The first to get there and record their accomplishment were Edward Bland, merchant; Abraham Wood, Captain; Sackford Brewster, gentleman; and Elias Pennant, gentleman. Writing August 27, 1650, they describe the "...firft River in New Brittaine, which runneth Weft; being 120. Mile South-west, between 35. & 37 degrees, (a pleafant Country,)..." Imagine the excitement that this discovery produced, offering fame and wealth to those who could explore and settle this "new river". Now, for a genealogist, imagine the excitement this produced when you realized that two of these folks were family members!
To those who know early Virginia history, they know that Abraham Wood was the founder of Fort Henry (1646); and he was the first to open many doors to these western mountains. He arrived in Virginia at the young age of 8, and was 10 years of age in 1623 when the "Musters of The Inhabitants In Virginia" were recorded. His second wife was Margaret Jones, a widow who already had some Jones boys---Abraham, Richard, Peter, and William. These Jones boys had a lot to do with the naming and settlement of Petersburg, Virginia. Now, Elias Pennant seemed to be one of the backers [money lenders who were usually other family members] and he carried the same Jones blood that my Jones family carried from Wales. Both the Pennant and Jones families were descendants of Tudor Trevor, the founder of many Welsh and English surnames. But, that's another story.