Governor Spotswood’s ride remembered

The Valley Banner

ELKTON — It wasn’t quite 300 years to the day, but close enough.

The local chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Colonists and a group of seven equestrians celebrated the anniversary of Lt. Gov. Alexander Spotswood’s arrival in the Shenandoah Valley on Saturday.

Spotswood, who was England’s acting royal governor of Virginia, came with a group of 50 men and 74 horses on a real estate expedition.

The party, which included five Meherrin Indians, departed Germanna, southeast of Culpeper, on Aug. 29, 1716, and arrived at Swift Run Gap on Sept. 5, 1716.

The horses had to be shod with horseshoes in Germanna because of the rocky terrain.

When the party reached the Shenandoah River near present day Elkton, Spotswood gave each of his officers a stickpin of gold shaped like a horseshoe, hence their name, “Knights of the Golden Horseshoe.”

On Saturday, the Daughters of the American Colonists commemorated Spotswood’s ride at a monument next to U.S. 33 at Swift Run Gap. Then they drove north to Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park, where they greeted seven equestrians who had ridden west from Graves Mountain Lodge.

The equestrians were led by Tom Seay of “Best of America by Horseback,” a show on cable channel RFD-TV.

Seay, 65, of Culpeper, said the ride was a continuation of one that was halted a number of years ago due to a hurricane.

Seay was joined on the ride by his niece, Kristen Biscoe, 32, of Wilmington, N.C.

“This is a great ride because it celebrates the history of Virginia and our own family history,” Biscoe said.

Seay noted that he and Biscoe are direct descendants of Germanna settlers, and King Henry II of England is Biscoe’s ancestor.

Tourists and park visitors greeted Seay’s equestrians at Big Meadows.

“These children may not know history, but it’s an opportunity for history to come alive,” Seay said of those who greeted them.

The seven riders were dressed in period clothing for Saturday’s 2½-hour ride. They left from Germanna last week and rode 2½ to 3 hours a day for four days, rider Paul Fuchs of New Martinsville, W.Va., said.

Spotswood’s ride “was so very significant because it established the land west of the Blue Ridge for the king of England,” said 72-year-old Staunton resident Penny Chaboudy, a member of the Great Warriors Path chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Colonists.

Seay said the re-enactment ride will be featured on his TV show in late November or early December.

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