In 1797, a settler named Martin Honaker with his three sons Nicholas, Jonathan, and Isaac, purchased land on Lewis Creek in the section now known as “Old Honaker”. It was fitting that Martin Honaker chose to settle at the foot of beautiful Big A Mountain, because the name Honaker means, “place at the foot of a mountain”.
The Honakers were of German and French descent, and spelled their name with an umlaut over the “o”, giving it the sound of an “a” as in “ha”. The Scotch-Irish settlers in the area insisted upon pronouncing it with a long “o” as in “ho”. Because of their pushiness, Honaker citizens still spend a lot of time correcting the pronunciation of our town’s name by non-natives.
The Honakers prospered on Lewis Creek in what was then known as New Garden. Harvey Honaker, Martin’s grandson, was Justice of the Peace in New Garden and also held several county offices. Affectionately called “Squire” Honaker, his store served as a Post Office for New Garden. In 1884, the name of the Post Office was changed to Honaker in his honor.
Soon after, the railroad came through Honaker and the town grew dramatically. First, Honaker Lumber Company was established and became one of the largest sawmills in the eastern United States. Soon after, the coal industry began to boom and Honaker thrived. A lot has changed through the years, but Honaker still remains a viable community in a beautiful section of Russell County. Another thing hasn’t changed-an abundance of the beautiful, pink blooming Redbud Tree.
In 1981, the Town of Honaker was officially recognized by the Library of Congress as the “Redbud Capital of the United States”. A group of merchants and civic club members got together to plan a Festival, and the Honaker Redbud Festival, Inc. was born. 2019 marks our 38th anniversary. The Festival celebrates the natural beauty and heritage of the mountain region around Honaker each April.
Honaker was settled as early as 1772 when William Ferrill established a home-site in the area. The community was named for Squire Harvey Honaker, the first postmaster. During Dunmore’s War of 1774 a fort, known as New Garden Fort, was established to protect the settlers from Indian raids. The Honaker Commercial Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
Honaker holds the Redbud Festival each spring, celebrating its status as “Redbud Capital of the World”. The town is nestled in the heart of Virginia’s Great Southwest and is rich in community heritage. We encourage you to include this unique mountain experience in your next retreat from the bustle of busy living.
The latitude of Honaker is 37.016N. The longitude is -81.974W. It is in the Eastern Standard time zone and our elevation is 1,870 feet above sea level.