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      HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF  SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA
PUBLICATION 9 - 1975

      THE KILGORE FORTHOUSE

      By Luther F. Addington

      NOTE: Since this article was written it has been established that Winney Clayton Kilgore was NOT married to Charles Kilgore, but was the wife of his brother, Robert Kilgore, killed by the Indians in 1782.

          Rev. Robert Kilgore, affectionately known as Robin, married Mrs. Jane Porter Green in 1785. She was the daughter of Patrick Porter who lived on Fall Creek (near present Dungannon) and built a fort and a grist mill there. She was the widow of James Green who was killed by Indians December 31, 1782. (1)

          A traditional story has come down to us concerning this Indian killing, but now we know it is partially untrue. Here is the story as related in the History of Scott County: "In March 1783 Charles Kilgore, James Green, and a man by the name of McKinney left Fort Blackmore and went to the Pound River (in present Wise County) to hunt, and while there they were surprised by Indians, and Charles Kilgore, and James Green were killed. McKinney made his escape and returned to the fort. A search party led by McKinney found the bodies of Kilgore and Green, and buried them in the hollow of a large chestnut tree on the north bank of the Pound River, a short distance above the mouth of Indian Creek." (2)

          Further proof of James Green's death at the time cited above is an entry in the court records of Washington County, Virginia, July 15, 1783:

      "On motion of Patrick Porter (James' father-in-law) administration is granted him on the estate of James Green deceased who made oath thereto and entered into and acknowledged his bond with Samuel Ritchie and John Martin his securities in the sum of one hundred pounds for the faithful administration of the said decedent's estate." (3)

          But nowhere in these records do we have notice of Charles Kilgore's having been killed by Indians. To the contrary we have explicit proof that he lived long after James Green's massacre by the Indians. His Revolutionary War pension statement is proof of this.

"January 30, 1929

 Mr. Hugh M. Addington

 Nickelsville, Virginia

 Sir

 I advise you the Revolutionary War record of this bureau shows that Charles Kilgore served in Captain James Dysart's Company in Colonel William Campbell's Virginia Regiment during the Revolution. He was pensioned from April 28, 1809 on account of disability incurred in service. In May 1820 he was living in Green County, Tennessee.

 Respectfully,

 Winfield Scott, Commissioner." (4)

          The fact that Charles Kilgore's name was not on the 1783 Washington County taxable list but his wife's name Winnie was (error: Winnie was married to Robert Kilgore, brother of Charles), can easily lead one to believe that Charles was actually killed by Indians immediately prior to this date: however, one must take into consideration that Charles could have been away from home and the matter of making a tax report fell to his wife. Jane Porter Green's name also appears on this list but this is understandable since we know her husband James had been killed by Indians.

          By why was not Charles at his home on Fall Creek (near present  Dungannon) to take care of the tax report of that year? A good guess is that he was in Green County, North Carolina (now Tennessee) for his pension statement in the archives at Washington, D. C. shows, according to a copy in the hands of this writer, that it was written near Greenville, Tennessee to suffice for a previous statement which had been destroyed by a War Department fire in 1814. According to the records he was still receiving a pension in 1820. The book "King's Mountain Men" by White, page 197 states: "Charles Kilgore was a private under Campbell, and was wounded. In the pension list of Green County, Tennessee, in 1820, he is named as an invalid with an allowance of $48 per year."

          Since the 1820 pension payment was the last one made it seems safe to assume that Charles died about that time. Some genealogists place his death in the year 1823 because in the archives of the Green County Court is a will made in the year 1822 by one Charles Kilgore. This will (examined by this writer) leaves legacies to sons John M. and James M. which led Hugh M. Addington, author of "Charles Kilgore of King's Mountain" to conclude that Charles had married in Tennessee after his first wife's death (Winnie Clayton). (Error: Winnie Clayton was the wife of Robert Kilgore).

          But an examination of the book "Virginia Soldiers of the Revolution", by Burgess shows clearly that the will was made by a different Charles Kilgore. Even his name had a middle initial J. Therefore, this eliminates Washington County Charles' second family. But what happened to his real family? We know that Charles, Jr. the eldest son, moved from the Fall Creek area of Russell County, (formerly Washington County, later Scott County), to Green County, Tennessee in 1787. It is logical to conclude that the father Charles, Sr., went with him or even preceded him since he didn't make a tax report in 1783, but left it to Winnie, his wife. Neither he nor Winnie is on the Virginia 1784 tax report.

          So, what happened to Winnie and the 400 acre farm Charles owned on Fall Creek? Hugh M. Addington in his book, "Charles Kilgore of King's Mountain" says Winnie died in 1784. He does not document the statement. Where did she die? In the bounds of present Scott County (Virginia) or Green County, Tennessee? From Charles, Jr.'s pension statement we learn that Charles, Jr. moved from Green County into South Carolina, thence back to Virginia. According to his pension statement he was born in Orange County, North Carolina, which means, of course, that most of Charles,Sr.'s children were born in Orange County, North Carolina. Charles, Sr. took up 400 acres of land on Fall Creek in 1773. It seems that all of Charles, Sr.'s children, except Charles, Jr., remained in the bounds of present Scott County, since they are known to have married and reared families here.

          Robert Kilgore married Jane Porter Green in 1785 (5) and began to look for a place to call home for her and her son James Green, Jr., born February 12, 1783. (6)

           As a girl Jane had lived in her father's forthouse called Porter's Fort, situated about a mile up from the mouth of Fall Creek, on the western side.

          Therefore it is likely that Jane, having lived during her girlhood in the Porter forthouse and since her husband James Green had been killed by Indians, insisted that her new home be a forthouse.

           And that is what Robert Kilgore did, build a forthouse. He built it near Copper Creek one and a half miles southwest of a cluster of houses which later, with coming of James Nickels from Tazewell County, became known as Nickelsville. (7)

          This house was built in the year 1786 (8) of hewn logs and the cracks between them chinked with limestone. In case of Indian attack the inmates could go upstairs, and let down a trap door over the stairway. Three port holes, one in the west end and one in each side, made it possible to shoot out at Indians should any ever appear.

          It is said that the house was never attacked, however a band of Shawnees camped for a short while on the cliff tops to the south. 



Over the years the house deteriorated. So long as a roof was kept on it the interior remained in fairly good condition, but of recent years the roof was neglected and the whole structure rapidly went to ruin. The big chimney began to slump and shatter.  




 


Then fortunately the Scott County government secured funds to restore it to its original condition.  



 

          Now we come to Rev. Robert Kilgore, the builder of the forthouse. There is a mystery about his ancestry, which came to light only recently.

          In his book, "Charles Kilgore of King's Mountain", Hugh M. Addington placed Robert in Charles, Sr.'s list of children as number two. But Robert, Jr., who lived in the forthouse with his father, went to Gate City upon his father's death and in the courthouse entered in the death register the following:

          "Rev. Robert Kilgore, age 88, died May 29, 1854. Residence: Copper Creek, Place of Birth: unknown; Parents: Robert and Milly Kilgore. Reported by his son Robert Kilgore, Jr."

           This leads us to believe that Rev. Robert was not the son of Charles, Sr., as has been assumed, but instead the son of Robert, who was a brother of Charles.

          This we know about the elder Robert; he acquired 41 acres of land near Clinch River in 1772 and settled on it. (9) It was probably in the Fall Creek area where a year later his brother Charles settled.

           It seems quite logical for us to believe that Robert, Jr., or may we say Robert III who made the death entry would surely have known his grandfather's and grandmother's names. Had they been Charles and Winnie he would have said so.

          The last time we find Robert the settler's name in print is on the Virginia tax report 1782. But after that he vanishes.

          Could it be possible that he went with his brother Charles into North Carolina (now Tennessee)?

          Rev. Robert Kilgore of the forthouse was known far beyond his residence as a minister in the Regular Baptist church. He began his ministry at the Regular Primitive Baptist Church on Copper Creek two miles east of Nickelsville where he was one of the original members. (10) At that time the meetings were held in dwelling houses and sometimes in the Good Intent schoolhouse.

          It was here that Rev. Robin was ordained to preach April 16, 1808. (11)

          Later he often held services at the forthouse. It was here between the dates of 1815 and 1853 that he performed wedding ceremonies for 285 couples. (12)

           And here at his beloved forthouse he died May 29, 1854. His wife Jane Porter Green had preceded him in death by 12 years. (14) They were buried in the Nickelsville Cemetery. An emblem on Rev. Robin's stone shows he was a mason. In all probability he first joined the masons at a lodge held in the loft of the old grist mill on Fall Creek, for as a young man he lived in that vicinity.

      FOOTNOTES: 

      (1) In the Russell County, Virginia courthouse, order book No. 3, page

      266. Entered 1803. Ordered to be certified to the registrar of the land

      office that it is proved by this court that James Green who is the son and

      heir at law of James Green who was killed by the savages December 31, 1782

      and that said James Green the younger was born February 12, 1783. 

      (2) Addington, R. M., History of Scott County, Virginia, p. 303. 

      (3) Summers, Lew, Annals of Southwest Virginia, p. 1155. 

      (4) Charles Kilgore pension statement, number S699 

      (5) Addington, H. M., Charles Kilgore of King's Mountain, p. 141. 

      (6) Russell County, Virginia, Order Book No. 3, p. 266. 

      (7) Addington, H. M. op. Cit., p. 41 (8) ibid, p. 141 

      (9) Summers, Louis, op. Cit., p. 1225 

      (10) Copy of original Copper Creek Primitive Baptist minute book, p. 1,

      Date 1807. 

      (11) Ibid, p. 2

      (12) Addington, H. M., op. Cit., p. 142 

      (13) Robert Kilgore, Jr.'s statement in death register at Gate City. 

      (14) Addington, H. M., op. Cit., p. 18

 

Home ] Up ] 5-Confederates ] [ Kilgore Ft. House ] Catholicism ] Rafting ] Long Hunters ] Dr. McConnell ] Spartan Band ] Hanging Sheriffs ] W.D. Smith ] Frontier Forts ] Chief Benge ] James Boone ] Old Mills ] Whites Forge ] Whiteforge Post Office ] Samuel Smith ] James Shoemaker ] Jane and Polly ] Indian Missionary ] Patrick Porter ] Phillips Killing ] Boone Trail ] Stoney Creek Baptist ] Methodism ] Daniel Boone ] Estil Cemetery ] Scott Co. Names ] Confederate Soldiers ] Drayton Hale ] Reids Normal School ] Dr. N. Stallard ] Indian Forays ]