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Samuel Kercheval

Historian Samuel Kercheval was born in 1767 in Frederick County, Virginia. He married Susan Chinn of Lancaster County, Virginia, on September 23, 1787, and they had 12 children. Kercheval interviewed longtime residents of the lower Shenandoah, the Potomac, and the South Branch valleys, collecting numerous accounts of the events and customs of frontier life during the Indian wars and the Revolution. He vividly recounted these oral histories in A History of the Valley of Virginia, published in Winchester in 1833.

Kercheval focused on the history and the natural features of the region from the Potomac River to the Fairfax Line. His work effectively preserved the early oral traditions of the Eastern Panhandle and South Branch Valley. He acknowledged the important contributions of some contemporary chroniclers by including in his book extended quotes from Joseph Doddridge’s Notes on the Settlement and Indian Wars concerning frontier warfare and the daily life of the pioneers; John Jeremiah Jacob’s account of Dunmore’s War; and Charles James Faulkner’s account of the boundary dispute between Maryland and Virginia. Kercheval continued collecting historical materials and had prepared an enlarged second edition of his book, when he died in Middletown, Virginia, November 14, 1845. The new edition was published posthumously in 1850 and was reprinted in 1902. A 1925 edition, incorporating editorial notes, has been reprinted numerous times.

Written by Harold Malcolm Forbes


  1. Kercheval, Samuel. A History of the Valley of Virginia. Winchester: S. H. Davis, 1833, Reprint, Shenandoah Publishing, 1973.

  2. Wayland, John W. Twenty-five Chapters on the Shenandoah Valley, to which is Appended a Concise History of the Civil War in the Valley. Strasburg, VA: Shenandoah Pub., 1957.