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Gate City Herald - 1936
Contributed by Don Lane

The Gate City Herald
Thursday, May 7, 1936

Old Benge Still Lives

(By C. V. Compton)

     For some time I have contemplated writing a sketch of Benge, Southwest Virginia ’s most famous Indian Chief; but for lack of definite material on his ancestors, his deeds, and really his name, I have postponed the sketch for the past years.  I am now unprepared to deal accurately and justly with his life, but I shall start a discussion which I hope other citizens who do know of Benge’s  works and deeds will add to and correct my statements.

     A generous mind readily appreciates and commends an exhibition of true patriotism, even by an enemy.  Those who regard the Indians as without the pale of sympathies of civilization, are often compelled to yield reluctant admiration of the qualities which make men heroes, sages, and patriots, when even exhibited by the vanquished Indians.

     No one appears more prominent as a claimant for consideration on account of these qualities than old Chief Benge, the last great chief of Southwest Virginia .  He saw year after year the encroachment of the white people upon his sacred hunting grounds, yet doubtless for years he kept the peace of his tribe, whether Shawnee or Cherokee.  He endured insults and even gross indignities; and when his brother warriors advised war he at first wanted to maintain peace.  At length forbearance seemed no longer a virtue, and the tomahawk was lifted.

     But the history of Benge has been clouded by legend.  Dr. Lyman Draper in his splendid effort to collect at first hand the history of the region from Charleston, South Carolina, to Louisville, Kentucky, for New Your State to Georgia, found even at that date, 1840 to 1880 much myth and legendary history enshrouding Benge’s life.  While 142 years after his death, it is difficult to differentiate fact from myth.  Apparently historians have been afraid of him, as if this champion of Indian rights might even to this day injure their reputation.

     Dr. Draper died in 1886 and was born years after the death of Benge.  We shall say that the letters he obtained about Benge which are still on file in the University of Wisconsin state that Benge was a Cherokee living among the Shawnees .  Why he was living among the Shawnees we failed to learn.  Dr. Draper’s information is second hand at its best and was obtained a half century after Benge’s death.  Was Benge a Cherokee or Shawnee is even to this day a mooted question.

     As a consequence historians have neglected him, but in the legendary minds of the inhabitants of this vast area he is in process of evolving into an Indian hero; such a mass of mythical stories have grown up around him that it will be at this date, I believe, an impossibility to give an accurate account of the Indian champion.  A number of stories in which Benge figures as a semi-mythical hero are to be picked up throughout West Virginia , East Tennessee , Southwest Virginia , Kentucky , and Ohio .  They were told formerly by the mothers to place fear in the hearts of their children.  There is doubtless a grain of truth in each legend but the troubadour touch is upon each of them.  You will not find them in books, but they are legends kept alive in the memory and passed on from mother to daughter.  In fact the history of Benge is now a folklore.

     James Green was killed in 1782 and the legend left in his family was that Benge was a Shawnee and lived in the Ohio region.  A similar statement is found in the traditional history handed down by the Kilgore as well as the Porter families.  In searching the old record of Kentucky and Nashboro , Tennessee , we find a Shawnee Indian chief named Bench which corresponds very closely with the time and characteristics of the Clinch River Benge.  It is possible that Bench and Benge are the same person and the Big Black Mountain has caused the same individual to have two names.

     History fails to state the nationality of the half-breed Indian named Benge.  We find him befriending the Cherokees but living among the Shawnees , and waging a relentless war against the whites.  For the last time about 1794 Benge and his warriors were out of their stronghold from north of the Big Black Mountain .  Throughout the Clinch and Holston regions, from Limestone, Tenn., to the Levisa Fork; from Cumberland Gap to Wolfe Creek, Benge bands was restlessly harrying the thinly settled region with a warfare of ambuscade on men, and capturing of women and children.  Thru canebrakes and forests the invisible savages slipped with the noiseless swiftness of the lightening to points of murderous vantage; as still as cougars and as patient, they lurked near the springs or watched the cabin doors of the settlers.  The sudden cough of the flint-lock through the evening air gave often the first and only intimation of their ghostly presence.

     A pack horse train was ambushed in some pass in the hills near Moccasin Gap; a settler in a lonely valley was murdered from the nearby woods; emigrant with his wife and children was massacred going into Kentucky .  Back to the mountain fastnesses from their silent war, Benge bore his spoils --- a Negro slave, some man’s wife, several children, a baby’s toy, a little tobacco, and a jug of fire water.  Then after crossing the Big Black Mountain , the paeans of exultation, the wild impassioned dance of triumph.  This was Benge’s way, no open battle, only killing and capturing.  If the settlers pressed hard up on their traces Benge would vanish as by magic through secret mountain passes to safety down Big Sandy and even into Ohio .

     Benge was the Clinch Region’s most famous Indian and its last great warrior.  He was killed in 1794.  He is credited with having killed more settlers than all other chiefs in the Clinch Region.  Few careers in Indian annals have been more colorful; certain of his exploits rank among the great adventures of the Indian Chiefs.  Though his destructive and futile career served a constructive purpose after Benge’s death came peace and order to the Clinch.

     Possibly Benge would fare badly under the microscope of modern warfare.  But in fairness to Benge he must be judged by the standards of his race, place and time.  The Indian wars were embryonic beds of many kinds of marauding parties and killing expeditions.

     With his tragic record in mind, one might be pardoned for visualizing Benge as an inhuman monster reviling in the blood o the palefaces.  But this conception would do him injustice.  He was a man of bright, alert mind; generous, not unkindly and o quick sympathies.  The steadfast loyalty of his friendship to his fellow Indians is proverbial to this day in the folklore of that region.

     His courage was beyond question.  It may have been a static courage that remained the same under all circumstances.  Nevertheless we are told that certain Indian Chiefs did weaken when odds were against them.  But no tale has come down that Benge even showed on any occasion a yellow streak.  For twenty years, every hour in his desperate struggle against the Clinch pioneers was a zero hour, and he was never afraid to wage war against the settlers.  Even the whites who hated him and men who hunted him to his death admitted his absolute fearlessness.

     But courage alone would not have stamped his as an outstanding Indian in the Clinch Region where courage in the Indian is a tradition.  He had faith, vision, a keen determination of driving the pale faces “back up the trace.”  He retained a cool, unruffled poise in all his raids into the Clinch Region.  His steady faith gave no hint as to direction of route of his quickened moonlight raids on the settlers, or long flights over the Big Black Mountain .  The secret of Benge’s greatness was his complete co-ordination of mind and muscle.  He had not only the will to lead the dusky warriors but the skill to do so.  Daring, coolness, and quick thinking would not have served unless they were combined with a magnetic personality of generalship over his comrades.

     Benge was not pitted against other savages but against the most warlike and daring settlers to be found on the American Continent.  In times of danger, and times of danger came in which he waged the “Benge War
against the settlers of the Clinch and Holston, his mind was not only calm but singularly clear and nimble, watching like a hawk for an advantage and seizing it with incredible celerity.

     The old traditions handed down about Benge say that his appearance was not unprepossing.  He had a handsome figure, good health, hardy and daring and a scintillating mind ready for any fate.  His face was long and colorless except for the deep tan with which it had been tinted by sun, rain, and weather.  His hair was black, worn rather long and straight.  His eyes were black, clear and steady.  His hands and feet were remarkably large, and from all accounts he stood something over six feet tall.  He was unusually strong for his inches, having even for a tall man quite active arms and feet.  (This is the description given by Cloud Hobbs).

     The popular mind of today associates murder and destruction to the Indians, but let us be fair to the red men and remember they were waging a war against usurpers and land grabbers.  To their mind and way of thinking they were fighting a holy war, and a hundred and forty years afterwards it looks rather holy to us.  We must no condemn Benge too severely, but rather admire his skill, his faith fore his people and his love for his homeland.

     We have no way of telling the number of settlers Benge killed along the Clinch and it tributaries but there must have been many and even some of their names are unrecorded in the annals of our history.  We never received his story of the war, or even the causes, or the men who died, and where they died.  It is left for the historian after more than one hundred and forty years to tell the story.  All the actors in this drama have been dead for more than a hundred years, but it is safe to say the tragic conundrum of how many white fell before the raids of Benge will ever be definitely answered.

     To realize the quality of Benge’s character try to fancy yourself in his shoes.  Suppose, if you please, that under stress of circumstances your hunting ground and your homeland had been possessed by a foreign race.  Your home had been destroyed, your people had been driven away from the old family alters into a desolate region?  Which facts make us say Benge was not a criminal, a murderer in the present day sense.  He fought for his people; and made his own methods of warfare.  He lost the fight, although he put up the most gallant fight of any Indians in the Clinch region.  Let his conquerors honor his memory today by calling some highway of Southwest Virginia “The Benge Highway.”

     Near the headwaters of Valley Creek in the Little Glade Region there is a gap in the hill leading to Clinch River known to this day as Benge Gap, and the creek which rises near the Gap and flows northwesterly into Clinch River is known as Benge Creek.  We found in Kentucky a creek called Benge Branch, and even peak and waterfalls are called after the great Indian chief in the upland region of Kentucky .

     Benge exhorted his followers to curse the white man and to swear eternal hostility to the palefaces.  We shall briefly narrate a few of the bloody deeds following the trail of Benge from 1776 to 1794, and ask that others be added:

     Ambrose Fletcher’s family killed near Ft. Blackmore in 1776 by Benge.

     James Green killed by Benge in the fall of 1782 near High Knob.

     John Carter’s family killed on the old Hunter’s Trace six miles west of Ft. Blackmore in 1784.

     Mrs. McDowell and Frances Pendleton killed by Benge in 1791.

     Benge killed Elisha Ferris at Gate City in 1791, also he killed Mrs. Elisha Ferris and their daughter, Mrs. Livingston.

     Benge killed two men near Kane Gap in March 1793.

     Benge killed Harper Ratliff and his wife and six children just west of Gate City in 1793.

     Near Hazel Patch, Kentucky , he assisted in killing fourteen emigrants in 1791.

     March 15, 1793 near Cumberland Gap , Benge helped to kill several settlers going to Kentucky .

     According to Claude Hobbs, vice president of the First National Bank, Roswell , New Mexico , Benge was killed in a gap in Cumberland Mountain near Dorchester , Virginia by his great, great Grandfather, Vincent Hobbs.  He states that when Benge was shot he sprang into the air, gave a mighty Indian yell and passed on to his happy hunting grounds.


The Gate City Herald
Thursday, March 26, 1936


     In the coming of the settlers toward the Clinch it was years of triumphantly struggling against the many forces of nature, and the eternal ambuscades of the savages.

     It was an atmosphere of fear and struggle from which no one who ventured far out in the wilderness could wholly escape.  There was no certainty west of Black Fort or Fort Vanus in 1776.  The Indian who traded his fur and pelt for the white man’s beads and trinkets one day might be after his scalp the next.  The white man might shoot down friendly Indians in the belief that they were hostile and receive in his log cabin hostile Indians in the belief that they were friendly.

     But there was something in the very whirling of the earth, in the glow of the setting sun that drew men toward the west.  The Scotch-Irish, Germans, Anglo-Saxons, and the French Huguenots came to this region like moths to the flame, first a few, then many.  The trail had to be, and was not made from the north or the south but from the east up the Shenandoah, across the mountains, and thence down the Clinch to Porter’s, Ft. Blackmore, and Rye Cove Forts.

     If we had the documents which were destroyed by the British in the burning of the national capitol in 1812, and the wanton and reckless destruction of old court house records by the Yankees in 1863 to 65, we would know many of the trials, struggles and human sufferings of these early settlers.  We must rest content with the belief that these heroes wrought their footprints well.  After the beginning of 1800 the way to the Clinch was never a mystery.  They knew how easily those rivers, mountains, and chasms could be crossed by eager and resolute settlers.

     The French Huguenots, the German, Scotch-Irish and the Anglo-Saxon could no more be held back than could the migration of the Teutonic Tribes of Europe in the fourth and fifth century.  The songs of these voyageurs were heard on the Clinch; even Moore’s, Porter’s and Green’s forts did a brisk business with trappers, fur traders, hunters and emigrants seeking homes toward the west prior to 1790.

     We find in 1773 Henderson buying a kingdom from the evasive and light fingered Cherokees at Watauga for less than ten thousand pounds, Harrods moving down thru the Greenbrier region toward Kentucky , and Colonel Preston setting out to chastise the marauding Indians on the headwaters of the Clinch.  Preston , permit us to state found more trouble than for which he had contracted.  Almost monthly the forts in this region were attacked by savages well armed with modern flintlock and a super abundance of ammunition.  Many pioneers bit the dust which records fail to give.

     The share which the Clinch region had in the defeat of the Shawnees , Mingoes and Delawares at Point Pleasant did not endear the savages to them.  Even when regular warfare was not in good taste, these savages continued to drift across the Clinch Region stealing slaves, burning property, and even knocking at the outlying cabins with guns and tomahawks.

     These small isolated forts along the clinch, dreaming in the sunlight, sitting among the giant maples and oaks, were oftimes completely surrounded by warring savages, but nevertheless they were the haven of rest for the weary trappers, hunters, and emigrants.  The occupants of these forts were not down hearted on account of causalities.  On the Clinch during these days death was never far away---one faced it as gaily as possible---if the fort should be destroyed and his life spared he would go singing to some near-by fort to try his luck anew.

     Such was the condition of the Clinch when the trek of the Brickeys was passing down the Clinch and Holston .  For your information we shall briefly the migration of the Brickeys which is rather typical of many families of America .

     Brickey is a French name.  They were refugees, fleeing for their lives from France during the revoking of the Edict of Nantes in about 1695.  John Brickey, his wife, and the following children: Jarard, John, Jincy, Peter, and Mary reached Maryland in about 1790, we do not know how many of the Brickeys were massacred in the St. Batholomew Massacre.  We know the only Brickeys ever coming to the new world were John Brickey and his family.  Doubtless the family traveled incognito out of France .  Due to culture, polish, classical education, and aristocratic manners he was immediately, after landing, given a clerkship in Maryland .  The genealogist of the Brickeys failed to tell us why they came to Maryland --- Maryland was a Catholic country and they were Protestant.

     All of John’s children married.  Peter migrated to Westmoreland County in about 1730 and married Winifred Lucas from which marriage all the Brickeys in America have their beginning.  The other two boys had all girls, except one so who died in his teens.  We find the Brickeys to this day a deeply religious people and bearing the name of John, Jarad (Jarrett), Peter, William, Mary and Gincy in almost every family.

     We shall name the children of Peter and Winifred Lucas Brickey: Garad, Jared, (Jarrett), John, Peter, William, Dorcos married Garner, Winifred married Kirkland , Temperance married Morgan, and Elizabeth married Sanford .

     In four generations or in one hundred and twenty years they came by leaps from Maryland; first to Westmoreland County, next to Botetourt, next to Blount County, Tenn. And then on to Randolph County , Illinois and Crawford County , Missouri .  A few of the Brickeys in the trek of one hundred and twenty years fell out of line.  We find a few Brickeys in and around Botetourt County , a few Brickeys in Scott County , and a few Brickeys in Blount County Tennessee, but the land of the Brickeys is south and west of St. Louis , Missouri .

     All Brickeys were ardent followers of George Washington and as late as 1840, we find Jarrett, Peter, and William Brickey pensioners for service during the Revolutionary War, ages respectively 83, 81, and 80.  We do not know the names of the other Brickeys who participated in the struggle fro freedom but evidently there were many older members of the families who championed the American cause.

     So William Brickey was one of the Brickeys who left the trek of Brickey at Ft. Blackmore , Virginia about 1798.  Doubtless he migrated to this region with John, Jarrett and other Brickeys and the fascination of Elizabeth Cox took possession of him about 1800, and they were married.  The Brickeys of Scott County are descendants of William Brickey and Elizabeth Cox.  The children born to this union were Elijah, James, Peter, John, and a daughter who married Washington Spencer.  What influence, atmosphere, nature of soil, or the nature and general appearance of the people caused the majority of all the Brickeys to migrate to the territory around St. Louis ?  In about 1810 they came from eastern Virginia , Botetourt, Bedford , and Montgomery Counties , Virginia , from Blount County , Tennessee and from Shelby County, Tennessee to this region.

     It seemed that these great people longed for a change.  They had prospered in Maryland , they had accumulated wealth in Virginia as we find them listed prior to 1700 with slaves and servants and wearing the finest of broad cloth, but a call for a different environment must have been the urge for them to go west.



Gate City Herald

Thursday, March 5, 1936

B. S. Pate Hanged Nearly 86 Years Ago

The following article appeared in the Gate City Herald in June, 1915 and was written by the late Hon. D. S. Hale.  We are indebted to Prof. Sevier H. Meade, Coeburn, for the reproduction.

     Sixty-five years ago, Friday, June 25, 1915 , Baxter S. Pate was hanged at Estillville (Gate City) on a Tuesday, June 25, 1850, up in a vale on Clinch Mountain nearly opposite the home of the late Major Holdway, for thee murder of John Luttrell, committed in an upper room of the old Corner Hotel, where the Boatright Hotel now stands.

     It was the second execution by judicial decree that the people of Scott County ever witnessed and the first I ever saw.

     There was no delay in the court proceedings at the May term.  The late Col. Henry A. Morison was then Commonwealth’s attorney and the Trial Judge was Col. Samuel V. Fulkerson.  The very mention of these two men meant in that day that the law of our old State was supreme.  Money and family influence cut no figure in those honest times.  Wish it could be said the same in these days of so much disregard of the sacred ties of human life.  In some sections of our county murder has become almost a pastime, especially on the Sabbath at church---a thing unheard of unknown in those happy years that gave Scott County a name we all became proud of.  It is a sad reflection to one who has been spared as I have, and who has lived through the blood letting period of our Civil War, and who has lived in states where the law was above men.

     I would not ask space in the Herald for this long communication if it was not that you of the Herald deprecate the same conditions of murder that all good citizens do.  The Herald’s influence can hardly be over estimated.  Ant through it I want to appeal to our people, especially the young men, to try to estimate the value of human life.

     Could they have witnessed the grim execution of that promising young man and heard the solemn warning he gave the young men in that vast assembly and the solemn funeral preached by the venerable Samuel D. Steele, the impress would have gone with them through life as it has with me.  Ah! So indelibly did it impress my mind that I think I can and will try to give from memory some details of that solemn day so long ago.

     The wagon bearing the doomed man from the old jail wended its way slowly down and up to the gallows, Pate nicely dressed and sitting on his coffin.  As soon as we crossed Little Mocassin Creek, the green woodland set in.  The air was fragrant with the wild grapevine bloom, the white capped alders on either side.  The sweet mountain wild birds were singing.  It seemed to me that truly every prospect was pleasing and only man was vile.  That poor fellow seemed to take in every object as he must have realized it to be the last view he would ever have of nature’s peaceful loveliness.

     Soon the grim gallows was reached and beside it was an open grave.  The prisoner, two divines and late venerable Dr. Herron ascended the trapdoor.  A guard of a hundred men, under the charge of the late Captain James D. Vermillion, stood in a circle around.  The mountain sides were covered with humanity, even the trees were loaded with boys (said to have been 5,000 people).  Rev. Gaines preached the funeral and Rev. Ruben Steele led in prayer and they sang:

“Roll on, sweet moments, roll on, And let the poor pilgrim go home, go home.”

     Then Pate arose and in a clear voice gave out an old hymn and led the song, the first verse being as follows:

“ And am I born to die, To lay this body down?  And must my trembling spirit fly Into a world unknown?  And Must my trembling spirit fly Into a world unknown?  A land of deepest share, Unpierced by human thought;  The dreary regions of the dead Where all thing are forgot.”

     Then they handed him a Bible and he read the 121st Psalm.  As he read the first lines he glanced at the steep slope of Clinch Mountain .  When he had read  the chapter he gave a solemn warning to young men, and when the death cap was drawn over his face, as the late Rufus Fugate jumped off the trap door, Pate in a loud voice said:---“This what the whiskey bottle has brought me to.”  He had requested the sheriff to tap the trap with his hatchet before he cut the rope.

     Baxter S. Pate has gone to that great Tribunal, where we all must appear.  God forbid that I shall ever stand before that great Tribunal with the blood of any my on my hands.  In the war I tried to do the duty required of me, and I am glad to be able to say, in those over three years of horror, to my knowledge I never killed a man.

     Poor Pate, in his pleading to the young men said, “Oh, I would give ten thousand worlds if I could only recall the deed that brought me to this fate.”

     In regard to the above article there is doubt in the minds of a few people as to whether Baxter S. Pate was actually hanged.  Perhaps there are some old times yet living in Scott County or elsewhere who may be able to give some definite information about the hanging and to the alleged rumor to the contrary.

     My mother told me today and a few other times in the past that she had been informed more than once by the late Thomas Strong, one the guards at the hanging, that he did not believe Pate was hanged because of some very strange actions and maneuvers which took place that day.

     Twenty years ago I spent the night with an old gentleman in Russell County , Virginia , by the name of Kelly, who was then eighty-three years of age.  He stated that he had not been to Estillville ( Gate City ) since Pate was hanged.  This Mr. Kelly who was a fluent talker advised me that Pate was not hanged but lived in one of the Western States some years after the supposed hanging.  Mr. Kelly made these few remarks as a positive statement.


The Gate City Herald
Thursday, February 27, 1936

Clinch Region History

by C. V. Compton

     In Southwest Virginia lies an extensive region whose surface is a succession of hills and hollows, or, to be more accurate, of mountains and valleys.  It is among these hills that many of the great rivers of the Eastern United States take their sources.

     The hills and mountains are generally arable to the top, although many of the hill sides are jutted with rocks which assist in giving the region its romantic and picturesque character which this section so eminently possesses.

     Colleges and minor schools of learning meet the eye of the stranger at every few miles, as he winds his way through this rolling and mountainous country, and churches abound which characterize a moral and refined people.  The first pioneers who felled the trees and planted corn in this region are succeeded by their descendents who still cultivate much of the land, raise cattle, and wish a collegiate education for all their sons and daughters.

     A section of this region’s history has not been told by the historian.  We find histories of the Holston , New, James, Shenandoah or the Valley of Virginia , Ohio , Tennessee , Cumberland river and so on for all rivers of America , only the Clinch Region is lacking.  Story of the Clinch extending from the head waters of the three prongs of the river to the canyon at Sperry Ferry, if given, would be as thrilling as the history of any section of America .  We do not here propose to give the history of this region --- our purpose is only to call attention to the opportunity which this region offers to the college or university for  an outstanding contribution to the history of America .

     Were your forefathers in the Clinch Region prior to the Revolutionary War?  Westward across the wilderness tramped unceasingly the pack-horses of the emigrants.  Eastward marched a few emigrants unsuited and unadapted for the perils of the Clinch.  All along the route, across the wilderness, the Indians took their toll of the pioneers.  By 1775 the Indian hatred of the white man out ran his fear.  Around great fires along the Clinch trail the savages lurched constantly and danced the war dance of death.

     The settlers at Blackmore faced a number of elemental dangers.  The danger of hunger, the danger from floods, the perils of winter storms, and ordinary risk of hunting.  But the deadliest of the perils was that of Indian attack, less in some years than others.  Indeed the Indians grew more and more menacing until the Battle of Falling Timbers 1793.  In the days of the traders and trappers the white man was their customer who bought their pelts, a store keeper who sold them powder, whiskey and blankets, sometimes an associate who hunted and trapped with them and married their women.  It was the trader’s interest that the conditions should remain status quo and the Redman to be protected in their hunting grounds.  The British Government, the traders, and hunters were willing enough that everything of the head waters of t he James, Potomac , Shenandoah should forever remain --- an Indian country.

     But as the Scotch-Irish came and the population began to dam up at Philadelphia , two things happened.  First the Indians began to realize that their hunting ground on the Clinch was in danger of being over run by the white man.  Second the Indians realized that their game was being away and much of it was being ruthlessly slaughtered.  At first the Indians could wreak their vengeance on the few straggling groups, but after the settlements were definitely established he white man ignored the Indian methods of warfare and even the time of waging war.

     Imagine, if you can, the long hours of suspense sustained by Green, Blackmore, Short, Cox, John Carter, Andrew Davis, and Mathew Gray waiting for lead, flint, gunpowder, flour, and even a few militiamen to protect them from the marauding Shawnees and Cherokees.  Between the port of Philadelphia and the haven along the Clinch thousands of emigrants fresh from the narrow confines of Ireland and Scotland were passing.  The men who had made the settlement and those who followed went hopefully on their way, jogging across mountains; many afoot searching for suitable place to build their log cabin.  These Scotch-Irish being so prone to seek liberty --- that neither the colonial government nor the mountains formed a barrier to them.  The pea vine grazing, and richness of soil of the coves and hillsides penetrated far away Ulster and the county of Renfro , Scotland .

     By 1767 the dawn of a new epoch was at hand in the Western Country.  The Chinese Wall that had surrounded this region was collapsing like stage scenery at the end of an act.  The people who came to Scott County prior to 1776 were not slow in realizing the crumbling wall of the colonial governor’s influence.  They no longer thought of the banks of the Clinch as a land of trappers and traders but a land for settlement.  The year 1772 was a momentous year in the history of the Clinch Region, settlements sprang up from the source of the three prongs of the Clinch to the Canyon Near Sperry Ferry, at Abb’s Valley, Maiden Spring, Elk Garden , Castlewood, Ft. Blackmore , and Moore ’s Fort.  These early settlers were what we might call gluttons for privations.

     History has no record, of these deaths along the Clinch from Indian hands.  What we find must have been gathered from old court records.  For us to relate the starkness of the condition existing along the Clinch in 1774 let us quote a letter Captain Daniel Smith located at Elk Garden , Virginia wrote to Colonel William Preston as preserved in the Draper Collection of Southwest Virginia History:

     “Dear Sir: --- The late invasion of Indians hath so much alarmed the inhabitants of the Clinch River that without more men . . . the more timorous will move to a place of safety.  By what I can learn the terror is great on the Holston , so that we have no room to look for assistance from that quarter I am going to the assistance of the Castlewood men with what force could be spared from this upper district.

     Elk Garden , Oct. 4, 1774 .
                          Dan. Smith…

     A few names of the many men who made the supreme sacrifice have been passed on down to the present time.  We shall give the following names who died for posterity along the Clinch:  James Boone, Samuel Cowan, Dale Carter, Mrs. John Carter, Isaac Chrisman, John Duncan, Humphrey Dickenson, John Davidson, ______ Dial, _____ Douglass, Mrs. Ambrose Fletcher, James Green, Joseph Gilbert, Mrs. Henry Mamlin, Daniel Harman, John Henry, Mrs. Joseph Johnson, Jacob Lewis, John Moore, Jane Moore, Mrs. James Moore, James Moore, Mrs. Fannie Alley Napper, William Parks, Joseph Ray, Mrs. Joseph Ray, James Roark, Mrs. James Roark, Henry Russell, John Simpson, Archibald Scott, William Whitley.

     This region from 1772 to 1773 became a tremendous, tumultuous story which could be written in letters of death and blood , an epic of tragedy, of moonlight savage attacks, of roaring rifles --- a tale of men who died with their moccasins on.

     Human life nowhere at any time in the settling of America has been cheaper than along the Clinch.  The unrelenting attacks of the savages which had been stirred up first by the English were of its peak during the settlement of the Clinch Region.

     Many and picturesque were the dangers braved by these Clinch pioneers.  Out of the swirl of the Clinch River Boom there emerged the great land boom in Kentucky which cost thousands of lives.  Since the English landed at Jamestown we have had a land boom about ever ten years.  From 1763 to 1772 it was the New River and Surry County North Carolina, then in ten years succession followed the Clinch, Kentucky, Cumberland, Ohio, Missouri, Louisiana, and so on until we find the booms in the coal fields, wheat fields, gold fields, silver fields, copper fields, oil fields, gas fields and so on to the present day.  The Clinch land boom was a genuine boom, from 1772 with closing down of the linen mills in Ulster to the closing period of the Revolutionary War the American people were in their greatest state of flux.  Not even following the Revolutionary War did a greater percent of the population migrate than during the land boom of the Clinch Region.  We know the growth to the Southwest Virginia must have been rapidly from the constant habit of creating new counties in Southwest Virginia :  Washington 1777, Montgomery 1777, Greenbriar 1777, Russell 1776, Wythe 1790, Lee 1783, Tazewell 1799, and Scott 1814.

     To the raw, soaring log cabin region of 1772 to 85 they came literally by the thousands.  The circumscribed industries of Ulster , Ireland and Renfro Scotland were soon transformed and a great wave from these regions came to the Clinch.  But it was necessary for them to undergo all the privations experienced in any new found bona.  They had traveled far to inherit this region.  Along the route they had seen their companions massacred by the savages, and daily themselves had dined and dwell with death.  These men of Renfro Scotland; Ulster Ireland; and Northampton, England carried their lives in their hands heavily but like bright colored jewels of great worth, they came determined, even swearing into this new found region, which was the richest discovered down to 1772.  Thus the Clinch Region flourished.


The Gate City Herald

Thursday, August 20, 1936

Compton Classifies Early Pioneers In Three Classes

     The Clinch Valley Region in 1772 was the most western settlement of Anglo-Saxon civilization in the New World .  As the first area of the Cumberland Mountains to be occupied by the advancing army of home-seekers that was destined to sweep across the continent, the Clinch Region is of peculiar interest to the student of frontier history.  The characteristics of that economy in the region were in the main a result of frontier conditions and consequently were similar to those of other pioneer regions.  They were intensified, however, by isolation, and they differed from those of other frontiers in physical environment and in the scientific and technological equipment available during this period.

     After a few preliminary advances and retreats, the actual settlers began to take possession of the Clinch Region in about 1772.  The settlers in the main came from the Valley Section of Virginia, Maryland , Pennsylvania , New Jersey and even far-away Massachusetts , where they had been accustomed to pioneering conditions.  Their antecedents were English, Scotch, Irish, and German with a few Dutch, and French Huguenots scattered among the general population.

     Topographically the region drained by the Clinch and its tributaries was a dissected plateau --- many years before the Clinch flowed through Cumberland Gap into the Kentucky or the Cumberland River .  Possibly at one time it may have flown thru Pound Gap or thru the mountain of Tazwell County into Tug Fork --- but that was many years ago and for at least the past million years the Clinch has cut its way through the mountain at Speer’s Ferry and made its way south to the Tennessee .  Due to this process of soil formation it made the soil very fertile but left a considerable amount of the region too steep and broken for successful cultivation.  When even the first savages came to this region, doubtless it was heavily timbered and abounded in wild animals, both game and predatory.  This great fur bearing region had been visited by hunters and trappers both Anglo-Saxon and French for more than a hundred years prior to the coming of James Green, James Moore, Mathias Harman, Carr, and about a half dozen other pioneer families.

     The claim of the Indians to practically all of Scott County was genuine as the Treaty of Ft. Stanwix and Cold Labor gave the whites the land east of a line running from about where the cement plant is now located in Kingsport, north to the mouth of Guest’s River and thence on north to the mouth of the great Kanawha.  James Green settled on Indian territory , against the orders of his majesty, King George, and with only the protection of the British government.  Many tribes of the Cherokee nation never did sanction the treaty giving this section to the white man --- their incursions to this region were a menace until Benge was killed in 1794.

     Despite the difficulties involved in crossing the mountains, and establishing homes among the dangers of the Indians, the population increased rapidly from a dozen families in the Clinch Region in 1772 to about 600 by the close of the Revolutionary War.

     The motivation force back of this migration was always economic.  Some there were, especially among the first settlers, who were drawn by a love of adventure, or of solitude, or by a desire to escape the consequences of past conduct; but the majority sought the opportunity to improve their economic condition.  This they expected to do by acquiring land and developing it into improved farms which would provide old age security for themselves and something to hand down to their children.  It was not that they expected to make a better living the first years than they could in the older region, but rather hoped to be able to acquire and create capital stock in the way of improved lands, farm buildings, live stock and other equipment.  Ultimately the durable wealth created by the pioneer would result in improved standards of living, at least for his children.  The land in its wilderness state had comparatively little value, not until it was transferred into farms by labor of the pioneers did it become productive capital.

     We quote from a letter of Herr J. A. Roebling written from this Monongahela River region in about 1800 which is also applicable to the Clinch Region:

     “There is no profit in hired help’ just as there is no profit in bringing help from Europe .  All farmers here do only as much as they with their family can handle.  You will not find any gentlemen farmers here that keep hired help.  These people live a very happy life indeed, enviable in comparison with the German farmer; he raises all his necessities, makes his own clothing, and has a surplus of the necessities of life.  Many land owners here has no stables and the cattle stay out in the open in the winter.  The horses are strong and vigorous and used for both riding and plowing.  Sheep raising can be conducted in different ways but it is not advisable to have a large number for one farmer and so on.”

     Letter addressed to Mr. Ferdinand Baehr, Mulhausen , Germany dated Jan. 5, 1801 .

     So the Clinch Region was the land of small farms until the cattle barons invaded the territory in about 1860.  Certainly some of the first settlers of the Clinch had outlived their credit in the older parts of America .  Their time of migration usually was about April.  This fellow on reaching the region would build him a log one-room cabin, possibly erect a rail-pen for a stable and would kill the trees over about an acre of land then late in the season would plant the clearing to Indian corn.  His family, which usually is rather a large one is sustained by fish and wild game in the region.  For the first year this family endures a great deal from hunger, cold and a great variety of accidental causes, but never any complaints are muttered by them.  As he lives away from the other settlers, Indians pay him social visits and soon he is tinctured with their habits and manners.  As the population increases about him, he soon becomes dissatisfied as he can not surrender his natural rights for the cultural rights of society.  Soon he abandons or sells out his holdings and moves on further west.

     Despite his unsocial characteristics, the settler of the “hunter pioneer” type was usually the first to make an effort at settling the new region and in turn he is followed by a second species who enlarges he cabin, clears some meadow land, plant, maybe a few fruit trees and raise some corn, wheat and rye.  This species of settler was the second type to appear on the frontier scene and he only halfway did the job.  As the hope of his crops is often blasted by cattle breaking in to and destroying his corn patch, or wheat or rye fields.  His horse performs but half the labor that might be expected from him due to little or no feed during the summer.  His cattle often die in the spring of the year due to the lack of food and shelter.  This type of settler delighted in spending two or three days each week at the mil or general store discussing politics, arguing a bout the tenets of faith of the Baptist or Methodist church and contracting debts which in a short time compelled him to move on.  In searching through the old records of Russell , Washington , Greenbriar, Montgomery and Botetourt counties Virginia and Sullivan County , Tennessee this statement can be easily by the court records.

     Then come the last species of settlers.  He is thrifty, hardworking with a small but increasing family.  He first converts every spot of level land to meadow.  He next builds good log barns, a solid log spring house, and erects permanent buildings for all needs of his farm.  He not only raises corn, wheat, oats, rye, but he raises in addition to the above items various kinds of garden products and begins to plant orchards of apples, pears, plums, and peaches.  Possibly there never was in the Clinch Region two more outstanding horticulturists than Rawleigh Stallard who gave to eastern United States the Raleigh apple and John Broadwater who produced from a seeding the early apple know as the “Sink hole” in southwest Virginia and by the nurseryman the “Early Hale.”

     The Clinch Region in its formation of settlement had three distinct type of settlers.  The hunter-pioneer type who mad a small beginning in the process of creating a farm.  But after a short time, he moved on.  He was usually succeeded by a settler of the second type who enlarged the cabin, cleared a little more land, and raised a little wheat, and rye as well as Indian corn.  He extracted by no means from the earth what she was capable of giving, owing to the ground not being properly cultivated.  Then the third type arrived who became the actual pioneer ancestor of the major part of the Clinch Region population.  There were exceptions but this is the general rule which may be verified by court records of this region.  We know in some cases the land speculators like Patton, Walker, and McClung Sent out settlers and they usually did well.

     Of the third variety of settlers we find a variety of activities being introduced and tried out by them.  Some attempted silkworm cultivation in the Clinch Region, others tried cotton farming, others attempted tobacco, and through the economic law of existence based largely on open markets the third type of farmers settled down after experimenting to the raising of live stock, some wheat, oats, corn and a little tobacco.  Since labor for hire was rare, and money to pay was not available, the work of the early farmers was performed by the farmer and his family.  Only a few items that the home had to have were not produced on the farm ___ viz; iron, glass, salt and spices, and these were brought over the mountain on pack horses.

     Once each year a caravan of pack horses from the Clinch went east loaded with ginseng, pelt, whiskey, and snakeroot and on the return from Philadelphia or Baltimore brought back nails, salt, glass, and spices.  It was at first too far to drive the cattle through a pathless country but by 1812 quite a drover’s business was built up in the Clinch region and some of the best drovers of America came out of this section.  We find about 1780 a few general stores were opened up more to supply the needs of the emigrants going to Kentucky than for the local farmers.  We failed to find any stores mentioned in “Addington’s History of Scott Co. Virginia” but we find a list of articles sold by the general store at Rogersville , Tenn. In 1790 which is close enough to give us the kind of merchandise carried by stores of this section.  Usually the store was a part of the dwelling house and amount the articles listed for sale:  Nails, calico, axes, Glauber Salts, asafetida, Bateman drops, best of rum, wine, brandies, borax, alum, copperas, brimstone, Peruvian bark, Bibles, Dilworth’s Arithmetic, Watt’s Hymn Book, and camphor.  No mention is made of coffee, sugar or flour.  These stores did not sell apparently what could be produced by the farmers.

     But within a generation after the settlement of Green, Moore , Harman, and Abb’s Valley diversification set began to develop.  Even during the early settlement of Patrick Porter we find him building a mill and receiving from the British majesty through the Virginia colony the permit in 1774 to erect a mill on Falling Creek near the present town of Dungannon .  Before long a fuller’s mill was started by the Moore family about three miles east  and south of Dungannon which remained in operation down to the memory of he older citizens of Scott Co.  Manufacture of wool into cloth and distilling came into prominence to those with the ingenuity and skill to install and operate the plants.  From 1780 to 1860 distilling was one of the major industries of not only the Clinch Region but a territory running from Buffalo , N.Y. to middle Georgia .  Then it was considered honorable and respectable.  An interesting sketch could be given on the distilling industry of this region (which was legitimate) prior to 1860.  The itinerant shoemakers”, harber-dashers” (German salesman who said” Habe er das” made this word and tinkers began to come into this region about 1800 and to relieve he farmers of some of their difficult task.  Most of these workers or salesman were paid on a custom basis, that is the payment for the work was in the form of raw products.  Even as to this day the mills were operated by paying a certain per cent of the grain for the grinding, or the distilling.

     By 1800 artisans began to set up their shops in community centers and even then each community like Nickelsville could boast of one or more carpenters, coopers, chair makers, tanners, curries, cobbles, saddle makers, distillers, hatters and stone chimney builders.

     The removal of the restriction on the New Orleans trade in 1795 by what is called the Pickney Treaty gave the Clinch Region the first opportunity of connecting a transportation system with the outside world.  Flatboats began to ply their way down to Chattanooga , Natchez and even to New Orleans loaded with corn, wheat, honey, pelts, ginseng, maple sugar, snakeroot and even bacon.


  Gate City Herald
Thursday, January 2, 1936

Estep Is Wounded In Rye Cove Fight

New Sheriff Quillin Probes Basis For Shooting Just As He Takes Over Office

     Tom Estep, about 30, was in a critical condition in the hospital today suffering abdominal gunshot wounds allegedly inflicted by Emory Tipton, about 50, in an altercation near Rye Cove late Wednesday afternoon and still Under Investigation today by Scott County ’s new Sheriff J. E. Quillin.

     Sheriff Quillin went to the scene of the shooting late Wednesday, but Tipton had left or escaped, he said.  Quillin’s investigation at the scene revealed that Sylvester Starnes, father-in-law of the wounded an, was struck over the head with some weapon during the same altercation.

     Quillin was unable to assign any motive for the shooting other than a free-for-all fight, as the result of his investigation late Wednesday, but planned to continue a probe until entirely settled.

     The shooting occurred on the day that inducted Quillin into office as Scott County ’s new sheriff.  








Gate City Herald
Thursday, January 9, 1936

Estep Is Victim Of Pistol, Tipton Held

Tom Estep Died Tuesday In A Bristol Hospital ;
Emory Tipton Is In Jail Here Charged With Murder

     Tom Estep, 32, resident of the Hill Station section died in the King Mountain Memorial hospital, Bristol at about one o’clock Tuesday morning, the victim of abdominal gunshot wounds sustained last Wednesday in the altercation which is said to have taken place between him and Emory Tipton.

     Tipton is now lodged in the jail here and was yesterday formally charged with Estep’s murder.  He has been in jail since last Saturday when he was arrested by high sheriff J. Ezra Quillen.  It is reported that no request has been made for bond.

     The accused man has made no statement except that he stated that he and Estep had had trouble.

     Estep was shot through the stomach, the bullet perforating the intestines four times and piercing one kidney before coming out near the spine.  The kidney was removed in an effort to save the wounded man his life.

     Estep is survived by his wife, Maggie, and three brothers and sisters: Frank and Abraham, of Clinchport and John of Kingsport; Mrs. Daniel Lane , Gate City and Lula and May Estep of Clinchport.

     Funeral services were held at the home Wednesday and interment took place in the near-by cemetery.  


The Gate City Herald
Thursday, January 23, 1936

Tipton Gets Twenty Years For Murder

Second Degree Murder Found Against Emory Tipton


     Emory Tipton was found guilty of second degree murder by a Scott County jury today and his punishment set at twenty years in the state penitentiary.  The verdict was returned at 9:35 this morning.

     Tipton was on trial for the murder of Tom Estep in the Hill Station section of Scott County .  Estep was shot on January 1, 1936 and died in a Bristol hospital five days later from an abdominal pistol shot wound.

     Tipton was represented by former judge S. H. Bond and Hagan Bond of Gate City while Commonwealth Attorney E. Hagan Richmond was assisted by George M. Warren of Bristol , and Cecil D. Quillen of Gate City .

     All evidence and arguments were complete lade Wednesday evening, leaving only jury deliberations for Thursday morning.

     The prosecution centered its case around the testimony of Sylvester Starnes, farther in law of the slain man.

     Starnes declared that Tipton started the difficulty by attacking him with a knife.  When the knife was lost in the ensuing scuffle, Mr. Starnes said, he released Tipton who then returned to his house, secured a pistol, and renewed his attacks, this time striking the main state witness in the side and on the head.

     The slain man intervened in the second scuffle at Starnes request, that he wrest Tipton’s pistol from while he, Starnes, held the defendant on the ground.  Estep was shot while he sought to carry out the request, Starnes related.

     When Estep was wounded, the witness said, the second scuffle ended and he and Estep fled from the scene of trouble while Tipton returned to his home a second time, emerging with a shotgun and following them.  He mad no further attacks, however, when he met his son, Wrightly.

     Defense counsel S. H. Bond and Hagan Bond introduced Tipton’s son John and the latter’s wife, Elizabeth in an effort to show that Estep was armed with a pistol when the shooting occurred.

     John Tipton and his wife were fined for alleged efforts to avoid summons to testify in the case.

     The defendant claimed Starnes started the difficulty by striking him on the head with a stick he was carrying.  Tipton was cross examined in detail by Attorney Warren as to why he returned after a pistol when he lost his knife, and later for a shotgun after losing the pistol.


The Gate City Herald
Thursday, July 30, 1936

Compton Relates Francisco History

Many Descendants of the Hero Of This Story Now Reside In Scott Co.

     Surnames have always had a special appeal to me.  Among the hundreds of surnames of Scott County I find none during the nation’s formative period more intertwined in the making of American History than that of Francisco.  To find a good Spanish name in the heart of Anglo Saxon America has for years aroused a speculative attitude in my mind a to how the name came to Scott County .  I have often thought did the progenitor of the Francisco name come from Florida or Mexico .  If not, when, where and how did the family arrive in Virginia ?  After a considerable amount of research we have found the following story of the name Francisco.

     In the year 1765 near the present town o Hopewell , Virginia a small ship from unknown quarters cast anchor near the shore in the James River ; lowered a small boat, placed a small boy therein and three rough looking men hastily rowed the boat to shore.  They set the youngster on land and the men returned to the ship and immediately set sail, leaving the youngster in a foreign land among strange people, even speaking a foreign language.  What few planters observed the craft had never seen a boat like this one in the waters of the James.  At first the ship attracted attention but when the boy was found he was a curious spectacle.

     According to the story left by James Durell who lived near where the boy was abandoned tells according to old records the following story of Peter Francisco.  The boy was about five or six years of age, wore a suit of rich material with silver shoe buckles bearing the initials “P. F.”  The boy had picked up a few words of English from the sailors and made himself known to Mr. Durell as Peter Francisco.  The boy was of noble bearing, and his poise and manners caused even the most illiterate to take note of the royal demeanor of this boy.  It was Durell’s opinion in 1765 that the boy had been kidnapped and brought to this country to allow someone else to inherit his birthright.

     Robert McKee of Tennessee a few years ago did a considerable amount of investigating the boy’s ancestry.  He learned of a royal house in Spain by the name of Francisco, and that a child of this house was ordered beheaded to atone for the treason of his father late in the eighteenth century.  He had the American consul to investigate the report but all the consul was able to obtain was that the records of that particular province had been destroyed and thus no further light was thrown on the name Francisco whose descendants now reside in Scott County .

     After the boy had mastered the English language fairly well he gave this version.  He said his home must have been in either Spain or Portugal .  The memory of his father was slight but he remembered quite well his mother and his little sister.  He recalled that his mother spoke  on language and his father another.  He remembered distinctly the great castle like home in which he lived.  On the day he was kidnapped a great festival was going on inside the castle walls and he and his sister were playing in the garden.  Some men came to the garden fence and offered some sweet bread to come out into the street.  When he reached the street a blanket was thrown over him and he was carried away to sea.  From what land the boy never definitely knew and even to this day his descendants have not solved the mystery.

     Due to the manly bearing of the boy Judge Anthony Winston carried him to his home in Buckingham County , Virginia .  No one else seemed to be anxious to take charge of the little fellow.  It is stated that by the beginning of the Revolutionary War he was the strongest man or boy in that whole region and was a favorite with all classes and types of people.  Judge Winston had the papers drawn up to adopt him as his son and make him his lawful heir when the stirring times of the Revolutionary War it was overlooked and thus we have the name of Francisco.

     The future record of the boy shows lineage and regal bearing.  Patrick Henry came to know and to love the boy.  In 1776 Peter Francisco joined Captain Woodsen’s regiment and saw service with Washington around New York , Long Island and received his baptism of fire at Brandywine .  Here on the same field at the same time another stranger was wounded both were carried to the Quaker’s family Gilbert’s home where Mrs. Gilbert nursed both Lafayette and Francisco back to health.  A friendship sprang up between these two boys, one sixteen , the other nineteen, that the years did not break.  We find Lafayette visiting Peter Francisco in 1826.

     We find Peter Francisco at Monmouth, at the storming of Stony Point and was the second man to scale its walls, and he was with Washington ’s Army at Valley Forge .  His bravery on the field of battle won the friendship and the enduring admiration of George Washington.  Washington had a special sword made for Peter Francisco and to this day it can be seen in the archives of Virginia Historical Association, Richmond , Virginia .  He was with Greene at Guilford Courthouse and in “Foote’s Sketches of North Carolina” which was prepared about 1830 can be found an account of Peter Francisco.  It is stated that Peter Francisco performed a deed of valor unparalleled in American History.  In this battle he killed eleven red-coats with his own sword.  Also he was left for dead on this field but a man by the name of Robinson carried him to his home where he recuperated and soon again was off to Virginia after the British.

     Al Guilford Courthouse stands today a monument commemorating in the following terms: “Peter Francisco, a giant of incredible strength, killed eleven British soldiers with his own sword at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse.”

     Peter Francisco was a close friend of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Lafayette, Henry Clay, Marshall and in the archives at Richmond many stories are buried that far outrival in grandeur the name Israel Putnam, Paul Revere or any other name from New England .

     This is but a page of the past, a pageant of a little boy kidnapped from his home, his country, and his parents; set a drift in a new land where he made history and the historians of the south have been neglectful of his contribution to American liberty.  He lies buried in the Shockoe Cemetery , Richmond , Virginia .  We find his descendants in Scott County as well as any counties of Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee as well as North Carolina .

     Peter Francisco married Susanna Anderson, daughter of James Anderson, Cumberland County , Va. and to this union were born two sons:  Peter and James.  Peter died in young manhood and James married Judith Michaux and had the following sons and daughters: James, Jesse, Peter, Obediah, Susanna, Benjamin, John and Robert.

     Peter’s wife Susanna died and then he married Catherine Brooke and had the following children: Catherine, Susan, and Morris.  Morris married Jane Lawrence the first time and then after his wife died he married Annie Goodwin.  By these two marriages he had the following children: Peter, Elmo, Henry, Fanny, Benjamin, Catherine, William, Elizabeth, Mattie and John.

     From Peter Francisco the Franciscos of the Eastern United States have sprung.  We find them in Scott County , In North Carolina and east Tennessee and Kentucky .  Permit me to say that on more alluring chapter of the Revolutionary War can be found than the unpublished chapter of the daring deeds of Peter Francisco.

--- C. V. Compton


Thursday, August 27, 1936

An Apology

     In our issue of July 30 we published a very interesting article on the Franciscos with a brief history of Peter Francisco from Mr. V. B. Compton, of Woodville , Texas .  It develops that a portion of the information in this article is contained in a book by (Mrs. W. A.) Nannie Francisco Porter, and that this book is copyrighted.  We received a letter from Mrs. Porter, a copy of which we forwarded to Mr. Compton.  We herewith publish Mr. Compton’s reply to Mrs. Porter.  We as well as Mr. Compton are deeply grieved that any infringement was made on Mrs. Porter’s rights.  We should like to have information from anyone who knows of the whereabouts of Mr. Francisco Jones.  Mrs. Porter would like to get in communication with him.

Mrs. W. A. Porter
2209 A Park Avenue

Richmond , Va.

My Dear Mrs. Porter:

     A copy of your letter to the Gate City Herald was forwarded to me this morning which was a shock to me.

     First, permit me to say that I have never seen your book and did not know that such a book was written.  My source of information was from Francisco Jones, a migratory oil field worker, who said he was born near Bluefield , W. Va. and had followed pipe line work in West Virginia , Pennsylvania and Ohio and was looking for work here in the east Texas oil fields.

     He had, I should guess more than fifty pages written about the Franciscos which he lead me to believe to be his work of collecting and gathering the material.  I accepted his material in good faith and thought I had made a real find of genealogical interest.  He stated all Franciscos came from him.

     I am deeply grieved over the use of material that you say you have worked up and even is in printed form.

     The Gate City Herald a weekly newspaper is in no financial way responsible for this material.  They did not ask me for it and I sent it to them for general interest to the readers.

     Hope this word of explanation will be satisfactory to you and your worker.

I am, yours truly,

   C. V. Compton


The Gate City Herald
Thursday, March 19, 1936

Early Pioneers Of Old Compton Farm

(by C. V. Compton)

     All early pioneers of Scott County settled along the streams where bountiful springs supplied water.  Abraham Compton, born in New Jersey, lost his father in the Revolutionary War, reared a “bound boy” by a man named Smith in Burke Garden, married Lucy Barry 1789 and moved to the Gig Glades which in after years came to be known as “The Compton Farm,” changed the idea of the pioneer from the necessity of settling by a flowing spring --- he dug his own spring and thus started an era of settling in the upland region of Scott County.

     When he settled the Big Glades there were no settlements in the county away from running springs.  The grass here grew rank, herds of deer and flocks of wild turkey were seen daily by Thomas McConnell (Dempsey) in driving the cows up at night for milking.  These two types of game were the only ones that Abraham considered worth while to tempt him from his regular pursuits for a short time.  He knew the haunts of the deer and turkey, where they fed and watered and the turkeys roosted and when the sporting spirit seized him or meat was desired for the household, he took his old flintlock and went out and stalked his game or concealed himself where the game would probably pass.  When it was within range with unerring aim, fired bringing down a fine buck or a turkey gobbler.

     From the deer hide buckskin pants and coats, trimmed along the seams with beads and fringes, were made which Abraham wore on dress parade.  He clothed his slaves from the hide of cows which made very durable clothing for rough wear.  Dedford, one of the slaves, and possibly the best mechanic in the Clinch Region had a strong hankering for climbing trees to get squirrels for his meat.  Abraham realizing the severe loss if Dedford should be crippled or seriously injured in these climbing escapades advised him to desist from climbing.  But one Sunday afternoon the temptation was too much when he espied several squirrels in a large beech tree near the “gum Spring”.  He mounted the beech and when he was about twenty or more feet up a limb gave way and Dedford came crashing down through brush and limbs to the ground destroying almost completely his new leather suit.  Abraham came by a short time afterwards and helped to dress his wounds and administered that night a severe whipping for willful disobedience.  As Dedford grew older he realized the righteousness of the regulation and in the years to come he became the trusted and the right hand slave of his master.

     In the Big Glades every season of the year had its particular kind of work for his household.  There was no season for idleness, no season when there was nothing to do.  In the long winter evenings when supper was over, watering, feeding, and housing of the stock was attended to, Abraham was busy with the repair of shoes, Lucy was at the spinning wheel, Polly, Elizabeth, Sarah, Nancy, and Berry took care of the three smaller children before the big blazing fire by cracking and eating the meat of walnuts, hickory nuts, and hazel nuts which had been gathered and stored for winter use.

     The old fire place in the large two story hewn log house was about 8 feet wide which consumed many cords of wood during the long winter nights and days.  Dedford always placed on the back-log which often was more than fifteen inches in diameter by rolling it into the house and placing it in the back of the fire place.  The front log rested on sand stones; and later on andirons were used.

     During these cold nights it was not an unusual thing for the wolf to break into the sheep pen and kill several of his sheep, or to carry off one or more pigs from the bed of the sow in the woods near the house.

     The winter having passed and with it the spring season opened with new duties and struggles; with clearings, planting corn, keeping deer, live stocks and varmints from destroying the young corn.  The garden was to be planted with beans, corn, potatoes, onions and mustard for greens.  Abraham II said: How closely the children watched the growth of the potato tops, the bean vines, the onions hoping from day to day to get something in lieu of salt meat and bread.  How delicious was the taste of the first young and tender vegetables.  What a jubilee when the children were permitted to pull the young corn for roasting ears.

     Each house hold was a complete unit of food, clothing and amusement within itself.  Abraham at first made and repaired the shoes, made the ox yokes and the bows for them, made the hames and collars for the horses, tanned the leather, made the wooden pegs for half-soling the shoes, and kitchen and dairy vessels.

     Lucy was an expert in weaving and spinning.  Day after day, and night after night she would spin the wool rolls into yarn thread, often humming a religious air which blended beautifully with the whir of the spinning wheel.  But after the thread was spun there was much work to be done before the hanks were ready for the loom.  The hanks had to be prepared for the big beam which must have been about eight feet ling and six inches in diameter.  The lose end in front had to be fastened to the sley.  Other hanks had to spun for the shuttle.  In weaving she threw the shuttle from one side to the other between the thread and the warp which passed through the sley or rather two sleys.  There were two treadles attached to the sley which caused the warp to move up and down.

     The yarn had to be colored which coloring was made from the bark of the oak, maple, walnut, hickory, or sumac, depending on the color desired.  After the weaving of the cloth and the coloring then Lucy was the tailor for the household.  It was a task imposed upon her to look after and keep in repair the clothing of the husband and children.  She handled the material every step from the wool growing on the sheep’s back on up to the loom and to the manufactured product.  These Clothes could not be lightly cast aside after so much toil and labor on account of being worn.  The whole household in the pioneering days wore patched clothes.  Every scrap of good cloth was cut out of the old garment and laid aside for either patching or for piecing quilts.

     Then there was the bed clothing for keeping the family warm in winter which claimed much of her attention --- from the weaving of woolen blankets and counter panes to the piecing and quilting of quilts --- the raising of geese for feathers for feather beds and pillows.

     Corn was the principal crop raised and corn bread was used at the meals, morning, noon , and night, for it required a quicker and simpler process of getting it ready from the stalk to bread than in wheat.  Abraham was a great hog raiser.  He would turn them out on the mast of acorn, chestnut, beechnut, and chinquapin in the fall and about three weeks before butchering time he would place twelve to fifteen or more in large log pens and complete the fattening of them on corn.  They were killed and salted down in brine in large tulip troughs for about three months, then the meat was taken out and hung on poles with thongs of leatherwood in the smoke house and a slow fire of cobs and hickory built under the meat for three of four days giving Abraham the consciousness of having a good supply of meat for the Lynchburg market and home consumption.

     No coffee or “bought” tea were ever used only Spicewood and sassafras teas sweetened with maple sugar or honey and cream.  Lucy believed that sassafras tea use extensively in the month of March would thin the blood so that many of the spring and summer ills would be avoided.

     Each of the seasons had their particular kind of fruits, berries, and nuts.  Spring brought the strawberries, dew berries, and sarvis; summer ushered in blackberries, huckleberries, grapes, early apples and peaches; while fall was the time of persimmons, pawpaws, walnuts, hickory nuts, chestnuts, and various kinds o apples and peaches, all of which were shared with birds and animals.

     The incessant industry of Lucy and Abraham Compton naturally carried with it a tendency to take care of everything useful, so that there was little wasted on the Compton Farm.  When we recall the infinite patience and toil and slowness with which all things were produced, it challenges our admiration for the sturdy, industrious, forbearers of ours.

     (These traditional sketches of the condition existing on the Compton farm prior to 1825 were told me by my father and they were told him by his grandfather, Abraham Compton III)

C. V. Compton


The Gate City Herald
Thursday, February 27, 1936

John Wolf

By A. J. Wolfe

     John Wolf was born according to the best tradition in the Rhine Valley about 1785 and died near Gate City , Virginia , in 1816.  He married Katherine Bahre, who was born about 1780 and died near 1835.

     They were married about 1780.  Their firs child, John, Jr. was born March 27, 1781 , and the second child was Katherine, who was born Oct. 3, 1782 .  the two first born they named after themselves.

     About this time they became interested in trying their fortune in the New World .  Accordingly they set out on the voyage across the Atlantic in the spring of 1783, in an old sail boat, in which according to tradition, they were driven out of their way by the stormy sea, the perilous voyage requiring some six or eight months.  They landed at what is now Charleston , S. C., late in the year 1783 or the early part of 1784.  It was during this voyage their second child, Katherine, learned to walk and after landing had to learn again.

     Not being pleased with the country around Charleston they began a trek northward finally coming to the Holston and it doubtless reminded them of the Rhine so they settled down, living near the rest of their lives.

     John Wolf patented 25 acres of land in Washington County by virtue of a Virginia Land Office Treasury Warrant No. 14, 269, lying on the south side of the North Fork of Holston River and bounded as follows:  Beginning on the bank of the river at a sugar tree and hickory form thence with the several courses of the river 212 poles to a lynn and dogwood, thence leaving the river N 30, E 82 degrees---poles to the first station.  Area 24 acres, A. D. 1789.

     The family were abut five years traveling from Charleston , S. C. to the Holston where they settled.  They had the following children:  John, Katherine (Katie), Henry, George, Margaret (Peggy), Adam, Nancy , Jonas, Hannah and Jacob.

     The half breed Indian named Benge made trips to Moccasin Gap.  On August 26, 1791 , the Indians under Benge killed Elisha Ferris and all the rest of the family on the first day of captivity except Nancy Ferris.  Two years later Benge and his fellow savages came to Moccasin Gap and murdered Harper Ratcliff and his entire family of six persons.  These were the neighbors of John Wolf.

     The dangers of the savage Indians, the hardships endured in pioneer life, speaking a strange language, and rearing a family of ten children was too much for John Wolf.  His health gave way, his mind at times became clouded.  Deed Book 3, page 573, Abingdon , Va. , his sons Henry and John Wolf enter into an agreement to take care of their mother.

     It is as follows:  We, Henry Wolf and John Wolf, do promise, bind and oblige our and each of ourselves, and our and each of hour heirs, executors and administrators or assigns to furnish our mother, Katy Wolf, hot house lots and dwelling of our father, John Wolf, as also a garden, half an acre of flax land suitable for raising flax, convenient to said house, as also to deliver to her annually during her natural life, fifty bushels of sound Indian corn and four hundred weight of corn fed fat pork and one bushel of salt, and eight bushels of clean merchantable wheat, a suitable quantity of hay or fodder for her cattle, and shoe leather for three pairs of shoes for herself and two daughters that is with her while they remain single, also a half acre of suitable ground for cotton and as much fruit as she chooses to use for eating and drying, also pasture for her calves and other stock, and also we are bound to go or send to mill for her when ever she requires it, as also get all her firewood that she may need from time to time, as also an additional allowance for four dollars cash.  “Tis well understood and agreed on between the parties, those supplies above mentioned is to be furnished our mother Katy Wolf, from year to year and each and every year during her natural life, as also all other things mentioned is to be strictly complied with at such times and in such manner as she may require, for the true performance of which we bind ourselves and each of us, our heirs, executors and administrators and assigns in penalty of $1000.00.  In witness whereof we have set our and each of our hands this Sept. 15, 1806 .

     Editor’s note: --- The reader will observe that Prof. Wolfe throughout this interesting article on his early ancestor has used the German spelling of the name “Wolf.”


The Gate City Herald
Thursday, August 20, 1936

Wolfe Reunion Is Largely Attended

Notable Address Given By R. Lee Blackwell,
Great-Great-Grand-Son of John Wolf, First Of The Name In This County

     The Wolfe families of the Appalachian section held their third annual reunion in the courthouse in Gate City on last Sunday with many of the descendants and their friends in attendance.

     The meeting got under way about eleven o’clock .  Presided over by Prof. A. J. Wolfe, of Big Stone Gap, the service was begun with song and a prayer by Rev. J. B. Craft, followed by another song.  Then Prof. Wolfe read the minutes of last year’s reunion.

     The speaker for the morning session was Mr. R. Lee Blackwell, of Louisville , Ky.   He was introduced to the audience of his kinsmen by Prof. Wolfe, whose student he was in high school.  Mr. Blackwell is a graduate of Dungannon High School , of Emory and Henry College and of the Harvard Law School .  He is now a member of the law firm of Bruce and Bullitt, in Louisville , Ky.   His speech, tracing in bold outline the history of the descendants of John Wolf, the pioneer, and landing the achievements of the pioneers in general, has been the subject of much favorable comment by all those who heard it.  A copy of the speech in full will be published in an early edition of the Herald.

     All the officers and committee heads that were elected or appointed last year were retained for the coming year.


The Gate City Herald
Thursday, September 3, 1936

Today’s Heirs of yesterday’s Founders

(by R. Lee Blackwell)

Delivered At The 3rd Reunion Of The Wolfe Family In Gate City , Va. On Aug. 16.

     One hundred and seventy-eight years ago there was born in the valley of the Rhine a man whose descendants are not here today in their third reunion.  His grave is two miles north of this Court House, ‘beneath the deeply anchored roots of an ancient oak tree.  John Wolfe (senior) was my great-great grandfather; and there are in this audience members of his fifth generation in this country.

     I shall not undertake to outline to you the history of John Wolfe’s family.  Reverend A. J. Wolfe has spent many years in gathering much information on that subject, and we look forward eagerly to the time when he can compile and give to us in permanent form the results of his labors.

     Suffice to say that 26 years later, in the spring of 1784, John Wolfe, after a long and turbulent voyage in an ancient sail-boat, landed in America at Charleston with his wife and their two firstborn.  Ten children were born to them, of whom the youngest, Jacob, was my great-grandfather.

     In 1789, 5 years after his arrival in America and the year of the Cherokee attack upon Fort Blackmore , John Wolfe settled in this county, where he obtained a patent on lands adjacent to Holston Springs.

     This was still frontier country.  Twenty-six years were to pass before this county was established.  His son, John, Jr., is the same John Wolfe who, on February 15, 1815 at the first County Court held for this county, was recommended to the Governor of Virginia as one of the Justices of the County.

     The frontier character of this territory west of the Alleghenies, thru which already ran the Kentucky Trace, can best be recalled by remembering that John Wolfe’s arrival in this county was only a few months after General Washington’s inauguration as the first President, and that roving Indian bands still invaded the settlement along the Holston and Clinch.

     Thus, the life of John Wolfe, on this western fringe of American civilization, was contemporaneous with the beginning of this Republic.

     Few members of his family could be called distinguished, perhaps none illustrious.  But the soul of a nation is the soul of the whole people who compose it and give to it vibrant, hearty life or stagnant compliance.

     While the early generations were farmers, many of John Wolfe’s descendants (particularly in recent generations) have turned to successful profession as teaching, preaching, medicine, and the law.  They have served in their communities in positions of public trust, in war and in peace.

     But regardless of whether they toiled with their hands at the plow or in the shop, or directed the intellectual and spiritual development of others from the classic halls of the University of the sacred pulpit of a church, they have contributed full measure of their lives toward growth of a mighty people in a mighty Republic.

     They, with the descendants of thousands of other hearty points of their type, equally unknown in name or specific deed, carved out of this wilderness a nation whose institutions are the envy of the re*** of the world, and spread its frontiers from river to river and from ocean to ocean.

     We are today’s heirs of yesterday’s founders.  Our inheritance --- a nation full-grown, to do with what we will, in honor or in dishonor, trust or in misuse in exact p***tion to the positive purity or positive indifference of our own purposes.  Each of us is individually responsible for its future course; and from that responsibility we can not escape.

     The decadence of a whole people is but the decadence of individuals, in the aggregate; and with profit we can recall Daniel Webster’s declaration that

     “The most important thought I ever had was that of my individual responsibility.”

     Individual responsibility in our custodial care of the inheritance which we gained by stout hearted pioneers is not a subject for mere talk.  Pericles declared in his oration in memory of the Greek soldier dead that the deeds of great men could be better memorialized by great deeds from those who seek to honor them than by speeches in their praise.

     Individual responsibility is not a mere academic idea.  It is the consciousness of the individual of the end to which he was born, --- of the purpose for which he came into the world, --- and that consciousness must be measured by the standard of his own efforts to accomplish that end.

     It is not easy for us, to whom scientific discoveries have made commonplace so much that was unknown a few generations ago, to realize the hardships which were overcome by the individual responsibility of the people who made a wilderness into a powerful Republic, resplendent in its might and bountiful in all things which contribute to the joy of life.

     Let us consider a single pioneer family: --- it might be John Wolfe’s family, or Peter Livingston’s family, or Patrick Porter’s family, or John Blackmore’s family, or any family which crossed the Alleghenies into the Western frontier and through Cumberland Gap spread civilization across Kentucky into Missouri and clear through to the Oregon country.

     That pioneer did not travel by automobile, or over paved highways.  He cut his way through a trackless wilderness and across barren deserts.  Imagine him on foot, accompanied by his wife, traveling thru a wild country infested with hostile Indians, equipped to meet and conquer an uninhabited land with only an axe, a plow and perhaps a horse.

     Yet he pushed on.  The pioneer wife by his side took turns with him in blazing a trail in day time and keeping watch at night.  In some wilderness place, the two together made for themselves a crude shelter and in that shelter were born their children.  In it they shared the accomplishments of their labor, the agony of their hardships, the sorrow of their disappointments ---  but that which was a shelter became a home, and the pioneer children born to them built well on that foundation, until ultimately that shelter was a whole community, and the thousands of such communities became this nation.

     In it all, that pioneer stood free and fearless, as sturdy as a great oak --- the aggressive foe of every hardship ---  the precept of courage.  I am reminded by him of a passage in the Scriptures which says “and he shall be like a rock in a weary land, a covert in the time of story.”

     It was of the son of such a pioneer about whom Edwin Markham wrote:

“ . . . he held his place
Held the long purpose like a great tree ---

Held on through blame and faltered not at praise

And when he fell in whirlwind, he went down

As when a kingly cedar, green with boughs

Goes down with a great shout upon the hills

And leaves a lonesome place against the sky.”

     I said that we are today’s heirs of yesterday’s founders.  Our inheritance, so nearly complete when we received it, is today threatened, just as surely as was threatened every little settlement along the Holston and the Clinch.

     But the danger today is  not from savage attach.  It is more subtle.  It is more --- “civilized.”

     I speak, not of the preservation of this nation as a political unit, --- that question I leave for discussion by politicians and settlement by citizens in the voting booths, --- but of the preservation of the spiritual and intellectual purposes of our people.

     No civilization can stand still and long endure.  If it does not go forward, it must surely go backward.

     Babylon had mighty armies and strong walls; but Babylon was content to stand still --- and die.

     The excellency of ancient Greece , with her sculpture and philosophy, has been the despair of all who sought excellency; but it could not withstand the inroads of complacent satisfaction.

     Rome spread her empire throughout the Mediterranean world and sent her victorious armies over all Western Europe .  She gave to the world a system of laws upon which little improvement has been made.  But none of that could save her people, once ease and luxurious contentment with those accomplishments had fastened their deadly hands upon her.

     Shall such complacency make palsied the hand of this Republic?  Shall it destroy the civilization which the Western world today enjoys?  Are there symptoms upon which the conclusion of peril can be based?

     In the Old World , from whence we came, hatred and deep-seated greed have crowded out the spiritual and intellectual purpose of the people, until in more than half Christendom individual liberty of thought and conscience is gone or substantially impaired.

     In those countries, the family --- which is the only permanent foundation stone of our Christian civilization --- has been relegated to a position of secondary significance; children have become wards of the State.  Dictators in more than a dozen nations, dream only of the time when babies shall have developed into soldiers, through whom they can bring to accomplishment their selfish schemes.

     Even in this country morality and the Church are becoming --- in the minds of many --- merely conventional places of refuge for weaklings and the aged.

     But let me say this:  The rise or the fall of our civilization will be in direct proportion to the presence of absence of high moral and spiritual purposes of the whole people.

     When Reverend Wolfe asked me to address you on this occasion he told me that I might speak along any line of a religious nature.

     I am not a preacher; but the preservation of the best of our civilization, and the elimination of its worst, is not alone the task of preachers.  It is the common battle, day by day, of every man and woman who treasures the best and despises the worst.  It is the common battle, day by day, of every man and woman who treasures the best and despises the worst.  I commend to you (as I have commended to myself) what Paul wrote to Timothy:

     “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Therefore, thus do I speak.  I have not chosen a religious theme; but the theme which I have chosen involves man’s concept of a vital religion.

     That nation which seeks to build a civilization in which religion has no place is pursuing the folly which a ship builder pursues should he build a leviathan and then equip it with the rudder of a pleasure yacht.

     Make secondary in this country the life of the Man of Galilee, and you destroy all of the hearty vigor which brought it into being.  Hold fast to that which He lived, and you make certain our security.

     His spirit has reigned longer and more majestically, in the minds and hearts of more people, than that of any other influence with which mankind has become in contact.  His life makes clear the road.

     He was not an architect; but for 2,000 years the greatest architects have erected over Christendom, as the most permanent memorials of their genius, mighty cathedrals which lift their spires toward heaven and proclaim His blessing upon mankind.

     He was not a painter; but the greatest artists have found in the incidences of His life the inspiration for their most precious masterpieces.

     He was not a musician; but out of the genius of the greatest composers have come the finest tributes to His name.

     He was not an author.  He never wrote a line; but about Him and His life revolves all of the finest in literature.

     He was not a physician; but His healing power is the inspiration of the greatest men of medicine; and there is in my own City a great surgeon, whose skillful fingers have cured the aching bodies of thousands, who, before taking in his hands in the operating room the life of a sick one, goes and bows himself down to the One to whom he pays homage as the greater physician.

     How truthful have the intervening 2000 years shown to be His great apostle’s teaching that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering,  gentleness, goodness, faith.”  All these He brings to all men everywhere who would be strong and stout hearted, who would preserve and keep in faithful care that which has been wrought by all of the John Wolfes of the land.

     Their lives may have been without distinction.  Their deeds may not have brought them fame.  But, famous deeds often are less effective in the furtherance of the great purpose of a nation than the unknown and unheralded plain, simple lives of honest and industrious men and women.

     I count as illustrious the life of every man who holds to that which is good, and with such talent as he possesses stoutly lives the good and resists the bad.

     I count as illustrious the life of every woman who brings into the world one of her own flesh and by her teaching produces another generation as strong in noble purpose as these hills about us.  It makes no differences with me that she is not an opera singer, or an accomplished musician, or the writer of books which receive public acclaim.

     I count as equal to any of these, the mothers here in our own hill country who have grown old with life that can not be reckoned by the calendar, whose jewel less fingers bear on them the marks of hard toil, and those once fair faces are wrinkled with the innumerable cares which life has brought to them.

     I know that those toil-marked hands have soothed the fevered brows of babies.

     I know that those furrowed brows are but the price which has paid for unselfishness.

     I know that those care-worn faces which have in them ore pathos than a story-swept countryside, also radiate more beauty than the gold and purple of a summer’s sunset.  I know that because I see them before me; and I see their mothers before them --- I see John Wolfe’s Katherine, --- and the Katherines of the other pioneers of this nation.

     They taught “I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul”; and they lived in active awareness of the end to which they were born.

     Only through love of noble action, and hatred of complacent idleness, can man
     “Be steadfast as a tower that doth not bend it stately summit to the      tempest’s shock.”

     To such a man, this country must ever turn.  His sphere of influence may reach into every corner of the land, or it may be limited to his own community.

     Regardless of which, if he lives strenuously for the best --- if he seeks with all to which he is heir to bring to himself and to his fellow man a more abundant life --- if he visions a complete unfolding of his soul --- he will erect in the hearts of men a monument of more resplendent majesty than can be expressed in shafts of pure white marble.

     Without such a man, --- without an idealistic youth of the land from whom such men must come --- the star of our national destiny will set; and our institutions, cemented together as they are by the life blood of our fathers, will shatter.

     Shall we keep faith with the blessed mission of this great people?  That question will be answered by the minds and hearts of the youth of this generation of all the John Wolfes of American.

     “Tell me what are the prevailing sentiments that occupy the minds of your young men.”

Once declared the great Burke;

     “and I will tell you what is to be the character of the next generation.”

     Leave unspoiled youth’s ideals; fester with care their youthful dreams.  No sturdy manhood has ever grown from a dreamless youth.  No great accomplishment has ever sprung from a mind which had no capacity for noble idealism.  Every mile post on the upward path from savagery to enlightment is simply the reduction to the practical accomplishment of man’s dream of the ideal.

     Life can be to all men what it was to the Negro boy who, withal his black face, saw it as an exciting adventure, when in poetry he wrote, with youthful gladness;

“I have a rendezvous with life,

In days I hope will come

Ere youth has sped and strength of mind,

Ere voices sweet grow dumb;

I have a rendezvous with life

When Spring’s first heralds hum

Sue, some would cry it better far

To crown their days in sleep,

Than face the wind, the road and rain

To heed the falling deep.

Though wet, nor blow, nor space, I fear,

Yet, fear I deeply too

Lest Death should greet and claim me ere

I keep life’s rendezvous.”


The Gate City Herald
Thursday, January 2, 1936

Compton Writes On Valley Creek Mills

     The Valley Creek community was once the center of a region of water powered grist mills.  Here, at one time, within the radius of seven miles of Morse McConnell’s grist mill could be counted more than 15 mills, but this was more than three quarters of a century ago.  Of the mills then operating only a few remain on the original mill site and not one in its pristine form, grinding the grain as of old that the farmers brought to the mills.

     Valley Creek seems to be the most ideal stream for mills to be found in Virginia .  This stream is fed by bold everlasting springs rushing from the bluffs which separate the Valley Creek Region from Clinch Valley .  George McConnell settled in this region about 1805, coming from Glade Hollow, Russell County .  He was reared by German people or in a German community as he said when he looked over the Glade Hollow Region near where he made his settlement that he was moving to “a valley on top of a hill.”  Many of his descendants have become the great millers of Southwest Virginia .

     Two of his grandsons established mills on Valley Creek.  Before the Civil War, many years, Morse McConnell established his grist mill on Valley Creek which became the center of a thriving community.  During the Civil War the old mill lost some of its prestige due to Captain Morse McConnell being called for a part of the time from the mill to manufacture gunpowder for the Boys in Grey.  Anyway before and after the Civil War the “Old McConnell Mill” was some what a community of itself, here the neighbors far up and down the creek would meet and swap jokes and narrate the choicest of gossip of the country side.  It was a place where elections were held, the meeting of the minute men of the Confederacy, took place, and even where marriages were performed.

     Morse McConnell had built a mighty dam across the creek at least twelve feet high out of Copper Creek marble, which was one of the largest dams in the whole region.  Morse felt proud of the power that the dam gave his mill.  He would say “if my meal is better that’s because the mill stones are heavy and we grind constantly but slowly.”  His mill due to the large amount of storage water would grind about a bushel of meal every thirty minutes, day in and day out.  Twice each year he would “repack” or redress the large mill stones which he said “made each grain of meal stand apart with a superior flavor.”

     Captain Morse McConnell passed away many years ago and with his passing the mill soon passed away.  Today the old mill is gone, even little trace is left of the mighty mill dam which backed the water for almost half a mile up the creek.  A more beautiful mill location could not be found in Scott County than Morse McConnell’s mill site.  It (a hole in the paper leaves a few words missing) in a canyon with maples, oaks, tulips, chestnuts and walnut trees growing up and down the creek and on the hill side.  Even the mill pond was filled with “hornyheads” and the water was made white with geese swimming on the surface.  In the summer and the fall of the year this mill dam served somewhat as a baptistery for the Baptist and Methodist sects for miles around---in this region all McConnells then were Methodist and all Comptons were Baptist.  Many great arguments prevailed around the mill on immersion, predestination, and the tenants of faith of the two churches.  Doubtless George McConnell and Abraham Compton had big arguments here.

     About one mile toward the source of the creek his cousin William G. McConnell ran a grist mill and a sash mill.  The present site of William G’s mill is occupied by the up-to-date flour mill of the Dougherty Brothers.

     For many years the chief dependence of the Valley Creek community for lumber was the sash mill at William G. McConnell.  This sash mill with its ponderous slow-moving water wheel with a daily output not much greater than an active pair of “pit-sawyers” could deliver.  This mill served the needs for the Valley Creek community for many years, and even the first competition was the steam circular saw mill brought to this region by Hayes.  Soon after Hayes arrival, other circular saw mill came and the old sash mill of William G’s disappeared.

     Rafting could be conducted on rivers like the Clinch and Holston which brought much money to the river region.  Another fact was that logs were never hauled up grade for rafting, so the Valley Creek region had no market for their timber until William G. McConnell installed the old sash mill consisting of old style water wheel which could possibly saw more than 500 feet in a day.  The sash mill always had to stop for the grinding of grain for the farmers who brought their corn to be ground into meal.

     The trees were felled by the farmers and chopped into logs by axe men during the winter season; few saws were even in existence in the county and found mostly along the rafting region.  During this time only the best log from a giant tulip was used and the remainder of the tree was left in the woods to rot or be burned.  These giant tulip trees averaged from 100 to 150 feet high and three to six feet in diameter.  It was necessary often to have four or five yoke of oxen to one of the fine yellow popular logs.

     Last summer Father and I went to the old William G’s mill site where the Dougherty Brothers are operating a flour and grist mill.  A man brought corn to the mill that day that had brought corn to the same mill site seventy years ago.  George McClellan is one of the elders of the Valley Creek community.

     The Dougherty mill will grind 700 bushels of corn this year if the season comes up to standard.  It will also grind about the same amount of wheat into fine flour.  Big “Nath” Dougherty is sure of grinding the corn and pretty sure of the grinding of wheat---but not worrying much about either---for his mill is the last of the mills on the old mill site established almost a century ago.  Most of these mills built seventy to one hundred and twenty years ago have been abandoned along Amos Branch, Valley and Obey Creeks.  Fire has destroyed some, high water some, old millers have passed on closing others, the methods in living have closed others, and the highways of civilization have changed which closed others---the easiness to buy store meal have wrecked others until now we have only the old mill sites left of once a prosperous business of the Valley Creek region.

     Fifty years ago there existed up and down Valley Creek the following mills:  Fraley’s, William G’s, Morse McConnell’s, Hale’s, along a parallel creek by the name of Obey there were John Gillenwater’s, Billie Gillenwater’s, Peter’s and Mann mills and to the east of Valley Creek was Amos Branch which had the following mills:  Dickenson’s, Bush’s and the mill at the mouth of Amos Branch.  Out of all these mills only two or three mill sites are occupied and old mill stones are gone.  In each of these the old grindstones seems to creak and moan---as though they beg for the grain of which they will grind no more.  And within the next decade or so all the traces of the old mills will be obliterated entirely.

     My visit to the William G’s old mill place last summer was thrilling.  I observed men and boys coming to mill afoot, on horseback, mule back, in wagons, in buggies, in Fords, and in automobiles, bringing their home grown wheat and corn to be ground into flour and meal for home consumption.

     As time has wrought havoc with many of the mills it has scattered many of the original families of this community.  The McConnells are still here and the name flashes back to more than a century and a quarter ago when the gallant young man brought his newly wed wife Susannah to a “Valley on top of a mountain.”  He and his wife left one of the largest family of boys ever produced in Scott County , all marrying and rearing large families.  Valley Creek was the original home of the McConnell’s of Scott.  Emmet McConnell, who was born at the old home place of Albert Compton has entertained more potentates of foreign nations and more people have passed through the Gates to see his production than any other living man in the world.  Nathan Hall, the son of Drayton Hale the owner of Hale’s mill served for many years in congress of the United Stated, his brother Joseph was the chairman of one of the major parties of Tennessee for many years, were born and reared on Valley Creek---Judge M. B. Compton who has pride of county and country was born and reared on Valley Creek.  Dr. John P. McConnell who has possibly directed morally the lives of more people than any indi9vidual in the state of Virginia was educated and partially reared on Valley Creek and the remainder of his childhood days were spent on Obey Creek.

     The community of mills in Scott County has been the makers of men and women as well.  The names which were at first in this region are:  Castle, Compton , Culbertson, Fraley, Moore , Meade, Cox, Hillman, Davidson, Sturgeon, (maybe Sturgill), Ramey, Wampler, Elliott, and Keith.


The Gate City Herald
Thursday, September 10, 1936

Scott County In War Time

A Community History
By Robert Milford Addington

Pre-War Conditions

     Scott County is one of the extreme southwest counties of Virginia .  It is traversed by a number of narrow, trough-like valleys extending northeast and southwest.  These valleys are separated by Little Pine, Clinch, Stone and Powell’s Mountains, and Copper and Moccasin Ridges.

     The valleys are drained by the North Fork of Holston and Clinch Rivers , and Moccasin and Copper Creeks and their tributaries.  The county area of about 528 square miles is divided into thousands of small farms upon which are located most of the homes of its 24,826 people.  These people, for the most part, earn their living in agricultural pursuits, and were thus engaged when the war of 1917 came on to disturb “the even tenor of their way” by upsetting many of the old economic and social usages to which they had been long accustomed.

     The people of Scott County , who, in August, 1914, read the news items from overseas, stating that Germany had declared war against France , and had violated the neutrality of Belgium , little thought that the war thus begun would ever assume such proportions as to have any direct personal interest to them.  The probability of the United States becoming involved in a war so far away seem too remote to be considered.  Some sympathy was felt for Belgium because her rights had been so ruthlessly trampled upon, and some admiration was felt also for the plucky little nation that so bravely fought to protect her sovereignty and turn back her brutal despoilers.  Aside from these feeling of sympathy and admiration, the average Scott Countian had little or no interest in the war at this time.  By and by, as the war dragged on year after year, and nation after nation became involved in it, as Germany ’s submarine policy, like a giant octopus, reached out to destroy the commerce and lives of neutral and enemy nations alike, the sense of justice and fair play, characteristic of Scott County people, was powerfully appealed to.  The apathetic interest in matters pertaining to the war, which had prevailed in its earlier stages, at length began to quicken.  This increased interest was to be measured in part by the avidity with which all classes of he people now began to read newspapers and periodicals.  Those who were not already subscribers to some newspaper subscribed for others.  In this way the county, to an extent never before known, was transformed into a newspaper-reading public.  This ever-in-creasing newspaper audience was daily becoming more and more responsive to the teachings and leadership of the press.  Pathetic incidents, such as the execution of Edith Cavell, the drowning of Leon C. Thrasher, the first American to fall victim to Germany ’s submarines, and especially the sinking of the Lusitania with its precious cargo of more than a thousand human lives, including one hundred Americans, were placed upon the throbbing heart of the county.  Yet in spite of these incidents and the sympathy which their recital called fort, there was a deep-seated aversion on the part of the majority of Scott County people to entering this war.  However, it was not possible to behold such a struggle as that daily being presented to them in the public press without taking sides.  Public opinion was divided, but divided into very unequal parts.  The majority sympathized with the Allies.  A few --- a very few --- sympathized with Germany --- and this number was mostly made up of those who were unable to forget he circumstances of our Revolutionary War with England .

     Such editorial utterances as the following appeared in the Gate City Herald:

          “Gentlemen, you may take sides with Germany if it gives you pleasure to do so.  As for us, we are Americans and stand for America .  Long live the Stars and Stripes.”

          “Talk for Germany and abuse the French all you please, then tell us, please, how it is that German spies are prowling through this country and French spies have never done so.”

     The recital of the cruel incidents of the war --- and the newspapers were rather full of such things --- instead of provoking belligerent thoughts in the minds of the people, tended to increase the aversion to war already existing.  Many thought, or at least hoped, that the necessity for war could be removed by diplomatic agencies: that all differences could be composed by some favorable agreement, peaceably arrived at.

     On account of our relations with Mexico , the newspapers in the early days of the war, had much to say about preparedness, but the people of the county manifested little interest in the subject.  For the most part they regarded the agitation for preparedness as propaganda disseminated by the manufacturers of munitions of war and by military men.

     On April 6, 1917 , Congress voted to declare war against Germany .  This declaration was followed closely by the announcement that the military forces of the United States would be composed of men chosen by selective draft, and June 5, 1917 , was named as the day on which the drafting would begin.  The tome of the newspapers changed almost overnight.  They now set for themselves the task of changing and shaping public opinion in conformity with the course determined upon by the President and Congress.  Only momentarily was there pause and inertia, not to say uncertainty, as to the unanimity with which public opinion would sustain the action of the President and Congress.  However, in the short space of sixty days Scott County public opinion was changed from strong opposition to the war to active and hearty cooperation in carrying it on.

Churches And Schools

     The Christian people of the county, without regard to denominational preferences, sincerely believed that the United States had entered the war for just, unselfish and humanitarian reasons.  Hence the churches, without hesitation, assisted in the various drives made in the interest of Belgian Relief, the Red Cross, the Y. M. C. A. and the W. C. T. U. special services for soldiers were held in the churches.  In the newspapers accounts of church services during the war period such texts as these are found: “The War at the End of Three Years,” “Bolsheviki,” and “Our Daily Bread” (a sermon on the Conservation of food).

     The schools and churches of the county actively participated in the various campaigns or drives launched in the interest of war work.  School children gave to Belgian Relief and Junior Red Cross funds.  All public exercises, even school commencements, were decidedly patriotic in tone.  “Duty and Patriotism” was the subject of the literary address in one of the high schools.  The subject, “Resolved, That selective conscription is the most effective and the most satisfactory means of raising an army to satisfy the demands of our country during the present war,” was publicly debated at the commencement exercises of Shoemaker High School , 1917.

     The Scott County Teachers’ association, at its annual meeting in 1917, discussed military training, Red Cross work and food conservation.

     School children constituted no small part of the audiences in the various war works campaigns.  Shoemaker High School students often came in a body to the court house on occasions of public speaking.

Draft Law and Military Matters

     The first draft day passed without an unfavorable incident anywhere, and Scott County , together with the rest of the country, was in the World War.

     Under date of May 19, 1917 , C. W. Dougherty, sheriff, was notified by Governor Stuart that he had been appointed a member of the Board of Registration for Scott County .  He was directed to appoint registrars at each voting precinct in the county, and to wire the names of the persons so appointed on May 24th.

     The registrars at the various voting precincts of the county were as follows:  France, J. A. Ford; Rye Cove, J. H. Johnson; Duffield, S. S. Jennings; Clinchport, W. A. Pierson; Pattonsville, Charlie H. Neely; Rollers, T. M. Darnell; Jennings, H. H. Reynolds; Powers, T. J. Freeman; Estillville, Robert Benton; Winingers, W. T. Shelton; Big Cut, J. E. Metcalf; Smiths, G. G. Pannell; Stony Point, U. S. McMurray; Hilton; Nickelsville, N. T. Moore; Addington, J. H. Redwine; Stoney Creek, J. M. Harris; Peters, W. H. Nash; Osborne’s Ford, Esau Huneycutt; Hodges Store, F. B. Horne.

     At the same time the notice of registration was given, a call was made for a meeting of all patriotic citizens of the county.  This meeting was to be held at the court house on June 2, 1917 , just two days prior to the draft.  The call was signed by J. F. Sergent, J. H. Johnson, Sam’l Haynes, J. H. Peters and A. W. Stair, committee.

          “Saturday (June 2) patriotism rode on the crest of the wave in Gate City .  The people came out from all sections of the county and demonstrated that mountaineers are still lover of liberty and of county.”

     Patriotic address were delivered by Rev. C. R. Cruikshank and Rev. G. A. Crowder, E. T. Carter, J. H. Peters and Prof. P. T. Fugate.  Patriotic airs were rendered by the Kingsport Band.  This meeting was considered a success because it augered well for the draft.

     There were 1,756 white men in the county who registered for the first draft and 41 colored men, making a total of 1, 797.  The number of white registrants by precincts were as follows: Stony Creek, 192; Peters, 79; Estillville, 221; Big Cut, 88; Winingers, 61; Hoges Store, 42; Osbornes Ford, 109; Hiltons, 43; Smiths, 60; Stony Point, 67; Addington, 68; Pattonsville, 77; Powers, 57; Rollers, 73; Clinchport, 81; Duffield, 51; Frances, 59; Rye Cove, 94; registered by the board, 17.  Colored registrants by precincts were: Stony Creek, 9; Estillville, 18; Big Cut, 4; Osborns Ford, 7; Pattonsville, 1; Powers, 1; Rollers, 1.

     The draft was the chief topic of interest to the people of the county during the summer of 1917.  Few, indeed, were the families that were not affected by it.  Like the Destroying Angle that passed over Egypt , it came into the homes of the county and set apart the strongest and most promising for the god of war.  Many were the speculations as to the kind of offering fate or chance would bring to the young man of military age.  Both the draftees and their anxious friends tried to remove the uncertainty and solve the mystery that hung over it all.  Anything was better than suspense.  To the untraveled drafted man a trip overseas was an adventure that admitted of many dangers.  Therefore, service in the country was sought in preference to service in the trenches.  Most of the volunteering was done in the hope that a choice might be had as to the kind of service.

     All persons drawn in the first draft were called by the local board for physical examination on August 6, 7 and 8, 1917.  The order numbers of those included in this call ran from 1 to 365, inclusive.  Emmett McClellan, of Wayland , Virginia held order number 1.

     On August 21, 1917 , the second contingent of drafted men was called to appear before the local board for physical examination.  The order numbers of these men ran from 366 to 764 inclusive.

     The local examining board was composed of Dr. C. R. Fugate, physician; C. W. Dougherty, sheriff, and J. F. Richmond, county clerk.

     Of the 400 young men first called before the board 57 failed to pass and 343 were pronounced sufficiently robust to endure the hardships and fatigues of army life.  Of the number that passed, 268 claimed exemption, the greater part of them doing so because of the fact that they had families depending upon them.  A few made the plea of dependent parents; 75 did not apply for exemption.  Those claiming exemption were given ten days in which to file certificates supporting their claims.

     “Whatever some may think abut it, the Herald is convinced that our Local Emption Board has striven to discharge its duty with the utmost fairness to all.  It has had a big task, one that would sorely test the patience of any group of men.  Besides the board had special instructions by which to be guided, and little was left optional with it.  Our country had to meet grave conditions and board was appointed to meet these conditions here.  If you had been disposed to criticize any act of the board, pause and reflect, put yourself in the place of the men who have gone so patiently through the stupendous task, then we thin you will be less critical.  The board deserves our gratitude for the manner in which it has discharged its duty, and is discharging it.

     The first contingent of soldiers sent from Scott County to Camp Lee were as follows:  Daniel Rhoton, Clinchport; Hugh Summers, Bellamy; Benjamin Rhoton, Clinchport; Amos Ervin, Clinchport; Preston Wm. Elliot, Mack; Wm. Presley Elliott, Nickelsville; Ballard Chandler, Fairview; Hubert Adolphus Quillin, Gate City; John Henry Berry, Riggs; Lucian Horton Wininger, Yuma; Joe Wolfe Jessee, Nickelsville.

     The local board placed Hubert A. Quillin in charge of this group.  The day of entraining was made an occasion for a patriotic celebration.  Stores, offices and business houses were closed, court adjourned, and a great crowd assembled at the station to bid the boys good-bye.

     The ladies of the W. C. T. U. presented each of the young men with a bouquet of flowers and a kaki bag or comfort kit, each containing a New Testament, a pair of scissors and other articles useful I camp life.

     On Sunday, September 16, 1917 , all the churches of Gate City united in services held for the benefit of the young men who were to go to Camp Lee on the 19th of September.  The sermon was preached by the Re. Samuel Wolfe, of Knoxville , Tenn. , from the text, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

     On Wednesday, September 19, 1917 , the local board sent a second contingent of 72 men to Camp Lee .  Hundreds of friends and relatives of the men gathered at the station.  The local band rendered patriotic airs.  The people, thought serious, restrained their emotions that the young soldiers might take their departure in a cheerful frame of mind.  Charles Clinton Pendleton was put in charge of the soldiers, with J. D. Carter, Jr., and Robert McConnell as assistants.  Two extra passenger coaches in which the young soldiers were to be carried to Bristol were brought to Gate City on the day preceding.  Little school girls from the Shoemaker High School presented each young man with a beautiful bunch of flowers.  The W. C. T. U. of Gate City and Nickelsville presented each of the soldiers with comfort kits.

     “Last Tuesday the following men went to Camp Lee , having by some means been prevented from going with the others on Saturday before:  Conley Arwood, Isaac Gilliam, Patton Peters, Conley Wise.  Scott now has 157 men in Camp Lee .  The remaining men who should have gone with the last contingent were prevented from doing so by illness.  They have all made satisfactory explanations to the Exemption Board and expressed a willingness to go as soon as they are able.  This makes a fine showing for Scott County .”

     On Oct 29th the first contingent of colored soldiers were sent to Camp Lee .  On the Friday night preceding a banquet and rally for the colored people was held at the Prospect colored school house.  Patriotic addresses were made by E. T. Carter and others.  On the day of entrainment the W. C. T. U. presented each colored soldier with a comfort kit similar to those presented to the white soldiers.

     On Saturday, Nov. 3, 1917 , nine more men were sent to the training camp at Petersburg .  This made a total of 178 men from the county and was only two short of the county’s quota.  A few days later two more men were sent to camp, thus completing quota up to date.

     On Dec. 15, 1917 , the Local Exemption Board began to make preparation for the second draft of soldiers from the county.  A number of questionnaires were mailed out daily, and the registrants were warned of the penalty attached to a failure to fill them out.  Almost 1,250 questionnaires were sent out.  The board was assisted in this work by E. L. Taylor, Roie M. Dougherty, Richmond Bond and Edgar Counts.

     All drafted men who were in need of dental work and unable to pay for it, could get a certain class of work done by applying in writing to any of the following dentist of Gate City :  Drs. James Semones, W. H. Perry, E. A. Hoge.

     The 1918 January term of court continued only one day.  It was adjourned “till court in course” on account of drafting soldiers.

     Under date of March 21, 1918 , the Local Exemption Board issued warning to those who had been given deferred classification on account of dependents, that unless they actually supported their dependants, recommendation to change them to class one would be made to the District Board.

     The second installment of colored soldiers was sent to Camp Lee on April 26, 1918 .

     On June 5, 1918 , 174 white men and one colored man registered as having become 21 years of age since the first registration.  On June 20, 1918 , six white and two colored registrants were added to the above number.  Thirty-three young men were registered on Aug. 24, 1918 .

     This registration enrolled 2,532 men for military service in the county.  Nearly one-third of this number were between the ages of 18 and 21.

     According to the muster roll in the clerk’s office, Scott County had 693 men in the various branches of the service.

     In the reports of the local board, the words “delinquent” and “deserter” were written after less than a dozen names, and most of these persons later placed themselves in charge of the board and were sent to camp without arrest.

     The call for the county’s quota of men to entrain October 7, 1918 , to Oct. 11, 1918 , was cancelled until a later date because an epidemic of influenza was raging in the camps.  This call was renewed for November 15th, but before that time arrived the Armistice had been signed, thus canceling the call a second time.

     Clayton Hammonds was the first Scott County soldier to be killed in the war with Germany , it is an interesting fact that his great-grandfather, John Wolfe, was a German, born and reared to young manhood in the Valley of the Rhine .

     The names of two Scott County soldiers appear on the Distinguished Service list of Virginia .  They are Isaac Estep, of Clinchport, and John Samuel Hartsock, of Nickelsville.  Isaac Ester was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross and John Samuel Hartsock received the French Croix de Guerre.  The citations accompanying these awards may be found in “Virginians of Distinguished Service of World War,” source volume 1 of the Virginia War History Commission’s publications.

Economic Conditions
Liberty Loans and War Savings Stamps

     On May 31, 1917 , J. H. Peters, cashier of the People’s National Bank, was appointed  sub-chairman for Scott County “to perfect a plan of campaign for the sale of Liberty Bonds.”  Mr. Peters named N. M. Horton, of the First National Bank, J. L. Q. Moore, of the Farmers and Merchants Bank; W. F. C. Blackwell of the Bank of Dungannon; R. L. McConnell, of the Farmers’ Exchange Bank, and J. H. Peters to receive subscriptions for Liberty Bonds.  D. C. Sloan made the largest subscription, $10,000, and Mrs. J. B. Craft was the first lady of the county to buy a Liberty Bond.

     The Liberty Loan campaigns did not meet with generous response in Scott County .  The total quota assigned was $953,200, and the amount subscribed in all drives totaled only $323,750.  Lack of interest is the reason assigned for this half-hearted response.

     A Victory Loan rally day was arranged for May 7, 1918 .  There was a parade including old Confederate soldiers and veterans of the World War at 11 in the morning, followed by an automobile parade, including a Red Cross float.  Hon. Preston W. Campbell addressed the soldiers at the court house, and after dinner an address was made by Chaplain John L. Weber, of Camp Jackson , S. C., followed by a moving picture, “The Price of Peace,” and music by a band.

     The most intensive of all drives was made for the sale of War Savings Stamps during the Fourth Liberty Loan campaign.  Rev. J. B. Craft was director and Professor A. W. Stair was his assistant.  The following men had charge in the various Magisterial districts:  Dekalb district, W. S. Cox and H. C. L. Richmond; Estillville district S. W. Coleman and Prof. A. W. Stair; Floyd district, L. P. Fraley and J. F. Sergent; Fulkerson district, J. P. Corns and W. H. Nickels; Powell district, J. H. Catron and J. D. Carter; Taylor district, E. T. Carter and G. Claude Bond.

     Hon. L. P. Summers and Judges W. E. Burns, of Russell County , and Preston W. Campbell, of Washington County, made speeches in the county in this campaign.

     The county’s quota was $500,000.

     The committee in charge made a list of about two hundred citizens who seemed to be able to invest as much as $1,000 in War Savings Stamps.  A letter signed by the committee, was sent to each person on the list.  The letter, in read as follows:

     “To purchase War Savings Stamps is no sacrifice on your part, but it shows your manhood, your patriotism and your willingness to help.  Do not hesitate.  For the sake of all we hold dear, for the sake of our county, which is yet far behind most of the counties in our section, respond at once.  Sign your pledge card for the sum you have been assessed.  Should you not have the money at the time your card is due, borrow it.  Thousands are doing this everywhere.  Let us have your help and encouragement and we will remain in the field with you until the last dollar has been raised.”

     This letter was signed by W. D. Smith, chairman; W. J. Rollins, M. B. Compton, W. F. C. Blackwell, E. T. Sproles, W. W. Ramey, secretary.  The Committee of One-Thousand-Dollar Subscriptions.”

     At the first public meeting in this campaign held at the court house, $40,000 was pledged.  Twenty-six one-thousand-dollar men were in the meeting.  Floyd district was the first to ‘go over the top’ with its quota of $40,000.  The total amount of subscriptions in this drive was about $550,000.

Food and Fuel Conservation

     On May 3, 1917 , a company of “voluntary and disinterested citizens” issued a proclamation setting forth the importance of “increasing and conserving the food supplies” and calling upon the “people of this county to meet us at the court house in Gate City next Saturday, May 5, at 1 o’clock p.m. to effect a county organization.”  The proclamation urged all farmers and farmers’ wives, all school teachers, school boards, and all county and other officers, also all citizens interested in helping Scott County feed itself, to be present.  The proclamation was signed by A. W. Hedrick, county agent; J. H. McConnell, mayor; J. W. Carter, N. M. Horton, W. S. Pendleton, J. H. Peters, John H. Johnson, C. M. Quillin, I. P. Kane, W. D. Smith, B. M. Francisco, T. R. Wolfe.

     In response to the above call the farmer of the county met and effected an organization by electing Rev. T. R. Wolfe, chairman, and J. W. Carter secretary.  Meetings for the purpose of organizing local clubs were arranged throughout the county.  Pledge cards were distributed for the signatures of those who handled food in the homes.

     Mr. A. W. Johnson was appointed Food Administrator for the county and enforced the regulations concerning flour substitutes, conservation of sugar, etc.  On and after March 11, 1918 , merchants were required to sell an equal amount of flour substitutes with each pound of flour.  In September, 1918 the fifty-fifty rule as to flour was abrogated and “Victory mixed flour,” a combination of eighty-twenty, was used instead.  The millers’ certificates were rescinded and the new regulations permitted families to have sixty days’ rations instead of thirty.

     On September 12, 1918 , the Food Administration addressed and open letter to the merchants of the county asking them to send in the twenty-five –pound certificates for sugar.  He also stated in this letter that he often had letters of four to six pages, adding, “ten words gets as much sugar as ten pages.

     A joint meeting of the threshermen and threshing committee of Scott County , held at Gate City on Wednesday, July 3, 1918 , adopted the following resolutions:

     “1.  Be it resolved, that we, the owners and operators of threshing machines in Scott County , realizing the great demand for wheat at this time, will use the utmost care for its conservation.

     “2.  Resolved, That there be on threshing done in this county before the 15th day of July, 1918, and then only when the wheat is thoroughly dry.

     “3.  Resolved, That every owner and operator of threshing machines have his machine in good repair before starting to thresh, and that if be kept in good repair.

    “4.  Resolved, That in view of the fact that we agree to thresh only when the wheat or other grain is thoroughly dry, we the threshing committee, do insist that the farmers the farmers take every precaution in stacking and saving their grain.

     “5.  Resolved, That the price for threshing shall be seven bushels.

     “6.  Resolved, That any violator of the above resolutions will not be considered a member of the Scott County Threshing Committee.:

     The resolutions were signed by A. W. Johnson, Food Administrator; A. C. Starnes, R. A. Smith, William Spivey, J. A. Hurt, J. F. Meade, Clint Robinson, C. L. Wade, R. Moscow Addington, W. T. Larkin, W. L. Osborne, J. W. Horne, J. S. Culbertson, S. C. Dougherty, J. W. Frazier, N. C. Davidson, Judge Mullins, R. V. Trent, C. C. Carter, Will Taylor, W. H. Mitchell.  The names of five additional men who left before the meeting adjourned should have appeared in the above list.

     The Fuel Administrators for the county were John H. Johnson, chairman; J. W. Carter, secretary, and R. R. Kane.

     It is remarkable how uncomplainingly the people suffered the restrictions to be thrown about them by the government as to the use of flour, sugar, coal, wood, gas, and even day light.

     Farm products brought very high prices and this fact greatly increased the price of real estate during the war and immediately following its close.  There was often an increase of more than 100 percent over the former prices of land.

     The local council of Safety sought to enroll all citizens who were capable and willing to work in the shipyards or other places where the government might need them.  The Council further sought to enroll all those who might have oats, corn and potatoes to spare.  The members of the council were A. J. Wolfe, W. J. Rollins and J. F. Sutton.

     The local paper on May 3, 1917 , had the following to say:

     “You do not see many farmers idling about town these days.  The farmers are discharging their duties like the truest and best of soldiers.  They realize that they have to feed themselves and their families and the rest of the world and are bucking like horses to the tasks.  Don’t waste your time urging farmers to produce big crops; go out, everybody who can, and help them.  By so doing you will be wielding the most effective weapon against the high cost of living.”

     Strangers whose behavior was in any way unusual were apt to be looked upon as a German spy.  This attitude of suspicion toward those whose business was unknown almost rid the county of tramps and hobos during the period of the war.

     There was no organized labor in the county during the war except perhaps the local workers on the railroads traversing the county.

War Work And Relief Organizations

     The M. E. Church, South, appointed the following committee to solicit funds for the Armenian and Syrian suffers; J. P. Corns, J. B. Quillin, Mrs. C. R. Cruikshanks, Mrs. H. S. Kane and Mrs. C. W. Dougherty.  This committee was approved by the other churches.  Mr. Corns, Mr. Quillin and Mrs. Cruikshanks were chosen to act as a permanent committee of relief “to the starving multitudes in the Holy Land .”

     The Gate City Herald solicited contributions for a fund to be used in the relief of the suffering people abroad.  Hundreds of school children contributed to the fund, mostly in pennies and nickels.  The amount contributed was $155.63.

The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union

     The W. C. T. U. was an organization already functioning in the county at the time was declared against Germany .

     It was thus an easy matter to direct the energies of the organization to war work.  September 22, 1917 , the W. C. T. U. gave an entertainment at Nickelsville, the proceeds of which were used in furnishing the Scott County soldiers with comfort bags.  It became the fixed purpose of the organization to furnish each soldier with one of these bags, and on January 4, 1918 , a meeting was called in order to provide money for this purpose.  It may be added in this connection that the schools of the county assisted in collecting funds for the comfort kits.

     The W. C. T. U. engaged in collecting old rubber, boots, shoes, auto inner tubes, jar rubbers, in fact, any material which could be salvaged and used in war work enterprises.  Under the auspices of the W. C. T. U., April 24, 1918 , was known as “rubber day.”  It was further urged that the value of all “April Sunday eggs” be contributed to the W. C. T. U. to be used in its war work funds.

Young Men’s Christian Association

     Late in the year 1917 a campaign was launched to arouse interest in the Young Men’s Christian Association.  Hon. W. C. McCarthy, on November 13, 1917 , addressed an audience at the court house in the interest of this organization.  Mr. McCarthy had been in Europe and had seen actual conditions there.  Thus he was enabled to give graphic first-hand pictures of the needs of the boys in the trenches.  E. T. Carter was made chairman and Sam’l Haynes, editor of the Gate City Herald, secretary, of the Y. M. C. A. in Scott County .  At the close of Mr. McCarthy’s address more than $700 was contributed to the Y. M. C. A. fund.  In the same campaign Nickelsville contributed $46.50, Rye Cove, $107; Clinchport $136; Manville, $48; Dungannon, $160; Prospect colored school, $10.30, making a total of $1,200.

     “The Red Cross Society, the Young Men’s Christian Association and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union are organizations that are doing all in their power to comfort, relieve and help the soldiers.  They are helping them at every stage from the doors of their homes to the trenches and prisons of Europe .  Let’s help these organizations in every way in our power.”

Post-War Conditions

     The first issue of the local paper after the Armistice carried the following head lines:  “Peace Terms Signed; Hostilities Cease Monday, November 11, at 6 a. m.; The Great World War Comes to a Close.”

     In another column the following news items appeared:

     “The first intimation we had here that peace had been made came from the Kingsport whistles at daylight Monday.  Soon our church bells were imitating old Liberty bell, guns were being fired, children were marching the streets waving flags, and everybody was wildly rejoicing.  It was a great day in America .”

   The signing of the Armistice put an end to the drafting.  In a short time the Local Exemption Board received the following telegram from Adjutant General Stern:

     “Do not entrain any more men or call any more for entrainment on any call already issued.  Men already on the way to camps will be returned to local board.”

   The soldiers of the county, on being discharged, returned to their homes one by one or in small groups.  Mention of their return was seldom made in the local paper.

Gate City Herald, Nov. 14, 1918


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