from Bits of History and Legends Around and About the Natural Bridge of Virginia, and other sources

John Peter Salling [b. 31 Mar 1719 in Kaiserslautern, Germany] was an early explorer of Kentucky and Southwest Virginia. Salling, John Howard and his son, Peter Sinclair, and two other men made up the famous "Salling and Howard Journey of 1742." These men were captured by the French and taken to New Orleans where they were imprisoned, but Salling escaped and returned to his home by way of Charleston, South Carolina. Salling lived at the forks of the James River. (from

Another summary:

John Peter SALING, per his signature (SALLING.SALLEE SALLEY), German Pioneer, came to America on the Ship Pennsylvania Merchant, 18 Sept 1733. In 1840 he moved to that part of Orange County now called Augusta. He had a land Patent for 400 acres. He was an explorer and the first white man to see VA's Natural Bridge. His wife"s name was Ann Maria. His Children: Catherine m Henry FULLER 15 Apr 1751 Augusta Co., VA, Mary Elizabeth m Joseph BURTON. George Adam and John Sallings were his sons. (from

Henry Howe says in his History of Virginia in the 1845 edition, "For the want of towns and roads, the first settlers in the valley were supplied with many needful articles by pedlers who went from house to house. Among these itinerant vendors of small wares, was one John Marlin, who traded from Williamsburg to the country about Winchester. His visits to the inhabited parts of this romantic country inspired him with a curiosity to explore the unknown parts towards the southwest. In Williamsburg he got John Sallings [sic!], a bold weaver, to join him in an exploring expedition. They proceeded through the valley in safety until they reached the waters of the Roanoke, where they were mey by a roving party of Cherokees, and of course treated as spies upon the Indian territory. Marlin had the good fortune to escape from the hands of the savages, but Sallings was carried as prisoner to their town upon the upper Tennessee. Here he lived with his captors about 3 years, until he went with a party of them to the Salt Licks in Kentucky to hunt the buffalo. Kentucky, like the valley, was a middle ground of contention between the northern and southern tribes. This party of Cherokees was attacked and defeated by some Indians from Illinois. Sallings was again captured and carried to Kaskaskias where an old Indfian squaw adopted him for a son. While thus domiciled in this remote region, he accompanied his new tribesmen on some distant expeditions --once, even to the Gulf of Mexico-- and saw many countries, and tribes of savages, then wholly unknown in Virginia. But after two years, he was bought of his Indian mother by an exploring party of Spaniards, who wanted him for an interpreter. He was taken by them on their way northwards until he reached CAnada, where he was kindly redeemed by the French governor and sent to New York; whence he found his way to Williamsburg again after six years of strange and eventful wanderings.

In Williamsburg, two strangers from Britain, John Lewis and John Mackey, heard Salling's story with admiration. They were particularly struck with his glowing description of the Valley of Virginia, a broad space between parallel ridges of mountain; its vales watered by clear streams, its soil fertile, its plains covered only with shrubbery and a rich herbage, grazed by herds of buffalo, and its hills crowned with forests; a region of beauty as yet, for the most part, untouched by the hand of man, and offering unbought homes and easy subsistence to all who had the enterprise to scale the mountain barrier, by which it had been so long concealed from the colonists. Lewis and Mackey joined Sallings in making an expedition to this newly-discovered land, in order first to see it, and then, if it fulfilled their expectations, of making a settlement there. They were not disappointed; and having the whole land before them from which to choose, Lewis selected his residence near the Middle River, on a creek which bears his name. Mackey went further up the Middle River, and settled near the Buffalo Gap; but Sallings, who in his captivity appears to have acquired a taste for wild solitude, went fifty miles apart from the others, and pitched his habitation in the forks of the James River, where a beautiful bottom is overshadowed by mountains. This particular bottom is now the town of Glasgow, where you will find a large brick home still known as the Sallings Home. (J. Lee Davis Bits of History and Legends Around and About the Natural Bridge of Virginia [1949], pp 15-16)