In 1728, William Byrd II was part of an exhibition appointed by Virginia's Lieutenant Governor to survey the boundary between North Carolina and Virginia. That's when Byrd was struck by the beauty of the river valley he discovered south of that boundary line.
The area had once been home to the Sauras, a Native American tribe that migrated along the Dan River, but by the 1700s Byrd found the land virtually uninhabited.
He purchased a 70,000-acre tract, hoping to market it to Swiss settlers. Byrd described the fertile area nourished by the Dan River as "The Land of Eden."
In the later years of his life, William Byrd II expanded his estate to more than 100,000 acres and, upon his passing, the estate descended to his son, William Byrd III. In 1755, the younger Byrd sold a fourth of the estate’s acreage to brothers Simon and Francis Farley who were sugar merchants on the island of Antigua. By this time, settlement was increasing at a considerable pace. The Farley brothers attempted to create plantations on some of the richest acres, but more frequently, settlers squatted on the land.
Many years later, the area became known as the Sauratown tract, named for its first inhabitants.
The area eventually became a magnet for settlement due to its proximity to the Petersburg-Salem road that crossed the Smith River at an island ford. In 1795, the town of Leaksville was established on the southwest edge of Sauratown along the main road.
In later years, two neighboring towns, Spray and Draper, were settled near Leaksville. In 1967, the three towns consolidated, forming Eden.