The area in purple was claimed by Virginia until 1780. At that time, much of the northern section was ceded to Pennsylvania, while the remainder is now part of West Virginia.
In 1755, Major General Edward Braddock’s was defeated near Fort Duquesne (located at Point State Park, Pittsburgh), which was part of the Virginia wilderness at the time. Afterward, all British forces retreated north and east into the colony of Pennsylvania, leaving the Virginia wilderness unprotected.
In 1756, Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor Robert Dinwiddie appointed George Washington as head of the Virginia militia and asked that he assess the Crown’s military clout in the Virginia wilderness. Washington determined that forts located 20 miles from each other offered little to no protection to most wilderness settlers, who would be captured or killed before they would make it to a fort.
It wasn’t until the spring of 1774, just prior to Dunmore’s War (also known as the Point Pleasant Campaign, in which my 5th great-grandfather John Kelsay fought), that the actual military defense of Virginia’s western frontier began en masse. Although many more forts were constructed in the Virginian frontier during this time, there were still too few for adequate protection.