Appomattox River where he began purchasing land. Wood, who was beginning to prosper as a trader, was a member of the General Assembly in 1644. For defense against the Indians a fort was built in 1646 at the falls of the Appomattox River on the southwestern frontier called Fort Henry, at present Petersburg, Virginia. Fort Henry was designated one of two places where the Indians could trade with the settlers. Wood, who eventually maintained the fort, held the important role of commander of the frontier militia.
Wood was associated with three of the four 17th-century explorations from Virginia. These explorations are often confused with trading expeditions, but they were seeking a way through the Appalachian Mountains and to the South Sea. Although trade was a result, these were first and foremost explorations. The first was the Edward Bland-Abraham Wood exploration of 1650. Sir William Berkley, governor of Virginia, initiated the second when he sent John Lederer in 1670. For the third and fourth explorations, Wood dispatched Thomas Batts and Robert Fallam in 1671 and James Needham and Gabriel Arthur indentured servant) in 1673. The New River, visited by Batts and Fallam, was known for many years as the Woods River.
This Article was written by W. Eugene Cox
Last Revised on November 19, 2010
Briceland, Alan Vance. Westward from Virginia: The Exploration of the Virginia-Carolina Frontier, 1650-1710. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1987.