Scott County Historical Society
Scott County, Virginia

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Born Without An Address

By OMER C. ADDINGTON

In 1853 Scott County was over 545 square miles in area. It lost part of its area when Wise County was formed in 1856. At that time there were only two districts in the county, the North and South. The seven magisterial districts were not formed until 1870.

There were few roads in Scott County in 1853, and what few there were, were narrow, rough dirt roads with no bridges. Creeks and rivers were crossed by boat and ferry.

Mail came to Scott County once a week by stage and on horseback. The post offices, which served over 545 square miles, were few and far between.

Many people rarely received any mail and had no address. If a letter came to one of the post offices in county for one of these people, a message was sent out by the grapevine telling the person to come in and pick it up. If no one came, the postmaster would mount his horse and ride out into the hills and mountains of the county to see if the person to whom the letter was addressed could be found.

The United States legislature did not pass the Rural Free Delivery Act until 1896, and it was several years before Scott County benefited from this act.

In 1853, births and deaths were recorded at the Clerks Office in Estillville (now Gate City). The person reporting a birth was asked the following questions: date of birth; name of child; color (white or colored); sex; place of birth; father's name in full, father's occupation, father's residence; mother's name in full; deformity or any circumstance of interest and the name of person giving information at birth; relation of informant to person born, whether of kindred and its degree, father, mother, uncle, aunt, friend, neighbor, midwife or head of family.

Since most of these people had no address when asked the place of birth, the informant gave some physical feature of the place where the child was born.

A birth would read like the following example: "Date of birth-March 7, 1853, name of child-Robert Doe, color-white, sex-male, place of birth-Copper Creek Bluff, father's name in full-John Doe, father's occupation-farmer, father's residence-Copper Creek Bluff, mother's name in full-Mary Doe, deformity or any circumstances of "interest, name of person giving information-John Doe, relation to person born-father."

Where people were born is so inexact, no one living today could find their place of birth.

The following is a list of places recorded at the Clerk's Office: Clinch River, Valley Creek, Copper Creek, Big Springs, North Fork of the Clinch River, River Bluff, Purchase Ridge. Little Moccasin Creek, Brake's Branch, North of Nickelsville, Stock Creek, Copper Ridge, Robinette Valley, Powell's Mountain, Cove Creek, Big Ridge, Hurricane, Valier's Cove, Chestnut Ridge, Stoney Creek, Hunter's Valley, Lick Creek, Camp Creek, Obey' Creek, Sinking Creek, Sinks, Flat Lick, Frog Pond, Stone Mountain, Buckmore's Ridge, Powell River, Guest River, Sang Hollow, Widow's Branch, Bollen Creek, Water of Opossum Creek, Big Poor Valley, North side of Clinch Mountain, Hamilton Branch, Cole's Branch, Flower's Branch, Iron Works, Moccasin Ridge, Big Branch, Pikes Branch, Robert's Creek, Moccasin Gap, Hunter's Branch, Poor Valley, at the many Sinks, water of Robert's Creek, Blue Springs, Little Valley, Sharp's Branch, on bluff above Copper Creek, Burnt Cabin Branch, Troublesome Creek, Sinks Hill, south side of Copper Creek, south side of Clinch River, Blockhouse Road, Vine's Branch, Timbertree Branch, Enterprise, Flower's Branch, Sloantown, Big Ridge, Plank Camp, Long Hollow and Fall Creek. Some of the places named are now in Wise County.

To show how inexact these birth places are, here are the distances in miles at some of the physical features in Scott County: Chestnut Ridge is eight miles long, Copper Ridge is 24 miles long, Moccasin Ridge is 33 miles long and Clinch Mountain is 30 miles long. The distance in the county from east to west is 38 miles. The Clinch and Holston Rivers flow across the entire county.

Many of the places listed in these birth records are not known by that name today.

People who are trying to find the exact location of their ancestorís place of birth, often discover this information cannot be found.

 

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