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Gate City Herald - 1934
Contributed by Don Lane

The Gate City Herald
Thursday, October 4, 1934

The Old time Bee Hunter

     Editors Note: --- The following interesting article was prepared for The Herald by Prof. C. V. Compton, formerly a Scott county man.  Prof. Compton left this his native county several years ago and went to Texas , where he became Superintendent of Schools of McCamey County.  Recently he has become Superintendent of Schools at Woodville , Texas .

By C. V. Compton

     The pioneers of Scott County nearly all settled along the streams where good water was abundant and convenient.  They were dependent upon their own resources for clothing, food, and shelter, which they were obliged to provide with such skill as they possessed, often of a crude kind.

     Every pioneer who came into the country came horseback, afoot, or with a pack horse, as no wagons traversed Scott County prior to 1783.  The pack horse or the saddle bags on the horse, or the man carried the belongings of the frontiersmen.

     There was hardly any family completely independent of their neighbors.  Every father made his and his family’s shoes and repaired them.  He made the ox yoke and bows for it, made the hames and collars for his horse; but the leather for the making and repairing of his shoes, horse collars and so forth had to be obtained at the tannery.

     The rings and staples in the ox yokes had to be obtained from the blacksmith and his saccharine was procured from the wild bee trees.

     Just as tanneries and blacksmith shops sprang into existence, great bee tree hunters appeared on the scene of action.  Honey was the most prized of all goods in the wilderness.  Wild meat, fish, corn meal, and various shrubs for making tea such as spice wood, and sassafras were abundant, but the sweets for the backwoodsman’s wife and children wee the big problem which lead to the development of the keenest, the most observant, and painstaking bee hunters found in the world.

     From the first settlement in Scott County by James Green down in 1800 honey was the chief saccharine used by the frontiersman.  About 1800 down to 1840 maple sugar vied with honey for first place in the household.  From 1840 down to about 1880 honey, maple sugar, and sorghum ran about even.  After 1880 manufactured sugar has gradually taken possession of the saccharine market of Scott County .

     After 1800 practically every land owner had beehives or a “Sugar tree orchard.  Sorghum cane was introduced into Scott County about 1840 which filled a distinct need in the larder of the family.  It displaced to a certain extent both the bee industry and the maple sugar making which had grown to an excellent business in the county.  There was no one so poor but that he could raise the fraction of an acre of Sorghum from which could be pressed out by the wooden mill enough sweet juice from the stalks to make several gallons of sorghum or molasses.

     In most dictionaries “bee-gum” is defined as a gum tree in which bees live; but the pioneers did not use “bee-gum” in that sense.  He meant a section of a hollow log sawed or cut smooth at each end about two or three feet long with a top made of a plank or board and two sticks crossed about the center of the “gum” for his be hives.  At first where a hollow log was not convenient for “hiving” the bees when the tree was felled, were allowed to find a new home in the forest.  Later on a box constructed of plank was used for the “gum.”

     During the early pioneering days there were an abundance of wild flowers from which the bees made a bountiful supply of honey.  Even with all the flowers the bees had their fat and lean years.  Long before the first pioneers reached Scott County , wild bees were discovered in the giant chestnut, oak, and popular trees, and due to the scarcity of “sweetening” bee hunting became a favorite industry, ranking by the side of the trapper, the hunter, and “sang” digger.

     It would hardly be just to call the bee hunters lazy, for it often required a greater amount of energy to tramp the hills all day following a “bee course” than it would the farmer to follow his yoke of oxen.  Few horses were used and not a mule was found in Scott County prior to the War of 1912,

     Almost a profession sprang into existence in this region over the hunting of the wild bees.  Doubtless there are yet living in this region many old citizens who remember fifty or sixty years ago when a bee hunter was an important asset to the community.

     To one of these old bee hunters “bait” was important in the hunt for wild bees.  Many different kinds of bait was prepared with varying outcome, but according to the old bee hunters the best kind was made from honey or maple sugar mixed with a little water.  The bait when prepared would be carried in a pan or skillet and placed in some spot or sprinkled on the leaves of brush in the sunshine far from the heavy timber as possible.  Then the bee hunter would take his “sitting” or stand nearby to scrutinize all buts, flies and bees that might by chance happen up on the bait.  An old time bee hunter in these parts could instantly tell from the color of the bee whether or not it was domesticated.

     The bee hunter would often resort to artificial baiting of the bees that attracted them to the bait from which he would be able to find a “bee course.”  When the bee had “sucked his fill” from the artificial bait he would make a “bee line” to the hive or the “bee tree” and the hunter observed his starting very carefully.  After observing the departure of many bees he would “get the direction” and would begin the bee hunt.

     When a wild bee settled on the bait his course or direction of departure would be carefully chronicled and soon there would be other bees from the same hive or tree to appear and their course would be observed.  After three or four bees had made their way back to the tree, the hunter would move the bait a few hundred feet and get another line or course on the bees.  Only those who were trained in the work could follow the bee to his final destination.

     These old bee hunters, after finding the tree, would place a cross mark on the tree and often his initials which told all other bee hunters that this tree has already been discovered and first discoverer had priority rights.  These priority rights were always observed, and the old time bee hunters say that in “olden days” all men observed this mark and strictly left the tree alone.

     At a stated time the tree was usually cut down at night, and no effort was ever made to commercialize the honey.  Wooden tubs and pails were filled and the honey sent out to neighbors and friends all over the section.

     Sometimes the cutting of a bee tree was made a gala occasion in which the whole community would participate.  The felling of one o these trees was rather an exact science.  The tree had to be felled without breaking of the body near where the bees were located, as well as, to be careful not have the tree “lodged” against another tree.  After a tree was successfully felled bees would be given a little time to settle and then men would come out with smoke screens made from old rags and sometimes a little tobacco was used in the smoke screen.  Often the bee men would be badly stung in their “robbing the bees”.

     These old bee hunters usually could tell the amount of honey and even the kind of honey before the tree was cut.  They were close observers of the surrounding country in the type of flowers and the action of the bees.  Should the bees be hived in a “gum”, the task of transporting them to the home of the settler was somewhat of a task, as usually it was done at night.  A sheet usually was wrapped around the mouth of the hive and the bees carried by the man of the house to his back yard.

     Many sections of America are growing rich with bee culture.  Scott County has a great opportunity in the apiary field.


Gate City Herald
Thursday October 18, 1934

The Battle of Long Island Flat
By C. V. Compton

     In 1775 Andy Greear was in the Over-Hill Cherokee nation to purchase fur.  While there he observed the conduct of the English agents among the Indians, which thoroughly alarmed him for the safety of his people.  When he left the Cherokee town for his home he strayed purposely from the main traveled path and came up the Nolichucky trace, escaping injury; but two men by the names of Doggett and Boyd who traveled the regular route at that time was massacred by the reedmen.  Andy Greear carried all the news that he had heard and seen about the English and Indians, back to the settlement where Kingsport is now located.  From there the news spread like wild fire to Martin’s Fort, Rye Cove, Big Moccasin, Ft. Blackmore, Porter’s Fort, Moore’s Fort, Castlewoods, settlements near Lebanon, Abingdon, and the enclosed region that the Indians were lining up with the British agents and in a short time they would make a strenuous effort to drive the settlers of the Holston and Clinch River regions, back to the Blue Ridge Range.

     Immediately after the news of this report had been spread, for protection, a fort was erected at Watauga which was called Fort Lee , the old fort at Kingsport was repaired and renamed Ft. Patrick Henry, and a new fort was erected at Amos Eaton’s place which was about seven miles east of Kingsport toward Poplar Saplings ( Bristol ).  All the settlers to the south and the west of this line of forts were urged by the newly organized government to migrate to these forts for safety.  Isaac Thomas was sent to the county seat at Fincastle for munitions of war, and advice from the Committee of Safety.

     Next Spring in 1776 came Jarrett Williams out of the upper Cherokee country and stated that the whole Cherokee nation under the mighty chief “Old Raven” and Dragging Canoe were determined to drive the palefaces out of Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee, to take possession of the slaves and horses, to kill the sheep and cattle, to destroy all growing crops, and to burn all buildings.

     An urgent call was sent out by the people around Ft. Patrick Henry to the settlers over on the Clinch, Big Moccasin, the upper Forks of the Holston, in addition to the messenger sent to the county seat, to come to the rescue of the for and be prepared to give battle to the Indians and British.

     No sooner than the word was received, the boys in buckskin started from Big Moccasin, Ft. Blackmore, Moore’s Fort, Porter’s Fort, Castlewoods, Rye Cove, Martin’s Fort, and from the upper Holston region as far east as Marion, to the relief of their fellow citizens at Long Island.  These buckskin boys arrived just in time to organize their forces and map out a plan of attack as the Indians were only one day’s march away also from the fort.

     Old Dragging Canoe, a few British henchmen, and seven hundred and fifty Cherokee warriors armed by the British with most improved firearms of the day came to clear East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia of settlers and show the redskins that the British were all-powerful.  Captain William Cox formulated the plans for the pioneers who had reached the fort which gave them a bloody but a quick victory over the Indians.  To the south and west of Kingsport the Indians had either killed off or drove in all the settlers.  It was the last stand of the frontiersmen along the Clinch and Holston River on this side of the New River Region.

     One of the greatest battles ever waged between the palefaces and the redskins took place July 19, 1776 , on Long Island Flat, in the suburbs of the present city of Kingsport , which battle decided the destiny of Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee .  There is no doubt in the writer’s mind that this is the greatest and the most far reaching battle ever waged in such close proximity to Scott County.  If this region had possessed the gift of the New England people for chronicling their deeds of valor the Battle of Long Island Flat would stand out as one of the greatest battles of far reaching importance in the Revolutionary War.

     The boys from now Washington , Russell, Lee, and Scott counties accepted the challenge of the redcoats and their Indian allies.  The took down their old squirrel rifles, old bear and turkey guns; molded their bullets, made their powder, examine their flints, place the necessary amount of lead and powder in the powder horns and haversacks, had their good wives to prepare the needed clothes, saddled old Bob, kissed their wives good-bye and silently stole away toward Long Island Flat to measure their skill and lead with the British trained Indians.

     The backwoodsmen from the forts now located in Scott and Russell Counties traveled many miles with little rest before reaching Long Island .  These men carried no tents, no bedding, and no bayonets; the sky was their tent, the leaves of the forest their beds, and their rifles served also as bayonets and clubs.

     These men did not wait at the fort to permit the Indians to make the attack but met the Indians on their way to attack the fort.  Little did the British know of the deadly aim, and the backwoodsmen’s grit of these so called mountaineers.  These freshly made soldiers, thinking only of their loved ones at home, made quick work of the Indians.  But the Americans did not take the Indians by surprise.  The battle was fiercely contested from beginning to end.  The report on the battle says that “the men exhibited in this battle heroism almost unexampled in history.”  The Indians began the battle by driving the American forces under Shelby back for some distance during which time the Cherokees started to shout “The whites are running.  Come on and scalp them.”  The battle lasted something near an hour in which many Indians were killed and their power was broken for the remainder of the Revolutionary War.  This victory saves all western Virginia and western North Carolina to the patriotic forces.  It inspired the settlers with confidence in their efforts and gave them on the other hand a certain contempt for the British and Indian combination.  Among the forts of Scott and Russell counties the Indian fighters never asked --- “how many Indians are there in the party,” but “where are they to be found?”

     General Russell was ordered to come to the rescue of these forts with five companies of militia, but he was too slow.  The boys from over the hills in the coves had already done the work.

     This battle is one of the most important battles in the American Revolutionary War.  It was fought only a few days after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, July 19, 1776 .  More than seventy percent of the people of Scott County are descendants of the men who participated in the Battles of Long Island Flat, Kings Mountain, Point Pleasant , and Guilford Courthouse.  In each of these battles our ancestors gave a good account of themselves.

     In reading of this battle it makes me think of Lord Byron’s appropriate lines along this line:

“And glory long has made the sages smile;

‘Tis something, nothing, words, illusion, wind ---

Depending more upon the historian’s style

Than on the name a person leaves behind;

Troy owes to Homer whet whist owes to Hoyle;

The present century was growing blind

To the great Marlborough ’s skill in giving knocks

Until his late Life by Archdeacon Cox.”









The Gate City Herald
Thursday, July 12, 1934

Compton Tells of Early Medical Aids, Beliefs

Bleeding, Blistering and Many Other Strange Methods Used

By C. V. Compton

     No Field of science in the last one hundred and fifty years has made more progress in Scott County than that of medicine.  We have had some great doctors here who stand out like giant oaks in the forest directing the future trends of the medical profession.  Addington’s “History of Scott County” fails to give us the name of the first doctor in the county but according to tradition and stories from the old men we find Dr. Robert Cox, and Dr. Joe B. Wolfe as two of the greatest doctors in the county.

     Prior to the coming of these two renowned men of science the profession was largely in the hands of “quack and herb” doctors.  We shall attempt to give you readers the gleanings of many newspaper stories, the stories and traditions which are prevalent in Scott County , which our forefathers strongly adhered to.

     We may say that health was a prerequisite for frontier life as existed here from `770 to 1840.  Active life in the field and forest did not overcome the poor art of cooking, the constant overexertion of the chase, the drinking of strong liquors, the exposure to the inclement weather, and long hours of labor that our forefathers underwent in subduing the wilderness.  Sanitation after a year or so of residence in one place was bad to say the least of it; as the habitat grew older, more live stock was accumulated, more land was cleared and flies, fleas, and bedbugs grew worse.

     Chills and fever played a checkered course in the varied ills of the upland people; but bilious fever, cholera morbus, flux, milk sickness and dysentery were the diseases which carried off annually great numbers of the early settlers and their families.  Typhoid fever came and annually took its toll of human life.  The would be doctors knew nothing of the cause or the treatment of the disease.  They would give the cause of the fever as one of the following: ‘night air;” animal matter in the air, decaying vegetation, or even great grief, eating green fruit, or the loss of sleep.

     Milk sickness was another disease which the pioneers had to combat in the early history of the county without knowing the cause.  Permit me to say that a similar disease exists on the banks of the Pecos River in Texas .  The natives there believe as they formerly did here that the source of the disease came from drinking milk which contain arsenic poisoning; many of the old doctors affirmed that the cows were getting the arsenic from the pyrite of iron which exist so abundantly in this region.  The cause of this disease neither here nor there has been definitely determined.

      Among the “old-timers” there was no undue alarm over mumps, measles, whooping cough, scarlet fever, and many other diseases which the child is heir to.  These diseases were thought to be inevitable and there was no need in trying to escape them.  Vaccination made its advent early in the beginning of the last century in this region.  Thomas Jefferson was the first president of the United States to be vaccinated and he urged all citizens to take the vaccine but many of the religions so strenuously opposed vaccination on the ground that it was the work of the devil and in opposition to the will of Got that I made very little headway for a hundred years.

     Erysipelas was rare and was called by the old time doctor “black tongue”.  One of the most prevalent of all disorders in the new frontier was a skin irritation which covered the body, caused itching, and spread over an entire neighborhood sparing neither age or sex.  There was little pneumonia at first due to the openness of the dwellings but gradually as the houses became more compact and close fitting, pneumonia extracted a large toll of human life.  Children often succumbed to “bold hives” and the parent would call some old women or a quack doctor for treating the sick child.  As the settlers grew older they often became afflicted with rheumatism on account of inclement weather, constant exposure and the hard drudgery of farm life; for this aliment the most common used remedy was the sting of the honey bee; at least when a hive of bees was turned lose on the “old fellow---he moved, and rather glibly and quickly at that; and it has been stated on the best of tradition that many cures were perfected by this method.  Yellow fever, cancer, cholera, heart trouble, was seldom encountered or at least diagnosed as such.

     Most of the remedies during the pioneering age were home-made and home spun.  In the absence of the doctor someone in every community became somewhat a seer or seeress(sic) in the healing art.  Often his or her reputation would spread to other communities and they would be known for miles around as a specialist in a certain field of disease.

     In a primitive community much superstition existed.  The concoctions of the “yarb” doctor from numerous weeds and barks, the laying on of hands and the saying of certain formulas usually from Shakespeare or the Bible gained much dignity in the community.  For all fevers Snakeroot was highly recommended; as well as sweats were very much in vogue.  White Walnut bark peeled up from the ground of the tree would in some neighborhoods effect a cure of fever if the hands were properly laid on, and a certain formula repeated.  Sheep nanny tea was the greatest of all cures for measles; bleeding was early adopted for pleurisy but in the absence of the doctor pennyroyal or catnip tea was substituted.

     Summer complaints brought forth a score of remedies such as tansy and slippery elm bark tea and poultices, even dried red puccoon roots were used in other communities.  When a small child had the colic it was due to worms and the parents then would administer a dose of senna or home preparation or would give the child the scrapings from pewter spoon.

     Soar(sic) throat in the spring of the year was very common and the most famous cure was a piece of fat meat and a pod of red pepper swung around the victim’s neck; others would use onion and mustard poultices while a little later on horehound candy and “switchel” became very much in use.  A poultice of mashed Irish potatoes placed on the forehead was a sure cure for all kinds of headaches.  Even to this day there has never been devised a quicker or a surer cure for skin irritation or the “itch” than that concocted by our forefathers which was: hot water, home made soap, use thoroughly in irritating the body after which a strong solution of lard, sulphur(sic) or gun powder was applied to all parts of the body.

     Snake bites were common and many remedies came into vogue possibly out of dire necessity.  Among the more common ones were: switchel, plaintain(sic) leaves boiled in milk and applied as a poultice to the afflicted part, ash bark tea was used in some communities while in some others applications of gun powder and salt, salt and tobacco were much in use.  For cuts, bruises and lacerations pokeberry leaves boiled and mixed with flour was held in high esteem; in other neighborhoods poultices of slippery elm bark were in style.  For boils and carbuncles (risens) a poultice of fat meat and corn meal or the Indian turnip were made use of.

     Usually the more bitter and disgusting the concoction the greater the cure.  Ratsbane bruised and placed in an earthen jar with water poured over it and then allowed to stand for an hour was considered an excellent remedy for scrofula.

     “Phthisic” remedies were herbs, switchel, and bitters made from peach brandy and mixed with red pepper.

     Permit us to say that the doctors were scarce and the pioneers learned to depend on their own skills and devices but what few old time doctors existed they were the most honored and respected men of the frontier.  Though, it is a fact that he was not called until the home had tried all the known remedies to no avail.  When the doctor came he worked tirelessly with his victim.  The faith in the doctor was such that often his patient believed that with his doctoring he would not die.  In the early days of Scott the doctor would first bleed his patient, if no improvement he would blister him with poultices, still if no change for the better he would purge and puke him.  By the time the patient had withstood the various treatments which he was subjected to, if he was not dead he was certainly on the road to recovery.

     From 1800 down to the Civil War in Scott County there was a great warfare between the regular and the quack doctors;  now it would be rather difficult to distinguish the regular doctor of that age from the quack.  Often the quack was the better informed and used more scientific medicines, but both opposed the use of home mad medicines, while the latter always opposed bleeding. 

     There came into vogue remedies which had their origin in England , Ireland , Scotland , Wales , Germany , and France ; also many remedies had their origin from the Cherokee and Shawnee Indians.  Eel skins bound tightly around a sprain was adopted from the Cherokee Indians by the early settlers, while carrying a buckeye in the pocket was a cure for piles according to the Shawnee Indians.  Superstitions abounded, -- there was signs to be interpreted in the falling of the stars, the leaning of the moon, the passing of birds, and the croaking of frogs.  To kill a toad was a sure sign that your cows would give bloody milk, a forked peach tree stick would certainly lead you to the proper place for the digging of the well or the location of hidden treasures, and the heart of the South American deer possessed the proverbial ‘madstone’ the only cure for hydrophobia.

     Many people went into trances, old houses were “hanted” and the spooks and ghosts invariably walked around the grave yard.  Witches were prevalent and the country had many witch doctors.  The following story was recently told me by an elderly lady who is a great, great, grand daughter of George McConnell, Sr.:

One of the sons of George McConnell was bewitched by an old woman; the witch doctor was sent for and came.  According to the belief the spirit would not be driven out unless sent into some other living being, and it would immediately die.  The doctor asked Mr. McConnell would he like for the demon to be sent into the old lady who had bewitched him.  He said he did not want to harm her and suggested sending the evil spirit into his chickens, which the doctor did.  Next morning every chicken which he owned were found dead and Mr. McConnell was again a well man.  This occurred she said about 1830.

                                                                                        C. V. COMPTON


The Gate City Herald
Thursday, November 29, 1934

Vets Of Civil War Number Thirteen

     The list of Civil War Veterans still living in Scott County still remains at thirteen, no additional names having been added this week.  This will be the last time that the list will be carried, and if any of our readers should know the name of any others, they will confer quite a favor upon us by giving the name to us immediately.

     Our purpose in compiling this list is to get a brief life sketch of each of these men for publication together with their photograph if possible, there by preserving interesting historical facts that might eventually never be chronicled.  For that reason we especially urge our readers to contribute any names that the list does not contain.

----- The List -----

W. L. Johnson, Ft. Blackmore , Va.

R. M. Frazier, Ft. Blackmore , Va.

James M. McConnell, Nickelsville , Va.

Joseph H. Wilhelm, Snowflake, Va.

Ira W. Hill, Slant, Va.

W. T. Lane , Clinchport , Va.

Frank Campbell, Hiltons, Va.

W. D. Ridgeway, Hiltons, Va.

Benjamin Hill, Mabe , Va.

E. P. Rhoton, Duffield , Va.

J. P. Ketron, Hiltons, Va.

H. P. Tomlinson, Duffield , Va.

     The Herald will greatly appreciate any other names that should be added to the list in order to make it complete.







The Gate City Herald
Thursday, December 13, 1934

Fifteenth Name To List Civil War Vets

     We have added this week the name of Mr. C. H. Baker, age 94 to the list of Civil War Veterans now living in Scott County .  This makes a total list to date number fifteen.

----- The List -----

W. L. Johnson, Ft. Blackmore , Va.

R. M. Frazier, Ft. Blackmore , Va.

James M. McConnell, Nickelsville , Va.

Joseph H. Wilhelm, Snowflake, Va.

Ira W. Hill, Slant, Va.

W. T. Lane , Clinchport , Va.

Frank Campbell, Hiltons, Va.

W. D. Ridgeway, Hiltons, Va.

Benjamin Hill, Mabe , Va.

E. P. Rhoton, Duffield , Va.

J. P. Ketron, Hiltons, Va.

H. P. Tomlinson, Duffield , Va.

Jacob Roller, Speers Ferry, Va.

C. H. Baker, Gate City , Route 4


     The Herald will greatly appreciate any other names that should be added to the list in order to make it complete.





















The Gate City Herald
Thursday, December 20, 1934

Sixteenth Name To List Civil War Vets


     We have added this week the name of Mr. W. W. McDavid, age 92, of Gate City , Virginia , Route 1, to the list of Civil War Veterans now living in Scott County .  This makes a total lost to date number sixteen.

----- The List -----

W. L. Johnson, Ft. Blackmore , Va.

R. M. Frazier, Ft. Blackmore , Va.

James M. McConnell, Nickelsville , Va.

Joseph H. Wilhelm, Snowflake, Va.

Ira W. Hill, Slant, Va.

W. T. Lane , Clinchport , Va.

Frank Campbell, Hiltons, Va.

W. D. Ridgeway, Hiltons, Va.

Benjamin Hill, Mabe , Va.

E. P. Rhoton, Duffield , Va.

J. P. Ketron, Hiltons, Va.

H. P. Tomlinson, Duffield , Va.

Jacob Roller, Speers Ferry, Va.

C. H. Baker, Gate City , Route 4

W. W. McDavid , Gate City , Va. , Route 1


     The Herald will greatly appreciate any other names that should be added to the list in order to make it complete.











The Gate City Herald
Thursday, November 22, 1934

Lasting Influence – Scotch-Irish Race

By C. V. Compton

     The two-hundred and twenty-five year lapse between the coming of the Knights of the Golden Horse Shoe and the present day citizens of Scott County is a period in World’s History of marvelous progress and changes in scientific and political ideas.  Our section of Virginia was settled by the God-fearing, resourceful, liberty loving; glue eyed, raw–boned, gangling English and Scotch-Irish people.

     But permit us to say that the term Scotch-Irish as applying to the name is a misnomer.  They are neither Scotch nor Irish but the purest of all Anglo-Saxon stock found in America .  Many centuries ago the King of England decreed the sturdy Anglo-Saxons o Northern England to form a buffer state against the invading Scotch.  They did the task so nobly and well that England became the nation instead of Scotland .  About three centuries later they were sent as settlers to Northern Ireland , and by their gameness of warfare and the spirit of thrift made Ireland , English.  Thus, is the origin of the Scotch-Irish.

     These settlers after quelling Ireland for the King failed to find there either religious freedom or political liberty.  From 1700 to 1775 they poured by the thousands across the Atlantic to Philadelphia and Baltimore and immediately after their landing began to migrate southwest creating as they came a government free from political and religious oppression.  Nevertheless, they were a restless, fearless, venturesome people.  They could not fall in with the peaceful Quakers of Pennsylvania, or the persecuted Catholics of Maryland or the high laws of the Episcopalians of Virginia and North Carolina seaboard.  They pushed on further west and south carrying the torch of political freedom and religious liberty as they came.  These people actually settled the western part of Virginia , western North Carolina and northern Georgia , which region shortly after the Revolutionary War formed the States of Alabama, Tennessee , and Kentucky .  Their descendants broke through the gaps and fastness of the Cumberland Mountains , swept across the Valleys of the Tennessee , Cumberland , and Mississippi Rivers into Missouri , and thence onto the Pacific Coast .

     It is true that they were land grabbers and fierce fighters, clearing the forest and plains of both forest and Indians.  In their westward sweep they went up King’s Mountain to take charge of Ferguson and rid the frontier region of the infested Tories and Redcoats.  These Scotch-Irish won the Revolutionary War.  They went from the Valley of Virginia with Mad Anthony Wayne to capture Stony Point .  They were the boys who went with George Rogers Clark to capture an empire in the Northwest.  Your ancestors and mine marched and waded streams often around their waist to surprise the British at Vincennes and Kaskaskia.  It was these so-called back-woodsmen who marched with Old Hickory to New Orleans in the War of 1812 and proved to a doubting world the superiority of our forefathers to the seasoned veterans of Wellington ’s Continental Army, and army that was regarded as the finest soldiers in the world.  These Scotch-Irish were with Scott Lundy’s Lane and Chippewa; they did the only real fighting of this war.  After the War of 1812, they had to battle alone against the Creeks, the Cherokees, and the Seminoles and finally drove them beyond the Mississippi .

     Our people should bear in mind that our forefathers when nor fighting the French, Indians, Spanish, and English, were fighting the frontier, building cabins, clearing land, experimenting with various kinds of crops, and eternally trekking farther and father west.  They made trails and roads over half of the continent; from the crest of the Blue Ridge to the Pacific Ocean .

     They carried no written liturgy, they had no prayer books, they possessed no written hymn books.  They believed direct communication with their God without the aid of priest and clergy.  Nothing stood between them and their God except the Old and New Testament.  Many of the great democratic religions of America have sprung from these people such as the Disciples of Christ, The Cumberland Presbyterians, the Southern Baptists and many more.  These people could not endure bishops, priests, higher clergy or one man rule of church organizations.

     No other section of America was settled by so virile men.  In their blood flowed the ideals and principles which made America .  Each community was the master of its religious and governmental institutions.  They made their own guns, manufactured their own gun powder, raised their crops of food and clothing, and were self sustaining to a household.  The women were the men’s equal in their gency dresses and home-made split bonnets; they spent their time in carding wool, weaving, spinning, knitting, dyeing, drying fruit, and vegetables, cultivating the garden, caring for the milk and butter, and raising large families.  These sturdy pioneers would have little faith in our so call “New Deal” or the crushing of individualism.

     They gave the world the institution of universal franchise.  Manhood suffrage was bitterly opposed in the formation of our government by New England , New York and the Atlantic Seaboard people.  Thomas Jefferson was saturated with the manhood suffrage idea from these western Virginia settlers, and the election of Andrew Jackson, was a typical Scotch-Irishman, made possible universal suffrage in the United States .  Jefferson framed the Declaration of Independence from the constitution of the Dissenting Baptist of Western Virginia.  James Madison in his formation of the Constitution of the United States went to the Presbyterians and Baptist Church governments for the fundamentals of our Constitution.

     Another contribution of these Appalachian people was, according to the research of Professor Gewhr of Johns Hopkins University , is the separation of the church and state in the United States , in other words, religious liberty.  Our Scotch-Irish ancestors when they came to America brought no established church, no compulsory religious attendance, and no forced church contribution.  The fact of church and state separation is now so well established throughout our country that it is difficult to imagine during the formative period of our nation the mighty struggle waged by our people against the rich seaboard and the New England writers for religious freedom from state domination.  Virginia law in 1776 refused to tolerate the Baptist and Presbyterian ministers to marry their adherents.  The Episcopal Church held complete sway in governmental affairs at the close of the Revolution in Virginia , Maryland , New Jersey , North and South Carolina and Georgia .  The puritans directed all religious worship in the New England states, driving out all who did not belong to their church, while New York was under the thumbs of the Dutch Reformed Church and the rich section of eastern Pennsylvania was predominated by the Quaker faith.  The whole world was for unification of church and state except the backwoods Scotch-Irish people.  These backwoodsmen of the Baptist and Presbyterian faith brought forth the constitutional amendment in 1791 which forever prohibited the establishment of a church supported by the state.

     It is true that the Marylanders allowed religion toleration but the Scotch-Irish were the first people to battle for absolute religious freedom in the world.  Even to this day, some of the states far away from Scotch-Irish influence believe in some form of religious or property qualification for voting.

     Regardless whether or not the historians of America have given the credit to these Appalachian Scotch-Irish people it cannot be gainsaid that they are not the predominating type of the American nation.  Full one half of the congressmen of America can trace their ancestors to the Scotch-Irish of the Appalachian region.

     The United States Presidents descended from these Scotch-Irish settlers have added more (continental) territory to the Unite States than all other nationalities combined.  We might say this increase of territory began with the march of George Roger Clarke’s Scotch-Irish into the Illinois Territory and closed by the purchase of Alaska during Andrew Jackson’s administration.  Dr. Merck, Professor of History, Harvard University , states that it was the Scotch-Irish from the mountains that gave the Oregon country to the United States and not Whitman’s ride.  It was these Scotch-Irish people of  Tennessee and Kentucky who demanded the opening of the Mississippi River which led to the purchase of Louisiana .  It was the Scotch-Irish Sam Houston, and James K. Polk which added Texas and the great southwest to the United States ; it was the Scotch-Irish from the mountains that forced the United States to buy Florida from Spain .

     From these Scotch-Irish who trekked down the great trough of Virginia and Tennessee or crossed the

 foothills into the upland region of Pennsylvania have increased in numbers to 20,000,000 today of virile men and women of America .


The Gate City Herald
Thursday, April 12, 1934

Wolfe Reunion

John Wolf


     John Wolf (the final e was omitted in early spelling of the name) according to tradition was born in the Rhine Valley, Germany about 1755.  He married Katherine (Katie) Behrcirco in 1779.  After the birth of two or three children they decided to try their fortune in the New World .

     They set sail, probably, in the early part of 1783, and after a stormy voyage in the slow sailing vessel of that day they finally landed at the Port Charleston, S. C., and later came to what is now Scott County , Virginia .

     Ten children were born to them as follows: John, Katherine (Katie), Henry, Peggy, George, Adam, Jonas, Nancy, Hannah and Jacob.  The writer is not sure he has given the names in order of birth, nor does he know where the descendants of Henry, George, Adam, Nancy and Hannah live; and would welcome any information that would aid in locating them.

     The early members of his family were usually farmers and belonged to the middle class of people which goes to make a good country.

     John Wolfe was the great grand father of the writer of this brief article.  He lies buried about one and half miles north of Gate City , Va. , in an unmarked grave.  A large oak has grown up over his grave and like a sentinel seems to guard his sleeping dust.

     The first Wolf reunion will be held at Gate City , Virginia , Sunday, Aug. 12 of this year.

     Rev. J. E. Wolfe, pastor of the M. E. Church, South, Fountain City , Tenn. , will preach the sermon, after which an old fashioned basket dinner will be served by those who live in the nearby counties of Virginia and Tennessee .  The further program will be worked out later.  Doubtless there will be a large crowd present, descendants of this pioneer of Scot County , to meet their relatives and have a day of fellowship.

Big Stone Gap,












The Gate City Herald
Thursday, July 26, 1934

Reunion For Wolfe Family To Be Held Here On
August 12


Reunion of the Wolfe family, pioneers in the development of Southwest Virginia and East Tenn., will be held at Shoemaker high school here Sunday August 12th.

     The day’s program will be substantially as follows:

     Preaching at 11 a. m. by Rev. J. E. Wolfe, Fountain City , Tenn. , Dinner on the ground by the kinsfolk living nearby counties of Southwest Virginia and East. Tenn.

     Brief talks after reassembling at 1:30 p. m. by older members present.  A visit to the grave of John Wolfe, one and a half miles north of Gate City, and the Holston Springs, four miles south, where the older members of the family lived.

     Conservative estimates place 500 as the number expected to attend reunion.  Several members of the Wolfe family from other states have declared their intentions of attending the festival.

     They are: I. J. Wolfe, Houston , Texas ; Rev. Wm. B. Shelton, Houston , Texas ; Prof. Eugene Wolfe, author, economist, and instructor in the University of Cincinnati, and Prof. George Ewing Starnes, teacher in the Naval Academy, Annapolis.

     Further details will be carried in next week’s Herald.


















The Gate City Herald, Thursday, August 3, 1934

Wolfe Family Will Hold Reunion Here


Judge Carter to Deliver Address of Welcome; Visitors Are Expected From Distant States


     Circuit Court Judge E. T. Carter will make the address of welcome at the reunion of the Wolfe Families to be held on the Shoemaker high school grounds here Sunday, August 12.

     The committee formulating plans for activities of the day has announced it has received assurances of attendance from numerous Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee persons to be present on the day.

     Among the visitors from distant states who have signified that they will be in attendance are: Dr. Nat Cox, West Virginia ; R. Lee Blackwell, attorney of Louisville , Ky. ; Rev. Wm. B. Shelton, Greeneville , Texas ; Prof. Eugene Wolfe, author, economist, and teacher in the University of Cincinnati , and Prof. Ewing Starnes, instructor at the Annapolis Naval academy.

     The reunion will be the first ever held by the Wolfe families of this section and will mark a gathering of many widely known and prominent persons of Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee , as well as successful men from distant states who have evinced great interest in the meeting.

     Part of the day’s program, as announced by the committee, will be a visit to the grave of John Wolfe, early Scott county pioneer, and also to the Holston Springs section where the early Wolfe families made their first settlement.

     Wolfe was buried about one and a half miles north of here, while the Holston Springs if four miles south.

     From indications developing during the past week, the program committee said it expected the spirit of the gathering as well as its number of attendants would far surpass original expectations.  Plans, although practically complete, are still undergoing minor changes for betterment.


The Gate City Herald
Thursday, August 16, 1934

Reunion Of Wolfe Family Held Here


Organization Perfected With Decision To Make Meetings
Annual Affair.


     Nearly 600 members of the Wolfe family gathered here Sunday for the Wolfe family reunion at Shoemaker high school.

     Besides a solid representation of counties adjoining Scott, representatives were present from East Tennessee , Eastern Kentucky , Southern West Virginia , Texas , Maryland , and Western North Carolina .

     Rev. J. E. Wolfe, Fountain city, Tenn. , delivered the sermon and principal speech of the day at 11 a. m.

     The entire gathering expressed a vote of thanks and offered any assistance to A. J. Wolfe, Big Stone Gap, who is now gathering data for a book on the descendants of John Wolfe, early pioneer of Scott County .

     It was estimated that Wolfe has between 3,500 and 4,000 descendants in this section of Virginia and the immediately adjoining sections of other states.

     Wolfe came to the United States from the Rhine Valley in Germany in 1783, landing at Charleston , S. Carolina .  In 1786, he settled in what is now known as the Holston Springs.

     Those attending the reunion decided to make it an annual affair after an organization was perfected in which Victor S. Wolfe, of Nickelsville, was chosen president, and Ernest R. Wolfe of Gate City , as Secretary-treasurer.

     The reunion next year will be held the second Sunday in August at the court house here.




















The Gate City Herald
Thursday, September 6, 1934

Virginia L. Harris


     In memory of Virginia Walling Harris, wife of H. S. Harris, born February 22, 1865 , departed this life August 5, 1934 , age 67 years, 5 months and 14 days.

     She was united in marriage to H. S. Harris September 2, 1891 .  To this union were born seven children all of whom lived to be grown: Mrs. Minnie Dolin, Kingsport , Tenn. ; Mrs. Mary Yoakley, Kingsport , Tenn. ; Douglas R. Harris, Bellbrook , Ohio ; Mrs. Sarah M. MacIntyre, Orien Harris, Mrs. Mae MacIntyre, all of Casper, Wyoming.  James R. Harris preceded her to the grave at the age of 24 years.

     She was afflicted with creeping paralysis and was an invalid for over seven years.  She bore her affliction with Christian fortitude.  She professed faith in Christ in a fireside talk delivered by Elder A. J. Carter and was baptized by in the summer of 1894, and lived a Christian life until the end.  She was a loving companion, a loving mother and a good neighbor.

     She is gone but not forgotten.  Her spirit is in the hands of Him who gave it.  May we cherish her memory here, and we pray God that we may so live that well may constitute and undivided family in that “Sweet Bye and Bye,” which was her favorite song.  And we shall be caught to meet the air and shall ever be with the Lord.  First Thessalonians; 14th chapter; 14, 16, and 17 verses: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.  For the Lord himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel and with the triumph of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first; Then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we ever be with the Lord.”


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