Guide to the Leonora W. Wood Papers, circa 1936

Summary Information

Title: Leonora W. Wood Papers, circa 1936
Collection: AC.606
Extent: 0.01 linear feet (1 folder)

The Leonora W. Wood Papers is a collection of a paper written by her, circa 1936, First Survey of Savage River Dam Section made by William May and Representatives of the King of England and Thomas Lord Fairfax and three copies of photographs of Mayo campsite, where Savage River enter the Potomac and the present Fairfax Stone.

Creator: Wood, Leonora Whitaker, b. 1891

Biographical/Historical Note

Leonora Whitaker Wood was the mother of author Catherine Marshall. Catherine's father and Leonara's husband, Rev. John Ambrose Wood, was the pastor of a Keyser, West Virginia Presbyterian church from 1924 to 1942. Catherine Marshall based her successful novel Christy on the true story of her mother Leonora's time in the mountains teaching the impoverished children of Appalachian.

William Mayo was a civil engineer, emigrated to the British colony of Virginia in 1723. He was commissioned in 1736 to explore Lord Fairfax's territory, which the first survey of Fairfax's domains provided the first useful map of the region, and Mayo's journal provided most of the knowledge available to first settlers breaking into the Blue Ridge gaps into western Virginia.

John Savage was also one of the surveyors commissioned in 1736 with Mayo. The Savage River takes its name from him.

Scope and Contents

The Leonora W. Woods Papers include a historical paper on Lord Fairfax, his petition to the King for a survey of his six million acres in Virginia territory,and the surveyors, which included William Mayo and John Savage in 1736. Apparently Mayo's reports enlightened settlers to the pioneer wilderness of the Blue Ridge. He used native names of some places, and he named the Savage River for fellow surveyor. His reports tell of passing through the Alleghany Gap, and finding the party in a miserable state - food was low, cold was excessive, and they were beginning to fear for their lives.

Leonora's paper says that the 1936 survey of this area covers only an infinitesimal part of the vast area covered by the survey (Mayo's) of two hundred years ago.

The three copies of photographs are of a site where Mayo's party camped, the place where Savage enters the Potomac River, and the present Fairfax Stone, marked 1746.


The items are arranged with paper first and photos next. None are dated.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for use in the Dougherty Reading Room. An appointment for research is recommended. The Dougherty Reading Room is located on the 4th floor of Belk Library in Special Collections.

Acquisitions Information

The origin of this collection is unknown. Accession number AC.2003.021

Processing Information

Processed by Anita Elliott, March 2013. This collection was processed as part of a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The grant funded extensive processing of the backlog within the W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection between 2012 and 2014.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], AC.606, Leonora W. Wood Papers, W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA.

Container List

Papers, circa 1936 ACSC_Box 18, Folder 12