David Knighting Resources

Page News & Courier, (Luray, VA: Tuesday 10 Jul 1934) new series volume 22, no. 94, pg. 3, col. 2-3.


J.H. COFFMAN TELLS HITHERTO UNTOLD TALES


Westmont, N.J.
            ...
            In the early months of the year of 1860 a young man then living 2 1/2 miles from Marksville, Page county, Virginia, seemed to think he could better his financial condition seeking employment in other parts of the country and leaving his parental surrounding, he accepted a job on a West Virginia farm where he worked until the latter part of the summer when he came back to visit his parents and friends and when I say friends they seem to be legion expeciall one may notice how he was all "togged-up" with his wardrobe all of the best weave. He was riding a plump bay mare that he called Susie and when he would dismount, he did not have to tie the nag for he would throw the rein over the horn of the saddle and with bowed neck Susie would step proudly about until he would say "come her, Susie" and she was quick to obey and he seemed to be having the time of his life and in all this I noticed when he called to see our family as we had always been close friends but soon a change came. A man came to W.Va., appearing on the scene with his employer ordering his arrest for horsestealing. He was lodged in jail in Luray and that worked so hard on the nerves of his aged father that he took his own life.
            So we now take up another part of this story.
            Now I think on the very site where the Stanley High School now is there once stood a little house built of logs with the chimney of "split wood". It was a one story and one room and the occupants of the house was Caleb Campbell, father of the late Samuel Campbell and grandfather of the late Isaac Campbell of Stanley. Now in order to use brevity I will only refer him as Caleb in the future. He lived alone until a few times a year a woman whose name was Julia Turner came to clean house for him.
            I remember it was on one of these occasions that I had her to knit me a pair of patriotic mits. Now I recall them patriotic only because they bore the national colors, red, white and blue. Now Caleb claimed to be half Indian and his appearance and manner of living went far to substantiate his claim. He was by trade a blacksmith and while work was slack he would while away the lonely hours with his violin and when he drew a well rosined bow across the cat gut it make the welkin ring. I remember two pieces he used to play such as "Ladies in the Cotton Patch" and "Sallie Will You Marry Me" and others.
            Now on a "B" line and about half way to T.M. Offenbacker's house was Caleb's blacksmith shop built of pine poles with the print of two big horseshoes burnt on the doors which acted as his only business sign and as he did not do what is often called a land office business what charcoal he required he made himself by setting up a few cords of pinewood in the shape of a Mexican hat which he would cover over with leaves before applying the dirt and it was on one of these occasions as I was watching, he gathered the leaves in his arms I noticed him throw the leaves in all directions and begin to dance and scratch with all his might. At the same time words such as, "You Damn Little Devils" and many other things that sound better out of print could be distinctly heard. I soon found out that he was in a heated argument with a nest of yellow jackets and the way they were perforating his skin was a plenty. Noew at that time there was but one field from his shop to the pike all else was in dense woods. He wore shoes made of pig skin and for a perfect fit it was plain to see they were not made to measure. They were made more on the slipper order for comfort.
            One day a man who was a brother of the horse theif in jail at Luray, called on Caleb to have him do a very odd job. He wanted him to make an auger of iron with a handle also of iron. The auger 8 inches long and the handle was six inches long and the job proper was a fair representation of mechanism, except the handle was not made fast and was always loose.
            And now for the hookup- For you want to know for what purpose this auger was made. Well, it was this- It was to have been smuggled by his brother to the man in jail that he might work his way to freedom but before it could be done I think the officers came and took him back to W.Va., to pay the penalty for his crime, and that is the last that I ever heard of that man.
            Poor old Caleb died at Samuel Campbell's home and was buried at the John Long graveyard (since the Otho Rodgers place.) The late John Pendergast made his coffin and while his body was being consigned to the ground I noticed only one person to shed a tear. Well Caleb, did not make the link for this hookup and with the auger gone I will "bore" you no longer. So good night.                              J.H. COFFMAN