Christiansburg is located on the original “Great Road.” In one year, as many as 50,000 families migrated westward along this historic route. Col. George Washington and Col. William Byrd named the area a mustering place for frontiersmen to take action against threatening Indians.
Approximately one mile from the center of present-day Christiansburg, the Craig family settled at the headwaters of Crab Creek in the mid 1700’s. Their plantation became known as Hans Meadows. Shortly after Craig’s son Robert was found scalped by the Indians, John Craig and his wife moved to Abingdon and his son James became the owner of Hans Meadow.
Hans Meadow became the county seat of Montgomery County in 1790. James Craig and his wife offered to give 180 acres of land for the establishment of a town for the new county seat. In 1791, a group of travelers reported that there were 10 houses in the village. The Virginia legislature chartered the town in 1792 and named it Christiansburg in honor of Col. William Christian, a famed Indian fighter, brother-in-law of Patrick Henry, and chairman of the committee that drew up the Fincastle Resolutions.
Several well-known names from history have connections to Christiansburg. The duel between Thomas Lewis and John McHenry took place in 1808. This was the first duel with rifles to have taken place in Virginia. Thomas Lewis was the grandson of Gen. Andrew Lewis. Dr. John Floyd, later Governor of Virginia, was the attending physician. This duel led to the outlawing of dueling in Virginiain 1810.
CSA Generals “Stonewall” Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart are believed to have been guests at the Montague House at 109 E. Main Street. The house served as headquarters for Union General George B. Stoneman from April 4th to April 9th, 1865.
Capt. Charles S. Schaeffer founded the Hill School in 1866 to educate former slaves. With the support of the Friends Freedmen’s Association, the school grew into the Christiansburg Industrial Institute. Beginning in 1896, Booker T. Washington served as an advisor to the Institute and visited Christiansburg several times.
Christiansburg has been called the “Home of Heroes.” Davy Crockett served as an apprentice for a short time to a local newspaper printer. He then spent eighteen months learning the hattery trade from Elijah Griffith. The hattery was located near where the present-day Invision Eye Care Center and Charlie’s Chinese Restaurant are located on West Main Street.
Legend has it that Daniel Boone was an early resident of the area. Warrants found in the old county courthouse indicate that Boone, in 1774, purchased goods without paying for them and then went to Kentucky.
Other notables include Christiansburg attorney William Ballard Preston who served as Secretary of the Navy in President Zachary Taylor’s administration. John B. Floyd served as Governor of Virginia and later as Secretary of War under President Buchanan. John B. Floyd, Jr. also served as Governor of Virginia. Waller R. Staples, Archer A. Phlegar, and Richard H. Poff served on the Virginia Supreme Court.