A Brief History of Clintwood, Virginia

Clintwood, VA was founded in 1882 when the General Assembly opted to create a brand new city on Holly Creek to serve as County Seat to Dickenson County. Prior to that decision, the county seat was located on McClure River, on or near the mouth of Caney Creek in a town called Ervinton. 

Clintwood is located in the beautiful upland Holly Creek Valley in the western part of Dickenson County and is about six miles from the Kentucky state line.

The Clintwood Namesake

Clintwood was named after Major Henry Clinton Wood of Scott County, Virginia, who was nicknamed “Clintwood.” He was an influential member of the Virginia Senate at the time. In repayment for Major Woods’ valuable advocacy of the proposed change of the county seat, Captain John P. Chase (a Confederate Army captain and a first settler of Holly Creek) caused the new town to be called Clintwood.

Incorporating the town

In 1864, the General Assembly incorporated Clintwood, VA as a town with appropriate officers, but the resulting local governmental unit didn’t function very long and no record of its activities are known to exist. Thirty years later, in 1894, the General Assembly passed an act to reincorporate the town. This new act embraced all the territory “within the limits of one half mile each way from the courthouse.” 

The First Settlers of Holly Creek

The Mullins Family

Around 1829, John Mullins came to Holly Creek from Burke County, North Carolina. William Broadwater, a transient hunter, had previously built a pole cabin in the area, but had vacated it and returned to Scott County. 

John Mullins moved into this abandoned cabin on what is now Main Street. After a short while, he left his fourteen year old daughter Mary and two younger sons to care for his property while he returned to North Carolina to bring back the remainder of his family. 

Winter set in early and the snow was so deep that Mr. Mullins was unable to return to Holly Creek until the following spring.  His three young children lived in the wilderness all this time, with their nearest neighbor at least ten miles away.
John Mullins later brought his aged father, John Mullins Sr., to his mountain home in Holly Creek, where he remained the rest of his life. The elder John Mullins was reputed to have been one of the American heroes at the battle of Kingsport Mountain and is the only known solider of the Revolution to be buried in Dickenson County.  

The younger John Mullins raised a large family on his new farm.  Most of them married and settled in the vicinity of Clintwood.  It is said that his sons and sons-in law owned most of the land between Pound and Cranesnest Rivers from Nickels Gap to Georges Fork Mountain.

John P. Chase

John P. Chase, a young  man from Tennessee, came to Holly Creek in 1854 and was employed by John Mullins on his large farm. Later, young Chase purchased a part of Mullin’s farm and remained a leading citizen of the community. Mr. Chase served as a captain in the Confederate Army and was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates for two terms.

The first Clintwood Streets & structures

A brick courthouse and wooden jail were constructed on the public square fixed by Commissioners, who laid out the town with Main Street in the middle, High Street parallel on the north side and Walnut Street on the south. Narrow alleyways connected these three streets. Captain Chase sold lots to officials and other interested persons seeking home sites in the new community.

Community Spirit

Citizens of Clintwood have shown a keen interest and pride in local school facilities for many years.  The first public school was established long before the community became the county seat, and a high school opened its doors in 1910.  In 1921, construction began on the Dickenson Memorial High School, dedicated to the memory of Dickenson County boys who made the supreme sacrifice in the First World War.

Clintwood had one moving picture theatre in those early years with a capacity of 200.  The playhouse showed silent movies two nights a week. These films were very popular with the community.

Today, Clintwood is a vibrant small town with beautiful natural surroundings. Our town boasts multiple restaurants, modern lodging options, a great elementary school as well as a modern middle school and high school, a thriving music scene and exceptional recreation opportunities. Whether you're here for a day or decide to stay for your entire life, Clintwood will leave its mark on you!

Clintwood was and always will be a good place to live.

Historical Society
128 FFA Street
Clintwood, VA 24228
(276) 926-6355