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[13] across which and from which, largely because of this uncertainty of title and of the tempting parceling out of the great prairie States into sections and fractions of sections of land, the population of Virginia, from the seaboard to the mountains, drifted westward, leaving only stranded fragments of good stock along the way which ignorant writers describe as ‘poor whites’ of a different origin from the main sturdy stock of the Virginia people.

The northwesterly portion of the Trans-Appalachian country and the broad bottom lands of the Ohio and its tributaries, early attracted from the eastward a thrifty and intelligent class of people, who made that a highly-productive grazing and agricultural region, which found markets for its products on the hoof eastward, or in flatboats westward on the flood tides of its numerous rivers. The manufacture of salt at various localities, especially on the Great Kanawha, was one of the leading industries of that section, supplying much of the Mississippi valley with its prime necessity of human life. Coal mining was also becoming an important industry on the Kanawha, the Monongahela and along the Ohio, the product of the mines finding markets in Cincinnati, Louisville, and even New Orleans. The distilling of petroleum, from cannel coal, had assumed very considerable proportions, especially along the Kanawha, when the discovery of natural petroleum, near 1860, by the boring of wells on the waters of the Little Kanawha, marked the beginning of the trade in petroleum, which has become one of the largest and most profitable in the whole world.

Of the 297,354 of Virginia's white population reported as engaged, in 1860, in gainful occupations, 108,958 were farmers and 30,518 were farm laborers; showing that a very large proportion of her people were engaged in farming or planting. Of the so-called professional classes, there were 3,441 lawyers, 2,467 physicians and 1,437 clergymen. Her population was mainly rural in habitation; she had no cities of large size. Richmond contained but 37,910 inhabitants; Petersburg, 8,266, and Norfolk and Portsmouth but 24,116; Wheeling, the metropolis of northwestern Virginia, contained but 14,083. The manufacturers of all kinds were comparatively few in number; they were mostly the blacksmiths, bricklayers, carpenters, shoemakers and wheelwrights

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1860 AD (2)
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