The Douglas Land Company

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The Douglas Land Company was organized in New York in 1904 to manage the Douglas family estate of Washington, Smyth and Grayson counties, Virginia. Under the management of William W. Hurt, the company developed timber, engaged in mineral prospecting and leased to local farmers lands from the estate, known as "Laurel Farm." In 1910, the company sold 28,000 acres of timberland to the United States government as a forest reserve. Timber from other tracts of land was sold to lumber companies.

Railroad companies acquired Douglas land for the removal of timber.

The Damascus Methodist Church was built on Douglas Land ceded by the company in 1903.

W. L. Umbarger succeeded Hurt as manager upon the latter's death; Umbarger was later succeeded by H. P. Gills. The company had ceased operation by 1932.

At infrequent intervals some member of the Douglas family would wander down from New York to Virginia and put up for a brief stay with "Uncle Saybird," the ancient mountain caretaker of the primitive log farmhouse. On such visits the Douglas representative spent the major portion of his time in the saddle riding through his woodland domain.

In his youth and before his marriage to the sister of Theodore Roosevelt, Douglas Robinson made rare pilgrimages, unattended to White Top Mountain. His attitude toward the mountain folk was not one of aloofness. He made friends with them in their cabins and along their trails. Having a keen sense of humor, he enjoyed their primitive customs and childlike simplicity. When he commented to Uncle Saybird on the lack of bathing facilities at the farmhouse the old man declared with scorn that thar wa'n't no manner o' sense in so much washin', nohow! Thar was a piece o' his back whar hadn'd seen watter for nigh on twenty years.





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Last modified: Saturday, 18 March 2017