The earlier recorded inhabitants of Page County, including the Stanley area, were the Shawnee Indians. At the beginning of the French and Indian War in 1754, the Shawnee Indians left the Shenandoah Valley and moved west over the Allegheny Mountains.
The first person other than a Native American to view the Stanley Plain was most likely John Lederer, a German physician and explorer. In the first three exploring expeditions commissioned by Governor William Berkley in 1669 and 1670. Lederer is said to have reached the summit of the Blue Ridge near Milam Gap and explored as far south as Tanner’s Ridge from where he could clearly see the Page Valley. However, he did not descend into the Valley itself.
It was forty-six years later, in 1716, that the colorful deputy governor of Virginia Colony, Alexander Spotswood, explored the same area but continued down into the Valley with his small but well-provisioned band of adventurers. They forded the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, which he named the Euphrates. According to at least one credible historian, Spotswood’s descent was down Tanner’s Ridge, and the fording of the river took place near the Village of Alma, just west of Stanley.