John Craig (1731 - 1805) was an early settler in southwest Virginia. He obtained 400 acres of the Loyal Company Grant on the headwaters of Crab Creek, a tributary branch of the New River. He built a log house on this site circa 1754, and his settlement became known as Hans Meadow.
During the French and Indian War, Colonel xe “Byrd, William” William Byrd III used Hans Meadow as a mustering point. Early settlers were always in danger of hostile Indian tribes, and John Craig’s son Robert was killed by Indians on this property. John and his wife, xe “Cox, Mary” Mary Cox, continued to expand the size of their estate, and they had accumulated over two thousand acres by 1782. John Craig’s house became the main crossroads for travelers, and by 1792, more than 70,000 people used the Wilderness Trail to make their way to Kentucky.
John Craig’s son, xe “Craig, James” James Craig (1762 - 1834), served as a lieutenant in the Continental Army during the American Revolution, and he took part in the Battle of King’s Mountain in 1780. James Craig’s wife, xe “Montgomery, Anne” Anne Montgomery Craig, and her two daughters, xe “Bowyer, Nancy” Nancy Bowyer and xe “Taylor, Mary” Mary Taylor, were charter members of the Christiansburg Presbyterian Church when it was organized in 1827. The first pastor of the church, xe “Campbell, Rev. William G.” Rev. William G. Campbell, spoke highly of Anne, “a woman of unusual intellectual vigor, well acquainted with her Bible.”
James Craig was operating Hans Meadow as a tavern as early as 1788, and it continued in operation until 1845. The seventh President of the United States, xe “Jackson, Andrew” Andrew Jackson, once stayed at the tavern. This could have been in 1829 when he was traveling from his Tennessee home to Washington to begin his presidency. In 1835, James Craig married xe “Miller, Emaline A.” Emaline A. Miller, daughter of xe “Miller, Dr. Joseph” Dr. Joseph Miller and xe “Miller, Matilda Charlton” Matilda Charlton Miller.
When Wythe County was formed out of the western portion of Montgomery County, the justices of the new county started holding court at xe “Ft. Chiswell” Hans Meadow on May 1, 1790. James Craig donated 175 acres of his property to establish a county seat, and the Christiansburg town charter was granted in 1792. We owe this pioneer and statesman gratitude for his unselfish contribution of the lands for the founding of this historic town.
A courthouse and clerk’s office of hand hewn logs were constructed near the Craig residence. After a few years, the county constructed a new courthouse and clerk’s office within the town boundaries, but the original buildings remained on the Hans Meadow property until the 1930s.
James Craig’s son, xe “Craig, Robert B.” Robert B. Craig (1792 - 1852), was born at Hans Meadow and attended private schools in Christiansburg. Robert graduated from Lewisburg Academy in Greenbrier County, and he was just 21 when be was licensed as an attorney in 1813. Robert was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates for eight years, and he served as a member of the U. S. Congress for ten years, where he was chairman of the Committee on Revolutionary Claims. When James Craig died in 1834, his son, xe “Craig, John” John Craig (1794 - 1852), continued to operate the Hans Meadow Tavern until around 1845. He removed the log house and replaced it with the present house in 1849. After John Craig’s death, Hans Meadow was divided among his children in 1859. John Craig’s son, John Craig, Jr., served with Company G of the Stonewall Brigade, and he was killed in the Battle at Chancellorsville, Virginia, on May 3, 1863. His portion of the Hans Meadow estate was divided among his siblings.
John Craig’s daughter, xe “Craig, Mary Taylor” Mary Taylor Craig (1841 - 1929) inherited 303 acres of the Hans Meadow Estate in 1859, and she moved into the Hans Meadow house. Her uncle, artist Lewis Miller (1796 - 1882), was a frequent house guest. Lewis has received fame on a national level posthumously. He was a carpenter by trade, but he spent most of his life as an artist who made many valuable sketches and watercolor paintings of people and places in America and Europe during the nineteenth century. Lewis composed over 2,000 sketches of the American rural life. His drawings have realistic accuracy with individuals that display expression, and their costumes and accessories give historic information. It is believed that Lewis Miller was living at Hans Meadow at the time of his death.
xe “Craig, John” xe “Craig, Mary Taylor” Mary Taylor Craig left the Hans Meadow estate to the children of her deceased sister, Elinor Craig Flagg. The benefactors were xe “Flagg, William J.” William J. Flagg and xe “Flagg, Mary Sherwood” Mary Sherwood Flagg. William and Sherwood’s father, William C. Flagg, Jr., a local merchant, served as the town mayor for five years.
Both Mary T. Craig and Sherwood Flagg sold off tracts from the estate until only the house and slightly more than two acres remained. Sherwood remained unmarried and continued to reside at Hans Meadow until her death in 1973. By that time, Hans Meadow had remained in the Craig family for over two centuries.
John Craig established Hans Meadow in 1754, and it remained in the Craig family for over two centuries. James Craig donated 175 acres of the estate in 1792 to form the town of Christiansburg. Members of the Craig family served as attorneys, congressmen, and tavern owners. The house is now being operated as the Inn of Hans Meadow, an upscale bed and breakfast. The author, Roy Kanode, has included maps, almost 100 photographs, and a Craig family genealogy.