Scott County Historical Society
Scott County, Virginia

Scrapbook Memories

Mildred McConnell's Scrapbook Articles

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Old Kane Homeplace

     The following article on the Old Kane Home in Gate City was published approximately around the year 1935.

     "The oldest, and in some respects the most notable, house in Gate City is the Old Kane home on the eastern outskirts of the town, along the road leading from Moccasin Gap. It is a fine example of the better type of village farm home of over a hundred years ago, with its great old kitchen fireplace, its cool rooms, its narrow stairs, front porticos, and full length rear porch, with supporting pillars. Many pieces desirable in the eyes of antique collectors and with a flavor very pleasing, both to their present owner and to her guest.

     One end of the house was formerly the log domicile of one James Davidson, as built sometime subsequent to 1791, probably in 1798 as it was in the latter year that the land was deeded to Davidson. Scott County was set apart by act of legislature on November 23, 1814, and the first court was held on a knoll marked now with a monument, just east of Big Moccasin Gap. This court, on May 9, 1815 ordered that the next court for Scott County be held at the house of James Davidson, two miles west of Big Moccasin Gap.

     Davidson had built his house on the site formerly occupied by Ferris Fort, a notable way station in the earliest treks along the famous Wilderness Road.

     Ferris’ Fort was simply a two-story log cabin with portholes, in which a settler named Elisha Ferris, his wife and his children lived. This house was burned on August 26, 1791, by an Indian band under the lead of the notorious Benge, Shawnee half-breed who attacked the place, killed Ferris, and captured Mrs. Ferris and her daughter Mrs. Livingston and young children, and Nancy Ferris, presumably another daughter. They started off with the captives but on the same day murdered with torture, Mrs. Ferris, Mrs. Livingston and the young child. The records indicates that Nancy Ferris’ life was spared but does not indicate her ultimate fate.

     James Davidson came into possession of the property in 1798, lived in the log house mentioned above, and improved and enlarged it. His son Soloman Davidson, sold it in 1842 to one Horton and in 1843, S. H. Kane purchased it from Horton. Mr. Kane was a lawyer. His father emigrated from Ireland to New York, married there, lived for a time in Norfolk, came to the Holston and once owned the fine old Ross estate near Kingsport, called ‘Rotherwood’. Since 1843 the Kanes have owned and lived in this old home. Its present occupant is Mrs. Josephine Kane and she has, hanging out in front of the old fashioned shrubbery in front of the old fashioned home, an attractive sign inviting tourist to stop and partake of her gracious hospitality."

The Passing Of A Landmark

     The Old Kane Homestead is no more. Workmen have just about removed every vestige of the once proud structure – and the task yet remaining is nothing more than a mopping up process.

     To those who have known the place and particularly to those who have there shared he lavish hospitality and genial fellowship there in, abundance always, this news will be received with sad regret.

     In modern days it is not customary to obey literally that Scriptural edict from Proverbs, which enjoins "Remove not the ancient land mark."

     It was not this scribe’s privilege to have known this home in any way except by hearsay except for the past two decades. And during those score and a few more years he feels free to say his pathway has there been brightened and gladdened.

     The truth of the matter is that on July 4, 1919, a celebration was held there on the spacious lawn, under those fine old trees. I, for one, can never forget the unstinted hospitality that on that day was lavished upon the boy’s who had just then come back from World War No. 1. That was my first introduction to the Kane Homestead.

     I can never forget with what queenly grace Mrs. Josephine Kane on that day made every guest feel the occasion was for him individually. A princely gentleman that day said to me, "Miss Josie’ is a queenly woman – and if she were a queen she would be a womanly queen." Through the years I have never doubted he was right.

     There were many things of interest and of historic importance on that July 4. For one thing the orator of the day was our present Secretary of State, James F. Byrnes. At that time he was a member of Congress from South Carolina. I recall the late beloved H. C. L. Richmond introduced Mr. Byrnes.

     Well, that is only a sample of the public uses to which the Kane Homestead was subjected. It was always the center of a culture, an atmosphere of the best in music, a rendezvous for those who sometimes craved to discuss good literature – or, forsooth, for young and old to enjoy pleasant fireside conversation upon any subject of either permanent or transitory interest.

Note: No byline shown for article. Hand written on the margin, "1945".

 

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