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Sketches of Prominent Families. 


Written at the request of 

Roy M. Brown, W. D. Farthing, W. R. Gragg, G. P. Hagaman, 

W. L. Bryan, P. A. Ltnney, P. C. Younce, A. C. Reese, A. J. Greene, 

R. C. Rivers, J. S. Winkler, I. G. Greer, T. E. Bingham, 

D. D. Dougherty, M. B. Blackburn, L. Greer, 

J. W. Hodges, B. B. Dougherty, 

C. J. Cottrell, W. p. Moody, 

D. J. Cottrell and 

R. L. Bingham 

Who guaranteed all costs of publication. 






Allison means "Dropped Stitches in Tennessee History," by Hon. John 
Allison, Nashville, 1896. 

Asbury means Bishop Asbury's Journal, 3 volumes, out of print. 

Booklet means "The North Carolina Booklet," published by the State 
D. A. R. Society, Raleigh, N. C. 

Bruce means "Daniel Boone and the Wilderness Road," by H. Addington 
Bruce, McMillan Co., N. Y., 1913- 

Cobb means Address by Prof. Collier Cobb before the American 
Geographical Society in New York City, April, 1914- 

Clark means "North Carolina Regiments in the Civil War," by Chief 
Justice Walter Clark, Goldsboro, 1901. 

Clark means "The Colony of Transylvania" in the North Carolina 
Booklet, for January, 1904. 

Col. Rec. means Colonial Records of North CaroUna, edited by W. L. 
Saunders, P. M. Hale, printer, Raleigh, 1886. 

Crouch means "Historical Sketches of Wilkes County," by John Crouch, 

DeRossett means "Sketches of Church History of North Carolina," by 
W. L. DeRossett, (Alfred WiUiams), Raleigh, 1890. 

Draper means "King's Mountain and Its Heroes," by Dr. L. C. Draper, 
(Peter G. Thompson), Cincinnati, 1888. 

Dagger means "Balsam Groves of the Grandfather Mountain," by Shep. 
Monroe Dugger, Banner Elk, N. C. 

Fairchild means Ebenezer Fairchild's Diary of Trip from New Jersey 
to the Jersey Settlement, now in possession of Col. Wyatt Hayes, 
Boone, N. C. 

Foote means "Foote's Sketches of North Carolina," out of print. 

Harper means "Reminiscenses of Caldwell County in the Civil War," by 
G. W. F. Harper, pamphlet. 

Haywood means "Bishops of North Carolina," by Marshall DeLancey 
Haywood, (Alfred WilHams), Raleigh, 1910. 

Ives means "Trials of a Mind," etc., Boston and New York, i8'54- 

Kephart means "Our Southern Highlanders," by Horace Kephart, 
Outing Publishing Co., New York, 1912. 

Manual means "North Carolina Manual," issued by N. C. Hist. Comm., 
Edwards & Broughton Printing Co., Raleigh, 1913. 

^ iii 


Moore means "The Rhymes of Southern Rivers," by M. V. Moore, M. E. 
Church, South, Book Co., Nashville, 1897. 

Moore means "Roster of North Carolina Troops in Civil War," by 
John W. Moork, 3 volumes, Raleigh, 1882. 

Morley means "The Carolina Mountains," by Mar(;aret W. Morley, 
Houghton-Mifflin, New York, 1913. 

Murphey means "Papers of Arch. D. Murphey," 2 volumes, N. C. Hist. 
Comm., Raleigh, 1914. 

Observer means Charlotte Daily Observer, Charlotte, N. C. 

Rebellion Records means "The War of the Rebellion," Washington, D. C, 


Rumple means "A History of Rowan County," by Rev. Jethro Rumple, 

Sheets means "A History of Liberty Baptist Church," by Rev. Henry 
Sheets, Edwards & Broughton Printing Co., Raleigh, 1908. 

Skiles means "A Sketch of Missionary Life at Valle Crucis," edited by 
Susan Fenimore Cooper, 1890. 

Smythe means "A Tour of America," by Dr. J. F. D. Smythe. 

Thwaites means "Daniel Boone," by Reuben Gold Thwaites. 

Warner means "On Horseback," by Charles Dudley Warner, Houghton- 
Mifflin Co., New York, 1889. 

Wheeler means "Historical Sketches of North Carolina," by John H. 
Wheeler, 2 volumes, 1851. 

Williams means "History of the Baptists of North Carolina," by Rev. 
Charles Williams, Edwards & Broughton Printing Co., Raleigh, 

Worth means "Correspondence of Jonathan Worth, N. C. Hist. Comm." 
Edwards & Broughton Printing Co., Raleigh, 1909. 


(Lines are numbered from the top of pages.) 


"it" should be "inscriptions" 28 40 

"whom" should be "who" 15 45 

"recall" should be "recalls" 22 86 

Insert "by a freshet, and the third church" first part of 8 103 

"D. B." should be "J. B." Phillips last 132 

"185S" should be "1859," according to W. E. Greene, Esq.... 19 138 

"Sing Sing" should be "Albany County, N. Y." 6 154 

"five" should be "four" 6 154 

"Cove Creek" should be "New River" 28' 170 

"Hamby" should be "Henley" 29 184 

"lived on Beaver Dams and" should be omitted 4 201 

"soon after his return from" should be "before his trip to". . 28 201 

"called Harman Rock House" should be omitted 26 202 

"Sharp's" should be "Sawyer's" 15 210 

"bridge which replaced" should precede "old bridge" 4 224 

"Harley" should be "Hartley" i 240 

"Louise" should be "Nancy" 17 280 

"ex-Sheriff W. B. Baird" should be "Capt. B. F. Baird" 18 280 

"Rittenhouse, who married Mrs. Eliza PhilHps" should pre- 
cede "lives" 19 280 

Blank should be filled by "Laura Martin" 35 315 

Blank should be filled by "Miss Marilda EUett first, and then 

Jane Brown" 36 315 

"a Ray" should be "Margaret Duke" 5 316 

Blank should be filled by "Jane Ray" 6 316 

Blank should be filled by "Catharine Burkett" 7 316 

"Ray ?" should be "Morris" 19 316 

"a Ray" should be "Ella Ray" 22 316 

"a I-ieeves" should be "W'infield Doub" 23 316 

"Henry C." should be "Henr>' W." 26 316 

"1829" should be "1827" 30 331 

"Eleline" should be "Emeline A." 8 332 

"Hiram" should be "William Carroll" 10 332 

"Andrew" should be "Jacob" 14 353 

"George" should be "William" 31 353 

Both accounts of the Wilson families are said to be inaccurate. 


This gentleman writes (January 6, 1916) to the effect that if I had read 
an article by him, published in the A)iierican Historical Review for Octo- 
ber, 1914, and another, published in the Mississippi Historical Review. 
Volume I, December, 1914, I might have "tempered my prejudices and 
modified the oft'ensiveness of my tone" in my "polemics." (Pages 42 to 
52.) Also that, in my references to himself, my tone lacked courtesy. 
I hasten to disclaim any intentional offensiveness or discourtesy. Having 
since read the two articles above referred to, however, I am unable to 
withdraw or modify any of the statements concerning the facts in ques- 
tion. On the contrary, I reaffirm that, aside from Dr. Henderson's unsup- 
ported statements, there is no satisfactory evidence as yet published that 
Boone owed Richard Henderson one cent ; that he was employed by 
Henderson to go to Kentucky in 1769; that Henderson & Co. ever paid 
him for his services out of the 400,000 acres they received from Virginia 
and North Carolina; that Richard Henderson ever conspired while he 
was on the bench to violate the law he had sworn to uphold by purchas- 
ing lands from the Indians, or that there was a wagon road across the 
North Carolina mountains in 1775. J. P. A. 

Boone. N. C, January 10, igi6. 



Chapter I. The relation of Watauga County and its residents to 
remainder of the mountains. Early settlers in eastern part of 
State. Difference between eastern and western settlers. Our 
Yankee ancestry. Critics eager to find fault. Our annals. 
Difference between "poor whites" and "mountain whites. 
Cooperation has ceased. Moonshining an inheritance. Penn- 
sylvania "Whiskey Rebellion." i 

Chapter II. Similarity of Indians to Hebrews. A study in 
ethnology and philology. Speculations as to the begmnmg of 
things. Indians never residents of Watauga in memory of 
whites. Cherokees parted with title to land long ago. Old forts 
on frontier. Cherokee raids. First white settlers of Watauga. 
Linville family and falls ^2 

Chapter III. The greed for land in the eastern section. Bishop 
Spangenberg sets out to get land for Moravians. He is rnisled 
and "wanders bewildered in unknown ways." Reaches delicious 
spring on Flat Top. Three Forks described. An Indian Old 
Field. Caught in a mountain snow-storm. Their route from 
Blowing Rock. Conflicting claims as to locality described 21 

Chapter IV. No direct Daniel Boone descendants. Other Boone 
relatives. Jesse and Jonathan Boone. Their Three Forks 
membership. Marking the Trail of Daniel Boone. Boone Cabin 
Monument. Locating Trail. Cumberland Gap pedestal. Boone's 
Trail in other States. Congress urged to erect bronze statue 
there. Boone's first trip across Blue Ridge. Probability of re- 
location of trail. Improbability of the carving on the Boone 
Tree. Boone's relations with Richard Henderson considered 29 

Chapter V. Backwoods Tories. Samuel Bright, loyalist. Patriots 
feared British influence with Indians. Bright's Spring and the 
Shelving Rock. Watauga County once part of Watauga Settle- 
ment. Doctor Draper's errors. W. H. OUis's contribution. No 
camp on the Yellow. Cleveland's parentage and capture. His 
rescue, etc. Greer's Hints, of two kinds. The Wolf's Den. 
Riddle's execution. Killing of Chas. Asher and other Tones. 
Ben Howard. Marking old graves by United States. Its 
niggardly policy. Battlefield in Watauga 53 

Chapter VI. The Yadkin Baptist Association. Three Forks Baptist 
Church. List of its early members and officers. A great moral 
force in the community. Church trials, grave and gay. Other 
ancient happenings. First churches. Revivals 71 

Chapter VII. Order of the Holy Cross. Picture of Watauga Valley 
in 1840. Valle Crucis as first founded. Rt. Rev._ L. S. Ives. 
Feeble and undignified imitation. Why Ives vacillated. Old 
buildings. Adobes and humble bees. Easter chapel. Spiritual 



Starvation on the Lower Watauga. The Mission store. Death 
of Mr. Skiles. Removal of St. John's. Reinstitution of Mission, 
and School for Girls. Summer resort, also 78 

Chapter VIII. Light on the Jersey Settlement. Meagre facts con- 
sidered. John Gano, preacher. Fairchild's diary. Adventures 
on road. Mr. Gano constitutes a church. A colonial document. 
Other ancient documents and facts. Letter from Morris Town, 
N. J., Church. The Fairchild ladies 87 

Chapter IX. Democracy of the religion of the mountaineer. Our 
morals, as appraised by others. Pioneer Baptists. The Farthing 
family. A family of preachers. Rev. Joseph Harrison. Cove 
Creek Baptist Church. Bethel Baptist Church. Other early 
churches. Stony Fork Association. White's Spring Church. 
Methodist Churches. Henson's Chapel. A family of Methodist 
church preachers. M. E. Churches. Baptists, Presbyterians, 
Lutherans 97 

Chapter X. Formation of county. Councill's influence. Three 
New England visitors. Doctor Mitchell's geological tour. 
Tennessee boundary line. Boundary line and Land Grant 
Warrants. Running State line. Watauga County lines. Watauga 
County established. Changes in county lines. Avery County cut 
off. Jails and court houses. To restore lost records. First 
term Sui>erior Court. Tied to a wagon-wheel. Roving spirit. 
Legislative and other officers. Watauga's contribution to Con- 
federacy and Federals. Population and other facts. Mexican 
War soldiers. Weather vagaries. Agricultural and domestic 
facts. Forests. Altitudes 114 

Chapter XI. Boone incorporated. Its attractions. Miss Morley's 
visit. First residents of Boone. First builders. Saw-mills for 
new town. The Ellingtons. Other builders. First merchants, 
J. C. Gaines, Rev. J. W. Hall. Post-bellum Boone. Coffey Bros. 
Their enterprises. Newspapers. Counterfeiters 142 

Chapter XII. Too many troops for limits of book. Keith Blalock. 
Four Coffey Bros. Danger from Tennessee side. Longstreet's 
withdrawal. Kirk's Camp Vance raid. Death of Wm. Cof?ey. 
Murder of Austin Coffey. Other "activities." Michiganders 
escape. Camp Mast. Watauga Amazons. Camp Mast sur- 
render. Sins of the children. Retribution? Paul and Reuben 
Farthing. Battle of the Beech. Stoneman's raid. Official 
account. A real home guard. Mrs. Horton robbed. No peace. 
Fort Hamby. Blalock's threat 159 

Chapter XIII. Calloway sisters. Pioneer hunters. James Aldridge. 
His real wife appears. Betsy Calloway. Delila Baird. A 
belated romance. Colb McCanless. sheriff. His death by Wild 
Bill. Bedent E. Baird. Zeb Vance's uncle makes inquiry. Peggy 
Clawson. Other old stories. Joseph T. Wilson, or "Lucky Joe." 
"Long-Distance." An African romance. James Speer's fate. 
Joshua Pennell frees slaves. Jesse Mullins' "niggers." Cross- 
cut suit. Absentee landlord. "School Butter." Lee Carmichael. 
The musterfield murder. A Belle of Broadway 186 



Chapter XIV. Fine Watauga County scenerj'- Cove Creek. Our 
flowers. Valle Crucis. Sugar Grove. Blowing Rock. Along 
the Blue Ridge. Moses H. Cone. Brushy Fork. Shull's Mills. 
Linville Valley and Falls. The Ollis family. Elk Cross Roads. 
Banner's Elk. A trip on foot. Meat Camp. Rich Mountain. 
The "Tater Hill." The Grandfather and Grandmother. Graft- 
ing French chestnuts. Beaver Dams. Boone's Beaver Dams 
trails. Beech Creek and Poga 209 

Chapter XV. Ante-bellum education. Peculiarities of speech. We 
speak the best and purest English. Place-names. Kephart's 
dissertations. Ante-bellum pedagogues. Our schools. Penman- 
ship. Phillip Church. Jonathan Norris. Eli M. Farmer. Burton 
Davis. Todd Miller. The "Twisting Temple." Lees-McRae 
Institute. School-teachers. Normal school at Boone. Skyland 
Institute. T. P. Adams' long service. Silverstone public school. 
Walnut Grove Institute. Valle Crucis School for Girls. First 
agricultural instruction. Prominent in education. Lenoir School 
Lands. School-house Loan Fund. T. L. Clingman, a teacher. 
Mount Mitchell controversy 243 

Chapter XVI. Gold mines and mining. First owners of Cranberry. 
Iron forges. Iron bounties. Some old hammermen. Cling- 
man's mining 263 

Chapter XVII. First wagon roads. First across Blue Ridge. 
Caldwell and Watauga Turnpike. Yonahlossee Turnpike. Early 
road legislation. Earliest stopping places. First paper railroads. 
First railroad surveys 268 

Sketches of Prominent Families Alphabetically Arranged 279 

Index 357 


l^^cX Wj^^^u^^^ ^>'^'^'>\>'', 


The Grandfather Profile. By permission of author and publishers 

of "The Carolina Mountains." Frontispiece 

Col. William Lewis Bryan, Historian and Trail Finder 26 

Daniel Boone Cabin Monument, erected by Col. W. L. Bryan, 

October, 1912 32 

The Old Perkins Place, where Cleveland was captured. Photograph 

by Wiley C. Vannoy, Blowing Rock 60 

The Wolf's Den, where Cleveland was rescued. Photograph by Wiley C. 

Vannoy, Blowing Rock 62 

The Three Forks Baptist Church. Photograph by Wiley C. Vannoy, 

Blowing Rock 72 

Bishop L. Silliman Ives, D. D. Photograph by John L. Vest, Forsyth 

County, N.C 78 

Residence of Rev. John Norton Atkins, and former home of the late 

Rev. Henry H. Prout 82 

Rev. Reuben P. Farthing 98 

Col. Joe B. Todd, Clerk of the Superior Court 134 

Boone, the County Seat of Watauga. Photograph by John L. Vest 

Forsyth County, N.C 142 

Mrs. William Lewis Bryan, who has lived in Boone since its organiza- 
tion, and for several years prior thereto 146 

Aunt Delilah's Last Cabin Home. Photograph by L. G. Harris, 

Cranberry, N. C 192 

Horton Family Arms, and Explanation 206 

The Blowing Rock. From an oil painting by the late W. C. Randall. . 214 

Lake and Residence of Col. W. W. Stringfellow, Blowing Rock, 

N. C. Photograph by Wiley C. Vannoy, Blowing Rock 218 

Peaks of the Grandfather Mountain. By permission of author and 

publishers of "The Carolina Mountains." 234 

The Yonahlossee Road. By permission of author and publishers of 

"The Carolina Mountains 238 

The Appalachian Training School, and Howard's Knob, Boone, 

N. C. Photograph by John L. Vest, Forsyth County, N. C 248 



Mission School at Valle Crucis, N. C. Photograph by L. G. Harris, 

Cranberry, N. C 254 

Hon. Thomas Lanier Clingman. From Clark's "North Carolina 

Regiments." 258 

The Deep Gap, the gateway to Watauga. Photograph by Wiley C. 

Vannoy, Blowing Rock 268 

Maj. Harvey Bingham, Soldier and Lawyer 282 

Hon. E. Spencer Blackburn, M.C, Orator and Statesman 286 

Dudley Farthing, Judge of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions. . 308 

Hon. L. L. Greene, Judge of the Superior Court 312 

CoL. Jonathan Horton. Photograph by John L. Vest, Forsyth County, 

N. C 322 

CoL. Romulus Z. Linney, M.C, Wit, Orator, Lawyer and Statesman. . 328 


They told by the sibilant sea of the solemn 

Blue mountains whose summits ascend to the sky, 
Where, cradled in solitude, world-weary pilgrims 

Might find perfect rest, undisturbed by a sigh. 
They told of savannahs as smooth as a carpet, 

Of golden fruits breaking their branches in twain; 
Of vast flocks of wild-fowl, the sunlight obscuring. 

And buffalo haunting the billowy plain. 
They told of a land where the sweet-scented wild flowers 

I'lash fair as the flame of a taper-lit shrine, 
Bedecking the meadows, bespangling the valleys. 

And climbing the mountains, the sun to outshine. 
But they told of a cruel foe lurking in ambush. 

For whose treachery nothing but blood could atone. 
Of fierce Chickamaugas and Cherokee bowmen, 

Whose swift, stealthy darts sang a dirge all their own. 
But the rivers and mountains, the dim, distant mountains, 

Rising range upon range to the ultimate sky- 
Could women and children surmount those blue masses? 

Could even strong men those grim rock-cliflfs defy? 
Yes; North, west of Guilford, and South, west of Cowpens, 

Those mountains had yielded to Boone and Adair; 
McDowell and Shelby had led through the passes 

But to find them awaiting the "Hot-spur," Sevier. 
'Twas the land that had haunted the dreams of the hunted 

For which all the homeless and hopeless had prayed — 
Untrammeled by custom, unfettered by fashion, 

Each man his own master, her mistress each maid. 
So, the hunter, his rifle and bullet-pouch bearing. 

Blew a blast on his horn and the hounds thronged around, 
The oxen were yoked, and on wheels the small household 

Started out to the West, a new Nation to found ! 
Through dim, ghostly woodlands and dew-jeweled meadows 

They eagerly followed the track of the sun ; 
They rafted the rivers and conquered the Smokies, 

From whose peaks they first saw the new homes they had won. 
They were men from Old Rowan, Burke, Craven and Chowan, 

Wake, Anson and Surry and Currytuck's lights; 
And Mecklenburg sent of her sturdy young yeomen 

Such men as subscribed to our "First Bill of Rights." 
They girdled the forests, they drained the morasses. 

They builded of rude logs the Church and the Home — 
Through labor and sorrow and sore tribulation — 

Faith for the foundation and love for the dome. 
And while these be the Sword of the Lord and of Gideon, 

God's "Chosen" the heathen forever will smite; 
And in tears and in blood, with the lead of the rifle. 

The Saxon his deeds will continue to write. 
And soon, on the banks of the sparkling Watauga, 

Was cradled the spirit that conquered the West^ 
The spirit that, soaring o'er mountain and prairie. 

E'en on the Pacific shore paused not to rest. 
For the first written compact that, west of the mountains, 

Was framed for the guidance of liberty's feet, 
Was writ here by letterless men in whose bosoms 

Undaunted the heart of a paladin beat! J. P. A. 


Several Forewords. 

Our Home and Heritage. — Our home is a very small part of 
that vast region known as the Southern Appalachians, which a 
recent writer, Horace Kephart, has aptly called Appalachia. This 
elevated section covers parts of eight States, all of which are 
south of IMason and Dixon's line. It is in the middle of the 
temperate zone and, for climate, is unsurpassed in the world. 
The average elevation is about two thousand feet above tide- 
water. Blue Ridge is the name of the range of mountains which 
bounds this highland country on the east, though the western 
boundary is known by many names, owing to the fact that it 
is bisected by several streams, all of which flow west, while 
the Blue Ridge is a true water-shed from the Potomac to Georgia. 
The various names of the western ranges are the Stone, the 
Iron, the Bald, the Great Smoky, the Unaka and the Frog 
mountains. The United States Coast and Geodetic Survey has, 
however, of recent years, given the name Unaka to this entire 
western border, leaving the local names to the sections which 
have been formed by the passage of the Watauga, the Doe, the 
Toe, the Cane, the French Broad, the Pigeon, the Little Tennes- 
see and the Hiawassee rivers. With the exception of a few bare 
mountain-tops, which are covered by a carpet of grass, these 
mountains are wooded to the peaks. Between the Blue Ridge 
and the Unakas are numerous cross ranges, separated by narrow 
valleys and deep gorges. Over the larger part of this region 
are to be found the older crystalline rocks, most of which are 
tilted, while the forests are of the finer hardwoods which, when 
removed, give place to luxuriant grasses. The apple finds its 
home in these mountains, while maize, when grown, is richer 
in proteids than that of the prairie lands of Illinois. 

Character of the Inhabitants in 1752. — Bishop Spangenberg, 
in the Colonial Records (Vol. IV, pp. 1311-1314), wrote from 


2 A History of Watauga County 

Edenton, X. C, that he had found everything in confusion there, 
the counties in conflict with each other, and the authority of the 
legislature greatly weakened, owing largely to the fact that 
the older counties had formerly heen allowed five representatives 
in the general assembly ; but, as the new counties were formed, 
they were allowed but two. It was not long, however, before 
the newer counties, even with their small representation, held 
a majority of the members, and passed a law reducing the rei)re- 
sentation of the older counties from five to two. The result of 
this was that the older counties refused to send any members 
to the assembly, but dispatched an agent to England with a view 
to having their former representation restored. Before any 
result could be obtained, however, there was "in the older coun- 
ties perfect anarchy," with frequent crimes of murder and rob- 
bery. Citizens refused to appear as jurors, and if court was 
held to try such crimes, not one was present. Prisons were 
broken open and their inmates released. Most matters were de- 
cided by blows. But the county courts were regularly held, and 
whatever belonged to their jurisdiction received the customary 

People of the East and West. — Bishop Spangenberg. in the 
same letter, divided the inhabitants of the eastern counties into 
two classes — natives, who could endure the climate, but were 
indolent and sluggish, and those from England, Scotland and 
Ireland and from the northern colonies of America, the latter 
being too poor to buy land there. Some of these were refugees 
from justice, had fled from debt, or had left wife and children 
elsewhere — or, possibly, to escape the penalty of some crime. 
Horse thieves infested parts of this section. But, he adds in a 
postscript written in 1753: "After having traversed the length 
and breadth of North Carolina, we have ascertained that 
towards the western mountains there are plenty of people who 
have come from Virginia. Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey 
and even from New England." Even in 1752 "four hundrea 
families, with horses, wagons and cattle have migrated to North 
Carolina, and among them were good farmers and very worthy 
people." These, in all probability, were the Jersey Settlers. 

A History of Watauga County 3 

The Great Pennsylvania Road. — On the 15th of February, 
1 75 1, Governor Johnston wrote to the London Board of Trade 
that inhabitants were flocking into North Carohna, mostly from 
Pennsylvania, and other points of America "already over- 
stocked, and some directly from Europe," many thousands 
having arrived, most of whom had settled in the West "so that 
they had nearly reached the mountains." Jeffrey's map in the 
Congressional Library shows the "Great Road from the Yadkin 
River through Virginia to Philadelphia, Distance 435 Miles." 
It ran from Philadelphia, through Lancaster and York counties 
of Pennsylvania to Winchester, Va., thence up the Shenandoah 
Valley, crossing Fluvanna River at Looney's Ferry, thence to 
Staunton River and down the river, through the Blue Ridge, 
thence southward, near the Moravian Settlement, to Yadkin 
River, just above the mouth of Linville Creek, and about ten 
miles above the mouth of Reedy Creek. It is added that those of 
our boys who followed Lee on his Gettysburg campaign in 1863 
were but passing over the same route their ancestors had taken 
when coming from York and Lancaster counties to this State in 
the fifties of the eighteenth century. (Col. Rec. Vol. IV, p. xxi.) 

Our Yankee Ancestry. — As, to Southerners, all people north 
of Mason and Dixon's line are Yankees, there seems to be no 
doubt, if the best authorities can be trusted, that we are the sons 
of Yankee sires. Roosevelt (Vol. I, p. 137) tells us that as early 
as 1730 three streams of white people began to converge towards 
these mountains, but were halted by the Alleghanies; that 
they came mostly from Philadelphia, though many were from 
Charleston, S. C, Presbyterian-Irish being prominent among all 
and being the Roundheads of the South. Also that Catholics 
and Episcopalians obtained little foothold, the creed of the back- 
woodsmen being generally Presbyterian. Miss Morley says that 
so many of the staunch northerners — Scotch-Irish after the 
events of 1730, and Scotch Highlanders after those of 1745 — 
"came to the North Carolina mountains that they have given the 
dominant note to the character of the mountaineers" (p. 140). 
Kephart says that when James I, in 1607, confiscated the estates 
of the native Irish in six counties in Ulster, he planted them 

4 A History of Watauga County 

with Scotch and English I'resbyterians. giving long leases, but 
that as these leases began to expire the Scotch-Irish themselves 
came in conflict with the Crown, and then he quotes Froude to 
the effect that thirty thousand Protestants left Ulster during the 
two years following the Antrim evictions and came to America. 
Many of these finally settled in our mountains, among them be- 
ing Daniel Boone and the ancestors of David Crockett, Samuel 
Houston, John C. Calhoun, "Stonewall" Jackson and Abraham 
Lincoln. He might have added, also, those of Cyrus H. Mc- 
Cormick, Admiral Farragut, Andrew Johnson, James K. Polk, 
John C. Breckenridge, Henry Clay, John Marshall and Parson 

Huguenots, Germans and Swedes. — But others came also : 
French Huguenots, Germans, Hollanders and Swedes, who set- 
tled the British frontier from Massachusetts to the Valley of 
Virginia, the mountain men who counted most coming from 
Lancaster, York and Berks counties, Pennsylvania. "That was 
true in the days of Daniel Boone and David Crockett, and also 
in the days of John C. Calhoun and William A. Graham, of those 
of Zeb Vance and Jeter C. Pritchard. There has not been one 
whit of admixture from any other source. Blood feuds have 
always been absent. The TifTanys have been able to draw on 
these mountains for some of their most skilful wood-carvers — 
a revival of their ancient home industries. I have heard in 
Pennsylvania within the last thirty years every form of expres- 
sion with which I am familiar in Western North Carolina, and 
some of them occur today around Worcester, Mass." ' Hence, 
we have in these mountains the sauerkraut of Holland and the 
cakes of Scotland. 

Scum or Salt? — So much has been written in detraction of 
the Southern mountaineers that ignorant people conclude that 
they are the very scum of the earth. In all the admirable things 
Horace Kephart had to say in his "Southern Highlanders," the 
Northern reviewers found but a few sentences worthy of their 
notice, and these were, of course, of an unfavorable nature. 

* Dr. Collier Cobb in an address before the Nationai Geographic Society, 
in New York City, in April, 1914. 

A History of Watauga County 5 

These were quoted and commented on by a reviewer in the 
Reviezv of Review's for July, 1914. In the same number of this 
periodical (p. 49) there is a picture under which is printed: 
"Center Peak of Grandfather Mountain, in Pisgah Forest, re- 
cently acquired by the Government from the Estate of George 
W. Vanderbilt." As the Grandfather mountain is at least ninety 
miles north of Pisgah Forest, the ignorance of the publishers of 
this magazine of conditions in our mountains is apparent. 
Kephart's few remarks which caught the eye of Northern re- 
viewers were that "although without annals, we are one in 
speech, manners, experiences and ideals, and that our de- 
terioration began as soon as population began to press upon 
the limits of subsistence." An examination of the statistics of 
population and wealth of Buncombe, Haywood, Jackson, Swain 
and Cherokee counties in 1880, before the railroad was built, 
and of 1910, will convince anyone that "population has not yet 
pressed upon the limits of production." Kephart also said that 
our "isolation prevented them from moving West . . . and 
gradually the severe conditions of their life enfeebled them 
physically and mentally." As opposed to that, Archibald D. 
Murphey says (Murphey Papers, Vol. II, p. 105) that North 
Carolina "has sent half a million of her inhabitants to people 
the wilderness of the West, and it was not until the rage for 
emigration abated that the public attention was directed to the 
improvement of" their advantages. This was written prior to 
November, 1819. Besides, anyone who will read the "Sketches of 
Prominent Families" in this volume will be convinced that 
Watauga County at least contributed its quota to the winning 
of the West. Miss Morley graciously records that, instead of 
deteriorating, the late George W. Vanderbilt put his main reli- 
ance on the native mountaineer in the development of his fairy- 
land estate, Biltmore (p. 149). "They were put to work, and, 
what was of equal value in their development, they were sub- 
jected to an almost military discipline. For the first time in 
generations they were compelled to be prompt, methodical and 
continuous in their efforts. And of this there was no complaint. 
Scotch blood may succumb to enervating surroundings, but at 

6 A History of Watauga County 

the first call to battle it was ready. Not only did the men do the 
manual labor, but, as time went on, the most capable of them 
became overseers in the various departments, until finally all the 
directors of this great estate, excepting a few of the highest 
officials, were drawn from the ranks of the people, who proved 
themselves so trustworthy and capable that in all these years only 
three or four of Riltmore's mountaineer employees have had to 
be dismissed for inefficiency or bad conduct." 

Won the Revolution and Saved the Union. — Like Tenny- 
son's "foolish yeoman," we have been "too proud to care from 
whence we came," and it is a singular fact that in spite of all 
that has been written against us, no Southern mountaineer has 
taken the troulile to answer our detractors. And, when it is 
said that we have no annals, Mr. Kephart merely means that we 
have not written them, for he proceeds to prove that we have 
annals of the highest order. He credits the mountaineer with 
having been the principal force which drove the Indians from 
the Alleghany border (p. 151) and formed tlie rear-guard of the 
Revolution and the vanguard in the conquest of the West. He 
says : "Then came the Revolution. The backwoodsmen were 
loyal to the American government — loyal to a man. They not 
only fought ofT the Indians from the rear, but sent many of their 
incomparable riflemen to fight at the front as well. They were 
the first English-speaking people to use weapons of precision — 
the rifle, introduced by the Pennsylvania Dutch about 1700, which 
was used by our backwoodsmen exclusively throughout the war. 
They were the first to employ open-order formation in civilized 
warfare. They were the first outside colonists to assist their 
New England brethren at the siege of Boston . . . They 
were mustered in as the first regiment of the Continental Army 
(being the first troops enrolled by our Congress and the first 
to serve under a Federal banner). They carried the day at 
Saratoga, the Cowpens and King's Mountain. From the begin- 
ning to the end of the war, they were Washington's favorite 
troops." As to the Civil War. he says (p. 374) : "The Con- 
federates thought that they could throw a line of troops from 
Wheeling to the Lakes, and Captain Garnett, a West Point 

A History of Watauga County 7 

graduate, started, but got no further than Harper's Ferry, when 
mountain men shot from ambush, cut down bridges, and killed 
Garnett with a bullet from a squirrel rifle at Harper's Ferry. 
Then the South began to realize what a long, lean, powerful 
arm of the Union it was that the Southern mountaineer 
stretched through its very vitals, for that arm helped to hold 
Kentucky in the Union, kept East Tennessee from aiding the 
Confederacy and caused West Virginia to secede from Seces- 
sion!" There was no Breed's Hill nor Bull Run panic among 
them in the Revolution or in the Civil War period! Has New 
England, which has a superabundance of annals, any that will 
compare with these? And yet, it took an outsider to tell us 
of them ! 

Not the Poor Whites of the South. — According to Kephart 
(p. 356), the poor whites of the South descended mainly from 
the convicts and indentured servants which England supplied 
to the Southern plantations before the days of slavery. The 
cavaliers who founded and dominated Southern society came 
from the conservative, the feudal element of England. "Their 
character and training were essentially aristocratic and military. 
They were not town dwellers, but masters of plantations . . . 
These servants were obtained from convicted criminals, boys and 
girls kidnapped from the slums, impoverished people who sold 
their services for passage to America (p. 357). It was when 
the laboring classes of Europe had achieved emancipation from 
serfdom and feudalism was overthrown, that African slavery 
laid the foundation for a new feudalism in the Southern States. 
Its eflfect upon white labor was to free them from their thraldom ; 
but being unskilled and untrained, densely ignorant, and from 
a more or less degraded stock, these shiftless people generally 
became squatters on the pine barrens, and gradually sank lower 
in the scale till the slaves themselves were freed by the Civil 
War. There was then and still is plenty of wild land in the 
lowlands and they had neither the initiative nor the courage to 
seek a promised land far away among the unexplored and savage 
peaks of the western country." 

8 A History of Watauga County 

McKamie Wiseman's View. — This shrewd old mountaineer 
of Avery County, who is a wise man not only by name, but by 
nature also, had the true idea of the settlement of these moun- 
tains. He said that as population drifted westward from the 
Atlantic and downwards from western X'irginia and Pennsyl- 
vania between the mountain troughs, the game was driven into 
the intervening mountains, and that only the bravest and the 
hardiest of the frontiersmen of the borders followed it and re- 
mained after it had been exterminated. Tradition and early 
documents bear out this view, the first settlers of the mountains 
having been almost without exception the men who lived on the 
mountain-tops, at the heads of creeks and in out-of-the-way 
places generally, disdaining the fertile bottom lands of the larger 
streams, preferring the most inaccessible places, because of the 
proximity to them of the game. Others, with more money and 
less daring, got the meadows and fertile valleys for agriculture, 
while the true pioneers dwelt afar in trackless mountains, in 
hunting camps and caverns, from which they watched their 
traps and hunted deer, bear and turkeys. The shiftless and dis- 
heartened poor whites would soon have perished in this wilder- 
ness, but the hunters waxed stronger and braver, and their 
descendants still people the mountain regions of the South. 
And he thought, also, that many came down from the New Eng- 
land States because of the religious unrest and dissensions which 
marked the earlier history of that region, and came where men 
might worship God in their own way, whether that way were the 
way of Puritan or Baptist. To use his words, "It was freedom 
that they were seeking, and it was freedom that they found in 
these unpeopled mountains." Kephart puts it in another form 
only when he says (p. 307), "The nature of the mountaineer de- 
mands that he have solitude for the unhampered growth of his 
personality, wing-room for his eagle heart." As another said 
of the Argonauts. "The cowards never started, and the weaklings, 
died on the way." Mr. Wiseman died in July, 1915. 

No Festering Warrens for Them. — Mr. Kephart also tells us 
(p. 309) that "our highlanders have neither memory nor tradi- 
tion of ever having been herded together, lorded over, perse- 

A History of Watauga County 9 

ciited or denied the privileges of free men," and that, "although 
life has been one long, hard, cruel war against elemental powers, 
nothing else than warlike arts, nothing short of warlike hazards 
could have subdued the beasts and savages, felled the forests and 
made our land habitable for those teeming millions who can 
exist only in a state of mutual dependence and cultivation." And, 
more marvelous still, he adds, "By compulsion their self-reliance 
was more complete; hence, their independence grew more 
haughty, their individualism more intense. And these traits, 
exaggerated as they were by the force of environment, remain 
unzveakened among their descendants to the present day." 

Co-operation Has Ceased. — In the early time, co-operation 
was the watchword of the day. Neighbor helped neighbor, 
freely, gladly and enthusiastically. But, according to Kephart, 
all this has ceased, and we have become non-sociable, with each 
man fighting for his own hand, recognizing no social compact. 
Each is suspicious of the other. "They will not work together 
zealously, even to improve their neighborhood roads, each mis- 
trusting that the other may gain some trifling advantage over 
himself, or turn fewer shovelfuls of earth. Labor chiefs fail 
to organize granges or unions among them because they simply 
will not stick together . . ." He quotes a Miss Mills as say- 
ing, "The mountaineers must awake to a consciousness of them- 
selves as a people." Including all the Southern highlanders, we 
constitute a distinct ethnic group of close on to four million 
souls, and with needs and problems identical. The population 
is almost absolutely unmixed, and completely segregated from 
each other (p. 311). The one redeeming feature is a passionate 
attachment for home and family, a survival of the old feudal 
idea, while the hived and promiscuous life in cities is breaking 
down the old fealty of kith and kin (p. 312). "My family, right 
or wrong" is said to be our slogan, and it is claimed that this is 
but the persistence of the old clan fealty to the chief and the 

Moonshining an Inheritance? — Kephart seems to have made 
a study of blockading and moonshining, and to have reached the 
conclusion that they are really an inheritance, coming down to 

10 A History of Watauga County 

us from our Scotch and Irish ancestors, who resented the EngUsh 
excise law of 1659, which struck at the national drink of the 
Scotch and Irish, while the English themselves were then con- 
tent to drink ale. Our forebears killed the gangers in sparsely 
settled regions, while the better-to-do people of the towns bribed 
them. Thus the Scotch-Irish, settled by James I in the north of 
Ireland, to replace the dispossessed native Hibernians, learned to 
make whiskey in little stills over peat fires on their hearths, call- 
ing it poteen, from the fact that it was made in little pots. 
Finally, these Scotch-Irish fell out with the British government 
and emigrated, for the most part, to western Pennsylvania, where 
they brought with them an undying hatred of the excise laws. 
When, therefore, after they had helped to establish a stable gov- 
ernment, an excise law was adopted by Congress, these Scotch- 
Irish were the very first to rebel. And it was to George 
Washington himself that the task fell of suppressing their re- 
sistance to the United States ! 

The Pennsylvania Whiskey Rebellion. — Owing to bad roads 
and the want of markets, there was no currency away from the 
seaboard. But. condensed into distilled spirits, a ready sale and 
easy transportation were found for the product of the grain of 
the mountaineers. For they could carry many gallons on a 
single horse or in a single wagon and get a fair price from 
people living where money circulated. When, therefore, they 
were required to pay a heavy tax on their product, they rebelled. 
When the Federal excisemen went among them, they blackened 
themselves and tarred and feathered these intruders on their 
rights. These "revenuers" then resigned, but were replaced by 
others. If a mountaineer took out a license, a gang of whiskey 
boys smashed his still and inflicted bodily punishment on him. 
All attempts to serve warrants resulted in an up-rising of the 
people, and, on July 16, 1794, a company of mountain militia 
marched to the house of General Neville, in command of the 
excise forces, and he fired on them, wounding five and killing 
one. The next day a regiment of 500 mountain men, led by 
Tom the Tinker, burned Neville's house and forced him to flee, 
one of his guard of United States soldiers being killed and sev- 

A History of Watauga County ii 

eral wounded. On August i, 1794, 2,000 armed mountain men 
met at the historic Braddock Field, and marched on Pittsburg, 
then a village. A committee of Pittsburg citizens met them. 
The mob of 5,400 men were then taken into town and treated to 
strong drink, after which they dispersed. The Governor of 
Pennsylvania refused to interfere, and Washington called for 
15,000 militia to quell the insurrection. He also appointed com- 
missioners to induce the people to submit peacefully. Eighteen 
ring-leaders were arrested and the rest dispersed. Two of the 
leaders were convicted, but were afterwards pardoned. Even a 
secession movement was imminent, but as Jefferson soon became 
President, the excise law was repealed and peace restored. There 
was no other excise tax till 1812, when it was renewed, only to 
be repealed in 1817. From this time till 1862 there was no tax, 
and after that time it was only twenty cents a gallon. In 1864 
it was raised to sixty cents a gallon and later in that year to 
$1.50, to be followed in 1865 by $2.00 a gallon. The result was 
again what it had been in Great Britain — fraud around the cen- 
ters of population and resistance in the mountains, the current 
price of distilled spirits even in the North being less than the tax. 
In 1868 the tax was reduced to fifty cents, and illicit stilling prac- 
tically ceased, the government collecting during the second year 
of the existence of this reduced tax three dollars for every one 
that had been collected before (p. 163). Since then every in- 
crease has resulted in moonshining in the mountains and graft 
in the cities. The whiskey frauds of Grant's administration in- 
vaded the very cabinet itself. So it seems the spirit of resistance 
makes moonshiners of us all, just as Shakespeare said that con- 
science makes cowards of us all. 


Forerunners of Watauga. 

Likeness of the Indians to the Hebrews. — The following has 
been condensed from the Literary Digest for September 21, 1912, 
page 472: "William Penn saw a striking likeness between the 
Jews of London and the American Indians. Some claim that 
the stories of the Old Testament are legends in some Indian 
tribes. In the Jewish Encyclopedia it is said that the Hebrews, 
after the captivity, separated themselves from the heathen in 
order to observe their peculiar laws ; and Manasseh Ben Israel 
claims that America and India were once joined, at Bering Strait, 
by a peninsula, over which these Hebrews came to America. All 
Indian legends affirm that they came from the northwest. When 
first visited by Europeans, Indians were very religious, worship- 
ping one Great Spirit, but never bowing down to idols. Their 
name for the deity was Ale, the old Hebrew name for God. In 
their dances they said 'Hallelujah' distinctly. They had annual 
festivals, performed morning and evening sacrifices, oflFered their 
first fruits to God, practiced circumcision, and there were 'cities 
of refuge,' to which offenders might fly and be safe; they reck- 
oned time as did the Hebrews, similar superstitions mark their 
burial places 'and the same creeds were the rule of their lives, 
both as to the present and the future.' They had chief-ruled 
tribes, and forms of government almost identical with those of 
the Hebrews. Each tribe had a totem, usually some animal, as 
had the Israelites, and this explains why, in the blessing of Jacob 
upon his sons, Judah is surnamed a lion, Dan a serpent, Ben- 
jamin a wolf, and Joseph a bough." There are also resemblances 
in their languages to the Latin and Greek tongues, Chickamauga 
meaning the field of death, and Aquone the sound of water. 

A Study in Ethnology and Philology. — W'^e have seen that 
the legends show that the Indians came from the northwest. It 
must be remembered, however, that although they were of one 


A History of Watauga County 13 

color, they were of different tribes and spoke different tongues 
or dialects. There is not a labial in the entire Cherokee lan- 
guage, while the speech of the Choctaws, Creeks, Tuscaroras, 
Algonquins and many other tribes is full of them. They were 
nomads, wandering from place to place. The Cherokees were 
admittedly the most advanced of the Indians since the Spaniards 
decimated the Incas and Aztecs. They were certainly the most 
warlike. The name "Cherokee" has, however, no significance in 
their language, as they call themselves the Ani-Kituhwagi and 
the Yunwiga, or real people. This is likewise true of most of 
the names of streams and mountains which bear, according to 
popular belief, Indian names ; for in the glossary, given in the 
Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, 1897, 
Part I, James Mooney, its author, shows that their meaning has 
been lost, if, indeed, they ever had a meaning in the Indian 
tongue. A glance through that collection of Cherokee words 
will dispel many a poetic idea of the significance of such words 
as Watauga, Swannanoa, Yonahlossee and others as mellifluous. 
How came this about? He offers no theory. But Martin V. 
Moore, who once did business in Boone, has published a small 
volume, "The Rhyme of Southern Rivers," ' in which he makes 
it appear that most, if not all, of these names of streams and 
mountains have their roots in the languages of Europe and Asia. 
He cites an instance when an Indian was asked whether the 
Catawba tribe took their name from the Catawba River or the 
river from the tribe? The Indian answered by asking, "Which 
was here first?" If it was possible for one European or Asiatic 
tribe or clan to cross into America before Bering Strait divided 
the two continents, it was possible for many to have crossed also. 
If one tribe or clan spoke one tongue, other tribes which crossed 
probably spoke different languages. Thus, America might have 
become peopled with representatives of many peoples, each speak- 
ing a different dialect, and thus giving different names to the 
several streams and mountains along and among which they for 
a time abided. If this be so, it is easy to believe that the root or 

^ This was originally published in Harper's Monthly for February, 1883, but 
without its introductory. It was published in complete form by M. E. Church, 
South, Pub. Co., Nashville, Tenn., 1897. 

14 A History of Watauga Comity 

origin of many so-called Indian words can be found in the Greek, 
Latin, Hebrew, Persian, African, Chinese and Japanese lan- 
guages. That many names of Southern rivers show such possi- 
bilities is made plain by this little volume. 

"The Other Way About," as the I'Lnglish say, would make it 
possible that these Appalachian mountains being the oldest land 
in the world — older far than that of the Nile, the Euphrates and 
the Jordan — were really the birth-place and cradle of the ances- 
tors of the polyglot races which now people Europe and Asia ; 
for, if it was possible for people to come to America from those 
countries, it was equally possible for people to go from America 
there. So that, instead of being the New World, America is 
really the Old World. But, to the proofs : 

Words Derived from the Hebrews. — According to Mr. 
Moore, "te" or "de" in Hebrew means "deep." In its oldest form 
in Hebrew, it is "te-am," or "te-ho-ma," meaning deep waters — 
"am" or "homa" denoting waters. "Perpetuity" in Hebrew was 
denoted by "na." "The fact is illustrated," to quote Mr. Moore's 
words, "in the Hebrew name 'ama-na' — the river known in 
Isaiah," Iviii, v. ii (p. 99). Chota, the City of Refuge, as it is 
called in Cherokee, "was governed by the same laws as those 
which obtained among the Jewish nations of antiquity" (p. 89). 
. . , Telico, Jellico and Jerico (p. 44) are cognate words, and 
Pocataligo was the title of the river of that name in South Caro- 
lina, "long famed as one of the cities of refuge among the 
aborigines." Likewise, he shows that "toah" or "toe" is from 
the Hebrew "neph-toah," "the name of a water noted in Jewish 
history" (p. 29). 

Latin, Manchu and Persian. — "The root word of the Missis- 
sippi River is traced to the Latin words 'meto' and 'messis.' 
whence come our words 'meter* and 'measure,' denoting in the 
original sense a gathering together, tersely characteristic of a 
stream which gathers to itself the waters of so many different 
lands" (p. yy). He also traces the root word of "saluda" to the 
Latin "salio" to leap (p. 41) or a "stream springing out of high 
places." In "unaka," the name of the mountains south of the 
Little Tennessee River, unquestionably "a native Indian word," 

A History of Watauga County 15 

he finds a marked likeness to the Latin "unus," "unica" and our 
EngHsh equivalent "unique" (p. 92). "Watauga" has the Latin 
root "aqua," meaning water. Then, too, "esta" or "aesta," in 
Latin, refers to summer months, or leisure time, which, com- 
bined with the Hebrew "toah" or "toe," makes up our "Estatoe" 
river (p. 29). "Esseeola" is given as the native name of the 
river now called Linville, "ola" being from the Manchu dialect 
word "ou-li," meaning river; and if Miss Morley is right in 
thinking that it was named for the linden trees on its banks, one 
cannot help wondering if "esse," in Manchu, means linden ! 
Mr. Moore thinks "catawba" is from the Persian root "au-ba" 
or "aub," of which the California writing is Yuba, meaning cat- 
fish, which is certainly characteristic of our Carolina stream of 
that name. He also calls attention to the fact that neither the 
Cherokees nor the Japanese use the letter "r" in their dialects ; 
and that the old Romans used "1" and "r" interchangeably, just 
as do the Cherokees (p. 50). 

First Settlers of Watauga. — The Cherokee Indians were the 
first settlers of this county, but there is no record that white 
men ever came into actual contact with them in what is now 
Watauga county. Boone does not seem to have encountered any 
on his trip in 1769 until he reached Kentucky. Neither did 
Bishop Spangenburg on his trip in 1752. James Robertson saw 
none on his first trip to the Watauga Settlement in 1769, nor in 
1770, when he brought his family with him to the new settlement 
on the Watauga River. Indeed, Virginia had concluded a treaty 
with the Cherokees in 1772 fixing the top of the Blue Ridge as 
the eastern boundary, and a line running due west from the 
White Top mountain (where North Carolina, Virginia and Ten- 
nessee join), and the general impression then was that this line 
included the Watauga Settlement near what is now Jonesboro, 
Tenn. But in 1771 Anthony Bledsoe extended the Virginia line 
far enough west to satisfy himself that the Watauga Settlement 
was not in Virginia territory, and, therefore, not within the 
treaty limits of 1772. This fact caused those settlers to lease 
for eight years all the country on the waters of the Watauga 
River. On March 19, 1775, the Watauga settlers bought in fee 

1 6 A History of Watauga County 

simple all the land on the waters of the Watauga, Ilolston and 
New Rivers. The western boundary of this tract ran from six 
miles above Long Island of the Holston, south, to the dividing 
ridge between the Watauga and the Toe rivers, thence in a south- 
easterly direction to the Blue Ridge, thence along the Blue Ridge 
to the Virginia line. This embraced the whole of Watauga, Ashe 
and Alleghany counties. So that, from 1775 on, the Indians had 
no right to be in this territory, and, altiiough Wheeler tells us 
that Ashe was partially settled as early as 1755 by white people — 
principally h.unters — there is nothing to tell us that the Indians 
ever lived here except arrow heads, broken bits of pottery and 
so forth. ' 

The Cherokees Kept Faith. — Up to the commencement of 
the Revolutionary War there is no evidence that the Cherokees 
lived north of the dividing ridge between the Toe and Watauga 
clear up to the \'irginia line. Thus, whether the lease and deed 
to the Watauga settlers near Jonesboro were legal or not, the 
untutored savage stood manfully to this agreement. It is true 
that war parties were sent through this territory to make trouble 
for the settlers east of the Blue Ridge, but they had no abiding 
place west of that divide. Bishop Spangcnberg was here in 
December, 1752, but he saw no Indians, though speaking of an 
"old Indian field." There is a tradition in the settlement near 
Linville Falls and Pisgah Church (Altamont), now in Avery 
County, that William White was the first settler in that locality 
whose name is now remembered and lived where Melvin C. 
Bickerstafif now resides, but that another had preceded him at 
that place, and that while hunting one day he saw from a ridge 
a party of Indians kill two white men who were "lying out" in 
that locality in order to escape service in the Revolutionary War, 
and trample their bodies beyond sight in a mud-hole which then 
stood near the present residence of Rev. W. C. Franklin. This 
settler did not reveal himself to the Indians, but, hastening to his 
own cabin half a mile away, escaped with his wife and child to 
Fort Crider (which, in 1780, Dr. Draper tells us, p. 185, note, 
was situated on "a small eminence within the present limits of 

2 Rev. W. R. Savage, of Blowing Rock, and W. S. Farthing, of Beaver Dams, 
have large collections of Indian relics. 

A History of Watauga County 17 

Lenoir"), after having been forced to eat while on the journey 
through the rough mountains the small pet dog which followed 
them. There is also another tradition that the American forces 
followed a party of marauding Cherokees to the rock cliff just 
above Pisgah Church in that locality, but retreated because the 
savages were too strong for them. These, however, are the only 
traditions diligent enquiry has revealed. There is, however, 
other evidence of forays across the Blue Ridge by Cherokees 
■ from their towns on the Little Tennessee. 

Some Old Forts.— According to Archibald D. Murphey 
(Murphey Papers, Vol. II, pp. 385, 3^6), "there was a chain of 
forts from Black Water of Smith's River in Rockingham near to 
the Long Island of Holston : i, the fort at Bethabara; 2, Fort 
Waddell at the Forks of the Yadkin; 3, Fort Dobbs on the 
Catawba; 4, Fort Chisholm on New River, and 5, Fort Stalnaker 
near the Crab Orchard." Just where the fort on New River was 
located it is now difficult to determine, though it was probably at 
Old Field or Three Forks, as they were on the road from Wilkes- 
borough to Long Island in the Holston. The Crab Orchard was 
most likely two miles west of what is now called Roan Moun- 
tain, just in the edge of Tennessee. It is now only a flag station, 
however, the Gen. John Winder road from Roan Mountain 
station through Carver's gap, three miles southeast of the gap of 
the Yellow, starting from the latter station to the top of the 
Roan mountain, where, during the eighties, hundreds of visitors 
spent the ''hay fever months" in comfort. The immense hotel 
there has been abandoned now, however, and the doors and 
windows are being carried away every day by marauders, the 
caretaker having left in 1914- 

An Indian Incursion.— The same author says (p. 381, Vol. 
II) of other forts east of the Blue Ridge: "Forts were erected 
at Moravian Old Town (Bethabara) by the twelve Moravians 
first sent out to Wachovia, and by the settlers in the neighbor- 
hood two forts were erected: one in the town, including the 
church, and the other at the mill, half a mile distant. Into these 
forts the setders in the neighborhood and even from the Mul- 
berry Fields near Wilkesborough took refuge, about seventy 
famihes in all, and here they continued in fort, occasionally, until 

1 8 A History of Watauga County 

the general peace of 1763. The people generally went to their 
homes in the fall or early in the winter, and returned to the 
forts in the spring, the winter being too severe for the Indians 
to make such long expeditions for the purpose of mischief. The 
forts were never attacked. The Little Carpenter, then the chief 
of the tribe [CherokeesJ, came at the head of 300 or 4CX) In- 
dians and killed several of the inhabitants. They [the Indians] 
remained for six weeks in the neighborhood and then returned. 
This was in the spring of 1755 or 1756." 

Where They Crossed the Blue Ridge. — "They crossed the 
Blue Ridge at the head of the Yadkin and came down the valley 
of that river." They killed William Fish at the mouth of Fish's 
River. One Thompson, who was with him, was wounded with 
two arrows "while he and Fish were riding together through a 
canebrake." Thompson escaped and gave the alarm at Betha- 
bara. The people hastened to the forts, two men, Barnett Lash- 
ley and one Robison. being killed near the block house the next 
morning. "Lashley's daughter, thirteen years old." went to 
her father's house to milk the cows. "Nine Indians pursued her, 
but she escaped by hiding in the canebrakes until after dark, 
when she went to the fort, and was not surprised to learn of her 
father's death." This was in March, 1755 or 1756. The Indians 
came from the Cherokee towns on the Little Tennessee River. 
None ever lived in Watauga or Ashe since the whites settled in 
the piedmont country. In 1759 or 1760 another raid was made 
to the mouth of Smith's River in Rockingham County (p. 383), 
where they killed Greer and Harry Hicks on Bean Island Creek, 
and carried Hick's wife and little son back to Tennessee with 
them. They, however, were recovered when Gen. Hugh Wad- 
dell marched to the Cherokee towns later on. A company of 
rangers was kept employed by the State, commanded by Anthony 
Hampton, father of Gen. W^ade Hampton, of the Revolutionary 
War, and greatgrandfather of Gen. Wade Hampton, twice gov- 
ernor of South Carolina (p. 384). Daniel Boone belonged to 
this company and he buried Fish, who had been killed by Little 

First White Settlers of Watauga. — A letter from Lafayette 
Tucker, of Ashland, Ashe County, states that the descendants of 

A History of Watauga County 19 

the original Lewis who settled in that neighhorhood claim that 
he came as early as 1730. Thomas Hodges, the first, came during 
the Revolutionary War and settled in what is now called Hodges 
Gap, two miles west of Boone, and Samuel Hix and James D. 
Holtsclaw, his son-in-law, settled at or near Valle Crucis at that 
time or before. Some of the Norris family also came about that 
time, but which one or ones cannot be determined now. These 
were Tories. Ben Howard did not settle in this county, but re- 
mained at his home on the Yadkin, though he took refuge in the 
mountains around Boone during the Revolutionary War, and for 
ten years prior to 1769 herded cattle in the bottom lands around 
Boone. He built what is now known as the Boone cabin in front 
of the Boys' Dormitory of the Appalachian Training School, 
marked in 1912 by a monument erected by Col. W. L. Bryan." 
A quarter of a mile north of the knob, looming above Boone 
village and known as Howard's Knob, is a shallow cave or cliff, 
called Howard's Rock House, in which he is said to have lived 
while hiding out from the Whigs. Howard remained loyal to 
the British crown till 1778, when he took the oath of allegiance. 
(Col. Rec. XXH, p. 172.) His daughter, Sally, was switched by 
the Whigs near her home on the Yadkin because she refused to 
tell where her father was. She afterwards married Jordan 
Councill, Sr., and settled at what is now Boone, where Jesse 
Robbins has built a house, called the Buck-Horn-Tree place. 
Bedent Baird moved to Valle Crucis some time after Samuel 
Hix went there, but Baird was a Whig. David Miller must have 
settled on Meat Camp early, for he went as a member of the 
legislature to Raleigh in 1810. Bedent Baird went to Raleigh 
as a member of the legislature in 1808. Nathan Horton, ancestor 
of the large and influential Horton family, was a member in 1800. 
Linville Falls." — One often wonders how these beautiful falls 
get their name of Linville. According to Archibald D. Murphey 

3 Colonel Bryan, however, thinks Howard did not build this cabin, as Jordan 
Councill the second, Howard's grandson, always called it Boone's cabin. Col. 
J. M. Isbell, now deceased, told the writer in May, 1909, that Burrell, an old 
African slave, told him that Howard used it for his herders. 

* Some suppose that this river takes its name from the lin-tree, or as it is 
usually spelt, the lyn or linn, but the Linville family is the source of its name. 
This tree is what the Germans call the linden. It is scarce in these mountains 
now because of the fact that its branches are among the first to swell and bud 
in early spring, and great trees were cut wherever found in the forests in order 
that the cattle might eat the tender limbs. 

20 A History of Watauga County 

(Murphey Papers, Vol. II, p. 386), "Two men named Linville 
from the forks of the Yadkin went to hunt on the Watauga 
River between 1760 and 1770. They employed John Williams, 
a lad of sixteen, to go with them, keep camp and cook for them. 
They were sleeping in the camp wiien the Indians came on them 
and killed the Linvilles. They shot Williams through the 
thigh," but he escaped and rode a horse from the mouth of the 
Watauga "to the Hollows in Surry" in five days. He recovered 
from his wound and became a man of influence. It is now al- 
most certain that these falls have taken their name from these 
two men, who may have visited them before their last hunt and 
told the people of their location and beauty, for Dr. Draper 
(note, p. 183) records that the stream itself was named from 
the fact that in the "latter part of the summer of 1766 William 
Linville, his son and a young man had gone from the lower 
Yadkin to this river to hunt, where they were surprised by a 
party of Indians, the two Linvilles killed, the other person, 
though badly wounded, effecting his escape. The Linvilles were 
related to the famous Daniel Boone." It is a matter of record 
that a family by the name of Linvil — probably an economic way 
of spelling Linville — were members of Three Forks Baptist 
Church and lived on what is now known as Dog Skin Creek, or 
branch, but which stream used to be called Linville Creek. The 
membership of that church shows that Abraham, Catharine and 
Margaret Linvil were members between 1790 and 1800, while 
the minutes show that on the second Saturday in June, 1799, 
when the Three Forks Church were holding a meeting at Cove 
Creek, just prior to giving that community a church of its own, 
Abraham Linvil was received by experience, and in July fol- 
lowing, at the same place, Catharine and Margaret Linvil also 
were so received. Several of the older residents of Dog Skin, 
Brushy Fork and Cove creeks confirm the reality of the resi- 
dence of the Linville family in that community. In September, 
1799. Brother Vanderpool's petition for a constitution at Cove 
Creek was granted, Catharine Linvil having been granted her 
letter of dismission the previous August. 


Watauga's First Visitor. 

The Greed for Land. — All the land had been taken up in 
1752 east of Anson county, which was then the westernmost 
county of the State. (Col. Rec. Vol. V, pp. 2, 3.) It is now a 
small county just north of the South Carolina line. "As early 
as 1754 vacant public lands, as we would call them now, could be 
found in large bodies only in the back settlements near the 
mountains, and settlers were coming in there in hundreds of 
wagons from the northwards . . . The immigrants were 
said to be very industrious people, who went at once into the 
cultivation of hemp, flax, corn and the breeding of horses and 
other stock." (Col. Rec. Vol. V, p. xxi.) The McCulloh lands, 
consisting of 1,200,000 acres, were granted on the 19th of May, 
'^yyj^ upon condition that 6,000 Protestants should be settled 
thereon and four shillings quit rents should be paid for each 
100 acres by the 14th of March, 1756. These lands were sur- 
veyed and located on the heads of the Pee Dee, Cape F^ar and 
Neuse rivers in 1744, in tracts of 100,000 acres each. (Id. 

Bishop Spangenberg's Visit.— "In August, 1752, Bishop 
Spangenberg and his party set out from Bethlehem, Pa., for 
Edenton, N. C, to locate lands bought the year before from the 
Earl of Granville for the Moravian settlement. Leaving Eden- 
ton about the middle of September, their route lay through 
Chowan, Bertie, Northampton, Edgecombe and Granville, to its 
western border near the Virginia line, and thence along the 
Indian Trading Path, as near as can now be ascertained, to the 
Catawba River, thence up that river to its upper waters, thence 
by mistake over the divide to New River, thence back to the head 
waters of the Yadkin and thence down the Yadkin to Muddy 
Creek, where, some ten miles from the river and from 'the upper 
Pennsylvania road,' they found some 100,000 acres of land in 


22 A History of Watauga County 

a body unoccupied, which they proceeded at once to take up. 
In January, 1753, they returned home, having surveyed 73,037 
acres of land, to which were added 25.948 acres surveyed by 
Mr. Churton in the same tract, making in all 98,985 acres. A 
general deed for the whole tract was made on 7th of August, 
I753-" (Col. Rec. Vol. V, p. 1146,) The names of the members 
of Bishop Spangenberg's party were: August Gottlieb Span- 
genberg, Henry Antes, Jno. Merk, Herman Lash and Timothy 
Horsefield. Their guides were Henry Day, who lived in Gran- 
ville county, near Mr. Salis'; Jno. Perkins, who lived on the 
Catawba River and was known as Andrew Lambert, a well 
known Scotchman, and Jno. Rhode, who lived about twenty 
miles from Captain Sennit on the Yadkin road. 

The First Visitor to Watauga County. — So far as there is 
any authentic record to the contrary. Bishop Spangenberg and 
his party were the first visitors to Watauga county. Following 
is the record of this visit. (Col. Rec. Vol. IV, p. 10, etc.) : 

"December 3. 1752. From the camp on a river in an old 
Indian field, which is either the head or a branch of New River, 
which flows through North Carolina to Virginia and into the 
Mississippi River. Here we have at length arrived after a very 
toilsome journey over fearful mountains and dangerous cliffs. 
A hunter whom we had taken along to show us the way to the 
Yadkin, missed the right path, and we came into a region from 
which there was no outlet, except by climbing up an indescrib- 
ably steep mountain. Part of the way we had to crawl on hands 
and feet; sometimes we had to take the baggage and saddles 
and the horses and drag them up the mountains (for the horses 
were in danger of falling down backward — as we had once had 
an experience), and sometimes we had to pull the horses up 
while they trembled and quivered like leaves. 

"Arrived at the top at last, we saw hundreds of mountain 
peaks all around us, presenting a spectacle like ocean waves in 
a storm. We refreshed ourselves a little on the mountain top, 
and then began the descent, which was neither so steep nor as 
deep as before, and then we came to a stream of water. Oh, how 
refreshing this water was to us ! We sought pasture for our 

A History of Watauga County 23 

horses and rode a long distance, until in the night, but found 
none but dry leaves. We could have wept with sympathy for 
the poor beasts. The night had already come over us, so we 
could but put up our tent. We camped under the trees and had 
a very quiet night. The next day we journeyed on; got into 
laurel bushes and beaver dams and had to cut our way through 
bushes, which fatigued our company very much. 

"Then we changed our course — left the river and went up 
the mountain, where the Lord brought us to a delicious spring 
and good pasturage on a chestnut ridge. He)sent us, also, at 
this juncture two deer, which were most accfeptable additions 
to our larder. The next day we came to a creeK so full of rocks 
that we could not possibly cross it, and on both sides were such 
precipitous banks that scarcely a man, and certainly no Tiorse, 
could climb them. Here we took some refreshments, for we 
were weary. But our horses had nothing — absolutely nothing; 
this pained us inexpressibly. Directly came a hunter who had 
climbed a mountain and had seen a large meadow. Thereupon 
we scrambled down to the water, dragged ourselves along the 
mountain and came before night into a large plain. 

"This caused rejoicing for men and beasts. We pitched our 
tent, but scarcely had we finished when such a fierce wind storm 
burst upon us that we could scarcely protect ourselves against it. 
I cannot remember that I have ever in winter anywhere encoun- 
tered so hard or so cold a wind. The ground was soon covered 
with snow ankle deep, and the water froze for us aside the fire. 
Our people became thoroughly disheartened. Our horses would 
certainly perish and we with them. The next day we had fine 
sunshine, and then warmer days, though the nights were 'horri- 
bly' cold. Then we went to examine the land. A large part of 
it is already cleared and there long grass abounds and this is all 

"Three creeks flow together here and make a considerable 
river which flows into the Ohio, and thence into the Mississippi, 
according to the best knowledge of our hunters. In addition, 
there are almost countless springs and little runs of water which 
come from the mountains and flow through the country, making 

24 A History of Watauga County 

almost more meadow land than one could make use of. There 
is not a trace of reeds here, but so much grass land that Brother 
H, Antes thinks a man could make several hundred loads of 
hay of the wild grass, which would answer very well if only it 
be cut and cured at the proper time. There is land here suitable 
for wheat, corn, oats, barley, hemp, etc. Some of the land will 
probably be flooded when there is high water. There is a mag- 
nificent chestnut and pine forest near here. Whetstones and 
mill stones, which Brother Antes regards the best he has seen in 
North Carolina, are plenty. The soil is here mostly limestone 
and of a cold nature. The waters are all liigher than on the 
east side of the Blue Ridge. We surveyed this land and took 
up 5,400 acres in our lines. We have a good many mountains, 
but they are very fertile and admit of cultivation. Some of them 
are already covered with wood and are easily accessible. Many 
hundred, yes, thousands — crab-apple trees grow here, which 
may be useful for vinegar. One of the creeks presents a number 
of admirable seats for milling purposes. 

"This survey lies about fifteen miles from the Mrginia line, 
as we saw the Meadow Mountain and judged it to be about 
twenty miles distant. This mountain lies five miles from the 
line between Virginia and North Carolina. In all probability 
this tract would make an admirable settlement for Christian In- 
dians, like Gradenhutten in Pennsylvania. There is wood, mast, 
wild game, fish and a free range for hunting, and admirable 
land for corn, potatoes, etc. For stock raising, it is also in- 
comparable." (From this favored spot they went through the 
mountains by Reddy's river to the Mulberry Fields and entered 
land in the neighborhood of what is now Wilkesborough and the 
Moravian Falls, which took its name from them.) 

Where Was This Indian Old Field? — The question arises 
as to the location of the old Indian field at the head of a prong 
of New River, where 5,400 acres of land were surveyed and 
taken up. It will help one to determine this by ascertaining the 
route by which it had been reached. The entry in the diary 
immediately preceding that of December 3d, the date on which 
this spot was described, is November 29, 1752, and was written 

A History of Watauga County 25 

at the camp "at the upper fork of the second or middle river 
which flows into the Catawba not far from Quaker Meadows." 
This indicates that there are three streams which flow into the 
Catawba at or near Quaker Meadows. There is nothing in the 
diary to indicate which he calls the first of these "Httle rivers," 
but there is no doubt as to the third. It is the entry of 
November 24th "from the camp in the fork of the third river 
which empties into the Catawba near Quaker Meadows, about 
five miles from Table Mountain," now called Table Rock. That 
could be none other than the Linville River, and, as Johns River 
is the next below that, it follows that it must necessarily be the 
"second" or "middle little river." Following up Johns River, 
he had come on the 25th to the mouth of Wilson's Creek, where 
he took up 2,000 acres. This is the lower fork of Johns River. 
The upper fork of this river is at Globe, where the Gragg prong 
joins the main stream and where Carroll Moore had a mill years 
ago. It was at this upper fork of middle little river that the 
following description of the Globe was written: 

"With respect to this locality where we are now encamped, one 
might call it a basin or kettle. It is a cove in the mountains, and 
is very rich soil. Two creeks, one larger than the other, flow 
through it. Various springs of very sweet water form lovely 
meadow lands. Mills may easily be built, as there is fall enough. 
Below the forks the stream becomes quite a large one. Of wood 
there is no lack. Our horses find abundant pasture among the 
buflFalo haunts and tame grass among the springs, which they 
eat greedily, and certainly the settlers of this place can very 
soon make meadows if they wish. Not only is the land suitable 
for hemp, oats, barley, etc., but there is excellent wheat land 
here also. There is also abundance of stone, not on the land, 
but on the surrounding mountains . . . This survey would 
contain in itself all the requisites to make comfortable farms 
and homes for about ten couples." 

While there, "A hunter whom we had taken along to show us 
the way to the Yadkin missed the right path, and we came into 
a region from which there was no outlet except by climbing up 
an indescribably steep mountain. Part of the way we had to 

26 A History of Watauga County 

crawl on hands and feet. Sometimes we liad to take the bag- 
gage and saddles and the horses and drag them up the moun- 
tains . . . and sometimes we had to pull the horses up, 
while they trembled and quivered like leaves. Arrived at the 
top, we saw hundreds of mountain peaks all around us, present- 
ing a spectacle like ocean waves in a storm." Could this have 
been any other place than Blowing Rock ? 

Their Route from Blowing Rock, — From this point they 
went down to a stream, where they got water, but no pasturage, 
and, consequently, they "continued on a long distance" the same 
day, camping, at last, after nightfall, beneath trees, but without 
having found pasturage for their horses. This stream must 
have been either Flannery's Fork — now Winkler's Mill Creek — 
or the middle fork of New River, but where they camped can- 
not be determined, though it seems certain that they camped 
there on the 30th of November. On the first of December they 
"journeyed on ; got into laurel bushes and beaver dams" and 
had to "cut a way through the bushes," but, being fatigued with 
this task, they changed their course during this day and "left 
the river and went up the mountain, where the Lord brought 
us to a delicious spring and good pasturage on a chestnut ridge." 
The next day, December 2d, they came to a creek so "full of 
rocks that we could not possibly cross it. and on both sides were 
such precipitous banks that scarcely a man, and certainly no 
horse, could climb them." But there was no pasturage. It was 
then that "a hunter, who had climbed a mountain and had seen 
a large meadow," guided them "into a largo plain." the spot 
described with so much particularity. But. on that night of 
December 2d. a terrible wind and snow storm assailed them 
and caused them to suffer very much, but it passed, and the next 
day, December 3d. they made their investigations and described 
the goodly land to which they thought they had been providen- 
tially guided. 

Conflicting Claims. — Three forks of New River, near Boone, 
the old field at the mouth of Gap Creek, and Grassy Creek, in 
Ashe County, have characteristics similar to those described, 
but only Grassy Creek has the limestone formation. Unless the 

Historian and trail finder. 

A History of Watauga County 27 

good Bishop knew where the Virginia-North CaroHna Hne was, 
it is difficult to know why he stated that this spot was "about 
fifteen miles from the Virginia line," and the reason he gives 
for this conclusion is still more puzzling, as there is no mountain 
in Virginia five miles from the line now known as the Meadow 
Mountain, while the Bald, in Watauga County, is almost directly 
north of the three forks and apparently about twenty miles 
away. In reality, it is not over ten, but it is bald and looked like 
a meadow, at that time, with snow all over it. On the other 
hand. White Top is about twenty miles from Grassy Creek and 
four miles from Pond Mountain, the corner between North 
Carolina and Virginia and Tennessee. As this is bare around 
its crown of lashorns, it may be that it was called the Meadow 
Mountain at that time. 

Col. W. L. Bryan's View. — After reading Bishop Spangen- 
berg's account of his trip west of the Blue Ridge, Colonel Bryan, 
of Boone, thinks that the Bishop got to the stream that forms 
Cone's Lake, near Blowing Rock, and rode north along the top 
of Flat Top ridge "a long distance" and camped under trees 
November 30th. That on December ist he got into laurel bushes 
and beaver dams on the middle fork of the south fork of New 
River, which he left and went back on Flat Top range to a 
spring, still known as Flat Top Spring, and now owned by 
Thomas Cannon, but which was first settled by Alex. Elrod some- 
time in the fifties. This spring is on land where there used to 
be large chestnut trees, and is the most noted spring near. On 
December 2d the Bishop was on either Winkler's Creek— form- 
erly called Flannery's Fork — or on the middle fork, though the 
rocks and clififs and precipices are more marked on Winkler's 
Creek than on middle fork, especially above or below what is 
now the Austin place, or where Moses Johnson has a mill. 
Colonel Bryan thinks that the mountain on which the hunter 
climbed was Flat Top peak, as from it the meadow in which the 
three forks join is plainly visible and the bald of Long Hope 
Mountain, lying almost due north, can be distinctly seen, and 
this was the mountain which the Bishop mistook for Meadow 
Mountain in Virginia, now known as White Top. Between the 

28 A History of Watauga County 

junction of the three creeks, forming Three Forks, and the first 
bend below that point there used to be a large crab orchard — 
say, about 1855 — and on the new road from Boone to the new 
electric power dam on south fork whetstones can be found. 

Captain \V. H. Witherspoon. of Jefferson, thinks that the 
Meadow Mountain which Bishop Spangenberg saw was the 
WTiite Top, and that the stream where three creeks meet were 
the Naked. Ravens and Beaver Creeks, flowing into the south 
fork of New River, four or five miles east of Jefferson. He 
thought the Moravians had owned land there; that there is a 
limestone formation there, and that grindstones are found near. 
This is about fifteen miles from the Virginia line. White Top 
is visible from this point, and is about twenty miles distant. 
Also that there is a pine and chestnut forest south of the south 
fork of New River and between that river and the Blue Ridge. 


Daniel Boone. 

No Direct Daniel Boone Descendants in North Carolina. — 

According to Thwaites and Bruce, the children of Daniel Boone 
were James, Israel, Susannah, Jemima, Lavinia, Rebecca, Daniel 
Morgan, John and Nathan. According to Bruce (p. 87), John 
was a mere infant in arms when his mother started with her 
family for Kentucky in September, 1773. John's middle name 
was Bryan, in honor of his mother's family name. Neither 
Jesse nor Jonathan Boone, who lived afterwards in Watauga 
County, were sons of Daniel Boone, nor was Anna, who married 
William Coffey. So far as the writer knows, there are no direct 
lineal descendants of Daniel Boone in North Carolina or Ten- 

Boone's Watauga Relatives. — There is a tradition that Anna, 
a niece of Daniel Boone, was married in the log house which 
formerly stood on the site of the present residence of Joseph 
Hardin, a mile or more east of the town of Boone. Jesse Boone, 
a nephew of Daniel, certainly lived near the top of the Blue 
Ridge in a cabin which used to stand in a five-acre field four 
miles above Shull's Mills, to the right of the old Morganton 
road. The foundation stones of the old chimney and the spring 
are still pointed out. The land on which that cabin stood was 
entered by Jesse November 7, 18 14, and the grant for it was 
made November 29, 1817, the tract containing 100 acres, and 
beginning on Jesse Coffey's corner. (Ashe County deed book F, 
p. 170.) By a deed dated July 8, 1823, Jesse Boone conveyed 
to Wm. and Alex. Elrod 350 acres on Flannery's Fork (now 
Winkler's Mill Creek) of New River, and on Roaring Branch, 
two miles from the town of Boone, Mr. J. Watts Farthing now 
owning the deed. Anna Boone, the wife of Wm. Coffey, and 
Jesse Boone's sister, talked with this Mr. Farthing about the 
year 1871 while he was building a house for her grandson, 


30 A History of Watauga County 

Patrick Coffey, in Caldwell County. Hannah Boone, another 
sister of Jesse's, married Smith Coffey, the grandfather of the 
present Smith Coffey, of Kelsey post office. According to the 
family history of the Bryan family in the possession of Col. 
W. L. Bryan, of Boone, it was Morgan Bryan, and not Joseph, 
as all histories have it, who was the father of Rebecca Bryan, 
the wife of Daniel Boone. Bishop Spangenberg mentions the 
fact that Morgan Bryant had taken up land near the Mulberry 
Fields in 1752. (Col. Rec. Vol. V, p. 13.) According to the 
same family history, Morgan Bryan was the ancestor of Hon. 
W. J. Bryan, of Nebraska. Jesse, Anna and Hannah Boone 
were the children of Israel, a brother of Daniel Boone, not his 
own children. The same is true of Jonathan Boone, who sold to 
John Hardin, the grandfather of the present John and Joseph 
Hardin, of Boone. 245 acres on the 15th of September, 1821, 
for $600.00, the land being on what was then called Lynch's 
and Mill Creeks on the north side of New River, and adjoining 
the lands of Jesse Councill. and running to Shearer's Knob, near 
the town of Boone. ( Ashe County deed book S. p. 509.) 

Jesse and Jonathan Boone. — These were members of Three 
Forks Baptist Church, which speaks well for these relatives of 
the great Daniel, for he was a religious man himself, his simple 
creed being: "For my part I am as ignorant as a Child all 
the Relegan I have to love and feer god believe in Jesus Christ 
Do all the good to my neighbors and my Self that I can and Do 
as Little harm as I can help and trust on God's mercy for the 
rest and I believe god never made a man of my principel to be 
Lost . . ." What was the creed of Jesse and Jonathan does 
not appear beyond that implied by their membership of this 
church. But that each overstepped the rules of that organiza- 
tion is apparent, the minutes revealing the following facts : That 
in March, 1818, there was a report that Jonathan Boone was 
drinking too much, but that at the next meeting he came for- 
ward and made excuses and was forgiven. However, in May, 
1819, there was another report against him for drinking and get- 
ting drunk and not attending at church meetings, the result of 
which was: "\\'e consider him no more a member with us at 

A History of Watauga County 31 

this time." Before that, however, Jesse and his wife, "Saly," 
joined this church by letter, as did also his negro girl, Dina, and 
his brother, Jonathan. In November, 181 5, Jonathan was 
chosen an elder, and in February, 1816, he was ordained by 
Reuben Coflfey and Elijah Chambers. Jesse seems to have kept 
out of trouble for a long time, but in February, 1820, there was 
a report that he had requested Brother Jeremiah Green to re- 
move a land-mark — laid over — not proved. But, in "Aprile, 1820, 
a grievance" took place between Jesse Boone, of this church, 
and Brother Jesse Coffey, of the Globe church, and James 
Gilbert and Elisha Chambers, from the Globe church, and 
Anthony Reese and Robert Shearer, from this church, were ap- 
pointed to meet at Ben Green's on the second Saturday next 
ensuing "to set on the business." In June following this com- 
mittee reported that Jesse Boone had given Brother Jesse Coffey 
"some cause to be hurt with him." In September, 1820, Jesse 
Boone and Jonathan Wilson said "the church was not in order," 
and withdrew therefrom. This did not increase Jesse's popu- 
larity with the members, and he was excluded by a committee 
consisting of John Holtsclaw, Abijah Fairchild, Valentine Reese 
and Jacob Baker; but, in October, 1821, the terms were fixed 
upon which he might return, these terms being that he should 
make acknowledgment for having withdrawn and saying that 
the church was out of order. At this meeting the church also 
took up the charges of Brother Wilson and Brother Boone 
against Brother Shearer, who acknowledged all that had any 
"wate" (weight) in them; but the church found that Brother 
Boone was at fault because he said he could "not see his range, 
and we put him under suspense till he can give satisfaction." 
Jesse Boone having been excluded "from amonks us," his loyal 
wife began to absent herself from the meetings, and, accord- 
ingly, in January, 1823, she was sent for to come to meetings; 
but as she refused from time to time to do so, "Sister Poly 
Green," the messenger sent to secure her attendance, reported 
that Sister Boone had said that the church would have to "cut 
her off" for the reason that when she (Sister Boone) had joined 
the church there were many members in it with whom "she 

32 A History of Watauga County 

could not fellowship," but that as her husband had joined, she 
had followed him into the fold. She was excommunicated as a 
"disorderly member and declared to the world our unfellowship 
to her." In November following a letter of dismission was 
given "old Sister Boone," who may have been Jesse's mother, as 
it was probably not his wife, who wrote from McMinn County, 
Tennessee, asking for a letter of dismission. But this the 
church decided to withhold till it got "satisfaction," meanwhile 
writing "a friendly letter to her." This concludes the residence 
of the Boones in that part of Ashe which is now Watauga. 

Marking the Trail. — On the 23d day of October, 1913, the 
tablet which had been placed at Boone village as one of the 
markers on the trail of Daniel Boone through these mountains 
was unveiled. This is one of six similar markers of iron-bolted- 
to-stone boulders erected in Watauga County in October, 1913, 
by the Daughters of the American Revolution. The most east- 
ern of these markers was placed at what is now called Cook's 
Gap, six miles east of the town of Boone ; the next is at Three 
Forks Baptist Church, three miles from Boone ; the third is in 
front of the court house at Boone ; the fourth is in Hodges' 
Gap, two miles west of Boone ; the fifth is at Grave Yard or 
Straddle Gap, four miles west of Boone, and the sixth and last 
is at Zionville, near the Tennessee line. The Edward Buncombe 
Chapter, D. A. R., of Asheville, was in charge of the unveiling 
of the marker at Boone. The exercises consisted of reading of 
the ritual of the D. A. R. society by the State Regent, Mrs. W. 
N. Reynolds, and responses by the audience, introductory re- 
marks by Col. Edward F. Lovill, prayer by Rev. J. M. Downum, 
and addresses by John P. Arthur, Prof. B. B. Dougherty and 
E. S. CoflFey, Esq., and songs by a choir, led by Prof. I. G. Greer. 
The county court house was filled. The veil was withdrawn 
from the marker, at the conclusion of these exercises, by the 
following little girls : Misses Margaret Beaufort Miller, a niece 
of Mrs. Lindsay Patterson ; Margaret Linney, Alice Councill, 
Lucy Moretz and Nellie Coffey, all having Revolutionary ances- 
tors. Short addresses were made in the open air to the people 
who had gathered around the marker by Mrs. W. N. Reynolds, 


Erected by Colonel W. L. Bryan, October, 191 2. 

A History of Watauga County 33 

State Regent; Mrs. Lindsay Patterson, chairman of the Com- 
mittee on Boone's Trail, and Mrs. Theodore S. Morrison, Regent 
of the Edward Buncombe Chapter. 

Boone's Cabin Monument.— In October, 1912, just one year 
previous to the unveiHng of the markers along the Boone trail 
through Watauga, a monument of stone and concrete, far more 
imposing and substantial than any erected by the Daughters of 
the American Revolution, had been built on the identical spot 
on which once stood the log cabin in which Daniel Boone and 
his companions used to sleep when on their hunting trips through 
this section. This cabin has long since disappeared, but the 
stones of the chimney remained in their original bed or founda- 
tion till 191 1, and were well known by all in the vicinity as hav- 
ing been a part of the old Boone cabin or hunting camp. It 
was open to all who cared to use it in the old days before the 
country was settled. Whether Boone actually built it is imma- 
terial. He used it, as did all hunters and herders who found 
themselves in this locality near nightfall. Just south of it stands 
the Boys' Dormitory of the Appalachian Training School, a 
State-supported institution for the education of teachers. In this 
cabin Benjamin Howard and his herders used to keep their salt 
and cooking utensils when they visited this section to look after 
Howard's cattle, which he ranged in the upper valley of the 
New River. What is now the village or town of Boone stands 
near by, while over this picturesque Httle community looms 
Howard's Knob, 4,451 feet above the level of the sea. Tradition 
has identified this spot with both Boone and Howard as fully as 
tradition can identify any fact or place. The mountain was 
named for Howard and the cabin site for Boone. When Wa- 
tauga was formed, the legislature called the county-seat Boone 
because of the location of Boone's cabin within a few hundred 
feet of its court house. It is, therefore, as certain as anything 
can be that this is the identical site of Boone's old hunting cabin 
or camp.^ 

Thanks to Its Builder. — In 191 1 Col. William Lewis Bryan 
began work on this monument, alone and unaided by anyone. 

1 While excavating for the foundation of the monument a pair of rusted 
bullet-molds was found. 

34 -4 History of Watauga County 

He was determined to mark the spot and to have Boone's trail 
through this county marked also before he died, for he was 
then well on past his seventieth birthday. The monument was 
completed in the fall of 1912, but there was no unveiling and no 
ceremony attending the consummation of Colonel Bryan's dream. 
When its erection was assured, several people contributed to its 
cost. When the trail was marked at Boone court house in Octo- 
ber, 1913, E. S. Coffey, Esq., a distinguished member of the 
Boone bar, presented a resolution of thanks to Colonel Bryan 
for his services in having this spot so appropriately and perma- 
nently marked. The resolution was adopted by a rising vote of 
the large audience which packed the court house to the dome. 
The monument contains the following inscriptions, chiseled in 
white marble tablets let in on the western and eastern faces : 
On the west front: "Daniel Boone, Pioneer and Hunter; Born 
Feb. II, 1735; Died Sep. 26, 1820." On the eastern face is 
the following: "W. L. Bryan, son of Battle and Rebecca Miller 
Bryan; Born Nov. 19, 1837; Built Daniel Boone Monument, 
Oct. 1912. Cost $203.37." Thwaite gives these dates as fol- 
lows (p. 6): Born November 2, 1734; died September 21, 
1820 (p. 338). 

Information About the Trail. — This same gentleman. Colonel 
Bryan, supplied the information which led to the location of the 
trail through Watauga County. He is a direct lineal descendant 
of a brother of Rebecca Bryan, the wife of Daniel Boone, and 
has all his life preserved all the traditions he has heard concern- 
ing Boone, his wife, his trail and hunting experiences in this 
section. He originated and inspired the idea of marking the 
trail through this county, and it is not too much to say that if 
the Daughters of the American Revolution had not marked it, he 
would have done it himself. He did, in fact, help place every 
marker in the county. But, after all the statements of the people 
living along the trail had been taken down and deposited with 
the North Carohna Historical Commission, there was never any 
doubt that these patriotic ladies would see to it that the trail was 
suitably marked. They took those statements and placed them 
with Mrs. Lindsey Patterson, as chairman of the Daniel Boone 

A History of Watauga County 35 

Trail Committee, and she, as in duty bound, collected all the 
other evidence available from all sources, and finally agreed to 
place the markers exactly where Colonel Bryan had recom- 
mended that they should be placed. It is not too much to say 
that but for Mrs. Patterson the trail would not have been marked 
till it was too late to locate it with any degree of certainty, and 
posterity will give both Colonel Bryan and Mrs. Patterson their 
full measure of gratitude for their patriotic work. 

The Cumberland Gap Pedestal.— To Mrs. Patterson is also 
due much of the credit of interesting the chapters of her order 
to mark the trail in Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky, till today 
the entire trail is permanently marked by the Daughters of the 
American Revolution of those several States. The whole work 
was crowned on the 30th of June, 1915, by unveiling at Cumber- 
land Gap a substantial stone and concrete pedestal, bearing on 
its four faces tablets of the Daughters of the American Revo- 
lution of these several States. The North Carolina tablet was 
unveiled by Miss Elizabeth Cowles Finley, of Wilkesborough, 
N. C, a direct lineal descendant of John Finley; little Margaret 
Beaufort Miller, Wm. Hamilton Patterson, of Winston-Salem; 
Elinor Morrison Williamson, of Asheville ; Elizabeth Sharp, of 
New York City, and Elizabeth Shelton, all with Revolutionary 

Boone's Trail in Other States.— The Tennessee part of the 
trail traverses the four eastern counties, Johnson, Carter, Wash- 
ington and Sullivan . . . The first marker on Tennessee 
soil is at Trade, one mile from Zionville, N. C. ; the second is at 
Shoun's, nine miles due north, through a wild and picturesque 
gorge along Roan Creek. The third is at Butler, southwest four- 
teen miles from Shoun's and at the junction of Roan Creek and 
Watauga River; the fourth is about nineteen miles due north 
at Elizabethton ; the fifth, at Watauga, Carter County; the 
sixth is placed at Austin Springs, Washington County; the 
.eighth is at Old Fort, south end of Long Island, Sullivan County ; 
the ninth is at Kingsport, opposite the center of Long Island, 
where Boone gathered his men while the treaty of Sycamore 
Shoals was being negotiated, two miles from the Virginia line. 

36 A History of Watauga County 

The Virginia markers are at Gate City, the county seat of Scott 
County, one mile from Moccasin Gap ; the second marker in 
Virginia is at CHnchport; the third is at the Natural Tunnel; 
the fourth is at Duffield ; the fifth is at Fort Scott ; the sixth is 
at Jonesville, the county seat of Lee County ; the seventh is at 
Boone Path postofiice, A marker has been placed at two graves 
between Ewing and Wheeler's Station in Lee County, as prob- 
ably the place where James Boone, son of Daniel, was massacred 
by Indians. The eighth tablet was erected to mark the site of 
Fort Blackmore, where a colonial fort stood in Scott County, 
and where the Boone party rested in October, 1773, until March, 
1775. Mrs. Robert Gray was in charge of marking the trail in 
Virginia, while Miss Mary Temple had charge of that in Ten- 
nessee. The first marker in Kentucky is at Indian Rock, a few 
miles from Cumberland Gap; the second is at the ford of the 
Cumberland River at Pineville; the third is at Flat Lick, in 
Knox County ; the fourth is on the farm of C. V. Wilson, near 
Jarvis's Store; the fifth is on the Knox and Laurel County line, 
near Tuttle ; the sixth is at Fairston ; the seventh is a boulder 
with Boone's name on it, three miles and a half from East Bern- 
stadt. This stone was placed in a churchyard and the marker 
placed on the stone. The eighth marker is in Rockcastle County 
near Livingston ; the next is at Boone's Hollow, near Bruch 
Creek, then Roundstone Station and lastly Boone Gap. In 
Madison County, Berea is the first marker ; then Estell Station, 
the site of Fort Estell, and the place where Boone's party was 
attacked by Indians and Captain Twitty killed. The last marker 
is at Boonesboro, there being fourteen markers in Kentucky, all 
placed under the direction of the State Chairman, Miss Erna 

A National Spot and a National Hero. — Upon this pedestal 
in Cumberland Gap the Congress of these United States should 
soon erect a bronze statue of Daniel Boone, clad in hunting shirt, 
fringed leggings, moccasins, shot pouch, powder horn, hunting 
knife, tomahawk, etc., with the figure leaning slightly forward 
while peering from underneath the left hand toward the west, 
the right hand grasping the barrel of his long flint-lock Kentucky 

A History of Watauga County 37 

rifle, whose butt should be resting on the ground. The figure 
should have a coon-skin cap; for, although Thwaites says that 
Boone scorned the coon-skin cap of his time, it was none the less 
typical of the head-gear of all the pioneers of the time. Such a 
statue would identify this historic spot with this historic character 
and fix forever the costume, accoutrements and arms of the pion- 
eers of America. It is the most significant and suggestive place 
in America ; for, while Plymouth Rock was the landing place of 
the Puritans, Jamestown of the Cavaliers, Philadelphia of the 
Quakers and Charleston of the Huguenots, it was through Cum- 
berland Gap that both Roundhead and Huguenot, Puritan and 
Cavalier passed with the sober Quaker on their way to the 
Golden West. Boone was their greatest and most typical leader 
and exemplar. He was colonel and private, physician and nurse, 
leader and follower, hunter and hunted, as occasion demanded, 
but he was never a self-seeker or a swindler. His fame is now 
monumental, for he had no land to sell, no private fortune to 
make, and his record is one of unsulHed patriotism. He was 
simply a plain man, but a man all through. He was neither 
northerner nor southerner, easterner nor westerner, but all com- 
bined, and the men, women and children who followed the glow- 
ing footsteps of this backwoods lictor were the ancestors of those 
who people these United States today and make it the most 
enlightened, the most progressive and the most democratic nation 
in the world. That there should be no national monument to 
this man and on this spot seems incredible. The women and the 
States immediately concerned have done enough. They have 
marked every trail leading to this historic gateway. Let the 
nation act and place there a monument which shall be worthy 
of the place, the man, and the colossal events which they typify. 
History Itself Had Lost the Trail. — For years it had been 
supposed that Boone's trail from Holman's Ford to Cumberland 
Gap, especially that part which led through the North Carolina 
mountains, had been lost beyond recovery. It was known in a 
vague way that the county-seat of Watauga County, North Caro- 
lina, had been named in honor of this pioneer, but the impression 
prevailed that the little town had no other claims to its name 

38 A History of Watauga County 

than the empty compliment implied. Bruce (p. 53) records the 
fact that, after setting out from Holman's Ford, Boone and his 
companions were "compelled to turn from the beaten road and 
follow winding, scarcely discernable Indian paths along the 
ridges and through the valleys of the North Carolina mountains. 
And history itself soon loses sight of them." All that Boone 
himself told his biographer, the grandiloquent John Filson, was 
that "after a long and fatiguing journey through a mountainous 
wilderness, in a zvestivard direction," they came to the Red River 
in Kentucky. (Id. p. 54.) Bruce adds, what all historians 
agree upon, that "their route lay across the Blue Ridge and 
Stone and Iron Mountains, and through the valleys of the Hol- 
ston and the Clinch into Powell's Valley, where they discovered 
Finley's promised trail through Cifmberland Gap, and, following 
it, came at last into Kentucky." And this writer tells us some- 
thing else that is not generally known, which is that each man 
of Boone's party on that first trip of 1769 rode a horse and led 
another, which was loaded down with supplies, camp equipment, 
ammunition, salt, etc. (p. 52). From which it is plain that they 
never touched the Watauga River or its waters, thus eliminating 
the Beaver Dams route completely. 

Boone Was a Hunter, Not a Farmer. — Boone came to Hol- 
man's Ford about 1761. Bruce says he brought his wife back 
from Virginia at the conclusion of the Cherokee campaign — to 
use his exact words, "as soon as peace had been made sure" — 
which could not have been till after the tri-State campaign against 
the Cherokees of 1761 (p. 43). Now, Holman's Ford is scarcely 
thirty miles from Cook's Gap on the Blue Ridge, and we are told 
that Boone's Cherokee campaign "had reawakened all his latent 
passion for adventure, and, although he brought his family back 
to the Yadkin as soon as peace had been made sure, he found it 
impossible to resume the humdrum life of a stay-at-home farmer. 
More than ever he relied on the products of the chase to supply 
him with a livelihood, and, since game had become scarce in the 
Yadkin Valley, he of necessity, as well as choice, embarked on 
long and perilous hunting trips" (p. 46), sometimes taking with 
him his oldest son, James, then a boy of eight, though more fre- 

A History of Watauga County 39 

quently he journeyed in absolute solitude, pressing restlessly 
forward on the trail of the retreating beasts of prey. Always, 
he noted, this led him towards the west, and ere long there re- 
curred to his mind the glowing tales he had heard from the trader 
Finley in the sad days of Braddock's campaign. It must be to 
Kentucky, the hunter's paradise, that the wild animals were 
fleeing. He had vowed to visit Kentucky. Now, if ever, while 
the Indians were at peace with the whites, was the time to fulfil 
that vow. But he soon discovered that it was no easy matter to 
reach Kentucky. In the autumn of 1767 he made his first start, 
accompanied by a friend named Hill, and, it is thought, by his 
brother, Squire Boone, named after their brave old father who 
had died two years before. The route followed was from the 
Yadkin to the valleys of the Holston and Clinch, and thence to 
the head waters of the west fork of the Big Sandy. Boone's 
plan was to strike the Ohio and follow it to the falls of which 
Finley had told him. But they had only touched the edge of 
eastern Kentucky when they were snow-bound and compelled to 
go into camp for the winter. Attempting to renew their journey 
in the spring, they found the country so impenetrable that they 
returned to the Yadkin. (Pp. 47, 48.) 

Probability of the Re-location of the Trail. — From the fore- 
going, taken from Boone's latest biographer, it seems most prob- 
able that local tradition is correct, to the effect that Boone hunted 
all through the mountains of what is now Watauga County dur- 
ing several years preceding 1769, and knew the country thor- 
oughly. In Foote's Notes we learn that what is now Watauga, 
with Alleghany County and that part of the territory still known 
as Ashe, was settled as early as 1755. Wheeler (p. 2y, Vol. II) 
adopts this statement as true. Cook's Gap and Deep Gap were 
nearly due west from Holman's Ford. If Boone really followed 
"a westward direction" from Holman's Ford, he must have 
passed through one of these gaps, and, as Cook's Gap was the 
nearer, he probably went through that. If he followed the Hol- 
ston and the Clinch into Powell's Valley, he must have followed 
the route marked by the Daughters of the American Revolution 
Society through Watauga County to Shoun's Cross Roads, and 

40 A History of Watatiga County 

thence via Mountain City and down the Laurel fork of the 
Holston River. If the country was already settled when he 
passed through in May, 1769, the people who lived near his trail 
must have remembered it and told their children where it lay. 
There is great unanimity among their descendants that it fol- 
lowed the route chosen, except that some contend that it went 
through the Beaver Dams and across the Stair Gap' to Roan 
Creek in Tennessee. It may have done so, but the route over the 
mountains between Zionville, N. C, and Trade, Tenn., was much 
easier, as a buffalo trail led across it, and it was far more direct 
and practicable than that across Ward's Gap and the Stair Gap. 
When he got to Shoun's Cross Roads, he probably followed 
Laurel Creek, just as the little narrow gauge railroad does, over 
the divide to the Laurel fork of the Holston. He knew this 
route, having followed it twice before, once in 1761 to the Wolf 
Hills, and again in 1767 to the west fork of the Big Sandy. But 
he did not go by Butler, Tenn., wherever else he may have gone, 
unless he deliberately went many miles out of his westward way. 
The Boone Tree Inscription. — The inscription on what is 
called the Boone Tree, nine miles north of Jonesboro, Tenn., 
and near Boone Creek, grows more and more apocryphal with 
time. It never had any sponsor, at best, except the statement of 
Chancellor John Allison's letter in Roosevelt's "Winning of the 
West." The picture of it in Thwaites' "Daniel Boone," opposite 
page 56, shows that the letters were then legible, which could 
not have been the case if they had been put there in 1760. Bruce, 
in a foot-note on page 46, says that such a tree stood there until 
recently, but he gives facts which show it could not have been 
put there by Boone, for he shows, on page 39, that in April, 
1759, the Cherokees forced an entrance into the fertile Yadkin 
and Catawba valleys, destroyed crops, burned cabins, murdered 
settlers, and dragged their wives and children into a cruel cap- 
tivity.' So sudden and severe was the blow that the stricken 
people had no opportunity to rally for an organized resistance, 

' This is called Star Gap by some from particles of mica seen in the bottom 
of a spring at the base of the mountain, which shine "like stars." But others 
claim it is really the Stair gap, because a series of stair-like ledges of rock 
lead down from the gap on the western side. Bishop Asbury confirms this latter 
view. (Asbury's Journal, Vol. II, p. 189). 

' The tree, a large leaning beech, was there in June, 1909, and is probably 
still flourishing, as is many another false witness. 

A History of Watauga County 41 

much less undertake an offensive campaign. Abandoning their 
farms, they hastened for sheher to the strong stockade of Fort 
Dobbs, or to hurriedly constructed "houses of refuge," or else, 
if they could possibly find the means to do so, fled with all their 
belongings to the settlements in the tidewater country. This was 
the course followed by the Boones, or, at least, by Squire Boone, 
his son Daniel and their respective families. Squire, it is said, 
went to Maryland. Daniel took Rebecca and their infant chil- 
dren to eastern Virginia, where he found employment at his old 
occupation of wagoner. 

Boone's First Trip Across the Mountains. — Although Bruce, 
following the phantom of the Boone Tree legend, states that 
"as early as 1760 (at the very time when he says elsewhere, 
page 41, that Boone was with Waddell at Fort Prince George 
or in Virginia) he (Boone) was threading his way through the 
Watauga wilds where the first settlement in Tennessee was 
afterwards established," he cites no supporting facts and is 
clearly contradicted by every known fact and circumstance of 
this period. But there is evidence that "in 1761, at the head of 
a hunting party which crossed the Alleghanies that year, came 
Daniel Boone from the Yadkin, in North Carolina, and traveled 
with them as low as the place where Abingdon now stands, and 
there left them." (Pp. 46, 47.) This visit to the site of the 
present Abingdon, Va., is still preserved there in a tradition 
which claims that wolves attacked Boone's party while in that 
vicinity, which fact gave rise to the first name of that locality, 
"The Wolf Hills." This trip of 1761 was probably Boone's first 
visit beyond the Blue Ridge. Bruce says (p. 47) that Boone 
was again in the Tennessee country three years later, or in 
1764, and that in 1765 he went as far south as Florida, and 
would have settled there but for the influence of his wife, 
Rebecca Bryan, of the Yadkin Valley. If he had remained in 
Florida, Bruce adds "assuredly he would never have won fame 
as the great pilot of the early West." So that, after all, the 
world owes as much to Rebecca Bryan as to Boone himself ! 

At Fort Prince George in 1760. — Instead of being on Boone's 
Creek, carving his name and hunting experiences on trees in 

42 A History of Watauga County 

1760, Daniel Boone was with Colonel IMontgomery in June of that 
year, driving the Cherokees from the vicinity of Fort Prince 
George at the head of the Savannah ; while, between then and 
1759, he had been in eastern Virginia or about Fort Dobbs, for 
Bruce tells us (p. 40) that "so soon as he had satisfied himself 
that his little family would not be exposed to want [in eastern 
Virginia] he returned to the border, where he found thrilling 
events in progress. The Cherokees had laid desperate siege to 
Fort Dobbs, but had been gallantly beaten off by its garrison 
under command of Colonel Hugh Waddell, one of the foremost 
Indian fighters of his day. They had then renewed their depreda- 
tions in small war-parties, ultimately gathering in force to attack 
Fort Prince George . . ." After driving the Cherokees away 
from that fort, Montgomery marched his force of 1,200 men, 
among whom was Daniel Boone, still under command of Wad- 
dell, across the mountains to the Little Tennessee, where they 
were ambushed and forced to retreat to Fort Prince George. 
From this place Montgomery marched his regulars back to 
Charleston, S. C, where he embarked with them for New York. 
"Once more the frontier of Georgia and the Carolinas lay at the 
mercy of the copper-colored foe (p. 42)." The garrison at Fort 
Loudon on the Little Tennessee having surrendered, they were 
allowed to start back for Fort Prince George, but were attacked 
and many killed, the others being taken prisoners. This forced 
the three States of Virginia, North and South Carolina to agree 
on a joint invasion of the Cherokee country, and by June, 1761, 
two armies were on the march to that country, in the second of 
which Boone found a place still under Hugh Waddell. This 
provides for all of Boone's time from 1759 till late in 1761, which 
shows that he could not have "cilled a bar'' on that or any other 
tree near there in 1760. It is, however, very discouraging to 
note the persistence of falsehoods, if only they bear a flavor of 
romance about them. 

Richard Henderson. — In a series of brilliant articles entitled, 
"Life and Times of Richard Henderson," which appeared in the 
Charlotte Observer in the spring of 1913, Dr. Archibald Hender- 
son, then the president of the North Carolina Historical Com- 

A History of Watauga County 43 

mission, makes the following claims for his ancestor : "Richard 
Henderson was recognized everywhere throughout the colony as 
a fair and just judge," but, notwithstanding that, the Regulators, 
who fought the battle of Alamance, unjustifiably prevented him 
from holding court at Hillsboro, visited their "cowardly incen- 
diary vengeance upon" him, and maliciously burnt his home and 
barn. Also, that but for his illness, Richard Henderson, who 
was a colonel as well as a judge, would have fought against these 
Regulators at the battle of Alamance/ That the reason Judge 
Henderson would not comply with the demands of the Regula- 
tors at Hillsborough in 1770 was because he would not "yield to 
the dictates of lawless and incensed anarchists." Also, that "the 
sentiment which animated the mob at Hillsboro was not one of 
animosity against Judge Henderson personally," their objection 
to him having been, seemingly, to the system and that he had been 
appointed by Governor Tryon and not by the king himself. 
This, however, was not the case with Judge Maurice Moore, who, 
according to Dr. Henderson, "was roundly denounced by the 
Regulators as 'rascal, rogue, villain, scoundrel' and other un- 
printable terms . . ." We are also told that "the demands 
made upon Judge Henderson by the treasonable mob at Hills- 
borough, had he attempted to accede to them, which is incon- 
ceivable, would have resulted in a travesty of justice." But, even 
before this, and notwithstanding the proclamation of King George 
in 1763, forbidding the purchase or lease of lands by individuals 
from the Indians, Judge Henderson was contemplating the pur- 
chase of the very lands the six nations of northern Indians had, 
by treaty at Fort Stanwix, in 1768, sold to Great Britain. Wash- 
ington himself was engaged in a like scheme in Virginia, we are 
told, but Dr. Henderson says : "It is no reflection upon the fame 
of George Washington to point out that, of the two, the service 
to the nation of Richard Henderson in promoting western colon- 
ization was vastly more generous in its nature and far-reaching 
in its results than the more selfish and personal aims of Wash- 

* The real leaders of the western expansion were James Robertson and the 
fourteen families from the present county of Wake, who, in 1770 or 1771, had 
been driven to seek new homes beyond the reach of the exactions of the British 
tax collectors. 

44 ^ History of Watauga County 

ington." In order to carry out this plan, Judge Henderson in 
1769 employed Daniel Boone at Salisbury, while Henderson was 
actually presiding over the court, to explore these western lands, 
Boone being "very poor and his desire to pay off his indebtedness 
to Henderson made him all the more willing to undertake the 
exhaustive tour of exploration in company with Finley and 

The Patrick Henry of North Carolina. — Dr. Henderson con- 
tinues: "From this time forward [the expiration of his term as 
judge] Richard Henderson, described as the 'Patrick Henry of 
North Carolina,' sheds the glamor of local fame and enters into 
national history as one of the most remarkable figures of his day, 
and indubitably the most remarkable constructive pioneer in the 
early history of the American people." Elsewhere Dr. Hender- 
son speaks of his ancestor as the "Cecil Rhodes of America." 
Meantime, however, having returned from his two years' stay in 
Kentucky, we are told that Boone, grown impatient over the 
delay caused by Henderson's inability, for whatever reason, to 
further prosecute his plans at that time, recruited a body of set- 
tlers, and, on the 25th day of September, 1773. set out from 
Holman's Ford with eighteen men and some women and children, 
his own among the number, but his party vfzs attacked by Indians 
and were forced to return. From which facts Dr. Henderson 
draws the following conclusions: "Boone lacked constructive 
leadership and executive genius.' He was a perfect instrument 
for executing the designs of others. It was not until the creative 
and executive brain of Richard Henderson was applied to the 
vast and daring project of western colonization that it was car- 
ried through to a successful termination." 

The English Spy. — From Judge Clark's article (X. C. Book- 
let, January, 1904) it appears that Richard Henderson's mother 
was a Miss Williams, and that he studied law under his cousin, 
John Williams, who, according to Wheeler (Vol. I, p. 58), was 
whipped by the Regulators, and was, presumably, the son of his 
mother's brother, and afterwards married his step-daughter. 

' Richard Henderson's "constructive" genius seems to have resulted in the 
destruction both of himself and all who put their trust In him, especially Daniel 
Boone, whom Henderson left penniless in the wilderness of Kentucky. 

A History of Watauga County 45 

Elizabeth Keeling. Also, that "the British spy, Captain J. F. D. 
Smyth, in his 'Tour of America' (Vol, I, p. 124), [states that he] 
visited John Williams at his home in Granville about December, 
1774, where he met Judge Henderson, whom he lauds as a genius, 
and says he did not know how to read and write till after he was 
grown. As Henderson became judge at the age of thirty-three, 
and as, besides, Smyth styles him Nathaniel Henderson and adds 
that Williams was said to be a mulatto and looked like one, no 
faith is to be given to any of his statements. He, however, says, 
probably with truth (p. 126), that Judge Henderson had made a 
secret purchase of territory from the Indians before his public 
treaty later on." This Captain Smyth might, therefore, be dis- 
missed without notice if we did not find in Roosevelt (Vol. II, 
p. 46) that, while Henderson was at Boonesborough in 1775, 
"a British friend of his" (whom a foot-note shows to have been 
Smyth) visited him there, indicating his knowledge of Hender- 
son's enterprise, and the further fact that Dr. Henderson himself, 
in his Observer articles of 1913, says: "It is interesting to note 
that just prior to the public announcement throughout the colony 
of this vast scheme of promotion [selling the Transylvania lands 
to unsuspecting frontiersmen], Dr. J. F. D. Smyth, the British 
emissary, met Richard Henderson at the home of Col. John 
Williams." But for the facts stated in Dr. Henderson's next 
succeeding article in the Observer on Richard Henderson, one 
might be tempted to connect this visit with the secret purchase 
of these lands above referred to, and to guess that it may have 
been a part of the policy of Great Britain at that time to get 
Americans interested in these Transylvania lands by low prices, 
etc., to such an extent that they would, rather than lose their 
holdings in them, adhere to the mother country in the impending 
struggle for independence, and thus form a rear-rank which 
should co-operate with the front rank of soldiers and loyalists 
in the Atlantic States. It would have been a most powerful 
and, possibly, successful bar to the achievement of our inde- 
pendence ; for, then, Sevier and his Watauga men would have 
fought against and not for us. But this, probably, was not the 
scheme that British emissary or scout, as Dr. Henderson also 

46 A History of Watauga County 

terms him, had in mind, for Dr. Henderson continues : "Though 
not the first settlement in point of time, for Henderson found 
several temporarily occupied camps nearby on his arrival, Boones- 
borough was the first settlement of permanent vitality in the 
heart of the Kentucky country. No Henderson and there would 
have been no Boonesborough. No Boonesborough and the 
American colonies, now convulsed in a titanic struggle, might 
well have lost to Great Britain, at the close of the Revolution, the 
vast and fertile possessions of the transniontane wilderness." 

Was Even the Treaty a Sham? — Assuming that Dr. Smyth, 
Richard Henderson's friend and guest, spoke ex cathedra when 
he declared that a secret treaty had been already effected before 
the 25th of March, 1775, which is the one that was published to 
the world as the real thing, what shall be thought of the follow- 
ing from Judge Clark's "Colony of Transylvania," before 
quoted ? 

"The treaty was debated, sentence by sentence, the Indians 
choosing their own interpreter. It was only signed after four 
days' minute discussion and after fierce opposition from a chief 
known as Dragging Canoe. The goods must have been put at 
a high valuation, for one brave, who received as his share only 
a shirt, contemptuously said he could secure more with his rifle 
in one day's hunting. On the other hand, the Indians received 
full value, for they had in truth no title to convey, and they 
plainly told Henderson he would have great trouble to obtain or 
hold possession on account of other tribes. The territory was 
not occupied and owned by the Cherokees, nor, indeed, by any 
tribe, but was a battle-field, where hostile bands met to fight out 
their quarrels." No wonder then that Dr. Henderson says that 
these fifty thousand dollars worth of goods were transported 
across the mountains of North Carolina in six wagons two years 
before, as other historians agree, any road was opened across 
them ! 

The Romantic Side of Boone. — Most of us love to think of 
him in the light of Kipling's "Explorer," animated by the "some- 
thing-hidden-go-and-find-it" spirit, rather than as the servant of 
any man or set of men on his 1769 trip to Kentucky; and while it 

A History of Watauga County 47 

is no reflection on his character if he was actually employed to 
spy out the western lands, is it not a reflection upon Richard 
Henderson to say at this late day that he was actually scheming 
while a judge on the bench to violate the law?" As well as can 
be gathered from the Charlotte Observer's articles (Life and 
Times of Richard Henderson), it appears that when in 1773 
Henderson's term as judge expired by limitation of the judiciary 
act of 1767, he learned "through the highest English legal au- 
thorities . . . according to the most recent legal decision 
rendered in England on the subject, purchases by individuals 
from Indian owners were legally valid. Without royal grant, 
Patrick Henry in Virginia, in 1774, was negotiating for the pur- 
chase of part of the very territory Henderson desired. Two 
years earlier the Watauga settlers leased from the Cherokees the 
lands upon which they resided— a preliminary to subsequent 
purchase . . . The opinion handed down by the Lord 
Chancellor and the attorney general cleared away the legal diffi- 
culties.'" This, apparently, was Henderson's justification for 
proceeding to violate the Royal Proclamation against purchasing 
lands from the Indians. His plea that the Cherokees really 
owned the land seems to be based on the sole claim that "their 
title to the territory had been acknowledged by Great Britain 
through her Southern agent of Indian affairs, John Stuart, at 
the Treaty of Lochaben in 1770." Dr. Henderson told H. Add- 
ington Bruce that Judge Henderson, "in developing his Transyl- 
vania project and purchasing Kentucky from the Cherokees, 
acted under the advice of an eminent English jurist, 'in the 
closest confidence of the King,' and that he, therefore, regarded 
the enterprise as having the royal sanction," which view of the 
case Mr. Bruce understood Professor Henderson would soon set 
forth in a biography of Richard Henderson. That promise was 

« There can be no doubt that Doctor Henderson claims that It was Tudee 
Henderson's purpose to carry out this plan at the time he is said to have 
employed Boone in 1769; for he says Judge Henderson saw the significance of 
lit fnT^ ^^^""^If /J^^fV^- ^°,^ '^""^'^^^ that the lands could be acquire^d only from 
o^ the Reg'ultti^n "''' *"'' ^'^° ^^' temporarily "frustrated by th^e excitinTissue'^ 

nf\^c°J f^'?^^""^ Henderson, then a private citizen, could have had knowledge 

48 A History of Watauga County 

evidently made during or prior to 1910, when Bruce's "Daniel 
Boone and the Wilderness Road" was first published. The proof 
is still not forthcoming because Dr. Henderson's book is not yet 
printed. When it is published to the world it will undoubtedly 
surprise many historians and others who consider themselves 
well informed about the history of these times and events. It is 
a great pity that it could not have been presented to the world 
a hundred years ago, before such erroneous ideas of Richard 
Henderson became prevalent. It is also hoped that it will then 
be shown that Richard Henderson and his associates devoted the 
400,000 acres of land which they obtained from Virginia and 
North Carolina to the making whole of all those who bought 
land from them, including the 2,000 acres which Boone received 
as compensation for his services, but to which he got no valid 
title. What Virginia did for Boone is not pertinent. What did 
Richard Henderson do? When these matters shall have been 
cleared up, North Carolina, no doubt, will be proud to erect a 
monument to his memory. 

Forehanded "for Once." — It seems that it was Boone's busi- 
ness to recruit a party of roadmakers before he started from 
Sycamore Shoals, with the understanding that they were to meet 
at Long Island, in the upper Holston, just south of the Virginia 
line. "Thirty guns" or riflemen were secured, who, according to 
Felix Walker, afterwards congressman from this State, ex- 
plicitly agreed to put themselves "under the management and 
control of Colonel Boone, who was to be their pilot through the 
wilderness." Then, March 10, 1775, began the making of the 
Wilderness Road, by way of CHnch and Powell's Rivers and 
Cumberland Gap and Rock Castle River to the mouth of Beaver 
Creek where it empties into the Kentucky River.' This spot had 
been selected years before by Boone as an ideal place for the 
settlement, and there he began the choice of locations for him- 
self and his companions. When Henderson and his larger party 

' As the Sycamore Shoals Treaty was not ratified till the 25th of March, 
Boone's departure on the 10th for the purpose of cutting the Wilderness 
Road, shows a degree of cock-sureness on the part of Henderson & Co., which 
gives additional force to the suggestion of the spy, Smyth, that a secret treaty 
had been already concluded ; which, if true, merely makes the public treaty a 
farce and fraud, and lends a still more sinister aspect to this affair. 

A History of Watauga County 49 

arrived three weeks later he made the "distinctly embarrassing 
discovery that Boone and his companions had preempted the 
choicest locations for themselves. Rather than have trouble, the 
tactful proprietor decided to leave them in undisturbed posses- 
sion and appease the rest by locating the site of the capital of 
Transylvania, not in the sheltered level chosen by Boone, but 
some little distance from it, on a commanding elevation overlook- 
ing the Kentucky." (Bruce, p. 117.) 

Henderson's and Washington's "Continental Vision." — Dr. 
Henderson does not hesitate to give Richard Henderson what he 
considers his true place in the westward movement: "Washing- 
ton expressed the secret belief of the period when he hazarded 
the judgment that the royal proclamation of 1763 [forbidding 
individuals to buy or lease lands from the Indians] was a mere 
temporary expedient to quiet the minds of the Indians, and was 
not intended as a permanent bar to the Western civilization. 
Some years earlier, Richard Henderson, with the continental 
vision of Washington, had come to the conclusion that the un- 
chartered West offered unlimited possibilities in the shape of 
reward to pioneering spirits, with a genuine constructive policy, 
willing to venture their all in vindication of their faith. George 
Washington, acquiring vast tracts of Western land by secret 
purchase, indirectly stimulated the powerful army that was 
carrying the broad-axe westward ; Richard Henderson, with a 
large-visioned constructive policy of public promotion, coloniza- 
tion and settlement for the virgin West, conferred untold bene- 
fits upon the nation at large by his resolution, aggressiveness and 
daring. Washington and Henderson were factors of crucial im- 
portance in the settlement of the West and the advance of the 
pioneer army into the wilderness of Tennessee, Kentucky and 
Ohio." Elsewhere (Neale's Monthly, p. 211) Dr. Henderson 
says : "George Washington and Richard Henderson, as land- 
lords, were vital factors in the development of the West." 

Dr. Henderson's Original Discoveries. — Dr. Henderson 
promises to furnish not only documentary evidence to support all 
these statements, but photographic fac-similes in proof of the 
claim that Boone was indebted to Richard Henderson for legal 

50 A History of Watauga County 

services ' for a number of years prior to 1769, which had not 
been paid off prior to that date. Also, that the merchandise 
which was to be paid for the title of the Cherokees to the Tran- 
sylvania lands was transported by Richard Henderson, not 
accompanied by Boone, "in six wagon loads of goods from Hills- 
boro, N. C. (really from Fayetteville — then Cross Creek), to 
Sycamore Shoals, by wagon over the North Carolina mountains" 
by a route "discovered through researches made for me among 
old maps, showing wagon roads of North Carolina, dating as 
far back as 1770. The stages of the route I hope to give in my 
published book when it appears. Henderson also carried the 
goods from Sycamore Shoals to Martin's Station in Powell's 
Valley by wagon also ; from there to the future site of Boones- 
boro the goods were transported by pack-horses." '" Dr. Hender- 
son very properly "scrupulously omitted citation in my 'Life and 
Times of Richard Henderson' to authorities other than known 
or accessible books, such as the North Carolina Colonial Records, 
etc.," as upon these new authorities rests his "claim to original 
research and discovery." 

Misconceptions About Colonel Henderson. — Assuming that 
Dr. Henderson shall be able to establish these facts, which is 
not questioned, there is no one who has suffered more at the 
hands of historians than his ancestor, Richard Henderson. 
For the general impression of him is that he and his father 
had been part and parcel of the office-holding oligarchy or 
"ring" that dominated county government under Governor 
Tryon, Henderson's father having been sheriff and himself 
under-sheriff; also, that, as a judge, Richard Henderson was 
personally obnoxious to the Regulators because he at least 
had not prevented "the legal tyrannies and alleged injustices 
of county officials," and was "so terrorized that during the 
night he mounted a fast horse and galloped out of town," " 

* This must have been a large fee that required Boone to go in debt to get 
supplies for his journey (Bruce, p. 62) and to spend two years of his life in the 

'0 From Doctor Henderson's letter to J. P. A., June 11, 1913. The new 
material, discovered by Doctor Henderson, after laborious investigation extending 
over years, "was not accessible to or even known to R. G. Thwaites, biographer 
of Daniel Boone, or to H. Addington Bruce, author of "Daniel Boone and the 
Wilderness Road." 

" Bruce, p. 97. 

A History of Watauga County 51 

when in the fall of 1770, while hearing cases at Hillsborough, his 
court room was invaded by a mob and minor officials were beaten. 
People generally believe that the grievances of the Regulators 
were genuine wrongs from which they, at great risk, were seek- 
ing to escape ; that these Regulators were not anarchists," but 
American patriots making the first stand for American liberty, 
bravely and openly and against great odds. They do not believe 
that Judge Henderson refused the demands of these oppressed 
people out of any high regard for the law, but because he wished 
to carry out the mandates of Tryon, by whom he had been ap- 
pointed to the bench. Nevertheless, they were willing to believe 
that he was incapable of deliberately planning to violate the 
proclamation of 1763 against the purchase of lands from the In- 
dians by individuals while he himself was presiding over a court 
of justice and drawing the pay of the colony or of the Crown of 
England for discharging the duties of a judge of the Superior 
Court of the colony of North Carolina. They supposed that 
Daniel Boone went to Kentucky in May, 1769, not because he 
had been paid to aid Henderson to violate the law he was sworn 
to uphold, but because John Finlej had spent the winter before 
at Holman's Ford and had persuaded Boone that he could guide 
him to Kentucky by crossing the mountains to the westward. It 
was the general belief, also, that it was not in consequence of the 
Treaty of Fort Stanwix of 1768, but of the victory over the 
northwestern Indians at the Great Kanawha, September 10, 
1774, which prompted Henderson and Hart to visit the Otari 
towns the following October for the purpose of getting from the 
Cherokees what was a worthless paper title to the Transylvania 
lands, and that Henderson especially, who was a lawyer, knew 
that "neither the British government nor the authorities of Vir- 
ginia or North Carolina would recognize the authority" of the 
Cherokees to convey title thereto, and that instead of being a 
worthy scheme of national expansion, it was really a "bold, 
audacious dash for fortune." (Walter Clark in North Carolina 
Booklet, January, 1904, p. 7.) And, unfortunately, it is also the 

" It seems strange to have a North Carolinian write in such terms of the 
Regulators, whom we have been taught to revere as heroes and patriots. 

52 A History of Watauga County 

general belief that Henderson at least cared little for the ruin that 
he must have known would follow the failure of his title to the 
lands which he was trying to sell to the untaught pioneers." For 
he speaks of them in his journal as "a set of scoundrels who 
scarcely believed in God or feared the devil." Certain it is that 
when all hope of profit disappeared, so did also Henderson and 
his associates, leaving Daniel Boone, with his helpless family, in 
the wilderness with a worthless title to two thousand acres of 
land, which had been his sole compensation for risking his life 
and cutting out the Wilderness Road for Henderson and his 
followers to travel over. And the claim upon which so much 
stress is laid, that Henderson shared "with Washington the vision 
of Western expansion," is made ridiculous when the Watauga 
Settlement of 1769 is remembered and it is recalled that Harrods- 
burg, only thirty miles southwest from Boonesboro, had been 
settled in 1774; also, that two weeks before Boone's arrival at 
Boonesborough (April i, 1775) this same Harrodsburg, after 
having been abandoned in 1774, had been re-occupied by as hardy 
pioneers as any who came w^ith Boone, and that about the same 
time two other settlements nearby were made at Boiling Springs 
and Logan's Station. Roosevelt says that with the failure of his 
title in both Virginia and North Carolina, "Henderson, after the 
collapse of his colony, drifts out of history." (Winning of the 
West, Vol. n, p. 64.) To some people of simple minds it might 
almost seem that it would have been better that Richard Hender- 
son should be allowed to remain out of history, unless, indeed, 
it can be shown that he restored to poor, deluded Daniel Boone 
the 2,000 acres he had been duped into accepting as his share of 
the enterprise, for both Virginia and North Carolina together 
donated outright to Henderson and company 400,000 acres of 
land, out of which it does seem that Boone should have been 
made whole. Daniel Boone, penniless, remained in the wilder- 
ness and was the real leader of the great western expansion. 

" A largely signed memorial was sent to the Virginia Convention In 1776 by 
these settlers, from which it appears that the price of the land had been 
advanced from twenty to fifty shillings a hundred acres, all of which was to be 
paid down; that 70,000 acres at the Falls of the Ohio (Louisville) had been 
reserved to the proprietors and their friends. It implored His Majesty, the King, 
to vindicate his title from the Six Nations ; and asked to be taken under the 
protection of Virginia. 


During the Revolution. 

Backwoods Tories. — Roosevelt (Vol. II, p. 70) says: "The 
backwoodsmen, the men of the up-country, were, as a whole, 
ardent adherents of the patriotic or American side. Yet there 
were among them many loyalists or Tories, and these Tories in- 
cluded in their ranks much the greatest portion of the vicious and 
disorderly elements. This was the direct reverse of what ob- 
tained along portions of the seaboard, where large numbers of 
the peaceable and well-to-do people stood loyally by the king. 
In the up-country, however, the Presbyterian Irish, with their 
fellows of Calvinistic stock and faith, formed the back-bone of 
the moral and order-loving element, and the Presbyterian Irish 
were almost to a man staunch and furious upholders of the Con- 
tinental Congress . . . The Tories were obnpxious under 
two heads (pp. 72, y^) 5 they were allies of a tyrant who lived 
beyond the sea, and they were the friends of anarchy at home. 
They were felt by the frontiersmen to be criminals rather than 
ordinary foes. They included in their ranks the mass of men 
who had been guilty of the two worst frontier crimes — horse- 
stealing and murder . . . and the courts sometimes executed 
summary justice on Tory, desperado and stock-thief, holding each 
as having forfeited his life." 

Samuel Bright, Loyalist. — We should not be surprised, there- 
fore, to learn that there is a tradition still preserved at Ingalls and 
Altamont post offices, in what is now Avery County, but which 
formerly was a part of Watauga, that Samuel Bright, along 
whose "trace," according to Draper (p. 177), Sevier's men 
passed on their way to King's Mountain, September 27-28, 1780, 
was a Tory of the Tories, and while he might have claimed the 
Crab Orchard,^ a mile below the confluence of the Roaring Creek 

^ Owing to the several counties in whicti this land has been it is impossible 
to get record evidence of Bright's ownership, if he ever held title. Local tradition 
claims that the Crab Orchard was embraced in both the Cathcart and Waight- 


54 -^ History of Watauga County 

with the North Toe River, his home was two miles northeast of 
Alta Pass, where the C. C. & O. R. R. crosses the Blue Ridge, and 
stood near what is now a tram-road for lumber hauling. Joe 
Lovin now lives one-fourth of a mile southwest from the old 
Bright chimney mounds, which are still distinguishable. Indeed, 
Robert Lee Wiseman, a direct descendant of William Wiseman, 
the first settler of that locality, has the original grant and knows 
the location of the old Bright place not only from tradition, but 
from having surveyed the lands originally granted to Samuel 
Bright. One of these grants is numbered 172 and calls for 360 
acres in Burke County. The grant is dated March 5, 1780, 
though the land was processioned June 28, 1774, by Will Daven- 
port, who owned "the noted spring on the Davenport place, since 
Tate's, and now known as the Childs place." spoken of by Dr. 
Draper (p. 178). The grant is registered in book No. 3 of Burke 
County, and was signed by J. C. Caswell, Governor, and counter- 
signed by "In Franck, Pri. Sec." The land was surveyed by 
C. W. Beekman, county surveyor of Burke, August 10, 1778, 
while the chain carriers were Thomas White, afterwards Major 
White, of McDowell's regiment, and James Taylor White. The 
land granted lies on both sides of Toe River, and a part of it is 
now owned by W. H. Ollis as part of his home tract, and the 
balance by J. L. Wiseman. The seal attached is of chalk or 
plaster of Paris and bees wax, one-quarter of an inch thick and 
three inches in diameter. On one side is a female figure with staff 
and liberty cap in one hand and an open scroll in the other. The 
obverse face contains a female figure, a cow and a tree, while 
beneath these figures are "Independence MDCCLXXVI." This 
seal is not impressed upon the paper, but is detached from it, 
being connected with it by a double tape ribbon. Around the 
border is what appears to be E Pluribiis Unum and Sua Si Bona, 
though a defacement of the wax renders some of the letters un- 
certain. Tradition is here borne out by the State and Colonial 
Records in Volume XXII (p. 506), which records that Samuel 

still Avery grants, and that the representatives of these two claimants rom- 
promised the matter by Avery paying John Brown, Cathcart's representative, 
12% cts. per acre for the tract, and talcing possession. John Ollis, father of 
W. H. Ollis, helped to clear it "back in the Forties." 

A History of Watauga County 55 

Bright, after having witnessed the trial and conviction at Sahs- 
bury before Judge Samuel Spencer, March 6, 1777, of one 
William Anderson, of having stolen from one Jowe, and the 
branding of the said Anderson on the ball of the thumb of his 
left hand with the letter T, signifying thief, was brought before 
the same stern judge to answer the charge of having committed 
sundry misdemeanors against the State by encouraging the ene- 
mies of said State. But Samuel evidently knew on which side 
his bread was buttered, and took the benefit of the governor's 
proclamation, promising amnesty to all who would come in and 
take the oath of loyalty to the patriot cause, and got off scott- 

Thirty-Nine Lashes on the Bare Back. — Now William Wise- 
man, who had been born in London, England, on St. James 
Street, Clarkville or Clarkwell Park, February 2, 1741, and ap- 
prenticed to a joiner, fearing service in the British army, stowed 
himself away on a merchant vessel in 1761, and, after lying con- 
cealed three days and nights, revealed himself to the captain, and 
upon arrival at a port in Connecticut was sold to pay his passage 
money; was bid in by a master joiner, who gave him his liberty 
and a box of tools upon proof that Wiseman could make as good 
a chest as he could himself. "What those old fellows were 
after," said an old citizen in speaking of Wiseman, "was free- 
dom ;" and as there was much religious persecution in the north- 
ern colonies about that time, WilHam Wiseman took his took 
aboard a sailing vessel and finally settled at the place at which 
W. H. Ollis now lives. Here he married a Davenport, sister, no 
doubt, to the Davenport of Davenport Place spoken of by Dr. 
Draper. He was the very first settler in that locality, and became 
a justice of the peace. To him was brought one day the wife of 
Samuel Bright, charged with having stolen a bolt of cloth from 
a traveling peddler. She was convicted by him, and as the ped- 
dler insisted that he should pass sentence upon her, he did so, 
and as there was no sheriff to inflict it, he enforced it himself — 
"thirty-nine lashes, well laid on." 

Patriots Feared the Indians. — Now, the Cherokees had ceded 
the lands on the Watauga and its waters to the Watauga settlers, 

56 A History of Watauga County 

but Roosevelt tells us (Vol. II, p. 74) that they "still continued 
jealous of them." and that the Cherokees "promptly took up the 
tomahawk at the bidding of the British" (p. 75). As Bright and 
Wiseman lived south of the ridge which divided the Toe from 
the Watauga, their homes were within Indian territory at this 
time. Therefore, Magistrate Wiseman had been afraid to lay 
the lash on Mrs. Bright's bare back during the absence of her 
husband, who was on a hunting expedition at that time, lest upon 
his return he should incite the Indians to burn his cabin and 
scalp him in the bargain. But he was worse afraid of the 
peddler, who threatened to report him to the great judge, Samuel 
Spencer, at Salisbury, if he did not carry out the sentence he had 
himself imposed. He was, therefore, much perturbed till Bright 
and a family named Grant left the country, passing over the 
Bright Trace and by the Bright Spring on the Bald place of the 
Yellow into Tennessee. Aunt Jemima English, who was born 
Wiseman, daughter of the original William, justice of the peace, 
etc., May 6, 1804, but lived to a green old age, not only preserved 
these traditions, which she had at first had from her father, but 
she believed that the Grant family which left with the Brights 
were the family from whom Gen. U. S. Grant, of the U. S. 
army, sprang. 

Bright's Spring and the Shelving Rock. — We must not forget 
that "the gap between the Yellow Mountain on the north and 
the Roan Mountain on the south" (Draper, p. 177) was once a 
part of Watauga County (see chapter X on Boundary Lines). It 
was here that two of Sevier's men, James Crawford and Samuel 
Chambers, deserted and went ahead to tell Ferguson of Sevier's 
approach. It was here also, according to local tradition in the 
mouth of everyone in May, 1915. that one of Sevier's men froze 
to death and was buried in the edge of the bald of the Yellow. 
Draper, however, says nothing of such an occurrence, though he 
does say (p. 177) that the "sides and top of the mountain were 
covered with snow, shoe-mouth deep, and on the summit there 
were about one hundred acres of beautiful table-land, in which 
a spring issued [Bright's], ran through it and over into the 
Watauga." This latter fact, not generally known, coupled with 
the still more important fact that all of Watauga County on the 

A History of Watauga County 57 

waters of Watauga River was once a part of Washington 
County — formerly Washington District — of the famous and im- 
mortal Old Watauga Settlement of Sevier, Robertson and Tipton, 
may well "stir a fever in the blood of age and make the infant's 
sinews strong as steel." For Col. Henry H. Farthing, of Tim- 
bered Ridge of the Beaver Dams, and Col. Joseph C. Shull, of 
Shull's Mills, have each a grant from the State to lands in their 
neighborhood, described as being in Washington County, North 
Carolina. Shull's grant is numbered 841 to Charles Asher for 
300 acres in the county of Washington on both sides of Watauga 
River, and dated nth July, 1788. It is signed by Samuel 
Johnston, Governor, and countersigned by Jas. Glascow, Secre- 
tary of State. On it is a certificate from the county register, 
Samuel Greer, dated May 28, 1819, that it is a true copy from the 
records. The Farthing grant is to John Carter for 300 acres in 
the county of Washington, beginning on two white oaks standing 
near the path that leads across Stone Mountain to Cove Creek 
and on the west side of the Beaver Dam Creek. It is dated 
November 17, 1790, and is numbered 947, and recorded in the 
office of the Secretary's office, page 234. For, when the Watauga 
settlers set up house-keeping on their own hook, they had named 
the territory they had acquired from the Indians by lease and 
purchase Washington District, and in 1777, before they tried to 
secede, calling the new State Franklin, North Carolina converted 
Washington District into Washington County. (Laws 1777, 
ch. 126.) Dr. Draper continues: "Thence from Talbot's Mill 
to its head, where they bore somewhat to the left, crossing Little 
Doe River, reaching the noted 'Resting Place,' at the Shelving 
Rock, about a mile beyond the Crab Orchard, where, after a 
march of about twenty miles that day, they took up their camp 
for the night. Big Doe River, a bold and limpid mountain 
stream, flowing hard by, afforded the campers, their horses and 
beef cattle abundance of pure and refreshing water. Here a man 
of the name of Miller resided who shod several of the horses of 
the party." 

Even Homer and Dr. Draper Sometimes Nod. — Notwith- 
standing all the pains Dr. Draper took to get the facts for his 
excellent "Kings Mountain and Its Heroes," his failure to visit 

58 A History of Watanga County 

the actual scenes along the route of the King's Mountain men 
is responsible for the error in the statement that the Big Doe 
River, floiving hard by, afforded the campers, etc., abundance of 
pure and refreshing water." The nearest point from the Shelv- 
ing Rock to the Big Doe River is at least one mile and a half 
where that stream flows through the Crab Orchard, and the route 
to it is over a rather high ridge and by a rough trail. But the 
Little Doe, with enough pure and refreshing water for all the 
men and stock then in what is now Tennessee, flows within one 
hundred yards of the Shelving Rock, on which there has been 
placed a bronze tablet about two feet square with the following 
inscription : 

First Night's 

Encampment of 


SEPTEMBER 26, 1780. 

They Trusted in God and 
Kept Their Powder Dry. 

Placed by John Sevier Chapter, D. A. R., 

A Busy Forge. — But he was right in stating that a man of 
the name of Miller resided at the Shelving Rock and shod their 
horses, for Squire W. H. Ollis, of Ingalls, N. C, furnished this 
identical information to the Historical Society of New Jersey in 
1872, saying that "x\bsalom Miller told me that his father lived 
at Shelving Rock in September, 1780, and shod the horses of 
some of the King's IMountain men while they camped under the 
Shelving Rock." As most of Sevier's men were practical black- 
smiths, we may well imagine that Johnson's forge was a busy 
place early on the morning of September 2y, 1780, and well up 
into that day, and that, while some were shoeing the horses, 

A History of Watauga County 59 

others were busy at bellows and anvil, hammering out horse- 
shoes and nails, thus leaving none of the available tools idle for 
a moment. For the way up what is now called Hampton's Creek 
to the gap of the Yellow was even steeper in those days than 
it is now, with rocks galore to wrench the shoes from the best 
shod horses. Dr. Draper tells us that on this day the men, weary 
of driving the herd of cattle with which they had started, killed 
such as were necessary for a temporary supply of meat and 
abandoned the rest, thus considerably delaying the march of the 
day, "following the well-known Bright's Trace, through a gap 
between the Yellow Mountain on the north and the Roan Moun- 
tain on the south. The ascent was not very difficult along a com- 
mon foot-path." But, for three miles at least, it was very steep 
and rocky, as the same old Trace, now used as a "near cut," still 
bears witness most eloquently. Arrived at the gap, now grown 
up with trees, they had a parade on the Yellow and fired ofif their 
short Deckard rifles "for fun." This was but a short day's 
march — seven miles — making twenty-seven miles from Sycamore 
Shoals in two days. Here, at a conference of the officers, Colonel 
Campbell was appointed to the chief command. (Note on page 
178.) On the 28th they descended Roaring Creek by Bright's 
Trace, then following the bank of the stream very much as does 
the rude and rough wagon road of today, to its mouth in North 
Toe River, one mile from the North Carolina Crab Orchard, or 
Avery's Quarter, as it is now known. Here, at the mouth of 
Roaring Creek, lives Tilmon McCurry, who thinks that the 
Samuel Chambers who had deserted the night before, finally 
settled in Buncombe County, North Carolina, but what became 
of James Crawford seems not to be known. Only a short dis- 
tance from the mouth of Roaring Creek is that of Powder Mill 
Creek, a short distance up which latter stream Dorry and Loddy 
Oaks made enough powder in the dim and distant past with 
which to buy a negro man, and, no doubt, obtained the bounty 
referred to in Wheeler's History of North Carolina (Vol. H, 
p. 52). From the mouth of Roaring Creek, however, Bright's 
Trace is now no longer followed, the Cranberry and Spruce Pine 
Road having usurped its usefulness, but it can be traced still as 

6o A History of Watauga County 

it takes its almost straight course to the crossing of Toe River, 
almost a mile above Spruce Pine, at which place a small monu- 
ment marks Sevier's route. 

They Did Not Camp on the Yellow, — Bright's Spring in 
North Carolina is a mile north of the gap between the Yellow and 
the Roan. It is in a field that in 1780 contained a bald place of 
about 100 acres, though the Humps, lying near, have since been 
cleared and the bald place is now much larger than it was then. 
There is also another spring on the Tennessee side, near the gap, 
called also Bright's Spring. It is true the ground is said to have 
been covered with snow when they camped there, but that 
1,040 men ' and horses could have supplied themselves with water 
on the top of that mountain would have been an impossibility. 
Dr. Draper says in unmistakable language that they "passed on 
a couple of miles, descending the eastern slope of the mountains 
into Elk Hollow — a slight depression between the Yellow and 
Roan Mountains, rather than a gap — and here at a fine spring 
flowing into Roaring Creek they took up their camp for the 
night" (p. 178). Yet, the general impression is that these men 
camped on the Yellow Mountain that night ! 

Oliver Cromwell's Descendant. — Dr. Draper records the fact 
that Col. Benjamin Cleveland claimed direct descent from Oliver 
Cromwell, from a liaison with Elizabeth Cleveland, "a beauty of 
the time of Charles the First" (pp. 425, 426), but this story is 
doubted by the eminent historian. Cleveland was mistaken in 
acting as though cruelty \vas Cromwell's chief virtue. 

Cleveland's Capture at Old Fields. — Dr. Draper says that 
this doughty warrior was captured at this place, which he is said 
to have owned, on the 22d day of April, 1781, while on a visit 
to his tenant, Jesse Duncan, at the lower end of the Old Fields — 
probably the very spot at which the late Nathan Waugh lived 
and died. Captain William Riddle was the leader of the gang 
which captured him, they having stolen his horses from Duncan's 
barn the night before and led them up south fork of New River 

' The force which started from Sycamore Shoals consisted of : Colonel Camp- 
bell's men, 200 ; Colonel Shelby's, 240 men ; Lieutenant-Colonel Sevier's, 240 
men ; McDowell's party, who had retreated from Cowen's Ford, 160 men ; 
(Draper, p. 149) ; Arthur Campbell, with 200 men (Id. p. 175), making in ail 
1,040 men. 

Photo, by Vannoy. 


Where Cleveland was captured. 

A History of Watauga County 


into a laurel thicket just above the house then occupied by Joseph 
and Timothy Perkins, about one mile distant There were six 
or eight men with Riddle, and when they reached Benjamin Cut- 
birthl home the day before, four miles above Duncan s home, 
and failed to get any information from him, they abused him 
shamefully and left him under guard. Cleveland ran mto the 
ambush prepared for him and was captured and taken into the 
Perkins house, which stood on the site of the house m which 
Nathan Waugh's son, Charles, now resides The illustration 
shows the present house and apple tree in its front under which 
it is said Cleveland was sitting when captured. Into this house 
of the Perkinses, Zachariah Wells followed Cleveland and at- 
tempted to shoot him, but that brave(?) man seized Abigail 
Walters, who was present, and kept her between him and his 
would-be assassin (p. 440). Cleveland was then taken up New 
River to the mouth of Elk Creek, and thence to "what has since 
been known as Riddle's Knob." (See illustration.) This is some 
fourteen miles from Old Fields and in Watauga County Here 
they camped for the night (p. 441)- But they had been followed 
by young Daniel Cutbirth and a youth named Walters, Jesse 
Duncan, John Shirley, William Calloway, Samuel McQueen and 
Benjamin Greer, while Joseph Calloway mounted a horse and 
hastened to notify Captain Robert Cleveland, Ben's, on 
Lewis' Fork of the Yadkin. Five of these in advance of Robert s 
party fired on Riddle's gang at the Wolf's Den early the next 
morning, and Cleveland dropped behind the log on which he 
had been sitting slowly writing passes for the Tories, eanng that 
when he should finish doing so he would be killed. Only Wells 
was wounded, the rest escaping, including Riddle's wife. As it 
was thought that Wells would die from his wound, he was let 
on the ground to meet his fate alone. But he ^^^^^^^^ About 
1857 Micajah Tugman found a curious knife m the Wolf s Den, 
supposed to have been Riddle's. 

Greer's Hint.— This "hint" is thus accounted for by Dr 
Draper in a note at foot of page 442: "Greer was one of 

s These boys had planned to rescue Cleveland, but they thought better of it 
when Riddle's force came in sight. 

62 A History of Watauga County 

Cleveland's heroes. One of his fellow soldiers stole his tobacco 
from him, when he threatened he would whip him for it as soon 
as he should put his eyes on him. Cleveland expostulated with 
Greer, telling him his men ought to fight the enemy and not 
each other. 'I'll give him a hint of it, anyway,' said Greer, and 
when he met the tobacco pilferer he knocked him down. Greer's 
hint was long a by-word in all that region. — Col. W. W. Lenoir." 
It is claimed that Greer killed Colonel Ferguson at King's Moun- 
tain. If so, Greer's hints were rather rough. 

Greer Gets Another Kind of Hint. — Just twenty years after 
the memorable capture and rescue of Cleveland by Greer, to wit: 
on the first Saturday of April, 1801, the Three Forks Baptist 
Church, of which he was a member, gave Cleveland's "hero" a 
"hint" to appear at the next meeting of that organization and 
answer to the charge — not of having looked upon the wine cup 
when it was red — but of having partaken of the apple juice after 
it had been distilled. Brother and Sister Wilcoxen were cited 
to appear as witnesses against him. But Ben did not take the 
hint, neither did he continue his membership with that church ! 

The Wolf's Den Tradition. — There is still a tradition in the 
neighborhood of the Wolf's Den that Ben Greer killed or 
wounded Riddle at that place soon after Cleveland's rescue, one 
version saying that Riddle was only wounded and then taken to 
Wilkes and hanged. Indeed, the place in the gap between Pine 
Orchard and Huckleberry Knob, through which the wagon road 
from Todd to Riddle's Fork of Meat Camp Creek now runs, is 
still pointed out as that at which Greer and his men camped in 
the cold and wind, without fire or tent, till they saw the camp- 
fire on Riddle's Knob flame up, after which they crept up to that 
lonely spot and either killed or wounded the redoubtable Tory. 
But Dr. Draper has an altogether different story to tell about 
Riddle's capture and execution. 

Cleveland Hangs Riddle. — Dr. Draper says (p. 444) that 
soon after Cleveland's rescue Riddle and his men made a night 
raid into the Yadkin Valley, where, on King's Creek, they cap- 
tured two of Cleveland's soldiers, David and John Witherspoon, 
and "spirited them away into the mountain region on the Wa- 

Photo, by Vannoy. 


Where Cleveland was rescued. 

A History of Watauga County 63 

tauga River in what is now Watauga County," where both were 
sentenced to be shot, when it was proposed that if they would 
take the oath of allegiance to the king, repair to their home and 
speedily return with the O'Neal mare — a noble animal — and join 
the Tory band, their lives would be spared. This the Wither- 
spoons agreed to, and returned with not only the mare, but 
with Col. Ben Herndon and a party also, when they captured 
Riddle, Reeves and Goss, "killing and dispersing the others." 
These were taken to Wilkesboro, court-martialed and executed" 
on the hill adjoining the village, "on a stately oak, which is yet 
(1881) standing and pointed out to strangers at Wilkesboro." 
Wells, too, his wounds still unhealed, was captured and taken 
to Hughes' Bottom, one mile below Cleveland's Round About 
home-place, and hanged by plow lines from a tree on the river 
bank, without trial and in spite of the protestations of James 
Gwyn, a lad of thirteen, whose noble nature revolted at such 
barbarity. But Cleveland's cruelty was too well known to need 
further comment, for it is recorded of him that he once forced 
an alleged horse-thief to cut off his own ears with a dull case 
knife to escape death by hanging — all without trial or evidence 
of any kind whatever (p. 447). Cleveland moved to South 
Carolina at the close of the Revolutionary War, where he died 
while sitting at the breakfast table, in October, 1806, in the 
sixty-ninth year of his age. Cleveland County in this State was 
named in his honor. Dr. Draper says he was buried in the 
forks of the Tugalo and Chauga, Oconee County, South Caro- 
lina, but his grave with a stone marking it is in the churchyard 
of New Hope Baptist Church, near Staunton, Wilkes County, 
North Carolina, according to several recent statements of Col. 
J. H. Taylor, the father of Mrs. John Stansbury, of Boone. 
However, some claim that this is Robert Cleveland's grave-stone. 
So much for two versions of Riddle's death. 

But there is still another, for Col. W. W. Presnell, for many 
years register of deeds for Watauga County and a brave one- 
armed Confederate soldier, still points out at the foot of a ridge 
north of James Blair's residence, on Brushy Fork Creek, two 
low rock cliffs, between which and the hollow just east of them 

64 A History of Watauga County 

stood until recently a large white-thorn tree upon which \V. H. 
Dugger and other reputable citizens of a past day said Cleveland 
had hanged Riddle and three of his companions. Certain it is, 
according to Dr. Draper (p. 445), that "Colonel Cleveland was 
active at this period in sending out strong scouting parties to 
scour the mountain regions, and, if possible, utterly break up the 
Tory bands still infesting the frontiers." Others say that two 
of these men were named Snecd and the third was named 

The Killing of Charles Asher.— Col. Joseph C. Shull has 
among his papers grant No. 841 to Charles Asher to 300 acres of 
land in the county of Washington, on both sides of the Watauga 
River, dated the nth day of July. 1788. Charles Asher located 
this land at what was afterwards and still is known as ShuU's 
Mills in Watauga County, North Carolina, after having married 
one of the daughters of Samuel Hix, the Tory who settled first 
at V'alle Crucis and afterwards hid out at the Lybrook place 
near Banner's Elk. His son was surprised in his new log cabin 
in what is now Colonel ShuU's orchard, by Joseph White's men 
soon after the close of the Revolutionary War.* Asher ran, but 
was sliot and killed, his body falling where it was buried, near 
Colonel ShuU's cow barn in the meadow in front of his resi- 

Benjamin Howard. — This gentleman was the first transient 
boarder in the vicinity of Boone, for he built the cabin which 
stood in front of the Boys' Dormitory of the Appalachian Train- 
ing School and on the site of which Col. W. L. Bryan has 
erected a substantial monument. Howard's home was near Elk- 
ville on the Yadkin, but as he herded cattle in the valley of New 
River, he built this hut for the accommodation of himself and 
his herders. When too hotly pressed by the Whigs or American 
Patriots, Howard sheltered himself in a cave at the base of a 
long, low cliff a quarter of a mile north of the knob above the 

♦ Joseph White was a major in Col. Joseph McDowell's regiment after the 
Revolutionary War (Col. Rec, Vol. XXII, p. 460), and went on three tours with 
small detachments on the north-west side of the Blue Ridge. (Id., p. 99.) In 
"North Carolina : A History," published by Edward Buncombe Chapter D. A. R., 
It is erroneously stated (p. 100) that White also was killed. White is mentioned 
by Doctor Draper, pp. 149-199 and 257, while on page 474 it is stated that 
White probably commanded a company at King's Mountain. 

A History of Watauga County 65 

town of Boone which has borne his name for years. His 
daughter, SalHe, when still a child, is said to have endured a 
severe switching rather than reveal his whereabouts when met 
in the road one day by a band of men in search of her parent. 
She married Jordan Councill the first. Her father took the oath 
of allegiance to the United States in 1778, however (Col. Rec. 
Vol. XXn, p. 172), and Miss Sallie soon afterwards became a 
staunch American herself. 

Edward Moody, Patriot. — Under a large white-oak tree, two 
feet in diameter, on a sunny ridge overlooking the site of his 
earthly home, is a rather small, white marble stone bearing the 
following meager inscription : 



When one reflects that this memorial was erected by the gov- 
ernment of the United States on the Fourth day of July, 1910, 
in the presence of the largest gathering of people that has ever 
taken place in Watauga County, and remembers that the stone 
is intended to mark the grave of one of the heroes of the Amer- 
ican Revolution, one's heart does not swell with any great 
amount of pride or gratitude. Yet, that is all there is to mark 
the last resting place of a brave man who shed his blood that 
these United States might be free ! That is all to tell coming 
generations that here lies the dust of a patriot and a gentleman. 
Even the dates of his birth and death have been forgotten. But 
while he lived no man stood higher in the love and respect of all 
who knew him. He was the husband of "the Widow Moody" 
to whom the Rev. Henry H. Prout paid a glowing tribute in the 
"Life of W. W. Skiles." 

William Jonas Braswell, Hero. — In a lonely field now owned 
by W. H. and Harstin Ollis, under two hickory trees, a third of a 
mile above the old Gen. Albertus Childs' place on Three Mile 
Creek, is another one of those "monuments" at the unveiling or 
dedication of which our great government occasionally invites 

66 A History of Watauga County 

its citizens to be present. It contains an even more economical 
inscription than that of poor Edward M6ody. It follows: 


N. C. MIL. 


"That's the crap," as our farmers say in derision of a small 
offering. This was unveiled to the light of day and to the indig- 
nation of all right-thinking people in 1913, the crowd in at- 
tendance numbering nearly five hundred. That seems to be all 
this great and powerful government could find out about this 
dead hero, now without a vote. But others remember something 
else of him, John Wise, born May 9, 1835, relating that Braswell 
lived on Lower Creek in Burke County, and hunted through the 
country lying between that locality and Black Mountain, in what 
is now Yancey. He had relatives in Pensacola, near Big Tom 
Wilson's old home, "under the Black." When a very old man, 
Braswell, his wife and a girl named Yarber started late one fall 
from Lower Creek to Pensacola to visit people named Mace, 
relatives of his wife, probably. They had to spend the night 
in camp under a rock on a high ridge leading up from Burke 
to the Linville country, then and now a much used highway for 
local travel, a wagon road now replacing the former trail. They 
could not procure fire, and a cold-snap coming on, the old man 
"froze down," to use Captain Wise's forceful phrase. When 
the chill morning dawned his w'ife and the Yarber girl met 
Jacob and William Carpenter at the ford of Linville River, to 
which point they had hastened through the darkness, seeking 
aid. The women went on to Carpenter's house in the meadow 
in front of Captain W'ise's present residence, while the two Car- 
penter men hastened on to the camp rock, where Braswell was 
found, very low, but still alive. Placing him on a horse, they 
managed to keep him there by walking on each side of him and 
holding him in the saddle till they reached home. There he died 
after having revived for a short time, and was buried where the 
so-called "monument" now stands. His name w'as William 

A History of Watauga County 67 

Jonas Braswell, but to have spelled all that out on a tomb-stone 
would have required, at five cents a letter, at least fifty cents 
more ! Hence, etc. The present wagon road does not pass very 
near the old camp rocks, but they are still remembered, while 
the high ridge on which they stand have preserved that part 
of a hero's name which a niggard nation consigned to oblivion, 
for it has been called ever since "Jonas's Ridge." 

William Davis— What?— Hero? Patriot? Let us see. His 
grave is near the road in front of the Gen. Albertus Childs' 
house on Three Mile Creek, now owned and occupied by Robert 
Moseley. Two common "mountain rocks" mark the place of his 
burial. Two other graves beside his are similarly designated. 
No munificent government, proud of his record, has "sought his 
frailties" or his virtues "to disclose." Why? For he was a 
soldier of the Revolutionary War as well as those over whose 
ashes grave-stones have been erected. Who knows? Probably 
a bit of red-tape was missing somewhere. Maybe his name does 
not appear on any roster or muster roll. Yet, in the Congres- 
sional Library, at the nation's capital, is an allegorical painting 
called "History." It represents a gray-haired sire telling the 
story of the past to his son, and this son telling the same story 
with additions to his son, and so on down the line till the printed 
page is reached. The name of that oral story is "Tradition." 
Well, tradition says that William Davis was not only a brave 
soldier, but a mighty hunter as well, when the wilderness was to 
be conquered and weaklings stayed at home and sneered at the 
illiterate and the lowly. Davis came to America with William 
Wiseman and William Penley long before the Revolution. He 
settled first in Virginia and afterwards came to Ashe County, 
where he married Frances Carpenter, sister of the first Jacob 
Carpenter. Then he moved to what is still called Davis Moun- 
tain, near Crossnore, on the upper waters of Linville River. 
When the game was exhausted there, he moved to Three Mile 
Creek and built four log houses "all in a row," with communi- 
cating doors between and a chimney at each end. Standing 
before a blazing fire in one end of the house, with the three 
intervening doors open, one looks through four large, low- 

68 A History of Watauga County 

ceiled, comfortable rooms to cherry-red flames leaping up the 
chimney at the farther end — one of the "fairest pictures of calm 
content that mortal ever saw." The date of the building of this 
old structure is recorded on one of the inside logs, but it has 
been ceiled over and cannot now be seen. But it was made there 
many, many years ago. The present Jacob Carpenter, his great- 
nephew, of Altamont, knows the date of his birth and death, but 
they would cost the United States some "good money" to have 
them carved on a 12 x 24-inch stone. Davis died November 18, 
1841, when 114 years of age. Still, as he had no middle name, 
it does seem that the Government, with a big G, might "sort of 
look after" Uncle Billy, who fought his battles for him before 
Uncle Sam was born, he having been shot through the hips at 
King's Mountain. His wife, who sleeps beside him, was cer- 
tainly a heroine, whether Uncle Billy was a hero or no, for on one 
occasion, in February, while in a sugar camp on Davis Moun- 
tain, he had to be away from her on a cold night. One of her 
cows found a calf that night, and Mrs. Davis brought it to camp 
with her and fought off the wolves with fire-brands till morning. 

A Revolutionary Welshman, — On the south fork of New 
River, on Harvey Phillips' farm at McGuire post office, is the 
grave of a soldier of the Revolutionary War. His name is 
Jones, but the given name has been lost. That he was a Welsh- 
man is implied by his name. Close by him sleeps Benjamin 
Blackburn, another Revolutionary soldier, from whom has de- 
scended a long line of useful and honored citizens. 

Moses Yarber. — The United States has also been equally 
generous to her dead and gone soldiers of the War of 1812, for, 
in the same graveyard which holds the ashes of Edward Moody, 
our great government has erected another monument, which, at 
five cents a letter, including apostrophes, must have cost at least 
thirty cents more than did Edward Moody's. But it managed to 
spell out his full name, instead of contracting it as it did with 
the latter's given name, recording it as Edw'd, instead of 
Edward, thus saving at least five cents, assuming that the comma 
cost a nickel. As the enduring marble embalms his name and 
record, we have the following: 

A History of Watauga County 69 



S. C. MIL. 

WAR 1812. 

These abbreviations stand for whatever the reader may elect 
to attribute to them, the punctuation rendering the following 
story as intelligible as any : "Moses Yarber McNeil's County, 
saw cow Millie Warranted 1812." 

Two of Yarber's daughters live within two miles of his grave, 
Jemimah and Catharine, the former having been born April 27, 
1825, and the latter February 18, 1830. Moses was blessed with 
other children also — William, born February 23, 1810; Annie, 
born July 15, 1816; Mary Ann, born June 9, 1818 — but they 
have been dead a number of years. Moses himself died Novem- 
ber 30, 1867. But just think what an unheard-of sum it would 
have cost our Government — again that big G — to have recorded 
that fact — with every abbreviation possible, sixty-five cents ! 
His daughters knew the date of his death when, on the 4tli 
day of July, 1910, this stone was erected. They knew also that 
Moses had married Elizabeth Edwards, a daughter of Henry 
Edwards, of Darlington District, South Carolina, and a soldier 
of the Revolutionary War. Thus, these two old ladies, in 
poverty and alone, have the proud consciousness that their 
father's full name will be preserved as long as that gravestone 
endures, if only posterity has the intelligence to guess that his 
name was Yarber and not McNeil, but what interpretation it will 
give to the balance of the inscription must always be proble- 
matical. Moses and his family moved to Flat Top, now Linville 
City, about 1838, and from there to their present home in 1855. 
They have no votes, these good women; if they had, it is likely 
that they would have also a pension apiece. Sic transit! 

Two Old Tory Knobs.— On Riddle's Fork of Meat Camp 
are two knobs or peaks which are known, one as Hagaman's 
Knob and the other as Wiley's Knob, from the fact which tradi- 
tion still maintains, that at their bases two Tories, hiding out 

70 A History of Watauga County 

during the Revolutionary War, made their headquarters. They 
were, doubtless, a part of Riddle's gang. 

Old Battle in Watauga? — In Robert Love's pension papers 
it is said that "he was in command of a party of Americans in 
1780 against a party of Tories in July of that year." This band 
of Tories was composed of about 150 men, and they were routed 
up New River at the Big Glades, now (1833) in Ashe County, 
North Carolina, as they were on their way to join Cornwallis." 
Col. W. L. Bryan says that the Big Glades were on the south 
fork of New River, near Deep Gap. 

Guarded Major Andre. — Nathan Horton, whose grave-stone 
in Three Forks churchyard records the fact that he was a sol- 
dier of the Revolutionary War, according to a tradition still 
preserved in his own family, guarded Major Andre when the 
latter was executed for treason, at which time he carried a shot- 
gun loaded with one ball and three buck-shot. A fine old Grand- 
father clock of mahogany, with elaborate face and works, 
brought by Nathan Horton from New Jersey when he emigrated 
to Ashe soon after the Revolution, is now in the home of J. Grit. 
Horton, on New River, five miles from Boone. 

Following are the names of other Revolutionary soldiers who 
lived and died in Watauga: Benjamin Bingham, great uncle of 
Hon. Thomas Bingham, who is said to have fired the last gun 
at Yorktown, Va. ; John Adams, born in France and came over 
with Lafayette's soldiers as a drummer-boy of sixteen years, 
remaining, concealed in a flour barrel, at Philadelphia, when 
Lafayette returned to France; the brothers, George, Absalom 
and William Smith, were in the \^irginia army and at Corn- 
wallis's surrender at Yorktown. 


Three Forks Association. 

Yadkin Baptist Association.— This association constituted 
the Three Forks association in 1790. From it many other 
churches had been organized east of the Blue Ridge.' 

In 1779 King's Creek Church, in Caldwell, and Beaver 
Creek, in Wilkes, were organized. A few years later Brier 
Creek in Wilkes, was constituted. It had many "arms, and 
from it grew Lewis Fork, in Wilkes, and Old Fields Church, m 
Ashe County. Three Forks was constituted by the Yadkm Bap- 
tist Association. It became an association itself in 1840. 

"In 1790 Three Forks Church, the first in Watauga, was con- 
stituted Part of the original members of this church came from 
the Jersey Settlement Church. Cove Creek was the second 
church in Watauga, being organized in I799- At first these 
churches had only log houses in which to worship. The floors 
were rude, and large cracks were in the walls, so that they were 
often uncomfortable in winter. But the praises of God rang out 
from the lips and hearts of these old Baptist fathers. These 
churches first joined the Strawberry Association in Virgmia, but 
in 1790 withdrew to organize the Yadkin Association. The first 
ministers of this body were George McNeil, John Cleveland, 
William Petty, William Hammond, Cleveland Cofifey, Andrew 
Baker and John Stone . . . Later on the Mountain, Catawba 
and Brier Creek Associations were formed, and so the Yadkin 
Baptists continued steadily to grow." 

Three Forks Baptist Church.— This was the first church es- 
tablished west of the Blue Ridge, excepting only the one estab- 
lished at the Old Fields, which, according to Mr. Williams, was 
established "a few years after"— 1779- It was organized No- 

1 Williams' History of the North Carolina Baptists. 

= According to Rev. Henry Sheet's History, "arms" were church communities 
which had not been regularly organized into constituted churches. 


72 A History of Watauga County 

vember 6, 1790, according to the records now in the keeping of 
the clerk, Mr. John C. Brown, of New River. These records 
show that "the Baptist Church of Jesus Christ in Wilkes County, 
New River, Three Forks Settlement," was organized by James 
Tomkins, Richard Greene and wife, Daniel Eggers and wife, 
William Miller, Elinor Greene and B. B. Eggers. This soon 
became the mother church, from which went out "arms" to the 
Globe, to Ebeneezer and to South P^ork and other places. At- 
tendants came to Three Forks from all this section, many com- 
ing even from Tennessee. Among the first pastors of this 
mother churcli are : Richard Gentry, of Old Fields ; John G. 
Bynum, who died in Georgia; Mr. Barlow, of Yadkin; Nathaniel 
Vannoy, George McNeil, of Wilkes ; Joseph Harrison, of Three 
Forks ; Jacob Greene, D. C. Harmon, Smith Ferguson, Brazilla 
McBride and Jacob Greene, of Cove Creek ; Jackie Farthing, 
Reuben Farthing and A. C. Farthing, William Wilcox and 
Larkin Hodges. They earned their bread in the sweat of their 
faces and worked in the Master's vineyard without money and 
without price. They have all gone to their reward in heaven. 

Membership from 1790 to 1800. — James Tompkins, Richard 
Green, Daniel Eggers, Ellender Green, William Miller. Mary 
Miller, Phoebe Eggers, Sarah Coleman, Avis Eggers, Elizabeth 
Tompkins, Ben. Cutbirth, Anna Wilcoxon, Lidia Council, Benj. 
Baylis, Eliz. Cutbirth. Sarah Baylis, James Chambers, Anna 
Chambers. John Faugerson, Ebineezer Fairchild, James Jackson, 
Catharine Hull. Joseph Sewel, Ezekiel England, Ruth Tompkins, 
Christeana Reese, Valentine Reese, Samuel Ayers, Elijah Cham- 
bers, Moses Hull, Joseph Ayers, William Tompkins, Benj. Green, 
Sam'l Wilcoxon, Sr., Garsham Tompkins, John Reese, Hodges 
Counsel, Mary Fairchild, Sarah Green, Sarah Reese, Charity 
Ayers. James Profifitt. James Calloway. Jeremiah Green. Sarah 
Hull, Joannah Eggers, James Faugerson, Elizabeth Hull, Martha 
Chambers, Landrine Eggers, Nathan Horton, Mathew Counsel, 
Nancy Chambers, Rachel Chambers, Jesse Counsel, Comfort 
Wade, Edward Stocksdale. Edieth Stocksdale, Joseph Tompkins, 
Susannah Brown, Sam'l Wilcoxon, Jr., Thomas Wade, Samuel 
Baker, John Ayers, Sam'l Castle, Martha Castle, Abraham 

A History of Watauga County 73 

Eaton, Jno. Parr, Mary Parr, Jonathan Allen, Jas. McCaleb, 
Mary McCaleb, Anne Doneky, Catharine Allen, Wm. Davis, 
Rebekah Fairchild, Richard Orzgathorp, Jno. Vanderpool, Ellen 
Vanderpool, Catharine Hull, Sam'l Vanderpool, Sam'l Pitman, 
Winant Vanderpool, Jr., Anna Vanderpool, Winant Vanderpool, 
Naomi Vanderpool, Keziah Pitman, Abraham Vanderpool, 
Sarah Davis, Abraham Linvil, Susannah Vanderpool, Peter 
Regan, Rebekah Regan, Catharine Linvil, Margaret Linvil, 
Maryann Isaacs, Mathias Harmon, Mary Harmon, Jno. Holes- 
clavvT, Jane Vanderpool, Jacob Reese, Catharine Brown, Hannah 
Phillips, Jeremiah Buck, Sarah Shearer, Jno. Shearer, Valentine 
Reese, Jr., Mary Eggers, Jonathan Buck, John Brown, Hannah 
Reese, Elisha Chambers, David Coleman, James Jackson, Jr., 
Elizabeth Horton, Henry Chambers, Rachel Brown, Anna Reese, 
Mary Reese, Eliz. Reese, Isaac Reese, Landrine Eggers' negro 
man by name of George, Anthony Reese, Asa Chambers, Com- 
fort Stocksdale, Samuel Northern, Susanna Fairchild, Mary 
Owens, William Owens, Daniel Eggers, Jr., Henry Earnest, 
Gracy Shearer, Susannah Brown, Debby Lewis, Benj. Brown, 
Mahala Eggers, Elizabeth Morphew, Margaret Chambers, Rob- 
ert Shearer, Jane Triplet, Richard Lewis, John Ford, Benj. 
Tompkins, Lyon Wilcoxon, Benj. Greer, Barnet Owens, Susan- 
nah Owens. 

Of these there were received by experience: Three in 1790, 
three in 1791, twenty-nine in 1792, seven in 1793, none in 1794, 
two in 1795, none in 1796, one in 1797, one in 1798, sixty in 
1799. Received by letter in 1790, one; in 1792, eight; in 1793, 
one; in 1795, four; in 1796, seven; in 1797, two; in 1798, six; 
in 1799, nine. The following were dismissed by letter: Jeremiah 
Green, in 1793; Samuel Ayers, Benj. Bayless, Sarah Bayless, 
Joseph Sewel, Garsham Tompkins, Ruth Tompkins, Joseph 
Tompkins, Wm. Tompkins, in 1794; Jesse Counsel, Lydia 
Counsel, Mathew Counsel, in 1795 ; Elijah Chambers, Samuel 
Wilcoxon, Anna Wilcoxon, Sam'l Wilcoxon, Jr., in 1797; Jona- 
than Allen, Catharine Allen, James McCaleb, Mary McCaleb, 
Thomas Wade, Comfort Wade, Mary Reese, in 1798. Elizabeth 
Tompkins died in 1796. The following were excommunicated: 

74 ^ History of Watauga County 

Sarah Hull, Ezekiel England, Susannah Brown, Jesse Counsel, 
in 1794; James Callaway, Samuel Ayers, in 1795; William 
Miller, James Jackson, Landrine Eggers, Hodges Counsel, in 
1796; Mary Miller, in 1797; Samuel Wilcoxon, Jr., Moses Hull, 
in 1798; Jno. Ayers, Daniel Eggers, Phoebe Eggers, Mahala 
Eggers, Martha Chambers, in 1799; William Owens, in 1801. 
It must not be concluded, however, that these had been guilty of 
very serious offences, for most, if not all, of them were restored 
to full membership by recantation. 

The One Great Moral Force. — In the early days, when courts 
were few and far between and settlers scattered here and there, the 
only influence for good in pioneer communities was the church. 
This proved to be the case in this portion of Ashe County from 
1790 to 1800. Nothing seemed too trivial for the correction of 
the church. What now appear very venial offences, were tried, 
frequently with the result of expulsion, but always with the 
assurance of restoration upon proper submission and repentance. 
Among the more serious offences thus punished were one case 
of adultery in 1794, one case of drinking to excess in 1795, 
one case of disposing of property to defraud creditors in 1798, 
and in 1799 a man confessed to fornication. This is a fine record 
for ten years in this far-away community. Among the more 
trivial matters of which the church took notice in the first thirty 
years of its existence were John Brown's confession of "being 
so overcome by passion as even to strike a man ;" Comfort W^ade 
was excommunicated for having told Phoebe Eggers that a 
certain piece of cloth was cross-barred and others that it was 
tow linen, but at the next meeting her husband obtained a new 
hearing, when she was acquitted (April, 1801). In January, 
1853, Burton and Damarcus Hodges were cited to appear and 
answer to the charge of having joined the Sons of Temperance. 
In December, 1801, Brother Parr was tried and acquitted for 
letting his children "go naked," and at the same meeting Polly 
Owens was publicly excommunicated for allowing her daughter 
to "request a certain young man to meet her, and accordingly 
he did, when they spent the whole time of public worship talk- 
ing and laughing," but soon afterwards, the mother "having 

A History of Watauga County 75 

acknowledged her transgression," she was restored to full mem- 
bership. In April, 1802, Benj. Brown was acquitted of having 
attended the races at Elizabethton, and in July, 1802, Brother 
John Brown was cited to answer the charge of having joined the 
Masons, and in August was excommunicated therefor.' At the 
same meeting an unnamed charge against Brother Hull was 
tried, and it was found that he had done nothing "worthy of 
death or bonds." A second protest was also then entered against 
the subject of double marriages "as being against the word of 
God." "Cathern" Hull was excommunicated because her con- 
duct at Cove Creek had not been agreeable to the gospel and 
not giving the church satisfaction. Sister Eggers had a griev- 
ance against Brother Hull and Brother Reese "for refusing to 
talk with her about her distress, and for saying her daughter 
had a fambly and had not." Hull was reproved for this. But 
in March, 1803, Brother Hull was excommunicated for not com- 
plying with his bargain, whatever that might have been. In 
April of the same year it was shown that the report was proven 
false that "Sary Reese had said that it took three persons to com- 
plete a sermon delivered by Brother McCaleb, to wit : Brother 
McCaleb, Brother Richard Green and the devil." Again, in 
May, 1807, James Proffitt was excommunicated for having 
joined the Masons, while in July, 181 1, Henry Chambers was 
acquitted of the charge of not having paid a just debt. In the 
following month Jeremiah Green was cited to appear to answer 
to the charge of having allowed "his daughter to go with a mar- 
ried man," and a letter of dismission was refused him till he 
should debar her from his home. This daughter, however, was 
restored to full membership in June, 1812. As this was before 
Noah Webster had established a uniform system of spelling, 
each man spelt "according to the dictates of his own conscience," 
just as they worshipped, and so, in July, 1816, we find a com- 
plaint that was "throad out of doors." In July, 1802, Brother 

3 The language of the minute shows the frequent use of "of," not now so 
common: -first, of joining of them (the Masons) ; second ?/ • ''*'°^'°f i'L'*; ^1^ 
third, of refusing to obey the church." Again, in July, 1802, it is recorded that we 
enter our solemn test against its (double marriage) being agreeable to the Word 
of God." Our modern expression Is "protest against/' which seems a contra- 
diction in terms. 

76 A History of Watauga Comity 

Shearer's name is spelt Shirrow. In April, 1801, "a letter was 
received from Brother Wade, requesting a re-hearing of his 
wife's excommunication, and stating that "he stood with her 
except she got another." At the June meeting following she was 
acquitted. There are several instances of male members 
having been chosen to act as singing clerks, though it is prob- 
able that then, as now, the female members did most of the 
singing and made the best music. 

Other Ancient Happenings. — The last Saturday in April, 
1792, was set apart as a day of fasting and prayer, and at the 
same meeting James Chambers was "approbated to exercise his 
gift in preaching." In August, 1793, James Chambers, Ebe- 
nezer Fairchild and Samuel Wilcoxon were sent as delegates 
to the assembly at Eaton's Meeting House. Dutchman's Creek, 
near Daniel Boone's old home, while in February, 1793, James 
Tompkins and Richard Green were sent to the association at 
Brier Creek to "seek for union." In January, 1795, a brother 
was suspended for "drinking to excess, using profane speeches, 
singing vain songs and dancing." In March, 1800, the first 
"solemn protest was entered against double marriage," and in 
July following James Chambers, James McCaleb and Shadrack 
Brown were sent to the association at Fox Creek, Grayson 
County, Va. In November, 1800, John Brown and Elisha Cham- 
bers were elected singing clerks, and in August, 1802, Brother 
Hull was "cited for going to law contrary to an act of this 
church." In January, 181 5, Brother Boone laid an allegation 
against Brother Hartley for "not giving good usage at his mill," 
and in February following and again at a called meeting during 
same month Hartley was admonished. 

First Churches. — There seems to be no record of the building 
of the first church which stood on the site of the present struc- 
ture, though tradition says it was merely a log cabin, without 
chimney or windows. The first Robert Shearer in 1790 lived 
on the hill above the present site of Three Forks Church, and 
it was in his home that the church was constituted. Robert's 
grandfather is said to have lived just below the dam of the 
A. T, school on New River. Certain it is that within the memory 

A History of Watauga County 77 

of men now living, in the fall of 1856 and in 1857 services were 
held in the second or third log house which stood there, and that 
the worshippers had frequently to leave the church and warm 
themselves by a fire under the tall oaks which grow near by. 
There is a tradition that a heavy fall of snow crushed the roof 
of the building in about 1830, but it is certain that in October, 
1805, James McCaleb and James Morphew were appointed trus- 
tees to "form a plan of a roof for our Meeting House, and 
divide three-fourths of the work between the male members, 
leaving one-fourth part for the Jenerosity of those that are not 
members . . ." In the following December four dollars in 
Brother Shearer's hands were spent for nails for the roof. 
There is a record, however, of the building of the present struc- 
ture, for on November 3, 1866, Robert Shearer, Eli Brown and 
Ransom Hayes were appointed commissioners to build a new 
church, which was completed in the summer of 1867. 

Revivals. — There was a protracted meeting in January and 
February, 1853, which continued for thirteen days, Larkin 
Hodges and John Cook being the ministers in charge. There 
were seventy-seven conversions and admissions by letter. There 
was another great revival in September, 1866, with Joseph Har- 
rison and A. C. Farthing as ministers, at which there were forty- 
three conversions. But there were "lean seasons" also, for, 
though the church flourished from its foundation in 1790 till 
1800 and afterwards, there was no business recorded from 
October, 1808, till March, 1809, nor in May and June and 
August and December of the latter year. Again, in April and 
May, October and December, 181 1, and in January, February, 
April, May, June, September, October and November, 1812, and 
from September, 1823, till July, 1824, there seems to have been 
no business. In February, 1807, the only instance on record, 
there was no meeting on account of the weather. The first 
pastor was Brother Chambers, elected in September, 1792. 

Order of the Holy Cross. 

A Graphic Picture. — In 1840 a botanist from New York 
visited what is now V'alle Crucis, and on his return interested 
Bishop L. SilHman Ives, then bishop of the Episcopal Church 
of North CaroHna, in this locahty. Following is a description of 
the country at that time: ' "In 1840 the valley of the Watauga, in 
North Carolina, was a secluded region, isolated and forgotten, a 
mountain wilderness, showing only here and there the first rude 
touches of civilization. The narrow, winding trail or foot-path, 
the rough sled-road, often dangerous for wheels, here and there 
a log cabin, with a narrow, rough clearing about it, or at long 
intervals a rude saw-mill or grist mill, with perchance a small^ 
unpainted frame dwelling, or a blacksmith shop and a humble 
backwoods store, marking the beginning of a hamlet, such were 
the only traces of human habitation to be found on the banks of 
the stream. But the highland valley was magnificent in natural 
beauty. It lay in the elevated country between the Blue Ridge 
and the Alleghanies, nearly three thousand feet above the sea, 
while grand old mountains of successive ranges, broken into a 
hundred peaks, rose to nearly double the height on either hand, 
many so near that their distinctive features could be clearly seen, 
while others were only dimly outlined in the distance. These 
mountain ranges were peculiarly interesting, differing in some 
particulars from those of any other parts of the country. The 
vegetation was singularly rich and varied. The valley, entirely 
shut in by forest-clad mountains, was watered by three small, 
limpid streams, two of them leaping down the hillsides in foam- 
ing cascades; the principal stream, formed by the junction, 
after a short course of two miles, passing through a narrow 
gorge, threw itself into the Watauga." 

» From William West Sklles' "A Sketch of Missionary Life at Valle Crucis, 
1842-1862." Edited by Susan Fenimore Cooper, 1890, pp. 5, 6. 


Photo, by Vest. 

Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Diocese of North CaroHna. 

A History of Watauga County 79 

Valle Crucis.— There is, perhaps, more interest in this place 
and its romantic history than in any other in Watauga County. 
It is called the Valley of the Cross because of the fancied re- 
semblance to that symbol of our faith caused by two creeks, 
each flowing from an opposite direction into Dutch Creek — 
Clark's, which rises under the Grandfather and flows into the 
right bank of Dutch Creek, which has its sources in Hanging 
Rock, while nearly opposite the mouth of Clark's Creek, and 
coming in from the left, is Crab Orchard Creek, flowing from 
the neighborhood of Banner's Elk/ There is a dreamy spell 
which hangs over this little valley, lending its charm to the story 
of the spiritual doubts that once perplexed the soul of a good 
man in his struggles to see the true light of Christianity. He 
was not the first, nor will he be the last, to grope in semi- 
darkness, turning hither and thither in his bewilderment ; loving 
and clinging to past ties, yet dreading to follow where they led ; 
adventuring by fits and starts on uncertain paths, and, like a 
frightened child, returning again to the known ways of his 
childhood and earlier manhood, till, at last, the final step was 
taken beyond all recall. 

Rt. Rev. L. Silliman Ives.— Second bishop of North Carolina, 
from May, 183 1, to December 22, 1852,' was born September 16, 
1797, in Meriden, Conn., and in his youth was a Presbyterian. 
In his young manhood he became an EpiscopaHan, while in later 
years he made his submission to the Catholic Church of Rome. 
He is said to be the only bishop of the Protestant Episcopal 
Church of America who ever went over to the Roman Catholic 
Church. He became rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in 
New York City, married Rebecca Hobart, daughter of the Rt. 
Rev. John Henry Hobart, Episcopal bishop of New York State, 
to which union was born one child who did not live to maturity. 
While quite young he served a short time with the troops under 
General Pike in the War of 1812, after which he determined to 
study for the ministry of the Presbyterian Church, and for that 

2 According to DeRossett's Church History of North Carolina, Valle Crucis was 
named in honor of an old English abbey by that name. Its altitude is 2,726 feet. 

' He published "The Trials of a Mind in Its Progress to Catholicism," 233 
pages, Boston and New York, in 1854. 

8o A History of Watauga County 

purpose, in 1816, entered Hamilton College, New York, at Clin- 
ton, where he remained but a year, when, his health failing, he 
changed his faith and, in 1819, began to study for the Episcopal 
ministry. After his visit to Italy in 1852, he became professor 
of rhetoric in St. Joseph's Theological Seminary, New York, 
and lectured in the convents of the Sacred Heart and Sisters of 
Charity and in public. He established in New York City two 
charitable institutions for the protection of destitute Catholic 
children, of both of which he was president. He published many 
works. He died in Manhattanville, N. Y., October 13, 1867, 
and was buried in the Catholic Protectory, Westchester County, 
New York. His wife, who was born February 6, 1803, died 
August 3, 1863. Bishop Ives served the Catholic Church only 
as a layman, being barred from the priesthood on account of his 

"A Feeble and Undignified Imitation." — From "The Bishops 
of North Carolina," from which most of the above was taken, 
we learn (p. 112) that by "1849 the Mission at Valle Crucis had 
begun to drift away from the teachings of the Church, and was 
fast becoming a feeble and undignified imitation of the monas- 
tic institutions of the Church of Rome," but, with the exception 
of this error, we are told in "Sketches of Church History in 
North Carolina" (p. 2)2>7) that "Whatever we may think of the 
strange ideas and practices which Bishop Ives engrafted on to 
the associate work which he established at Valle Crucis, his 
conception that this was the most practical and efficient way to 
reach the scattered populations of the mountains was fully justi- 
fied in the results which remain to this day." On page 80 of 
the same work we read that there had been three ordinations, 
one priest and two deacons, at Valle Crucis, while at least eight 
young men had there prepared for the ministry. William R. 
Gries, William Passmore, George Patterson, Frederick Fitz 
Gerald. Joseph W. Murphey, Richard Wainwright Barber, 
Charles T. Bland, William West Skiles, Thomas F. Davis, Jr., 
and others were at one time or another connected with this mis- 
sion. So concerned was the Church throughout the State by the 
rumors which came from the mountains as to this brotherhood, 

A History of Watauga County 8 1 

or "Order of the Holy Cross," that United States Senator George 
E. Badger issued a booklet on the Doctrines of Bishop Ives, and 
that this interest has not subsided is shown by the very interest- 
ing account of Valle Crucis which was published in the Messen- 
ger of Hope for February, 1909. 

Cause of His Vacillation. — In the spring of 1848 Bishop Ives 
had a severe attack of fever while in attendance upon the gen- 
eral convention in New York City. From this, it is claimed, 
he never recovered his mental poise. It is also stated (p. 132) 
in the "Bishops of North Carolina" that his father died from a 
self-inflicted wound while temporarily insane, while Bishop Ives' 
own brother wrote, February 25, 1853 (p. 133), that there was 
a tendency to insanity in the family. It is stated in the "Life of 
W. W. Skiles" (p. 91) that at the convention of the Church, held 
at Fayetteville in 1851, the committee of inquiry reported the 
bishop as being "in a high state of nervous excitement, arising 
either from bodily disease or constitutional infirmity, in which he 
admitted that he had been insensibly led to teaching and be- 
lieving opinions on matters of doctrine, of the impropriety of 
which he was then fully satisfied. He mentioned having toler- 
ated the Romish notion of the Invocation of Saints, Auricular 
Confession and Absolution, but had always abhorred the doc- 
trine of Transubstantiation, while the spiritual presence of 
Christ in the Eucharist was the doctrine our church teaches," 
and he signed a paper to the above effect. 

The Old Buildings. — These were a saw mill, a log kitchen 
and dining room, a log dwelling containing four rooms and a 
frame building (60' x 20') with a room at each end for teachers, 
together with a large hall for school purposes in the center, all 
on the ground floor, while over the whole was a dormitory for 
boys. All of these were ready for use and occupancy in 1845. 
"The adobes used in the buildings were made of clay and straw 
as usual, and were considered to be of good quality. But they 
soon began to crumble away, and in the course of the summer 
they were attacked by an unforeseen enemy — the humble bees 
took possession of them, burrowing into the fresh clay to such 
an extent that the walls in many places looked like honey-combs, 

82 A History of Watauga County 

and were so mucli weakened that they gave way in places under 
the weight above them." From which it was concluded by the 
students that there could have been no humble bees in Efi^pt in 
the time of the Pharoahs (p. 37). 

Easter Chapel.^ — Less than a mile below the home of the 
Widow Moody, on the left bank of the Watauga River and two 
miles above Shull's Mills, is the site of this old chapel, now gone. 
A "man in affliction" had given Mr. Prout $300.00, out of which 
he built Easter Chapel on a large rock two hundred yards from 
the Watauga River, with a spring at its base. It was of logs, 
hewn by Levi Moody, the widow's son, "a good, guileless man." 
It was fifteen feet wide by forty feet long, and had a little 
chancel at the east end, with oaken altar beneath a narrow 
window. The roof was steep, and each side wall contained a 
small window. The rafters showed from the inside, while rude 
benches afforded seats for those who came to worship. It was 
called Easter with especial reference to the doctrine of the 
resurrection and in connection with the devotion of the moun- 
taineers in keeping that great festival. The Grandfather Moun- 
tain looms in the distance. But a limb from an overhanging tree 
crushed in the roof of the chancel, and the balance of the build- 
ing, after the Civil War, went rapidly to decay. A wind-storm 
on the 4th of Alarch, 1893, threw the walls to the ground, all 
except two of the sills, which still remain, slowly passing into 
dust and decay. The logs out of which these walls had been 
built were of poplar, and were three feet broad by four or five 
inches thick. Thus, three of them sufficed to make a wall nine 
feet high. If this be doubted, a small cabin now (1915) stand- 
ing near will substantiate the fact of the possibility of such a 
thing, as one of its walls has but three logs in it, each log being 
three feet broad. Rev. J. Norton Atkins now owns the house 
formerly built by Rev. Henry H. Prout which stands near,* 
though Mrs. J. F. CofTey owns the rock on which the chapel used 
to stand. The perennial spring, however, spoken of in a note 
on page 96 of Skiles' Life, has disappeared, blasting for a new 
road, which was never built, having caused it to sink. 

* Rev. W. R. Savage purchased this tract from Isabella Danner, or Dana, she 
having "hpired" it from her father, Larkin Calloway. (Deed Book 6, p. 209.) Mr. 
Savage sold it to Mr. Norton. 





















1— > 
























A History of Watauga County 83 

The Widow Moody. — Among those spoken of with affec- 
tion by Mr. Prout was Mrs. Edward Moody. She was a sister 
of Col. John Carter, for whom Carter County, Tennessee, was 
named and in honor of whose wife EHzabethton, the capital of 
that county, was called. She and her husband came from Au- 
gusta County, Virginia, soon after the Revolutionary War, in 
which he had fought and where he was seriously wounded. Of 
her Mr. Prout said : "The house of the Widow Moody was long 
a sort of social center on the Upper Watauga. Here the mis- 
sionary [himself] first learned, in 1842, that a log cabin may 
shelter happy people. More generous, sweeter Christian hospi- 
tality, more glad, more cheerful kindness are seldom met with 
than this worthy family showed me when a stranger and alone. 
There was a native refinement and a balance of judgment about 
the character of the mother of the family. I shall not soon 
forget her invariable reply to the inquiries of her friends when 
asking after her welfare — she was blind, with many infirmities, 
and yet the answer of Christian faith never failed: 'Thank 
God, no reason to complain.' There was in that far-off settle- 
ment a simplicity of manner, a generous tone, not often ex- 
celled, a graceful modesty, an unassuming dignity, very rare, 
but in harmony with the grand and beautiful scenery of the 
region" (p. 87). This house was two stories high, with two 
shed-rooms, and contained six rooms in all. It stood in the old 
orchard between the Grave Yard Ridge, where Edward Moody 
is buried, and the former residence of Sheriff Calloway. 

The Lower Settlement.— Rev. W. W. Skiles had most to do 
with the establishment of a school and church at this point, which 
is at Ward's store, several miles below Valle Crucis. The first 
service was held in a small log cabin. "Men and women came 
in, many on foot, some on horseback, the wife in sun-bonnet and 
straight, narrow gown, riding behind her husband. Here and 
there a woman was seen mounted on a steer, with a child or two 
in her arms, while the husband, walking beside them, goad in 
hand, guided the animal over the rough path. The women all 
wore sun-bonnets or handkerchiefs tied over their heads. Some 
were bare-footed. There were many more feet than shoes in 

84 A History of Watauga County 

the congregation. The boys and girls, even when full grown, 
were often bare-footed. This was, no doubt, the first service 
of our church held in that region. And it was declared to be 
the first religious service of any kind held on the Watauga for 
seven years" (p. 13). This statement was confirmed by Rev. 
L. W. Farthing, who then lived on Beaver Dams, near by, but 
now lives within a few hundred yards of the site on which old 
St. John's Chapel first stood. Owing to the inaccessibility of 
the place and the fewness of preachers, no service had been 
held there during the time stated." The log house soon became 
too small, and a larger one was obtained. "The pupils tried very 
hard to learn their lessons well. Occasionally some of the 
parents would come in and pore intently over the spelling book" 
(p. 14). 

At the Store. — Mr. Skiles kept store at Valle Crucis for the 
Mission, as well as practiced medicine and taught school. "Or 
a load of goods, brought with great toil over the mountain roads 
from Morganton or Lenoir, consisting of tea, cofifee, sugar, 
mustard, pepper, salt, farm tools, nails, screws, etc., a few pack- 
ages of the more common medicines . . . boots and shoes, 
school books, paper, pens, ink, with a very modest supply of 
general stationery; needles, pins, thread, tape, buttons, with 
perchance a few pieces of calico, flannels and shirting . . ." 
"Some few, very few, in fact, came in rude wagons, others on 
horseback, some on steers, many on foot. Most of them carried 
a gun, a backwoods custom very common in that region; fre- 
quently a hound or two followed. The sack of grain was car- 
ried on the shoulders by those on foot. The men were, many 
of them, clad in home-spun tow shirts and short trousers, with- 
out coat or shoes even in winter. They were rarely in a hurry, 
the movement of the country people of that region almost always 
being slow and deliberate. They were strong, healthy, quiet and 
composed, frequently ruddy from exposure. A number smoked 

' There was only a trail from Beaver Dams to the Hix Settlement. A chopped- 
out way, known as Daniel Boone's trail, led from Elizabethton up Watauga river, 
via Beech Creek and Windy Gap. It was by this trail that Rev. James Eden 
came to the Hix Settlement to preach the sermon of Andrew Harman when he 
was killed some six years before Mr. Prout came. Mr. Harman had been killed 
by a tree which fell on him. 

A History of Watauga County 85 

corncob pipes ; even women rode on steers with children in their 
arms (p. 11 1). Seven deer within hmits of Valle Crucis were 
killed in 1854" (p. 114). 

After the Civil War. — From the death of Mr. Skiles, there 
was no minister in this section representing the Episcopal 
Church till Rev. George H. Bell was ordained in 1883. At his 
instance St. John's was moved from its beautiful situation near 
Ward's Store, on Lower Watauga, six miles below Valle Crucis, 
to its present location on the right bank of Watauga River, two 
miles higher up the stream. Its location is fine, but the change 
was made not so much for a better site as for the purpose of 
serving both the upper and lower communities, there then being 
no mission or chapel above that point. Now, however, that 
there is a chapel at the Mission School at Valle Crucis, it would 
be better if St. John's were on its former site. Rev. Milnor 
Jones succeeded Mr. Bell, coming in 1895 and remaining three 
years. This was made a missionary district in 1895, and work 
was resumed that year under Bishop Cheshire. Then, in Sep- 
tember, 1902, Rev. Wm. Rutherford Savage came and has been 
in this section ever since. He is located at Blowing Rock. 
Serving with him were Rev. Hugh A. Dobbin, who was ordained 
August 6, 1909, and Rev. John Norton Atkins, who was or- 
dained December 22, 1907. In 1914 Mr. Dobbin left Valle 
Crucis to take charge of the Patterson School for Boys on the 
Yadkin, after which time Rev. Floyd W. Tomkins, son of the 
distinguished Rev. Dr. Tomkins, of Philadelphia, took charge of 
Valle Crucis, St. John's and Dutch Creek Mission. Mr. Savage 
has charge of Blowing Rock. The chapel at Todd was built in 
1910, and is in charge of Mr. Atkins, with Boone, Easter Chapel 
and other chapels in Ashe County. Rt. Rev. Junius M. Horner 
was consecrated bishop of the Missionary District of Asheville 
December 28, 1898. The house now used as the rectory was 
built by Mr. Jones, and was then called the Mission House. 
The log house just across the Banner Elk road was built by 
Bishop Ives, and is the only one of the old Ives buildings now 
remaining. Bishop Horner bought back the upper part of the 
Valle Crucis property from E. F. Lovill, Esq., administrator 

86 A History of Watauga County 

of James P. Taylor, who had obtained it from his father, Henry 
Taylor, June 2, 1893. The deed is dated December 4, 1903, and 
the consideration is $3,500.00 for the 525 acres conveyed. (Book 

I, p. 592.) 
Rev. William West Skiles. — This good man was born in 

1797, came to Watauga County soon after the school was started 
at Valle Crucis, studied theology and medicine, and made him- 
self generally useful and helpful to all with whom he came into 
contact. He died at the home of Col. John B. Palmer, on Lin- 
ville River, December 8, 1862, and his remains were buried first 
in the graveyard of the first St. John's, but moved in 1889 to 
their present resting place in the graveyard of the present church 
of that name a few miles below Valle Crucis. He taught school, 
kept store and practiced medicine among the poor people of this 
county for many years. He never married. He is still remem- 
bered by many of the older people of Watauga and vicinity. His 
life was full of good deeds. 

"The Angelus." — Although a bugle was used to summon the 
little Valle Crucis family to work and to worship, there is, never- 
theless, something about the story of this old institution, com- 
bined with the name of the valley and its atmosphere and 
surroundings, which recall the lines of Bret Hart's famous 
poem, "The Angelus:" 

"Bells of the past, whose long forgotten music 

Still fills the wide expanse, 
Tingeing the sober twilight of the present 

With color of romance ; 
I hear your call, and see the sun descending 

O'er rock and hill and sand. 
As, down the coast, the mission voices blending, 

Girdle the sunnv land." 


Ebenezer Fairchild. 

First Light on the Jersey Settlement/ — From a sketch of 
the Greene Family of Watauga, by the late Rev. G. W. Greene, 
Baptist missionary to China, we learn that "about the middle of 
the eighteenth century a colony moved from New Jersey and 
settled in Rowan County, North Carolina. This "Jersey Settle- 
ment" is now a part of Davidson County, and lies near the 
Yadkin River, opposite Salisbury . . . H. E. McCullough, 
of England, had secured grants to large tracts in North Carolina, 
tract No. 9 containing 12,500 acres, including much of the land 
of the Jersey Settlement. Jeremiah Greene bought 541 acres 
of this tract. This land is described as lying "on the waters of 
Atkin or Pee Dee," on Pott's Creek. This creek passes near the 
village of Linwood, within a mile of the Jersey church, and 
empties into the Yadkin, not far away. This land was bought 
in 1762. Some years later, when this tract of land was divided 
between his two sons, Richard and Isaac, the new deeds were 
not registered, but the names of the new owners were written 
on the margin of the page where the old deed was registered. 
The Yadkin becomes the Pee Dee in South Carolina. In his 
"Rhymes of Southern Rivers" M. V. Moore says that Yadkin 
is not an Indian name, but a corruption of Atkin or Adkin. If 
Atkin's initials were P. D., then P. D. Atkin might very easily 
have become P. D. Yatkin, just as "don't you know" becomes 
"doncher know." Henry Eustace McCulloh was doubtless the 
"H. E. McCullough, of England," referred to by Mr. Greene, 
as he was the agent of the province of North Carolina in Decem- 
ber, 1 77 1, and was commended for good conduct (Col. Rec, 

1 Rev. Henry Sheets, author of "A History of Liberty Baptist Association," 
the successor of the Jersey Settlement Church, says that the McKoys, Merrills, 
McGuires, Smiths, Moores, Ellises, Marches, Haydens, Wisemans and Tranthams 
are the names of some of the leaders of the Jersey Settlement, but that letters to 
prominent men in New Jersey failed to secure any information as to this colony. 
Governor Ellis's ancestors were among these settlers, and many residents of 
Ashe, Watauga and Alleghany claim the same distinction. 


88 A History of Watauga County 

Vol. IX, p. 206), and he surrendered land in Mecklenberg, 
claimed by John Campbell, Esq., of England, without authority, 
as Campbell claimed, although there was a direction in the min- 
utes of the council journals that the attorney-general directing 
McCulloh was to surrender it.' (Id. p. 790.) It seems that land in 
large tracts had been granted to certain persons of influence on 
condition that they be settled within certain dates, for G. A. 
Selwyn, of England, appointed H. E. McCulloh to surrender any 
part of three tracts of iCK),ooo acres each, which had been granted 
to him upon the above conditions. (Id. Vol. VI, pp. 996-7.) 
This was in November, 1763, only a year after Jeremiah Greene 
bought his 541 acres from H. E. McCullough. This would seem 
to account for the reference by Bishop Spangenberg to the 400 
families from the North which had just arrived in 1752, and for 
the fact that most of the land east of Rowan County had been 
already taken up at that time. (Id. Vol. IV, p. 1312.) 

Meager Facts Concerning.' — This settlement consisted of 
about ten square miles of the best wheat land in the South, and 
was located in Davidson County, near Linwood. It was com- 
posed of many people from New Jersey who had sent an agent 
there to locate and enter the best land still open to settlement. 
According to Rev. C. B. Williams in his "History of the Bap- 
tists in North Carolina" (p. 16), "The exact year in which the 
Jersey Settlement was made on the Yadkin is not known. It is 
probable that this settlement left New Jersey and arrived on the 
Yadkin between 1747 and 1755. Benjamin Miller preached 
there as early as 1755, and the facts indicate that there were 
already Baptists on the Yadkin when Benjamin Miller visited 
the settlement. The Philadelphia Association has in its records 
of 1755 the following reference: "Appointed that one minister 
from the Jerseys and one from Pennsylvania visit North Caro- 
lina." But Miller appears to have gone to the Jersey Settle- 
ment still earlier than 1755 ... (p. 17). Another preacher 

' See, also, Col. Rec. Vol. V, p. xxsil. 

' The first mention of this settlement is probably by Bishop Spangenberg 
(Col. Rec, Vol. IV, p. 1311 to 1314), in which he spoke of 400 families with 
horses and wagons and cattle having emigrated from the North to North 

A History of Watauga County 89 

who visited the Jersey Settlement was John Gano. He had been 
converted just before this time, and was directed by Benjamin 
Miller, pastor of Scotch Plains Church, New Jersey, to take 
the New Testament as his guide on baptism. He became a Bap- 
tist, and, learning of Carolina from Miller, decided to visit the 
Jersey Settlement on his way to South Carolina, This he seems 
to have done in 1756, During his stay at the settlement he tells 
us in his autobiography that "a Baptist Church was constituted 
and additions made to it." He left the colony early in the year 
1759, and so the church must have been organized between 1756 
and 1758. There is a tradition that while there Gano married a 
Bryan or a Morgan, one of the antecedents of the Bryan family 
of Boone. 

John Gano. — It appears from Rev. Henry Sheets' History of 
the Liberty Baptist Association (Raleigh, 1907), that the Rev. 
John Gano had been a Presbyterian, but met Rev. Benjamin 
Miller, the pastor of the Scotch Plains Baptist Church in New 
Jersey, who induced him to take the New Testament on the 
mode and subjects of baptism. In a short time he joined the 
Baptists and became a minister. On his way to South Carolina, 
Mr. Gano visited the Jersey Settlement on the Yadkin, and soon 
after his return home was induced to make a second trip, when 
he was strongly solicited to move among them. It was on this 
second journey that he was accompanied by Ebenezer Fair- 
child, and, by traveling about eight hundred miles, arrived after 
a journey of five weeks. We have most of Ebenezer Fair- 
child's diary of their trip to and from the Yadkin, though the 
first few pages are missing. Fairchild was in a wagon, while 
Gano and his wife and child were in a chair or chaise, which 
turned over on one occasion, though no one was hurt. 

Ebenezer's Diary. — It begins October 21, 1757, at some 
unnamed place along the road, where he got up and wrote a 
letter to his wife, Mr. Gano preaching on the 23d, after which 
they drove to a Mr. Winchester's, where they remained till 
Tuesday morning on account of the rain. It was on the day 
following that Mr. Gano upset the chair, "but they wasn't hurt." 
Mr. Gano preached that night on "What will ye that I should 

90 A History of Watauga County 

do unto you?" after which Fairchild smoked a pipe and went to 
bed. The next day they crossed Menoe Crosse Creek and came 
to Frederick Town, stopping at Arthur Charleston's, "where 
they did a httle business." They soon forded the "Patomoc," 
and put up all night at Mr. Nolens. The next day "we see a 
wench that said she was a negroe to Mr. [undecipherable] son." 
They then crossed "Goos" Creek and turned out of the Bell 
Haven Road to a tree marked with a B, where they slept in the 
woods that night. All the next day they drove in the rain and 
crossed Bull's Run, and, going on seven "milds furder," came to 
"one powel ordnari, or powel town." This was Saturday night, 
and they found forty-five travelers already there, but they re- 
mained all night. Having a house to themselves, did not, how- 
ever, prevent their being kept awake till after ten o'clock by the 
fiddling and dancing of seven men. The next day Ebenezer was 
so upset by the want of rest the night before that he could 
"hardly get any ease lying in the wagon" till he remembered the 
cause of his restlessness. On the Sabbath John Gano preached 
from Galatians — chapter and verse undecipherable. "They be- 
haved quite od — talked in meeting and did not sing with us, ex- 
cept two or three of them." The next day they crossed Seder 
[Cedar?] Creek and came to a "taverne," but passed on to the 
"Rapahannock and crost it." As it was then night, they went 
to James Alieson, "but he would not let us stay there, so we 
drove on again about half a mild and campd in the woods." 
There Mrs. Gano was quite unwell, but they got her some sage 
tea and got her to bed also. The next day was November ist, 
and they drove ten miles before taking breakfast, going nine 
miles further on to the south branch of the Rappahannock "and 
foarded it and ate supper at John Bannon's," where Mrs. Gano 
spent the night. Fairchild and her husband camping out. There 
they bought half a bushel of apples for a shilling. Later on 
they reached Porter's tavern, where they "drank a dram," and 
then w^ent on again, Mr. Gano buying a turkey on the way, which 
they dressed and ate at camp that night. The following day they 
killed a deer by the way and had steaks for supper that night. 
At a tavern kept by someone unknown to Ebenezer, he got a 

A History of Watauga County 91 

quart of cider, and ate his dinner alone. Mr. Gano left 
him at the next tavern, and Fairchild "lay alone that night." 
But "as there were a bought (about) sixteen Irishmen or there 
a bought, there was noise all rownd." The next day he got up 
early and crossed a prong of the James River at Tucker 
Woodles'. On Saturday they reached Jacob Micaux's, on the 
south side of the James River, where Fairchild went hunting, 
but got nothing. At night he and Micaux's family sang psalms, 
hymns and said poetry till bed time, when he "went to his duty." 
That is, he had to go out and stay with the wagon, near which 
several "Irishmen" were camping, who usually "made a noise." 
The next morning he went early to what seems to be "Guglin" 
Court House to meet Mr. Gano, who preached from I Peter, 
9th chapter, verse 18, "If the righteous scarcely be saved," etc. 
On the fifth they bought two hens and "made broth, ate supper 
and went to bed." The next day Ebenezer killed a pilot (snake), 
and they "past by a smith's shop and a taverne." Then they 
"crossed Allen's Creek and went two mild furder and campt." 
On Friday, November nth, they reached "ronoak and fared 
over," meaning probably that they ferried over. They bought 
corn at David Michels, where Gano again left Ebenezer and 
"he shifted for himself." The 13th was the Sabbath, when 
Fairchild salted the horses. Gano overtook Fairchild after 
crossing the Tar or the Haw River, the word being uncertain, 
bringing with him John Shurman, but Shurman went on to his 
own home that night. They proceeded on to Orange, but how 
do you suppose he spelt it? "Orring!" The next day Uriah Carl 
and another, whose name cannot be deciphered, "being weary 
of traveling so slo, set out for themselves at high speed, but 
Tuesday we overtook them, but they set out again." Mr. Gano 
bought two* more hens a short time afterwards, which Fairchild 
is careful to state that they "cooked." As it rained, Mrs. Gano 
got into the wagon "and rid till we came to Little Creek, where 
she got out and maid tea." They came at length to John Hunt's 
and then drove two miles to Colonel Smith's, where they took 
out the teams, "unloaded the waggin, and maid it our home." 
Subsequent disclosures show that they made Colonel Smith's 

92 A History of Watauga County 

their home — not the "waggin" — where they remained till three 
days after Christmas, when they set out for their New Jersey 
home again; not, however, before Fairchild had recorded the 
fact that "John Stits Gano this day walked half acrost the room 
all alone — a bat came into the room tonight." While at Colonel 
Smith's, also, it seems that Fairchild was converted by Mr. 
Gano's sermon of November 26th, for he writes: "Blessed be 
God, it was a good day for my sole." While out hunting there 
they saw "a man on horseback with a woman behind him a 
straddle." During their stay there Fairchild went to visit 
Ephriam Coxe, where a woman told him she had lived there six 
years and had been but to three houses in that neighborhood. 
On Christmas Day Mr. Gano preached a sermon at Colonel 
Smith's house, but spent the night at John Hunt's, taking break- 
fast with Isaac Thomas. There Fairchild "tuned my fiddel, and 
maid ready to start homeward the next day." But that night he 
records the fact that he hopes things will grow better; that 
"men and women do try to preach. Some men do preach with 
the Bibel wrong end up; sometimes two or three are preaying 
at once, two or three exhorting at same time." Mr. Marshal 
McLean, Mr. Breed, Mr. Stain, McMulkey, Mr. Bentin, and 
how many more separately ministered there I do not know. 
John Hunt and Benjamin Marvel separately, but preaching; but 

I believe they are three good men. Mr. McDaniel 

(name undecipherable), Mr. Swetens, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Minten — • 
these all separately ministered, besides Mr. Marshall. These 
"are from round about — all but nineteen within fifty mild of 
Mr. Gano at the Jersey Settlement." They had intended to 
start back on the 27th, but the weather being bad, they went 
instead to look at a piece of land. He did not like this as well 
as land on Muddy Run, with a "sand spring" near the door. To 
this spring after dinner he took Mrs. Gano, who liked it. He 
adds forebodingly: "How it will sute my wife I don't know, 
but I hope well, and my wife to come and see for herself." 
"After we rid about awhile we went to John Hunt's, there staid 
till dark, then came home." On the 28th of December they set 
ofT on horseback for New Jersey, and reached there on the fif- 
teenth or sixteenth of January, 1758, after crossing the "sus ka 

A History of Watauga County 93 

hannar" on Friday, the 13th. This was a quick trip, compared 
with their journey down. The most notable thing that occurred 
on their return journey was a receipt for a sore backed horse: 
A pint of salt and a quart of wheat flour, mixed with water in a 
stout bag or sack. This is then placed on "a clean place in the 
fire, where it is baked to a hard or firm lump." Then it is 
gritted up into a powder and poured on the sore place on the 
horse's back. It was prescribed by "John poepper, hoarse doctor, 
Mary Land." 

Mr. Gano Constitutes a Church. — In Mr, Sheet's history 
(p. 75) Mr, Gano said that before he left the Yadkin a Baptist 
Church was constituted and many additions made to it. But he 
left it in 1758 because of war with the Cherokee Indians. A 
second son was born to him November 11, 1758. And the new 
church did not survive his departure very long (p, 76), In a 
note (p. 76) Mr. Sheets thinks they never had another pastor, 
and that the records were destroyed or carried off, and the 
church finally scattered and became extinct. The settlement 
was on the Yadkin River in what is now Davidson County, and 
mainly on the south side of what is now the Southern Railway 
track, near what has always been known as the Indian Trading 

A Colonial Document. 

By His Excellency JONATHAN BELCHER, ESQ., 
Captain-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Province of 
Nova Caesarea, or New Jersey, and Territories thereon 
depending in America, CHANCELLOR and VICE- 
ADMIRAL in the same, etc.: 
To Ebenezer Fairchild, Esq. : 

Reposing especial trust and confidence in him, he was "under 
the broad seal of Great Britain" appointed "insigne of that com- 
pany whereof John Brookfield is captain. You are, therefore, 
to take the said company to your charge and care as insigne. 
Done at Elizabethton in New Jersey the 14th day of July in the 
31st year of His Majesty's reign, Anoque Domini, 1757. 
Seal, J. Belcher," 

94 ^ History of Watauga County 

Lincoln a Plagiarist? — On a blank discharge from Sir Henry 
Clinton, K. U., (Jcneral and Commander-in-Chief of all His 
Majesty's forces within the colonies, lying on the Atlantic 
Ocean, etc., is written : 

Cyrus Fairchild, his hand and pen ; 
He will be good, but God knows when. 
As this is attributed to Abraham Lincoln by some of his biogra- 
phers as an example of precocious literary ability, it may sur- 
prise them to learn that it was current in Watauga County before 
Lincoln was born. 

An Ancient Document. — Among the papers of the late Ebe- 
nezer Fairchild is an agreement dated May 23, 1761, by which 
John Stevens and Alexander Rutherford, for themselves and the 
devisees of Mary Alexander, undertake to convey to Ebenezer 
Fairchild, of Newtown, in the county of Sussex, eighty acres 
of "rights for unappropriated land in the Eastern Division of 
New Jersey, except Romopok, upon the payment of sixty pounds 
Proclamation Money of New Jersey." 

Carpenter and Yeoman. — There is also a deed from Peter 
Dukerson, carpenter, of Morristown, province of East New 
Jersey, to Ebenezer Fairchild, yeoman, of the same place, for 
fifty acres in Morristown, for seventy-two pounds, dated May 
16, 1754, and in the 27th year of His Majesty King George the 
Second of Great Britain. 

On Bound Meadows Run. — There is a warrant for the sur- 
vey of fifty-three and three-tenths acres of land in the county 
of Sussex on the head of a southwest branch of Wall Kill, called 
the Bound Meadows Run, for the devisees of Mary Alexander 
at the request of Ebenezer Fairchild, by virtue of a warrant to 
her and Robert Hunter Morris for 1,600 acres of land to be 
taken up in any part unappropriated in the Eastern Division of 
New Jersey. It is dated December 9, 1757, and recorded in 
Book \V4, page 14, by virtue of her last will and testament, 
which is recorded in Book A5, page 9. All recorded in the 
Public Records of the Proprietors of New Jersey, in the Sur- 
veyor General's office at Perth Amboy, in Book S, page 389. 
John Smyth, Jr., Surveyor General, 

A History of Watauga County 95 


Morris Town, August 23d, 1771. 
The Church of Jesus Christ in this place holding Believers 
Baptism Laying on of Hands Eternal Election & Final Per- 
severance of the Saints in Grace &c 
To the Church of Christ in Roan County in North Carolina of 
the same Faith, or to any one of the sister churches to whom 
These Presents may Come, Greeting: 
Whereas our Brother Ebenezer Fairchild has Been Baptized 
in a Regular Way and Received by Us in Full Communion who 
for some time gave Good Satisfaction to this Church, But after 
faling into some Sensorious Errors was Laid under Suspension, 
And is now Removed from us without a Regular Dispensation 
has Sent us a Letter Dated September 28, 1770, wherein he 
seems to make very humble Confession of his Sins and Griev- 
ance to the Church and Desires Forgivness for it which, as he 
Confesses, was Drinking too hard, Loose Living, and also not 
keeping his Place in the Church which he Acknowledges and 
Begs our Prayers to God for him that he may be Enabled to 
Live up to the Profession he has made, which may the Lord 
help him to do. 

Wherefore as his Life and Conversation is now better Known 
to you than to us, Although by what we Hear from him we do 
hope he is a Humble Penitent, Therefore, if you do Receive him, 
he is Dismissed from us, and the God of all Grace Bless you all. 

Brother Ebenezer Fairchild James Goble 

we rejoice to hear from you Daniel Walling 

such agreeable News may the John Brookfield 

Lord grant you Grace and live Ezekiel Goble 

Agreeable to the profession Sam'l Parkhurst. 

you have made . . . Pray for us. 
Signed by us at our Meeting 
Part for All. 

The Fairchild Ladies, — These ladies, whose names were 
Rachel and Clara, lived in Watauga County during the first 
quarter of the nineteenth century on Howard's Creek, where 

96 A History of Watauga County 

William Hardin now lives. Rachel Fairchild had married a man 
named Smith, but he died soon afterwards, and she and her 
sister were generally known as Fairchilds. They were the 
daughters of Cyrus Fairchild, son of Ebenezer Fairchild. 
They reared Wyatt Hayes, and after his marriage deeded to him 
their land, he having agreed to support them tlie remainder of 
their lives. In Deed Book F, page 497, is the record of a deed 
from "Cirous" Fairchild to Rachel and Clary Fairchild, showing 
that Rachel did not continue to be known by her late husband's 
name at that time. The consideration named is "for divers good 
and causes and considerations for the service of my daughters, 
Rachel and Clary Fairchild, for the last fifteen years and longer." 
The land was the 200 acres which Ebenezer Fairchild had en- 
tered on Howard's Creek when he first came to this country. 
The deed is dated April 26, 1843. It is probable that their father 
died soon afterwards, for when Wyatt Hayes was four years 
old his mother died, and he was taken to the home of the Misses 
Fairchild in 1846, where he remained till they died, excepting 
the time when he was in the Civil War, where he had part of one 
of his feet shot ofif at Mechanicsville in the first of the Seven 
Days Fight around Richmond in 1862. 


Various Churches. 

True Democrats. — According to Kephart (p. 268), "the 
mountaineer is intensely, universally Protestant, and, as John 
Fox says, 'he is the only man in the world whom the Catholic 
Church has made little or no effort to proselite.' Dislike of 
Episcopalianism is still strong among the people who do not 
know, or pretend not to know, what the word means. The first 
settlers among the Appalachians were, mainly, Presbyterians, as 
became Scotch-Irishmen, but they fell away from that faith, 
partly because the wilderness was too poor to support a regular 
ministry and partly because it was too democratic for Calvinism, 
with its supreme authority of the clergy . . . This much 
of the seventeenth century Calvinism the mountaineer retains : 
a passion for hair-splitting argument over points of doctrine 
and the cocksure intolerance of John Knox; but the ancestral 
creed itself has been forgotten. The circuit rider, whether 
Methodist or Baptist, found here a field ripe for his harvest. 
Being himself self-supporting and unassuming, he won easily 
the confidence of the people. He preached a highly emotional 
religion that worked his audience into an ecstacy that all primi- 
tive people love. And he introduced a mighty agent of evangel- 
ization among outdoor folk when he started the camp-meeting." 

Our Morals. — "As for the morals of our highlanders," con- 
tinues Kephart (p. 274), "they are precisely what any well-read 
person would expect, after taking their belatedness into consid- 
eration. In speech and conduct, when at ease among themselves, 
they are frank, old-fashioned Englishmen and Scots, such as 
Fielding and Smollet and Peppys and Burns have shown us to 
the life ... I have seen the worst as well as the best of 
Appalachia . . . but I know that between the two extremes 
the great mass of the mountain people are very like persons of 
similar station elsewhere, just human, with human frailties, only 



98 A History of Watauga County 

a little more honest, I think, in owning them . . . The worst 
have not been driven into a war against society, and still have 
good traits, strong characters, something responsive to good 
treatment. They are kind-hearted, loyal to their friends, quick 
to help anyone in distress." 

Pioneer Baptists. — Roosevelt says (Vol. Ill, pp. lor, 102) : 
"Presbyterianism was not, however, destined even here [in the 
Watauga Settlement] to remain the leading popular creed. Other 
sects, still more democratic, still more in keeping with back- 
woods life and thought, largely supplanted it. Methodism did 
not become a power until after the close of the Revolution, but 
the Baptists followed close on the heels of the Presbyterians. 
They, too, soon built log meeting-houses here and there, while 
their preachers cleared the forests and hunted elk and buffalo, 
like other pioneer settlers. To all the churches the preachers 
and congregation, alike, went armed, the latter leaning their 
rifles in their pews ' or near their seats, while the pastor let his 
stand beside the pulpit." True to the above account, the Bap- 
tists were the first to penetrate to what is now Watauga County. 
Three Forks Church was started in November, 1790, but, while 
it was the first in what is now Watauga County, it had been 
preceded in the territory west of the Blue Ridge by the Beaver 
Creek and Old Fields churches. From Rev. Charles B. Wil- 
liams' "History of the Baptists in North Carolina" (p. 121) 
we learn that Three Forks Baptist Church became an association 
by that name in 1840, and that "like the Yadkin and Catawba 
associations, the Three Forks had a sharp struggle with anti- 
missionism. But its churches are now taking their stand in the 
regular lines of the convention's advanced work. It numbers 
thirty-three churches, with a membership of 2,728, and con- 
tribued in 1900 to all objects $1,457.00." Col. Thomas Bing- 
ham, for several terms a member of the State legislature and 
clerk of the Superior Court of Watauga County, was born 1845, 
and remembers that as late as 1854 or 1855 two Missionary Bap- 
tists appeared at the Cove Creek Baptist Church, near which his 
father then lived, but were not made welcome in the church. 

> These "pews" were simply split logs, with pegs for legs or support, and 
without backs of any kind. 


A History of Watauga County 99 

However, they preached in the grove that night, and moved their 
subsequent meetings to the house of his father, G. M. Bingham's, 
where they held protracted meetings, one that summer and an- 
other the following winter. But a few years later Three Forks 
itself became a Missionary Baptist association, as did also Cove 

Farthing Family. — The coming of the Farthing family to 
Beaver Dams gave a fresh impetus to the cause of the Baptist 
Church in this section. They arrived in the fall of 1826, having 
come from Orange, close to the Wake County line, two brothers, 
William W. and John, having been first here. But William soon 
died, and John, having lost his wife, returned to Wake, where, 
having married again, he reappeared in Beaver Dams settle- 
ment in 1 83 1 and settled where Zionville now flourishes. They 
organized Bethel Church, on Beaver Dams, July 4, 185 1, get- 
ting their constitution from the Cove Creek Church, and having 
a membership of ten. Three other churches were constituted 
from Bethel, viz: Beaver Dams, in September, 1874; Forest 
Grove, about 1889, and Timbered Ridge in 1906. 

A Family of Preachers.— The first Dudley Farthing, father 
of Rev. William W. Farthing, who came to Beaver Dams in 
October, 1826, was a public speaker of note in his home county, 
but he always said that as he could blow only a ram's horn and 
not a silver trumpet, he would not be a preacher. But his son, 
William, was a preacher of force and fame, and, although his 
health was such after his removal to this county that he did not 
preach often, he left four sons, upon whose shoulders his mantle 
fell and with whom it abided. They were Reuben P., John A., 
Stephen and Abner C. Farthing, who for years were the captain 
jewels in the Baptist carcanet. And their descendants still wear 
the armor they laid aside, and are still battling in the vanguard of 
the army of the Lord as preachers and leaders, while still others, 
feeling that in the pulpit they would be as helpless as David 
would have been in the armor of Saul, in their own way and in 
God's good time are striking mighty blows in the sacred cause 
of righteousness. No family in Watauga County have done 
more for the general uplift than that of the Farthings. 

100 A History of Watauga County 

Rev. Joseph Harrison. — This "just and faithful knight of 
God" was the son of Joseph Harrison, and was horn February 
4, 1799, in Iredell County, close to Black Oak Ridge, now Alex- 
ander County. Joseph, Sr., came from England with his brother, 
Benjamin, Ben going to Indiana and Joseph to Iredell. There 
he married Mrs. Nancy Price, whose father was John 
Caldwell. They had five children: Nathan, born in 1824, mar- 
ried Polly Harrison, his cousin; Joseph, born February 2, 1843, 
married, first, Elizabeth Hamlet, second, Carolina Wolff, third, 
Alice Baird, and fourth, Albertine Bond ; Malinda, born in 
1822, married Wilson Bradshaw; Mary, born in 1834, married 
John Cook, and Martha, born August 24, 1836, married Emanuel 
Van Dyke. He preached from 1825 till his death in 1884. He 
was repeatedly elected Register of Deeds of Watauga County, 
but during the Civil War he remained loyal to the Union, re- 
fusing to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederacy, with 
the result that Rev. D. C. Harmon served during that time. 

Cove Creek Baptist Church. — There was such a strong repre- 
sentation in the Three Forks Baptist Church from the Cove 
Creek section that in April, 1799, it held its meeting there, and 
again in June, when Sarah Davis, Abraham Linvil and Susannah 
Vanderpool were received by experience, while in the following 
July Catharine Linvil, Margaret Linvil, Mathias Harmon, John 
Holsclaw and Morgan Isaacs were received by experience. These 
were followed in August, 1799, by Sarah Davis (probably 
daughter of the Sarah who had been received in June), Phoebe 
Vanderpool and George Davis, who were likewise received by 
experience. The first Saturday in September Three Forks 
Church again met at Cove Creek and chose Brothers Chambers 
and Samuel Vanderpool to attend the association at King's 
Creek on the fourth Saturday in that month. At this meeting 
also Brother Vanderpool's petition for a church at Cove Creek 
was granted, while in December, 1799, the newly constituted 
Cove Creek Church asked Three Forks for ministerial help for 
ordination, and it was granted, the constitution having been 
granted already. The first church was of logs and tradition says 
stood on the creek, but was washed away with the bridge over 

A History of Watauga County loi 

which the road then crossed, half a mile above Sugar Grove. 
The road was then changed so as to go around the hill and ford 
the creek below the site of the old log bridge which the freshet 
had carried off. This church was then moved to the site of the 
present Walnut Grove Academy, but was still of logs, and Hugh 
M. Isaacs, who was born in 1839, attended this church with his 
mother when he was six years of age, and remembers distinctly 
that the birds flew around inside the church, feeding their young 
in their nests in the roof and eaves, the logs being open, without 
chinking of any kind. It then stood where the Academy now 
stands and where there are yet two or three graves. 

Bethel Baptist Church. — This church was constituted July 4, 
1 85 1, from Cove Creek Baptist Church. The members were 
Wm. B., Abner C, Stephen J., Ann, widow of Wm. B., Anne 
W., Rachel W., Mary N. and Margaret Farthing, and Madison 
Johnson and Nancy Johnson. The first church was of logs and 
stood on the knoll across the road from the site of the present 
church, which was erected in 1872 or 1873, and was probably the 
best in the county at that time. It has constituted three other 
churches which have drawn their membership mainly from 
Bethel : Beaver Dams Baptist Church, constituted in Septem- 
ber, 1874; Forest Grove Baptist Church, constituted in 1889, 
and Timbered Ridge Baptist Church, in 1906. 

South Fork Baptist Church. — This was the third church 
constituted in Watauga County, and stood at what was known 
as Elk Cross Roads. 

Ebenezer was perhaps the fourth church to be constituted, 
and was built at what is now called Zionville. Later on three 
churches were merged into this and called Mt. Zion, but after- 
wards took the name of the place at which it stood, Zionville. 

Other Early Churches. — Laurel Springs Church was consti- 
tuted before the Civil War, with Joseph Brown and Riley Norris 
as prime movers. The Blowing Rock Church began about 1900 
with the Hartleys, Greens and Browns as chief supporters. In 
1885 or thereabout the church at Shull's Mills was begun, with 
the Robbins, Shulls and Browns active in its interest. In 1890 
or thereabout George and Isaac McGinnis and Marion Story 

102 A History of Watauga County 

constituted the church at Mt. Lebannon, while about 1895 James 
Perry and Carroll Adams started Pleasant Grove at Silver- 
stone. Andrew J. and Eli Harman began the Zion Hill Church 
about 1880, and at about the same time Elias Isaacs and the 
Phillips family were active in constituting Mount Gillead. 
Bethany, near the top of Beach Mountain, began about 1895, 
and Gap Creek about 1875, with Larkin Michael zealous in the 
interest of the former and John Hopkins in that of the latter. 
Rich Mountain Church was constituted about 1900, and Doe 
Ridge, on Stony Fork, about 1900. 

Brushy Fork Baptist Church was constituted February 26, 
1858, by Elders D. C. Harman and Joseph Harrison, with eleven 
members, to wit: M. C. Harman, Moses Hateley, John A. 
Hagaman, Sarah Reece, Sally Hagaman, Sarah Hagaman, Susan 
Banner, Elvira Holsclaw, Elizabeth Hix, Melissa Harman and 
Sarah Monday. Elder D. C. Harman was the first pastor and 
served the church in succession for about twenty-five years, 
except eight or ten months, when he was in the Civil War. The 
following elders have served the church as pastors : D. C. 
Plarman, A. C. Farthing, E. F. Jones, J. J. L. Sherwood, David 
Green, J. F. Eller, E. M. Gragg, J. F. Davis, Sidney King, 
Omey Triplett, S. L. Fox and J. M. Payne. The church has 
ordained the following ministers: John A. Hagaman, J. F. 
Davis, I. J. McGinnis, Thos. C. Holsclaw, S. L. Fox and John 
P. Hagaman. 

The Boone Baptist Church. — This church was constituted 
in 1882 (Deed Book J, p. 502), by W. L. Bryan and Thomas 
J. and W. C. Coflfey and others. This congregation is now erect- 
ing a large and handsome brick church on the corner of Main 
and School House Streets, to cost over $5,000.00. 

Other Early Churches. — The South Fork Baptist Church at 
Elk Cross Roads was the third church to be constituted in this 
county, and among the finest and best beloved of its pastors was 
William Wilcox. Ebenezer was the fourth church, and it 
with two others were merged into one, called Mount Zion, which 
afterwards took the name of the town which grew up about it — 
Zionville. It was here that John Farthing had settled on his re- 

A History of Watauga County 103 

turn to this country in 183 1. Antioch was organized largely 
through the influence of the Rev. D. C. Harman, with the as- 
sistance of Messrs. Dyer and Wiley Harman, as well as members 
of the Hix and Ward families. In it the Rev. L. W. Farthing 
has been a factor of great good. It was constituted in 1848, 
and a log house which stood in a meadow near the left bank of 
the Watauga River, from which position it was washed away 
in the May freshet of 1901. In 1904 the original site of the 
first St. John's, surrounded by young white oaks, was bought 
from the Episcopal Church and a large and attractive frame 
structure erected there. 

Stony Fork Association Churches. — Among the Baptist 
Churches belonging to this association are Poplar Grove, Mount 
Vernon, Laurel Fork in the Storie settlement, Boone's Fork, 
Yadkin Elk and Doe Ridge. 

Bishop Asbury's Journal. — It is generally supposed that this 
good man did not travel through Watauga in his trips through 
these mountains, but the following excerpts show the contrary : 
"Monday, April 28, 1788 (after preaching the day before at the 
Globe on John's River [p. 31]), after getting our horses shod, 
we . . . entered upon the mountains, the first of which I 
called Steel, the second Stone, and the third Iron Mountain; 
they are tough and difficult to climb. We were spoken to on our 
way by most awful thunder and lightning, accompanied by 
heavy rain. We crept for shelter into a little dirty house, where 
the filth might have been taken from the floor with a spade. We 
felt the want of fire, but could get little wood to make it, and 
what we gathered was wet. At the head of Watauga we fed, 
and reached Ward's that night.^ Coming on the river next day, 
we hired a young man to swim over for a canoe, in which we 
crossed, while our horses swam to the other shore. The waters 
being up, we were compelled to travel an old road over the moun- 
tains. Night came on . . . About nine o'clock we came to 
Greer's . . . 

" This was probably Ben Ward, whose descendants are among Watauga's best 
citizens. There is a tradition that while at Ward's the Bishop needed a better 
light than that afforded by the open fire, and that Ward supplied it by throwing 
deer bones on the live coals from a heap of all sorts of bones kept in the chimney 
jamb for that purpose. It is not mentioned in the Journal, however. 

104 ^ History of Watauga County 

"Monday, April 5, 1790 (p. 78). After worming the stream 
(John's River) for awhile, we took through the Laurel Hill 
and had to scale the mountains, which in some places were rising 
like the roof of a house. We came to the head of Watauga 
River; a most neglected place. Here the people have had their 
corn destroyed by frost, and many of them have moved away. 
It was thus we found it in Tyger's Valley. We passed by W — 's, 
a poor lodging, and slept at the Beaver Dam in a cabin without 
a cover, except what a few boards supplied. We had very heavy 
thunder and lightning, and most hideous yelling of wolves 
around, with rain, which is most frequent in the mountains. 
Tuesday, 6th. We were compelled to ride through the rain, and 
crossed the Stone Mountain . . . We came on to the dismal 
place called Roan's Creek, which was pretty full . . . 
Reaching Watauga, we had to swim our horses, and ourselves 
to cross in a canoe ... At length we came to Greer's, and 
halted for the night. 

"Wednesday, March 27, 1793 (p. 189, Vol. II). We began our 
journey over the great ridge of mountains. We had not gone 
far before we saw and felt the snow . , . We came to the 
head of Watauga River. Stopped at Mr. S— 's . . . My 
soul felt for the neglected people. It may be, by my coming this 
way, that I shall send them a preacher. We hasted on to Cove's 
Creek; invited ourselves to stay at C — 's, where we made our 
own tea, obtained some butter and milk and some most excellent 
Irish potatoes. We were presented wuth a little flax for our 
beds, on which we spread our coats and blankets, and three of us 
slept before a large fire. Thursday, 28th. We made an early 
start, and came to the Beaver Dam; three years ago we slept 
here in a cabin without a cover. We made a breakfast at Mr. 
W — 's,' and then attempted the Iron or Stone Mountain, which 
is steep like the roof of a house. I found it difficult and trying 
to my lungs to walk up it. Descending the mountain, we had to 
jump down the steep stairs,* from two to three and four feet. 

» This was probably Benjamin Webb, the first settler on Beaver Dams, and 
who sold out to Rev. W. W. Farthing in 1826. 

* This gap is commonly called Star Gap, though many Insist that its true name 
Is Stair Gap because of the steps mentioned by Bishop Asbury. 

A History of Watauga County 105 

At the foot of this mountain our guide left us to a man on foot ; 
he soon declined, and we made the best of our way to Dugger's 
Ford, on Roan's Creek. We came down the river where there 
are plenty of large, round, rolling stones, and the stream was 
rapid. Wednesday, April 22, 1795 (p. 263, Vol. II). Crossed 
the ridge and kept on to the westward. We went Major J. 
White's path, and found it abundantly better than the old one. 
We reached the top of the ridge in about six miles. Here we 
found ourselves among fruitful hills ; then we had a good path 
for six miles more, except where there were some laurel branches 
and roots. We stopped at S — 's, and it was well we did, or we 
would have been well nigh starved, both man and horse. I went 
on to D — 's, and thence to Nelson's, where I met with Brothers 
B — , A — and W — , ancient men among us. I stood the fatigue 
and sleeping three in a bed better than I expected. From White's 
to Nelson's is eighty miles. We crossed the Watauga about 
twenty times. At supper we ate of the perch that are taken in 
great plenty from Smith's fish spring. I judge there must be a 
subterraneous communication from that to the river.' Wednes- 
day, March 22, 1797 (p. 340, Vol. II). After preaching at 
John's River on the 21st, "I set out on my journey for the 
west ... It began to rain violently before we came to 
Henley's. I took shelter in a house from the rain, and talked 
and prayed with a poor woman. We dined at Mr. Henley's, 
calling at Wakefield only to talk and pray. I cannot well pass 
by my friends without calling. We hastened across Linville 
Mountain, which is awfully barren, and came on to Young's 
Cove . . ." 

White's Spring Church. — Whenever Bishop Asbury visited 
John's River he was entertained by Major Joseph White, as the 
Bishop's Journal shows (Vol. II, pp. 31, 78, 189). By April, 
1795, Major White had constructed a good road over the Blue 
Ridge, probably through what is now called the CoflFey Gap, as 
the Bishop speaks of following the "Major J. White's path, and 
found it abundantly better than the old one" (Vol. II, p. 263). 

' This is what is now known as Fish Spring, four miles below Butler, Tenn. But 
there is nothing separating the spring from the river, and no fish are found in 
the spring, floods having washed the intervening bank away. 

io6 A History of Watauga County 

Major White had a camp near this old path, and the fine spring 
there, and just below the Coffey Gap, still goes by the name of 
White's Spring. This is the same W bite who was a major in 
Colonel McDowell's regiment. A good building for the ac- 
commodation of the Methodists was erected near this spring 
about 1895, and commands a fine view. According to Draper 
(note on page 149), Captain Joseph W^hite was wounded at 
Cowan's Ford in a skirmish September 12, 1780, and was at 
King's Mountain (Id. p. 474). 

Methodist Churches. — According to Mr, Cyrus A. Grubb, 
of Laxton Creek, Methodism began in this county about 1809 
when an itinerant minister, whose name he has forgotten, 
traveled through what is now this county in the interest of 
Charles Wesley's newly founded church, Bishop Asbury having 
preceded him at various times between 1788 to 1798, but passing 
through only a small corner and holding meetings in this section 
and in other sections, notably in Buncombe County, from 1800 
to 181 3. This unnamed pioneer in Methodism is said to have 
stopped first at the home of Gwyn Houck on Old Fields Creek, 
next at Risden Cooper's on Cranberry, then at James Jackson's 
on the ridge between Grassy Creek and Meat Camp, afterwards 
going to Edward Moody's on upper Watauga, followed by a 
visit to a man named Davis on Cove Creek. No visit seems to 
have been made to Boone, or what was probably nobody's home 
at that time, for, unless the first Jordan Councill had moved 
here then, this locality was probably "all in woods." At each 
place he "left an appointment," as the saying went in those days 
and as it still goes in many parts in these days. Out of the visit 
to Cooper's grew what is now Cranberry Church, on the ridge 
between Cranberry Creek and Meadow Creek. The Cooper 
family has always stood for this branch of the Christian re- 
ligion, and its influence has been powerful and efficacious in that 
cause. James Jackson was so much interested in the necessity 
for some edifice in which all the people might come and worship, 
go to school or discuss public affairs, that he conveyed to 
Edmund Blackburn, a brother of Levi, David Miller and 
Ephraim and William Norris, as trustees, a tract of land for a 

A History of Watauga County 107 

school house, meeting house or church, as was desired by those 
using it, to be open at all times to all alike. It was at this house 
that the first Methodist preacher first preached, but his name 
has been forgotten. Levi Blackburn lived near Jackson Meeting 
House at that time, but soon afterwards sold out to Jonathan 
Norris and moved to Riddle's Fork of Meat Camp— a section 
then and since known as Hopewell. Here a log school house 
was used as a church when the congregation proved too large 
to be accommodated in Levi's hospitable home, where for many 
years preaching was held whenever there chanced to be a 
preacher in the neighborhood. About that time another ap- 
pointment was left at Elk Cross Roads, to which Levi Blackburn 
soon moved and where he died, and where he started another 
church, using his home or a log school house for the purpose 
for many years. This is as far as Brother Grubb's information 
extends, but others state that when Henry Taylor came to live 
at Valle Crucis he became active in the cause of Methodism, and 
his family have since followed in his footsteps. He is said to 
have induced preachers to hold meetings in the orchard in rear 
of the present store house of W. W. Mast at Valle Crucis, in 
his own home and at Franklin Baird's home, a mile down the 
Watauga. As interest increased he acquired the home that had 
been occupied by "Old Man" Christoffle," a chairmaker, who 
lived on the right hand side of the road going from Valle Crucis 
to Charles D. Taylor's present mill, inside a field. This house 
was enlarged and was the first Methodist Church in that com- 
munity. This was in the fifties. This small house was used only 
three or four years, when another was built where the present 
edifice now stands, long before the Civil War. The present 
large frame church was built in 1895. Among the more active 
pioneers in Methodism in this place were Joel and Levi Moody, 
Sally Tester, Franklin Baird, Andrew Mast and the first Joseph 
Shull. But its growth was slow for a long period. Among the 
first elders and preachers were Elder Haskew, who came from 

« Tradition says that this man was judicially and judiciously whipped at 
Boone for having stolen "hawgs." One who saw the thirty-nine lashes "well 
laid on" remembers that the licks were struck with small willow switches, which 
made first white and then red stripes. Christoffle left the country after this 

io8 A History of Watauga County 

Tennessee long before the Civil War; Archelus Brooks and a 
Mr. Allspaw. Since the Civil War the church has grown to be 
the largest and most influential of the denomination in the entire 
county, most probably. 

Hanson's Chapel. — According to Col. Thomas Bingham, 
Elizabeth \\ hitlow was the first Methodist who ever came to 
Vkrhat is now Watauga County. She came with her family when 
they were on their way to Tennessee in 1810 or 181 1, and, be- 
coming snow-bound on Brushy Fork, became acquainted with 
Colston Davis, whom she afterwards married. Colston fol- 
lowed her to Tennessee, where they were married, and soon 
returned and started a Methodist community. This is probably 
the Davis with whom the first itinerant left an appointment, as 
stated by Cyrus Grubb. But there was no Methodist Church for 
a long time, the first Methodist preacher who passed up Cove 
Creek using the log Baptist Church which formerly stood on 
the site on which the present Walnut Grove Academy now stands. 
But he preached largely, if not entirely, to Baptists, and when 
he offered to leave another appointment there objection was 
made. Whereupon, this Methodist preacher asked if there was 
not some member of the congregation who would open the doors 
of his home for the next appointment, and Golsten Davis offered 
his own home for that purpose. It is said that Davis was not a 
very prepossessing looking man, and that up to that good hour 
his wife had been more charmed with the beauty of his heart 
than with the pulchritude of his person. But when he rose and 
made this offer, tradition says she declared that he was "pretty," 
using a generic word for good looks wliich is still common with 
our people. At that meeting at Davis's house only two or three 
were present. This was near Amantlia and that preacher's 
name was Greer. From this nucleus grew the present large 
Methodist community which worships at Henson's Chapel, built 
about 1868, the widow of Charles Henson having donated the 
land for that purpose. Her name w^as Elizabeth, and she came 
with her husband from Iredell County about 1829 or 1830. The 
present house, replacing the one built in 1868, was built about 
1885. This congregation is credited with paying more money 

A History of Watauga County 109 

for all purposes than any other Methodist Church in the county, 
having contributed this year $563.00, of which $360.00 is for 
the pastor's salary. It has 196 members, of whom J. B. Horton, 
Don Horton, Thomas Bingham and J. C. Henson are very active 
and earnest. Among those most prominent in the past are re- 
called the names of George M. Bingham, John Combs, Thomas 
Harbin and wife, Charles Henson and his wife, Elizabeth, 
George Moody, Mrs. Eli Farmer and Golson Davis and wife. 
Among those who preached here in the distant past were Messrs. 
Miles, Joshua Cole, Tillett, Blackburn and Martin. Sheriff 
A. J. McBride was for a time a Methodist preacher, but toward 
the close of his life became a Baptist minister, dying in that 

The Boone Methodist Church. — This was organized soon 
after the close of the Civil War, meetings having been held prior 
to that time in the court house and elsewhere. But about 1873 
land was bought on the hill on which now stands the residence 
of J. M. Moretz and a church seating 600 erected. This was 
used till September, 1897 (Deed Book T, p. 369), when M. B. 
Blackburn sold them the small lot on which the present church 
was built. The Hardin, Winkler, Blair, Norris, Blackburn, 
Lovill, Bingham, Councill, Critcher, Rivers and Linney families 
are prominent in this church. 

Other Churches. — After the Civil War the third church was 
built at Elk Cross Roads, after which J. N. and his wife, Nancy, 
Norris conveyed land to G. W. Norris and C. A. Grubb and 
others, as trustees in April, 1886, at Fairview, where a large 
congregation worships (Deed Book L, p. 575). On the 4th of 
February, 1882, George W. Dugger conveyed to Thomas Prof- 
fitt, R. N. Culver, E. H. Banner, J. H. Perry and A. J. Proffitt, 
as trustees, land for a Methodist Church at Banner's Elk, which 
church was soon afterwards erected. In this community the 
church is quite strong, its members having worshipped before 
acquiring this land in a common meeting house used by all 
denominations. On the 19th day of April, 1902, John W. 
Hodges and wife and Robert L. Bingham conveyed to L. H. 
Michael and others, as trustees, land at Rutherwood for a 

no A History of Watauga County 

Methodist Church, which was soon afterwards erected (Deed 
Book Z, p. 142). The first Methodist Church at Hopewell 
was a small log house which stood in rear of the present home 
of Wiley W. Blackburn on tiie land of Joseph Miller. It had 
been built by Levi Blackburn and his sons about 1850, but 
afterwards a frame church was erected 100 yards above the 
site of the first log structure. This stood till about 1900, 
when the present house was built about 300 yards from the 
former. As well as Rev. Lorenzo Dow Cole, who for years 
has been the chaplain of the Nimrod Triplet Camp, Confed- 
erate States Veterans, now recalls, the first Methodist preacher 
in this county found Aunt Elizabeth Cooper on Meadow Creek, 
away back in the earliest days, and left an appointment at her 
house, and when Cyrus A. Grubb was a boy they were preaching 
in an out-house in lier yard. Out of this in 1885 grew the pres- 
ent Cranberry Church. One of the earliest churches built was 
at John Morphew's, and later on near Laxton's Creek. About 
1875 the Blackburns and Grahams built a church at Todd. It is 
called Blackburn Chapel. Rev. James Daly, Joseph Haskew 

and Clawton were presiding elders prior to the Civil 

War. Among the preachers who have served the Methodist 
Churches since the war are Messrs. George Stewart, G. W. 
Miles, L, L. Cralock, B. W. S. Bishop, Taylor, Wheeler, Cook, 
Cordell, Blair, Bagley, Vestal, Jones and Bennett. 

A Family of M. E. Church Preachers. — William Matney 
and John Wright with their families caijie from England to 
America just after the close of the Revolutionary War and 
settled in Virginia, near the James River, William finally locating 
in Pittsylvania County, where he spent the remainder of his life. 
He was a strict John Wesley type of a Methodist. Two of his 
children, John and James, are remembered yet by his North 
Carolina descendants, John having married Nancy Wright, a 
daughter of John Wright above named, and after a few years 
removed from Pittsylvania to a farm near the Moravian Falls, 
in Wilkes County, and, after most of his children were grown, 
he sold this farm and moved to Caldwell. He had a large 
family of children, was a scholarly man for his day, taught 

A History of Watauga County ill 

school, conducted religious services and was an effective, old- 
time Methodist exhorter. All of his five boys married except 
one who died at fourteen, while all of his seven girls followed 
their example, one of them marrying Adam Hampton, of 
Watauga, and the others Caldwell and Wilkes County men. 
John Matney's eldest son, William, settled in Missouri ; John 
was killed at the battle of Gettysburg, while James and Thomas 
became itinerant Methodist preachers of the M. E. Church. 
Thomas came to Watauga County just after the close of the 
Civil War, and James followed in 1871, both preaching in the 
bounds of the Blue Ridge circuit. James Matney organized six 
of the churches of this circuit, the first having been in 1865 and 
in the home of Samuel Brown, the grandfather of R. M. Brown. 
Thomas Matney had eight boys, six of whom were preachers. 
Two have died and two others have gone to other States, while 
two still remain members of the Blue Ridge Atlantic Confer- 
ence. Thomas Matney died at Montezuma, now in Avery 
County, while James Matney died at his home in Watauga, 
February 28, 1914, aged ninety-one years, his widow and three 
children still residing here. One son. Prof. W. W. Matney, 
resides in Asheville. The men of this family seem specially 
called to preach, and all are law-abiding citizens and friends of 
education, temperance and progress. 

Methodist Episcopal Churches. — This branch of the Meth- 
odist Church did not begin its work in this section till after the 
close of the Civil War. There is a church of this denomination 
on the Blue Ridge, known as Brown's Chapel, and others at the 
mouth of Grassy Creek, on the head of Valley Creek and at 
Silverstone, and the Pine Grove Methodist Church one mile 
from Antioch Baptist Church on lower Watauga. 

Primitive Baptists. — For years this church, also called Hard 
Shells, Anti-missionary, etc., Baptists, were the prevailing de- 
nomination of this entire mountain country. They were the 
pioneers and fought the first battles with sin in this wilderness, 
led by preachers who refused all compensation for their services 
as ministers of the gospel. A church of that faith is still flour- 

112 A History of Watauga County 

ishing on the upper Watauga, near ShuU's Mills. It seems that 
the real name of this denomination is simply "Baptists." 

The Presbyterian, Southern. — There is a flourishing church 
of this denomination at Banner's Elk, which was established 
there about 1900, and another at Blowing Rock, established in 
1898. That there are schools with both these churches goes 
without saying, as with this denomination beside the foundation 
stone of Christ and Him crucified is always laid still another 
foundation stone, education. The good work these churches are 
doing is simply incalculable. With them, faith without works 
is dead, while to be in true fellowship with them, one must prove 
his faith by his works. Schools, hospitals, orphanages, domestic 
science and other practical and helpful enterprises, signalize this 
denomination wherever it is found. Gradually the descendants 
of the old Scotch Covenanters are returning to the home of their 
great-great-grandfathers, always to remain. 

The Lutherans. — This church is the Protestant Church of 
Germany, having been founded long before Henry the Eighth 
established the Church of England. Martin Luther believed 
that the people were entitled to read and interpret the entire 
Bible, and to that end defied the Diet at Worms with words that 
will live forever: "Here I stand, God helping me. I can do 
no otherwise." The large German and Dutch element of our 
population required a church of this character, and one was 
established at Valle Crucis before Bishop Ives arrived in 1842. 
Among these were William Van Dyke, Andrew and Alexander 
and James Townsend, Harvey Hollers, Samuel Lusk, members 
of the Herman family, and David Shook, all Lutherans. Their 
church stood to the left of the road going from Mast's store at 
Valle Crucis toward the Mission School, in a little flat above Dr. 
Perry's, nearly opposite the site of the first Methodist Church. 
It was here that Christian Moretz preached, while others came 
occasionally. It is mentioned in the "Life of W. W. Skiles" that 
members of this church worshipped with the Valle Crucis Mis- 
sion during the time of Bishop Ives. Timothy Townsend is 
now a vestryman of the Episcopal Church at Valle Crucis. Prior 
to the establishment of this church at \^alle Crucis, about 1845, 

A History of Watauga County 113 

according to Alfred J. Moretz, his father, John Moretz, estab- 
lished the first Lutheran Church in the county, near Soda Hill, 
in a small school house. This church was visited in summer 
months by Lutheran ministers from Lincoln, Iredell and 
Catawba counties. These preached at first in German. Among 
the first of these preachers were Alfred J. Fox, of Lincoln; 
Jonathan and Timothy Mosers, of Catawba, and Father Henry 
Goodman, of Iredell, and Adam Elfird, of Lincoln. The first 
sermon was preached at Lookabill school house. The Lutheran 
Church was not built there till after the Civil War, say, 1866 or 
1867. A new church replaced the first about 1890. Another 
Lutheran Church was built about 1900 at the head of Meat Camp 
Creek. There is also one on Dutch Creek at Valle Crucis, while 
there is a small congregation at Gap Creek. The Moretz, Wine- 
barger, Woodring and Davis families, of Meat Camp, were at- 
tendants of these churches. There is a German Reformed 
Church at Blowing Rock, with Rev. John Ingle as pastor. The 
Lutherans, under the leadership of Rev. Mr. Carpenter, are pre- 
paring to build a church edifice in Boone. 

The Episcopalians. — In addition to the facts stated in Chap- 
ter VH, it should be recorded that on June 26, 1882, the late 
D. B. Dougherty conveyed to the Diocese of North Carolina 
a lot in Boone opposite the late Dr. W. B. Councill's home place. 
(Deed Book "J," page 488.) Shortly thereafter George W. 
Councill was given the contract to build the present St. Luke's 
Church. After Mr. Savage's arrival, in 1903, a vestibule and 
chancel were added to the original building. 


County History. 

Formation of the County. — In 1848 George Bower, called 
"Double Head" because of his wisdom and farsightedness, was 
in the State Senate from Ashe, and Reuben Mast in the House. 
Bower lived in Jefferson, while Mast lived near Valle Crucis, 
thirty-five miles from the county-seat, which rendered it very 
inconvenient for him and his neighbors to attend court. As 
Ashe County embraced in its limits not only what is now 
Watauga, but the present county of Alleghany also, it could very 
well spare the southern portion, which was too remote for con- 
venience. Besides, Jordan Councill, Jr., lived in the territory 
which it was sought to detach from the mother county, and his 
influence, which w^as great, was thrown for the new county. 
As he was the brother-in-law of Senator Bower, he naturally 
"had the ear of the court." A bill for a new county was, ac- 
cordingly, introduced in the legislature and passed in 1849. 

Jordan Councill, Jr.'s, Influence. — This gentleman for years 
kept the only store in this section. He fixed prices of all things 
in which he dealt. He bought large steers for as low as nine 
dollars each, and drove them and the larger cattle to the Valley 
of Virginia, frequently accompanied by his brother-in-law, 
George Bower. From Virginia they went north and bought 
their stocks of goods, shipping them by water to Richmond, Va., 
and from there by canal boat to Lynchburg, from which point 
they were brought by wagon to Boone and Jefferson. Other 
goods w^ere shipped by water to Fayetteville, from which they 
were brought by wagon to Boone. Councill would load wagons 
with deer hams and hides, butter, cranberries, dried fruit, bees- 
wax, tallow, etc., and, drawn by six horses, these wagons were 
hauled to Charleston, S. C. With the wagon train went droves 
of mules and horses, which were sold along the road to planters 
and goods purchased with the proceeds. He unwittingly hauled 


A History of Watauga County 115 

a rat in a goods box from Charleston to Boone on one occasion. 
He drove cattle — fat cows and heifers — to Charlotte and Con- 
cord. Large droves of cattle, horses and mules passed through 
Boone from Kentucky to the South and East before and since 
the Civil War, Hogs were driven through before, but not since, 
the Civil War. When the location of the county seat was to be 
determined it was the influence of Jordan Councill, Jr., that 
fixed it near his store and dwelling. Some wanted the court 
house at Brushy Fork and others at Valle Crucis. It would 
most probably have been located at the Muster Ground, half a 
mile east of Boone, if Benjamin Councill, Sr., had been willing 
to donate the ground for that purpose, but as Ransom Hayes 
and Jordan Councill, Jr., were willing to donate twenty-five 
acres each, it was determined to locate the court house where 
F. A. Linney's residence now stands, Hayes deeding twenty-five 
acres between the branch above Blackburn's hotel, then called 
Upper Branch, and the branch that flows by the new post office, 
then called the Middle Branch, and Councill a like amount of 
land between the Middle and Lower Branches, as the stream 
that flows west of the Critcher hotel — the old Coffey hotel — was 

Three New England Visitors. — Watauga has had three dis- 
tinguished visitors from New England: Dr. Elisha Mitchell, 
of the North Carolina University ; Charles Dudley Warner, and 
Miss Margaret W. Morley. To our everlasting regret, we 
pleased only that last of these, but, as she was the most recent, 
it is hoped that we had improved since the visits of the other 
two. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend," said Solomon 
thousands of years ago. If so, then Dr. Mitchell and Mr. 
Warner were our friends indeed, for they "spoke right out." 
As Dr. Mitchell's remarks were in letters to his wife and not 
intended for the public, nothing he wrote rankles, but while we 
are anxious to attribute the Warner strictures to dyspepsia, he 
certainly "stuck to what he said," having preserved what he 
wrote for Harper's Magazine in 1884, and repeated it in book 
form (On Horseback) in iSSS."" He certainly flayed us, sparing 

* "On Horseback." 


Ii6 A History of Watauga County 

nothing and nobody. And if, in this Land of the Sky, he saw a 
bird or a bee or a sunbeam; if a single pleasant odor from the 
chalices of the wild flowers was wafted to his nostrils, if a bird 
sang within his hearing or a child's prattle appealed to him once 
during the whole of that two hundred miles' journey through 
the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina in the liquid 
gold of our summer sunlight, he left no record of it in the 
saturnine account of his trip which he published to the world. 
On the other hand, Miss Morley, who passed over a part of this 
same route a few years later, saw the sunshine imprisoned in our 
flowers, heard the strains of invisible choirs in babbling brook 
and singing bird, and recognized angel faces in the countenances 
of little children clinging to those whom Mr. Warner called their 
"frowsy" mothers.^ Mr. Warner's chief trouble seemed to be 
flies. Whenever he stopped, there seemed to him to be nothing 
but flies. They were not only in the ointment, but in the amber 
also. And no wonder, for on leaving Abingdon, Va., the saddle 
he rode was discovered to have been smeared the previous winter 
with tallow. Seat, pommel, cantle, stirrup leathers and saddle 
skirts, all had been covered with tallow, which had been well 
rubbed in when they were put away the winter before. Mr. 
Warner discovered this before he started on his journey, and 
bought white overalls, which served to protect his trousers from 
the grease. This grease, mixed with the dust of the road, at- 
tracted the flies, and hinc illce lacrimcB, or words to that gen- 
eral effect. 

Dr. Mitchell's Geological Tour.' — In July, 1828, this gentle- 
man of New England birth and North Carolina adoption, for 
he was then a slave-owner, made a tour of the mountain coun- 
ties at the expense of the State, and "determined" several speci- 
mens of minerals that were submitted to him. He passed over 
the Ballon iron mines, the Ore Knob copper mines, the mica 
mines near Beaver Creek, the porcelain clay on Howard's Creek, 
and was near the Elk Mountain copper vein ; he visited the 

' "The Carolina Mountains," Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston, 1913. 

' This diary was published by the University of North Carolina in Its James 
Sprunt Historical Monograph, Xo. 6, 1905. It should be widely read. 

A History of Watauga County 117 

Grandfather and did not recognize the tamarack tree nor the 
great age of the rocks of that ancient pile, thinking they "be- 
longed to the transition of Tennessee," whatever that may or 
may not mean. But he made no report of his journey and 
seemed never to have suspected that copper, iron and mica of 
great wealth and abundance existed at the points indicated. But 
he did find fault with one of our ladies because she wiped her 
soiled hands on her clean apron just before she began to mix 
the meal for his bread, and called some of the women with 
whom two hunters were living illicitly "schquaws, very pretty 
ones, but schquaws notwithstanding." He visited Robert 
Shearer's, where he met his "pretty daughter and her husband, 
a good-hearted fellow, not half good enough for her." He 
preached at Three Forks Baptist Church, stopped at Jordan 
Councill's store, which he found open on Sunday, and visited 
Noah Mast, David Miller and several others. 

The Tennessee Boundary Line. — In 1784 North Carolina 
passed an act to give Congress twenty-nine million acres lying 
between the Alleghanies and the Mississippi River. Congress 
needed the money with which to pay off debts incurred during 
the Revolutionary War, but that was not the principal reason for 
the cession of this great territory, much of the best portions of 
which had been already granted to settlers. Up to that time the 
people of the ceded territory had presented many claims for com- 
pensation for military services, supplies, etc., in campaigns ■ 
against the Cherokees, in the strict justness of which the mother 
State did not altogether believe. On the score of poverty North 
Carolina had refused to establish a Superior Court in this terri- 
tory, called the Watauga Settlement, or to appoint a prosecuting 
officer. The four counties comprising the settlements west of 
the mountains were Davidson, Washington, Sullivan and Greene, 
and their representatives voted in the legislature for the ces- 
sion. The act of cession provided, however, that the sovereignty 
and jurisdiction of North Carolina should continue over the 
ceded territory until it should be accepted by Congress, and 
made the act void if Congress should not accept the gift within 
two years. As most of the Watauga settlers were originally 

ii8 A History of Watauga County 

from Virginia, the majority were anxious for an excuse to with- 
draw from North Carolina and set up a government of their 
own. The result was the attempt to establish the indci)cndent 
State of Franklin, with John Sevier at its head. This attempted 
secession failed and North Carolina resumed full jurisdiction 
over the disputed territory before March, 1788. Congress ac- 
cepted the cession of the territory, and in 1796 the State of 
Tennessee was organized. In 1796 North Carolina ordered a 
survey of the boundary line between the two States. 

Boundary Line and Land Grant Disputes. — Any map of 
North Carolina will show that the line between it and Ten- 
nessee runs due south from the Hiawassee River, instead of 
following the general southwestern direction with the trend of 
the mountains. The case decided by the Supreme Court of the 
United States in 1914, between Tennessee and North Carolina, 
grew out of a dispute over the line at the head of Telico and 
Citico Creeks, just north of the Hiawassee River, being what is 
called the Rainbow Country. Telico and Citico Creeks rise much 
further east than the points at which the State line crosses those 
streams, the mountain range bending eastward instead of fol- 
lowing the general southw^estern course of the range. The 
Supreme Court decision is to the effect that, as it was originally 
run and marked there, and both States adopted that line soon 
thereafter as being in accord with the Act of Cession, each State 
is bound thereby. Why Tennessee consented to this loss of ter- 
ritory may be accounted for by the fact that the line runs due 
south from the Hiawassee River to the Georgia line." There is, 
however, no evidence that the commissioners agreed to exchange 
what North Carolina gained in the "Rainbow" country for what 
Tennessee gained south of the Hiawassee. But, in making that 
trade, North Carolina lost the Ducktown copper mines ! 

Military Land Warrants. — When the Tennessee territory 
was ceded to Congress the act provided that all military land 
warrants that had been given to soldiers of the Revolution- 
ary War, and all entries previously made in the ceded territory. 

* Archibald D. Murphey anticipated trouble on this account because of the 
claim Tennessee was making in November, 1819, that the mountain range did 
not extend south of the Hiawasse river. Murphey's papers, Vol. II, p. 190. 

A History of Watauga County 119 

should be reserved for the satisfaction of those warrants and 
entries in case the holders of the same might not be able to sat- 
isfy them out of land fit for cultivation in North Carolina. 
Many of these warrants had not been so satisfied. Congress 
accepted these conditions. However, in 1803, at the request 
of Tennessee, North Carolina granted Tennessee power to is- 
sue grants and perfect titles in this reserved territory as fully 
as could North Carolina, except that North Carolina reserved 
the right to issue military warrants exclusively, which act Ten- 
nessee ratified August 4, 1804, and Congress April 18, 1806. 
But, as time went on, very little territory was left in Tennes- 
see except Indian lands, to which the Indian rights had not 
been extinguished. As, however. North Carolina had exe- 
cuted to Tennessee title to all the Tennessee territory by deed 
dated February 25, 1790, Congress, in order to make this power 
effective, had to cede to the latter State nearly half of the 
vacant lands within its limits, which it did by the same act by 
which it had ratified North Carolina's grant in 1803 to Tennes- 
see of equal power with herself to issue grants and perfect 
titles, except military warrants, namely the act of April 18, 
1806. All the territory to which title still remained in Con- 
gress was the Chickasaw Indian Reservation, which by treaty 
of 1818 vested in Congress. Congress then empowered Ten- 
nessee to satisfy North Carolina claims out of lands lying west 
and south of the line prescribed in the act of April 18, 1806. 
North Carolina notified holders of her military warrants of this, 
and caused the muster roll to be published and transcribed, but 
went on thereafter to issue additional military warrants until 
the muster roll had been filled. But, in 1840, some of these mili- 
tary land warrants and some entries also remained unsatisfied. 
Tennessee, claiming that she had already provided for all valid 
military land warrants, refused to made provision for those still 
outstanding. But this provision had required the submission of 
such claims to a commission which had been appointed by Ten- 
nessee alone, and had ceased to exist from October 22, 1822, so 
that no North Carolina military land warrants issued after that 
date could be submitted to that commission. Under these cir- 

120 A History of Watauga County 

cumstances Robert Love, of Haywood County, prepared and 
submitted to Congress a memorial in 1816, and succeeded, ap- 
parently, in getting these claims satisfied, and aiiotlier memorial 
was drawn up and sent to Congress by Archibald Murphey 
January 29, 1824, according to Murphey 's Papers (Vol. II, pp. 
320, 328). Many of these military land warrants were held by 
the descendants of Revolutionary soldiers in Ashe, afterwards 
Watauga County. 

Running the State Line. — As the Cherokees occupied the 
territory southwest of the Big Pigeon River in what is now 
Haywood County, no provision was made for running the line 
beyond that point. Generally speaking, the line was to follow 
the tops of the Stone, the Smoky and the Unaka Mountains 
from Virginia to Georgia, but to be surveyed and marked only 
from Virginia to the Pigeon. The surveying party consisted of 
Col. Joseph McDowell, David Vance, Mussendine Matthews, 
speaker of the House, commissioners. John Strother and Robert 
Henry were the surveyors. The party met May 19, 1799, at 
Captain Isaac Weaver's, near what is now Tuckerdale, a station 
on the new Virginia-Carolina Railway, in Ashe County. The 
chain bearers and markers were B. Collins, James Hawkins, 
George Penland, Robert Logan, George Davidson and J. Mat- 
thews. James Neely was commissary. In addition, there were 
two pack horse men and a pilot. The survey began on the 20th 
of May and ended the 28th of June, 1799. They camped on the 
night of the 23d of May in the Cut Laurel Gap, whence they 
sent John Strother down to David Miller's on ]\Ieat Camp to 
get a young man to act as pilot, but Strother failed to do so, and 
then went on "to Cove Creek, where I got a Mr. Curtis and 
met the company in a low gap between the waters of Cove 
Creek and Roan's Creek, where the road crosses the same." 
This road must have been the Indian trail which passed over the 
low gap between what is now Zionville, N. C. and Trade, Tenn. 
Traces of this trail can still be seen to the right of the present 
wagon road. It was this trail that Boone followed on his first 
trip into Kentucky. The new pilot was discharged on the 28th 
because he proved "not to be a woodsman;" and on June ist 

A History of Watauga County 121 

they came to the Wattogoo River. This was a short distance 
above Watauga Falls, where they killed a lean bear, just out of 
winter quarters, which they ate "with bacon and johnny cake on 
Sunday morning." As the act of cession required the line to be 
run from the "place where the Watauga River breaks through 
the mountain a direct course to the top of the Yellow Mountain 
where Bright's Road crosses the same," and as the Yellow was 
not visible from the river bed, the surveyors had to go back to 
the peak overhanging the Falls and get the bearing of the Yellow 
from that point. The diaries of Strother and Henry show that 
the line was actually run and marked from the Watauga Falls 
to the top of the Yellow, though a local tradition maintains that 
the party simply found the easiest path to the top of the Yellow, 
without surveying or marking a straight line from the point 
where the river breaks through the mountain. It was here that 
the Cranberry vein deflected their compasses. It was on Satur- 
day, June 1st, that they came across a very large rattlesnake, 
which Strother called a rattlebug. They tried to kill it, but "it 
was too souple in the heels for us." In Robert Henry's diary he 
mentions Gideon Lewis as the guide from White Top Mountain 
to the place where they sent for another, when they got to the 
head of Meat Camp. One of his descendants, David Lewis, 
lives near Ashland, and Rev. Gideon Lewis, a Dunkard minister, 
lives now in Taylor's Valley, Tenn. Most of the Lewises of 
Watauga are descended from the same Gideon who piloted these 
surveyors along the State line in 1799. 

Watauga County Lines. — In order to determine the lines of 
Watauga County it is necessary to give the various calls of sev- 
eral counties, as follows : 

Of Burke: Beginning at the Catawba River on the line be- 
tween Rowan and Tryon Counties ; thence running up the 
meanders of said river to the north end of an island known by 
the name of the "Three Cornered Island ;" thence north to the 
ridge that divides the Yadkin and Catawba waters ; thence 
westerly along the ridge to the mountain which divides the east- 
ern and western waters, commonly known by the name of the 
Blue Mountains (sic). All that part of Rowan County which 

122 A History of Watauga County 

lies west and south of the said dividing line shall thenceforth 
be erected into a new county by the name of Burke, while that 
part east of the dividing line shall remain Rowan County. Laws 
of 1777. 

Of Buncombe : Beginning on the extreme height of the Ap- 
palachian Mountain where the southern boundary of this State 
crosses the same; thence along the extreme height of said 
mountain to where the road from the head of Catawba River 
to "Swannanoe"(sic) crosses; thence along the main ridge di- 
viding the waters of South Toe from those of "Swannanoe" 
unto the Great Black Mountain; thence along the mountain to 
the northeast end ; thence along the main ridge between South 
Toe and Little Crabtree to the mouth of said Crabtree Creek; 
thence down Toe River to where it empties into the NoUechucky 
River(sic);* thence down the said river to the extreme height 
of the Iron Mountain and Cession Line; thence along the Ces- 
sion Line to the southern boundary ; thence along said boundary 
to the Blue Ridge, and thence to the beginning. Laws of 1791. 

Of Ashe: "That all that part of the county of Wilkes lying 
west of the extreme height of the Appalachian Mountains shall 
be and the same is hereby erected into a separate and distinct 
county by the name of Ashe." Potter's Revisal, Vol. II, p. 98, 
Laws 1799. This is the shortest act creating a new county on 
record, and the supplemental acts required to make it clear shows 
that while brevity may be the soul of wit, it is not that of 

In 1814 (Rev. Stat. Vol. II, p. 98) an act was passed to estab- 
lish permanently the dividing line between the counties of Burke 
and Ashe, which was to be as follows : Beginning at the Yadkin 
Spring (which is fifty yards southeast of Green Park Hotel, 
Blowing Rock) ; thence along the extreme height of the Blue 
Ridge to the head spring of the Flat Top Fork of Elk Creek 
(on the right of Linville River after passing Linville Gap) ; 
thence down the meanders of said creek to the Tennessee State 
line, shall be and the same is hereby declared to be the perma- 
nent dividing line between the counties of Burke and Ashe. 

s This river is now called the Toe or Bstatoe till after it passes into Tennessee, 
when it becomes the NoUechucky, or simply "the Chucky." 

A History of Watauga County 123 

Of Yancey: That all that part of Burke and Buncombe in- 
cluded within the following bounds, to wit: Beginning on the 
extreme height of the Black Mountain, running thence along 
said mountain to Ogle's improvement; thence along the divid- 
ing ridge to Daniel Carter's Fork field ; thence a direct course to 
the mouth of Big Ivy Creek; thence with the Warm Springs 
Road by Barnard's Station to the Three Forks of Laurel ; thence 
a direct line, so as to include James Allen's house to the Ten- 
nessee line ; thence with said line to the county of Ashe ; thence 
with the line of said county to the Grandfather Mountain ; 
thence a direct course to the extreme height of the Hump 
Backed Mountain [just east of Linville River above the Falls] ; 
thence with the Blue Ridge to where it intersects the Black 
Mountain ; thence with the ridge of said mountain to the be- 
ginning, be and the same is hereby erected into a separate and 
distinct county by the name of Yancey. Laws of 1833. 

A Supplemental Act, passed in 1833 (Rev. Stat. Vol. II, pp. 
170, 171), provided that the county courts of Buncombe and 
Yancey should appoint commissioners to ascertain the dividing 
line between said two counties whenever the same shall be neces- 
sary, and that they should commence their survey at Daniel 
Carter's Fork field and run a direct line from thence to Barnard's 
Station, from which point the line shall run along the old Warm 
Springs Road to James Allen's Road, so as to include his house, 
and thence to the Tennessee line. 

Watauga County Established. — "That a county be and is 
hereby laid off and established by the name of Watauga, to be 
composed of parts of the counties of Ashe, Wilkes, Caldwell and 
Yancey, beginning at the State line in Lemuel Wilson's planta- 
tion and running with the State line in a northern direction two 
miles ; thence running as near as may be in a direct line, so as 
to include Thomas Sutherland in the county of Ashe, to the top 
of the Big Bald Mountain ; thence to the mouth of Elk Creek 
(now Todd or Elkland) on the South Fork of New River; 
thence down the river to the mouth of a creek [now called 
Meadow Creek] that runs through Samuel Cooper's plantation; 
thence to the Deep Gap of the Blue Ridge between the waters 

124 -^ History of Watauga County 

of Stoney Fork and Lewis Fork waters of the Yadkin River, to 
where the road leading from Wilkesboro to the Deep Gap 
crosses the top of Laurel Spur; thence to Elk Creek at the 
Widow Hampton's; thence to the top of the White Rock 
Mountain [between Joe's Fork and Dugger's Creek] ; thence to 
the top of the Blue Ridge at the nearest point of the Yadkin 
Spring; thence along the extreme height of the Blue Ridge to 
the top of the Grandmother Mountain ; thence with the lines of 
Burke County to the corner of McDowell County; thence to 
the State line where it crosses the Yellow Mountain ; thence with 
the State line to the beginning. Ratified the 27th day of Janu- 
ary, 1849, Laws of North Carolina, 1848-49, pp. 66, 667, Ch. 25, 

Mitchell County : It was established out of portions of 
Yancey, Watauga, Caldwell, Burke and McDowell Counties, 
with the following boundaries : Beginning at the top of Grand- 
father Mountain ; thence with the top of the Blue Ridge to the 
Bear Wallow Gap ; thence to the Three Knobs ; thence to Big 
Crabtree Creek ; thence down said creek to Toe River ; thence 
down said river to the Tennessee line ; thence with tlie Tennes- 
see line to Elk River ; thence to the place of beginning. Laws 
of 1860-61, Ch. 8, p. 14. 

Changes in Watauga County Lines. — By the laws of 
1876-77, chapter LXVII, page 341, the lines between the coun- 
ties of Watauga, Wilkes and Ashe were changed so as to run 
from the top of the Wolf Knob, near the Widow Tempy Mikels, 
where the Watauga and Wilkes County lines intersect, and 
thence running a north course to the top of the Blue Ridge at 
the dividing line between the lands of Leander Robbins and 
Enoch Triplett, and thence a north course to the top of Henson's 
Ridge; then a north course to the ford of Gap Creek, near the 
mouth of Alexander Green's lane ; thence a northwest course to 
the top of the Big Ridge to the Ashe County line. All of Ashe 
and Wilkes counties within these lines was to be a part of Stony 
Fork township, Watauga County. 

By the laws of 1870-71, page 319, "all that portion of Cald- 
well County comprised within the following boundaries, viz : 
beginning at the Fairview on the Caldwell and W^atauga turn- 

A History of Watauga County 125 

pike road on the top of the Blue Ridge ; thence a straight line 
to the top of the Grandfather Mountain," was annexed to 
Watauga County. In a suit between Levi Morphew and Elisha 
and Joseph Tatum concerning the county Hne between the mouth 
of Meadow Creek and the high knob near Cranberry Methodist 
Church, about 1883, it was decided that there should be a 
resurvey, the first survey having been made by Reuben Mast, 
county surveyor when the county was first formed. It is said 
that Mast guessed that Deep Gap was south sixty degrees east 
from the mouth of Meadow Creek, but that when he got to the 
first high knob from which he could see Deep Gap he found he 
had been wrong. Instead, however, of turning back and running 
a new line, he continued the line to Deep Gap, leaving much 
land that legally belonged to Ashe in Watauga County. The 
court ordered a new survey, to be run on the true degree, and 
Rev. L. W. Farthing ran and marked it. (Levi Morphew v. 
Joseph Tatum and others. Minute Docket B, page 172, July 
Term, 1883, Superior Court, Watauga County.) 

Avery County Established. — By the Public Laws of 191 1, 
chapter 33, page 63, Avery County, named in honor of Col. 
Waightstill Avery, of Revolutionary fame, the one hundredth 
county of North Carolina, was established, with the following 
boundaries : "Beginning at the highest point of the Grandfather 
Mountain, the corner of Watauga, Caldwell and Mitchell Coun- 
ties, and running a direct line to the Hanging Rock Mountain; 
then with the dividing ridge to the Turnpike Road in the gap of 
Bower's Mountain; then a direct course to the eastern prospect 
on the eastern end of Beech Mountain; then a direct course to 
the Buckeye Spring; then down and with the meanders of 
Buckeye Creek to Beech Creek; then with the meanders of 
Beech Creek to Watauga River; then with the meanders of 
Watauga River to the Tennessee line; then with the Tennessee 
line to the Grassy Ridge Bald ; then a direct line to Spear Top ; 
then with the main height of Yellow Mountain to the highest 
point on Little Yellow Mountain ; then a direct line to Pine 
Knob; then to the mouth of Gouge's Creek on Toe River; then 
south forty degrees east to the Bald Ground on Humpback 

126 A History of Watauga County 

Mountain at the McDowell County line ; then with the McDowell 
County line to the Burke County line ; then with the Burke 
County line to the Caldwell County line ; then with the Burke 
and Caldwell line to the highest point on Chestnut Mountain; 
then a direct course to Anthony's Creek so as to include all of 
Carey's Flats; then to the beginning." Ratified 23d of Febru- 
ary, 191 1. 

Last Change in County Line. — The act creating Watauga 
County provided that the line should run from the top of the Big 
Bald Mountain to the mouth of Elk Creek. As long as men 
remember there has been a settlement at the mouth of Elk Creek, 
called at first Elk Cross Roads, and later on, for the sake of 
brevity, and in lienor of the Todd family, Todd. When, how- 
ever, the Virginia-Carolina Railroad reached that place, it was 
found that Todd was too brief for euphony or the terminus of a 
great railroad, and ^changed to Elkland. But the post office 
still remains Todd. Then, too, it was found that a part of Todd 
or Elkland was in Watauga and part in Ashe County, owing to 
the fact that the line between the two counties did not follow 
Elk Creek, while the boundary line of the town did follow that 
stream. So, in order to avoid confusion and for other reasons, 
Hon. Robert L. Ballou, State Senator, had the line changed so 
as to run from the top of the Big Bald to the ford of Elk Creek 
near the residence of Alex. Blackburn, just above the town, 
from which point it follows the creek to its mouth in the South 
Fork of New River. (Ch. 34, Public Laws, 19 15.) 

Jail and Court House Changes. — The land for the first court 
house was donated by Jordan Councill the second. It was on the 
hill now occupied by F. A. Linney's and J. M. Moretz's resi- 
dences. The court house was burned on the 29th day of March, 
1873, according to Col. W. W. Presnell, and while he was regis- 
ter of deeds.' It was thought by some that one of the county 
officers, against whom judgments were docketed, caused it to 
be burned, but this theory is not generally believed now. Later 
on, during that year, a new court house was built on the lot now 
occupied by the Watauga County bank building, but a deed 
therefor was not made till April 12, 1875, when Joel Norris 

• A wind-storm blew in the gable end of the court-house January 28, 1886. 

A History of Watauga County 127 

conveyed to the county commissioners one half of an acre on 
the corner of King and Water Streets for $300.00 (Deed Book 
G, p. 208), Thomas J. Coffey and W. C. Coffey having the 
contract for $4,800.00, the building committee having been 
Henry Taylor, Dudley Farthing and Jacob Williams. It seems 
that there must have been some doubt as to the power of the 
county commissioners to build "the court house on a lot other 
than the one on which the old one stood when it was burned," 
for chapter CVII, Laws 1873-74 (p. 143), made that action 
legal. The county commissioners, consisting of J. E. Finley, 
Thos. J, Coffey and W. H. Calloway, sold the lot on which the 
jail then stood to Cofifey Brothers for $555.00. The deed was 
dated June i, 1888 (Deed Book N, p. 330). On May 22, 1889, 
Coffey Brothers sold to J. E. Finley, W. W. Presnell and Joseph 
H. Mast, county commissioners, for $200.00, half an acre of land 
on Burnsville and King streets, and running with Burnsville 
street across the branch to a back street. This is the lot on which 
the present jail stands. 

The First Jail. — This was built by a Mr. Dammons for 
$400.00, and stood in front of the present Murray Critcher 
barn, west of the street leading from the Critcher Hotel to the 
side street in front of the present Baptist Church. It was of 
brick, with a steel cage inside. But the brick were of poor 
quality and could be easily removed from around the windows 
and doorways, and, after standing a few years, Elisha Green got 
the contract to build another of white pine logs, the same steel 
or iron cage which had been in the first being used in the second. 
This stood till Stoneman's raid, when it was burned. After the 
close of the Civil War, Jack Horton, who had built the first 
court house, got the contract to build a new jail, which was 
also of heavy logs, the second story timbers being twelve inches 
square and crossed with heavy iron bars three inches broad and 
bolted to each log by heavy iron bolts. This was removed when 
the jail lot was sold. The present jail was built by William 
Stephenson, of Mayesville, Ky., in 1889, for $5,000.00. 

Court Records of Ashe. — Some of our heroes of the past 
suffer when subjected to the fierce light of history, among whom 

128 A History of Watauga County 

are Benjamin Cleveland, Richard Henderson and Judge Spruce 
McCay, the last of whom was denounced by Chancellor John 
Allison, of Tennessee, in his "Dropped Stitches" (pp. 51, 52) 
as a "heartless tyrant." This gentleman (McCay) married a 
daughter of Col. Richard Henderson, according to Wheeler's 
History (Vol. H, p. 384), and not a daughter of Gen. Griffith 
Rutherford, as erroneously stated in "Western North Carolina" 
(P- 374)- ^^ presided over the Superior Court of Ashe County 
in September, 1807, but his record there was unobjectionable. 
It was only when he was in Jonesboro, in August, 1782, presid- 
ing over the court of Oyer and Terminer, that he won for him- 
self such condemnation. It was Judge Francis Locke, at the 
March term, 1809, who passed such a cruel and bloody sentence 
upon Carter W'hittington, at Jefferson, after his conviction of 
perjury. This sentence was that he be fined £10, stand one hour 
in the pillory, have both ears entirely severed from his head 
and nailed to the pillory. 

To Restore Lost Records. — Laws to "restore the records of 
Watauga County . . . carried away and lost by Kirk, in 
1865," and when "the court house and all the records therein 
were burned," were passed in 1873-74 (Ch. XIX). Chapter 38, 
Laws 1874-75, makes the certificate of the clerk of the late 
county court and of the Judge of Probate competent to secure 
reregistration of destroyed record of deeds.' 

To Encourage Sheep Raising. — The laws of 18505 1, chapter 
184, page 497, authorized a majority of the justices of Watauga 
County to lay a tax on the citizens for the purpose of paying 
any person or persons who kill any wolf or red fox that is 
caught in said county, which was amended by chapter 121, Laws 
1874-75, page 121. 

To Protect Fish. — Chapter 285, Laws 1899, provided penal- 
ties for the destruction of fish in waters of Watauga County, 
while chapter 639 provided for fish-ways over dams on the 
South Fork of New River, and chapter 319 of the same laws 
forbade the use of dynamite to destroy fish ; chapter 345 of 
same laws regulated fishing in Elk, while the laws of 1907 pro- 
hibits saw dust in streams. 

' See, also. Chapter 162, Laws of 1874-'75. 

A History of Watauga County 129 

First Term of Superior Court. — There is much confusion as 
to where the first term of court was held in Watauga County. 
It is generally conceded that it was held in a barn in rear of 
what was then the home of Henry Hardin and is now the resi- 
dence of Joseph Hardin, a mile or more east of Boone. It is 
also generally admitted by those who were there that "hawgs" — 
not hogs, be it understood! — had held several terms of court 
there before Watauga County was formed. That should tell the 
entire story of what followed, but lest it fail to do so, it may 
be added that if an elephant had as much power in his or her 
hind legs as each denizen of that barn had before court met, he 
could jump around the world in one jump. But these facts are 
insignificant compared with the question as to what court was 
held there and then. If it was the County Court, then Dudley 
Farthing, Esq., presided over his first court as the presiding 
justice thereof — a position he held with dignity and honor till 
the constitution of 1868 substituted the Board of County Com- 
missioners therefor. If it was the Superior Court, then Judge 
Anderson Mitchell presided and E. C. Bartlett acted as clerk. 
It is contended by those who insist that it was the Superior 
Court which was then held there that there are yet living several 
men who were jurors at that term, and that jurors belong ex- 
clusively to the Superior Court. This is a mistake, grand and 
petty jurors having been a part of every other term of the 
County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, according to the 
recollection of Col. W. L. Bryan, who served as a justice of the 
peace several years before that court was abolished. Besides, 
unless it was, there was no county court from the formation of 
the county in 1849 until some time in May, 185 1, for by an act 
which was ratified January 28, 1851, it was expressly provided 
that "there shall be a Superior Court of Law and Equity opened 
and held for the county of Watauga, at the court house in Boone 
on the sixth Monday after the fourth Monday in March and 
September, in each and every year, ... at which time the 
judge holding the said court shall appoint the necessary court 
officers." Watauga was then placed in the seventh circuit, and 
all suits pending in the Superior Court of Ashe in which both 

130 A History of Watauga County 

parties were citizens of Watauga, and all criminal proceedings 
against citizens of Watauga were transferred to this court. 
And it was further provided that the "spring and fall, now jury 
terms, of the Courts of Pleas and Quarter Sessions shall be held 
in . . . Watauga County, at the same time and on the 
same week on which the Superior Courts of Law and Equity 
shall be holden," etc' This seems also to make still more doubt- 
ful another disputed point, viz: as to when the first sheriff was 
elected by the people. For if he was elected first in 1852, then 
the general impression that D. C. McCanless absconded during 
his second term is established, and if he was elected in 1850, 
then McCanless must have been serving his third term, which 
some still insist was the case. But this seems to establish another 
fact, viz: that the court house was far enough advanced by 
May, 185 1, to be used by the court, for all who were present at 
the first court held in that building agree that it was far from 
finished at that time. The act expressly provides that the first 
term shall be held "at the court house in Boone." If there was 
no such building then, it is likely that the act would have been 
differently worded. Still, it may have been held elsewhere, as 
many contend. 

A Snap-Shot in Passing. — Mr. Skiles, in his "Life," leaves us 
this (p. 79) : "I was at Boone Tuesday [before May 21, 1850] 
and saw a great crowd ; it was court week, and I witnessed an 
amusing scene. There was a man intoxicated who was very 
rude and treated the court with contempt. For want of a jail to 
put him in, the court ordered him taken out and tied to a wagon 
wheel until he became civil. They took him out, tied him, and 
left him tied." 

A Happy and Homogeneous People. — Many think that Wa- 
tauga has the best dwelling and farm houses in the State ; that 
its inhabitants are of a more homogeneous character than any 
other; that there are almost as few tenants as in any other 
county, except Alleghany ; that there are fewer very poor and 
fewer very rich people than elsewhere ; that the average of in- 

• This was repealed, (Laws 1852, Ch. XLVI, p. 100) and the terms of rourts 
of Pleas and Quarter sessions were required to be held on the third Monday in 
February, May, August and November of each year. 

A History of Watauga County 131 

telligence and education will compare with those of any other 
county most favorably ; that there is as little crime per capita 
as in any other; that there is as great church attendance and 
as many churches and school houses per capita as in any other 
county; that the apples, cabbages, beets, buckwheat, stock of all 
kinds, and dairy products surpass all other counties in the State. 
That Roving Spirit. — The same influences which brought 
our ancestors to America and their sons into the unexplored 
mountains, sent their grandsons across the plains in 1849, ^^^ 
since then into every State and territory of the vast West. When 
Missouri was first opened to settlement many left this county 
and tried their fortunes there, some to remain, others to return. 
It was probably this "trek" which caused so many families to 
disappear from the church rolls of Three Forks Baptist Church. 
For them, there was still something else to find, and they went 
and sought it, some of them to realize that they had already 
chanced upon it in Watauga County (then Ashe), and to return 
to enjoy it. Among those going to Missouri were the Whitting- 
tons. Dr. Whittington, of Asheville, is a descendant of Benja- 
min, and his wife, who was a Wilson, of Yancey. Wiley 
Whittington, a brother of John and Cromwell, who went to Mis- 
souri, passed on still farther westward, only to be killed at last 
by Indians in the Rocky Mountains while on his way to Cali- 
fornia. It is said he had shot an Indian, and when the rest of, 
the Indian band demanded his surrender by his party, they gave 
him up to the savages, who robbed him and stripped him of all 
clothing and then left him to perish in the mountains. Jonathan 
Lewis left Zionville for California in 1849, settled in Fresno and 
got rich. He went from Watauga County alone, joining a party 
in Missouri. Alexander Thomas, Andrew J. McBride, Marion 
Wilson, Jesse Bradley and Wm. Isaacs, of the Cove Creek 
section, went to California in 1849, ^^'^'^ McBride left a diary, 
but it has been misplaced within the last few years. It is said 
that his brother, Carroll, went with him, and that on their re- 
turn Carroll stopped in Tipton County, Tennessee. While in 
the West they killed a deer, but Indians took it from them and 
forced them to run for their lives and to hide in a ravine. It 


A History of Watauga County 

is also said that they made money in Cahfornia, but spent it all 
buying a waterproof cloth with which to make a pipe to draw 
off tlie water in a creek above the point at which they had dis- 
covered gold, hoping to gather much from the bottom of the bed, 
not realizing that it was being washed down from above till too 

Legislative Representatives." — Alexander B. McMillan, in 
1850, and lienjamin C. Calloway, in 1852, both of what was and 
still is Ashe County, represented Watauga in the House, and 
George Bower, also of Ashe, in the Senate, but from and includ- 
ing 1854 Watauga has had its own citizens as representatives in 
the House: 




George Bower, of Ashe, 
A. M. Bryan, of Ashe. 
Joseph H. Dobson, of Surry. 
Joseph H. Dobson, of Surry. 

G. N. Folk having resigned, 

his place was filled by 
Isaac Jarratt, of Ashe. 
Jonathan Horton, of Watauga. 
A. C. Cowles, of Yadkin. 
A. C. Cowles, of Yadkin. 
Edmund W. Jones, of Caldwell. 
W. B. Council, of Watauga. 
J. W. Todd, of Ashe. 
A. J. Mc^Iillan, of Alleghany. 
Hervey Bingham, of Watauga. 
J. Bledsoe, of Ashe. 
F. J. McMillan, of Alleghany. 
E. F. Lovill, of Watauga. 
J. W. Todd, of Ashe. 
W. C. Fields, of Alleghany. 
W. S. Farthing, of Watauga. 
Benjamin P. Griggsby, of Ashe. 

Jonathan Horton. 
George N. Folk. 
]\Iark Holdsclaw. 
George N. Folk. 

Thomas Farthing. 
William Horton. 
William Horton. 
Charles Potter. 
William Horton. 
Lewis B. Banner. 
W. F. Shull. 
J. B. Todd. 
L. L. Greene. 
W. R. Council. 
W. R. Council. 
Thomas Bingham. 
W. W. Lenoir. 
E. F. Lovill. 
Thomas Bingham. 
J. A. Crisp. 
D. B. Phillips. 

' From the "North Carolina Manual." 

A History of Watauga County 133 

1893. W. C. Fields, of Alleghany. E. F. Lovill. 

1895. W. H. Farthing, of Watauga. L. H. Michael. 

1897. J. M. Dickson, of Ashe. Thomas Bingham. 

1899. W. C. Fields, of Alleghany. W. B. Councill, Jr. 

1901. L. H. Michael, of Watauga. WilHam H. Calloway. 

1903. H. M. Wellborn, of Ashe. Lindsay H. Michael. 

1905. S. A. Taylor, of Alleghany. C. W. Phipps. 

1907. E. F. Lovill, of Watauga. W. D. Farthing. 

1909. Robert L. Doughton, of Alleghany. Smith Hageman. 

191 1. John M. Wagoner, of Alleghany. Smith Hageman. 

1913. E. S. Coffey, of Watauga. John W. Hodges. 

1915. Robert L. Ballou, of Ashe. A. W. Smith. 

Superior Court Clerks. — The first clerk was probably ap- 
pointed by Judge Anderson Mitchell, who held the first court. 
A fine cherry tree stands alone in the field near where the old 
barn stood. The fleas which attended as witnesses, jurors and 
spectators are still remembered for their cordial reception of 
their human rivals. The first clerk elected by the people was 
George M. Bingham, of Cove Creek, but owing to an impedi- 
ment in his speech, he resigned at the first term, Mr. 

McClewee, an attorney resident in Boone at that time, being ap- 
pointed to fill the unexpired term. This was probably in 1850. 
Then followed Col. J. B. Todd, Henry Blair, W. J. Critcher, 
appointed to fill the term for which Col. J. B. Todd had been 
elected in 1868, but which he could not fill because he could not 
take the "iron-clad oath" of Reconstruction. Owing to the de- 
struction of the records when the court house was burned in 
1873, it is impossible to give the dates accurately prior to that 
time, but from then on the records show that J. H. Hardin 
served from 1874 to 1882 ; J. B. Todd from 1882 to 1894 ; M. B. 
Blackburn from 1894 to 1898; John H. Bingham from 1898 to 
1902; Thomas Bingham from 1902 to 1910, and W. D. Farthing 
from 1910 to the present time, 1915. 

The registers of deeds were Rev. Joseph Harrison, from about 
1850 to i860, or thereabout; Rev. D. C. Harman, till 1865; 
Joseph Harrison, till 1870; W. W. Presnell, from 1870 to 1886; 

134 ^ History of Watauga County 

Eugene Blackburn, from 1886 till his death, when W. W. Pres- 
nell was appointed to fill out his term ; then came M. B. 
Blackburn, from 1888 to 1890; then Calvin J. Cottrell, from 
1890 to 1894; then John W. Hodges, from 1894 to 1898; then 
J. M. May, from 1898 to 1908, followed by W. Roy Gragg, from 
1908 till now, 191 5. 

Sheriffs. — Michael Cook, 1849 to 1852; John Horton, 1852 
to 1856; D. C. McCanless, 1856 to 1859 (January); Sidney 
Deal, till i860; A. J. McBride, from i860 to 1866;" Jack Hor- 
ton, from 1866 to 1876; A. J. McBride, from 1874 to 1882; 
D. F. Baird, 1882 to 1886; J. L. Hayes, 1886 to 1890; D. F. 
Baird, 1890 to 1894; W. H. Calloway, 1894 to 1900; \V. B. 
Baird, 1900 to 1904; J. W. Hodges, 1904 to 1908; D. C. 
Reagan, 1908 to 1912; E. R. Eggers, for part of Reagan's un- 
expired term; Asa Wilson, elected 1912, but resigned, and E. R. 
Eggers appointed by county commissioners to fill out term to 
1914; W. P. IVIoody, elected in 1914. Sidney Deal lived where 
J. W. Farthing now lives, and was elected sherifif by the people 
in i860, but joined the army, and the remainder of his term 
was filled by Jack Horton. Deal moved across the Blue Ridge 
after the close of the Civil War. 

Financial. — The debt of Watauga County is too small to be 
mentioned, there being only a few hundred dollars still due for 
the new court house. Real estate is assessed at about one-third 
of its real value. The tax rate for State and county combined 
is one per cent, of assessed value, being twenty-seven and two- 
thirds mills for State and seventy-two and one-third for county, 
and $2.30 on each poll. This is equivalent to about thirty-three 
cents on each hundred dollars. The towns have no debts and 
raise little or no money for street or other improvements, what 
is collected for any purpose being largely voluntary contribu- 
tions in many cases from the more progressive citizens and 
licenses from "shows," etc. County affairs are keenly looked 
after not only by the county commissioners, but by many citi- 

" Some claim that A. J. McBride was sheriff during the Civil War, and others 
that Jack Horton held the office from 1862 till 1876. Owing to the loss of the 
records 1873, it is impossible to ascertain the exact facts now. Some claim 
that Sidney Deal was elected sheriff in 1860, and served till he entered the Con- 
federate Army, while this is denied by others. 




Clerk of the Superior Court. 

A History of Watauga County 135 

zens who are eager to find a seam in the poHtical armor of 
anyone offending in the way of extravagance, carelessness or 
fraud. Every dollar collected is applied as the law requires. 

Watauga's Contribution to the Confederacy. — Company D, 
First Cavalry, was organized in Boone May 11, 1861 ; first 
captain, Geo. N. Folk; first lieutenant, Joe B. Todd; second 
lieutenant, James Councill ; third lieutenant, J. C. Blair. 

Company B, 37th Regiment, organized September, 1861, in 
Boone. First captain, Jonathan Horton ; first lieutenant, A. J. 
Critcher; second lieutenant, David Greene; third lieutenant, 
Jordan Cook. 

Company E, 37th Regiment, was organized at Sugar Grove 
August 8, 1861. First captain, W. Young Farthing; first lieu- 
tenant, Paul Farthing; second lieutenant, W. F. Shull; third 
lieutenant, Isaac Wilson, Jr. 

Company I, 58th Regiment, reorganized in Boone in July, 
1862. First captain, Wm. Miller; first lieutenant, Wm. M. 
Hodges ; second lieutenant, Jordan C. McGhee ; third lieutenant, 
James Horton. 

Company D, 58th Regiment, organized at Valle Crucis July 7, 
1862. First captain. Rev. D. C. Harman; first lieutenant, Ben. 
F. Baird ; second lieutenant, W. P. Mast ; third lieutenant, Wm. 

Company M, 58th Regiment, organized early in the winter of 
1863 from Ashe and Watauga. First captain, Leonard Phillips; 
first lieutenant, Geo. W. Hopkins; second lieutenant, Thomas 
Ray; third lieutenant, J. Riley Norris, with about fifty of the 
men from Watauga. 

Company A, 6th Cavalry Regiment ; Captain B. Roby Brown, 
with twenty to twenty-five men from Watauga. 

There were other companies made from Ashe and Watauga 
by William G. Bingham and Thomas Sutherland, who joined a 
Virginia regiment of cavalry, there being about twenty-five men 
from Watauga. There were five full companies that went from 
Watauga, each of which must have contained 150 men, from 
first to last, and parts of three additional companies that had 

136 A History of Watauga County 

at least 100 Watauga men, besides the men from Watauga County 
who joined other regiments. By Moore's Roster, Watauga 
County actually furnished 671 men, and the Home Guard at 
Camp Mast must have contained 250 men. Col. W. W. Presnell, 
adjutant of the Nimrod Triplett Camp of Confederate Veterans, 
estimates that there must have been 900 men from this county 
in the service of the Confederacy, but there were most likely 
nearer 1,000. 

Col. Presnell estimates that there were at least loo men from 
Watauga County who went through the lines and joined the 
Federals, or remained in Watauga and worked for them in 
Watauga County during the closing months of the war. 

He also says that Companies D, B and E were in the eastern 
or Virginia army, while the other companies were in the western 

Population and Other Facts. — Tiie population since 1850 
follows : 

1850 i860 1870 1880 1890 1900 1910 
3400 4,957 5,287 8,160 10.61 1 13,417 13423 

But for the pigeonholeing of a bill which Marcus Holtsclaw 
had passed by the House of Commons in 1858, the court house 
would have been changed from Boone to Brushy Fork, Holts- 
claw having been elected over Thomas Greene and William 
Horton by one vote on the issue of making that change. 
But Joseph Dobson, of Surry, represented Watauga in the Sen- 
ate that year, and he put Holtsclaw's little "bill to sleep." 

That our pioneer ancestors spun, wove, knitted, made rope, 
tanned hides, dyed, made shoes, boots and moccasins ; made 
pails, buckets, cradles, bee-gums, ladles, chairs, plows, sleds, 
wagons, knives, guns, and almost every tool then in use goes 
without saying, for they were cut off from the world and mark- 
ets of all kinds. Dyes were obtained from yellow oak, from 
hickory, which dyes yellow; butternut dyes brown, black wal- 

" By joint resolution No. 56, of the General Assembly of North Carolina, 1915, 
the State Historical Commission was authorized to correct and amend Moore's 
Roster of Confederate troops from North Carolina so as to include all who were 
actually in the service of the Southern Confederacy, the present list being faulty 
and incomplete. 

A History of Watauga County 137 

nut dyes dark brown, sumac dyes yellow, alder dyes reddish, 
dogwood dyes red, madder dyes red, bedewood dyes purple, 
dye-flowers and snuff weed dye yellow, copperas dyes yellow, 
and burnt copperas red. To "set" dyes they used laurel leaves, 
copperas, alum, salt, etc. Honey and maple sugar and syrup 
were the sole "sweetening" we had before sorghum came in 
shortly before the Civil War. Reaping hooks preceded scythes 
and cradles many years. Grain was threshed out on cloths by 
the use of flails made of hickory sapplings beaten soft two feet 
from the large end. 

Soldiers of Mexican War. — The government does not place 
"monuments" over the graves of dead Mexican soldiers, pre- 
sumably, else George Wright, whose body lies near that of Moses 
Yarber, would be similarly honored. He has a son living in the 
Beech Mountains who doubtless could furnish full information 
for a tombstone, but, jemooney Christmas ! just think what it 
would cost ! Plow many other dead Mexican soldiers are buried 
in these mountains is unknown, and the government does not 
seem to care. A few are still living, here and there, among 
them being Benjamin Pritchard, now living on Roaring Creek, 
still neat and soldierly, and Nehemiah P. Oaks, who lives within 
a mile or so of Elk Park. Pritchard was born on the Blue 
Ridge, near the McKinney Gap, about 1825, and remembers that 
on one occasion a Mexican threw every man in his regiment in 
wrestling contests. Then Pritchard was sent for and threw the 
Mexican three straight falls. He was a member of Captain John 
Blalock's company, of which A. T. Keith was a lieutenant. 
Blalock had to resign because of bad health, and when the men 
elected a man named Constable, who lived on Cane Creek, cap- 
tain, Keith also resigned, feeling that he had been slighted. 
John Payne was the colonel and Montford Stokes lieutenant- 
colonel of the regiment, which was the First North Carolina. 
Nehemiah P. Oaks was born on the Humpback Mountain, 
December 28, 1828, and belonged to the same company and 
regiment. He was also a member of the 13th Tennessee Cavalry, 
and draws two pensions. Pritchard also draws a pension for 
service in the Mexican War. ' 

138 A History of Watauga County 

Assessments for Taxation in 1915. — It will be interesting to 
compare the assessments of property this year with those for 
the years following the building of a railroad through this county. 
The increase in population between now and then will also be of 

Total real estate assessment in 1915 amounts to. . $1,783,983.00 
Total personal property assessments for 191 5.... 948,866.00 

Total assessments $2,732,849.00 

The highest average assessment per acre was in Cove Creek, 
$14.17. The lowest average value per acre was Elk Township, 

The Weather. — It is colder in Watauga both summer and 
winter than in any other county of the State, probably, with the 
exception of Ashe, Alleghany, Avery and Haywood. The "cold 
Saturday" was February 8, 1835. The date of the Big Snow 
cannot be fixed, except that on the 2d and 3d days of December, 
1886. But old people remember hearing of a snow that was 
so deep that all fences were obliterated from the landscape, and 
deer were slaughtered by the score. On the 5th of June, 1858, 
corn knee-high was killed in this county and all fruits and vege- 
tables, while white-oak trees between Boone and Jefferson were 
killed outright, some of their stumps being still visible. There 
was a frost at Blowing Rock July 26, 1876, while on February 
13, 1899, the thermometer went to fourteen degrees below zero. 
On the 15th of Alay, 1835, there was snow while land was being 
laid off for corn and sugar water was being boiled for maple 
syrup on Brushy Fork. 

Agricultural. — Patch farming was the rule for years, only 
small clearings being possible because of the sparseness of the 
population. Corn could not be raised at all for many years till 
the land was opened up to the sunlight. Owing to the stumps 
and roots, it was difficult to plough the ground at first, and the 
planting was done with the hoe. Gradually the land became 
warm enough to produce and mature corn or maize. Cabbages 

A History of Watauga County 139 

and all root crops flourished from the first settlement. Buck- 
wheat and rye did well long before wheat, oats and other small 
grain began to thrive. Stock were fed on Irish potatoes and 
buckwheat, as is still the case in some places. Long, red Irish 
potatoes were carried in the arm as are ears of corn, and horses 
got fat on them. Hogs were kept in the mountains all winter, 
as the mast rarely failed. When a very cold or snowy time 
came, corn was carried to these hogs, beds were made for them 
in sheltered places, under cliffs and in caves of rocks, but for 
many it was literally a case of "root hog or die." Col. W. L. 
Bryan has a bronze medal and a diploma which were awarded 
to him at the Columbian Exposition for the best buckwheat. If 
a colony of Swiss could be induced to try their lot with us, they 
could demonstrate the fact that on our mountain slopes, prop- 
erly terraced, we could raise grapes, fruit of all kinds, and goats 
and cattle without number. Cheese factories have been already 
established at Sugar Grove, June 5, 191 5, and elsewhere. The 
factory at Sugar Grove was the first established in the South. 
It is already thriving. With a little harder work and more 
scientific methods, wealth would follow agriculture in Watauga. 
Mountain Forests. — In his address before the American Geo- 
graphical Society in New York in April, 1914, Prof. Collier 
Cobb, of the University of North Carolina, said that seventy-six 
per cent, of this section is still forest cover, or a little more than 
three million acres of forest land is found in the sixteen moun- 
tain counties ; that the mountains of North Carolina are the 
oldest forest land on the continent, and the botanists and plant 
geographers are agreed that the deciduous forests of eastern 
North America have been derived from the forests of these 
mountains, in which they reach their greatest development ; that 
while the hardwoods of the northern United States have migrated 
from the mountains since the last glacial period, it seems equally 
certain that the coniferous growth on the Balsams and other 
high mountains was forced south at the time of the greatest 
extension of the ice sheet, and is able to survive now only in the 
cooler atmosphere of our high mountains, where the mean an- 
nual temperature is forty-eight degrees, and, in the valleys they 

140 A History of Watauga County 

enclose, fifty-four degrees Fahrenheit; while the rainfall of the 
region, most of which comes in the growing season, is seventy 
inches, being greater than that of any other portion of the 
United States, except the Puget Sound region. The United 
States has recently acquired an immense reserve in the neigh- 
borhood of Blowing Rock. The Lenoir timber lands were sold 
in 1915 for $40.00 per acre. They are near the Grandfather. 

Banks and Banking. — Watauga has three banks, one, the Wa- 
tauga County Bank, Boone, was organized in 1904 with $10,000.00 
capital. This was increased in 1908 to $12,000.00, in 1914 to 
$16,800.00. and in 191 5 to $17,000.00. It has never declared a 
dividend of less than twelve per cent, since George P. Hagaman 
became cashier, and once declared eighteen per cent. The Blow- 
ing Rock Bank was organized about 1904 with $5,000.00 capital, 
which has been increased to $16,000.00. It has thriven also. 
The Valle Crucis Bank wzs organized in 19 14 with a capital of 
$8,000.00. The cattle industry requires much money, and all 
kinds of stock thrive in this county. 

Altitudes. — The following heights have been taken from S. M. 
Bugger's "Balsam Groves of the Grandfather Mountain" (p. 
286) : Blowing Rock, 4,090; Boone, 3,332; Valle Crucis, 2,726; 
Shull's Mills, 2,917; Cook's Gap, 3,349; Banner Elk, 3,900; Beech 
Mountain, 5.522; Hodges Gap, 3,376; Hanging Rock, 5,237; 
Sugar Mountain, 5,289; Grandfather, 5,964; Dunvegan, 4,924; 
Howard's Knob, 4,451; Bald of Rich Mountain, 5,368; Sugar 
Loaf, 4,705; Snake Mountain, 5,594; Elk Knob, 5,555; Flat 
Top, 4,537; Deep Gap, 3,105; Elk Park, 3,180; Cranberry, 
3,160; Montezuma, 3,882 ; Linville, 3,800 ; Yonah Lossee Road, 
from 4,000 to 5,000; Beacon Heights, 4,650; Grandmother, 
4,686; Linville Gap (Guyot), 4,100; United States, 4,081; 
McCanless Gap, 4,250; White Top, 5,530; Toe River Gap, 
5,188; High Pinnacle, 5,690; ]\Iount Mitchell, 6,711; Cling- 
man's Peak in Blacks, 6,611; Roan Mountain, High Knob, 
6,313; Big Yellow, 5,500; Cold Spring Balsam, 5,915; Caney 
Fork Divide, 6,370; Double Spring Mountain, 6,380; Enos 
Plott Balsam. 6,097; Amos Plott Great Divide, 6,278; The 
Pillar of the Smoky, 6,255; Mt. Henry, 6,373; South Peak, 

A History of Watauga County 141 

6,299; Thermometer Knob, 6,157; Mt. Guyot, 6,636; Mt. Alex- 
ander, 6,299; Mt. LeConte of the Bullheads, 6,612; Mt. Staf- 
ford, 6,535 ; Mt. Curtis, 6,566; Master Knob, 6,013; Mt. Love 
of the Smoky, 6,443; Clingman's Dome, 6,619; Mt. Buckley, 
6,599; Mt. Collins, 6,188; Thunderhead, 5,520; Devil's Court 
House in Whitesides, 6,049; Rocky Bald of the Nantahalas, 
5,822; Tusquittee Bald, 5,314. Watauga is probably the high- 
est county in general altitude in North Carolina, being over 
3,000 feet above sea level. 

Mount Washington, of New Hampshire, is 6,286. There 
are, therefore, twenty-three peaks in North Carolina which are 
higher. There are twenty-three other peaks over 6,000 feet, but 
less than 6,286. There are seventy-nine which exceed 5,000, but 
fall a Httle short of 6,000 feet. It should be borne in mind, 
however, that all these measurements are barometric, and, there- 
fore, inexact, according to Horace Kephart's "Southern High- 

The Town of Boone/ 

Incorporation, — This town was not incorporated till the ses- 
sion of the legislature of 1871-72 (Ch. 50), when it was regularly 
chartered and its boundaries defined. But this act was amended 
in 1872-73 (Ch. XXXI, p. 411) by extending the corporate 
limits so as to begin at a stake half a mile north of the court 
house and running thence to a stake half a mile east of the court 
house; thence to a stake half a mile south of the court house; 
thence to a stake half a mile west of the court house, and thence 
to the beginning. W. L. Bryan was its first mayor and has held 
that office intermittently for twenty-five years. 

Its Attractions. — As Boone is on no large stream, it is far 
distant from the moisture arising from rivers and creeks. It 
is not high enough to be caught in low-hanging clouds, and is 
free from their damp and clinging mists. The town is 2>'33^ 
feet above tidewater, with a spring, summer and autumn climate 
unsurpassed in the mountains. It is picturesquely situated at 
the base of Rich Mountain and almost directly under Howard's 
Knob. Its population consists of a homogeneous citizenship, 
with no very wealthy and no very poor people in its make-up. 
Its death rate is less than that of any other town of its size in 
the State. Its schools, both primary and normal, afford abundant 
opportunity for the education of all. The school population of 
the Appalachian Training School is better behaved and more 
appreciated by the citizens of Boone than that of any other 
school or college town in the State. Boone has a public library 
of its own, and access to many thousands of volumes in the 
library of the Appalachian Training School. It has three 
churches, one bank, a Masonic hall and three hotels. There is no 

* Most of the facts for this chapter were furnished by Col. and Mrs. Wm. Lewis 
Bryan, the oldest residents of the place. I am also indebted to them for so much 
other Information which I have embodied in this book, that to credit them with 
each item would be almost impossible. Colonel Bryan, indeed, is almost as much 
the author of the work as I am myself. J. P. A. 












A History of Watauga County 143 

reason why Boone should not become the best and largest sum- 
mer resort in the State. Inexhaustible springs on Rich Moun- 
tain afford more pure water than a population of twenty 
thousand could consume. Boone has electric lights and garages 
and livery stables. Its population is about 700 souls. It has 
local and long-distance telephones, several physicians, and a 
drug store. The view from Howard's Knob is unsurpassed in 
the State. 

Miss Morley's Visit to Boone. — From her "Carolina Moun- 
tains" (pp. 355 to 360) the following detached sentences and 
paragraphs are taken : 

"Leaving Blowing Rock one day in mid-June, you perhaps will 
walk away to Boone, some ten miles distant, three miles of the 
way a lane close-hedged on either side with gnarled and twisted 
old laurel trees heavily-laden with bloom so that the crisp flower 
cups shower about you as you pass and the air is full of their 
bitter, tonic fragrance. Large rhododendrons stand among the 
laurel, but their great flower clusters are as yet imprisoned be- 
neath the strong bud-scales. When the laurel is done blooming, 
you will perceive that you must come this way again for the sake 
of the rhododendrons. Little streams of crystal clearness come 
out from under the blossoming laurel, flash across the road, and 
disappear under the laurel on the other side. How sweet the 
air where all the odors of the forest are interwoven with the 
bitter-sweet smell of the close-pressing flowers ! How the pulse 
quickens as one steps along. Is that a bird? Or is it your own 
heart singing? 

"Before the first freshness of that laurel-hedged road has 
begun to dim from familiarity, you emerge into the open where 
the view is of wide, rolling slopes, green hills and valleys dotted 
with roofs, and beyond these the great blue distant mountains 
soaring up into the sky. That steep hill to your left is bright 
red with sorrel, a sorry crop for the farmer, but a lovely spot 
of color in the landscape. You climb up this sorrel-red hill to 
the top of Flat Top Mountain, up over the rough stones and the 
dark red sorrel to where the view is wide and fine. But Flat 
Top Mountain offers you more than a view. It is noon when you 

144 -^ History of Watauga County 

get there, for you have not hurried, but have stopped every 
moment to smell or to see, or just to breathe and breathe as 
though you could thus fill your bodily tissues with freshness 
and fragrance to last into your remotest life. As you climb up 
Flat Top, you detect a fragrance that does not come from the 
flowers, a warm, delicious fragrance that makes you look eagerly 
at the ground. Seeing nothing, you go on half disappointed, half 
buoyant with the certainty of success — ah, it comes again, that 
delicious warm fragrance. You abandon yourself to primitive 
instincts and trusting your senses turn about and walk straight 
to where the ground is red with ripe strawberries. You sit down 
on the warm grass and taste the delectable fruit. A bird is sing- 
ing from a bush as though sharing in your pleasure. When you 
have gathered the best within reach, you lie back and watch the 
clouds sailing like white swans across the sky. Then you take 
out the bread you have brought, the most delicious bread ever 
baked, for it has in some magical way acquired a flavor of blos- 
soming laurel and rippling brooks and blue sky and the joy of 
muscles in motion, of deep-drawn breath, of the lassitude of de- 
licious exercise, with a lingering flavor of the spicy berries 
whose fragrance is in the air about you. Such bread as this 
is never eaten within the walls of a house. And then you rest 
on the warm hillside fanned by the cool breeze, for no matter 
how hot the summer sun, there is always a cool breeze in the 
high world at the back of the Grandfather. Before starting on, 
you must taste again of the exquisite feast spread for you and 
the birds, whose wings you hear as they come and go, fearless 
and ungrudging, for there is enough for all. 

"Further along on the mountain stands an old weather-boarded 
house whence you see Boone in the distance lying so sweetly 
among its mountains. A path here leads you down to a deserted 
cabin in a lovely hollow. That well-worn path at the door-step 
leads to the spring only a few steps away, such a spring as one 
is always looking for and is always finding at the back of the 
Grandfather. Its water is icy cold and it is walled about with 
moss-covered, fern-grown stones. This cabin in the lovely 
hollow, with its ice-cold spring, the surrounding fruit trees, the 

A History of Watauga County 145 

signs of flowers once cultivated, gives you a strange impulse to 
stop here, like a bird that has found its nest, but you go on 
along a woodsy by-road, whose banks are covered with pale 
green ferns, and where the large spiraea in snowy bloom stands 
so close as almost to form a hedge. The velvety dark-green 
leaves of wild hydrangea crowd everywhere, its broad flat heads 
of showy buds just ready to open. Enormous wild gooseberries 
invite you to taste and impishly prick your tongue if you do. 
The blackberries make a great show, but are not yet ripe. The 
roadside now and then is bordered with ripe strawberries. This 
shady way brings you again into the 'main leadin' road' you left 
some distance back when you climbed the sorrel-red hill to the 
top of Flat Top Mountain, and which now also has its wealth 
of flowers, among which the pure-white tapers of the galax 
shine out from the woods, while here and there a service tree 
drops coral berries at your feet. 

"Soon now you cross the deep, wide ford of Mill River on a 
footbridge, substantial and with handrail, and where you stop 
of course to look both up and down the stream overhung with 
foliage, and just beyond which is a pretty house with its front 
yard full of roses. It is only two miles from here to Boone, and 
you breathe a sigh of regret at being so near the end of the 
day's walk ; yet when you find yourself in Mrs. Coffey's little 
inn with its bright flowers you are glad to sit down and think 
over the events of the day."" 

"Boone is at the foot of Howard Knob; is a pretty snuggle 
of houses running along a single street. Boone says it is the 
highest county seat in the United States [she should have added: 
'east of the Rockies'] and that Daniel Boone once stayed in a 
cabin near here, whence its name. However all that may be, the 
lower slopes of Howard Knob are pleasantly cultivated and 
valleys run up into the mountains in all directions, as though on 
purpose to make a charming setting for Boone the county seat. 

"That first visit to Boone! — what a sense of peace one had 
in remembering that the nearest railroad was thirty miles away 
[it is now at Todd, only ten miles north] ; and then — what is 

2 This is the identical inn that in 1884 was to Charles Dudley Warner, 
Anathema and Maranatha. 


146 A History of Watauga County 

that? — a teleplione bell rings its insistent call and Boone is talk- 
ing with Blowing Rock, or Lenoir, or New York City, or Heaven 
knows where ! For though this part of the country was last to 
get into railroad communication with the outer world, it was by 
no means the last to grasp the opportunities within reach. 

"With what delicious weariness one sinks to sleep after the 
day's walk over the hills ! Your eyes seem scarcely to have 
closed when a loud noise wakens you with a start — what is it? 
Nothing excepting that the day's work has begun, broad daylight 
flooding in at the window. Breakfast is ready, coflfee, corn- 
bread, fish from some near sparkling stream, rice, hot biscuit, 
eggs, wild-plum sauce, honey and wild strawberries — you can 
take your choice or eat them all. And what a pleasant surprise 
to find everything seasoned with the wonderful appetite of 
childhood that reappears on such occasions as this ! 

"Your body seems borne on wings, so light it feels as you 
leave the inn and again take to the road. Back to Blowing 
Rock? No, indeed; not even though you could return, part 
way at least, by another road. The wanderlust is on you — the 
need of walking along the high valleys among the enchanted 
mountains. That seems the thing in life worth doing. As you 
leave Boone you notice a meadow white with ox-eyed daisies, 
and among them big red clover-heads, and, if you please, 
clumps of black-eyed Susans — for all the world like a summer 
meadow in the New England hills. Ripe strawberries hang over 
the edge of the road. 

"From Boone to Valle Crucis you must go the longest way, 
for so you get tlie best views, the people tell you. And so you 
go a day's walk to Valle Crucis, where the Episcopal settlement 
lies in the fine green little valley." * 

Old Map of the Town of Boone. — When the town was 
formed the county court, with Judge Dudley Farthing as its 
chairman, laid it ofT into streets and lots, the main street running 
east and west being called King Street, the first street to the 
north of it and parallel with it was named Queen Street, while 
the street nmning between the present Watauga County Bank 

' In her "Carolina Mountains" Morley says that even our roosters crow 
with a Southern accent. 


Who has lived in Boone since its organization, and for several years prior thereto. 

A History of Watauga County 147 

Building and the law office of E. S. Coffey, Esq., was designated 
as Water Street. The broad street running south from King 
Street and between the present residence of Mr. R. C. Rivers 
and Fletcher and Lovill's law offices and passing down in front 
of the present jail was called Burnsville Street, as it led to the 
Burnsville road. 

First Residents of Boone and Vicinity. — The land on which 
Boone stands, from about the present Methodist parsonage to 
the forks of the road near I. W. Gross's residence, belonged 
originally to John and Jerry Green, two brothers. One of them 
lived in a large log house between the present Judge Green's 
residence and the storehouse just west of it, and the other in 
the orchard on the lot where Dr. J. W. Jones now lives. One 
of them sold to Jordan Councill, Jr., and the other to Ransom 
Hayes. Then Jordan Councill, Jr., built the present large old 
Councill house and the store in which Richard Green now lives. 
These were the first houses in Boone proper, if we except the log 
residence of Jordan Councill, Sr., which stood a few hundred 
yards east, at the Buck Horn Tree place. There was another 
house which stood in the orchard near the present Blackburn 
hotel. It was a small clapboarded house, with only one room. 
Ben Munday and family occupied it first and afterwards Elling- 
ton Cousins and family, dark of skin, lived there till Cousins 
built a house up the Blackburn branch in rear of the Judge 
Green house. It is still known as the Cousins Place. Then B. J. 
Crawley built the store and residence across the branch in rear 
of W. R. Gragg's house and above the Watauga County Bank. 
The next house, now occupied by R. C. Rivers and family, was 
first occupied by Jesse McCoin. Prior to 1857 Jesse McCoin 
and Robert Sumter moved away and Col. J. B. Todd rented the 
Rivers house from Jordan Councill, Jr., after he was elected 
clerk. Then Captain J. L. Phillips moved in and remained till 
Dr. J. G. Rivers came in 1865. Next was the James Tatum 
storehouse, which stood where W. L. Bryan now lives. 

The First Builders. — Soon after Boone was formed Jordan 
Councill, Jr., built a residence on the lot now occupied by R. C. 
Rivers as a home. Indeed, the front rooms of that residence are 

148 A History of Watauga County 

the same that Jordan Councill, Jr., had erected there. He also 
built a house on the site now occupied by the new post office, 
just west of the middle branch. This house was afterwards 
moved to the rear of the residence and used as a kitchen. It 
still stands to the south of the wing added to the front by Mr. 
Rivers. Mr. Councill also built, between the dwelling and the 
last named house, a small room for Solomon Crisp, where the 
latter made boots and shoes and sold whiskey. He came from 
Caldwell County, and continued in business in that store from 
about 1850 till about 1857, when Myrick and White took it. 
Crisp was in the Civil War and still lives near Patterson. The 
residence which Jordan Councill, Jr., built was used by his 
tanner, Jesse McCoin, and the house he erected on the present 
post office site was used as a residence by Robert Sumter, 
another tanner. They lived there till about 1856, when they 
returned to the east of the Blue Ridge, from which they had 
come. B. J. Crawley came from Forsythe County early in the 
fifties, and built a storehouse and dwelling on Water Street, 
just across the branch from the Watauga County Bank. He 
soon afterwards let M. T. Cox have the buildings. Cox after 
leaving Boone had a store at Soda Hill also, where Joel Norris 
sold goods for him. Crosby returned to Forsythe before the 
Civil War. Cox then closed out and went into business at 
Rutherwood, now Virgil, with Henry Blair, under the firm name 
of Cox & Blair. J. C. Blair, Henry's son, was chief clerk. But 
the firm became involved and Cox left some of his creditors in 
the lurch and went to Arkansas. The Soda Hill store was sold 
out by the sheriff. Elisha Green, however, followed Cox to 
Arkansas and succeeded in collecting some money for a few of 
his creditors, while Henry Blair, at great sacrifice, succeeded in 
paying off the firm debts of Cox & Blair. Allen Myrick and 
Noah White, of Guilford, moved into Crisp's store about 1857, 
and ran till about 1862, when they married, closed up their busi- 
ness and moved to Texas. Both had been widowers, but Myrick 
married a Miss Coffin, of Guilford County, the marriage being 
performed at High Point, while White married Titia Moore, a 
daughter of Reed Moore, of Three Forks. 

Then was built the James W. Council house and store, oppo- 

A History of Watauga County 149 

site the Blair hotel. Next came the house just east of the Blair 
hotel. It was built by Levi Hartley, of near Lenoir, for a 
whiskey saloon. His sons, Nathan and Samuel, conducted the 
business, however, Levi never having moved to Boone. His 
sons carried on the rum business there till just before the 
Civil War, Nathan Hartley married Louisa McGhee and 
died in the Civil War. Samuel Hartley married a daughter of a 
man who lost his mind trying to invent an augur which would 
bore a square hole. Sam died in Lenoir after the Civil War. 
He was a good citizen and much respected. T. J. Coffey and 
brother bought the property and added to it, and T. J. Coffey 
lived there after his marriage till he moved to the Hall house. 
George and Phillip Grubb then built a residence on the corner 
now occupied by the law offices of Lovell and Fletcher, and a 
blacksmith shop near the present jail. They swapped this prop- 
erty to John Fraser for property in Taylorsville, N. C. Frazer 
moved in, went to the War of 1861, returned to Boone, and 
afterwards moved to Caldwell County. George Grubb quit the 
blacksmith business and went to carpentering. His brother, 
Phillip, left this country about i860 and never returned. 

Saw Mills for Boone. — Jordan Councill, Jr., bought a saw 
mill from David Sands on the east prong of New River, two 
miles from George H. Blair's present home. Councill after- 
wards sold it to Michael Cook, the second. William Elrod built 
a saw mill over the north or Boone fork of New River, near 
where the bridge now crosses that stream on the turnpike, two 
miles southeast of Boone, and in front of J. Watts Farthing's 
present home. Thomas Blair, who lived where William Trivett 
now lives, near where the three forks of New River join, built 
a saw, grist and carding mill near where the Turnpike turns up 
the Middle Fork of New River. He swapped to Harrison Ed- 
misten for a farm on John's River soon after the Civil War. 
These three mills were bought or built for the sole purpose of 
producing lumber with which to build the new town of Boone, 
and must have been in operation about 1849 or 1850. 

John and Ellington Cousins. — These brothers came from 
near East Bend, Forsythe County, soon after Boone was formed, 
bringing white women with them. Ellington's wife was Mar- 

150 A History of Walauga County 

garet Myers and John's was named Lottie. Ranson Hayes sold 
Ellington an acre of land up the Blackburn branch, where he 
built a house and lived in 1857, having moved from the house 
in the orchard below the road near the present Blackburn hotel. 
He had two daughters. Sarah married Joseph Gibson and moved 
to Mountain City, Tenn., where he carried on a tannery for 
Murphy Brothers, but he afterwards returned to this State and 
lived at or near Lenoir, finally going West, where he remains. 
Ellington died at Boone and his widow and daughter, nicknamed 
"Tommy," went with Gibson and his wife to Mountain City, 
where she also married. John lived near Hodges Gap and at 
other places, dying at the Ed. Shipley place, near N'alle Crucis. 
He had several children. 

Other Builders. — Joseph C. Councill built the brick house 
now used as the office of the Watauga Democrat long before 
the Civil War. The workmen employed in its construction 
were Bartlett Wood and J. C. McGee. Wood was a mason, 
carpenter and cabinet maker. Councill moved to Texas after 
the Civil War. where he married, but he returned to Boone and 
died there. Bartlett Wood helped build the first court house 
and a dwelling house which stood between the present residence 
of W. L. Bryan and what is now the Blair hotel, among the first 
houses built in Boone. W^ood resided in this house till shortly 
before the Civil War, when he took a contract and moved to 
Shouns Cross Roads, Tenn., where he remained till his death. 

Hotels. — Jordan Councill, Jr., and Ransom Hayes, who lived 
where Mrs. L. L. Green now lives, kept boarders before the 
Civil War and took care of such travelers and court attendants 
as came to Boone till about 1870, when T. J. and W. C. Coffey 
opened their hotel, soon followed by W. L. Bryan, who built 
and conducted the present Blair hotel in December, 1870. It is 
not generally known, but Squire James W. Councill and Elisha 
Green built the frame of a large hotel on the site of the Blair 
hotel at the beginning of the Civil War, but were not able to 
'^complete it. When Kirk's regiment came in March or April, 
1865, they took the timbers and made a stockade around the 
court house, using also for the same purpose the timbers of the 

A History of Watauga County 151 

incomplete house built by William F. Fletcher and which then 
stood on the lot where M. B. Blackburn now has a bee yard. 
J. J. Horton built a store and dwelling where the Blackburn 
hotel now stands about 1880 and where he carried on merchan- 
dising for several years. When M. B. Blackburn was elected 
clerk of the Superior Court in 1894, he moved to Boone and 
occupied the dwelling which now stands above and to the north 
of the new residence of Dr. H. McD. Little, which was completed 
in 1913. Then M. B. Blackburn sold goods in a store near Mrs. 
L. L. Green's residence and bought the hotel property, having 
exchanged his Meat Camp farm for it. He enlarged and im- 
proved the original house considerably, and has conducted a 
mercantile establishment and hotel there ever since. 

One of the first houses built in Boone was that which stands 
above Dr. Little's present residence. The frame of that house 
was cut and put together by Jacob Cook at Cook's Gap about 
1850, when Sheriff Jack Horton bought it and moved it to its 
present location. Jack Horton married a Mast and lived on 
Cove Creek, where his son, James Horton, now lives, but when 
he was elected sheriff in 1852 he came to Boone, Michael Cook 
having been appointed sheriff by the court when the county was 
organized. Horton and Cook tied in the race before the people 
and the tie was cut by the casting vote of Squire James Reagan, 
a justice of the peace, who voted for Horton in the contest be- 
fore the county court. Horton then moved into the house above 
Dr. Little's. 

The First Merchants of Boone. — Jordan Councill, Sr., lived 
where Jesse Robbins has recently built two cottages, and near 
which stood the old Buck Horn oak. Jordan Councill, Jr., son 
of Jordan, Sr., built and occupied the old frame residence which 
still stands north of the road to Jefferson. It was probably the 
first frame house built in the county, and was for years the finest 
house in this section of the State. The store house used by 
Jordan Councill, Jr., stood west of his residence and between the 
ofiftce building erected by Dr. W. R. Councill and the road. The 
store house was afterwards moved across the road to its present 
location, and is now occupied as a residence by R. M. Greene. 

152 A History of Watauga Comity 

What is now Boone was for years known as Councill's Store, 
and as early as 1835 a post office was in existence there. Sheriff 
Jack Horton had a store house which stood on the present court 
house lot, fronting what is now M. B. Blackburn's hotel. It 
stood on the same side of the street as the present new court 
house and nearly in front of where that building now stands. 
In this store Ilorton sold whiskey, goods and kept a sort of 
harness and saddlery shop. He also conducted a tan-yard on 
the lot near the branch which runs below Blackburn's present 
upper barn, where traces of the vats are still visible. James 
Todd, of Rowan County, was the saddler, and William F. 
Fletcher, of Lenoir, was the tanner and harnessmaker. Fletcher 
is said to have been related to William Lenoir and married Sarah 
Dula, of Yadkin Valley. He lived till ten or twelve years ago, 
when he died in poverty. He had neglected the hides which were 
being tanned in 1857, and Col. W. L. Bryan was employed to 
make such hides as had not been too badly damaged into shoes. 
These hides had been removed from the Horton vats to those of 
Henry Hardin, which stood where they still stand, in rear of the 
present residence of Joseph Hardin, one mile east of Boone and 
on the north side of the Jefferson road. Here these damaged 
hides were finished. It was soon after this that Jacob Rintels, 
who had been in copartnership with Samuel Witkowsky above 
Elkville on the Yadkin River, came to Boone and rented Sheriff 
Jack Horton's store room, where he remained for about one 
year, removing his stock of goods to the store room and resi- 
dence which had been built by Jordan Councill, Jr., for his son, 
James W. Councill, on the land now occupied by the residence 
of J. D. Councill, opposite the Blair hotel. James W. Councill 
had kept goods in this store for awhile, but closed out and rented 
the store room to his cousin, Joseph C. Councill, son of Benjamin 
Councill. Rintels got Milly Bass, a respectable white woman, to 
keep house there for him, and W. L. Bryan boarded there while 
he clerked for Rintels. He occupied this building for a year or 
two, when Rintels moved to Statesville. W. L. Bryan bought 
the debts due Rintels and then, with IMoretz Wessenfeld, opened 
a store in the same building. But Wessenfeld soon had to go to 

A History of Watauga County 153 

the army, when W. L. Bryan bought him out and continued to 
sell goods there till Stoneman's raid, March 28, 1865. This 
building was burned late in the fall of 1878, and the present 
dwelling was erected by Jas. W. Councill, father of J. D. 
Councill, assisted by his sons, the following spring. James H. 
Tatum, of Iredell, came soon after Boone was established, and 
built a store on the lot now occupied by the residence of W. L. 
Bryan, part of the foundation of that store still serving as part 
of the foundation for the residence. Tatum ran a store there 
several years and then rented it to Joseph C. Councill, who sold 
goods there till shortly before the Civil War, when he moved his 
goods across the street to the store and residence built by Jordan 
Councill, Jr., for his son, James W. Then Allen Myrick kept 
store there for Shilcutt & Bell, of Randolph County. Bell came 
to Boone several times, but soon closed out and went to Texas. 
Then Gray Utley, who married Tatum's daughter, got an inter- 
est in the land and sold it to Col. Wm. Horton and E. S. Blair 
shortly after the Civil War. Blair was the brother-in-law of 
Wm. Horton, and sold his interest in the land to him. Col. 
Jonathan Horton obtaining a one-half interest therein also. 
Jonathan Horton and Mrs. Rebecca Horton, widow of William, 
sold the land to W. L. Bryan about 1889. Sherifif Jack Horton 
occupied this store awhile as an office, and then E. S. Blair sold 
goods there for Rufus L. Patterson & Co., of Patterson, for a 
few years after the Civil War. Then Col. William Horton and 
Blair sold goods there for awhile. The old storehouse was re- 
moved and a large new store erected in its place. It was well 
built and greatly admired. Colonel Bryan kept a large stock of 
goods there till the night of July 4, 1895, when the store and 
goods, with a dwelling which stood between the store and what 
is now the Blair hotel, and a large barn in rear, were burned by 
James Cornell and Marion Waycaster, who had been hired to 
burn this property by Lloyd, Judd, Tyce and Mack Wagner. 
Their object was to burn the evidence which Colonel Bryan, who 
was United States Commissioner, had locked in his safe against 
Tyce Wagner for robbing the mail. Judd, Lloyd and Mack 
were sentenced to the State penitentiary for ten years each, 

154 ^ History of Watauga County 

Waycaster got twenty years and Cornell five years, the latter 
having turned State's evidence. They were convicted by a jury 
at Boone, at the spring term, 1896, of Superior Court, presided 
over by Judge Geo. W. Brown (Minute Docket D, p. 102). 
Tyce was convicted in the United States Court of robbing the 
mail and sent to Sing Sing for five years. Governor Russell 
pardoned all who had been sent to the State penitentiary. By 
the first of March, 1870, W. L. Bryan had completed the store 
room at the west end of what is now known as the Blair Hotel, 
now used as the parlor, and carried on business there till Sep- 
tember, 1873, ^or M. V. Moore, of Lenoir, when he bought 
Moore out and continued the business there till 1889, when he 
moved into the new store room he had built on the site of the 
Tatum store. 

Joseph C. Gaines, of Caldwell, built the Ransom Hayes brick 
house about 185 1 or 1852. It was one story high, with a ground 
plan of forty by twenty feet, with brick partition through center. 
It had a chimney at each end, and both gables ran up to the 
rafters. Hayes' boys waited on Gaines and the latter laid all the 
brick in eight days. He was paid $70.00 for his work, besides 
board. This house stood on the north side of the road from 
Brushy Fork just before it reaches Boone, and its foundations 
are now the foundations of the two-storied brick house occupied 
by Mrs. L. L. Green, the Hayes house having been burned. 
Calvin Church, of Wilkes County, built the brick house occupied 
by Judge L. L. Green till his death, and since then by his widow. 
It is two stories high. Church lived on the Watauga River at 
the Franklin Baird place below Valle Crucis, and died there, and 
Henry Taylor was executor of his estate. 

Post Bellum Boone. — Rev. J. W. Hall was a Baptist preacher 
and performed the marriage ceremony when Judge L. L. Green 
was married to Miss Martha Horton, daughter of Sheriff Jack 
Horton, and when J. Watts Farthing was married to Miss 
Rivers, daughter of Dr. J. G. Rivers, both marriages having been 
solemnized in the Masonic Lodge of Boone on the first day of 
March, 1876. Mr. Hall was also a carpenter and cabinet maker. 
He did the wood work on the second court house. After going 

A History of Watauga County 155 

to McDowell County, he went to Clay County and thence to 
Georgia, where he remained. But before leaving Boone finally 
he went for a time to Mountain City, Tenn., where he learned 
to frame dwelling and other houses by nailing the uprights to the 
sills, instead of mortising and tenoning them, as had been the 
universal practice before that time. On his return from Moun- 
tain City to Boone he built the dwelling now owned and occupied 
by W. Columbus Cofifey in accordance with the new method. 
Squire D. B. Dougherty built a small house for the post office 
just east of the Critcher hotel soon after the Civil War. It was 
enlarged and improved and used by D. Jones Cottrell as a store 
room about 1909 and since. St. Luke's, the Episcopal Church, 
was built about 1882 or 1883. The residence now owned 
and occupied by J. C. Fletcher, Esq., was built by Dr. L. C. 
Reeves, of Alleghany County. He married Sallie Councill, 
daughter of J. W. and Mollie Councill. Dr. Reeves moved to 
Blowing Rock, where he died. J. C. Fletcher bought this prop- 
erty about 1896, and has occupied it ever since. He married 
Miss Carrie H. Bryan, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W. L. Bryan, 
December 16, 1896. In 1913 he was appointed examiner of land 
titles under the Week's law for the acquisition of national forest 
lands. Soon after the Civil War, in which he had served, Major 
Harvey Bingham bought the lot of land where Brannock's resi- 
dence now stands, and laid the foundation for a home there, 
but Rev. J. W. Floyd, a retired Methodist minister, from east 
of the Blue Ridge, bought and finished the house and lived there 
several years, dying there about 1888. Then Joseph F. Spain- 
hour, Esq., a lawyer, now living in Morganton, bought and 
enlarged the house and lived there till he sold the place to the 
Hinckels, of Lenoir (Deed Book N, p. 63). Benjamin Bran- 
nock then bought the place and has lived there since. 

Thomas Greer built the Beech house in rear of the residence 
of W. C. Cofifey, between 1865 and 1868, and died there, having 
moved there from the head of Elk after the marriage of his 
daughter with T, J. Cofifey. Although weatherboarded now, it 
is really a hewed log house, in the hewing of the logs for which 
Captain Cook, a son of Michael Cook, took a large part. 

156 A History of Watauga County 

J. G. Rivers came from Bluff City, Term., in 1863 to Cove 
Creek, N. C, on account of his Southern principles. In the 
spring of 1865 he moved to Boone and bought the residence now 
occupied by his son, R. C. Rivers, from Captain J. L. Phillips, 
who had owned the property, having bought it from Jordan 
Councill, Jr., about i860, and having moved there from Todd. 
Phillips was a most estimable gentleman, and was a captain in 
the 58th North Carolina Regiment, under Col. John B. Palmer. 
He was shot in the forehead by a pistol bullet during a battle in 
Tennessee, and while in a hospital his brains actually oozed out 
of the wound. Notwithstanding, he got well apparently and re- 
turned to his old home at Todd, where he taught school and 
made shoes, but in two or three years died from the effects of the 
old wound. His wife was a sister of the Miss Greer who mar- 
ried T. J. Coffey. Phillips was a brave and honorable citizen. 

Coffey Brothers. — Thomas J. and W. C. Coffey, two brothers, 
had carried on business at what is now Butler, Tenn., but on the 
left bank of Roan Creek, before the Civil War. They had to 
leave on account of their Southern principles after the war com- 
menced. They returned to their old home in Caldwell County 
and remained till after the close of the war, when, in 1866, they 
moved to Boone and opened a store in the store room which 
stood where J. D. Councill's residence now stands. But W. C. 
Coffey opened a branch store at Zionville and moved there about 
1867. T. J. Coffey lived in the Brown cottage just east of the 
Blair hotel after his marriage to Miss Curtis, of Wilkes County, 
till the Coffey hotel and store, now occupied by Murray Critcher, 
was completed in 1870. 

Coffey Brothers' Enterprises. — Thos. J. Coffey and brother 
used to operate a wagon, harness and saddle business in Boone 
for years after the Civil War. These wagons were taken to 
Kentucky and exchanged for horses and mules which were driven 
South and sold. The wagons were made about two hundred 
yards east of the house now occupied by Wilson A. Beech ; the 
saddles and harness were manufactured in rooms on the second 
story of the present Brick Row, east of the Critcher hotel. John 
Allen made the wagons and Joshua Setzer made the harness and 

A History of Watauga County 157 

saddles. They also tanned hides in front of what is now the 
residence of W. A. Beech. They bought hides in the South, in 
bales, besides tanning hides for local farmers. 

Newspapers. — The Watauga Journal was the first paper in 
Boone; was started by a man named McLaughlin, of Moores- 
ville, and was Republican in politics. McLaughlin left and went 
to Johnson City, where he became chief of police. The Enter- 
prise succeeded the Journal in 1888 and was conducted by Judge 
L. L. Greene and Thomas Bingham during the Harrison cam- 
paign, stopping soon after his election in 1888. The Watauga 
Democrat was also begun in 1888 by Joseph Spainhour, Esq., 
and the Democratic party. John S. Williams also was connected 
with it, but R. C. Rivers and D. B. Dougherty took charge July 
4, 1889, and it has been conducted since then by R. C. Rivers. 
The Watauga News was established in January, 1913, by Don 
H. Phillips, as an independent paper, but it suspended after hav- 
ing existed for about a year. 

Population. — The town has grown so much since the census 
of 1910 that the figures there given would be misleading now. 
Within the corporate limits, without including the school popu- 
lation of about 300, it is thought there are something over 400 
people. This is a pretty constant quantity, as there are but few 
visitors to the town in the summer season, almost all stopping at 
Blowing Rock and seemingly unconscious of the fact that Boone 
is on the map at all. 

Counterfeiters. — From about 1857 and till 1875 or thereabouts 
a gang of counterfeiters and horse thieves carried on their busi- 
ness from Taylorsville to Cincinnati, Ohio. Boone was one of 
their headquarters. Dark and blood-curdling stories are still 
told of the secret murders and robberies which occurred in a 
house near Taylorsville, which stood near a body of water. It 
is said that the owner of this house enticed travelers to stop over 
night with him and that they were never heard of again. When, 
years afterwards, the pond was drained saddles and bridles were 
found at the bottom, heavily weighted with stones. It was sup- 
posed that the horses were hidden in the woods till a favorable 
opportunity offered, when they were driven across the moun- 

158 A History of Watauga County 

tains to Cincinnati, Kentucky and Tennessee and sold. The 
basement of an old, unfinished house which had been built by 
W. F. Fletcher, framed and covered, was used as a hiding place 
for the horses as they passed through Boone, being tied under 
that dilapidated building during the nights they stayed in that 
town. When the dwelling of the man living near Taylorsville 
was removed after his death, skeletons of human beings were 
found underneath the floor. A woman saw a man chasing an- 
other near this house at dusk one evening, and reported the facts 
to the sheriff. Investigation revealed nothing but tracks, but 
when the road was changed later on, a human skeleton was 
found buried near a ford under the bank of a creek. About 
1872 or 1873 Watauga County was flooded with counterfeit ten- 
dollar bills on the Bank of Poughkeepsie, of New York. They 
were thick, badly printed bills and were far too green in color to 
deceive experts, but they passed current here for some time. 
The house in which these men congregated at intervals stood 
near the present site of the county court house till about 1883, 
when it was removed. 


War Times and Afterwards. 

A Hopeless Task. — It would take several volumes the size of 
this to give the history of the troops sent from Watauga County 
into the Civil War. Their record is partially preserved in Clark's 
North Carolina Regiments, Moore's Roster and elsewhere. Only 
some of the principal events which occurred in this county and 
in those portions of this section which were once a part of 
Watauga County can be given. There were at least one thousand 
men from Watauga in the Confederate army and one hundred 
in the Federal, Company I of the Thirteenth Tennessee Cavalry 
having no less than thirty-three Wataugans in its ranks. Col. 
George N. Folk was the first to enlist volunteers in this county, 
and the response which his call met with was but the forerunner 
of many more enlistments soon to follow. Many men composing 
the Fifty-Eighth North Carolina Regiment, Col. J. B. Palmer's, 
went from this county, though a large part of it was then em- 
braced in the newly formed county of Mitchell. Indeed, Colonel 
Palmer's home on the Linville River had been in Watauga from 
the time it was purchased and the residence built in 1858 till the 
new county was formed in 1860-61. The old county line then 
ran below his residence along Pisgah Ridge, and a voting pre- 
cinct, at Levi Franklin's house, now the upper part of Potter 
Brown's meadow, is still remembered by some of the older resi- 
dents of Boone and vicinity. It was the most remote of all in the 
county, and the messenger bearing the returns usually did not 
arrive at the court house in Boone till after midnight. That he 
managed to get here even as late as that was due to the practice 
prevailing at the time, of keeping ''tab" on the votes as they were 
cast, removing them from the hat into which they were usually 
deposited, examining them, and crediting each candidate for 
whom they had been cast with the vote to which he was entitled. 
Thus, the count was kept as rapidly as the ballots were de- 


i6o A History of Watauga County 

posited. But, and this seems to have been an important legal 
feature of the matter, some ballots were always left in the hat 
to show that the voting was still going on, or that the precinct 
had not closed. Consequently, when the sun set on the first 
Thursday in August of election years, there were but a few bal- 
lots remaining to be counted, which was soon done and the 
messenger dispatched with the result to Boone. Captain William 
M. Hodges, still hale and active at the age of eighty-three, re- 
members attending that precinct in 1850 or 1852 in the contest 
between Michael Cook and Jack Horton for sheriff. He took 
some of the juice of the peach with him, a gallon and a half, to 
be exact, and carried the precinct overwhelmingly for Cook, his 
uncle, or, to be exact again, thirty-eight out of forty votes. The 
dancing which took place at Franklin's house during that day, 
in which barefoot girls and women joined, was the most vigor- 
ous, if not the most graceful, he ever witnessed. He still won- 
ders how it was that those bare feet did not wear through to the 

"Keith" Blalock. — It might seem almost as if the history of 
the Civil War in Watauga were inextricably interwoven with 
the life and adventures of W^ M. Blalock, commonly called 
'Keith" Blalock, a nic-name given him because of the fact that 
Alfred Keith, of Burnsville, was a great fighter during Blalock's 
youth, and as he was something of a fighter himself, his boy 
companions called him "Keith." Keith and his wife, born 
Malinda Pritchard, lived "under the Grandfather" when the 
Civil War commenced, and both became members of Zeb Vance's 
26th Regiment, he as W. M. and she as Sam Blalock. She wore 
a private's uniform and tented and messed with Keith. She 
watched the men "when they went in swimming" near Kinston, 
but never went in herself. Keith was a Union man and joined 
only to avoid conscription and in the hope that opportunity might 
offer for him to desert to the Union lines. But the fortunes of 
war did not afford this chance as speedily as he wished, so he 
went into the bushes and covered himself with poison oak. When 
this took effect the army surgeons were puzzled as to the nature 

* He also wonders if one of the Franklins, who had his tax list there, ever got 
it straightened out after the dance was over and the peach-juice exhausted. 

A History of Watauga County i6i 

of his complaint, but they agreed that he was then unfit for 
service and discharged him. Then "Sam" presented himself and 
convinced his colonel, Zeb Vance, that he was no longer fit for 
duty either, his lawful tent and messmate having been discharged. 
They returned to their home under the Grandfather, but it was 
not long till Keith had cured his infirmity by the frequent appli- 
cation of strong brine to the affected parts, brine being nothing 
more or less than strong salt water. Then Confederate sympa- 
thisers wanted to know why he did not return. Keith showed his 
discharge, and they answered by trying to arrest and conscript 
him. He and "Sam" retreated still further up under the Grand- 
father and lived in a rail pen. But they were followed even 
there, and on one occasion Keith was so hotly pursued that he 
was shot in the left arm, and had to take refuge with some hogs 
which had "bedded up" under the rocks. Keith then went 
through the lines into Tennessee and became recruiting officer 
for a Michigan regiment stationed in Tennessee. Whether true 
or not, Blalock believed that Robert Green, who then lived in the 
Globe, but had also a place at Blowing Rock, was in the party 
that had wounded him. Accordingly, when he and some of his 
comrades met Green one day while he was driving his wagon 
from the Globe to Blowing Rock, he shot Green as he ran down 
the side of the mountain, breaking his thigh. Green's friends 
say that Blalock's crowd left him lying as he had fallen, and that 
he managed to regain his wagon, turn it around and drive back 
home. Blalock's friends say that after he had wounded Green, 
shooting him through his wagon body and afterwards bragging 
on his marksmanship, he went to him, and finding him uncon- 
scious, took him to his wagon, put him in it, turned the wagon 
around and started the team in the direction of Green's home. 
This is doubted by Green's friends, however. Robert Green was 
the father of the late Judge L. L. Green, of this county. 

Four Coffey Brothers. — To go back a little, Keith Blalock's 
mother had married Austin Coffey, while Keith was a very little 
boy, and Coffey reared him to manhood. Austin Coffey lived al- 
most in sight of the home of his brother, McCaleb Coffey, in the 
Coffey Gap of the Blue Ridge and on the old Morganton Road. 


1 62 A History of Watauga County 

McCaleb was rather a Confederate sympathiser, having a son, 
Jones, in the Confederate army. Austin was rather a Union 
man, though too old to be drafted into the service. Of course, he 
sheltered and fed Keith and his comrades whenever he or they 
came to his home. But William and Reuben Coffey were pro- 
nounced Southern men, and active in forcing out-lyers and 
others subject to conscription into the ranks of the Confederate 
army. Meantime, Blalock was taking recruits through the lines 
into the Union army in Tennessee. Thus, a natural antagonism 
sprang up between him and William and Reuben CoflFey. 

Danger from Tennessee. — Up to the spring of 1864 the 
Union element in the mountains had been rather timid, but as 
the tide of battle turned against the Confederacy, and recruiting 
officers, of whom James Hartley was a conspicuous example, 
increased throughout the mountain region, Union men and 
women grew bolder. Then, too, there had been numerous de- 
sertions from the Southern army, and men not only from these 
mountains, but from Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia, were lying 
out in the mountains almost everywhere. Of course, they had 
to live, and if those who could would not feed them, they natur- 
ally tried to feed themselves. To do this they had to pilfer, 
steal and finally, in bands, to rob outright. A state of guerrilla 
warfare was thus imminent, when an event occurred which 
almost revolutionized matters in the mountains. This was Kirk's 
raid through the mountains to Camp Vance, six miles below 
Morganton. That it had been successful was almost a miracle, 
and the leaders of the Southern Confederacy realized the vulner- 
ability of its piedmont region to like incursions from East Ten- 
nessee. It should be remembered that General Burnside had 
long been in possession of Knoxville, Tenn., and that he might 
at almost any time send a large force through the mountains 
and destroy the railroad from Richmond to Columbia, the main 
artery of the Confederacy. To guard against this contingency. 
General Robert B. Vance, of Asheville, had been placed in com- 
mand of the Military District of Western North Carolina, as it 
was officially designated. Also, that on the 7th of July, 1863, 
the General Assembly of North Carolina had provided for the 

A History of Watauga County 163 

organization and equipment of the Home Guard, officially desig- 
nated as "The Guard for Home Defense," to be composed of 
all males between eighteen and fifty years of age. In April, 
1864, Gen. John W. McElroy, commanding the forces around 
Burnsville, wrote to Governor Vance that "the county is gone 
up," and that there was a determination on part of the people 
generally "to do no more service in the cause." ' 

Longstreet's Withdrawal. — General Longstreet had been de- 
tached from Lee's army in Virginia and sent to East Tennessee 
in 1863, where, after the Battle of Chickamauga, he drove the 
Federals back into Knoxville and besieged that place. But Lee 
could not long do without Longstreet, and so, in January, 1864, 
Longstreet tried to withdraw from Knoxville and return to 
Richmond with his army. No sooner, however, had Longstreet 
started than Burnside started after him. In anticipation of this. 
General Vance was ordered to cross the mountains through Hay- 
wood County and attack Burnside in flank as he pursued Long- 
street. Vance, however, was captured as soon as he reached 
the western slope of the Smoky Mountains, and sent to prison, 
his force of about 1,200 men of all arms retreating back to 
Buncombe as best they might. Thus the Military District of 
Western North Carolina was left without a general. But Col. 
J. B. Palmer, of the 58th North Carolina, asked to be placed in 
command, and he was accordingly transferred early in 1864 
from his regiment in the western army and placed in command. 
But General Lee wanted a West Point man in charge of this 
most important region, and assigned General James G. Martin 
to that position. Meantime, Keith Blalock was passing back 
and forth between the lines and keeping the Federal authorities 
informed of conditions around his old home "under the Grand- 
father." The mountains were at that time practically defense- 
less. Camp Vance with a few hundred recruits was the only 
force of moment between Knoxville and Salisbury, where were 
confined thousands of Federal prisoners. Blalock had grown 
up with Joseph V. Franklin, who was reared near Linville Falls 
and knew the country like a book. Col. George W. Kirk was 

' Rebellion Records, Series I, Vol. LIII, p. 485. 

164 A History of Watauga County 

then in command of the Third North CaroHna Mounted Infan- 
try, United States Army, and persuaded the mihtary authorities 
to allow him to make a raid to Camp Vance, release the con- 
scripts there, steal an engine and train, cut the wires, go on to 
Salisbury, release and arm the prisoners there and turn them 
loose on the country. It was a daring scheme, and the wonder 
is that Kirk was allowed to make the venture. 

Kirk's Camp Vance Raid. — With 130 men, including twelve 
Cherokee Indians, on foot and carrying their rations and arms 
and blankets, Kirk left Morristown, Tenn., June 13, 1864, and 
marched via Bull Gap, Greenville and the Crab Orchard, all 
in Tennessee, crossed the Big Hump Mountain and went up the 
Toe River, passing the Cranberry iron mine, where from forty 
to sixty men were detailed by the Confederate government 
making iron, when they camped near David Ellis' house and 
where rations were cooked for Kirk's men. On the 26th they 
scouted through the mountains, passing Pinola and crossing Lin- 
ville River. The following day they got to Upper Creek at 
dark, where they did not camp, but keeping themselves in the 
woods all the time, got to Camp \^ance at daylight. Here they 
demanded its surrender, which was agreed to. It had been 
Kirk's plan to take a locomotive and cars and such arms as he 
might find at the Camp and go to Salisbury, where the Federal 
prisoners confined there were to be released. Failing in that, he 
wanted to destroy the bridge over the Yadkin, but a telegram 
had been sent before they could cut the wire and that part of 
their scheme was abandoned. They captured 1,200 small arms, 
3,000 bushels of grain, 279 prisoners, thirty-two negroes and 
forty-eight horses and mules. Kirk also got forty recruits for 
his regiment, and then, after destroying the locomotive he found 
there, three cars, the depot and commissary buildings, he started 
to return. R. C. Pearson shot Hack Norton, of Madison County, 
one of Kirk's men, at Hunting Creek, but Kirk got over the 
Catawba River and camped that night. The next day they 
crossed John's River and Brown's Mountain, w-here they were 
fired into by pursuing Confederates at 3 :30 p. m. Kirk put some 
of his Camp \'ance prisoners in front, and one of them, B. A. 

A History of Watauga County 165 

Bowles, a drummer, was killed and a seventeen year old boy 
wounded. Colonel Kirk was himself wounded here with several 
others of his command. This was at Israel Beck's farm. They 
camped that night at top of the Winding Stairs Road, where 
they were attacked next morning. Col. W. W. Avery and Phillip 
Chandler were mortally wounded, Col. Calvin Houck was shot 
through the wrist and Powell Benfield through the thigh. The 
attacking party then retreated and Kirk continued his retreat, 
passing by Col. J. B. Palmer's home and burning it that morning. 
Kirk and all his men escaped without further mishap. On July 
21, 1864, General Stoneman, wiring from Atlanta, thanked and 
complimented Kirk, but instructed General Scofield at Knox- 
ville not to allow him to undertake another such hazardous ex- 
pedition. Joseph V. Franklin, now living at Drexel, N. C, was 
the guide. A man named Beech, who had been wounded, was 
left at John Franklin's, near Old Fields of Toe, where he was 
attended by Eleazer Pyatt. At Henry Barringer's, on Jonas's 
Ridge, some of Kirk's men threw off some of the plunder they 
had captured, lest its weight should retard their retreat. In his 
"Reminiscenses of Caldwell County" (p. 51), G. W. F. Harper 
gives an account of an attack upon Kirk's retreating men by ten 
men, including himself, at Moore's Cross Roads, where they 
captured one prisoner, two mules and some arms. No mention 
of this is made in the official report. (See Rebellion Records, 
Series i. Vol. XXXIX, Part I, p. 232.) Harper also states that 
the detachment which attacked Kirk at the head of the Winding 
Stairs was under command of Col. Allen Brown, from the garri- 
son at Salisbury, with militia and volunteers from Burke County, 
and was well armed. The pursuing party was composed of 
about 1,200 men. 

Death of William Coffey. — Kirk's raid in 1864 emboldened 
the Unionists in Watauga County, and Blalock went about in 
Federal uniform, fully armed. Between August, 1864, and 
February, 1865, the people of this section were harassed beyond 
measure, for not only had the deserters and outlyers to be fed 
by submitting to their thefts and robberies, but a body of men 
calling themselves Vaughan's Cavalry, and claiming to be Con- 

1 66 A History of Watauga County 

federates, came from Tennessee to Boone on their way to New- 
ton for the purpose of recruiting their horses, it was alleged, but 
to keep out of danger also, most probably. These men were 
worse than Kirk's or Stoneman's men, according to old people 
still living, stealing horses and mules and everything else they 
fancied. What they did not like they destroyed, throwing out 
of doors many of the household goods of the defenceless women 
and children. Col. W. L. Bryan and J. \V. Councill followed 
them to Newton and recovered two horses they had stolen from 
the latter in 1865. In these circumstances, there is no wonder 
that Blalock hunted out his enemies. Reuben Coffey was first 
sought, but he was not at home when Keith called. He and his 
aids then went to William Coffey's field, forced him to go half 
a mile with them to James Gragg's mill, and to sit astride a rude 
bench, where he was shot, Blalock turning over that act to a 
man named Perkins, because of the fact that William CoflFey 
was the brother of Austin Coffey, Keith's step-father. In 1864 
Keith also had what he called a "battle" with Jesse Moore in 
Carroll Moore's orchard, in which Jesse was wounded in the 
heel and Keith had an eye shot out. Pat, a son of Daniel Moore, 
had a thigh broken in same fight. This was in the Globe, in 
Caldwell, however. 

The Murder of Austin Coffey.' — These activities soon 
brought some of Colonel Avery's battalion on the scene, and a 
party of Captain James Marlow's company went to McCaleb 
Coffey's house in the Coflfey Gap. There they found Austin 
Coffey, who was recognized by John B. Boyd, and arrested. 
Boyd left his prisoner with Marlow's men and went on home in 
the Globe. That was Sunday, February 26, 1865. Nothing was 
seen of Austin Coffey after that till his body was discovered a 
week later in the woods by searchers sent out by his widow. 
All sorts of stories have been circulated as to what really hap- 
pened to Austin, and it was only recently that what is probably 
the true account was obtained from J. Filmore Coffey, of Foscoe. 
This gentleman is a son of Austin Coffey, having been born in 
1858. When he became a man and had married he stopped one 

» AusUn Coffey was the son of Jesse Coffey, and was born in 1818, and died 
on the 27th of February, 1865. 

A History of Watauga County 167 

night in 1882 at the house of a man named John Walker, near 
Shelby. When Walker learned Coffey's name and that he was 
the youngest son of Austin Coffey, Walker told him that he, 
Walker, had been a member of Marlow's company when Austin 
was turned over to them; that they had taken him to a vacant 
house about half way between Shull's Mills and Blowing Rock, 
known then as the Tom Henley place, where Nelson Coffey now 
lives, one-half mile west of the Blowing Rock Road. There a 
fire was kindled and Coffey went to sleep on the floor before it. 
While he was sleeping this John Walker was detailed to kill 
Austin Coffey, but refused. It was then that a base-born fellow, 
named Robert Glass, or Anders, volunteered to do the act, and 
while the old man slept shot him through the head. The body 
was taken to a laurel and ivy thicket near by and hidden. One 
week later a dog was seen with a human hand in his mouth. 
Search revealed the body. Glass, after suffering much mental 
torture, died long before 1882 in Rutherford County. J. F. 
Coffey acquits both John Boyd and Major A. C. Avery of all 
complicity in his father's death. 

Other "Activities."— About this time Levi Coffey, a son of 
Elisha, threw in his fortunes with Blalock and his companions, 
and when Benjamin Green and his men tried to arrest Levi at 
Mrs. Fox's house, above what is now Foscoe, the latter ran out 
of the house and was shot in the shoulder, but he escaped. This 
was during the autumn of 1864, as well as can now be deter- 
mined. This caused the bushv.hackers, as Blalock and his fol- 
lowers were called, when they were not called robbers outright, 
to turn against the Greens, and finding that Lott Green, a son 
of Amos, was at his home near Blowing Rock, they went there 
at night to arrest or kill him. Lott was expecting a physician to 
visit him that night, and when someone knocked at his door, he, 
thinking that the doctor had arrived, unsuspectingly opened it. 
Finding who his visitors really were, he drew back, slamming 
the door to. It just so happened that there were at that time 
in the house with Lott his brother, Joseph; his brother-in-^law, 
Henry Henley, the latter of the Home Guard, and L. L. Green, 
afterwards a judge of the Superior Court, then but seventeen 

1 68 A History of Watauga County 

years old, but also a member of the Home Guard. The bush- 
whackers are said to have been Keith Uialock, Levi Coffey, 
Sampson Calloway, son of Larkin, Edmund Ivy, of Georgia, 
a deserter from the Confederate army, A(lc)li)hus Pritchard, and 

Gardner, of Mitchell. Blalock demanded that all 

in the house surrender, whereupon Henly asked what treatment 
would be accorded them in case they surrendered, and Blalock is 
said to have answered: "As you deserve, damn you." Henley 
then slipped his gun through a crack of the door and fired, 
wounding Calloway in the side. The bushwhackers then retired, 
and the Green party, who followed, saw blood. Calloway was 
left at the house of John Walker, two miles above Shull's Mills. 
Henly led the party at Green's house, excepting L. L. Green, to 
Walker's, and surrounded it. Henly was at the rear and shot 
Edmund Ivy as he ran out, killing him. Blalock called to a 
woman to open the gate, and Mrs. Medie Walker, born Mc- 
Haarg, did so. Through this gate Blalock and his company 
escaped. A little later on, February 26, 1865, Captain James 
Marlow's infantry, expecting to unite with a detachment of 
cavalry under Nelson Miller at Valle Crucis, went to Austin 
CofTey's house and arrested Thomas Wright and Austin, Alex. 
Johnson, who claimed to be a recruiting officer for Kirk, having 
just left and gone to McCaleb Coffey's house.* The infantry 
followed, taking W^right with them, but W^right's wife and 
Blalock's mother, then Mrs. Austin CoflFey, went a nigh-way and 
gave warning to the inmates of McCaleb's house before the in- 
fantry arrived by calling out in a loud voice that the "rebels" 
were coming. Thereupon, Johnson dashed out of the door, and 
although fired on, escaped unhurt. Most of the infantry fol- 
lowed Johnson, but John Boyd, in charge of four or five men, 
entered the house, where they found Sampson Calloway, he 
having been removed from the Walker house which Henly had 
attacked. Calloway got into bed and was not arrested, but Austin 
CoflFey was arrested, as before related. All now agree that 
Austin Coffey did not deserve his fate : that he was a big- 

• Brooks and Smoot, "two preacher men," also engaged In piloting Union men 
through the lines to Tennessee, via Elk Cross Roads, Sutherland and Cut Laurel 
Gap, were killed on the left of the road to Blowing Rock, beyond where Kilby 
Hartley lives, by the Home Guard. 

A History of Watauga County 169 

hearted man, who had fed Confederates as well as Union men 
at his house. He was a Union man, but not active in arresting 
Southern sympathizers, and had tried to prevent the raids on 
Lott Green's and Carroll Moores' houses. 

Two Michiganders Escape. — Reuben Coffey, sick of living 
in a turmoil with his neighbors, had left the Globe and moved to 
a house on Meat Camp, but needing some household articles he 
had left at his Globe home, returned during this winter, accom- 
panied by his daughter, MilHe, who was riding a white horse. 
The robbers had taken all of McCaleb Coffey's horses, and when 
the white horse appeared McCaleb threw a "grise" of corn over 
his back to be taken to Elisha Coffey's mill by Miss Millie. On 
their way down the mountain Reuben and his daughter met two 
men, who said they were from Michigan and had escaped from 
prison. They were not in uniform, neither were they armed. 
Reuben had a gun and arrested them, after which he took them 
by McCaleb Coffey's house to David Miller's, one mile away, 
hoping to get Miller to go with him and them to Camp Mast on 
Cove Creek, but Miller excused himself, and Reuben went on 
alone with his prisoners. When they got to the intersection 
of the turnpike with the old Morganton Road, about two miles 
above Shull's Mills, one of the prisoners called Reuben's atten- 
tion to some rude benches standing on one side of the road, and 
when he looked in the direction indicated the other seized his 
gun, while his companion struck Reuben a blow on the back of 
his head with a heavy stick. In the ensuing scuffle the two over- 
came Reuben and took his gun away from him. At that moment, 
after having tried to shoot him and failing only because the cap 
snapped, they heard Wilson Beech, a boy, returning at a gallop 
from the mill, when they ran off and escaped. This boy, now 
an elderly man, remembers that he was working in the field at 
McCaleb Coffey's, with Polly Hawkins as a helper, when they 
saw James C. Coffey coming down the road on foot. He said, 
"Hurrah ! the war is over." This, however, was in April, 1865. 

The Sins of the Children. — Leading up to the surrender of 
this camp are several very distressing circumstances. Levi Guy, 
who lived on Watauga River near its falls and its passage into 

170 A History of Watauga County 

Tennessee, was an old man during the Civil War, His three 
sons, Canada, Enoch and David, were active Union men. Their 
enemies called them robbers. There were near the head of 
North Fork of New River several men of the name of Potter 
and others named Stout. Thomas Stout, another old man, had 
three sons, Abram, Daniel and John, who, with the Potters and 
Guys, were charged with many depredations throughout this 
region. One night in 1863 a band of men, among whom were 
supposed to have been the three Guy "boys," as they were called, 
went to the home of Paul Farthing on Beaver Dams, where 
Lewis Farthing now lives, and after demanding his surrender, 
fired into the log walls of his residence. It had been agreed by 
the people of this neighborhood that, in case any house should 
be attacked, horns or trumpets should be blown, so that all who 
heard the signal might hasten to the assistance of those in 
trouble. This alarm was sounded from the upper story of Paul 
Farthing's house by his women folk, while he fired at the at- 
tacking party from the rooms below. Several neighbors heard 
the alarm and started to the rescue. Among these was Thomas 
Farthing, and he was shot dead as he approached the house, the 
robbers taking flight immediately thereafter. Some time later 
Levi Guy was captured by some of the Confederate Home Guard 
and hanged, although he protested that he had done nothing more 
than shelter his own sons when they came to his house for food 
and beds. Paul Farthing was falsely charged with having been 
concerned in this deed. 

While Isaac Wilson, son of Hiram, was ploughing in his field 
at the head of the North Fork of Cove Creek, bushwhackers, 
among whom are supposed to have been Potters and Stouts, 
slipped up on him and shot him dead. Soon thereafter Canada 
Guy and a boy named Jacob May, a son of JefT May, of Roan 
Creek, Tenn., were captured by Daniel Sheppard and some of 
Captain Price's men of Ashe County, near Sutherland, and 
hanged, though it is said that May was innocent and was ex- 
honorated from all complicity by Guy before he was killed.' 

' It is said that Sheppard was afterwards captured and hanged on a dogwood 
In Johnson County, Tenn., but that the rope brolie. Jeff May, his raptor, then 
took the halter from Sheppard's horse and strangled Sheppard to death with Jt. 

A History of Watauga County 171 

After this it is claimed that Paul Farthing's house was again 
attacked at night, but that he returned the fire and wounded or 
killed one of the assailants, as blood was seen on the road lead- 
ing away from the dwelling. Then, sometime afterwards — 
dates are lacking all through this period— Old Man Thomas 
Stout, father of the Stout boy or boys charged with having been 
concerned in the killing of Isaac Wilson, was captured by Con- 
federate Home Guards in the spring of 1864 and taken to Hiram 
Wilson's on Cove Creek, where he was kept all night. Big Isaac 
Wilson, a cousin of "Little" Isaac, the slain man; Jay or Jehu 
Howington and Gilbert Norris are said to have started with 
Stout next day for Camp Vance, below Morganton, and after 
having been told to go "the nigh-way." Thomas Stout was 
never seen alive again. Two months later James H. Presnell 
was cow-hunting on Rich Mountain and found a shoe. He 
reported this to his brother, Col. W. W. Presnell, when he 
got back to their home on Brushy Fork. The next day the 
two brothers went back to the place at which the shoe had 
been found, and within fifty paces they found what remained 
of the body of Thomas Stout, including his gray hair. It had 
been placed in the cavity formed by the blowing down of an 
oak tree; logs had then been placed beside the body and the 
whole covered with brush and leaves. Not far ofif, dangling from 
a leaning white oak, was the hickory thong by which he had 
been hanged, with the noose still in a circular form, though 
it had been cut in two when the body was removed. Colonel 
Presnell reported these facts to Abram Lewis, an officer at 
Camp Mast, and soon afterwards Thomas Stout's widow had 
the remains removed and buried near her home." Thus was the 
Bible promise reversed, that the sins of the fathers should be 
visited upon the children ; but, alas, the sins of the children are 
much oftener visited upon their fathers ! 

Retribution? — It became necessary sometime in the fall of 
1864 to gather the crop of Big Isaac Wilson on the head of the 

' E. B. Miller, of Meat Camp, says that on the 10th of April, 1865, he was 
near the Little Cavit of the Rich Mountain, and hearing some one sobbing, went 
to the place from which the sound came. There, at the root of the tree, stood 
Mrs. Tom Stout with the bones of her husband in her apron, crying as if her 
heart would break. 

172 A History of Watauga County 

North Fork of Cove Creek. Friends of Thos. Stout knew of 
this and were lying in wait when the men came with fell purpose. 
They shot and killed Howington ' and James Xorris, a son of 
Gilbert's, while Big Isaac himself was severely wounded, but 
recovered. It is said that Gilbert Xorris afterwards went blind. 
All concerned in the death of old Levi Guy are said to have 
speedily come to a bad end, also. 

Some Watauga Amazons. — In "the course of human events" 
it so happened in John Walker's lifetime, as it had in the Decla- 
ration of Independence, that things had got past all endurance. 
He was a soldier in Camp Mast, but he was sick and tired of it 
all. John wanted to be well out of it, but he did not wish to 
desert. Therefore, when it came time for him to spend a week 
at the home of his father, Meredith Walker, he got Levi CofTey 
and Erwin Calloway, a brother of W. H. Calloway, afterwards 
sheriflF, to "capture" him at the end of his week at home. But 
it would never do for Levi to be known in the matter, as he was 
John's best friend, and for Calloway to capture him unaided 
might seem to smack of complicity. But it had so chanced that, 
some time before, Henderson Calloway had brought in from 
Tennessee a full United States officer's uniform, shoulder-straps, 
belt and sword. Adorned in these, it was hoped that Erwin 
would not be recognized, but where were the "assisting force" 
to come from? Levi was not long in answering. His own wife, 
Edith and Elvira Taylor, Catharine and Jemima Yarber and 
Frankie Danner were "force" enough for the occasion. So he 
got them to assume male attire and armed them with "stick 
guns." At night Erwin Calloway, panoplied in full regimentals, 
marched his squad into the Walker yard and halted them at the 
front door, himself rapping for admittance. John and his women 
folk, with white faces, appeared and opened the door. Erwin 
demanded his surrender, the female guard, with sergeant Levi 
Coflfey remaining in the dark, but still dimly visible. There was 
a parley, John's women pleading for him, with tear-bedimmed 

' Dr. J. G. Rivers lived at the Swift place on Cove Creek and was the first 
to hear of the killing of these men. He ran his horse to Camp Mast and reported 
the facts, and the entire camp hastened to the scene. Doctor Rivers was with 
Howington toward his end and Howington asked him why it was so hard for 
him to die. Rivers asked if he had anything on his mind. He said he had 
helped hang old man Thomas Stout, and had never known any peace since. He 
then died. 

A History of Watauga County 173 

eyes. Erwin went inside, leaving Levi to keep the sentinels 
outside alert and watchful, which he did by gvufi commands. 
But Erwin was obdurate, and tore John away from the arms of 
his family and marched him to the squad outside. For effect 
Jonathan McHaarg was also captured at the same time and place, 
the women of the family alone being ignorant of the deception 
practiced. Meantime, however, it had become bruited about that 
Yankees were in the gap of the mountain, and France and Wilts 
Beech, two boys, were started on horses for Camp Bingham to 
bring assistance. These were met by Erwin's squad and turned 
back, while John Walker was taken on to a ridge and rock cliff 
just above Elisha Coffey's Mill, afterwards known as Lenoir's 
Stonewall Mill, where he was fed by Elisha whenever he went 
out to feed his hogs. It was about one week later that John 
walked into his home, apparently much crippled up and sorely 
distraught, but bearing an iron clad paper-writing with his signa- 
ture attached, a duplicate of one he declared the Yankees in Ten- 
nessee had compelled him to sign while in captivity in order to 
secure his parole. ■ Of course this was merely a fake, but it 
worked, for when Bingham sent for John the messenger advised 
John to respect his parole, and he was left at home till the sur- 
render at Appomattox and ever thereafter. 

Camp Mast at Sugar Grove. — Captain Price had a company 
of the Home Guards at Jefferson, while Major Harvey Bingham 
had two companies at a camp on Cove Creek, four miles above 
Valle Crucis, which had been named in honor of the Mast 
family. It was just below the old Mast Mill, now called Pete 
Mast's Mill. Geo. McGuire was captain of one company and 
Jordan Cook of the other. The land on which it stood is now 
occupied by the residence and grounds of Boone Deal. Only 
one-half of the force was in camp at any one time, the other 
half being at their homes every alternate week. The camp con- 
sisted of wooden shacks and tents. There were also some forti- 
fications around it. Many wounded Confederate soldiers formed 
part of the garrison of Home Guards stationed there. The men 
were rather poorly armed, and Major Avery's battalion was on 
its way to supply them with better weapons in February, 1865, 
when it was surrendered, as will more fully appear later on. 

174 ^ History of Watauga County 

The Battle on the Beech. — In the fall of 1864 nine men went 
to James l-'arthing's home, a mile and a half below what is now 
Ward's Store on lower Watauga River, robbed iiim, shot him and 
left him for dead. They then went a mile further up, to Reuben 
P. Farthing's, claiming to be Confederates. Thomas Farthing 
was up stairs in Reuben's house, wounded. But he had a pistol, 
and hearing what was passing below, put his head out of the 
window and ordered the nine men to leave. They did so, but 
took several horses from one of Thomas Farthing's brothers as 
he was going with them to the pasture. Word was sent to Major 
Bingham, who immediately came with eighteen men. Rations 
for three days were then cooked by the Farthings for these men, 
and they followed the horses to Cranberry and recaptured them, 
returning to the old Joel Eggers place near Balm, where they 
stayed that night. Captain James Hartley was notified of their 
presence there, and supposing that they would return to Valle 
Crucis by the Bowers' Gap, secreted himself and thirteen of his 
men there and awaited Bingham's approach. But Bingham had 
decided to return to Reuben Farthing's below Ward's Store for 
the purpose of returning the recaptured horses. There is a 
wagon road there now, but then there was only a trail. One of 
Hartley's runners informed him of Bingham's purpose, and 
Hartley, taking a near w^ay up the ridge, arrived in time to con- 
front them at the place now owned by Lee Gwaltney, seven 
miles from Ward's Store and one mile from what is now Balm. 
This spot is about half way between the Hanging Rock and the 
South Pinnacle of the Beech, but then known as the Abe Baird 
land. In the fight which ensued Richard Kilby was killed and 
Elliott Bingham, a brother of the Major's, so badly wounded 
that he died afterwards. These men belonged to Major Bing- 
ham's battalion. None of Hartley's men was hurt. The Con- 
federates retreated, although they greatly outnumbered the 
attacking force. A. J. McBride, of Bingham's command, al- 
though a preacher, cursed and swore when ordered to retreat. 

Surrender of Camp Mast. — It is difficult to get the exact date 
of the fall of this mountain stronghold, for weak as it was, it 
was all there was at that time, but T. P. Adams, of Dog Skin 

A History of Watauga County 175 

Creek, says it was the 5th of February, 1865. As he was one of 
the captured garrison, he probably knows. Assuming that this 
is the correct date, on the 4th of February of that year Captain 
James Champion, of Indiana, a recruiting officer for the Federals, 
gathered at Banner Elk about one hundred Union men, most of 
whom were armed after one fashion or another, but many of 
them had no weapons at all. He marched them that day to 
Valle Crucis, where they halted, killed one of Henry Taylor's 
beeves, cooked it and had supper. This dispatched, Captain 
Champion made them a speech, in which he told them of his 
plans. But, he added, that if there was any man in the party 
who expected to loot or rob or burn or destroy any property not 
strictly contraband, he m.ust fall out, as all he expected to do or 
allow to be done was to burn the camp, capture the garrison and 
disable the arms found there. Out of 123 men in his command, 
twenty fell out, indicating that they had joined in the hope of 
plunder only. With James Isaacs for guide, the residue started, 
following the public road to the old Ben Councill place at what 
has been called Vilas since Cleveland's first post-master general 
was in office. They crossed Brushy Fork Creek at this point 
and took the ridge between that stream and Cove Creek, and 
came down upon Camp Mast just before a chill dawn. It 
seemed, however, as they passed over the frozen ground, that the 
clang of their horses' shoes had aroused every dog in Christen- 
dom, and just before reaching the camp a flock of sheep became 
frightened and fled helter-skelter down the ridge toward the 
camp, with bells jingling and sheep bleating, thus making a verit- 
able pandemonium. But the camp was still asleep, and Champion's 
men were placed at regular intervals around it, each second man 
being required to build a fire. When the palid dawn gave way 
to a roseate sunrise and reveille sounded, the sleepy garrison 
looked out upon the frozen hills but to discover that they were 
indeed encompassed round about, if not by an army with ban- 
ners, at least by an apparent wall of smoke and fire. Champion 
had divided his force into three companies, one under I. V. 
Reese, the second under Aaron Voncannon, while he remained in 
charge of the third. General Franklin, General being his bap- 

176 A History of Watauga County 

tismal name and not a mere empty title of military rank, was 
sent forward with a flag of truce, returning soon afterwards with 
Captain George McGuire, who was native and to the manner 
born, but afterwards suspected by some to have conspired with 
Champion for the surrender of the Camp, as the latter had 
selected a time when Major Harvey Bingham had gone to Ashe 
to confer with Captain Price as to some desired co-operation 
between the two forces. McGuire reported that he had taken a 
vote and found that about sixty of his men favored surrender, 
while eleven voted to fight. He was sent back for the names of 
those on each side of the question, and soon returned with them. 
The minority was overruled and the garrison surrendered, all 
being over by nine o'clock that winter morning. They were 
taken down Cove Creek, crossing Watauga River at the old Ben 
Baird place, and followed the old Bedent Baird Road over Beech 
Mountain to George Bugger's, and thence to where Sam Banner 
lived, where Keith Blalock's son joined them, taking charge of 
the prisoners. When these reached Ham Ray's at Shell Creek in 
Tennessee most of those who had voted to surrender were 
paroled and discharged, while all of those who had voted to 
fight, except T. P. Adams, were sent on to Camp Chace. Mc- 
Guire went on, but not to Camp Chace. He rode with the 
officers and never returned to this State. 

Paul and Reuben Farthing. — When the question of surren- 
dering was put to the garrison at Camp Mast, Paul Farthing de- 
clared that the surrender of the Camp meant the surrender of his 
life. Miss Sophronia ]\Iast, a daughter of the venerable Joseph 
Mast, of Sugar Grove, and Miss Melinda Williams, now the wife 
of Mr. Wesley Holtsclaw, were returning at dawn from having 
sat up all night with a sick neighbor, when they discovered that 
they were within the lines of Champion's men encircling the camp. 
They were detained there, and while waiting to be allowed to 
proceed to their homes advised Paul Farthing and his nephew to 
escape by following the stream under the bushes growing on the 
bank of the creek flowing hard by, but they said it had grown too 
light and that they would be discovered and killed. Paul Farth- 
ing, however, gave Sophronia his pistol, knife and pocket-book, 

A History of Watauga County 177 

and Dr. J. G. Rivers, who was also of the surrendered garri- 
son, entrusted some things to Miss WilHams, and these articles 
were afterwards faithfully delivered by these two young girls, 
Miss Mast afterwards becoming the wife of Captain Newton 
Banner. The two Farthings, Paul and his nephew, Reuben, did 
die at Camp Chase, just as they had predicted would be the case 
if surrendered. 

Stoneman's Raid. — General Stoneman reached Boone in the 
forenoon of March 28, 1865. The day was fair. Some men in 
the house which stood where J. D. Councill's residence now 
stands, among whom was W. Waightstill Gragg, fired on the 
head of the column as it came down the road from Hodges 
Gap. This was enough : Warren Green was killed ; so were 
Jacob M. Councill and Ephraim Norris. The following were 
wounded: Calvin Green, son of Alexander Green; Sheriff 
A. J. McBride, Thomas Holder, son of Elisha; John Brown, 
son of Joseph Brown, of Gap Creek, and W. Waightstill 
Gragg, of the First North Carolina Cavalry, who was then 
at home on a furlough. The house from which the shooting 
had been done, now J. D. Councill's, was converted into a 
hospital and the Federal surgeon did his best for the wounded. 
Calvin Green was taken to the old Jordan Councill house. He 
had been badly wounded, but recovered. McBride had been shot 
in the breast, but the ball followed a rib and lodged near his 
spine, from which the Federal surgeon removed it, while Mc- 
Bride lay on his stomach on the floor, without anaesthetics of 
any kind. Holder's wound was in the hip and groin. He lived 
on Howard's Creek, but is now dead. Brown had his ankle 
broken. Gragg's wound was not very severe. He lived a short 
distance above the house now occupied by Benjamin Brannock. 
After the firing from the Councill house, Stoneman's men 
charged, and all who were in that house or near it ran through 
the fields toward the foot of Howard's Knob. Hence, all were 
wounded in the rear, except McBride, who was hit in the breast. 
The house in which Jacob M. Councill was killed is called the 
Mark Hodge house. It still stands, in rear of Benjamin Coun- 
cill's home, though untenanted now. Jacob had been ploughing 
and was putting his harness up when one of Stoneman's men 


178 A History of Watauga County 

came to the door and shot him dead, notwithstanding his pro- 
testations. A colored woman, Phoebe by name, who had been 
at work with him, saw the deed. 

Official Account. — Major-General George Stoneman's com- 
mand, consisting of a cavalry division and a battery of artillery, 
left Knoxville March 21, 1865, and camped at Strawberry Plains, 
and by the 27th forded Doe River and crossed the Smoky Moun- 
tains into North Carolina, moving out at 5 :oo a. m. March 28th 
and reaching Boone about eleven o'clock that morning. Here the 
division divided, the first brigade taking the route to Yadkin 
River, while part of the remainder went through Deep Gap to 
Wilkesboro. Col. George W. Kirk, in command of the second 
and third North Carolina Mounted Infantry, United States 
Army, left Taylorsville, Tcnn., on the 5th of April and came to 
Boone, where he was joined next day by Brigadier-General Davis 
Tillson. On the morning of the 7th Major Bahney left with the 
second North Carolina Mounted Infantry for Deep Gap, and 
Major W. W. Rollins, with 200 men of the third North Carolina 
Infantry, went to Blowing Rock Gap, called by army officers 
Watauga Gap, while Colonel Kirk, with 406 men, remained in 
Boone. General Tillson gave instructions for building rough 
but formidable field works and the collection of as large a supply 
of forage and subsistence as possible, while Kirk was instructed 
to barricade the Meat Camp road leading through State Gap and 
also a road not then on General Tillson's military map, leading 
through Sampson Gap, between Deep and Watauga Gaps, a few 
miles from the latter. On the 27th of April the second and 
third North Carolina Mounted Infantry were moved toward 
Asheville, reaching there on the 30th. (Rebellion Records, 
Series I, Vol. XLIX, Part i, pp. 323 to 337.) Signal stations on 
mountain tops were estabHshed from Butler, Tenn., to Lenoir, 
N. C. 

Obeyed Orders. — Boone court house was pierced with holes 
to fire through, while a barricade was made around it of timbers 
taken from an unfinished building which then stood where the 
Blair hotel now stands, and from another half finished house 
then standing near Blackburn's present hotel. Deep Gap and 

A History of Watauga County 179 

Blowing Rock also were fortified, traces of both fortifications 
being still visible. William P. Welch, now living at Deep Gap, 
recalls the fort and many incidents connected with the fortifica- 
tion of that place. It was a palisaded fort enclosing about one 
acre and ditched around. The J. D. Councill house stands now 
on the site of his father's residence, destroyed by fire in the fall 
of 1878, which was used as a hospital for the wounded soldiers 
who fell in that skirmish. 

Other Details. — From the same source (p. 330) it is learned 
that when camped ten miles west of Jonesboro, Tenn., the train 
came up and "the First and Second Brigades drew all the rations 
the men could carry conveniently. On the 26th of March the 
command moved, cutting loose from all incumbrances in the 
way of trains. One wagon, ten ambulances and four guns with 
their caissons were the only wheeled vehicles that accompanied 
the expedition . . . On the 27th a portion of the command 
moved up the Watauga River, and after halting for a short time 
at the mouth of Roan Creek to feed, marched until 12 :oo p. m., 
when we bivouacked on the eastern slope of the Iron Mountain 
until daylight, when the march was resumed. About 10 :oo a. m. 
on the 28th, when approaching the town of Boone, it was learned 
that there was a meeting of the home guard in that town to take 
place on that day. Major Keogh, aide-de-camp to Major-General 
Stoneman, went forward with a detachment of the Twelfth 
Kentucky Volunteer Cavalry and surprised and routed the rebels, 
killing nine * and capturing sixty-eight. ... At Boone the 
command separated, General Stoneman, with Palmer's Brigade 
(First), going by way of Deep Gap to Wilkesborough, whilst I, 
with Brown's Brigade (Second) and the artillery, moved toward 
the place by the Flat Gap road. . . . At 9 :oo p. m. Brown's 
Brigade arrived at Patterson's factory, at the foot of the Blue 
Ridge, and found an ample supply of corn and bacon. I remained 
in rear to give my personal attention to the artillery, which did 
not arrive at the factory until 7 :oo a. m. on the 29th. After 
feeding and resting, the march was resumed at 1 1 :oo a. m., a 
guard having been left in charge of the forage and subsistence 

' Only three men were killed, and five wounded. 

i8o A History of Watauga County 

until the arrival of Colonel Miller, who had orders, after sup- 
plying his command, to destroy the remainder and burn the 
factory. The order was executed . . ." * According to Gen- 
eral Stoneman's report (p. 324), his command was detained on 
the Yadkin River three days by a freshet, but the tithing depots 
along the route traversed by their various parties furnished them 
with supplies in the greatest abundance. "The number of horses 
and mules captured and taken along the road, 1 have no means 
of estimating. I can say, however, that we are much better 
mounted than when we left Knoxville. Have a surplus of led 
animals and sufficient besides to haul off all of our captures, 
mount a portion of the prisoners and about a thousand contra- 
bands [negroes], and this after crossing Stone Mountain once 
and the Blue Ridge three times and a march made by head- 
quarters since the 20th of March of 500 miles and much more 
by portions of the command. The rapidity of our movements 
has in almost every instance caused our advanced guard to 
herald our approach and made the surprise complete." 

A Real Home Guard. — The men who met in Boone on the day 
Stoneman arrived were Confederate soldiers at home because of 
wounds or illness or on parole. They had met to form a real 
home guard, not against the Federals, but against the robbers 
and marauders of both sides. Soon after the close of hostilities 
the Federal authorities at Salisbury authorized some of the Con- 
federate soldiers who had been officers in the army to organize 
a home guard for Watauga County. Col. Joseph W. Todd, who 
then resided in this county, was made captain, and he soon re- 
stored order in and about Boone. He moved to Jefferson, where 
he became a practicing attorney. He was born September 3, 
1834, at Jefferson, and died there January 28, 1909. He married 
Miss Sallie Waugh, of Shouns. For his ancestry, see sketch of 
Jos. W. Todd, his cousin. 

Robbing Mrs. Jonathan Horton. — While Kirk's men were 
stationed in Boone, about the first part of April, 1865, John 

» Clem Osborne, of North Fork, was at the factory for the purpose of buying 
thread. He was chased to the top of the factory, and when about to be killed, 
gave a Masonic sign, which saved his life. Some time afterwards when 
apparently "tipsy" he was urged to tell what sign he had given and what words 
he had used. He gave a sign, and mumbled certain words Indistinctly, but 
which turned out to be "Calf rope." He wasn't nearly so drunk as he pretended 
to be. 

A History of Watauga County i8l 

Ford, William Thomas Benson and John Roland were said to 
have been concerned in the robbery of Mrs. Jonathan Horton, 
on Shearer's Hill, near Three Forks Church, and taking from 
her clothing a purse containing some jewelry. She was made to 
dismount and give up her horse, but as she got down she gave 
the horse a lick with her riding switch and he ran away home, 
thus escaping capture. Later on Ford and some of his com- 
panions stopped at the home of Ransom Hayes, at what is now 
known as the Green Brick House, and one of Hayes' daughters, 
now Mrs. W. L. Bryan, noticed that he was wearing on the 
lapel of his coat a gold brooch, containing a miniature of Mrs. 
Horton's husband, Col. Jonathan Horton. She asked him what 
he was doing with it, and he said he had no use for it, and gave 
it to her and requested that she return it to Mrs. Horton, which 
was done. In the "Worth Correspondence" (Vol. H, p. 267), 
Colonel Carr, of the commission to investigate oppressions of 
Union people, claims that Benson, who, with two others, was 
indicted for highway robbery from the person of Mrs. Horton, 
was of the Union army and had been ordered to impress horses, 
to which Solicitor Bynum replied that the evidence before him 
showed that if Benson "ever had belonged to the Union army he 
had deserted, and the robbery was under no authority, but for 
his own private gain and done under circumstances of wanton 
outrage and cruelty." It cannot be determined from the court 
records what the facts were as to the indictment, but several old 
men yet living were at the trial of John Ford at least, and re- 
member that Judge Buxton, who presided, held that the evidence 
showed that the robbery had been committed before Lee's sur- 
render and was not indictable under Andrew Johnson's procla- 
mation of amnesty. It is not at all certain that John Roland was 
even charged with that offense, and it is well established now, 
from the general opinion of his neighbors near Cook's Gap, that 
Benson had nothing to do with the robbery, even if he was in- 
dicted for it. The facts about Benson are said to be about as 
follows : \^^illiam Thomas Floyd Benson was a member of a 
regiment in the Confederate army and lived near Wilmington, 
N. C. He, with several others, deserted and got to Buck's Ridge, 

1 82 A History of Watauga County 

near where Jordan Hampton's residence now stands. Here they 
camped and rested a week, buying a heifer of WilHam Cook and 
paying for other rations they consumed while there. They then 
went to Carter County, Tennessee, where Benson enlisted in 
Stoneman's command as William Tiiomas Floyd, enlisting at 
Jonesboro. He now draws a pension in that name. When some 
of his relatives some years ago came from Wilmington to Blow- 
ing Rock and enquired for Tliomas Benson, they were directed 
to go to Cook's Gap, where they identified him as their kinsman. 
He is said also to have drawn his share of his father's estate 
some years ago. His character is good. 

"Peace, Peace, When There Was No Peace." — The great 
Civil War was over at last, and the harassed and impoverished 
people of Watauga County hoped for a cessation of hostilities 
and the burial of all animosities, feuds and misunderstandings. 
Most men and women "took heart of hope" and began all over 
again. Ploughshare and reaping-hook took the place of sword 
and rifle. But others were completely discouraged and inclined 
to move away and seek homes elsewhere. Among these was 
Jordan Councill, the second, who had been the foremost and only 
merchant in this section from about 1820 till Boone was formed 
into the county seat. He decided to sell out before the United 
States government confiscated all he had. Squire Daniel B. 
Dougherty, however, took a more hopeful view of the future. 
Councill offered to sell out to Dougherty for half the value of 
his land, and Dougherty, who is said to have had little or no 
money, agreed to buy. Accordingly, on the first day of August, 
1865, Jordan Councill gave D. B. Dougherty his bond for title 
to all his land and property in and around Boone when Dougherty 
should pay him $3,000.00 cash. (Deed Book M, p. 248.) Coun- 
cill moved away, but returned and recovered all the property 
Dougherty had not sold, the proceeds of that which had been 
sold having been applied on the bond. But that had not been all. 
In the May and June following Appomattox, a sort of guerilla 
warfare had been going on "below the Ridge." and the returned 
Confederate soldiers at the request of the Federal authorities 
formed themselves into a Home Guard for the protection of 

A History of Watauga County 183 

such little personal property as had escaped the robbers during 
the war, for the country was for months infested with all sorts 
of roving characters, returning soldiers, adventurers and desper- 
adoes of all kinds. Henry Henly, who lived just below Blowing 
Rock, was killed at the capture of Fort Hamby, and anarchy 
seemed to have ''come down on us like night." 

Fort Hamby. — Even after the surrender the trouble con- 
tinued. "Several worthless characters deserted Stoneman's com- 
mand along this march and formed with native bushwhackers 
bands under the leadership of two desperate men. Wade and 
Simmons. Wade's party located in a log house on a high hill 
half a mile north of Holman's Ford of the Yadkin River, in 
Wilkes County. Being heavily armed with army rifles and pis- 
tols, they made daily raids into the surrounding country, robbing, 
plundering and terrorizing the citizens, taking everything they 
could find to eat, as well as horses, etc. Their practice was to 
ride up to a house, dismount and enter, pointing loaded guns at 
any persons occupying the house, threatening to shoot if they 
opened their mouths, while others were searching closets, trunks, 
drawers, etc., taking what suited them. The people for miles 
and miles in the country surrounding lived in constant dread of 
them, as they seemed filled with a spirit of hatred and revenge, 
treating all persons not in sympathy with them with the greatest 
cruelty. The house they used was finely located for offensive as 
well as defensive operations. On a high hill, facing the Yadkin 
River on the south and front, and Lewis' Fork on the west, 
their guns could sweep the country for a half a mile each way up 
and down the river. The house was two stories, with portholes 
cut in the upper story. It was formerly occupied by a family 
named Hamby, and after being fortified was known as Fort 
Hamby. The robbers, numbering probably twenty-five or thirty, 
made several raids into Caldwell and Alexander Counties . . . 
insulting in the grossest manner the women and children . . . 
Major Harvey Bingham, with a small home guard, followed the 
raiders out of Caldwell County on May 6th (1865) . . . sur- 
prising the defenders in the fort at night. . . . The men 
begged for their lives, and no arms being in sight, Major Bing- 

184 A History of Watauga County 

ham gave them time to dress. Tlie prisoners . . . rushed 
for their guns and fired on the attacking party, kilHng two, 
Robert Clark, son of General Clark, and Henry Henly . . . 
the others . . . made their escape, leaving the dead bodies 
on the ground. The next week they raided the home of Rev. 
J. R. Green in Alexander County. But his son was home from 
the army and fired on the robbers, driving them off. Col. Wash- 
ington Sharp, of Iredell County, gathered about twenty men, 
pursued . . . and rushed up to within a few yards of the 
fort, when \\'ade's men opened fire and killed two, Mr. James 
Linney, brother of Hon. R. Z. Linney, and Mr. Jones Brown 
. . . the others made a hasty retreat, leaving the two dead 
bodies. Colonel Sharp then collected a squad of about twenty 
returned soldiers, and sent a message to Caldwell County for 
help . . . Among those who went were A. S. Kent, T. L. 
Norwood, Jas. W. Norwood, George H. Dula, Robert B. Dula, 
and S. F. Harper. They collected others along the way . . . 
and waited at Holman's Ford for the Alexander company about 
May i8th. The robbers had killed a woman at the ford the day 
before. The fort was surrounded, and at nightfall a kitchen near 
the fort was set on fire and from it the fort itself caught. Sharp 
was in command. The besieged asked what would be done with 
them if they surrendered, and were told that they would be 
killed. They came out, with Wade in front holding up his 
hands as though he intended to surrender, but kept running and 
escaped. His comrades, four men, then surrendered and were 
tied to stakes and shot, after the Rev. W. R. Gwaltney had 
prayed for thbn. This ended the marauding and robbing in that 
section. Henry Hamby was from Watauga County. The above 
v^^as condensed from "The Capture of Fort Hamby," by S. Finley 
Harper (p. 45) ; "Reminiscenses of Caldwell County, North 
Carolina, in the Great War of 1861-65," by G. W. F. Harper. 

Blalock's Threat.— When Keith Blalock was told that John 
B. Boyd had arrested Austin Coffey and that Coffey was dead, 
he swore he would kill Boyd if it took forty years after the war 
to do so. It did not take nearly so long, for on the evening of 
February 8, 1866, when Boyd and William T. Blair were going 

A History of Watauga County 185 

from a house on which they had been at work they met Blalock 
and Thomas Wright in a narrow path at the head of the Globe. 
Blalock asked, "Is that you, Boyd ?" and Boyd answered, "Yes," 
at the same time striking Blalock with a cane, the blow being 
aimed at his head. Blalock caught the blow on his left wrist, 
ran backwards a few steps and shot Boyd dead with a seven- 
shooting Sharp's rifle. Keith made Blair turn Boyd's body over, 
and finding that all life was extinct, turned and left the scene, 
stopping at Noah White's house to tell him what had been done. 
Blalock was examined before the Provost Marshal at Morganton, 
and he sent the case to Judge Mitchell at Statesville, but Gov- 
ernor Holden pardoned him before trial.^° 

Post Bellum Echoes. — From "Correspondence of Jonathan 
Worth," published by Edwards & Broughton Printing Co., 
Raleigh, 1909 (Vol. II, p. 725, etc.), we learn that Major Frank 
Walcott, one of the military commissioners sent to investigate al- 
leged persecutions of Union men in Watauga County, wrote that 
"Union men were pursued with malicious persecutions ;" that 
Austin Coffey was murdered by the Home Guard and that no 
steps were taken to prosecute his slayers, and that "a clearer case 
of self defense than Blalock's killing of John Boyd could not 
be made out." To these charges W. P. Bynum answered that 
Blalock had killed Boyd since the war, but not in the discharge 
of any military duty or order, and that the grand jury found 
true bills against all implicated in the killing of Austin Coffey, 
and that the case would be tried at the fall term of the Superior 
Court of Watauga County. The destruction of the records by 
fire in March, 1873, precludes any record evidence from that 
source, but tradition says that the solicitor failed to make out a 
case and the men were acquitted. 

" John Boyd was born in Caldwell County. Blalock was born June 21, 1836, 
and died near Montezuma, N. C, August 11, 1913, the result of an accident on 
a hand-car. 


Some Thrice-Told Tales. 

The Calloway Sisters. — Benjamin Calloway was one of the 
pioneers of this section, having his home on the upper Watauga. 
Two of his daughters, Fanny and Betsy,* must have been women 
of unusual physical charm. That each was possessed of a char- 
acter of motherly devotion which halted at no sacrifice can never 
be doubted by anyone who knows their true story. It was the 
fate of one of these women unconsciously to supplant another 
woman in the afifections of her husband, and of the other to be 
supplanted by a "mere strip of a girl." But the time came when 
each was widowed while yet the father of her children lived. 
Still, notwithstanding the ruin of their affections, each "found a 
way out of the wreck to rise in, a sure and safe one," through 
her children, each emerging from the fiery furnace of affliction 
without the smell of fire upon her garments, nay, glorified and 
almost apotheosized beneath her crown of martyrdom. 

Pioneer Hunters. — There was much in the wild, free life, no 
less than in the picturesque costume of the backw'oods hunter of 
this period, garbed in hunting shirt, fringed leggins, moccasins, 
powder horn and bullet pouch, to attract the fancy of young 
girls in this mountain wilderness. Light-hearted, care-free, 
debonair, they sang and danced and frolicked when they came 
in from their traps and camps in the peaks and crags of the 
wilder mountains. For they had regular huts or homes at dif- 
ferent places on their "ranges," w^here they lived in solitude, 
often, for months at a time. One of them is thus described in 
the "Life of W. W. Skiles" (p. 53, etc.). 

"They pushed bravely on, however, and at nightfall came to a 
small clearing in which stood the solitary cabin of a hunter. It 

1 Ben Calloway was closely related to Col. Richard Calloway, of the Kentucky 
pioneers, and named his daughters for the two daughters of Richard Calloway, 
Fanny and Betsy, who, on the 17th of July, 1776, were captured by Indians with 
Jemima, second daughter of Daniel Boone, while boat-riding on the Kentucky 
river, one of whom, Betsy, married Samuel, a brother of Richard Henderson. 

1 86 

A History of Watauga County 187 

was built of unhewn logs; the chimney consisted of sticks, cross- 
ing one another, well daubed inside and out with clay. The roof 
was shingled with oak boards three or four feet long, kept in 
place by logs laid lengthwise, well pinned down, with here and 
there a heavy stone to give additional strength against winds. 
The floor was of hewn lumber, three or four inches thick. There 
was but one room in the cabin, with a rude bed or two in one 
corner, three or four rough chairs of home make, a bench or 
two, a table to match in the center, and a huge fireplace where 
logs of six or seven feet could be piled together. Over the door, 
on wooden pegs, lay the rifle, always within reach and always 
loaded. Against the outer wall of the cabin were hung antlers 
of deer, while skins of wolf, bear and panther were hung up 
there to dry. Here, in the heart of the forest, lived Larchin 
Calloway, a famous hunter, and here the party from Valle 
Crucis was made heartily welcome. They were hungry and 
dripping wet from head to foot, but the latch-string of a moun- 
tain cabin door always hangs outside in token of welcome." 

James Aldridge. — This hunter and pioneer has been, of late 
years, somewhat overshadowed by the fame of his son, Harrison, 
probably as great a marksman, trapper and backwoodsman as his 
father. As well as can be now ascertained, James Aldridge 
came to what is now called Shull's Mills about the year 1819 
or 1820, his first son by Betsy Calloway having been born De- 
cember 15, 1821. James claimed to be a single man, and soon 
persuaded Betsy Calloway to marry him. He must then have 
been at least thirty-five years old, for he had left a wife and five 
children in Virginia on the Big Sandy River,' his first wife hav- 
ing been born a Munsey, according to James A. Calloway, one 
of James' grandsons. It is claimed that he married Betsy, but 
as such a marriage would under the circumstances have been a 
nullity, it is immaterial whether he did or not. Certain it is that 
she always went by the name of Betsy Calloway and that she 
bore him seven children : Harrison, who married Jensey Clark ; 
Tempe, who married Benton Johnson ; Jane, who married Ensley 

2 The Big Sandy separates Kentucky from old Virginia, now West Virginia, 
and rises about 100 miles north of Abingdon. It was visited by Boone in the 
autumn of 1767, accompanied only by a man named Hill, according to Bruce 
(p. 48), who says he then visited the West Fork of that stream. Aldridge may 
have lived on the Virginia or the Kentucky side of the Big Sandy, but his 
descendants in Watauga always speak of his home as having been in Virginia. 

1 88 A History of Watauga County 

Issacs, Perrin Winters, Henry Shull, of Virginia, and John 
Calhoun; Ellen, who married Frank Fox; Benjamin, who mar- 
ried Millie Burleson and yet lives, Crossnore being his post office ; 
Waightstill, who married Polly Johnson and lives near Benja- 
min, and Emeline, who married Abram Johnson. Harrison, in 
memory of a faithful dog which saved his life from wild hogs, 
had that dear friend buried on a ridge above the home of his 
son, James A. Aldridge, and requested that he be buried there 
also. His tombstone, surrounded by a substantial stone wall, 
records the fact that he joined the Baptist Church October 22, 
1870, and died January 11, 1905. 

James Aldridge was seen and remembered by very few men 
or women who are living today. Those who saw him say he was 
slightly above the average in stature, with dark hair and blue 
eyes. He was a great fiddler and hunter and of a happy disposi- 
tion. He first lived near where G. W. Robbins' hotel now 
stands, but after the birth of Harrison moved to the Hanging 
Rock Ridge, near Nettle Knob, a mile from James A. Aldridge's 
present house, for it seems that he had been "squatting" where he 
first settled, but entered and obtained grants to land in 1828. 
There he built two substantial cabins, with large fireplaces, so 
deep, in fact, that the dogs frequently went behind the fire and 
between it and the back of the chimney, where they sat and 
blinked at the people in front of the hearth. There is a cleared 
place in the "swag" of the ridge above Robbins' hotel which is 
still pointed out as the place where James Aldridge burnt willow 
logs and limbs to make charcoal for powder, which he manu- 
factured for his own use. 

The Real Wife Appears. — The exact date of the coming of 
the real wife into the life of Betsy Calloway is not certain, but 
shortly after the birth of Waightstill, her last child, which must 
have been about two years after the birth of Benjamin, he 
having been born about 1834, say, 1836, a fur peddler of the 
name of Price, as Levi Coffey remembers it, came to the home 
of Edward Moody above what is now Foscoe.' Here he met 

' In his geological tour through Ashe in 1828, Dr. Elisha Mitchell speaks of a 
hunter as living on the head of the Watauga River with the children of his real 
wife, who was then residing on the Big Sandy, in Kentucky, and his own 
children by another woman with whom he was then living as his wife. If this 
refers to James Aldrich. then Betsy Calloway had two children by him after his 
first wife appeared in the scene, for both Ben and Waightstill were born after 1828. 

A History of Watauga County 189 

James Aldridge, and, knowing something of his past, returned 
to the Big Sandy and told Aldridge's wife what he had dis- 
covered. Soon afterwards a woman riding a fine horse stopped 
at Edward Moody's, asked the way to James Aldridge's house, 
and was directed there. The next morning, before day, Aldridge 
came to Moody's and bought a bushel of wheat, which he had 
ground on Moody's little tub-mill at the mouth of what is still 
called Moody's Alill Creek, near Foscoe. After it had been 
ground it was "hand-bolted," that is, sifted through cloth by 
hand. James explained that "the cat was out of the bag at last," 
meaning that his wife had appeared on the scene. When asked 
how Betsy "took it," he answered that she was sulky, but that he 
himself was treating both women exactly alike, and had no doubt 
but that Betsy would soon get over it. But she never did. She 
told Aldridge plainly that he had deceived and outraged her and 
her children, and that while she had no other home than his, and 
must perforce remain there in order to rear her children, their 
relations had ceased. Finding that Betsy was not disposed to 
contest her rights, Mrs. James Aldridge lost interest in James 
and returned to her former home on Sandy. Soon afterwards 
several of her children appeared on the scene, the boys being 
Sam, Frank and James, while a girl, Rachel, married William 
Calloway, and remained permanently, the boys returning to Big 
Sandy. James followed his wife back to Big Sandy, where he 
remained awhile, but soon came back to Watauga, but finding no 
welcome from Betsy, he again returned to Big Sandy. It is 
likely that his real wife would have no more of him either, for 
Betsy and her oldest son, Harrison, visited his hut there and 
found him living with a young girl. He threw some bear skins 
on the floor, where she and her son passed the night, leaving at 
dawn the next day. James came again to Watauga, when Ben 
was four years old, gave him a dime and patted him on the head. 
But he brought two large brindle bear dogs with him, and his 
little son was afraid to put foot out of doors while they re- 
mained. This must have been about 1838, since which time no 
one has seen James Aldridge in Watauga County. His grandson, 
James A. Aldridge, says he heard that his grandfather died on 
Big Sandy during the Civil War, aged no years. 

190 A History of Watauga County 

Betsy Calloway. — Ben Calloway says that his mother told 
him that she had dug many a pound of sang with a child strapped 
to her back. That is, she had had to go into the mountains to 
dig sang when her youngest children were too small to be left at 
home, and carried them with her from the necessity of the case. 
"She was the master Sanger you ever seed" is the way one old 
man expressed her industry and devotion to her children. For 
sang was the only cash article in those days, and it brought only 
about ten cents a pound. But Betsy could make a living in no 
other way, except when, occasionally, she could get a job of 
scouring or washing to do for some friendly woman for her 
meals and meals for her children. She was also a master sugar 
maker, if accounts may be trusted, and worked several "sugar 
orchards" through the mountains. Her old kettle, in which the 
sap was boiled, is still to be seen at Foscoe in the yard of the 
home of former SheriflF W. H. Calloway. The first shoes Ben 
Aldridge ever had were bought by Betsy with the proceeds of the 
sale of sang dug by him. She had to take the sang sometimes as 
far as Abingdon, and this particular sang which Ben had dug 
was sold by her at Blountville, Tenn. As the sang was gradually 
becoming scarce, she went to Big Sandy to sang, taking Harrison 
with her. It was while on this trip that she spent a night at 
James Aldridge's cabin. She had no feeling against James 
Aldridge's first wife, but told him, though he had lied to her, to 
bring his children and she would do the best she could by them. 
Once when in a sugar camp on Watauga she saw tracks of a 
bear in the snow and knew that they were those of a she-bear 
with cubs, as bears do not come out of winter quarters when 
snow is on the ground except to get sustenance upon which their 
cubs could draw. Harrison, her eldest son, killed the mother 
bear and caught the cubs. Betsy sold the maple sugar for ten 
cents a pound and the syrup for ten cents a gallon. When 
Harrison was seven years old his mother was baptized in Lin- 
ville River, near Fred Ledford's, by Rev. Robert Patterson, at 
the Elkhorn Meeting House. She took care of all preachers who 
came to her home, and Ben was always glad to see them come, 
as then he "got something good to eat." He used to put corn 

A History of Watauga County 191 

into dried bladders and tie the bladders to chickens, which, when 
they heard the rattle, became frightened and flew across the table 
at which the preachers were eating. Once he tied such a con- 
trivance to the horns of a "billy-buck," as he terms a goat, and 
he nearly ran himself to death. Betsy Calloway died about 
1900 and is buried in the Moody graveyard above Foscoe. 

Delilah Baird. — She was born about 1807, and when eighteen 
years of age left her home with John Holtsclaw, who had been 
a member of Three Forks Church and a moderator of that con- 
gregation at its meeting in October, 182 1. There is evidence 
also that he was a preacher. He had a wife and seven children 
living at the time Delilah eloped with him, about the year 1825, 
for their first child, Alfred B. Baird, was born March 7, 1826.' 
Delilah knew of his marriage, but she went with him, claiming 
that she believed that he was going to take her to Kentucky. 
Instead, he took her to the Big Bottoms of Elk, one mile from 
what is now Banner Elk, where he kept her in a camp at the 
mouth of a branch which empties into Elk almost directly in 
front of and about three hundred yards distant from the resi- 
dence of James W. Whitehead. This was a bark camp, built 
against the trunk of a large fallen tree. It was here that her 
first child was born. Later on they moved into a rude cabin 
lower down the creek and near an apple tree which still stands 
in Mr. Whitehead's meadow. It was there that she fought 
wolves with firebrands when they came too near the house, seek- 
ing to devour a young calf which she kept in a pen near her 
chimney. She also "sanged" on the Beech Mountain, and finally 
recognized one of her father's steers, with a large bell fastened 
to its neck, and knew that she was not in Kentucky. She soon 
established communications with her home connections, and 
would ride up a ridge and across Beech Mountain to get such 
supplies as she required and sell her sang and maple sugar. She 
knitted socks and stockings while riding on the road to and from 
her old home. She brought dried grass in a sheet in order to 
get seed for the meadow around her new home. 

■• According to Mrs. Sallie Hackney, of Neva, Tenn., Delilah Baird was three 
years younger than her first cousin, Alexander Baird, who was born April 5, 1804. 

192 A History of Watauga County 

After awhile poor Fanny Calloway, whose place in her hus- 
band's heart and home Delilah had usurped, came, an humble sup- 
pliant, to her door, asking to be allowed to spin, weave, wash, 
hoe or do anything that would provide John Holtsclaw's children 
with bread. John Holtsclaw was getting old and it behooved 
him to provide for his real wife before he should go to his long 
account. Instead, he made a deed to Delilah Baird for 480 acres 
of land in the Big Bottoms of Elk, which had been granted in 
1788 when that part of the State was in Wilkes County. But he 
made her pay him $250.00 for it.' His wife, Fanny, was thus 
left to the cold charity of the cold world, and his and her chil- 
dren had to make their own way as best they could. That way, 
we may be sure, was not an easy one, especially for poor Fanny. 
But nothing is surer in this world than the solemn asseveration 
of the Bible: "V'engeance is mine, saith the Lord; I will repay." 
He kept that promise. He always keeps that promise. Among 
Fanny's children was a girl named Raney. Raney had a hard 
time at first, but she finally married Abraham Dugger, for years 
the chief owner and manager of the Cranberry mine. After his 
death she married Daniel Whitehead, and their son, James W. 
Whitehead, now owns all the broad acres which John Holtsclaw 
had deeded to Delilah Baird and away from his own legitimate 
children, and not one foot of that land or of any of the land 
nearby which Delilah got from the State belongs to her de- 

A Sordid, If Belated, Romance. — Sometime in the summer 
of 1881, when Delilah Baird was seventy-four years old, she 
spent the night with Ben Dyer's mother on Cove Creek. It was 
there that she determined to write to Ben, oflfering him a home 
and support for his life, and adding, "my folks are lawing me to 
death," and asking him to come and help her defend her rights. 
At this time she dressed gaily and was supposed to be demented, 
but a commission de lunatico inquiretido, consisting of Smith 
CoflFey and two others, found that she still had mind enough to 
manage her own aflfairs. After the usual manoeuvres of courting 

» The deed is dated May 2, 1838, Book N, p. 515, Ashe County. 
" Deed Books R., p. 274, A., p. 498. and U., p. 98. She had a daughter, 
named Aurilda, who married Levi Moody. 

A History of Watauga County 193 

couples, Dyer agreed to come upon the terms stated, and Miss 
Delilah wrote in September following that she was delighted that 
he was to come, assuring him again that she had plenty "and all 
we will have to do is to sit back and enjoy ourselves." But 
Miss Delilah was too non-committal for Dyer, and he did not 
come, neither did he write again till November 14th, when he 
wrote acknowledging her "second letter," indicating that she had 
written "twice to his once," a thing no coy maiden ever should 
do. Just what that last missive really contained is not known, 
for the judgmeht roll in which this romance is preserved (Judg- 
ment Docket A, p. 172, Clerk's Office, Watauga County) does 
not contain it. But in Dyer's answer he states, "You make me 
a new proposal in your last letter, which is more than I could 
expect you to do," adding that he could never repay her except 
"with my love and kindness towards you." As he himself stated, 
in 1883, that he was then seventy-two years old, three years Miss 
Delilah's senior, these old people may be said to have been 
progressing rapidly and smoothly along the primrose path of 
love and should, therefore, have known that they were rapidly 
nearing a precipice. 

So, to make a long story short, he came, saw and was not 
conquered. Neither was she. For she paid him nothing, gave 
him no home, and allowed him to return to Texas "loveless and 
forlorn." Then, in May, 1882, in an action before D. B. 
Dougherty and J. W. Holtsclaw, justices of the peace, he sued 
Miss Delilah for his expenses going and coming and while here. 
They gave him exactly $47.50, railroad fare to and from Texas. 
He appealed, and a jury of "good men and true" gave him ex- 
actly the same amount and not one cent more. Moral: Better 
let the women have their own way. Miss Delilah died about 
1890 and is buried in the Baird graveyard at Valle Crucis. Some- 
time prior to her death, October 20, 1880, she lived with her son, 
Alfred Burton Baird, in a small log cabin, which still stands 
directly in front of James W. Whitehead's home. This cabin 
was shingled with yellow pine shingles when it was built in 
1859, and, although it has never been repaired, the roof does not 
leak to this day. 


194 -^ History of Watauga County 

"Cobb" McCanless. — David Colvert McCanless was a son of 
James McCanless, whose wife was a Miss Alexander, said to 
have been nearly related to Hon. Mack Robbins, former con- 
gressman from Statesville. James ^McCanless came from Iredell 
County to ShuU's ^lills and resided near the present Robbins 
hotel at that place. James was a man of education and taught 
school where Mrs. Martha Phipps now lives. He was also a 
cabinet-maker, some of his work being still preserved. James 
and his brother, David, of Burnsville, were both "fine fiddlers." 
For some reason, now unknown, Phillip Shull refused to grind 
James' corn for him on his mill. This mill, built about 1835, 
was washed away about 1861 and never replaced, though the 
neighborhood still retains its name. McCanless went before a 
magistrate and got the usual penalty for such refusal to grind 
corn without good excuse. Shull still refused and McCanless 
still collected the penalty till at last Shull gave in. Colvert was 
always called "Colb" or "Cobb," and he was Jack Horton's 
deputy when the former was sheriff from 1852 to 1856. It was 
then that "Colb" announced himself as a candidate against 
Horton. It is said that the oral duel that then ensued, on Meat 
Camp, was fierce. "Colb" ran and won. He and Horton had 
frequent fist fights, both being powerful men physically — Horton, 
of medium height, but thick set, and ]\IcCanless tall and well 
proportioned. McCanless was a strikingly handsome man and 
a well-behaved, useful citizen till he became involved with a 
woman not his wife, after which he fell into evil courses. As 
sheriff he was tax collector and also had in his hands claims in 
favor of J. M. Weath, a Frenchman, who sold goods throughout 
this section in job lots. As there was no homestead then, what- 
ever an officer could find in a defendant's possession was subject 
to levy and sale. January i, 1859, came and soon afterwards 
came also a representative from Weath for a settlement with 

On the morning of January 6th "Colb" set out for Boone, ac- 
companied by Levi L. Coffey, a near neighbor, then about twenty- 
seven years of age. "Colb" told Weath's man that he had made 
many collections for Weath. but had offsets against some of them 

A History of Watauga County 195 

and could settle the balance due only by an interview with 
\\'eath himself. Therefore, he would join Weath's man at Blow- 
ing Rock the following morning and go with him to Statesville. 
He and Jack Horton, who was on McCanless' official bond, then 
took a ride together, after which Horton sold his horse to one of 
the Hardins and McCanless immediately bought the same horse 
for the exact price Hardin had paid for it. During the same 
day McCanless conveyed certain real estate to his brother, J. 
Leroy McCanless. Subsequently, on the first day of March, 
1859, J. L. McCanless conveyed the same land to Jack or John 
Horton, and on that day Jack Horton conveyed it to Smith 
CofTey. In a suit between Calvin J. Cowles against Coffey it 
was alleged and so found by the jury that these conveyances 
from D. C. to J. L. McCanless and from him to Jack Horton 
had been given to defraud the creditors of D. C. McCanless (88 
N. C. Rep. p. 341). Horton is said also to have secured 
McCanless' saddle pockets with many claims in them against 
various people in \\'atauga County, these pockets having been 
left by McCanless in a certain store in Boone for that very pur- 
pose, thus securing Horton as far as possible from loss by reason 
of his liability on McCanless' official bond. McCanless also had 
the proceeds of a claim which as sheriff he held against Wilson 
Burleson, who then lived near Bull Scrape, now Montezuma, 
Avery County. This money was due to J. M. Weath also, and 
which, for safe-keeping, had been placed by McCanless with 
Jacob Rintels in Boone, in whose store Col. W. L. Bryan was 
then clerking, then known as the Jack Horton Old Store. Late 
that sixth of January McCanless called on Rintels for the money, 
with the request that as much as possible be paid in gold and 
silver. This was done. McCanless then started on the road to 
Wilkes County, where he claimed he was to pay the money over 
to Robert Hayes on an execution, having told Levi Coffey not 
to wait for him, as he was not going to return home that night. 
But instead of continuing on to Wilkes, McCanless went only as 
far as Three Forks Church, where he doubled back and went 
up the Jack Hodges Creek and through the Hodges Gap to 
Shull's Mills, where he was joined by a woman. They went 

196 A History of Watauga County 

togctlicr to Johnson City, where their horses and saddles and 
bridles were sold to Joel Dyer. There they took the train for the 
West. After D, C. McCanless had been away several months, 
J. L. McCanless, his brother, followed him, but soon returned and 
took west with him D. C. McCanless' wife, who was born Mary, 
daughter of Joseph Greene, her children, her father and mother 
and his own sisters, who had married Amos Greene and Isaac 
Greene, sons of Joseph Greene. 

"Wild Bill" Kills McCanless. — News came to Watauga dur- 
ing the Civil War that "Colb" McCanless had been killed in 
Kansas, but it was not till 1883 that the details became known. 
But in that year D. M. Kelsey published "Our Pioneer Heroes 
and Their Daring Deeds" (pp. 481, et seq.), Scannel, publishers, 
from which the following facts were gleaned : that what was 
known as the McCanless Gang were impressing horses in Kan- 
sas, as they claimed, for the Confederate government, but in 
reality for themselves. James Butler Hicok, otherwise known as 
"Wild Bill," was connected with a stage line at Rock Creek, fifty 
miles west of Topeka, Kansas. There he occupied a "dug-out," 
the back and two sides of which were formed of earth of the hill- 
side, into which a thatched cabin had been built. There, also, on 
the i6th day of December, 1861, in a fight with ten of McCanless' 
gang, all but two of the latter were killed by "Wild Bill" and his 
friends. Among those killed are mentioned Jim and Jack Mc- 
Canless. It is supposed that one of these was David Colvert 
McCanless. J. LeRoy McCanless is now living at Florence, 
Colorado, as a good citizen and highly respected man. Rev. W. 
C. Franklin, their nephew, resides at Altamont. 

Bedent E. Baird. — There is probably no more picturesque 
character among the pioneers of this section than that of Bedent 
E. Baird. He was a man of fine education and possessed the 
best library west of the Blue Ridge. He was what would be 
called in these days an agnostic, and was independent in thought 
and deed. He was one of the first to represent Ashe County in 
the legislature and was for many years a magistrate. He named 
one of his sons for Euclid, the geometrician. It is said that his 
testimony was once challenged on the score of his unorthodox 

A History of Watauga County 197 

belief, and that when he answered that he had taken the oath 
as a magistrate, the presiding judge at the trial refused to allow 
the challenger to go behind that statement. 

No Water-Power by a Dam-Site. — It is also related of him 
that he told Bishop Ives, who was looking for a good site for a 
water power, that he could show him the finest site for such a 
power in the world. The Bishop, keen to develop the country, 
then followed Squire Baird to the top of the Beech Mountain 
over the cart-road which Baird had had constructed nearly to the 
highest point, after which they followed a trail to the north 
prospect or pinnacle of the Beech. This is a sheer precipice, or 
rather overhanging shelf of rock, overlooking the head of Beech 
Creek. "This," remarked Baird to the Bishop, "is the finest 
site for a water power in the mountains." "But where is the 
water?" asked his Reverence. "That is your part of the busi- 
ness," returned Baird, chuckling; "I have provided the site — all 
I agreed to do." 

Who Were These Old Bairds? — That many of the first set- 
tlers of this county came from New Jersey seems to be con- 
firmed by the fact that Dr. Gilbert Tennent, of Asheville, has a 
book which is called the "History of the Old Tennent Church," 
compiled by Rev. Frank Symes, its pastor, and printed by George 
W. Burroughs, at Cranberry, N. J. In it is published a diagram 
of the pews of the church, one of which in 1750 was held by 
Zebulon and the other by David Baird. The church was then 
called the Freehold Church, but is now known as the Tennent 
Church. It still stands in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Just 
what relationship these Bairds hold to the Bedent Baird of 
Watauga and the Bedent and Zebulon Baird of Buncombe in 
1790 seems to be a riddle beyond solution at the present day. 
But that Zeb Vance's mother, who was a Baird, was related to 
the Bairds of Watauga is about as certain as any unprovable fact 
can well be, for family names, family traits and physical family 
resemblances are so marked as to be unmistakable. 

A Mysterious Enquiry. — Early in January, 1858, Bedent 
Baird received a newspaper, on the margin of which was written 
a few lines, in which the claim was made that Bedent E. Baird 

198 A History of Watauga County 

was akin to the writer, who, however, failed to sign his name.' 
But he had given his post office, that of Lapland, in Buncombe 
County, but now called Marshall, the county seat of Madison. 
Bedent E. Baird, then, in 1858, in his eighty-eighth year, an- 
swered this unknown writer, sending his letter to Lapland, but 
he received no answer. From this letter we learn that John 
Baird and a brother came from Scotland in the Caledonia and 
settled in the Jerseys, meaning in New Jersey. This John Baird 
had married a woman named Mary Bedent, and they named 
their first child Bedent Baird — the very first of the name "that 
was ever on the face of the earth." Their seventh son was named 
Ezekiel and he married Susanna Blodgett, whose father was 
killed in the ambuscade near Fort Duquesne at the time Brad- 
dock also met his death. Ezekiel Baird moved to North Caro- 
lina, where Bedent E. Baird was born about 1770. Ezekiel 
Baird's brother, Bedent, was married three times "and reared 
three numerous families at or near the German Flats, Canada." 
Ezekiel Baird's other five brothers also married and reared fami- 
lies "who helped to break the forests and settle five or six of the 
southwestern States." 

Peggy Clawson. — One of the strongest characters of the past 
was that of Peggy Clawson, who resided in the neighborhood of 
Elk Cross Roads. She was the wife of William Clawson, though 
for some time it was doubtful whether this was to be the case, 
as her evident inclination was to have him simply the husband 
of Peggy Clawson. For, tradition says, in a most friendly 
spirit, that they occasionally "fell out and kissed again with 
tears." On one of these occasions, as the story goes, for it is 
also told of Ezra Stonecypher, she had driven him to take refuge 
under the bed. Thinking she had him conquered at last, she 
told him that if he ever said another "crooked word to her, she 
would kill him." "Ram's Horn, Peggy, if I die for it!" came 
the prompt and defiant answer to her challenge. She was a 
member of the Three Forks Church in July, 1832, for at that 
time she was excommunicated from that church for "beating her 
son." However, in due time, namely, in the following October, 

' Adolphus E. Bnird, an uncle of Governor Z. B. Vance, is now known to have 
been the one who wrote the unsigned words on the newspaper referred to. 

A History of Watauga County 199 

she "made open acknowledgment for her transgression and was 
restored to full membership." One morning she was near the 
cliff or bluff between John L. Tatum's present home and Todd, 
covered with laurel, pines and ivy bushes, making maple sugar. 
A dog chased a bear into the river, and she got into the canoe 
tied near by, poled out to the bear swimming in a deep hole at 
the base of the cliff, and drowned it by holding its head under 
the water with the canoe pole. After this exploit, it being Sat- 
urday, she walked down to the Old Fields Baptist Church in 
time for morning service. 

Some Other Old Stories. — Welborn Waters was employed 
after the Civil War to exterminate all the wolves from the Vir- 
ginia line to the Bald Mountain in Yancey. He undertook the 
task and succeeded, howling in imitation of wolves when on the 
mountains, and they, unsuspectingly, coming to him, he killed 
them. It is related, however, of the old Lewises, as the first 
wolf hunters in these mountains were called, that wishing to get 
the bounty offered for wolf scalps, they would not kill the grown 
wolves, especially the females, as they wished them to bear as 
many litters as possible, the scalp of a young wolf being paid 
for as well as that of an old one. It is related till this day that 
the Wolf's Den on Riddle's Knob took its name from the fact 
that the Lewises went in there in search of wolves and usually 
found and killed a litter every spring. 

Joseph T. Wilson, commonly called "Lucky Joe," was in jail 
in Boone at the November term of the Superior Court during a 
very cold spell, and, pretending to have frozen in his cell, was 
removed in an apparently unconscious state to the Brick Row 
joining the Critcher hotel, then the old Coffey hotel. Here he 
was resuscitated by the late Dr. W. B. Councill, but instead of 
taking him back to jail to freeze all over again, they left him in 
the Brick Row with a guard. He persuaded that guard to go 
out and get some more fuel, and while he was gone the frozen 
man escaped from the room and the State. He was recaptured 
in Ohio by Alexander Perry, of Burke, however, brought to Elk 
Park and thence taken by the then sheriff, David F, Baird, to 
Morganton to jail, where he remained till the next term of Ashe 

200 A History of Watauga County 

court, to which his lawyers had had his case moved on account 
of alleged prejudice in Watauga County. He was convicted in 
Ashe and served ten years in the penitentiary for stealing horses 
from Alloway and Henry Maines, of North Fork. While in the 
penitentiary he became superintendent of the prison Sunday 
School, and by apparent good conduct had earned a reduction 
from the full term of his sentence. \\'hen, however, his belong- 
ings were examined it was found that he had pilfered many 
small articles from the penitentiary itself, and consequently lost 
wdiat he had earned by good behavior in all other respects. When 
he got back home he studied law and led an exemplary life till 
about 1904, when he again came before the court, was convicted 
and sent to the Iredell County roads for five years' sentence. 
There he died, aged nearly sixty years. 

Elijah Dotson and Alfred Hilliard quarreled once, standing 
at a safe distance apart, a mile or more, one being in his own 
field and the other in his own field also. This occurred on Beaver 
Dams before the Civil War and no telephone wires connected 
them. This difficulty arose from a cordial and sincere invitation 
extended by Dotson to Hilliard to visit certain grid-irons "where 
the worm dieth not and the fire is not 'squinched.' " It is also 
said that Hilliard and his wife late in life joined the church, and 
being dissatisfied with their marriage, which contract had been 
solemnized by an unsaintly justice of the peace, had the knot 
retied by a minister of the gospel regularly ordained. 

An African Romance. — On the i6th day of October, 1849, 
Mr. and Mrs. William Mast, then living where the Shipleys now 
live, near Valle Crucis. w-ere poisoned by drinking wild parsnips 
in their cofifee. It was said by some that a slave woman named 
Mill or Milley had been whipped for having stolen twenty dollars 
from Andrew Mast, and poisoned William Mast out of revenge. 
Others say the crime was committed by Mill and her slave lover, 
Silas Baker, in the hope that if Mill's master and mistress were 
dead, she would have to be sold, and that Jacob Mast, who was 
about to marry Miss Elizabeth Baker and move to Texas, would 
buy her and thus prevent these dusky lovers from future separa- 
tion. Although there was no direct evidence against either. Mill 

A History of Watauga County 201 

was sold to John Whittington and taken to Tennessee, while 
Silas was taken to Texas with his mistress and her husband, 
Jacob Mast. 

James Speer lived on Beaver Dams and had no more brains 
than were absolutely necessary. He and two others agreed that 
all three should go to South Carolina, where Jim was to color 
his face with lampblack and suffer himself to be sold as and for 
a slave of African parentage, and that after the money had been 
paid over, he was to remove the lampblack and escape back to 
Beaver Dams, where the proceeds of the little game were to be 
divided into three equal parts. This may have been done, but 
as Jim did not get his third, he and one of his partners were 
heard to quarrel about the division at one of the Big Musters 
near Boone. It was not a lawyer who insisted that the letter of 
the bargain had been fully carried out when the proceeds of the 
sale had been simply divided into three equal parts, but one of 
Jim's own partners, who had never studied law an hour in all 
his life. Nor was it in accordance with any sentence of any 
court of record or otherwise that Jim disappeared from the face 
of the earth and has remained "gone" ever since. A skeleton 
was found about 1893 in some cliffs, usually called "rock cliffs," 
in rear of J. K. Perry's residence on Beaver Dams, and some 
have supposed that these bones used to belong to Jim Speer. 

Joshua Pennell manumitted his slaves by his will, and his 
nephew, Joshua Winkler, as executor, took them to Kansas and 
set them free. Many still remember their passage through Boone 
just prior to the Civil War. Joshua Winkler and Joshua Pennell 
had lived in Wilkes County, but Winkler soon after his return 
from Kansas bought land in Watauga and removed to this 
county, where he died. Among other valuable properties ac- 
quired by him was the old Noah Mast farm near St. Jude post 
office, afterwards conveying one-half thereof to his son, William 
F. Winkler. 

Jesse Mullins' "Niggers." — Jesse Mullins and his wife were 
getting old just prior to the commencement of the Civil War. 
They owned two negroes in addition to the farm which still 
goes by the name of the Mullins farm, on the South Fork of 

202 A History of Watauga County 

New River, about four miles from Boone. There is also a small 
hill or mountain which is still known as the MuUins Mountain. 
There were two "interests" who had their eyes on those slaves, 
and one night the slaves disappeared. The next heard of them 
was the arrest of two young men in a Southern city for trying 
to sell slaves without themselves being able to show how they 
got them. It is supposed that the "interest" which had been out- 
generaled by the one abducting the slaves had caused the arrest 
of these young men. They were released and the slaves re- 
turned to their true owners. It is said that the most famous 
Grecian Sphinx, that of Thebes in Boeotia, once proposed a riddle 
to the Thebans, and killed all those who tried but failed to give 
the correct answer. CEdipus solved the riddle, whereupon the 
Sphinx slew herself. There is many an Oedipus yet living in 
Watauga County who might solve the riddle of the taking and 
carrying away of these darkies and of the arrest and imprison- 
ment of their captors. So, too, they might tell who was one of 
Jim Speer's partners, and whose grave is said still to smoke in a 
certain church yard in this county of W^atauga. 

Cross-Cut Saw and Cross-Cut Suit. — Just before the Civil 
War, how long no one now knows, Noah Mast, claiming that he 
had loaned Hiram Hix a cross-cut saw, sued him for its re- 
covery. Hix had some affliction of the eye-lids, rendering it 
necessary that he should prop them open with his fingers in order 
to see. He and his wife lived under a big cliff near the mouth 
of Cove Creek, called the Harmon Rock-House.' This cliff 
projected out a considerable distance and the open space was 
enclosed with boards and other timbers, thus affording some 
degree of comfort even in winter, the smoke going out of a flue 
built against the side of the cliff. Here Hix kept a boat and 
charged a nickel to put passengers across the river. He also 
built a sort of cantilever bridge, the first in the world, most 
probably, using two firm rocks which extended into the stream, 
thus forming a narrow channel at that point. Based upon these 
immovable rocks were two long logs, hewn flat on the upper 
surface, one projecting from each bank toward the other, but not 

* The first white child born in Watauga County is said to have been born in 
this rock cliff ; but its name is not known. 

A History of Watauga County 203 

meeting above mid-stream by several feet — too wide a gap to be 
jumped by ordinary folk. The shore ends of these logs were 
weighted to the ground by huge stones piled on them. Hix kept 
a thick and broad plank which was just long enough to bridge 
this gap between the projecting ends of the two logs. Upon the 
payment of five cents Hix would place this board in position 
and the foot-passenger could then pass over dry-shod. This was 
a "cantilever" because he claimed he couldn't leave her in posi- 
tion. Whether the revenue from his boat and board was suffi- 
cient to pay his lawyers in the suit Mast had brought against 
him for that cross-cut saw or not, Hix managed to keep it in 
court till he won it, thus throwing Mast in the costs, which is a 
very undesirable place to be thrown. This was one of the first 
suits to be tried in the new town of Boone, and a boy who heard 
one of the lawyers ask a witness what there was that was 
"peculiar" about that saw, was so struck by the word "peculiar" 
that he remembers it to this day, when he is an old man. 

Absentee Landlords. — Just as the Scotch used to steal cattle 
and the Irish of the present day complain of the exactions of 
landlords who do not live in Ireland, so, too, did our Scotch and 
Irish fellow citizens make trouble for those living east of the 
Blue Ridge who drove their cattle to the Watauga mountains in 
the spring and took them back home in the fall. Colonel Ed- 
mund Jones used to pasture cattle on the Rich Mountain, General 
Patterson on Long Hope and the Finley family on the Bald. 
All these lived east of the Blue Ridge. It is only about one mile 
from the Wolf's Den on Riddle's Knob to the Long Hope Moun- 
tain, in which rises Long Hope Creek. The Bald, or the Big 
Bald, as it is often called, contains ninety acres without a tree, 
and it, the Pine Orchard INIountain, Riddle's Knob and Black 
Mountain, form a sort of basin through which Long Hope Creek 
flows into the North Fork of New River, near Creston. Most 
of this used to be covered with forests, though much clearing 
has been done since the pioneer days. B. R. Brown and Lindsey 
Patterson own much land there now. Much of it used to belong 
to Gen. Sam. Patterson, of the Yadkin Valley. Henry Barlow 
and family used to live in a cabin in this basin, but Lindsey 

204 ^ History of Watauga County 

Triplett had taken his place. A man named Byrd was the first 
who ever hved there, and his cabin was covered with shingles 
which were pinned on with wooden pins. The cabin and field 
around it are still called the Byrd cabin and the Byrd field. 
Nelson Grimsley also stayed in that cabin, and subsequent to the 
Civil War came Wayne Miller, after whom followed Thomas 
Stevens, only to be succeeded by the Greer family, who are there 
now. Thomas Isbell, of King's Creek, probably owned the Bald 
first, and then the Finley family. But, whoever owned the land, 
the people living around resented the pasturing of cattle there by 
non-resident owners. When W. S. Davis, who was born July 
24, 1832, can just remember, probably in 1844 or 1845, ^ dozen 
or more men were indicted for killing cattle, among whom were 
Buckner Tatum, Squire John McGuire, James Greer, Samuel 
Wilcox and others. According to Mr. Davis, they were tried at 
Wilkesboro, probably on account of local prejudice against the 
landowners. So serious were the cases that Buckner Tatum 
preferred another atmosphere to the free air of Ashe, as it was 
then, sold out to Elisha Tatum in 1845 ^^^d ^^^t the country for- 
ever, going to Georgia. It is said that Sam. Wilcox killed forty 
head of cattle on the Bald one rainy morning before breakfast, 
and then moved hastily and permanently to Kentucky.' 

"School Butter," — \\'hen W. S. Davis was about eighteen 
years old, say in 1850, he suffered with his back, but was able 
to be up and about, though not fit for hard work. About this 
time the people in the neighborhood of the Lookabill school house 
on Meat Camp met to agree upon a more convenient point for 
the school house, and that school district had settled on the site 
and gone to work cutting the logs for the building. This site 
was close to where Edmund Miller now lives on Grassy Creek. 
These log-choppers "threw in" and raised enough money to pay 
for a gallon of brandy. Someone borrowed a gallon jug from 
Aunt Katy Moretz, and "put it on" W. S. Davis to go after the 
brandy, he having been selected because he could not chop logs. 
The still was at the old Councill place, where the \\'idow Reagan 
now lives. Davis set out upon this errand, but meeting Wm. 

» Flnley Greer's statement to C. A. Grubb. 

A History of Watauga County 205 

Proffit on the way and learning from him that there was no 
brandy at the still, he started back, his jug still empty. On the 
road to the still, however, he had passed the old Lookabill school 
house, during recess, and thirteen boys then at play there caught 
hold of his old brown coat and threatened to put him in the 
branch. Davis asked that the teacher be consulted, and the latter 
sent word to let Davis alone, which the boys accordingly did. 
But, on his return trip, Ben Ferguson slipped out of school 
without permission, tin cup in hand, and asked Davis for a 
drink of the brandy which Ben thought was in the jug. Davis 
turned up the jug to prove his statement that there was nothing 
in it. Then Ferguson asked, "Bill, ain't you afeard to say 'school 
butter?' " Davis did not know the consequences of saying 
"school butter," and answered, "No ; Fll say 'school butter' when- 
ever I please." Thereupon Ferguson hastened back to the 
school house and told the assembled boys that Bill Davis had 
"hollered 'school butter.' " That was enough, for teacher, boys 
and girls started pell-mell after the offender. When Davis was 
about twenty steps from the school house he heard a noise, and, 
looking back, saw the school children running toward him. He 
ran, but was overtaken, Lorenzo Dow Allen, the school master, 
having taken a short-cut and headed him off. Davis warned them 
of what the consequence would be in case anyone touched him. 
Jackson Miller, being nearest, got the lick which Davis aimed at 
the head of his foremost assailant. The jug broke, leaving only 
the handle in Davis' hand. Davis defied the next one to "come 
on," but he did not come. All this happened on top of the hill, 
and it is called Jug Hill to this day. 

Lee Carmichael. — Davis feed this attorney and he appeared 
for him, he having been bound over by Squire Eli Brown to the 
Superior Court, but Carmichael neglected the case and then 
Davis employed Quincey F. O'Neil, of Jefferson. The case was 
tried four years later and Davis was acquitted, only one witness, 
Ben Ferguson, having been examined for the State, and the 
judge directing acquittal. It had cost Davis over one hundred 
dollars, however. Burton Craig, of Salisbury, was the solicitor 
who prosecuted. There are several variants of this story, but 

2o6 A History of Watauga County 

the above is from \\ . S. Davis himself, the only survivor of the 
incident. This Lee Carmichael loved the cup that first cheers 
and inebriates a little later on. That, probably, is why Davis had 
to fee O'Neil. Then Carmichael ran for Congress and was 
defeated. He died soon afterwards. 

The Musterfield Murder.— As an aftermath of the Civil War, 
say about 1870, there turned up in several of the more secluded 
sections of the Southern mountains "men with a past." Whence 
they came and whither went, no one knew. Among these was a 
man who called himself Green Marshall, who suddenly and with- 
out invitation put in an appearance on what is now universally 
and enthusiastically called Hog Elk, just east of the Blue Ridge, 
but still in Watauga County. He lived in the family of young 
Troy Triplett. Together they came to Boone one day and had 
a quarrel near the court house. Later on that day they left 
town together, and when they got half a mile away the quarrel 
was renewed at the old Muster Ground and Marshall stabbed 
Triplett, wounding him so badly that Triplett died several days 
later at the house of Henry Hardin, one mile east of Boone. 
]\Iarshall hid that night in the house of a colored woman named 
Ailsey Council," her home being beyond the ridge in rear of 
Prof. D. D. Dougherty's present home, almost south of Boone, 
ultimately escaping for a time, but being caught later near Hog 
Elk. He was tried and convicted of manslaughter and served his 
sentence. No one knows where he came from nor where he 
went after his term was up. It was remarked after this murder 
that Marshall had never been seen without an open knife in his 
hand. Luke Triplett, the dead man's father, put up a rough 
mountain rock in the shape of a rude slab, four feet high and 
twelve to fourteen inches broad, on the spot on which his son 
had been stabbed. He had chiseled on the stone his son's name 
and a rude effigy, showing the outline of a man's form and 
a wound from which blood was apparently flowing. It stood 
there several years, but disappeared. It is said that the blood 
from the real wound changed the color of the vegetation on 
which it had fallen for several years. 

" Ailsey Councill is said to have named what is now known as Straddle Gap, 
between Brushy Fork Baptist Church and Dog Skin Creek, in which a Boone 
Marker has been placed. This gap used to be called Grave- Yard Gap. 


^ ovton 


Explanation. — A stag's head, silver; attired, gold. Crest out of 
the waves of the sea proper, a tilting spear, erect, gold; enfiled with 
dolphin, silver, finned, gold, and charged with a shell. Motto: "Quod 
vult, valde vult." "What he wills he wills cordially and without stint." 

A History of Watauga County 207 

A Belle of Broadway. — Elizabeth Eagles, of New York City, 
married Nathan Horton in that place July 10, 1783. She was a 
daughter of John Eagles and a belle of what is now the metrop- 
olis of America. They went first to the Jersey Settlement, after- 
wards moving to Holman's Ford, from which place they came 
with William Miller and his wife, Mary, and their son, David, 
and Ebenezer Fairchild and family to what is now Cook's Gap, 
six miles east of the town of Boone. This is one of the most 
historic places in America, for whatever may have been his 
course from there westward, there is no doubt that Daniel Boone 
and his companions passed through this gap in May, 1769, on 
their first trip into Kentucky. It is, moreover, one of the love- 
liest places on the Blue Ridge, being practically a tableland, from 
whose rolling hills views of unsurpassed loveliness stretch away 
on every hand. Rome, that "sat on her seven hills and from her 
throne of beauty ruled the world," had no lovelier outlook than 
this. It is through this gap, also, that the first railroad to cross 
the Blue Ridge into Watauga County is most apt to come. But 
Jonathan Buck, a hunter, had been there before them, as had 
also Richard Green. These had built hunting camps, Buck on 
what is still known as Buck's Ridge, and Green at Cook's Gap. 
All these people had been members of the Jersey Settlement, as 
had also been James Tompkins and James Jackson, and after- 
wards became members of Three Forks Church. The grant of 
640 acres of land at this place to William Miller bears date May, 
1787, and it was doubtless entered some time before. Tomp- 
kins' name still adheres to one of the knobs near Deep Gap, and 
the Jackson Meeting House on Meat Camp Creek will keep his 
memory alive for years yet to come, for it was the first school 
house built in this section. Corn and wheat could not be raised 
in this section at that early time, and these settlers on the Blue 
Ridge found themselves in the dead of winter without other 
food than wild meat and Irish potatoes, of which they had 
garnered a goodly crop. William Miller and Nathan Horton, 
therefore, took four horses, all they had, and went down to the 
Yadkin Valley for a supply of grain. When they were gone the 
fire in Mrs. Horton's house went out, and as she did not know 

2o8 A History of Watauga Coutity 

how to kindle another from flint and punk and steel," she and 
David, the son of W illiam and Alary Miller, set out on foot to 
go down to the head of Elk Creek to get fire from the Lewis 
family, who were then her nearest neighbors. The distance is 
stated to be five and eight miles, either of which was a long, 
hard journey for this delicately reared lady. But they got there 
and started back with a chunk of fire, she bearing her baby boy, 
William, in her arms."' But David stumbled just before they got 
back to the Horton residence and the "chunk" fell into the snow, 
then ten inches deep on the ground, putting the fire out entirely. 
It was then that Mrs. Horton sat down on a log and cried. But 
she took new courage very soon, and they went on, she telling 
David that they could milk the cows, drink the milk and get 
between the feather beds and so keep from freezing till Nathan 
Horton and William Miller should return. But when they ap- 
proached the home they saw smoke issuing from the chimney, 
and upon entering found Richard Green sitting contentedly be- 
fore a blazing fire. "This is my camp, madam," is said to have 
been Green's first greeting. "It is my home," was Mrs. Horton's 
ready answer, "as we have patented the land on which it stands, 
but when my husband returns he will pay you whatever may be 
right for the improvements you have put upon the land." This 
was done, Green getting four deer and two bear skins for his 
camp. Miller also bought out Jonathan Buck, whose camp he 
had preempted, paying him in furs also. 

" Mrs. Battle Bryan know better, however. She opened the frizzin which covers 
the pan of a flint-lock and removed the powder from pan and touch-hole, filling the 
latter with tallow. She then replaced the powder in the pan and snapped 
the gun. having placed tow nearby. "Or, a piece of roughened steel" was 
hooked over the forefinger, and the punk and flint held between thumb and fore- 
finger of other hand was struck against the steel, the spark catching in the punk. 
commonly called "spunk." 

" This baby was destined to be the grandfather of William Horton Bower, 
member of Congress in 1888. 

Some of Our Show-Places. 

Fine Scenery, — The scenery of Watauga County is as fine as 
any in the mountains of North Carohna. From Blowing Rock, 
the Grandfather, the Bald, Howard's Knob, Riddle's Knob, Elk 
Knob, the Buzzard Rocks and Dogs Ears views can be had that 
are sublime. Between Banner Elk and Alontezuma are two im- 
mense rocks, called the Chimneys, seventy-five and ninety feet 
high, which have never been photographed, but which are strik- 
ing objects of nature. Hanging Rock above Banner Elk and the 
North Pinnacle of the Beech Mountain are accessible and afford 
fine views. Dutch Creek Falls, within half a mile of the Mission 
School at Valle Crucis, slide over a rock which seems to be 
eighty feet high, and Linville Falls, now in Avery County, have 
two falls, each about thirty-five feet in height. Elk Falls, three 
miles from Cranberry, are well worth a visit, while the rapids 
of Elk Creek below the old Lewis Banner mill are wild and 
attractive. Watauga Falls, just west of the Tennessee line, and, 
therefore, in Tennessee, are not really "falls" in the sense of hav- 
ing a sheer fall of water in a perpendicular direction, but they 
are a series of cascades pouring over gigantic rocks in a gorge 
grand and gloomy in the extreme. It is rarely visited, however, 
many people imagining that a post office called Watauga Falls 
between Beech Creek and Ward's Store are the real falls, while 
in fact there are no falls there whatever. The turnpike leading 
from Valle Crucis to Butler, Tenn., passes in less than half a 
mile from the real falls, which, however, are not visible from the 
road. The "walks" are a series of natural stepping stones across 
the Watauga River below Flat Shoals, near the Tennessee line. 
At all times of ordinary high water one can cross on these stones 
dry-shod. The Wolf's Den on Riddle's Knob is well worth a 
visit. From the Rock House at the Jones or Little place, and 
from Tater Hill, both on Rich Mountain, fine views can be had. 



210 A History of Watauga County 

Cove Creek. — l-'rom Sugar Grove to the Tennessee line Cove 
Creek is so thickly settled as to be almost a continuous village. 
Several creeks come down from Rich Mountain and Fork Ridge, 
and on such streams many people live and thrive. For Cove 
Creek is recognized as the Egypt of Watauga County. It con- 
tains some of the most fertile land in the State. Its people are 
progressive and co-operate in all public enterprises. Beginning 
at Zionville, near the Tennessee line, there is a succession of 
villages, including Mable, Amantha, Sherwood, Mast and Sugar 
Grove. Two large flouring mills are on the creek, while there is 
the first cheese factory ever established in the county in flour- 
ishing condition at Sugar Grove. Churches, schools and masonic 
lodges dot the hillsides. Hospitality reigns in every household. 
The people are prosperous and happy and helpful. From a 
point near the mouth of Sharp's Creek, looking toward Rich 
Mountain, is a view that is as beautiful as any in the mountains. 
A forest of young lin trees has been set out on one of the worn- 
out hillsides and will soon be in fine condition ; also grafted 
chestnut trees — that is, native chestnut trees on which have been 
grafted French and Italian shoots. A sang garden or orchard is 
flourishing nearby, while the town of Sugar Grove and vicinity 
is lighted up with electric lights. Bath tubs supplied with clear 
spring water are found in many of the dwellings, and an air of 
prosperity and progress pervades the entire community of Cove 
Creek. Automobiles and the latest improved farm machinery 
show the temper and spirit of the people. In short, there is no 
forward step which can be taken at this stage of its growth that 
Cove Creek has not taken. Silverstone, in the shadow of the 
Rich Mountain, is one of the loveliest of all the villages of this 
vicinity, though it is some distance from Cove Creek. It is, how- 
ever, part and parcel of that locality. 

"The Biggest Show on Earth." — This is the boast of the 
Barnum-Bailey shows, but it falls far short of being as fine a 
show as the wild flowers of Watauga County make from May 
till December. Nowhere else on earth do the rhododendron, the 
azalea and the mountain ivy or calico bush called kalmia grow to 
such perfection as here. Nowhere else on earth do botanists find 

A History of Watauga Cotmty 21 1 

so large and fine a variety of wild flowers of all kinds. The rho- 
dodendron maxiimim is, as its name indicates, the largest of the 
rhododendron family, which derives its name from two Greek 
words meaning a rose tree. Both its leaves and its blooms are 
larger than any other variety. It is what we call mountain laurel, 
as distinguished from the ivy or calico bush, which has spotted, 
bell-shaped blooms. But we make no distinction between it and 
what botanists call the rhododendron catazvbiense, which has a 
smaller leaf and bloom and the bloom being more like the rose in 
color. The largest trunks of the rhododendron are six inches 
in diameter and the trees twenty feet high. In her "Carolina 
Mountains" Miss Morley gives most impassioned and poetic 
descriptions of the Watauga flow.ers, saying, among other charm- 
ing things, that "all flowers are imprisoned sunshine in a figurative 
sense, but of no others does that seem so literally true as of 'the 
flame-colored azaleas' (p. 50), to see the perfect fire of which you 
must com.e to their mountains." She also calls attention to the 
fringe bush, and asks how it came to the Grandfather Mountain 
"when all the other members of its family live in that remote Chi- 
nese empire so mysteriously connected with us through the life of 
the plants?" In this class she places the silver bell tree, the azalea, 
the fringe bush, the wisteria and ginseng. And she calls atten- 
tion to the rhododendron vaseyii, which sheds its leaves in 
autumn. This was thought to have become extinct, but it is 
still found on the north side of the Grandfather (p. 59). But all 
these flowers are surpassed by the lovely blooms of our apple 
and cherry trees in May and June, for nowhere in the world are 
apples and cherries finer or more abundant than here, the 
Moses H. Cone orchard at Blowing Rock and that at Valle 
Crucis producing fruit as fine and in greater abundance than 
almost any other orchards in the world. Kelsey's Highland 
Nursery at Linville City makes a business of selling all our wild 
flowers. Rev. W. R. Savage, of Blowing Rock, cultivates many 
of them in his garden. Mrs. W. W. Stringfellow, of the same 
town, also takes great pride in cultivating both tame and wild 
flowers and in distributing bulbs and seeds gratuitously among 
the mountain people. 

212 A History of Watauga County 

Valle Crucis. — According to a tradition well supported by the 
statements of many reputable cittizens of the present day, Samuel 
Hix and his son-in-law, James D. Holtsclaw came in 1779 from 
Clieraw, S. C, through the Deep Gap, to what is now known as 
Valle Crucis, and erected a palisade of split logs, with their 
sharpened ends driven into the ground, so as to enclose about an 
acre and a half surrounding the Maple Spring between the pres- 
ent residence of Finley Mast and that of his brother. Squire 
W. B. Mast. This was because they feared Indians, not know- 
ing of the agreement between the Watauga settlers and the 
Cherokees as to the land between the \'irginia line and the ridge 
south of the Watauga River. After a time Hix became uneasy 
and retired to the wilderness near what is now Banner Elk, 
where he made a camp and supported himself by hunting and 
making maple syrup and sugar, thus avoiding service as an 
American or a Tory. At some time in his career he is said to 
have had a cabin in a cove in rear of the present residence of 
Squire W. B. Mast, then to have lived in the bottom above 
James M. Shull's present farm, afterwards moving down the 
Watauga River near Ward's Store, where he died long after the 
Revolutionary W^ar. It is said that he never took the oath of alle- 
giance to the American cause and that whenever he came home 
for supplies his mischievous sons would frighten him by firing off 
a pistol made by hollowing out a buck-horn and loading the cavity 
with powder, the same being "touched off with a live coal." 
Just here it may be remarked — a fact not generally known — that 
if a live coal is not allowed to burn itself into ashes, it becomes 
a dead coal, which yet has elements of immortality in it to such 
an extent that, unless it is ground to powder, it remains charcoal 
indefinitely. Such coals, in beds of ashes, are still plowed up 
near the Lybrook farm, now the Grandfather Orphanage, one 
mile from Banner's Elk, still called by old people the Hix Im- 
provement, that being the place where Samuel Hix "laid out 
during the Revolutionary War." W^hether he had a grant or 
other title to the Valle Crucis land seems immaterial now, as he 
had possession of it when Bedent Baird arrived toward the close 
of the eighteenth century, for Baird, with a pocketful of money, 
had to go a mile down the river to get a home in this wilderness 

A History of Watauga County 213 

of rich land. Then Hix is said to have sold his holdings to 
Benjamin Ward for a rifle, dog and a sheepskin, Ward selling it 
later on to Reuben Mast, while Hix moved down to the mouth 
of Cove Creek. Ward soon got possession of this also, and sold 
it to a man named Summers, who was living in a cabin on the 
left bank of Watauga River during a great freshet which lifted 
the cabin from its foundation and carried it and its inmates, the 
entire Summers family, to death and oblivion in that night of 
horrors. A faithful dog belonging to the family swam after the 
cabin and when it finally lodged against a rock, the dog would al- 
low no one to enter till he had been killed. The Hix Hole, just be- 
low David F. Baird's farm, is still so called because of the drown- 
ing there of James Hix and a Tester about 1835, when a bull was 
ridden into the river in order to recover the two bodies. Reuben 
Mast lived where D. F. Baird now lives, while Joel Mast lived 
where J. Hardee Talor resides. David Mast lived near where 
Finley Mast's large mansion now stands. Henry Taylor, whose 
father was Butler Taylor, came from Davidson County to Sugar 
Grove about 1849, married Emeline, daughter of John Mast, of 
that place, and then moved to Valle Crucis in time to get some of 
the money paid out for the construction of the Caldwell and 
Watauga turnpike. This road must have been begun prior to 
October, 1849, ^o^ Col. Joseph C. Shull remembers that William 
Mast had the contract to build the bridge across Watauga River 
one mile below Shull's Mills, and was at work on it the morning 
on which he drank the poison the slave girl, ]\Iill, is supposed to 
have put in his coffee for breakfast, for he came to Col. Joseph 
C. Shull's father's home for medicine and returned to work on 
the bridge, but soon had to go home, dying that night at about 
the same time his wife died. It was to the valley above this that 
Bishop Ives came in 1843, where he erected the school and 
brotherhood described elsewhere. This valley was what the 
editor of the "Life of W. W. Skiles," Susan Fenimore Cooper, 
a descendant of Fenimore Cooper, author of the "Leather Stock- 
ing Tales," says the Indians would call a "one smoke valley" 
(p. 17), from the fact that but one family dwelt there in 1842. 
That family was that of Andrew Townsend, the miller, whose 
descendants still live nearby. 

214 ^ History of Watauga County 

Sugar Grove. — Cutliff Harmon came from Randolph County 
to this place in 1791 and bought 522 acres of land from James 
Gwyn, it having been granted to him May 18, 1791. Cutliff 
married Susan Fonts first and a widow by the name of Eliza- 
beth Parker after the death of his first wife. It is Sugar Grove 
that is the most progressive of the Cove Creek towns, having 
electric lights, a roller mill, the first in the county, and a cheese 
dairy, established 5th June, 191 5. It has also one of the finest 
school houses in the county. It was here also that Camp Mast 
was located during the Civil War. The land in this section 
is considered as about the best in the county. Col. Joseph 
Harrison Mast, who died September 8, 191 5, had his residence 
here. He was in his prime one of the best and most substantial 
citizens of the county and still holds the respect and affection of 
all who knew him. The first roller mill in the county was 
established here. These people know what co-operation means 
and act accordingly. The cheese factory is the first that was 
established in the South, and promises to be successful. 

Blowing Rock. — From the "Carolina Mountains" (pp. 350, 
355) we learn that "from Blowing Rock to Tryon Mountain the 
Blue Ridge draws a deep curve half encircling a jumble of very 
wild rocky peaks and cliffs that belong to the foothill formations. 
Hence, Blowing Rock, lying on one arm of a horseshoe of which 
Tryon Mountain is the other arm, has the most dramatic outlook 
of any village in the mountains. Directly in front of it is an 
enormous bowl filled with a thousand tree-clad hills and ridges 
that become higher and wilder towards the encircling wall of 
the Blue Ridge, the conspicuous bare stone summits of Hawk's 
Bill and Table Rock Mountains rising sharp as dragon's teeth 
above the rest, while the sheer and shining face of the terrible 
Lost Cove cliffs, dropping into some unexplored ravine, come to 
view on a clear day. From far away, beyond this wild bowlful 
of mountains, one sometimes sees a faintly outlined dome, 
Tryon Mountain, under which on the other side one likes to re- 
member Traumfest. Fortress of Dreams. 

"Off to the left from Blowing Rock, seen between near green 
knobs, the shoreless sea of the lowlands reaches away to lave 

A History of Watauga County 215 

the edge of the sky. And looking to the right, there lies the 
calm and noble form of the Grandfather Mountain, its rocky 
top drawn in a series of curves against the western sky. Long 
spurs sweep down like buttresses to hold it. Trees clothe it as 
with a garment to where the black rock surmounts them. 

"The view from Blowing Rock changes continually. The 
atmospheric sea that encloses mountain and valley melts the 
solid rocks into a thousand enchanting pictures. Those wild 
shapes in the great basin which at one time look so near, so hard 
and so terrible, at another time recede and soften, their dark 
colors transmuted into the tender blue of the Blue Ridge, or 
again the basin is filled with dreamlike forms immersed in an 
exquisite sea of mystical light. 

"Sometimes the Grandfather Mountain stands solidly out, 
showing in detail the tapestry of green trees that hangs over its 
slopes ; again it is blue and flat against the sky, or it seems made 
of mists and shadows. Sometimes the sunset glory penetrates, as 
it were, into the substance of the mountain, which looks translu- 
cent in the sea of light that contains it. As night draws on, it 
darkens into a noble silhouette against the splendor that often 
draws the curves of its summit in lines of fire. 

"Blowing Rock at times lies above the clouds, with all the 
world blotted out excepting the Grandfather's summit rising out 
of the white mists. Sometimes one looks out in the morning 
to see that great bowl filled to the brim with level clouds that 
reach away from one's very feet in a floor so firm to the eye 
that one is tempted to step out on it. Presently this pure white, 
level floor begins to roll up into billowy masses, deep wells open, 
down which one looks to little landscapes lying in the bottom, a 
bit of the lovely John's River Valley, a house and trees, perhaps. 
The well closes ; the higher peaks begin to appear, phantom 
islands in a phantom sea ; the restless ocean of mists swells and 
rolls, now concealing, now revealing glimpses of the world under 
it. It breaks apart into fantastic forms that begin to glide up 
the peaks and mount above them like wraiths. The sun darts 
sheaves of golden arrows in through the openings, and these in 
time slay the pale dragons of the air, or drive them fleeing into 

2i6 A History of Watauga County 

the far blue caverns of the sky, and the world beneath is visible, 
only that where the John's River \'alley ought to be there often 
remains a long lake of snowy drift. Sometimes the clouds blot- 
ting out the landscape break apart suddenly, the mountains come 
swiftly forth one after the other until one seems to be watching 
an act of creation where solid forms resolve themselves out of 
chaos. The peaceful John's River Valley, winding far below 
among the wild mountains, is like a glimpse into fairyland, and 
one has never ventured to go there for fear of dispelling the 
pleasing illusion. 

"Near the village of Blowing Rock, at the beginning of those 
green knobs between which one looks to the lowlands, is a high 
cliff, the real Blowing Rock, so named because the rocky walls 
at this point form a flume through which the northwest wind 
sweeps with such force that whatever is thrown over the rock 
is hurled back again. It is said that there are times when a man 
could not jump over, so tremendous is the force of the wind. 
It is also said that visitors, having heard the legend of the rock, 
have been seen to stand there in a dead calm and throw over 
their possessions and watch them no more in anger than in 
mirth as they, obedient to the law of gravity instead of that of 
fancy, disappeared beneath the tree tops far below. 

"Blowing Rock, four thousand feet above sea level, is a won- 
derfully sweet place. The rose-bay and the great white rhodo- 
dendron maximum crowd against the houses and fill the open 
spaces, excepting where laurel and the flame-colored azaleas 
have planted their standards. And in their seasons the wild 
flowers blossom everywhere ; also the rocks are covered with 
those crisp, sweet-smelling herbs that love high places, and 
sedums and saxifrages trim the crevices and the ledges. 

"Blowing Rock is also noted for the great variety of new 
mushrooms that have been captured there, though one suspects 
that this renown is due to the fact that the mushroom hunters 
happened to pitch their tents here instead of somewhere else. 
For other parts of the mountains can make a showing in mush- 
rooms, too." 

Some Blow^ing Rock Attractions. — Besides the Blowing Rock 
itself, from which a fine view can be had, there are the Ransom 

A History of Watauga County 217 

and Grand Views. There are several drives and trails in and 
near the Rock, some of which surpass in sylvan beauty any to be 
seen on the Biltmore estate, as the former are through primeval 
forests, notably the drive between the Stringfellow and Cone 
Lakes. The Randall Memorial Work Shop was conceived by 
the late W. G. Randall, who was born in Burke County, North 
Carolina, and after many hardships obtained an education and 
became a famous artist in oils. He spent his summers in Blow- 
ing Rock, where he died, after living nearly twenty sum- 
mers there. His remains lie in Washington, D. C. His wife 
was Miss Anna Goodlow, of Warren County, North Carolina. 
It is in this Work Shop that the manual industries of the moun- 
tain people are preserved and fostered. There are an old- 
fashioned hand loom, spinning wheels, etc., in this building. The 
Blowing Rock Exchange is near by, and its object is to afford a 
greater opportunity to the home people to sell home-made arti- 
cles, such as woven rugs, coverlids, embroidered bedspreads, 
laces, articles made of laurel, baskets, etc. In it are a library, a 
fine collection of Indian relics and mineral specimens. In front 
of the Work Shop is a garden of rare wild and cultivated plants 
and one of the two sundials in Watauga County. This garden is 
the result of the labors of Rev. William Rutherford Savage, 
who was born in Pass Christian, Miss., October 20, 1854; was 
graduated at the Episcopal Theological Seminary, Alexandria, 
Va., and moved to Blowing Rock in September, 1902. He is a 
worthy successor to the late Rev. W. W. Skiles, of Valle Crucis 
fame. In the words of Rev. Edgar Tufts, Mr. Savage has done 
more than any other to create a fraternal feeling among all the 
denominations of the mountains. 

Ante-Bellum Residents. — Col. James Harper, Sr., of Lenoir, 
built a frame summer residence at what is now the H. W. 
Weeden Fairview house, about 1858, and spent the summers 
there till the Civil War began. John Bryant lived where the 
Blowing Rock hotel stands, on land belonging to Col. James 
Harper. Edmund Greene lived near the present site of the 
Greene Park hotel, and Isaac Greene where the Boyden house 
now stands. Joseph Greene lived near the present site of the 
German Reformed Church. Amos Greene lived on the opposite 

2i8 A History of Watauga County 

side of the road from the present residence of Mrs. Dr. Reeves, 
and Lot Estes had his home between the present residence of 
Col. W. W. Stringfellow and the creek. Len Estes, his son, 
built the mill and dam after the Civil War, but sold out to Colonel 
Stringfellow and went West. He kept summer boarders and 
looked like General Grant. William M. Morris bought the Amos 
Greene place about 1874 and opened a house for summer board- 
ers. He was most successful, and the good things he furnished 
for his boarders to eat will be forever remembered by all who 
had the good fortune to sit at his table. He had a most remark- 
able little bench-legged cow, w'hich gave oceans of the richest 
milk imaginable. His deep featherbeds were good for tired legs 
after a day's wading in the creeks fishing for speckled trout. He 
sold out to Dr. L. C. Reeves, however, and moved east of the 
Blue Ridge. W. W. Sherrell bought the Harper property and 
opened tw'o or three small houses for summer boarders about 
1877 or 1878 at Fairview. This is now the Weeden place. 
Robert Greene, father of the late Judge L. L. Greene, lived 
where the Cone Lake now is. The Kirk Fort was in the Blowing 
Rock Gap, and trees were felled for some distance down the 
road so as to give an open view of the country to the east. After 
Gen. M. W. Ransom became interested in the place, its growth 
was rapid, and the completion of the Yonahlossee turnpike in 
1900 assured its success. 

Along the Blue Ridge. — We will now notice the people who 
originally lived along the Blue Ridge, from Deep Gap to Coffey's 
Gap. Solomon Green lived in the Deep Gap, and was a good 
citizen and entertained the traveling public. He was the son of 
"Flatty" Isaac Green, who lived on Meat Camp near the noted 
Brown place of 640 acres, the lower part of \vhich is now owned 
by Lindsey Patterson, of Winston-Salem, and the upper part by 
L. A. Green, who lives near. L. A. Green is a son of "Little" 
John Green, who was a son of Richard Green, all of whom are 
well to do people. The next settled place on the Ridge was 
called the Old Ellison place, where W' illiam Blackburn now^ lives. 
The next was the home of the Rev. John Cook, a Baptist minis- 
ter and a son of Michael Cook, of Cook's Gap, and he lived six 



















A History of Watauga County 219 

miles east of Boone, where his grandson, A. B. Cook, now lives, 
and is better known as "Burt" Cook. From this point, going 
west along the Ridge, we next reach the home of the old pioneer, 
Michael Cook, who first settled in the noted Cook's Gap and 
from whom it took its name. He had six sons, to wit: John, 
Adam, David, Robert, Michael and William. There were at 
least two daughters, one of whom married Aaron Hampton and 
the other Rice Hayes. From this point we go to John and 
Joshua Storie's, where George Storie now has a store. George 
is a grandson of John, his father having been Walter, who mar- 
ried a Miss Powell, of Caldwell. Walter lost his life in the Civil 
War. These two families were hard working and industrious 
people and owned adjoining farms, the voting place being called 
Storie's Barn. Jesse, son of John Storie, is probably the only one 
living of the two old families. This takes us to what is now 
Blowing Rock, four miles further west, to the old Green settle- 
ment, where the two noted brothers, Joseph and Benjamin 
Green, lived. These brothers were so much alike that their 
neighbors could scarcely tell them apart. Isaac Green, called 
"Mountain" Isaac, lived at what is now the Boyden place, where 
he reared a large family. Amos Green lived where Mrs. Sallie 
Reeves, widow of the late Dr. L. C. Reeves, now lives. He had 
a large family. Alexander Green, son of Benjamin, lived where 
Mr. Lance now lives, one mile east of Blowing Rock. His father 
used to live there before him, while Joseph Green lived east of 
Green Park hotel. He was the grandfather of Mrs. W. L. 
Bryan. A small Reformed Lutheran Church stands on part of 
the land. Warren Green, youngest son of Joseph, was killed 
when Stoneman raided Boone. Robert Greene lived where 
Cone's Lake now is. He was the father of Judge L. L. Greene, 
his wife having been Chaney Elrod, whose father lived two miles 
south of Boone, where J. Watts Farthing now lives. Lot Estes 
married Chaney Green, a daughter of Benjamin Green, and 
lived where Colonel Stringfellow's house now stands. Five miles 
west lived McCaleb Coffey at what is called Coffey's Gap. He 
married Sally Hayes, a sister of Ransom Hayes. They had four 
boys and no girls. The boys were Jones, Thomas, Ninevah and 

220 A History of Watauga County 

John. All were killed in the Civil War except Jones and he was 
badly wounded. No one else lived on the Blue Ridge from 
Coffey's Gap west till after the Grandfather was passed. Finley 
and Jesse Gragg probably moved to the top of the Ridge after 
the Civil War. 

Moses H. Cone. — He began to acquire real estate in the 
vicinity of Blowing Rock about 1897, and secured over 3,5CX) 
acres of land before his death at Baltimore, Md., December 8, 
1908. The mansion he erected on Flat Top Mountain is second 
only to that of George W. Vanderbilt near Asheville. The lake 
in front of that residence is one of the picture places of the 
mountains. He died childless and intestate, but his widow and 
brothers and sisters have joined in the creation of the Moses H. 
Cone Memorial Park for the public "in perpetuity," after the 
death of his widow, by donating the above land. Moses H. Cone 
was bom at Jonesboro, Tenn., June 29, 1857. He married Miss 
Bertha Landau, of Baltimore. 

An Established Pleasure Resort. — Blowing Rock went up 
top as a pleasure resort soon after the completion of the turn- 
pike from Lenoir and Linville City. Many people bought land 
and built summer homes there. Hotels and boarding houses 
began to go up and to multiply year by year. Livery stables, 
bowling alleys, automobiles, drug stores, churches, stores of all 
sorts soon became numerous and provided for the amusement 
and needs of a growing summer population. It has a flourishing 
bank also, a long-distance and local telephone line, several physi- 
cians, and everything to make life pleasant for the permanent 
resident and the transient guest. The views are unsurpassed. 
Schools provide for the education of the children, and all sorts 
of games, entertainments and amusements go on from morn 
till night all seasons of the year. The mails are adequate, and 
Charlotte and Raleigh papers reach "The Rock," as it is called, 
on the day they are issued. In other words, everything that is 
essential to a first-class pleasure resort is provided, and all tastes 
and purses can be suited, as the range of hotel and boarding 
house accommodation is extensive. Blowing Rock is established 
beyond question as one of the finest and most popular pleasure 
resorts of the South. 

A History of Watauga County 221 

Brushy Fork. — John HoUsclaw, son of James D., who was 
the son-in-law of Samuel Hix, moved from Valle Crucis in 
1801, when the road was finished down Brushy Fork and built 
and operated the Buck Horn tavern, which stood in the field to 
the left of the road going down the creek opposite Floyd Ward's 
present home. Buck horns were nailed to a large white oak 
which stood in front of the old tavern. Valle Crucis was then 
ofif the main road to Tennessee, and John had come to Brushy 
Fork to be in the current of the western movement. Later on a 
school house was built near this old tavern, which has long since 
disappeared, and the small mound on which it stood is still 
pointed out. Marcus Holtsclaw, son of John, lived at several 
places on Brushy Fork. John also built and operated a grist 
mill a third of a mile below the Brushy Fork Baptist Church, on 
the right of the road going down, a sycamore stump still marking 
the site of the old dam. Almost opposite the old dam site, but to 
the left of the road, still stands an old stone chimney which fur- 
nished a fireplace for a cabin which stood on ten acres of land 
which John Tomlin in 1830 to 1835 contracted to buy and pay 
fifty dollars for. He put up the walls of a large log house, 
Alfred Hately hewing the logs, but Tomlin was unable to finish 
paying for the property and it fell back to its original owner. 
Tomlin sold goods at what is now called \^ilas. His wife was a 
daughter of John J. Whittington, but she left him and went to 
Missouri, What became of him is not known, except that he 
also left Brushy Fork, never to return. John J. Whittington 
lived a quarter of a mile below and on the right of the road, and 
the old Whittington graveyard is on the hill on the right of the 
road, while the Hagaman graveyard is on the left. John Holts- 
claw's youngest son is buried there. He had married Nancy, a 
daughter of Moses Hateley. There was a sang factory at the 
Whittington place as far back as W. W. Presnell can remember. 
It was in charge of Bacchus J. Smith, of Buncombe, who in turn 
was the agent of Dr. Hailen, of Philadelphia. The sang factory 
stood just below Joseph Ward's present home. M. Granville 
Hagaman first lived and sold goods right after the Civil War in 
a house where Andrew Greer now lives. He also bought sang 

222 A History of Watauga County 

there, and Col. W. \V. Presnell gathered and sold to him $47.00 
worth of sang at twenty-five cents a pound in exactly twenty- 
two days.* Where Samuel Flannery now lives is the site of the 
original home of Thomas Hagaman, who settled there before 
the Civil War, coming from the Fork Ridge. The Ben Councill 
house at Vilas, built of brick, was completed about 1845 by a 
man from Tennessee by the name of Mace, while Polly Cornell 
cooked for the work hands. In 1827 the parents of Col. W. W. 
Presnell reached Brushy Fork, coming through the Coflfey 
Gap on the old John's River Road from near Taylorsville. His 
mother, Mary Munday, was born at the Black Oak Ridge and 
his father, Solomon Presnell, in Union County in 1810. Where 
the widow of ex-Sherifif A. J. McBride now lives, nearly oppo- 
site the Ben Councill brick house at Vilas, is where the old 
Tomlin and Ben Councill store house stood. It was built of logs. 
On the hill above the present residence of Wm. L. Henson is the 
site of the first Methodist Church that was ever built in Watauga 
County, but it seems never to have been completed, though 
Colonel Presnell says that his mother told him services were held 
there soon after she came to this settlement in 1827. It is at 
Vilas that Ben Councill built a large mill for that day and time 
(1845), and from that place the road forked, one prong going 
through the Councill Gap to Valle Crucis and the other to Sugar 
Grove, from which point it went through the Mast Gap to Valle 
Crucis, as well as on down Cove Creek to ^^'atauga River and 
up the Cove Creek to Tennessee. The Whittington family finally 
moved to Missouri. The Dugger family of Cove Creek are de- 
scendants of Benjamin Dugger, who came from Yadkin Elk in 
1793 or 1794 to Brushy Fork and entered land there, and for 
whom the Dugger Mountain and creek east of the Blue Ridge 
are named. There were three Dugger brothers who came from 
Scotland and stopped awhile near Petersburg, \^a., named Ben- 
jamin, Daniel and Julius. Ben stopped at Yadkin Elk, Daniel 
went to Kentucky and Julius settled near Fish Springs on the 
Watauga River, Tennessee. It was from Julius' children that 
the Banner's Elk Duggers descended. 

* One of the sons of Newton Banner has about a fourth of an acre in ginseng, 
near Sugar Grove. Others have large patches of it also. Many have very small 
plots of ground in shaded corners where a few plants are tended. 

A History of Watauga County 223 

Shull's Mills. — From this point to the Linville Gap is full of 
historical incidents and romantic occurrences. It was in the 
field in front of the Joseph C. Shull home, near the cattle barn, 
that young Charles Asher was shot by White's men after the 
Revolutionary War, and soon after he had married a daughter 
of David Hix and settled in the orchard below the Shull house. 
Here also came James Aldridge soon after he had left the Big 
Sandy and his wife and five children to commence life anew with 
Betsy Calloway, as a hunter and trapper. Rev. Henry H. Prout 
came there, too, and built Easter Chapel, and it was there that 
Edward Moody and his wife lived lives of usefulness and in- 
spiration to all who came into contact with them. There, too, 
came Jesse Boone, a nephew of Daniel, and built a cabin on one 
prong of W'atauga River, which has ever since borne the name 
of the Boone Fork. Col. Walter W, Lenoir, soldier, lawyer, 
legislator and philanthropist, settled just above Shull's Mill at 
the close of the Civil War and built, or, rather, improved a mill 
there which has ever since been known as Lenoir's Stonewall 
Mill. The Grandfather Mountain looms above it on one side and 
the Hanging Rock on the other. It was in this neighborhood that 
many of the most tragic events of the Civil War occurred, while 
just across the Linville Gap is the romantic valley of Altamont, 
the old home of the Palmers and Childses, who had been lured 
from New York and Massachusetts to pass their days in these 
enchanting surroundings. It was the broad bottoms and other 
attractions that made Bishop Ives apply to Phillip Shull, the 
father of Joseph C, for a deed to what was then Shull's Mills, 
embracing the present Shull holdings as well as those of Alex. 
Moody across Lance's Creek. And it is as well to state here 
that Lance's Creek was so called because Lance Estes first lived 
on its waters, but sold out to Len, Estes February 8, 1830. The 
Shull Mills land was granted to Charles Asher in 1788, when it 
was supposed to be in Washington County, Tennessee, and by 
him conveyed to Joseph White in 1792, and by Joseph to Ben- 
jamin White in 1798. It was from this neighborhood, also, that 
Cobb McCanless rode to Boone with young Levi L. Coffey on 
that January morning in 1859, where he was confronted with 

224 -^ History of Watauga County 

the agent of the W'eyeth's, for whom he liad been collecting 
money, but to return that night and take the fatal step of ab- 
sconding with trust funds from which there was no return. The 
old bridge across Watauga River, one mile below Shull's Mills, 
still called the Old Bridge Place, and on which William Mast 
had been at work when, in October, 1849, the poison he and his 
wife had drunk that morning in their coffee began to make its 
fatal effects felt, fell down in 1909 while Wood Young was 
passing over it in a wagon drawn by two mules ; while Zeb 
Dana was killed there in 1883 at night when returning with 
horses which he thought he had borrowed and their owners 
thought he had stolen. The old Caldwell and Watauga Turn- 
pike crossed the river at this point, but after the Civil War 
(1870) Col. Joseph C. ShuU changed it so as to cross at the 
present ford and run in front of his residence, instead of in 
rear, as it had done before, thereby avoiding a moist and boggy 
place near his well. 

Linville Valley. — One scarcely thinks of this region — from 
Linville Gap to Linville Falls — as a valley, for it is more like a 
high ridge upon the crest of which a silver stream winds its 
romantic way, with "here a blossom sailing, and here and there 
a lusty trout, and here and there a grayling." And, most won- 
derful, even incredible, it seems, is the fact that its course from 
Linville Gap to the Linville Falls is cast of the Blue Ridge. The 
Humpback Mountain lies between the stream and the eastern 
lowlands, and looks for all the world like the Blue Ridge, but 
such is not the case. And more wonderful still is the fact that 
just over Pisgah Ridge is one prong of the Tow River, flowing 
into the Gulf of Mexico. Following this ridge out, one comes to 
the ridge which divided the waters of the Watauga from those 
of the Toe, and the Cherokee territory to the south from the 
Watauga Settlement's lands to the north. Indians were seen 
there under the cliff just above Pisgah Church before the Revo- 
lutionary War, to which point they had been chased by troops 
from below the Blue Ridge. A man named Fullward evidently 
lived on the branch between the old J. B. Palmer house and the 
store now occupied by Bickerstaff and Stroup, as that branch is 

A History of Watauga County 225 

called for in grant No. i of Burke County land. This grant is 
dated December 17, 1778, and is to J. McKnitt Alexander and 
William Sharp, for 300 acres, covering what will always be 
known as the Palmer Place on Linville River.' It is signed by 
Governor Caswell and has the old bees-wax seal hanging to the 
grant by an old ribbon. Who Fullward was no one can now tell, 
but there was also another early settler whose name even has 
been forgotten and who lived where M. C. Bickerstaff now resides. 
William White, after whom the Billy White Creek of this place 
is called, then lived at the Bickerstaff place, but he moved to 
Missouri about 1821, when that territory was opened up to 
settlement. White sold to James Erwin and he to J. B. Palmer. 
George Crossnore settled what is still called the Crossnore Place, 
where Benjamin Aldridge now lives, and he was probably a 
hunter. The postofiice and neighborhood still bear his name. 
William Davis, a soldier of the Revolution, stole his wife, a 
Carpenter, from Ashe, and settled at what is still called the 
Davis Mountain, now the Monroe Franklin place, and which 
Warsaw Clark now owns, one mile and a half above the Cross- 
nore place, where Kate, the five year old daughter of Davis,- 
is buried under an apple tree. It is said that he first gave the 
name of the Cow Camp to a creek of that name which runs into 
Toe River because of the fact that, having no feed for his cattle, 
he camped near them on that creek and supplied them with lin 
tree limbs, called laps, from the time the buds began to swell 
till the grass came. Another reason is given, however, for this 
name, which is that there was abundance of stagger-weed on the 
creek, and when the cattle ate it, as they did, their owners 
camped on the creek in order to doctor them. 

The Ollis Family. — John Ollis w^as one of the first to settle 
in the Linville country, making his home just above Crossnore, 
where he cleared a field, still called by some the Ollis Place, 
while across the Fire-Scald Ridge is a rock called the Ollis 

2 Col. J. B. Palmer, afterwards colonel of the 58tli North Carolina, came from 
New York State in 1858, and built a large frame house there. Because of the 
execution for desertion of some of his soldiers, condemned by court-martial, he 
could not return there after the Civil War. His widow sold it in 1889 to Mrs. 
Anna K. Watkins, wife of Maj. G. R. Watkius, of U. S. Navy, retired, and she 
to C. E. Wood, trustee, in 1908. Kirk having burnt the Palmer house, Major 
Watkins erected the residence now on the old site. 


226 A History of Watauga Cotmty 

Deer Stand. He was of German extraction and was a soldier 
of the War of 1812, but was discharged at SaHsbury after serv- 
ing only sixty days on account of physical disability. His chil- 
dren were Boston, John, Jr., Daniel, James and George, Sarah, 
who married a Harrel; Elizabeth, who married James Gragg, 
and Mary, who married Major Gragg. W. H. Ollis, one of 
John's sons, was born September 22, 1840, and married Melinda 
Harstin, January 25, 1866. 

Other Early Settlers. — Harvey Clark settled near the Har- 
shaw place below Pinola ; Andrew Bowers, at the Bowers' Gap ; 
Abe Gwyn lived above Scaly, near Cranberry mines; Rad Ellis 
lived on the Fork Mountain, while Dr. Wm. Houston lived at 
what is now called Minneapolis, where he bought sang. Dr. 
Houston is said to have been seven feet tall. Bayard Benfield 
now lives where Abram Johnson first put up a forge. It is said 
that Johnson frequently looked for his jacket, as the vest is 
called here, while he had it on his person, and that the floor of 
his home was made of red hickory six inches thick and so closely 
joined that cracks were invisible. Tilmon Blalock lived on 
Beaver Creek, near Spruce Pine. Larkin Calloway built a little 
mill and lived at what is now Linville City, a little above, and 
his brother-in-law, Torry Webb, lived where the lake now is. 
Mathias Carpenter came from Pennsylvania and settled on New 
River in Ashe. It was his daughter who married William 
Davis. His son, Jacob, moved to Three Mile Creek, where he 
died July 18, 1856, aged eighty-six years. His son, Jacob, of 
Altamont, was born January 4, 1833. Henry Dellinger came 
from Burke about 1834 and settled where Linn Dellinger now 
lives. Henry salted and tended cattle in the mountains for the 
Erwins ; John Franklin lived at the Old Fields of Toe and was 
one of Cobb McCanless's deputies. Wesley Johnson, a son of 
Abraham's, went to Utah and died there in 1880, aged eighty-one 

Elk Crossroads. — As Elk Creek comes into the South Fork 
of the New River at this point, it has been a noted place for 
many years. Riddle and his men passed there with Ben Cleve- 
land after they had captured him at Old Fields in April, 1781. 

A History of Watauga County 227 

Wm. Howell, Wm. Ray, Solomon Younce and G. and Joseph 
Tatum were early settlers. It has always been a stopping place 
and a noted "stand" for the sale of goods and provisions. James 
Todd and Hugh A. Dobbins kept a store there before the Civil 
War and several others have sold goods there since. It is now 
called Elkland by the Virginia-Carolina Railroad, having for 
several years borne the name of Todd. Col. E. F. Lovill, of 
Boone, kept a store there after the Civil War, and then moved 
to Boone, where he has practiced law ever since. The comple- 
tion of the Virginia-Carolina Railroad to that place in 1915 
promises to make of it a large town in the near future. All of 
Elkland is now in Ashe County, the legislature making the line 
follow the creek from its mouth to the Blackburn ford. The 
Tatum place was first granted to Thomas Farmer in 1788, when 
this was a part of Wilkes County. Farmer sold to John Lipps 
in 1796 for £70, "current money." (Deed Book C, p. 598.) 
Lipps sold to Susanna Holman in 1799 for same amount (E, p. 
241), and she sold to William Clawson in 1802 (A, p. 534), who 
held it till 1835, when he sold it to Ebeneezer Clawson, and he 
to Buckner Tatum in 1836 (L, p. 122), and in the year 1845 
Buckner sold it to Elijah Tatum, the father of John L., its 
present owner (N, p. 483). 

Banner's Elk. — John Holsclaw was the first permanent resi- 
dent of this place, though Samuel Hix had occupied a place in 
the laurel a short distance away at what is now the Grandfather 
Orphanage. Baker King and Ben Dugger at some time had a 
camp on that very land.' It was there, too, during the stormy 
days of 1863 to 1865 that Lewis and Martin Banner piloted 
many an escaped Federal prisoner and Union man trying to get 
through the lines into Tennessee. Only a few in the secret 
knew of the place — Dan Ellis, of Elizabethton, Tenn. ; Harrison 
Church, another conductor of the underground railroad, and 
Keith Blalock were admitted into the inner temple. Andrew 
Bowers lived in what is still known as the Bowers' Gap and gave 
his name to the Bowers' Mountain between Banner's Elk and 
Valle Crucis. Down on Elk, Abram Gwyn lived at what is still 

' This camp is called for in deed from John Holtsclaw to Delilah Baird of 
date May 2, 1838, to the Big Bottoms. 

228 A History of Wataicga County 

called the Ford of Elk. George Dugger came later on and set- 
tled about where the road to Dr. Jenning's hotel leaves the turn- 
pike. This, however, was on the Shawnehaw side of the ridge. 
There were no clearings of any extent at Banner Elk, except 
those at the Hix Improvement, which was very small, and at 
the Big Bottoms, but there were two "deadenings," one called the 
Moses Deadening, and the other the Lark Chopping. But nearly 
one hundred years ago Martin Banner had walked through 
from Surry to Nashville, accompanied by a single companion 
and having one horse between them. He passed through Banner 
Elk and determined to return there at some future time. Ac- 
cordingly, in 1845 he returned with his family, crossing Watauga 
River at a ford opposite the place Walter Baird now lives, it 
being then the home of Bedent Baird, and followed his cart way 
or wagon road to his place on Beech Mountain, where he turned 
to the left by the Roland clearing and reaching Banner's Elk 
at what is now called Balm. But he did not stop there, pitching 
his tent permanently near what is now the Lowe Hotel. His 
brother, Lewis, came three or four years later and built his cabin 
where his daughters, Mrs. Wetmore and Miss Nannie Banner, 
now live, a mile above Martin's home. Levi Moody and Joel 
Eggers lived above Lewis Banner's house. Martin Banner 
moved across Sugar Mountain Gap and built a new home near 
the head of the North Fork of Toe River in 1866. Some time 
later he was on a visit at Eb Harris's home near what is now 
Montezuma, where he died as the result of a fall. He was born 
February 7, 1808, and died February 19, 1895. John Franklin 
and Marcus Tuttle also lived near Montezuma at that time. It 
was then called Bull Scrape because, being on the very crest of 
the Blue Ridge, there is a current of cool air constantly stirring 
and the cattle on the ranges thereabout used to assemble there in 
the heat of the day and lie under the trees while the amorous 
bulls pawed the ground around and locked horns over their 
bovine love scrapes. Close to what is now Linville City, a rather 
small city, but remarkably clean and attractive, lived Tyree 
Webb, then a very old man. The road through the McCanless 
Gap, reaching from Banner Elk to Linville Gap, was not con- 

A History of Watauga County 229 

structed till about 1895, though a trail went through there "furder 
back" than anyone now remembers." Behind a thick laurel, near 
where Napoleon Banner now lives, was the camp of a man 
named OUis, who was hiding out during the Revolutionary War. 
Ashes and coals can still be plowed up near that place. He used 
to live, as did Samuel Hix, by hunting and making a crop of 
potatoes in a little patch, ekeing out his simple fare with maple 
syrup and sugar from the maple trees which had made this sec- 
tion their home time out of mind, and which give its name to 
Sugar Mountain. After awhile Burton Baird, Delilah's son, 
married the Widow Keller, and her daughter Aurilda, called 
"Rildy" for short, married Levi Moody. Below Harrison Al- 
drich's house on head of Watauga River lived Tom Fudge and 
two old maids, one of whom was named Laudermilk, for whom 
he milked, tended garden and did other work.° He had a little 
gun with a very short barrel. He was a little dried-up man, but 
useful to these two forlorn women. William Baird lived at what 
is now called Matny. Mike Snider lived at what is now called 
Elk Park, where he operated a small grist mill. Down at Old 
Fields of Toe lived James Calloway and the Maxfield family, 
the Clarks and Braswells living above that place, and there after 
the Civil War Gen. Robert F. Hoke and associates, James 
Wilson and Sam. McD. Tate, decided that sheep raising in these 
mountains would be profitable, got control of the Old Fields of 
Toe,' imported a genuine Scotch shepherd and a genuine Scotch 
shepherd dog, several fine bucks, and then bought up over a 
hundred natives ewes. It did not pay as well as had been ex- 
pected, native dogs being too much for the one imported collie. 
Even the tie-tie business for pipe stems was carried on. John 
Hardin and his son, Jordan, moved from the Hardin place, a mile 

■• Shep. M. Dugger, the distinguished author of the "Balsam Groves of the 
Grandfather Mountain," and his brother-in-law, J. Erwin Calloway, built the 
Grandfather hotel, half a mile from Linville Gap, in 1885 ; but it was burned 
in 1914. It served a good purpose as a resting-place for tourists to the Grand- 
father Mountain. 

^ In 1857 Newton, Ab. and Luther Banner, caught trout in the North Toe 
River, and ran with them to the head of Banner Elk, crossing at Sugar Gap, 
replenishing the water as they went, and this stocked Elk Creek above Elk 
Falls. Rev. H. H. Prout also stocked Linville River above the Palls from head 
of Watauga River. 

" A man named Birchfield was probably among the first settlers at the Old 
Fields of Toe, dying there of milk-sick many years ago. 

230 A History of Watauga County 

east of Boone, and lived at Cranberry forge from about 1850 
till after the Civil War, during which Jordan had charge of the 
property. John Hardin died in 1873. Between these places and 
Banner's Elk there was constant communication. The rapid 
development of Banner's Elk and its surrounding country, in- 
cluding all the places named herein, is too recent to need record- 
ing here. The coming of the Rev. Edgar Tufts, however, was 
the most fortunate event in the history of that section. (See 
chapter on Schools.) 

On Foot to Banner's Elk. — Miss Morley gives us this account 
of her trip to Banner's Elk. Does that "gold tree" still stand 
we wonder? The only way to find out is to go and see. 

"From Valle Crucis to Banner Elk, under the Beech Moun- 
tain, is another day's walk, when again you take the longest 
way up Dutch Creek to see the pretty waterfall there and where 
the clematis is a white veil over the bushes, and up the steep 
road by Hanging Rock where the gold tree grows. This is an 
oak, known far and near because its top is always golden yellow. 
The leaves come out yellow in the spring, remain so all summer, 
and in the fall would doubtless turn yellow if they were not al- 
ready that color. The people say there is a pot of gold buried 
at the roots, but this pleasant fancy has not taken a serious 
.enough hold to menace the life of the tree. 

"Stopping at a picturesque, old time log house to rest, a little 
girl invites you to go to the top of Hanging Rock, which invita- 
tion you gladly accept, thereby getting one of the most enjoyable 
walks of the summer, your little guide telling you all the way 
about the flowers and the birds and stopping under an over- 
hanging cliflF with great secrecy to show you a round little bird's 
nest with eggs in it cleverly hidden in the moss. One suspects 
it was the chance to show this treasure that led the child to 
propose the long climb to the top of the mountain. The goose- 
berries of Hanging Rock are without prickles, perhaps because 
the wild currants growing there have stolen them. Imagine 
prickly currants ! There is plenty of galax on Hanging Rock, 
the mosses and sedums and all the other growths that make 
mountain tops so agreeable. The top of Hanging Rock is a 

A History of Watauga County 231 

slanting ledge, from which the mountain gets its name. At 
Banner Elk you will want to stay awhile, it is so pretty, and you 
will also want to climb the beautiful Beech Mountain with its 
grassy spaces and its charming beech groves. 

"From Banner Elk you take the short walk over to 'Gallo- 
ways,' close under the shadow of the Grandfather, and from 
here the long and beautiful walk down the Watauga River at the 
base of the Grandfather, then along the ridges back to Blowing 
Rock, watching as you go details of the mountain beneath whose 
northern front you are passing. The open benches, the rocky 
bluffs and abrupt, tree-clad walls of this side of the mountain, 
which we call the back of the Grandfather, are not impressive 
like those long southern slopes sweeping from a summit of a 
little less than six thousand feet down into the foothills. For the 
mountain on this side is stopped by the high plateau from which 
it rises. Yet it is good to be at the back of the Grandfather. 
From the Watauga road we see the profile from which the moun- 
tain is said to have received its name, although one gets a better 
and far more impressive view of it from a certain point on the 
mountain itself. 

"And so you return to Blowing Rock after days of wander- 
ing, only to rest awhile and start again, gaining endurance with 
every trip until the ten miles' walk that cost you a little weari- 
ness becomes the twenty miles' walk that costs you none. You 
cannot tire of the road, for every mile brings new sights, new 
sounds, new fragrances, new friends, new flowers, one charm of 
walking here being the endless variety. No two days are ahke; 
each has its own pleasant adventures." 

Meat Camp. — This was one of the first places to be settled 
in Ashe County, William Miller, the Blackburns and James Jack- 
son going there from the Jersey Settlement as early as 1799, 
while Ebenezer Fairchild, of the same colony, settled on How- 
ard's Creek, only a short distance away. Jackson's grave is still 
pointed out in the woods near the site of the old Jackson Meet- 
ing House, while the cabin of an old hunter named Abbey stood 
in what is now the garden of John C. Moretz. Brown got the 
first grant to land on this creek, part of the Lindsey Patterson 

232 A History of Watauga County 

farm, before he had ever seen it, having entered it from the 
natural boundaries furnished liim by Daniel Boone and his 
associates. The cabin in which the old hunters stored their meat 
and hides when on hunts in this region stood in a rocky patch 
just above the bend of Moretz's mill pond, the foundation of the 
old chimney still showing above ground. It was this camp and 
the use to which it was put as a sort of primitive packing house 
that gave the name of Meat Camp to the creek. John Moretz 
and his wife and family came to Meat Camp in September, 1839. 
There was already an old mill there when he came, which he 
bought from Samuel Cooper, who then moved to Meadow Creek. 
The dam of the old mill was of logs, but John Moretz put sixty 
men to work erecting the stone dam which still stands. With the 
grinding and other work of the mill was also a carding machine. 
But late in the fall of 1847 the mill burned, the supposed act of 
an incendiary, as it occurred just before day. But he rebuilt, 
leaving out the linseed oil feature only. After his death Alfred 
J. Moretz tore that mill down and built the one which still stands. 
Alfred Moretz moved to his present home at Deep Gap in April, 

The Rich Mountain. — This mountain deserves its name, for it 
is richer than most bottom lands. This is true of the top as well 
as of the slopes and coves. It is said that Ezra Stonecypher lived 
in a cabin above T. P. Adams' bam, and ashes and charcoal are 
still plowed up there. But, like Daniel Boone, Ezra loved plenty 
of elbow-room, and so, when a man moved on to Cove Creek 
and settled there, Ezra moved to Norris's Fork of Meat Camp 
and built a poplar log cabin. This was several miles from the 
Cove Creek intruder, and Ezra was happy for a time, but only 
for a time, as another pushing person obtruded himself on Meat 
Camp and settled there, which was the straw that broke the 
camel's back, for Ezra pulled up stakes and moved to Kentucky. 
One of his sons met Col. Thomas Bingham there during the Civil 
War, and proved that he knew all about Rich Mountain and that 
section of the county. Then Dr. Calloway, it seems, got a grant 
to two tracts called the Big and Little Cay-vit (Caveat?), and 
after awhile, say about 1840 or 1845, Col. Edmund Jones got 

A History of Watauga County 233 

title to some of the mountain and pastured his cattle there. Sev- 
eral people have lived at what is still called the Jones Place on 
Rich Mountain, but Allen Beech went there from Caldwell in 
1848 and remained several years, his son, Allen W., having been 
born there February 11, 1854. The late Hon. R. Z. Linney 
bought the Tater Hill and other land on the Rich Mountain about 
1902 and had a turnpike built from the Rich Mountain Gap 
above Boone to the gap in Rich Mountains above Silverstone, 
through which a road from Meat Camp passes over to Cove 
Creek and Zionville. Dr. H. McD. Little owns part of the Rich 
Mountain and pastures many cattle there. The two-story rock 
house on Dr. Little's land was built by Col. R. Z. Linney and 
stands on what is also known as the Jones Place. Part of this 
rock house fell down in June, 1915. 

The Tater Hill, — No one ever makes any apology for calling 
this striking mountain peak by its real name — Tater Hill. For 
it was never a potato hill, potatoes being mere ornaments for 
the skill of French chefs. Taters are what we were "raised" 
on, while city children were "reared" on potatoes. The first 
man to see the charm of this lonely spot was one Chapley Well- 
burn. He entered it in April, 1799, four hundred acres of it, 
and lived there, probably hunting for a living, the people who 
live on lower levels being the only ones who indulge in the pas- 
time of earning a "livelihood." Well, he thought he had a title 
to that land, and in 1876 J. B. Todd, by order of the court, con- 
veyed this title to one of his descendants in Wilkes (Deed Book 
R, p. 108). But Alfred Adams knew a thing or two, one of them 
being that adverse possession under color of title would "ripen" 
that title into an "indefeasible estate of inheritance," or words 
to that general effect. So he got the very best "color" "the air," 
to wit, a grant from the sovereign State of North Carolina — 
not from Sovereign Linn, who was living in this county at that 
time. Adams occupied about three hundred acres of his grant, 
and when he locked horns with H. M. and W. N. G. Wellburn, 
through his grantee, John H. Bingham, about the year 1902, 
over the entire four hundred acres and other lands also, he won 
three hundred of them handily. (See Minute Docket E, p. 154, 
Clerk's Office.) It developed in the trial of that suit that one 

234 -^ History of Watauga County 

Flannery, meaning not necessarily that he had no family, but 
that he might liave been almost any Flannery, claimed the land 
in the flatvvoods under Tater Hill, but left about 1849, after 
which a man named James, but whether John James or James 
John is not known, came and brought a pack of hounds with him. 
Hounds have to eat. So do wolves. In the duel to see which 
should eat the other, the wolves won. James thought his turn 
might come next, either to eat or to be eaten, so he returned to 
Alexander County, whence he had come, which, sad as that fate 
might be, was better than furnishing the funeral baked meat 
for a lupine holiday. Then, about 1902, came the late Romulus 
Z. Linney, who, remembering that his old namesake had been 
"fetched up" by wolves, boldly entered on this demesne and re- 
tained possession till his demise, demesne and demise having 
different meanings. But he built a rock wing to his four-room 
dwelling, which still stands and in which he spent many happy 
days. This is the gentleman who, before he had tasted of the 
delights of the Tater Hill, was offered a high office in Wash- 
ington, D. C. In declining it, he said that he would not give up 
his spring rambles in tlie Brushy Mountains of \\^ilkes for any 
office within the gift of the American people. But he gave them 
up for Tater Hill ! 

The Grandfather Mountain. — Following is Miss Morley's de- 
scription of this oldest mountain on earth : 

"The path beyond the river [Watauga] is cut through dense 
kalmia and rhododendron niaxinuim (our laurel) that make a 
wide band along the base of the mountain, then it leads up and 
up through the more open forest. There is no szveeter walk in 
the zi'orld than that up Grandfather Mountain, where the path 
winds among the trees, a canopy of leaves screening the sky, the 
forest shutting from view the outer world. Once there were 
large wild cherry trees on the slopes of the Grandfather, but the 
wood being valuable . . . there are only saplings left, and 
a few patriarchs that, though useless for lumber, give an air of 
dignity to the forest in company with the clear gray shafts of the 
tulip trees, the grand old chestnuts, the oaks, the maples, beeches, 
birches, ashes and lindens that mingle their foliage with that of 
the pines and spruces. 

A History of Watauga County 235 

"You pass beside or under large detached boulders covered 
with saxifrages, sedums, mosses and ferns, and in whose crev- 
ices mountain-ash trees and twisted hemlocks have taken root 
as though for purposes of decoration, and in the damp hollows 
away from the path great jack vines hang from tree tops. The 
rock ledges sometimes make caves where bears were wont to 
live, for the Grandfather was once a famous place for bears. 
Squirrels still 'use on the mountain,' as the people say, and a 
'boomer' will be apt to bark down at you as you go along. You 
hear the waters of a stream in the ravine below, and here and 
there you cross a natural garden of 'balimony' or some other 
precious herb that the people gather in the season. About two- 
thirds of the way up you take a path that branches ofif to the 
left and leads you over the mossy rocks to an open place on the 
edge of a gorge, where, looking off, you see the clear-cut profile 
of the Grandfather sculptured on the edge of a rocky bluff, the 
bushy hair that rises from the forehead consisting of fir trees 
that when whitened by the winter snow give a venerable ap- 
pearance to the stone face. Somewhat above this profile from 
this point is also visible another, with smaller and rounder fea- 
tures, which of course is the Grandmother. 

"Returning to the main path and continuing the ascent, the 
way grows wilder, and, if possible, sweeter. One has a sense of 
rising spiritually as well as physically. At the base of a high 
cliff, framed in foliage and crowned with the rosy-flowered 
rhododendron catazvbicnse, gushes out the famous Grandfather 
Spring that is only ten degrees above freezing throughout the 
summer. Up to this point there is a bridle path; beyond here 
it is necessary to walk. The rose-bay still in bloom clings to the 
rocks, in whose crevices little dwarf trees have taken root along 
with the mosses, ferns and saxifrages. 

"The path gets very steep and rocky. You are now among 
the balsam firs, those trees to name which is to name a perfume, 
and you go climbing up over their strong red roots. The 
pathway becomes a staircase winding about moss-trimmed rocks 
in whose crevices are tiny contorted balsams like Japanese 
flower-pot trees. Enormous coal-black lichens hang from the 

236 A History of Watauga County 

cliffs and the ground is softly carpeted with mossy growths and 
oxalis, out from whose pretty pale leaves look myriads of pink- 
and white blossoms. Long after the rhododendron cataivbiense 
is done blooming below, one finds it in its prime on the high 
peaks of the Grandfather. 

"Up among the balsam firs and about the rocks grow large 
sour gooseberries and enormous sweet huckleberries, and it was 
here we found a new and delicious fruit. The bushes crowding 
the woods in places were loaded with bright red globes the size 
of a small cherry, each dangling from a slender stem. These 
delightful berries were mere skins of juice, tiny wine-bottles full 
of refreshment for a summer day . . . we discovered them 
on other mountains, though never much below an altitude of six 
thousand feet . . . Up through the spruces and balsams you 
mount in the resplendent day, lingering at every step . . . 
Thus climbing through the resplendent day you reach the sum- 
mit, 'Calloway's High Peak,' the highest point on the mountain, 
but from which one cannot command the circle of the horizon. 
It is necessary to get the view from two points, which is all the 
better. The rocks at the lookout towards the south being covered 
with heather, one can lie on the delightful couch studded all 
over with little white starry flowers, to rest and receive the view 
. . . In the distance lies "WTiite Top, on whose summit three 
States meet . . . 

"Leaving this place and walking on to the point that looks to 
the south, one shares the feelings and almost the faith of 
Michaux. The view is very impressive, because of that steep 
descent of the mountain into the foothills, the long spurs sweep- 
ing down in fine lines to a great depth . . . The Black 
Mountains stand forth very high and very blue, and beyond them, 
among the many familiar forms, are distinguished what one sup- 
poses to be the faint blue line of the Smokies, or is it the nearer 
Balsams? . . . Sooner or later you will find your way to 
McRae's, which is to the south side of the Grandfather what 
Calloway's is to the north side, a farmhouse, where you can stay 
awhile. There is a trail over the end of the Grandfather by 
which you can go directly from Calloway's to McRae's, but to 

A History of Watauga County 237 

strike this trail you have to walk down the Linville River, which, 
rising in an open space but a stone's throw from the head of 
the Watauga, flows in quite the opposite direction, and through 
so narrow a pass that you have to keep crossing and recrossing 
it, no small matter in a season of rains, for there are no foot 
logs at all . . . But the Linville is one of the streams you 
are glad to know through all its sparkling length, from the spring 
behind the Grandfather to where it escapes in wild glee through 
the gorge below the falls. There are peacocks at McRae's, and 
Mr. McRae has not forgotten how to play on the bagpipes that 
have so stirred the blood of his race . . . But you will have 
to coax him to do it. McRae's stands on the Yonahlossee road 
that connects Linville, just below the mountain, with Blowing 
Rock . . . From McRae's there is a path up the Grand- 
father ... to another peak reached by a very sweet climb 
through the balsams, which, in this region, are smaller and more 
companionable than the straight giants of the Black Mountains, 
these of the Grandfather being twisted and friendly and pro- 
foundly fragrant. From this peak one can see in all directions, 
excepting where one of the Grandfather's black summits ob- 
structs the view. 

"It is the lichens growing an the rocks that give so sombre 
an appearance to the top of the Grandfather, those big, black 
lichens with loose and curled up edges. Grandfather's black, 
rocky top is eight miles long, and once Mr. Calloway (with the 
assistance of others) blazed out a rude trail so that we could all 
take that wonderful knife-edge walk up in the sky over the 
peaks of the Grandfather, Indian ladders — that is, a tall tree 
trunk from which the branches have been lopped, leaving pro- 
truding ends for steps — helping us up otherwise insurmountable 

"The Yonahlossee road ought to be followed early in the sum- 
mer, for then the meadowy tops of the long spurs are like noble 
parks created for man's pleasure. The rhododendron catazv- 
biense lies massed about in effective groups and covered with 
rosy bloom, beyond which one looks out over a wide landscape 
of mountains and clouds. From these open, flower-decked spaces 

238 A History of Watauga County 

the road passes into the shadowy forest, to emerge upon a bushy 
slope where blazing reaches of flame-colored azaleas astound 
your senses. There are other flowers along the way, but you 
scarcely see them, intoxicated as you are with the glory of the 
rhododendrons, and after them the azaleas, for these marvelous 
growths almost never blossom within sight of each other. You 
would say they know, like ladies at a ball, how important it is 
to avoid each other's colors. 

"Under the trees along the roadside the earth is covered with 
a superb carpet of large and handsome galax leaves, for the 
Grandfather is distinguished by the great beauty and abundance 
of its galax. Laurel, too, claims standing room on the side of the 
grand old mountain, and here, as elsewhere, one notices the 
apparent capriciousness of the laurel, which forms an impene- 
trable jungle for long stretches and then stops short, not a 
laurel bush to be seen for some distance, when with equal sud- 
denness it reappears again. 

"The splendid slopes of the Grandfather are enchanting also' 
when autumn colors them — deep red huckleberry balds, trees 
wreathed in crimson woodbine, vivid sassafras, tall gold and 
crimson and scarlet forest trees — it seems more like the bril- 
liant display of a northern forest. You would say that the 
outpouring of fragrance must pass with the summer. Not so. 
As you walk among the trees in their thin, bright attire you have 
a feeling of their friendliness. The forest, as it were, breathes 
upon you, you are drowned in the sweetness of resinous per- 
fumes that distil from a thousand pines, firs and hemlocks. When 
the leaves of the trees are growing scarce and changing to duller 
hues, into the open spaces witch-hazel weaves its gold-wreathed 
wands and brightens the woods like sunshine. 

"Turning to the right from the Yonahlossee Road, a short 
distance up from McRae's, you walk along under the chestnut 
trees just beginning to open their burs, away from the Grand- 
father out over a beautiful spur that ends in an open, rounded 
summit. The road to this place has side paths that lead you to 
high cliffs, whence you look off towards Blowing Rock, and 
where the sweetest of mountain growths cling to the crevices 


By permission of author and publishers of "The Carolina Mountains.' 

A History of Watauga County 239 

and drape the edges of all the rocks. For some reason the trees 
here are small, the chestnuts being not much larger than bushes, 
but the nuts are proportionately large, the largest nuts one ever 
saw on our native chestnut trees, and they are peculiarly sweet, 
again a hint to the fruit-makers, who from this could doubtless 
create a nut as large as the chestnuts of France and as sweet as 
those of America. The summit of this little mountain of the 
large chestnuts is one of your favorite places to go for a day of 
rest and contemplation. It is a lovely, soothing place, as it ought 
to be, for it is the Grandmother Mountain." 

Grafting French Chestnuts. — Mr. Jack Farthing, of Tim- 
bered Ridge, demonstrated some years ago that French and 
Italian chestnuts, when grafted to the native trees, will produce 
as large chestnuts as those imported as French and Italian, and 
Newton Banner also has several trees so grafted which are 
never failing. 

Dr. Buxton's Description. — A letter from Rev. Jarvis Bux- 
ton, which speaks with greatest admiration of the grand sunrise 
seen from the top of the Grandfather Rock, is thus quoted in the 
"Life of Skiles" (p. 50) : 

"I have seen the glorious sunrise at sea, but nothing of sky 
at sea ever filled my vision with such deep impressions of glory 
as came from those gorgeous skies — brilliant hues ever shifting, 
dissolving and re-combining, ever growing in brightness as the 
morning advanced, till the vast heavens seemed filled with the 
glory and flame of color; while below, stretching far away into 
the azure, the hills still slept their lowly sleep of silence, with the 
heavens all aglow above them." 

Beaver Dams. — There is no more picturesque section than 
this in all the North Carolina mountains, nor is there any popu- 
lation more self-respecting and law-abiding. It has never known 
lawlessness, depravity or loose living. Schools and churches 
have been common since it became sufficiently settled to support 
them. From an account book kept by the late Dudley Farthing, 
his son. Col. Henry Harrison Farthing, of Timbered Ridge, can 
tell most, if not all, of the residents of this section in 1826 and 
1827. George Wilson lived on Fork Ridge, which is between 

240 A History of Watauga County 

Cove and Beaver Dam creeks; Benjamin liarley lived where 
Lewis Farthing now Hves ; Joel Dyer, father of Ben., lived where 
James Cable now lives; Micajah Lunsford lived up under the 
Stone Mountain, where the Millsaps and Eggers now live, but 
his family moved to Tennessee after the death of Micajah; a 
man named Wallace lived in the "Pick Breeches" country, which 
is on the right of the Baker's Gap road, going west, between 
where the Millsaps and Eggers families now live and the top of 
the mountain.' Col. Phineas Horton told Mr. \V. S. Farthing 
forty years ago (1875) that he had helped to build the road up 
Beaver Dams and over Baker's Gap, which was the main 
thoroughfare from North Carolina to Tennessee in 1826, and 
over which drovers took their stock of all kinds, but principally 
hogs. Mrs. William W. Farthing, widow of the minister of that 
name, lived just below Bethel Church, though the house is now 
gone, and entertained the traveling public. Her husband died 
there in January, 1827, having lived there only since the previous 
November. Thomas Curtis lived where Lee Osborn now lives 
at the foot of the George Gap road on the Cove Creek side, and 
he said that the first clearing on Beaver Dams was the field in 
which the Farthing graveyard now is and where a log cabin 
stood. It w^as there that the first log-raising and log-rolling, or 
clearing, took place on Beaver Dams. Curtis's sons went west, 
but in 1910 a greatgrandson, Webb Mast, by name, came back 
and had a picture taken of the old Ben Webb house site. The 
Webb cabin stood above the place where Alfred Trivett now 
lives, Webb having moved to middle Tennessee after he sold to 
Rev. W. W. Farthing in 1826. One of Ben Webb's daughters 
married Reuben Mast and died in that old cabin. Reuben Mast 
then married one of Thomas Curtis's daughters and moved to 
Texas. It was in this first cabin that Bishop Asbury stayed on 
one of his trips through Beaver Dams and when it was covered 
by only a few boards. When Mrs. W. W. Farthing kept the 
tavern on Beaver Dams, an old man stayed all night there and 

' Big and Little Hessian are names given to two peaks on the Tennessee- 
North Carolina line, near Zionville. They are said not to be really named 
Hessian, but Hay-Shin, because although they are the shin or shank of the 
mountain they have hay on them, nevertheless. Some claim that they are named 
the Big and Little Ration because "out-lyers," during the Civil War got their 
rations there, the rations being left by friends and relatives living near. 

A History of Watauga County 241 

started away the next morning. He was never seen again alive, 
but some time afterwards a dead body was found at the mouth 
of the Stone Mountain Branch, and it was supposed to have been 
his, and it was also thought that he had left the road over the 
Baker Gap and gone to sleep in the woods, and, waking up, 
became bewildered and followed the branch to its mouth, where 
he starved or froze. His name was never learned. The body was 
buried in the graveyard where Rev. W. W. Farthing and his 
wife are buried, just above where Alfred Trivett now lives. The 
first mill on Beaver Dams was one mile above Bethel Church, 
where an old mill is still running today. The Timbered Ridge, 
on which Col. H. H. Farthing lives, was so called from the 
heavy timber which grew there. Behind his house, on a high 
plateau, is a most commanding view, easily reached by a well 
graded road, and from which the gorge of the Watauga River, 
the gloomy slopes of the great Beech Mountain, the valley of 
Cove Creek, and the Big and Little Hessian, the Bald and the 
Elk mountains can be plainly seen. It invites a magnificent hotel 
and summer resort adornments, and for climate is unrivaled. 

Boone's Beaver Dams Trail. — The Cable family who first 
settled on Dry Run, just over the Baker Gap, claim that they 
were living on Boone's trail into Kentucky. That trail is said to 
have passed down Cove Creek to the place where Dr. J. B. 
Phillips now lives, from which point it left Watauga River, 
passed over Ward's Gap, and then followed a ridge down behind 
the homes of W. S. and J. H. Farthing, crossing the Beaver 
Dam Creek near where Alfred Trivett now lives — the old Ward 
and W. W. Farthing home — and passed on up the ridge by the 
Star Spring over the Star or Stair Gap to Roan's Creek in Ten- 
nessee. The Star Springs are at the foot of the Stone Mountain, 
one being at the head of the Stone Mountain Branch, which 
empties into Watauga River near W. A. Smitherman's farm, one 
mile below the Flat Shoals, the other being at the head of the 
Little Prong of Beaver Dam Creek, the two springs being 
scarcely 100 yards apart, but on opposite sides of a ridge. Star 
is the name given these springs because of particles of mica in 
them which shine like stars. There is little doubt that this was 


242 A History of Watauga County 

Boone's trail, but it seems not probable that he would have gone 
so much out of his way, when by going across the Grave Yard 
or Straddle Gap and over the mountain at Zionville, he could 
have got to Shoun's Crossroads on Roan's Creek, and thence 
followed the Laurel Creek almost directly to Abingdon, and 
thence to Cumberland Gap, a route many miles nearer than by 
going by Sycamore Shoals, and thence to Cumberland Gap, and 
over a more level country. He did go via Sycamore Shoals in 
1775, but not in 1769. 

Beech Creek and Poga. — The first man Col. H. H. Farthing 
remembers as living in the Beech Creek country was a man 
named Hately, who resided near the mouth of Beech Creek. 
This was long before the Civil War. I. Valentine Reese has 
lived a mile below since before the Civil War, where he has 
carried on a mercantile business. After the turnpike was finished 
down the river, say about 1854, the country began to settle up 
slowly, though it was used principally for ranging cattle, hunting 
and fishing. There was also a Harman settlement near the 
mouth of Beaver Dam Creek, but on the opposite side of the 
river, near what is now called the Cow Ford. But Colder Coun- 
cill Harman and John Tester settled there even before the turn- 
pike was built. The first settlers on Poga were Samuel Trivett, 
Phillip Church and Vincent Greer, although some man had set- 
tled on the Dark Ridge Branch before these came to that section. 
Vincent Greer lived in the Loggy Gap, he having married Jennie 
Brewer, "a big, portly woman, sir," to use a quite descriptive 
phrase of one of the neighbors. All Poga has been cleared within 
the recollection of men yet living. Poga is said to have derived 
its name from the alleged fact that a man got lost in that sec- 
tion and wandered around a long time. When found, he said he 
had been "pokin" around all day — hence poky or pogy. But in 
his "Rhymes of Southern Rivers," M. V. Moore claims that 
pogy is nothing but a corruption of boggy, which was also the 
name of the Elk River. 



Ante-Bellum Education. — Much has been written about the 
want of education of the mountain people. Some of it has 
been deserved and some undeserved. There have always been 
schools in Watauga County. Tradition tells of schools as far 
back as the coming of the first settlers into this country. It is 
true that education was not general, neither was it of an ad- 
vanced type. But children were taught the rudiments — the three 
R's — from time immemorial. The minutes of Three Forks 
Church show chirography that would be a credit to the best pens- 
man of today/ and while the spelling is sometimes erratic and 
lacks uniformity, the language is terse and plain, leaving no doubt 
as to its meaning. Some of the phrases are even more forceful 
than any of the present time, and the tendency to follow Bible 
language is marked, showing close Bible study. When a member 
was admitted to the church, the invariable formula was "a door 

was opened and received into the church." That 

the church doors are always open to any who would enter, goes 
without saying, but that "a door" was opened for the reception 
of that particular person seems far more expressive and forceful. 
"She confessed her transgression," was another phrase of 
strength and scriptural authority. And even now we have ex- 
pressions which transcend any that modern philology has substi- 
tuted for those of the sixteenth century. "He heired that land," 
is far more significant and direct than to say "he inherited" it. 
We "mend" when we improve in health, which is far better than 
to say that we "get better." "It don't differ" certainly is more 
economical and quite as expressive as "it makes no difference." 

1 Space will not permit the record of public schools, a full account of which 
can be obtained from the reports of the Superintendent of Education. 

2 John W. Owen appears to have recorded these minutes, which are correct 
in diction and spelling. Thomas Morris, a kinsman of Mrs. Geo. L. Van Dyke, 
was a fine scribe also, his copy-book, still preserved by her, showing specimens 
of his writings when he was a boy of twelve years, being remarkable. All 
writing of those days was done with a quill pen. 

244 ^ History of Watauga County 

But an adept at such matters has given an entire chapter to our 
short-comings, as well as to our long-goings in that respect. Hear 

Peculiarities of Our Speech. — In chapter XIII Mr. Kephart 
sums up many of the most striking peculiarities of our speech 
which differentiate us from most people. Following is a con- 
densation of some of them : The insertion of sounds where 
they do not belong, as musiciancr; the substitution of one sound 
for another, due to a change of vowels, as ruthcr for rather; 
difficulty in pronouncing diphthongs, as hrilc for broil ; the occa- 
sional substitution of consonants, as alter for after ; the con- 
version of nouns into verbs of action, as "that bear'll meat me a 
month;" the coining of a verb from an adjective, as "much that 
dog, and see won't he come along;" the creation of nouns from 
verbs, as "I didn't hear no give-out at meetin'," or from an 
adjective, as "Nance took the biggest through at meetin'," and 
"a person has a rather," meaning preference ; the use of cor- 
rupt forms of verbs, as gwine for going, hct for heat ; the 
formation of peculiar adjectives from verbs, as "them's the 
travelin'est horses I ever seed ;" the use of verbs for adverbs, as 
"if I'd a been thoughted enough;" the use of the old syllabic 
plural, as in nestles, postics, bcasties; the great abundance of 
pleonasms, as "I done done it," and "in this day and time;" the 
use of double, thribble and even quadruple and quintuple nega- 
tives, as "I ain't never seen no men-folks of no kind do no 
washing;" intensifying expression, as "we had one more time," 
"we jist pintblank got to do it," etc. Biscuit-bread, ham-meat, 
rifle-gun, rock-clift, ridin' critter, cow-brute, man-person, women- 
folks, preacher man, granny-woman and neighbor people are 
common everywhere in the mountains. 

We Are Commended for Much. — This author in the same 
chapter credits us with seldom being at a loss for words, even if 
we have to create them. They are, however, always produced 
from English roots, but if all else fails, we fall back on "spang," 
a coinage peculiarly our own. The use of the old English past 
tense of holp, stunk and swum is commended, holp being used 
both as a preterite and as infinitive, and he gives examples of a 
strong preterite with dialectical change of the vowel in brung. 

A History of Watauga County 245 

drap, drug, friz, shet and shuck, and of weak preterites in div, 
driv, fit, rid, riz, seed, throwed, etc. Even our most illiterate 
"startle" the "furriner" by the glib use of such words as tutor 
for rear or train, denote for signify, caviled for quarreled, dis- 
cern for realize and proffered for offered. He says that cuckold 
and moon-calf, which have none but a literary usage in America, 
are often heard in the mountains, and of the much-derided "hit" 
he says, "His, pronoun hit, antedates English itself, being the 
Anglo-Saxon neuter of he ;" and on another page, 280, he says 
hit and it are used indifferently, as euphony may seem to require. 
We use fray for affray or fight, and fraction for rupture, which 
we find in Troilus and Cressida. "Feathered into them" he says 
is heard here, and refers to the time when arrows were driven 
into the flesh up to the feathers. We call married women 
"mistress" and "miz" for short, and aged men "old grandsir." 
We still "back" letters, instead of addressing them, as was the 
custom before envelopes were invented. We call a choleric 
person "tetchous," and, like Ben Franklin, we "carry" our wives 
and daughters to different places when we accompany them 
there. To most of us molasses is "them," and license to marry 
invariably is called "a pair of licenses." Of some of our 
idioms he cites : "I swapped bosses, and I'll tell you for why ;" 
"Your name ain't much common ;" "You think me of it in the 
mornin' ;" "The woman's aimin' to go to meetin' ;" "I had a head 
to plow today ;" "Reckon Pete was knowin' to the sarcum- 
stance ;" "I knowed in reason she'd have the mullygrubs over 
them doin's," and "You cain't handily blame her." 

Place Names. — He gives a number of names of places which 
have adhered to them for years merely because of some event 
which happened there. Among these are Dusk Camp Run, Mad 
Sheep Mountain, Dog Slaughter Creek, Drownin' Creek, Burnt 
Cabin Branch, Broken Leg, Raw Dough, Burnt Pone and Sandy 
Mush. The fighting spirit blazes forth in Fighting Creek, Shoot- 
ing Creek, Gouge-eye, Vengeance, Four-Killer and Disputantia. 
Personal names are common everywhere, as Jake's Creek, Dick's 
Creek and Jonathan's Creek. But he had not heard of the 
Snow Wine Branch of the Beech Mountains, and so did not 
include it. 

246 A History of Wataicga Comity 

Not Guilty in Watauga. — Several words and colloquialisms 
are recorded which seem strange to some of us in Watauga 
County, as gin for if, do' for door, dauncy for mincing, doney- 
gal for sweetheart, toddick or taddle for the toll-measure at a 
mill, swivvet for hurry, upscuddle for quarrel, etc. 

Occult Errors. — Both Mr. Kephart and Miss Morley are 
struck with the use of "soon" for "early," but to most of us 
there is nothing wrong in this use, and we "fling a rock" in South 
Carolina as well as in the mountains when to "furriners" we 
throw a stone. Why, too, should we not ask, "Are you plumb 
bereft?" if we wish to know if one is entirely bereft of one's 
senses? What, too, is wrong with "Sam went to Andrews or to 
Murphy, one," or "I don't much believe the wagon will come 
today," or " 'Tain't powerful long to dinner, I don't reckon?" 
They may be plainly wrong to others, but to us they are "plumb 
right." In conclusion, he adds that instead of having a limited 
vocabulary of three hundred words, he had himself taken down 
from the lips of Carolina mountaineers some eight hundred 
dialectical or obsolete words, to say nothing of the much greater 
number of standard English terms that they command. 

No Foreign Words Admitted. — Mr. Kephart has detected 
only three words of directly foreign origin in the vocabulary of 
the mountaineers (p. 289) — doney, from Spanish or Italian 
donna; kraut, from the Germans, and "sashiate" or "sashay," 
from the French chasse. And he calls attention to the fact that, 
although the eastern band of Cherokees have lived with the 
Smoky Mountain highlanders for from seventy to eighty years, 
the mountain dialect contains not one word of Cherokee origin. 
Many of the wdiites, however, do use the word "O-see-you," 
which is the Cherokee for "Howdy do." What he calls the obso- 
lete title of linkister or interpreter, is nothing but a corruption 
of the present word linguister. 

Our Literary and Moonshine Fame Secure. — Kephart, in 
his "Southern Highlanders," agrees with us in thinking that ours 
is the purest English spoken anywhere in the world today. As 
has been shown, he commends us for very, very much. He con- 
demns us for little, if anything. And to this high praise we can 

A History of Watauga County 2^'j 

now add that of no less distinguished a Hterary lion than Mr. 
Cecil Chesterton, of London, England — not Connecticut. This 
is how he is quoted in the Literary Digest for June 19, 1915 
(p. 1469) : "I do not want anybody to suppose that I am sug- 
gesting that the American language is in any way inferior to 
ours (the English!). In some ways it has improved upon it in 
vigor and raciness. In others it adheres more closely to the 
English of the best period. Thus an American uses the word 
'sick' as it is used in the Jacobean Bible — to his not inconsider- 
able embarrassment sometimes, I should think, when he finds 
himself in European society. Also he uses old forms like 
'gotten,' which we have abbreviated. If you want the purest 
Shakespearian English, I believe you have to go among the 
illicit whiskey distillers on the Southern mountains. But I was 
never fortunate enough (in a double sense) to come in contact 
with this ancient and delightful race." 

Ante-Bellum School Teachers. — Following is a partial list of 
school teachers who taught at various places in Watauga prior 
to the Civil War, as remembered by several old men and women 
at various points in what is now and used to be Watauga 
County: James McCanless, William Roland, George N. Evans, 
Vine Thompson, H. H. Prout, Mack McCleard, Culver Wise, 
Josiah Wise, Levi Chandler, Joseph Culberson, Levi Chandler, 
John Wise, Alex Dobson, John Patterson, Sterling Sallens, Wm. 

C. Wise, George Grissom, Isaac and Harvey Wise, 

Miller, W^m. Thomas, Pink Matheson, Erastus Longacre, Samuel 
Watson, a one-armed man; Levi Heath, H. A. McBride, Joel 
Dyer, Wm., Reuben and James Farthing, William Draughan, 

Byland, Poovey, Wm. Cannon, T. C. Coffey, Abner 

C. Farthing, Edward Faucett, Lewis Church, Thomas Hodges, 
Martin Harrison, Joshua Rominger, Jonathan Norris, Joseph 
Woodring and Christian Woodring, L. Dow Allen, W. W. Pres- 
nell, Hamilton Blackburn, H. B. Blackburn, Charles Lippard, 
T. C. Land, Carroll McBride, A. F. and H. A. Davis, Timothy 
Moretz, Leonard Phillips, Thomas Bingham, J. B. Miller, Frank 

Whittington, Christian Moretz, Dr. Thurman, David 

Calton, Geo. Dyer, John Kennedy, Robert Coffey, Elbert Dinkin*;. 

248 A History of Watauga County 

Our Schools. — The pubHc schools of Watauga are matters of 
record and need no extended mention in these pages. To rescue 
the story of ante-bellum efforts in education is quite as much 
as there is occasion for in this work. In old days there were 
no schools till after the crops were gathered in and secured for 
the winter. Then men were employed to teach in various locali- 
ties upon written contract, the teacher boarding among the pa- 
trons. There is still preserved among the many valuable old 
papers of Col. Henry H. Farthing, of Timbered Ridge, a con- 
tract duly executed between the subscribers and Alfred Fox for 
a school to commence on the 9th of November, 1835, and last 
three months, for which the teacher was to receive $1.50 for 
each scholar arnl board for himself, and the subscribers "agree 
to tolerate him with due and legal authority in school." It is 
nowhere recorded that any school teacher in these mountains 
got rich by teaching school, but ^Massachusetts herself has no 
such record for any of her ante-bellum pedagogues, either. 
Then, too, there were what were termed "Saturday and Sunday 
teachers," who taught on those days, or, sometimes, only on 
Saturdays, when they were called "Saturday teachers." The 
coming into Watauga County of Rev. Henry H. Prout in 1843, 
or 1845. to teach school was a great step forward, and old men 
now living on upper Watauga speak of him as the most scholarly 
man they ever met, and credit him with having taught them 
more than they ever learned from any other teacher. Unfortu- 
nately, during the first term of the regular school at Valle Crucis, 
about 1845-46, several unruly boys were sent there from east of 
the Blue Ridge, under the impression that the school was a sort 
of reformatory for recalcitrant youths. This disheartened sev- 
eral of the ladies connected with the mission, and they withdrew 
one after another (Skiles, p. 20). However, after Mr. Thurs- 
ton's death, in 1846, Rev. Jarvis Buxton came, after which the 
school got a good start, Mr. Prout going up to Mrs. Edward 
Moody's to teach. 

"Straights and Pot-Hooks."— Mrs. Battle Bryan used to tell 
her son. Col. W. L. Bryan, of Boone, that the way in which 
writing was taught in her girlhood was by requiring the be- 

A History of Watauga County 249 

ginner to make numerous vertical lines, one after the other, till 
a degree of perfection was attained, when the same straight lines 
were required to be made, but with the addition of small curved 
lines, turning upward, and called hooks. The arithmetics that 
preceded Davies' were Pike's, Smiley's and Fowler's, and the 
spelling book that was the forerunner of Webster's Blue Back 
was Dillsworth's. A few of these old school teachers are now 
distinctly remembered by Col. W. L. Bryan, who supplies the 

Phillip Church. — When about twelve or thirteen years old, 
he went to Phillip Church, who lived in the edge of Ashe County, 
near Riverside. He taught at the old Lookabill school house, 
which stood close to David Lookabill's residence, one mile east 
of Soda Hill, and on the road leading from the Deep Gap of the 
Blue Ridge to the Deep Gap between the Snake and Rich moun- 
tains where those mountains come together and where the road 
forks, one prong going to Zionville, N. C, and the other to 
Trade, in Tennessee. It was a free school, which was usually 
taught in the fall and winter, after the crops had been gathered 
and there was little for the children to do. He attended this 
school about three months, or one session. Soon after the close 
of that session Church married Samuel Trivett's daughter, and 
moved with his father-in-law to the Poga Creek settlement be- 
tween Beech Creek and Ford of Elk, where he died in 1914. 
Colonel Bryan got as far as "abase" at that time. 

Jonathan Norris. — This pedagogue was called "Lame Jona- 
than," because he had rubbed brimstone — powdered sulphur — 
over a skin eruption and had then gone in swimming. The re- 
sult was almost complete bodily paralysis, though his mind 
remained clear. He taught at the Lookabill school house also, 
and Colonel Bryan attended his school parts of two terms. 
Norris lived till he was about sixty years old, when he died at 
his home near Soda Hill. 

Eli M. Farmer. — Colonel Bryan's next teacher was Eli M. 
Farmer, at the same school house. This gentleman married a 
Miss Austin, of Caldwell County, and died on Cove Creek about 

250 A History of Watauga County 

Burt Davis. — This was the next teacher, but he taught at 
Soda Hill school house and at Eli Brown's school house. Davis 
married Carolina Moretz first, and, after her death, Martha 
Lookabill. His first wife was a daughter of Squire Johnnie 
Moretz, and his second the daughter of David Lookabill. The 
latter still lives on Elk Creek, above Todd. Davis himself, how- 
ever, died about 1900. 

Todd Miller, of Wilkes County, was the next of Colonel 
Bryan's instructors, and he taught at the Ben Greene school 
house between the latter gentleman's residence and where his 
son, Jacob, now lives on the Little Fork of Meat Camp Creek. 
It was there that he went through Davies' arithmetic and ended 
his school days. This was in the fall or winter of 1857, and 
after the Colonel had been clerking for Joseph Councill and 
Allen Myrick. Before that he had studied Fowler's arithmetic. 
That and the blue back spelling book were the only books he 
had during all his school days. His mother told him that Dills- 
worth's Speller was the spelling book which had preceded the 
blue back. 

The Twisting Temple. — Battle Bryan called the school house 
on Meat Camp by this name because the frame was not exactly 
plumb and square, but leant a little to one side. The district has 
kept that name ever since. The house stood where Frank 
Reagan lives now. The district has, however, been divided into 
the Tugman School and the Green Valley School, and a better 
house has replaced the Twisting Temple. Still, this old Twist- 
ing Temple School District has furnished one congressman, 
E. S. Blackburn ; one lawyer, E. S. Blackburn ; two teachers, 
two physicians, the latter being Thomas Blackburn and B. W. 

Lees-McRae Institute. — Without the slightest flourishing of 
trumpets or sounding of the big bass drum. Rev. Edgar Tufts 
came to Banner's Elk about 1901 and established a boarding and 
day school for girls. This has been successful from the begin- 
ning and continues to flourish. The terms are reasonable and 
the instruction thorough. Within recent years Grace Hospital 
was started. Mrs. Helen Hartly Jenkins, of New York, having 

A History of Watauga County 251 

given more than anyone else. It is equipped with a complete 
operating room and laboratory. It has several rooms for pa- 
tients midergoing treatment. The cool and pure mountain air 
aids much in all surgical operations. The Grandfather Orphan- 
age was started in the spring of 1914, the Lybrook farm 
having been secured for that purpose. The capacity of the 
orphanage has been doubled already. Girls are given practical 
instruction in many useful arts. The key to these benefactions 
is "in, of, for," meaning that they are in the mountains, of the 
mountains and for the mountain people. This tells the entire 
story most eloquently. The church which is nearing completion 
will be one of the most attractive architecturally in the State. 
The two large conglomerate rocks or pudding stones on either 
side of the entrance are in themselves rare curiosities. The 
school most sensibly closes during the cold months of winter, 
and is open during the summer, spring and fall months, opening 
in the spring and closing in December. The good already ac- 
complished and yet to be achieved is incalculable. 

School Teachers in Boone Before Civil War. — Miss Annie 
Rutledge, from Wilkesboro, taught in the court house. Miss 
Barber, of Lenoir, taught in the court house. While being driven 
in a buggy by Joshua Winkler from Lenoir to Boone, with trunk 
on back of buggy, they met a man named Dooley as they came 
up the mountain from Patterson towards Blowing Rock. They 
talked with him and started on. Soon they found that the trunk 
was missing. Winkler went back, but never got the trunk. It 
was never recovered. 

Col. J. B. Todd also taught in the court house. After the 
Civil War Henry Dixon, of Alamance, taught in the court house. 
W. B. and Robert Arrowood and Professor Blake, of Davidson 
College, their uncle, taught in a small one-room house which 
stood in the corner of the lot where Dr. J. W. Jones now lives, 
near the present drug store. Professor Blake started the school, 
but left it in charge of his nephews when he returned to David- 
son. W. B. Arrowood is now a Presbyterian preacher. They 
boarded with Dr. J. G. Rivers. Miss Margaret Cofifey taught in 
1869. After the Arrowoods, came Prof. John McEwen, who 

252 A History of Watauga County 

taught in Masonic Hall. James Warner taught here three 
months. James H. Hall, of Mount Airy, also taught at Masonic 
Hall in 1874. Then came Mr. McEwen. J. F". Spainhour and 
J. F. Hall taught at the academy which stood where Calvin 
Cottrell's stable now stands. This consisted of two large rooms, 
one above the other, and had been built but not quite finished 
by the Three Forks Baptist Association. It turned the building 
over to the Boone Baptist Church, which finished it. \V. F. 
Shull was another teacher who has not been forgotten. 

A Normal School at Boone. — By chapter 229, Laws of 1885, 
a normal school was authorized at Boone for the training of 
teachers, and a sum not to exceed $500.00 was appropriated out 
of the University Normal School Fund with which to pay in- 
structors. This was a small beginning, but it has had a great 

Appalachian Training School. — In 1903, Professors B. B. 
and D. D. Dougherty were teaching a private school at Boone, 
having succeeded in securing the erection of a large and commo- 
dious building for that purpose. But in that year the legislature 
incorporated the Appalachian Training School and made an 
appropriation for its support. It had already begun, however, 
for in 1899 the sum of $1,500.00 had been appropriated on con- 
dition that a like sum should be provided by the people. By 
several yearly appropriations following the first, the present 
plant was built, consisting of about a dozen buildings, a water 
power electric light plant and library. There are 500 or more 
acres of valuable land belonging to the school. There are three 
sessions annually, with an attendance of from four to five 
hundred. There is a competent faculty. 

T. P. Adams went to Raleigh at his own expense in 1905 and 
urged the inauguration of the training school, and when in the 
late fall of the year the science building was about to be left 
exposed to the elements all winter, he carried mortar and brick 
for one month till the roof was on. He also insisted on the pur- 
chase of the Edmisten farm, containing the present dam and 
electric light plant, and in the face of much opposition from 
other directors, succeeded in having the purchase completed be- 
fore the option expired. 

A History of Watauga County 253 

Skyland Institute. — This school was started about 1891 by 
Miss Emily C. Prudden. She conducted it for a short time, 
after which it was turned over to the American Missionary 
Association. About 1912 this association reconveyed it to Miss 
Prudden, since which time it has not been open. It was a girls' 
school, with industrial training, and did a vast amount of good. 
It was located at Blowing Rock. 

The Silverstone public school house is now said to be the 
best in Watauga County, containing four large rooms and an 
auditorium with a seating capacity of from 800 to 1,000 people. 
The chief movers and workers in this were John Mast, Larkin 
Pennell, Newton Mast, A. J. Wilson, A. L. Wilson and T. P. 
Adams. It cost, without paint or equipment, $2,000.00, all of 
which is fully paid. The present term is five months, and in 
another year it will probably be nine full months. Silverstone 
School District was the first in the State to vote a special tax to 
continue the school two months and for compulsory attendance. 
Walnut Grove Institute.— In December, 1903, Finley P. 
Mast agreed to give three acres on the Old Meeting House hill, 
where the Cove Creek Baptist Church used to stand, for a school 
building and campus. T. C. McBride, J. H. Bingham, D. C, 
W. H. and J. C. Mast agreeing to give $100.00 each, and to 
procure all subscriptions possible, began work and finished the 
school house in August, 1904. It is large and convenient. This 
district then voted a tax of thirty cents on each hundred dollars 
of property and ninety cents on each poll for six years, without 
a dissenting vote. In 1910 the same tax was renewed for five 
years, with but two votes in the negative. Not one dollar was 
paid to complete the actual work of construction of the institute, 
W. E. Dugger, Ben. Dugger, J. C. Smith, D. C, W. H., J. H. 
and J. C. Mast doing the work themselves. 

Other Schools and Academies. — Cove Creek Academy was 
built about 1885, Enoch Swift, J. H. McBride, W. F. Sherwood 
and Asa Wilson being active in its inauguration and subsequent 
support. Rev. Wiley Swift, who is so active in the cause of the 
factory children's interests, is a son of Enoch Swift. The 
academy at Valle Crucis was built about 1909, and W. W. Mast, 

254 ^ History of Watauga County 

T. H. Taylor, T. C. Baird, J. M. Shull, D. F. Mast, W. E. 
Shipley, C. D. Taylor, W. H. Mast and D. F. Baird were its 
principal promoters. 

Valle Crucis School for Girls. — On the site of the old Ives 
school has been reared several large and convenient buildings 
in which a school for girls is taught. It was opened about 1903, 
Rt. Rev. Junius M. Horner, bishop of the Missionary District 
of Asheville, being ex-officio its head and directing mind. Many 
of the girls of the neighborhood have taken advantage of this 
opportunity to gain an education, while at the same time learning 
many useful lessons in domestic affairs. Great good is being 
accomplished and the people are coming more and more to ap- 
preciate the advantages offered by this school. 

First Agricultural Instruction. — From De Rosset's "Church 
History of North Carolina" we learn that Bishop Ives had a 
herd of blooded cattle sent to Valle Crucis, from which it was 
intended to produce a finer breed of cattle in this section. Also, 
from Haywood's "Bishops of North Carolina," that the Valle 
Crucis Farm was early put under the direction of a young agri- 
culturist from New York, which was the first practical instruc- 
tion ever given in any school or college in North Carolina. 

Prominent in the Cause. — Messrs. D. D. and B. B. Dough- 
erty, of Boone, have been and still are active in the cause of edu- 
cation, as is also Col. E. F. Lovill, who for years has done 
yeoman service for the Appalachian Training School without 
reward or the hope of reward. He has been for years chairman 
of the board of trustees. These gentlemen also have been active 
in trying to get railroads to this section, and have not abated one 
whit of their efforts because of failure. Moses H. Cone, de- 
ceased, late of Blowing Rock, not only built a school house 
there, but agreed to contribute four dollars for every dollar that 
was given by anyone else. His loss was irreparable. 

The Lenoir School Lands.— On the i6th day of February, 
1858, the late William Avery Lenoir conveyed to Thomas Farth- 
ing, trustee, five tracts of mountain lands, aggregating about 
two thousand acres, lying principally on Beech Creek and the 
waters of Curtis's Creek and Elk River. The considerations 
moving him thereto were his appreciation of "the kind regard 

A History of Watauga County 255 

manifested toward him by the citizens of Watauga County, to 
promote the settlement of this new county and the education 
of the children in the same, and Thomas Farthing's promise to 
execute the trust without charge or deduction except for taxes, 
etc." Mr. Farthing was the trustee who was to sell such lands 
as he could and invest the proceeds in interest-bearing securities 
for fifteen years after the date of the deed, and then turn the 
sum so resulting over to such a school board as the State might 
provide, and if none were so provided, to the school authorities 
of Watauga County for the education of its children. The 
Civil War came on, however, and Thomas Farthing died without 
having executed the trust, whereupon his widow and heirs and 
W. W. Lenoir, representing the estate of W. A. Lenoir, also 
deceased, on the nth of August, 1877, joined in a deed con- 
ferring this trust on R. H. Farthing, son of Thomas. The 
lands have been sold and the proceeds applied as directed. 
(Deed Book L, p. 409.) 

School House Loan Fund. — By chapter 372, Laws 191 1, a 
permanent fund was established to aid in the construction of 
school houses. This fund was provided from the "fines, for- 
feitures and penalties" in criminal cases, and the same was to be 
loaned to such school committees as might need such money 
to aid in the erection of school houses, to be repaid in ten annual 
instalments, the whole bearing only four per cent, interest. 

Samuel Lusk. — This gentleman was not a schoolmaster, but 
he was a most conscientious stonemason, and was employed to 
build a chimney for a schoolhouse on Meat Camp. When the 
chimney was finished it drew well — very well indeed, but it was 
in the wrong direction, and instead of drawing the smoke from 
the fireplace up the flue and out at the top of the chimney, it 
drew the air from the top of the chimney down into the school- 
room, thereby causing the chimney to smoke outrageously. It 
was said by James Reagan that it even drew the buzzards out 
of the sky. This hurt Uncle Sammy's feelings inexpressibly. 
He came from Lincoln County to the Castle Settlement a few 
miles above what is now called Todd, but afterwards moved to 
Dutch Creek, near Valle Crucis, where he died, leaving a family 
of highly respected children. 

256 A History of Watauga County 

Col. W. W. Presnell. — This gentleman lost an arm in the Civil 
War and liad to teach thereafter for a livelihood. His wife also 
lost an arm during the same trying period while helping to feed 
a cane mill. The first schoolmaster to whom he went was Eli 
Mast, who taught in one of the sang factories in the meadow 
just below Joseph Ward's barn on the old Whittington property. 
This was about 1847 o^ 1848. Mark Holtsclaw, Thomas Smith, 
Wm. Carver, Col. Joe B. Todd, Joshua Fletcher, Larkin Pips, 
Smith Reece, Jacob Hayes, D. C. Harman and Thomas Hodges 
were other schoolmasters who taught public schools on Brushy 
Fork from 1848 till the Civil War. Colonel Presnell also tells 
of a man called "Master" HufT, a school teacher, master being 
the most common designation for teachers at that time. He 
taught writing by causing the students to make straight marks, 
to which were added loops, called pot-hooks. The Dillsworth 
Speller preceded the Blue Back many years. 

The Ablest Schoolmaster. — But first and best among all these 
schoolmasters was Thomas Lanier Clingman, for, from 1843 
till 1 861, he was a teacher in every county in his congressional 
district. He spent a year or more in Watauga, mining in the 
Beech Mountains (1870, 1871) and is still well remembered by 
many of our older citizens. He was a fine angler and an un- 
erring shot with rifle or pistol. And, though he did not teach 
little children in ante-bellum log school houses, he was con- 
stantly instructing the "big" children of these mountains around 
their firesides and on the hustings — not by books, but by word of 
mouth, enforced and made indelible by apt illustrations and in 
most practical ways. There may be more book-learning among 
us now than in former days, but no people were better versed in 
all useful information concerning crops, plants, woodcraft, the 
mechanic arts, minerals and the laws of nature than our unlet- 
tered ancestors. General Clingman kept them fully informed as 
to the progress of the outside world in all matters which con- 
cerned their material welfare, and at the same time, far more 
than all others combined, kept the outside world posted as to 
the wonderful beauty, resources and advantages of this mountain 
region — its minerals, its physical phenomena and the progress 

A History of Watauga County 257 

of its inhabitants. Being a frequent contributor to Appelton's 
Journal, the National Intelligencer and other widely circulated 
periodicals, he was the first and only one to tell the world of the 
passing of the wonderfully brilliant meteor of i860, of the de- 
structive waterspouts of 1876, and of the apparent earthquake 
at the head of Fines Creek, which he visited and explored in 
1848 and 1 85 1. Years before the United States established its 
meteorological station on Mitchell's Peak, General Clingman 
had explained why the climate of the Asheville Plateau is the 
dryest east of the Rockies, and it was entirely through his influ- 
ence that Dr. Arnold Guyot, of Princeton College, and Dr. S. B. 
Buckley visited and measured all the highest mountains in west- 
ern North Carolina just before the Civil War. Calhoun, as early 
as 1835, liad foretold the existence of the Blacks as the highest 
mountains east of the Mississippi, and, although Professor 
Mitchell actually measured them soon afterwards, his services 
to science were negatived by the uncertain data he took con- 
cerning their altitude. Compared with the work of Clingman, 
Buckley and Guyot among all our mountains, Mitchell's baromet- 
rical measurements among the Blacks was inconsiderable. 

Statesman, Soldier, Scientist.— When North Carolina makes 
up her jewels no gem among the brilliants that sparkle in her 
coronet of achievement will shine with "a purer, serener or a 
more resplendant light" than that of Thomas Lanier Clingman, 
for as statesman, soldier and scientist, as well as teacher, guide 
and friend, he was incorruptible, patriotic and inspiring. But 
for nothing that he did will his memory be more precious or 
more richly cherished than for his dignified and noble refusal 
to contend with an honorable gentleman whose mouth had been 
closed by death in an effort to establish the truth as to who had 
first visited and measured the highest peak of the Black Moun- 
tain chain. 

Country Above Fame. — For at this time the country was torn 
and rent asunder by the demon of sectionalism, and Clingman 
found better use for his time and talents than in contending for 
an honor which, however great, was as dust in the scales when 
weighed against the welfare of his native State and section. 


258 A History of Watauga County 

Then, too, his fame was ah^eady secure, for he had met upon the 
arena of House and Senate the dougliticst and most skilful of the 
political gladiators of the fifties, and had lowered his sword to 
none. Looming blue-black on the border of North Carolina 
and Tennessee, General Clingman knew that there was a yet 
statelier and more imposing pile than the Blacks, and that at the 
culmination of this gigantic range his name had been indis- 
putably and forever linked with the grandest mountain of the 
Appalachian system — Clingman's Dome of the Great Smoky 
Mountains ! 

Our Mountain Heights Still Doubtful, — Whether this in- 
comparable mountain be higher or lower than the disputed peak 
of the Blacks, is still a doubtful point, for we are told by Horace 
Kephart that all our mountains still remain to be measured ac- 
curately. He says (p. 56) : "Yet we scarcely know today, to a 
downright certainty, which peak is supreme among our South- 
ern highlands. The honor is conceded to Mount Mitchell in 
the Black Mountains, northeast of Asheville. Still, the heights 
of the Carolina peaks have been taken (with but one exception, 
so far as I know) only by barometric measurements, and these, 
even when official, may vary as much as a hundred feet for the 
same mountain. Since the highest ten or a dozen of our Carolina 
peaks differ in altitude only one or two hundred feet, their actual 
rank has not yet been determined. For a long time (p. 57) there 
was controversy as to whether Mount Mitchell or Clingman 
Dome was the crowning summit of eastern America. The Coast 
and Geodetic Survey gave the height of Mount Mitchell as 6,688 
feet, but later figures of the United States Geological Survey 
are 6,711 and 6,712. In 1859 Buckley claimed for Clingman 
Dome of the Smokies an altitude of 6,941 feet. In recent gov- 
ernment reports the Dome appears variously as 6,619 ^"^ 6.660 
feet. In 191 1 I was told by Air. H. M. Ramsour that when he 
laid out the route of the railroad from Asheville to Murphy he 
ran a line of levels from a known datum on this road to the top 
of Clingman, and that the result was 'four sixes' (6,666 feet 
above sea level). It is probable that the second place among the 
peaks of Appalachia may belong either to Clingman Dome or 

Photo, by Vest. 

Statesman, soldier, scientist. 

A History of Watauga County 259 

Guyot or LeConte of the Smokies, or to Balsam Cone of the 
Black Mountains. In any case the Great Smoky Mountains are 
the master chain of the Appalachian system, the greatest mass 
of highland east of the Rockies (p. 58). The most difficult and 
rugged part of the Smokies (and of the United States east of 
Colorado) is in the saw-tooth mountains between Collins and 
Guyot, at the headwaters of Oconalufty River." 

Who Measured the Highest Peak? — Dr. Arnold Guyot, of 
Princeton College (now University), published an article in the 
Asheville Nezvs, July 18, i860, to the effect that Dr. Mitchell's 
measurements of this mountain failed to agree with each other; 
that the location of the highest peak had remained indefinite, 
even in the mind of Dr. Mitchell himself, "as I learned it from 
his ozvn month in 1856." At that time, i860, the peak now called 
Mitchell's, or Mount Mitchell, was called Clingman's, while the 
peak now known to some as Clingman's was called Mount 
Mitchell. Dr. Guyot says of this : "If the honored name of Dr. 
Mitchell is taken from Mount Mitchell and transferred to the 
highest peak, it should not be on the ground that he first made 
known its true elevation, zvhich he never did, nor himself ever 
claimed to have done, for the true height was unknown before 
my measurement of 1854 . . . Nor should it be on the 
ground of his having first visited it, for, though after his death 
evidence which made it probable that he did [came out], he 
never could convince himself of it. Nor, at last, should it be 
because that peak was, as it is alleged, thus named long before, 
for I must declare that neither in 1854 nor later during the 
whole time I was on both sides of the mountain, did I hear of 
another Mount Ad^itchell than the one south of the highest, so 
long visited under that name, and that Dr. Mitchell himself, 
before ascending the northern peak in 1856, as I gathered it from 
a conversation with him, believed it to be the highest." 

Politics or Public Opinion? — Dr. Guyot further said in the 
same article that General Clingman "could not possibly know 
when he first ascended it [the highest peak] that anyone had 
visited or measured it before him, nor have any intention to do 
any injustice to Dr. Mitchell." General Clingman in 1884 told 

26o A History of Watauga County 

Charles Dudley Warner ("On Horseback," pp. 94 to 96) that he 
had been the first to discover the highest peak, and he also told 
this writer later that he had made this discovery by climbing 
a balsam tree on what was then called Mount Mitchell, the 
southern peak, and applying a spirit level to the surrounding 
horizon. Thus, the superior height of the northern peak was 
disclosed to him, and he then proceeded to measure and claim it. 
He told others the same story. Dr. Warner states that public 
sentiment awarded Dr. Mitchell this honor because of his tragic 
death. (Id. p. 95.) But was that all? Here is what Hon. Z. B. 
Vance, long Clingman's political opponent, said in a letter to 
Prof. Charles Phillips, dated Asheville, August, 1857:' "Yet 
there are some who believe that Clingman superintended the 
creation of those mountains, and, therefore, has a right to know 
more about them than anyone else. The editor of the News 
[the late Major Marcus Erwin], who expects to go to Clingman 
when he dies (and perhaps will) ... is already beginning 
the war against the dead, as you will see by reference to that 
sheet of last week. I advised the Spectator men to keep per- 
fectly quiet, and would give the same advice to the doctor's 
friends elsewhere. Let us prepare our case in silence and wait 
patiently for the good feeling to operate among the mountain- 
eers, which is now going on admirably. In the meantime the 
proper efforts might be made to rectify Coke's map [which gave 
Clingman's name to the highest peak] and to push up the influ- 
ential journals at a distance, a thing that the faculty are better 
able to do than anyone else. Only one thing remains to be done, 
in my opinion, to make our proof complete — to have the bearings 
of the High Peak taken from Yeates' Knob and compared with 
Dr. Mitchell's memorandum thereof. I hope steps will be taken 
to do this before long, as Clingman intends doing it himself 
after the election. I understand, though I have not seen it, that 
Mitchell's map also puts that peak down as Mount Clingman. 
Is it true? . . ." 

In the same letter Senator Vance speaks of certain certificates 
from Big Tom Wilson and others, but their contents are not 
disclosed. There was also published in the same paper a copy 

• Published by R. D. W. Connor, secretary N. C. Hist. Com., in Charlotte 
Observer, p. 11, Jan. 24, 1915. 

A History of Watauga County 261 

of an address to solicit from citizens of North Carolina and 
friends of Dr. Mitchell funds for the removal of his body to 
the highest peak and the erection of a monument there. Five 
thousand dollars was asked for, but nowhere in that address can 
be found any claim that Dr. ]\Iitchell either discovered or meas- 
ured the highest peak. Its language is: "In view of the fact 
that he was the first to visit these mountains and to make known 
their superior height to any east of the Rocky Mountains, and 
that he spent a great portion of his time and finally lost his life 
in exploring them," the subscriptions were asked. As the result 
of this appeal, is also published a subscription list containing the 
names of only ten subscribers, with William Patton at the head 
for $100.00, and the entire amount aggregating only $195.00. 

Big Tom Wilson was with Dr. Mitchell on his first trip, when 
it is claimed that he measured the highest peak, and his certifi- 
cate should settle the controversy. But where is it? Where is 
the data showing the comparison of the "bearings of the High 
Peak from Yeates' Knob with Dr. Mitchell's memorandum 
thereof ?" Did Mitchell's geography or map concede the highest 
peak to General Clingman? We are in the dark as to these 
matters. But we have Judge David Schenck's report of an in- 
terview with Big Tom on the subject. 

The Crucial Question. — Did Dr. Mitchell ever visit the peak 
which now bears his name ? "Big Tom" Wilson is the only wit- 
ness, and upon his testimony rests the validity of the claim that 
he did. What is that testimony ? Simply this : that the search 
party with Wilson first "examined the area of ground on 
Mitchell's Peak, where the doctor went, and then going to the 
trail he [the doctor] was directed to take, and, finding no sign, 
they commenced the descent towards the south side by the east 
prong. They had not gone more than a quarter of a mile until 
Adniram D. Allen found an impression in the moss . . ." 
This was the first trace of the doctor, and, after following it 
some distance, they went back to "examine where the track 
first left the peak . . . and found that the doctor had taken 
a 'horse trail' by mistake for the trail which led to 'Big Tom's.' " 
This is every shred of evidence concerning the peak in the inter- 
view between Wilson and Judge David Schenck on the 26th day 

262 A History of Watauga County 

of September, 1877, and which was published in the Charlotte 
Democrat of November 2, 1877. From it can be deduced only 
that there was no "sign" of the doctor's having been on "the 
area of ground on Mitchell's peak," but that when "they com- 
menced the descent towards the south side," the very side on 
which stood the peak which had alzuays been called Mitchell's, 
they found the first sign in the moss "not more than a quarter of 
a mile away." There is no evidence that they went to the south 
peak at all, where it is probable the professor went, and from 
which he was going when they found his track in the moss. 
What is meant by "where the track first left the peak" and that 
he took "a horse trail by mistake for the trail which led to Big 
Tom's," is all that even vaguely points to the fact that the doctor 
had been on the northern, or highest, peak. 

Dr. Kemp P. Battle's Error. — In an article on Dr. Mitchell, 
written by Dr. Battle, the last survivor of the University Faculty 
of June, 1857, and published in the Journal of the Elisha Mitchell 
Scientific Society, March, 1915, he refers (p. 161) to "Letters 
from the Raleigh Register in reply to General Thomas L. Cling- 
man, who claimed that Dr. Mitchell was never on the highest 
peak of the Black Mountains, but that he, Clingman. was the 
true discoverer. He caused W. D. Cooke to designate on his 
wall-map the highest peak as Mt. Clingman. On the death of 
the Doctor he gracefully surrendered his claim. It is now con- 
ceded that Dr. Mitchell was right. He is confirmed by the United 
States Geological Survey of i88i-'2, the highest and final au- 
thority." Dr. Battle is right in saying that Gen. Clingman 
"gracefully surrendered his claim," but it is not generally "con- 
ceded that Dr. Mitchell was right," and the United States Survey 
simply ascertained the highest peak among the Blacks, but did 
not and could not prove that Dr. Mitchell had ever been upon 
that spot. 

Clingman's "Speeches and Writings." — North CaroHna has 
not yet reared any monument to this one of her greatest sons. 
But in his "Speeches and \\>itings," published by himself after 
the Civil War, he has erected to his own memory a monument 
more eloquent than "storied urn or animated bust," and more 
enduring than bronze efifigy or marble cenotaph. 


Gold and Other Mines. 

Gold Mining.— Some time in the fifties, Joe Bissell, of Char- 
lotte, worked every branch which runs away from the Muster 
Field Hill, east of Boone, looking for gold and finding some. 
The branch running from Joseph Hardin's was worked almost, 
if not quite, down to the river, especially where it passes through 
the old Reuben Hartley place, now occupied by Farthing Ed- 
misten. Henry Blair worked the same stream afterwards, just 
before the Civil War, and sold dust at eighty cents a penny- 
weight. Blair used a hand-rocker, fifty cents a day being at 
that time the price of labor. Others also worked the branch 
running from the Muster Ground southeast by Eli Hartley's. The 
next work was done by Ison Doby for J. C. Councill about 
1858-59 just where the Moretz and Hartzog saw mill now stands, 
and below the road where Robert Bingham lives. This stopped 
when the Civil War began, but afterwards John and Dick Haney, 
brothers, came from about King's Mountain and leased Henry 
and Joseph Hardin's branch, but failed. Colonel Bryan cashed 
some of the gold offered by them at first, and it was all right, 
but later on the dust became mixed with copper filings, and the 
Haney brothers did not try conclusions with Uncle Sam as to 
their responsibility for this mistake. This was about 1870-72. 
Phillip Chandler, from east of the Blue Ridge, worked same 
stream about 1858-59. Colonel Bryan and George Dugger 
worked around the edge of the Muster Field, but the dust was 
too fine. When the former was a boy there was a deep hole or 
shaft still open on the Muster Field which had been dug by old 
time miners. Miss Eliza Jordan, youngest daughter of Jordan 
Councill, the first, is said to have panned out enough gold near 
Joseph Hardin's to pay for a new silk dress before the Civil 
War. She afterwards married, first George Phillips, and then 
Rittenhouse Baird. 


264 A History of Watauga County 

First Owrters of Cranberry. — Sometime about 1780 Reuben 
White took out a grant for 100 acres covering the Cranberry 
iron vein, and Waighstill Avery obtained four small grants sur- 
rounding White's grant (100 N. C. Rep. i, 127 Id. 387). In 
1795 William Cathcart was granted 99,000 and 59,000 acres in 
two tracts, covering almost all of what is now Mitchell and 
Avery counties. Isaac T. Avery inherited W'aightstill Avery's 
interest in this land and to numerous 640 acre grants along the 
Toe River. John Brown became agent for the Cathcart grants, 
and as these conflicted w^ith the Avery lands, a compromise was 
effected, under which I. T. Avery got a quit claim to about 
50,000 acres in 1852, including the Cranberry mines, excepting 
the Reuben White tract, which had passed to William Dugger 
by a chain of deeds, he having contracted to sell to John Hard- 
ing, Miller and another. Hoke, Hutchinson and Sumner got 
title from Hardin, but had to pay several thousands of dollars to 
Brown and Avery to settle their claims upon the Cranberry ore 
bank. The forge-bounty grant to these lands obtained by the 
Perkinses was sold by order of court for partition at Morganton 
and bought in by William Dugger ; but before getting title to the 
land, Dugger agreed that I. T. Avery and J. E. Brown, son of 
John, should each have a one-third interest in the mineral outside 
the original grant to Reuben White. This agreement, however, 
was not registered, and the Supreme Court at Morganton, under 
which the decree of sale for partition had been made, having 
been abolished after the Civil War, and the clerk of that court, 
James R. Dodge, having died, an ordinance of the State conven- 
tion of 1866 empowered the clerk of the Supreme Court at 
Raleigh to execute the title which Dodge should have made to 
William Dugger, but made no reference to Brown's and Avery's 
interests therein. To still further complicate matters, William 
Dugger had sold his interest without excepting these equitable 
claims upon the mineral rights in the property. But Brown and 
Avery gave notice of their claims and compelled the purchasers 
to pay them for their interest in the minerals. 

Iron Forges. — There were three of these in what was Wa- 
tauga County: Cranberry, Toe River and the Johnson forges. 
The first grew out of the discovery of the Cranberry metallic 

A History of Watauga County 265 

ore by Joshua, Ben and Jake Perkins, of Tennessee, who in a 
rough play at a night feast and froHc at Crab Orchard, Tenn., 
after a log-rolHng, had attempted to remove the new flax shirt 
and trousers from Wright Moreland, and had injured him suffi- 
ciently to arouse his anger and cause him to take out a warrant 
for them. They escaped to North Carolina, where they sup- 
ported themselves by digging sang. In search of this herb, they 
discovered the Cranberry ore, and having been concerned in the 
Dugger forge on Watauga River four miles above Butler, Tenn., 
constructed a dam about half way between Elk Park and the 
Cranberry Company's store, only nearer to the Boone road than 
to the present railroad. Here they put in a regular forge with 
all the equipment used in that day, including the water trompe, 
furnace, goose-nest, hammer, etc. This was about 182 1. Soon 
after they started their forge Abraham Johnson, the agent of 
John Brown, the land speculator, built a forge on the left bank 
of the Toe River, three-quarters of a mile above the mouth of 
White Oak Creek and near the mouth of Cow Camp Creek. He 
got some of his ore from a deposit near by, but also hauled ore 
from the Cranberry vein. Still later on, William Buckhannon 
had a forge built by one Calloway one-half a mile above what 
is now Minneapolis, on Toe River, but he had little or no ore 
nearer than that at Cranberry, from which he also drew his 
supply. After the Perkinses had been at work some time they 
are said to have applied for and obtained a grant from North 
Carolina for 3,000 acres of land for having made 3,000 pounds 
of iron, but shortly thereafter John Brown, who kept a keen eye 
out for squatters and trespassers on what was then the Tate 
and Cochran land, though then claimed by him under a junior 
or Cathcart grant, convinced the Perkinses that he held a superior 
title to theirs, and they bought his title to the land. They then 
sold to William and Abe Dugger, who came from the old Dugger 
forge above Butler and operated the mine till Abe's death, when, 
being offended with his son, George, for having married Caro- 
lina McNabb, a perfectly respectable girl, left his interest in the 
mine to his three daughters, Mattie, who afterwards married 
Jerry Green ; Nancy, who had married Charles Gaddy, and 
Elizabeth, who had married Joseph Grubb, leaving George only 

266 A History of Watauga County 

fifty acres just below the law ofiice of L. D. Lowe, Esq., at 
Banner's Elk. John Hardin became guardian of Mattie, then 
unmarried, taking possession of the mine about 1850 and re- 
taining it till sometime during the Civil War. With him went 
Peter Hardin, then twelve years old, who remained with the 
Cranberry mine longer than any other in its existence. Peter 
was the son of a Creek Indian whom Nathaniel Taylor, of 
Elizabethton, Tenn., had brought with him from the Battle of 
the Horse Shoe in 1814, and who was named Duffield, after an 
academy at Elizabethton, according to Dr. Job's reminiscenses 
of that town. Jordan Hardin, son of John, took possession of 
the mine during the Civil War and worked from forty to sixty 
men, making iron for the Confederate government. This iron 
was in bars for the manufacture of axes and was hauled to Camp 
Vance, below Morganton, by Peter Hardin, one four-horse load 
every month, winter as well as summer. It was sometime dur- 
ing or after the possession of the Hardins that a man named 
Dunn had some connection with Cranberry, but exactly what 
could not be ascertained accurately. Thomas Carter, who had 
operated a plant for the manufacture of guns at Linville Falls 
during the Civil War, and Gen. Robert F. Hoke then obtained 
an interest in the Cranberry mine and forge, and General Hoke 
sold the property to the present company, Carter, in May, 1867, 
having agreed to convey his interest therein to Hoke for $44,- 
000.00. When, however, Carter tendered Hoke a deed therefor, 
Hoke gave him a sight draft on a New York bank for the price 
agreed to be paid. This draft was not paid. The money to 
meet it was to have been provided by the sale of the property by 
Hoke to Russell and his associates, who refused to take it be- 
cause Carter would not deliver the deed for his interest till he 
had been fully paid. Carter got an injunction against the sale, 
and the Supreme Court upheld Carter. (Carter v. Hoke, 64 
N. C, 348.) Carter and Hoke soon effected a compromise and 
the title to the property was thus settled. After Hoke and Com- 
pany sold the property soon after the Civil W^ar it remained in 
the control of Peter Hardin, who kept the hotel and looked after 
the property generally for many years. He was allowed to 
make and sell all the iron he wished and to operate a small 

A History of Watauga County 267 

saw mill. When the present company began to build the rail- 
road from Johnson City to the forge, Peter Hardin kept a store 
at Cranberry and was postmaster, keeping all the accounts of 
the employees of the company and delivering all the mail, etc., 
although he could not read a line, the clerical work having been 
done by his wife and her daughters by a former marriage. 
White people stopped at Pete's hotel and were well entertained 
by these care-takers. They still live near Elk Park, and have 
the respect and confidence of all who know them. They are 
called colored people, but their good names are as white as those 
of the best people in the State. Abram Johnson died at his 
home near what is now Vale, on the E. T. & W. N. C. R. R., in 
the house which stood where Bayard Benfield now lives, near 
the mouth of White Oak Creek, and is said to have been a sol- 
dier in the War of 1812. His wife died there August 18, 1880, 
and he October 15, 1881, aged about 107 years, according to the 
record of Jacob Carpenter, of Altamont. 

Some Old Hammermen. — Among those who worked at iron 
mines in this county were Jess Sizemore, at Johnson's forge, and 

Jack Mayberry, Grandire, Wash Heaton, Elisha 

Stanley and George Dugger, all at Cranberry. 

Gen. Thos. L. Clingman's Mining. — This enterprising gen- 
tleman mined on Beech Creek in Watauga County in 187 1, and a 
branch in that locality still bears his name. (Deed Book 3, p. 595.) 
Oil and Gas Mining. — About 1901 it was thought that oil 
had been seen on a pool of water near N. L. Mast's store on 
Cove Creek, and the Carolina Valley Oil and Gas Company 
sank a well there, but abandoned it. The flat formation of the 
rock strata on Cove Creek and about Ward's store on Watauga 
River seems to indicate petroleum. There were options taken 
by the Carolina Valley Oil and Gas Company on lands in the 
vicinity of Sutherland. J. A. Zins and Joseph Bock, of Minne- 
sota, worked a copper mine on Elk Knob in 1899, but they fell 
out among themselves and quit work. 

The Elk Knob Copper Mine. — On the 22d of August, 1900, 
John Castle agreed to convey to the Zinns-Bach Mining & Lum- 
ber Co. 100 acres on Elk Knob, and mining was soon begun there 
for copper. The scheme was soon abandoned, however. (Book 
W, p. 495-) 


Roads and Railroads. 

First Roads. — From John Crouch's "Historical Sketches of 
Wilkes" (1902) we learn that Hamilton Holton (or Helton?) 
obtained a charter for a turnpike from Holman's Ford to New 
River in Ashe. This road passed through Deep Gap, Old Fields 
and on to Jefferson and Virginia and south to Three Forks, 
Brushy Fork, Cove Creek, and west to Meat Camp, crossing the 
New River at The Bend, near what is now called the Salmond's 
place, but which formerly belonged to the Fergusons of Wilkes. 
From there it went to the top of the ridge between the river as 
it runs in two directions, thence west, passing Moretz Mill, and 
on up Meat Camp to the gap between Rich and Snake moun- 
tains to Trade in Tennessee. Later came a road from Jefferson 
to Boone, via Elk Cross Roads, and from Sugar Grove up 
Beaver Dams over Baker's Gap to Tennessee. The road up 
Cove Creek probably stopped for a long time at Zionville, and 
some say that there was only a trail from there to Shoun's Cross 
Roads for years. 

The First Roads Across the Blue Ridge. — According to 
"The Archibald D. Murphey Papers," published by the State 
Historical Association, 19 15 (\'ol. H, p. 185), Wilkesborough 
may be taken as the point on the Yadkin from which they 
(roads) diverge in different directions across the mountains. 
One runs to the north into the counties of Grayson and Wythe 
in Virginia, passing the Blue Ridge at Elk Spur Gap. Two 
roads run to the west, one crossing the Ridge at Reddy's River 
Gap, passes by Ashe court house and, forking, it extends to the 
northwest into the counties of Russell and Washington in Vir- 
ginia, and to the west of Jonesborough in East Tennessee. The 
other, called Horton's Turnpike, passes the Ridge at the Deep 
Gap, and runs through the southwestern parts of Ashe County, 
on to Jonesborough. Another road leads from Wilkesborough 


A History of Watauga County 269 

to the southwest, passes Morganton and crosses the Ridge at 
Swannanoa Gap. The mountain can be easily passed at each of 
these gaps, and, if the roads were good, the inconvenience of 
crossing the mountain would be disregarded. The roads have 
been badly laid out ; they are badly made, and the population in 
many parts is too weak to keep the roads in even tolerable re- 
pair. All these roads should be made at the public's expense. 

Caldwell and Watauga Turnpike.—The General Assembly 
of 1846 and 1847 (Ch. CV) passed an act to incorporate the 
Caldwell and Ashe Turnpike Company, the State to provide 
$8,000.00 when $5,000.00 had been subscribed, which was altered 
in 1850-51 so that the name should be the Caldwell and Watauga 
Turnpike Company, while the capital stock was increased from 
$10,000.00 to $12,500.00, whatever amount of the increase that 
might not be subscribed within six months to be taken by the 
State. The president and directors were authorized to change 
the route on the Blue Ridge where it exceeded one foot in 
twenty so as to reduce it to that standard, and otherwise improve 
the road, while all hands within two miles who were then re- 
quired to work on roads were required to work on this road, but 
should not be required to work any other roads or to pay toll on 
this. This act was ratified January 21, 1851 (Ch. CLXIV, p. 
463). By chapter 131, Laws of 1881, the Turnipke Company 
was authorized to surrender to Watauga County "so much of 
said turnpike as lies west of the top of the Blue Ridge at the 
Yadkin Springs," etc. Chapter 445, Laws of 1893, authorized 
the State to sell its interest in this road and apply the proceeds to 
the construction of the Boone and Blowing Rock Turnpike. The 
charter was repealed in 191 1, but in 1913 a new charter was 
granted, the people living along the road not being able to keep 
it in condition. 

The old road passed along the mountain side above the former 
residence of Smith Cofifey at the Old Bridge place, one mile 
below Shull's Mills, while the turnpike crossed the Wa- 
tauga River on the old bridge and followed the Woody 
bottoms to Shull's Mills on the right bank of the river, pass- 
ing west of Phillip Shull's old house, which was of logs, and 

270 A History of Watauga County 

faced west. Joseph Slnill changed the road so tliat it crossed the 
river at the ford near Robbins' store and east of the house, now 
a frame structure which faces east. Old Albany, nine-passenger 
stage coaches, swinging on straps, passed over this road from 
1855 to 1 86 1, going from Lincolnton, via Lenoir, Blowing Rock, 
Shull's Mills, Valle Crucis, Sugar Grove, Zionville, Shoun's 
Cross Roads, Taylorsville — now Mountain City — to Abingdon, 
Va., and they were operated by a man of the name of Dunn, of 
Abingdon. It was a daily line each way, with stands at John 
Mast's at Sugar Grove and at Joseph Shull's, where J. M. Shull 
now lives. 

This road undoubtedly served to open up and encourage the 
settlement of Watauga County, and was an excellent one for 
that day. But Blowing Rock, Banner's Elk, Linville City, Boone 
and Valle Crucis were growing rapidly, and in 1893 an act was 
passed authorizing the State to sell its interest in the Caldwell 
and Watauga Turnpike Company and apply the proceeds to the 
construction of the Boone and Blowing Rock Turnpike Com- 
pany, in the building of which the late Thomas J. Coffey was 
very active. This new road diverted much travel from the old 
turnpike. The turnpike company from Lenoir to Blowing Rock 
had already absorbed much of the original Caldwell and Wa- 
tauga turnpike, leaving only the stretch between Blowing Rock 
and the Tennessee line belonging to the company. By chapter 
17, Laws 191 1, it was authorized to sell or lease any of its road 
bed or other property to any other turnpike company, and if 
such a sale should be made it might wind up its affairs. Section 2 
of this act, however, authorized the company to turn over the 
road from Shull's Mills to Blowing Rock to the county of 
Watauga, which was done, and the county required to keep it 
up as a public road. But there were too few people living near 
it to keep it in good condition, and, accordingly, some of the 
citizens living near secured a charter for a turnpike company 
from the Secretary of State, known as the Valle Crucis and 
Blowing Rock Turnpike Company, to run between those points. 
Its capital stock is $3,cxxd.oo, and its charter was granted June 4, 

A History of Watauga County 271 

Yonahlossee Turnpike Company. — About the year 1890 S. 
T. Kelsey, formerly of Kansas, but later of Highlands, Alacon 
County, N. C, went to Watauga County, and a turnpike company 
was chartered to build and maintain a road from Linville City 
to Blowing Rock, passing clear around the eastern base of the 
Grandfather Mountain and running along the crest of the Blue 
Ridge, much of the distance being north and east of that pictur- 
esque and ancient mass of stone and earth. The distance is 
eighteen miles and it cost less than $18,000.00. It is decidedly 
the best and most level road in the mountains. 

Elk Park and Banner's Elk.— A road was constructed be- 
tween these places about 1895 and serves the country through 
which it passes admirably. 

Early Road Legislation.'— In 1850-51 Charles McDowell and 
Hugh Taylor, of Burke, and John Franklin, of Watauga, were 
appointed commissioners to lay off a public road from Charles 
McDowell's in Burke via Upper Creek, Jonas Ridge, Old Fields 
of Toe River to Cranberry Forge in the county of Watauga. 
(Ch. CLXXI, p. 473.) In 1852 Alfred Miller, Jonathan Hor- 
ton, James Ragen, M. T. Coxe and Reuben Mast were appointed 
commissioners to view, lay off, alter or amend so much of a 
public road from Holman's Ford by way of Deep Gap at Solo- 
mon Green's and the Rich Mountain, near Welch's store, to the 
Tennessee line as lay within the limits of Watauga County. 
(Ch. CLIII, p. 579.) In 1854-55 (Ch. 214, p. 216) Reuben 
Mast, M. F. Cox, James Ragan, Alfred Miller and John Moretz 
were appointed commissioners to survey and improve the public 
road from the Wilkes County line by way of Meat Camp Creek 
to the Tennessee line, at or near Welch's store. At the same 
session (Ch. 219, p. 222) Michael Snider, Jourdan C. Hardin, 
for Watauga, and three men from Yancey, were appointed com- 
missioners to lay off a public road from the Tennessee line at 
Wm. D. Hose's, via Cranberry and Arthur Erwin's to the 
McDowell County line, near Charles McKinney's, so as to inter- 
sect the public road leading from Burnsville to Morganton. At 

1 Just prior to the formation of Watauga County (Ch. XCVIII, Laws of 
1846-'47) a public road was authorized from Counciirs store in Ashe (now 
Boone) to Bedford Wiseman's in Yancey County, at the mouth of Three Mile Creek 

272 A History of Watauga County 

the same session (Cli. 224, p. 224) it was provided tliat all public 
roads to be built in Watauga after the date of the ratification 
of the act shall not be required to be more than twelve feet wide 
where side-cutting is necessary and used, and where blasting is 
necessary and used such roads shall not be required to be more 
than eight feet wide. The county and superior courts were given 
concurrent jurisdiction of all indictments against overseers of 
Watauga County roads. By the laws of 1876-77 (p. 175), John 
R. Hodges, Daniel Wheeler and John Elrod were authorized to 
locate the road authorized by the act of 1870 (Ch. 254), and by 
the same laws (Ch. CLXXXIX, p. 365) the road from Phineas 
liorton's store in Wilkes was altered by changing the Stony 
Fork road so as to run to John Key's, and then up Stony Fork 
at Larkin Bishop's mill, and thence to Deep Gap. By the same 
laws (Ch. LII, p. 673) the citizens of Watauga and Caldwell 
counties were allowed to pass free all toll gates of Catawba and 
W^atauga Turnpike Company. By the laws of 1870-71 (Ch. 
254, p. 409) a public road was authorized from Phineas and 
A. H. Horton's store in Wilkes County to Boone, running up 
Elk Creek and crossing the Blue Ridge by the most practicable 
route. As seen above, this road was not built till after the laws 
of 1876-77 had been passed. By chapter 68, laws of 1874-75 
(p. 59), a road was authorized to be constructed from Boone to 
the Caldwell and W^atauga Turnpike at a point on the Blue Ridge 
between Wm. Morris' and L. Henly's, and by the laws of the 
same year (Ch. 109, p. 601) a road was authorized from a point 
on the Caldwell and Watauga Turnpike, where the old Mor- 
ganton road intersects the same in Watauga County, and thence 
via Wm. Welch's and Elisha Lewis' to M. C. Coffey's, thence 
with a dividing ridge via Thomas Right's and A. J. McClean's, 
so as to intersect the Morganton road at the Globe Church in 
Caldwell County. 

The Earliest Stopping Places. — The first and only taverns 
or inns or public houses, as they were variously called, were 
Solomon Greene's, which was in Deep Gap, to the right of the 
old State road running from Wilkesboro through that gap via 
what is now Boone, Hodges' Gap, Sugar Grove, through George's 

A History of Watauga County 273 

Gap and Baker's Gap to Roan's Creek in Tennessee. Squire 
Wm, P. Welch lives there now. Col. Jonathan Horton kept the 
next place, which was on New River, one mile below Three 
Forks Church, where Rudy Vannoy now lives. There were no 
other stopping places from there to Benjamin Webb's, where 
Rev. William Farthing afterwards lived and died. It was on 
Beaver Dams. These were then the places of "entertainment," 
though private houses then "took in" travelers as they do now. 
While Webb was keeping this house, it is said that James Ward 
went there "a-courtin'." W^ebb arose early and began mowing 
grass before breakfast, and came in to that meal wet and hungry. 
Ward was just getting out of his bed, and, "stretching," ex- 
claimed, "I feel like I could stretch a mile." "I wish you would," 
cried W.ebb, "and I wish you would stretch it towards your own 
home, too." 

The First Paper Railroads. — In January, 1851, the legisla- 
ture appropriated twelve thousand dollars to be used in the sur- 
vey of a route for a railroad from Salisbury to the Tennessee 
line "at or near the place where the French Broad River passes 
into the State of Tennessee." This may be said to have been 
the first of the almost numberless steps to get a railroad across 
the Blue Ridge. It is evident, however, that it was not then 
contemplated to build a road through any part of Watauga 
County, which had just been formed. But at the next session 
of the legislature, in 1852 (Ch. CXXXVI), the North Carolina 
and Western Railroad Company was incorporated, and Jordan 
Councill, Jonathan Horton, Reuben Mast and John Morris, or 
any three of them, were authorized to open books of subscription 
to the capital stock in the town of Boone. The road was to 
commence at Salisbury and run thence by the most practicable 
route across the Blue Ridge to the Tennessee line. Its capital 
stock was to be three million dollars. It was not confined to 
any route, and Watauga County might have stood a chance to 
profit thereby if the most practicable route over the Blue Ridge 
had been found within its borders. But it was not, the Swan- 
nanoa Gap having been chosen. At the same session another 
railroad was incorporated, to run so as to follow down the 


274 ■^ History of Watauga County 

Little Tennessee River to the Tennessee line. This was called 
the Blue Ridge Railroad. Neither road came as far as the 
mountains of North Carolina till after the Civil War. But the 
door of hope was not entirely closed to Watauga, for in Febru- 
ary, 1855 (Ch. 227), the Atlantic, Tennessee and Ohio Railroad 
was incorporated, to run with one or more tracks and to be 
operated by steam, animal or other power between Charlotte, 
N. C, and some point on the East Tennessee and Virginia Rail- 
road, at or near Jonesboro, in Washington County, Tenn., and 
form such connection by way of Moccasin Gap of Clinch Moun- 
tain in the State of Virginia, by the most practicable line to the 
head waters of Big Sandy River, thence the most eligible route 
to the Ohio River. Commissioners were appointed to open books 
of subscription on the first Monday of July, 1854, and be kept 
open for twenty days, Sundays excepted, between 10 a. m. and 
4 p. m. at Boone and many other places, including points in 
Tennessee and Virginia. This road must have crossed the Blue 
Ridge near the Coffey Gap and followed the Watauga River to 
Jonesboro. It has not been built yet, though nature had graded 
a road-bed for it from the foundation of the world. The track 
was completed from Charlotte to Statesville before the Civil 
War, but the iron and cross ties were removed and laid down 
upon a grade constructed by the government of the Confederate 
States from Greensboro to Danville, \^a., early in the Civil War. 
The track was relaid between Charlotte and Statesville soon 
after the close of hostilities, but it has never passed through 
the Coffey Gap or down the Watauga River, which still opens 
inviting arms to its construction. By chapter XL (Laws 1871-72) 
the Charlotte and Taylorsville Railroad Company was author- 
ized to build a road from Troutman's depot on the A. T. & O. 
R. R., in Iredell County, to Taylorsville, and thence, by or near 
Lenoir and Boone, the most practicable route, to some point 
on the Tennessee line. This stopped at Taylorsville, however, 
and is there yet. Just where the North Western North Caro- 
lina Railroad Company, amended by chapter XLVII (Laws 
1871-72), was to run is immaterial, as it never came to Watauga 
or near it under that name. At the same session the upper divi- 

A History of Watauga County 275 

sion of the Yadkin Railroad Company was incorporated to run 
from Salisbury to Wilkesboro and thence to the Tennessee or 
Virginia line, but it too stopped before reaching God's country. 
The Carolina Narrow Guage Railroad Company was chartered 
to run from the South Carolina line via Dallas, Lincolnton, New- 
ton, Hickory Tavern to the town of Lenoir, but no further. It 
has observed its original charter and is at Lenoir still — very 
still. By chapter XXV, Laws 1872-73, the Carolina Narrow 
Gauge (name spelt right this time without any legislative au- 
thority whatever!) was authorized to consolidate with the Ches- 
ter and Lenoir Narrow Gauge Railroad Company if stockholders 
of both companies were willing. They were, but Lenoir is still 
the head of the railroad. The State found good employment for 
its convicts by making them build railroads, and this policy was 
continued with general approval till recently, when certain states- 
men in the eastern part of the State, having secured all such aid 
as was required for their immediate needs, tried to discontinue 
the custom absolutely, but failed. It was in the hope of such 
aid that some of the enterprising citizens incorporated the Wa- 
tauga Railway Company (Ch. 411, Pr. Laws, 1905), which, by 
chapter 408, Laws of 1909, was authorized to be transferred to 
W. J. Grandin and his associates upon certain conditions ; but 
two years having elapsed and those conditions not having been 
complied with, the legislature (Ch. 316, Laws 191 1) gave 
Grandin and associates twenty months longer, after which time, 
if they had not commenced work, etc., the powers and property 
so assigned were to revert to the original incorporators. By 
chapter 11, Pr. Laws of 1913, the Watauga Railway Company 
was authorized to become part of the Watauga and Yadkin 
River Railroad Company. In 1912 the county of Watauga voted 
$100,000.00 to aid in the construction of this road, upon certain 
conditions, which were never fulfilled. At the session of the 
legislature of 191 5 it was determined to continue the convicts on 
this railroad construction. The East Tennessee and Western 
North Carolina Railroad was finished to Cranberry in 1882, 
coming from Johnson City via Elizabethton, Tenn. The Linville 
Railroad Company extended this line to Pinola or Saginaw in 

276 A History of Watauga County 

1900, but it is now under the management of the E. T. & W. N. 
C. R. R. This road was for several years the nearest to Wa- 
tauga County, Pinola being only twenty-four miles from Boone, 
but in May, 191 5, the Virginia-Carolina Railway from Abing- 
don, Va., was completed to Todd, now called Elkland, and is in 
operation. This is about eleven miles from Boone, 

First Railroad Surveys. — Major William Cain, a distin- 
guished member of the faculty of the University of North Caro- 
lina, has furnished many valuable facts as to the first surveys 
for railways made through Watauga County. It seems that in 
1859 ^ li"^ w^s run from about Patterson, in Caldwell County, 
known as Kuper's line, which required the tunneling of the 
Blowing Rock Ridge and Watauga Gap, thence along the north 
side of the Grandfather to the head of Watauga River, and 
down that stream to Elizabethton, Tenn. This line would be 
expensive to construct, but it would eliminate, by the use of deep 
tunnels, a great deal of the elevation that has to be overcome 
on the line through Cook's Gap. Nothing was done, however, 
till the winter of 1881, when General Imboden obtained a char- 
ter from the North Carolina legislature for the South Atlantic 
and Ohio Railway Construction and Operating Company. (Ch. 
41, Laws 1881, p. 87.) This charter recited that representations 
had been made that the Tinsalia Coal and Iron Company of Vir- 
ginia were the owners of valuable coal mines in Virginia and 
were building a narrow gauge railroad from their mine in Big 
vStone Gap to Bristol, Tenn.-Va., and had also obtained a charter 
from Tennessee to extend their line to some convenient point on 
the North Carolina State line so as to pass through Watauga 
and Mitchell counties. Upon these and other representations 
the above charter was granted for a narrow gauge railway, and 
C. L. Dwight, a civil engineer of South Carolina, was employed 
to make the survey. As he was engaged at that time on another 
survey, the main task of locating the road fell on Major Wm. 
Cain, and he ran the line so as to come up Elk Creek through 
Cook's Gap, thence passing two or three miles from Boone 
through a gap to the Watauga watershed, thence north, grading 
down along the sides of Rich Mountain with much curving. 

A History of Watauga County 277 

until finally the line took a westerly direction and reached the 
level of the Watauga River some few miles before reaching the 
Tennessee line. There were about 2,000 feet to be overcome 
from east of the Blue Ridge, with seventeen miles development 
to make the rise to Cook's Gap, but there were no tunnels. 
Major Cain was a pioneer in putting the heavier grades on the 
tangents and the lighter on the curves— a practice then unheard 
of, but now universal. To reach the valley of the Elk from his 
initial point near Patterson, he had to wind around many little 
peaks of the Bull Ruffin Ridge at one point and curve around 
the heads of several valleys in order to reach Elk Creek, where 
for a few miles the fall of the creek was greater than his grade, 
but he eventually caught up with it and reached the valley with 
his grade line successfully. The average grade was approxi- 
mately 150 feet to the mile. From Cook's Gap the fall to the 
Watauga is not so great, its elevation being 3,349, just seventeen 
feet more than that of Boone, and the Watauga River at Shull's 
Mills 2,917, and at Valle Crucis 2,726, but the slopes are 
smoother than the line east of Cook's Gap. He began this line 
on the 2ist of March, 1881, and when near the Tennessee line 
was called to another road, June 18, 1881, Mr. Dwight then 
taking charge. But the chief promoter fell out with the presi- 
dent of the road, who had the financial backing, and nothing was 
done after the survey was finished. 

A Great Inter-Montane Road.— There was a road, to run 
from Sparta to Asheville, planned and partially constructed 
somewhere about 1868, Coffey Brothers, of Boone, having a 
contract for the construction of two miles, running from the 
Musterfield, through the town to the branch above the Blackburn 
hotel, and thence through the Bryan and Gragg farms to Poplar 
Grove Church, where it was to follow down Lance's Creek to 
Shull's Mills. Robert Shearer had the mile running from the 
Musterfield towards the Three Forks Church. It was during 
this period that the road was changed just east of the John 
Hardin home to its present location and beyond the Musterfield 
so as to run north of its old location. The grade from Todd was 
also made at this time, the old road going directly up a very 

278 A History of Watauga County 

steep hill. But the new road from the high hill beyond the 
Perkins home and between it and Sands was surveyed by T. L. 
Critcher four years ago and built by the county. One of these 
days, believer, a railroad will run from Sparta to Jefferson and 
from there to Boone, or near it, and thence over the Linville 
Gap and down Linville River to near the falls, thence to the 
Toe, crossing that stream to Cane River, W'eaverville and Ashc- 
ville. Then the mountain people can go from north to south 
and from south to north without having to zig-zag across the 
mountains from east to west and then back again, as at present, 
without getting to their destination even then. Such a railroad 
would tap every transmontane railroad and wagon road, would 
get all the lumber, grain, fruit, minerals, stock and passengers 
that now have to go miles and miles out of the way to get a few 
miles north or south. Besides, the public could then learn that 
all the scenery, climate and pure water of the mountains of 
Western North Carolina are not confined betw^een Old Fort and 
Murphy. Then the wonderland of Madison, Yancey, Mitchell, 
Avery, Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany would be revealed in its 
unsurpassed loveliness. 


(Alphabetically arranged; not indexed.) 

The Adams Family.— Alfred Adams was born in 1811, July 
loth. His wife was Elizabeth Flannery, born in Lee County, 
Virginia, November 28, 18 15. These were married on Cove 
Creek December 29, 1839. Their children were Sarah, who 
married Carroll Wilson, who was killed in the Civil War, and, 
after his death, she married Jacob S. Mast; George F., born 
December 8, 1842, and was killed in Civil War; Tarleton P. 
Adams was born March 14, 1846, and married, first, Rebecca 
Adams, June 7, 1877, and, second, Mollie Tugman, December 15, 
1910; Leah E., who married Isaac Dougherty about 1876, and 
Abner, who married Elizabeth Combs about 1875. The father 
of Alfred Adams was John, who was born in France of English 
ancestry and came with Lafayette's soldiers as a drummer boy 
of sixteen years. He stayed till the Revolutionary War was 
ended, but when Lafayette's soldiers were about to return, John 
hid himself in a flour barrel at Philadelphia and escaped. There 
he joined a whaling ship and went with it two years, after which 
he apprenticed himself to a cabinet maker for seven years in 
Philadelphia. It becoming rumored that the French were about 
to search the city for deserters, John set out for North Carolina 
and reached the head of the Yadkin, where he met and married 
Easter Hawkins. Their children were Frank, who married 

; Tarleton, who married a Harman; 

Squire, who married a Greene; Allen, who married a Greene; 
Alfred, who married Elizabeth Flannery; George, who died at 
eighteen ; Patsy, who married a Williams ; Rachel, who married 
Jehiel Smith, and Elizabeth, who married Enoch Greene. 

Tarleton P. Adams was elected a county commissioner in 
1878, and was appointed on Board of Education in 1882, and, 
with the exception of four years, from 1896 to 1900, has been 
a member ever since and will be six years longer — by far the 
longest service in the State. 


28o A History of Watauga County 

Baird Family. — Ezekiel Baird was the father of Bedent and 
Wilhaiii Baird, and came to North Carohna from New Jersey. 
WiUiam went West, where he died. Bedent married Mary, a 
daughter of Cutliff Harman, and Hved one mile down the Wa- 
tauga River from Valle Crucis on its left bank, where Walter 
Baird now lives, though Bedent's old house has been replaced by 
the present large frame dwelling. Bedent's sons were Alexan- 
der, who married Nancy Vanderpool, and lived on the waters of 
Brushy Fork ; Franklin, who married Catharine Moody, daughter 
of Edward, who lived at what is now Foscoe. Franklin lived 
one mile down the Watauga, where James Church now lives, 
and just above Walter's; Palmer, who married, first, Elizabeth 
McBride, and lived on Beech Mountain, three miles from Be- 
dent's; Blodgett, who moved to Tennessee and married a lady 
near Nashville. He was absent forty years before he was heard 
of at Valle Crucis. The next was Euclid, named for the geome- 
trician, and he married Louisa Councill, daughter of Jordan 
Councill the first, and lived where ex-Sherifif W. B. Baird now 

Franklin's children were : Jackson, who married Tempe 
Shull; William, who married Sarah McNab; Susan, who mar- 
ried James Lowrance; David F., who married Elizabeth Wag- 
ner; Thomas Carroll, who went to Texas, where he died 
unmarried about 1861. 

Alexander's children were : Bedent, who went West and mar- 
ried Susan Jane Merchant ; Abram, who married Elizabeth 
Hartley ; Warren, who married Rebecca Hartley ; Ezekiel, who 
married Sarah W'ilson ; Jonathan, w^ho died in the Civil War; 
Phoebe, who never married ; Elizabeth, who married Hiram 

Palmer's children were: John, who married Miss Shupe ; 
Andrew^ who died in the Civil War, unmarried ; Ann, who mar- 
ried Wm. Grimsley ; Caroline, who married ; 

Eliza, who never married. 

Blodgett's children are not known to his Watauga relatives. 

Euclid's children were: Benjamin, who married Celia Gragg; 
John, who married Emeline Shell ; Hiram, who died in the Civil 

A History of Watauga County 281 

War ; Thomas, who went West and died unmarried ; Sarah, who 
married John Hackney; Charlotte, who married Eli Brown; 
Mary, who married Hiram Gragg. 

Rittenhouse's children were: William B., who married Eliza 

David F.'s children are : Victoria, who married T. H. Taylor ; 
Allie, who married J. M. Shull; Nora, who married D. C. Mast; 
Susan, who married Jack B. Horton ; Emma, who married W. 
W. Mast; Lula, who married J. C. Moore; Thomas C., who 
married Emma Mast. 

Banner Family. — From Murphey's Papers (Vol. H, p. 381) 
we learn that Joseph Banner was born in Pennsylvania in 1749 
and moved to Stokes County, North Carolina, in 1751. Stokes 
was then Anson County, and it was there that Joseph's father 
settled. His home was on Town Fork, near the present village 
of Germantown, N. C. One of the Banners entered land in 
Ashe soon after its formation. Banner is a Welsh name and 
used to be written Bannerman. It seems, however, that Henry 
Banner was the first of the name to come to America, arriving 
between 1740 and 1750, and married a Miss Martin from Eng- 
land. They settled on Buffalo Creek, then Rowan, now Stokes 
County. He bought land from Lord Granville in 1752. There 
were three sons of this union: Ephriam, Joseph and Benjamin. 
Ephriam v/as the father of Joshua, and Joshua of Lewis, and 
Lewis of Edward J. Banner. Lewis Banner's brothers were 
Martin, who married Mary Ogburn; Anthony, who married 

; John, who married a Miss Shiposh; 

Edward, Mathew and Joshua, who married, but the surnames of 
their wives have been forgotten. All these came to Banner's Elk 
about three years before the Civil War, except Martin, who 
came in 1849. Martin died at Montezuma, Anthony and John 
at Banner's Elk, Edward at Elk Park, Mathew in Texas in 1914, 
and Joshua in Surry County. Martin Banner's children were: 
Virginia, born in 1832; Napoleon, in 1834; William, in 1836; 
Oliver, in 1838; Columbia, in 1840; Newton, October 8, 1842; 
Luther, in 1844; Martin, in 1846; Mary, in 1848, and Missouri, 
in 1850. Newton Banner married Sophronia Mast in 1866. 

282 A History of Watauga Comity 

Bingham Family. — George M. Bingham was born July 20, 
1805, on Roddy's River, Wilkes County, and married Mary 
Ann Davis, who was born in 1813, on waters of Cove Creek. 
He died January 21, 1880. They were married in 1833 or 
1834. Their children were: William G., born in 1835, and who 
married Roxanna Presnell; Louisa, who married Marshall 
Miller in 1856, lived on Cove Creek till 1892 or 1893, when she 
moved to Idaho, her husband having died during the Civil War. 
She died in Idaho in 1900. Harvey was the next child, and was 
born February 13, 1839; died March 17, 1895. He married 
Nancy Ann Miller in 1861 and went to the war in Young Farth- 
ing's company, 37th North Carolina regiment, but was dis- 
charged in the latter part of 1862 because of bad health, having 
been slightly wounded twice. He became major of the battalion 
at Camp Mast of the Home Guard. After the war he went to 
Haywood County and taught school at what is now Canton, but 
was then Ford of Pigeon River. Then he went to school at 
Sand Hill, Buncombe County, to a Presbyterian minister named 
Hood. Then he came back to Watauga County and was ad- 
mitted to the bar in 1869, and practiced here till i88r, when 
he moved to Statesville, where he taught a school of law and 
engaged actively in the practice of his profession. The next 
child was Harrison Bingham, who died in infancy ; then came 
Violet Emeline, who died when barely grown; then came Elliott, 
who was killed in the Civil War on Beech Mountain ; Marshall, 
who died at thirty-four, unmarried ; Isidor, who died when two 
years old, and Carolina, who married E. L. Presnell. George 
M. Bingham's father was William, and his wife was Elizabeth 
McNeil. William was born in Virginia and came to Reddy's 
River when a young man. Their children were : William, who 
married ; Sarah, who married, first, Thomas Profiitt, and, sec- 
ond, Wm. Case ; Nancy, who married Joseph Miller ; Joel, who 
married a Miss Miller in Georgia, and Jemima, who died unmar- 
ried when about grown. It is a family tradition that Benjamin 
Bingham, brother of William, who came from Virginia to 
Reddy's River, fired the last cannon at Yorktown. Hon. Thomas 
Bingham thinks that Benjamin was the ancestor of Robert, 




Soldier and lawyer. 

A History of Watauga County 283 

Steven and Duval Bingham, and that Steven was a Methodist 
preacher and first cousin of George M. Bingham. This Benja- 
min was a giant in his day, and it is related of him that a noted 
fighter, wishing to test his strength as a wrestler, came to Reddy's 
River and lay in the shade of some trees and watched Benjamin 
lead the reapers in the wheat harvest till sundown, when he made 
his business known. It was then that Benjamin, without resting 
or eating, girded his loins and threw his opponent as often as he 
wished to try conclusions with him. 

Thomas Bingham was born February 3, 1845, and he mar- 
ried, first, Sarah Ann Farmer, February 17, 1870, and, second, 
Laura E. Combs, July 4, 1885. There were two children by the 
first marriage, one of whom died unmarried, and the other, 
Etta, married Ed. Madron. There were fourteen children by 
the second marriage. Thomas Bingiiam was early elected as- 
sistant township clerk, and then to the county board of educa- 
tion ; he was then appointed a member of the board of county 
commissioners in 1895, to fill out the unexpired term of Critt 
Horton, and was then elected to the legislature in 1880, 1886, 
1896, and clerk of the Superior Court in 1902 and in 1906. He 
was stricken with paralysis October 7, 1910. He was also editor 
of the Watauga Enterprise from February till November, 1888. 

John H. Bingham, Esq. — This distinguished attorney was 
born in 1867, and was a son of William G. Bingham. He mar- 
ried Alice Smith about 1890, and was elected Superior Court 
clerk in 1898. Filmore and Richard Bingham are physicians, 
and are brothers of John H. Bingham. 

Major Harvey Bingham. — In the winter of 1864-65, the 
Home Guard battalion of Watauga was camped on Cove Creek 
near what is now Sugar Grove, the name of their camp having 
been Camp Mast. Harvey Bingham was the major, and Geo. 
McGuire, who had been absent from the county for a long while 
before his return and election, was captain of Company A. 
Jordan Cook was captain of Company B, of which Col. W. L. 
Bryan, of Boone, was first lieutenant. Major Bingham and his 
adjutant, J. P. Mathewson, left camp to go to Ashe to confer 
with Captain McMillan, who commanded a cavalry company 

284 A History of Watauga County 

there, about co-operating with his battahon in a raid he then 
contemplated. During his absence Company B, under command 
of Lieutenant Bryan, was camped at Boone, and Captain Mc- 
Guire sent him word about dark that he expected an attack on 
Camp Mast that night. Lieutenant Bryan, however, did not 
start for that place till the following morning, and when he got 
near it, discovered the cabins in smoking ruins and all of Com- 
pany A absent. McGuire had surrendered them to Colonel 
Champion, of the Federal army, the night before. They were 
taken to Camp Chace and kept till the close of the war. It is 
said, however, that IMcGuire was not treated as a prisoner, but 
was allowed a horse and rode away with the officers to whom he 
had surrendered his men. It was thought at the time that Mc- 
Guire had betrayed his men to the enemy, and he certainly had 
surrendered them under the protest of many of his subordinate 
officers; one of whom, Paul Farthing, told him that if the 
company was surrendered Farthing's life would be surrendered, 
meaning that he would not survive captivity. He and a nephew 
who was surrendered with him shortly afterwards died in Camp 
Chace. After the war Major Bingham was a candidate for the 
State Senate before a Democratic convention held at Lenoir, and 
the late W. B. Farthing stated that Bingham was suspected of 
complicity with McGuire in the surrender of the troops at Camp 
Mast, and that if he was nominated the people of Watauga 
would not support him. This led to his defeat and there was 
talk of a duel between these two, but both decided it was besf 
to leave the issue to the future rather than to two leaden bullets, 
and the matter was dropped. But feeling still ran high against 
Major Bingham, and he and his wife, a daughter of John B. 
Miller, of Wilkes, left Watauga together and rode on horseback 
to one of the western counties, where they taught school till a 
better feeling pervaded their home county, when they returned. 
He studied law and practiced in Statesville, to which place he 
soon removed. He died there, a respected citizen and able law- 
yer, and time has fully vindicated his memory of the unjust sus- 
picion that once drove him from his home, and no one now doubts 
his entire loyalty to the cause of the Southern Confederacy. 

A History of Watauga County 285 

Blackburn Family. — The first of the name to come to this 
section, according to Mr. Clyde C. Miller, of Sands, N. C, 
a member of the Blackburn family, was Benjamin, a soldier of 
the Revolution, who settled on the South Fork of New River 
at what is now called the Cal Tucker place, near the new town 
of Riverside. He and another Revolutionary soldier named 
Jones are buried on the opposite side of the river in the same 
graveyard. Benjamin had three sons and one daughter, Sarah, 
who married Levi Morphew or Murphey. Their children were 
Edmund, Levi and John. Edmund had a daughter who married 
Joseph Williams, and two sons, one named Benjamin and the 
other Levi, the latter of whom married a Greer, from whom 
there were Noah, William, Isaac, Edmund, John and Hampton; 
his daughters were Rebecca, Hannah, Nancy, Elizabeth and 
Sarah. Rebecca married Jonathan Miller; Hannah married 
John Campbell ; Nancy married John Gentry and moved to Ten- 
nessee; Elizabeth married Wilham Miller, and Sarah, W. S. 
Davis. Noah Blackburn lived and died in Carter County, Tenn. 
Among his children were Dr. Larkin Blackburn and Milly Black- 
burn. William married a Ray and lived in Bald Mountain town- 
ship. He had a large family, principally of girls, several of 
whom died in childhood, Margaret living to womanhood and 
marrying Asa Clawson, and Martha, who married Julius 
Graham, and Elizabeth, who married Dr. Graham. Isaac Black- 
burn married Martha Tatum and moved to Missouri. He was 
killed in the Civil War, leaving three sons, all of whom now live 
in Missouri. Edmund lived and died on Meat Camp, where he 
reared a large family, many of whom are still living. His chil- 
dren were: Martha, Mary, Alexander, Smith, Wiley, Manley 
B., Martitia, Eugene Spencer and Thomas. Martha married 
Wm. Blackburn and lives at Virgil ; Mary married T. B. Mijler 
and lives on Meat Camp; Alexander, who married Rhoda 
Howell and lives at Elkland. Smith died when young. Wiley 
married twice, first, Mary Norris, and then Nora Houck, and 
lives on Meat Camp, near the old home place. Manley B. mar- 
ried Martha Norris and lives at Boone. He has been postmaster, 
register of deeds and clerk of the Superior Court, succeeding his 

286 A History of Watauga County 

brother, Eugene, who died unmarried while serving as register 
of deeds. Martitia married Jonathan Greene and moved to 
Missouri, where she now Hves. E. Spencer became a lawyer and 
located at Jefferson, and was elected to the legislature from 
Ashe, becoming speaker of that body. A few years later he 
was appointed assistant United States District Attorney for the 
Western District of North Carolina. Then he moved to Wilkes- 
boro, and while residing there was elected twice to represent 
the Eighth District in Congress. Afterwards he moved to Okla- 
homa and then to Elizabethton, where he died in 191 2. Thomas 
studied medicine, located at Boone and afterwards became 
assistant surgeon in the United States navy. He is now prac- 
ticing medicine at Hickory, N. C. John married a Case, and 
had three children, Silas, Levi and Mary. Silas is married and 
lives in Tennessee. Levi is married and lives at his father's 
place in Ashe. Mary married Mack Edwards and lives at 
Wilkesboro. Hampton married a Snyder, dying at Todd and 
leaving two boys and five girls: The boys, Roby and George, 
are married and live at Todd. Roby studied medicine and is 
now a practicing physician. Victoria married Shadrach Graham ; 
Florence married B. Bledsoe ; Callie married Caleb Green ; Rosa 
died unmarried ; Sophronia married K. Edwards and lives in 

Edmund Spencer Blackburn, born in Watauga County, Sep- 
tember 22, 1868; attended common schools and academies, ad- 
mitted to the bar in May, 1890; was reading clerk of North 
Carolina Senate 1894-1895 ; representative in State Legislature 
1896-1897; was elected speaker pro tcm of this Legislature; 
appointed assistant United States Attorney for western district 
in 1898, and assisted in the prosecution of Breese and Dickerson 
in the First National Bank case; elected as Republican to 57th 
Congress (March 4, 1901-March 3, 1903) ; re-elected March 4, 
1905, and died at Elizabethton, Tenn., March 10, 1912. Inter- 
ment at Boone, N. C. Edmund Blackburn was the first of his 
family to settle in Watauga, then Ashe County, and married a 
relative of Levi Morphew, who died in 1914 on the New River, 
well up in the nineties. Edmund's children were Levi, Sallie 


A History of Watauga County 287 

and Edmund, Levi having been the grandfather of E. Spencer 
and M. B. Blackburn, of Boone. Levi Morphew is a son of 
SalHe Blackburn. Among the first Methodist Churches in Wa- 
tauga was the one built by the Blackburn family on Riddle's 
Fork of Meat Camp Creek, called Hopewell, the Methodists 
having worshipped in Levi Blackburn's house prior to that time. 
Henson's Chapel on Cove Creek was probably the first Method- 
ist Church in Watauga. The first church built in Boone was 
built about 1880. About 1904 Mr. Blackburn married Miss 
Louise Parker, daughter of Myron T. Parker, of Washington, 
D. C, from which union two girls were born. 

Blair Family. — James Blair came from England and went to 
the Jamestown Settlement of Virginia at some period of its 
existence, but exactly when tradition does not state. His wife 
was a Colvert, she and her and his family having accompanied 
him over, one of their sons having been named Colvert. This 
son after awhile returned to England and married a Miss 
Morgan and returned with her to Virginia. Some of their de- 
scendants came to this State and settled in Randolph County, 
John Blair, Sr., having been born there July 6, 1764, where he 
married a Miss Hill. Their children were James, who married 
a Barnes; William, whose wife's name has been lost; Thomas, 
who married Susannah Edmisten ; Colvert, who married a 
Barnes; Henry, who married Mary Steele, June 28, 1832. Of 
these, Henry Blair was born April 22, 1806, and Mary Steele 
February 10, 1806; John Culbison, born April 9, 1833; Nancy 
Rebecca, born August 26, 1835; Elijah S., born June 14, 1838; 
Wm. Morgan, born December 27, 1840; James Thompson, born 
October 16, 1843; George Henry, born March 25, 1847. Of 
these, James Culbison married Susan C. Powell, June 21, 1871 ; 
Nancy Rebecca married Wm. Horton, October 16, i860; Elijah 
S. married Corrinna Finley, May 17, 1870; Wm. M., killed in 
Civil War, having been wounded March 31, 1865, and died 
April 19, 1865, near Petersburg, Va. ; James Thompson was 
accidentally killed September 25, 1850; George Henry married, 
first, Mary E. Councill, January 2, 1872, and then Mary A. 
Rousseau, September 27, 1882. 

288 A History of Watauga County 

Thomas Blair was also a son of John Blair, Sr., and his chil- 
dren were: John C, who married Julia A. Conley first and 
then Lidia Ann Yelton. Their children were Wm. T., who mar- 
ried Mary E. Boyd, April 15, 1866; James B., who married 
Emeline Curtis; Alary S., who married Wm. Glenn; Julia 
Caroline, who married L. R. Jones. By John C. Blair's second 
marriage there were : Sarah Jane, who married Richard Taylor ; 
Alice M. A., who married Valentine Reese; Lou Ellen Rebecca, 
who married Mathew Hammons; Margaret I., who married 
John Hammons ; Margaret, daughter of Thomas, married Reed 
Moore, of the Globe. 

John was another son of John, Sr., and married Abigail 
McCreary and lived on Little River. 

Morgan was another son of John, Sr., and married Eliza- 
beth McLeod, and lived on Little River. Elijah was still an- 
other son, but died unmarried ; also William, who married and 
moved to Virginia, where he died. 

Colbert's children were: James B., who married Harriet 
Coffey ; John, who married in Buncombe ; Nancy, who married 
Martin Dougherty; Louisa, who married Robert Greer; Sarah, 
who married a Harman; Elizabeth, who married Joseph Green, 
and Polly, not married. 

The daughters of John Blair, Sr., were: Frances, who mar- 
ried and moved to \'irginia; Elizabeth, who also married, and 
another who married Martin Cox in Caldwell County. 

Brown Family. — James Brown came from Holland to Wilkes 
County and settled near Holman's Ford of the Yadkin — the 
Dutch equivalent of Brown sounding very much as the English 
word is pronounced. He had ten sons, of whom is still remem- 
bered Joseph, who settled just below Three Forks Church. He 
married a Miss Hagler, of the "Big Waters of Pee Dee," in 
South Carolina. Their children were : Thomas, Elizabeth, 
Jesse, Sallie, Nancy and James. Thomas married Susan Greene, 
a daughter of John "Flatty ;" Joseph married Nancy Farthing, 
daughter of Rev. Wm. Farthing; Elizabeth died unmarried; 
Jesse married a Miss Webb, of Judge James L. Webb's family; 
Sallie married Reuben P. Farthing ; Nancy married Daniel Brad- 

A History of Watauga County 289 

ley; James married Harriet Farthing, daughter of Rev. Wm. 
Farthing. James' sons were Eli, James, Frank, Thomas, Hub- 
bard, Jesse and Ben. Eli and Ben settled in Ashe. Eli had one 
son, Jesse, who lived on Brushy Fork, and he left a son who now 
lives there. Benjamin left a son, Asa Brown, who lives near 
Todd or Elkland, and a daughter, who is now Mrs. Church, and 
lives at the head of Watauga River. James the second had a 
son, Eli, who settled in Ashe and married a Miss Sands, and left 
Newton, who moved to Missouri before the Civil War; Milton, 
who died on Middle Fork, and married Hannah Shearer, daugh- 
ter of Jack and granddaughter of Robert Shearer the first. 
Caroline never married. Nancy married Thomas Brown ; David 
went to Missouri and married a Miss Brown there. Eli, son of 
James the second, had a num.ber of brothers, of whom Thomas 
is still remembered. He went to Alabama ; William went to 
Georgia and another brother, whose name has been forgotten, 
went to Missouri. James, youngest son of Joseph Brown, set- 
tled on Roan Creek, Tenn., and married Harriet Farthing. Their 
children were Hamilton, who was killed by a tree on Roan Creek 
when fourteen years old ; Nancy, who is still living ; Captain 
Bartlett Roby Brown married Callie Wagner, daughter of "Gray 
Jake;" Stephen Justice married a sister of B. R. Brown's wife 
and died in 1913; Mary, wife of William Shull, both now dead, 
left a son, James A., who lives at Neva; Sallie, who died when 
nine or ten years old ; Eva, yet living at Neva ; Martha, who 
married Norman Wills and lives at Silver Lake ; James Julian, 
who died at twenty-one, and Dudley, who married a Miss Wil- 
liams and lives near Knoxville. 

Thomas Brown, eldest son of Joseph and grandson of James 
the first, was county surveyor of Watauga County, and one 
morning was out before breakfast making up his field notes while 
sitting under a tree near Henson's Chapel on Cove Creek, with a 
number of men around him. There was no wind, but suddenly 
hearing bark begin to fall, the others ran. But he, waiting to 
gather his papers, was delayed and unfortunately ran in the 
direction in which the tree fell. He was caught by its branches 
and killed. It was an immense tree and prostrated five other 


290 A History of Watauga County 

trees when it fell. His sons were Richard, Joseph, Bartlett, 
Daniel, Alfred, who was a baby when his father was killed; 
Mary, who married Rufus Holtsclaw, and Elizabeth, who mar- 
ried Elisha Green, all now dead. James Brown the first entered 
640 acres of land on Meat Camp from a description of its 
boundaries given by Daniel Boone and his companions while 
James still lived in \\ ilkes and before he had even seen the place. 
Rev. L. \V. Farthing, his greatgrandson, surveyed the land by 
the original grant, whicli was dated in 1789 or 1790. 

John and Lewis Bryan or Bryant. — This name used to be 
spelt Bryant, but when it w^as discovered that the "t" was 
superfluous, it was dropped. Morgan Bryan spelt his name with 
a "t," as did all who now call themselves Bryan. Battle Bryan, 
as he was baptized, but changed his name, because the children 
called him a battling stick, to Bartlett, was the son of Lewis 
Bryan and Elizabeth White, of Iredell County. Lewis was the 
first merchant in Jeflferson, about 1800, but he had a clerk whose 
name was Merchison, and on one occasion, when Lewis was ab- 
sent, purchasing goods, this clerk sold all the goods he could 
convert into money at a small price, collected all the debts he 
could at a large discount, and disappeared. When Lewis Bryan 
returned he remarked to his wife, after looking over his affairs, 
"Betsy, I'm busted." He returned to Iredell with his wife, and 
was killed there by a tree which fell on him at a "chopping 
frolic." Lewis was the son of John Bryan, who was at home on 
a furlough when the notorious Col. David Fanning, of the Revo- 
lutionary period, killed him in cold blood. 

From "Murphey's Papers"' (Vol. 2, pp. 397, 398) we learn 
(p. 396) that Wm. Lindley was one of Col. David Fanning's 
men, but took no part in Fanning's cruelties, being beloved by 
his neighbors. Towards the close of the Revolutionary War, 
when the Tories began to think the Whigs would eventually tri- 
umph, Lindley, with many others of the Tories, "crossed the 
Blue Ridge and determined to remain on New River until the 
fate of the war was determined. But before this he had given 
offence to two Tories, W^m. \\'hite and John Magaherty, and 
they pursued and killed him on his way over the mountains. 

A History of Watauga County 291 

Fanning hanged White and Magaherty for this, both on same 
limb (p. 397). In trying to save his head from the blow of a 
sword in the hands of one of his murderers the fingers of one 
of Lindley's hands were cut off, but his head was wounded 
notwithstanding. White gave his own wife, who was pregnant, 
an account of all this, and when the child was born it had marks 
on its head and the fingers on one hand were declared to be 
precisely such as White had described (p. 397). Toward the 
close of the war Fanning did not pretend to fight openly, but 
went about with from five to fifteen men, murdering, burning 
and wantonly destroying property of defenceless people. He 
killed Andrew Balfour in the presence of his wife and daughter 
and burnt the house of Colonel Collins." From that place they 
proceeded to John Bryant's. He closed his doors; they called 
on him to come out and surrender (p. 398). He refused. They 
then threatened to burn his house. He agreed to surrender him- 
self if they would treat him as a prisoner of war, which they 
promised to do. Bryant came out, and they instantly shot him 
down. On the same day they hanged Daniel Clifton, of Vir- 
ginia, to the same limb on which they had hanged White and 

Lewis Bryan's children were John Gilson, a Baptist preacher, 
who married the daughter of James Norris, of New River, and 
lived on Meat Camp where Billy Green now lives. He moved 
to Alexander County and afterwards to Georgia, where he died 
at the age of ninety-eight. The four girls all married and reared 
families. Their names were Sarah, Ann, Polly and Fanny. An- 
other of Lewis Bryan's sons was Battle, who married Rebecca 
Miller, a daughter of Hon. David Miller, and reared twelve 
children, four boys and eight girls, and, strange to say, there 
was not a dose of doctor's medicine ever given one of the family 
until after the youngest child was grown. The other boys in the 
Civil War, who escaped without a wound, were W. Lewis, John 
and Joseph. 

Battle Bryan's children were John, who married Lydia Ann 
Holder; Henry M., who was killed at Spotsylvania, Va., hav- 
ing been shot in the center of the forehead ; William Lewis, who 

292 A History of Watauga County 

lives in Boone; Joseph, who married SalUe Hodges, daughter of 
Thomas Hodges ; Polly, who married Lawson W'oodring ; Susan, 
who married Amos Green ; Nancy, who married David Norris ; 
Elizabeth, who married Jehiel Eggers; Sallie, who married a 
Raegan ; Jane, who married John White; Carolina, who died 
young and unmarried, and Ann, who married T. J. Brown. He 
is dead, but she still lives. 

William Lewis Bryan. — He was born on Meat Camp Novem- 
ber 19, 1837. His father was Battle or Bartlett Bryan and his 
mother Rebecca Miller. Battle Bryan was a son of Lewis 
Bryan, and his wife, Elizabeth White, and was born in what is 
now Alexander County in 1799, dying in 1894. Rebecca Miller 
was the daughter of Hon. David Miller, and was born in 1806 
and died in 1904. Colonel Bryan moved to Boone in 1857, after 
having attended several schools on Meat Camp and spending one 
summer in the home of Paul Hartzogg, near the mouth of 
Phoenix Creek, Ashe, helping Daniel Moretz build an overshot 
grist mill for George Bower. While in Boone Colonel Bryan 
clerked for Jacob Rintils, and made shoes for Jack Horton. 
Rintils having moved to Statesville about 1858, where he mar- 
ried Betty W^allace, a sister of Isaac and David Wallace, Colonel 
Bryan followed him there, and clerked for him a few months, 
after which he returned to Boone and carried on business for 
Rintils in the James H, Tatum store till early in the Civil War. 
Rintils having withdrawn, Colonel Bryan and Moretz Weisenfeld 
continued the business at the same stand till W^eisenfeld went 
into the Confederate army, when Colonel Bryan moved the stock 
to the store room which stood where the J. D. Councill house 
now stands, buying everything he could that he thought the 
people needed. Stoneman's men did not molest him or his stock, 
but robbers who followed that raid stole all he had. He then re- 
turned to Meat Camp and tended a crop on shares for his aunt, 
Mrs. Polly Lookabill. He married Miss Sarah Hayes, a daugh- 
ter of Ransom Hayes, on the 12th of December, 1865, and went 
with her to his Meat Camp home, where they resided till the 
death of her father in 1868. Then they returned to Boone and 
farmed till March, 1870, when he opened up a mercantile busi- 

A History of Watauga County 293 

ness in the old Councill store for M. V. Moore, buying Moore 
out in 1873. He continued in this business till his store and 
dwelling and stock were burned July 4, 1895. Since then he has 
farmed. He was for years United States commissioner and 
mayor of Boone. He has done much to preserve local history. 

Cable Family. — Kasper Cable came from Germany in the 
British army during the Revolutionary War, but deserted at the 
first opportunity and went to Dry Run, in what is now Johnson 
County, Tenn., where he married a Miss Baker. Their children 
were Jacob, Benjamin, Joseph, Kasper, Daniel, Conrad and sev- 
eral daughters. Of these children, Conrad had the following 
sons and daughters: Kasper, who married Lucinda Hamby; 
John, who married Edith Blevens ; Andrew, who married a Miss 
Bradley; Claiborne, who married Lotta Dugger; Edna, who 
married William Staunton; Polly, who never married; Sarah, 
who married Morgan Swift ; Rhoda, who married John Dugger, 
and another daughter who married Elias Swift. T. A. Cable is 
a son of Claiborne, and was born June 22, 1846. He married 
Ermine B. Farthing, November 17, 1870. 

The Coffey Family. — Thomas Cofifey was a son of John 
Coffey, and his wife Jane Graves, of the Church of England. 
His grandfather came from Ireland to America, where he died, 
leaving two sons and three daughters, as follows : John, Eliza- 
beth, Patsy, Anister and Edward. John married Jane Graves, 
whose parents came from England. They had six sons and two 
daughters, as follows: James, who married Elizabeth Cleve- 
land; John, who married Dorcas Carter; Edward, who married 
Nancy Shenalt; Thomas, who married, first, Ehza Smith, and, 
second, Sally Fields ; Reuben, who married Sallie Scott ; Ben- 
jamin, who married Polly Hayes ; William, who married Eliza- 
beth Ashburn; Elizabeth, who married Thomas Fields, and 
Winifred, who married Nicholas Morrison. 

The children of Thomas Coffey and his first wife, Eliza Smith, 
were Betsy, who married David Allen ; John, who married Han- 
nah Wilson ; Thomas, who married Coffey ; James, 

who married Delia Ferguson ; Polly, who married William 
Coffey ; Smith, who married Hannah Boone. 

294 ^ History of Watauga County 

The children of Thomas Coffey and his wife, SaUie Fields, 
were : Martha, who married James Dowell ; William, who mar- 
ried Annie Boone, niece of Daniel Boone ; Reuben, who married 
Polly Dowell; Elijah, who married Polly Hull; Sally, who 
married Samuel Stewart; Jesse, who died unmarried; Lewis, 
who married Harriet Powell ; Larkin, who married Catharine 
Wilson, and McCaleb, who married Elizabeth Collctt. 

McCaleb Coffey was born August 22, 1803, and married Eliza- 
beth Collett, February 5, 1828. He died February 17, 1881. 
His wife was born March 8, 1809, and died July 6, 1887. Their 
children were Thomas Jefferson Coffey, who married Mollie 
Greer; Charles L., who married Emily Coffey; Sarah A., who 
married John Steele; an infant who died unnamed; John E., 
drowned w'hen a child ; Mary E., who married George Nelson ; 
Margaret, who died unmarried ; W. Columbus, who married, 
first, Carrie Curtis, and, second, Mrs. Ada Penn ; Martha E., 
unmarried ; Henry C, who married Sophronia Coffey ; Carrie, 
who married David J. Farthing; James E.. who died of diph- 
theria at Petersburg, Va., in 1864; Rachel M., who married 
Thomas Coffey ; Jennie, unmarried ; Laura, died when four 
years old ; Buddie, who died when two years old. 

Smith Coffey, son of Thomas Coffey and Elizabeth Smith, 
his first wife, married Hannah Boone, a niece of Daniel Boone 
and a sister of Anna Boone. Their children were : Squire, who 

married Ella ; Morgan, who married ; 

Athen, who married ; Sallie, who married 

Wm. Puett ; Leland, who married Myra Day ; Isaac, who mar- 
ried Sallie Estes; Millie, who married, first, Wiley Stanley and 
then John Tritt. 

Abram Collett came from Scotland and married Margaret 
Wakefield, by whom he had three children: Betsy, who married 
Thomas Church ; Rachel, who married a Mr. Ingmon ; Charles, 
who married Amelia Parks, by whom he had ten children: 
Margaret, Rachel, Abram, Thomas, John, Mary, James, Eliza- 
beth, Francis and McCoy. Of these, Rachel married William 
Wakefield; Abram married Mary Stewart; John married Mar- 
garet Murphy, who died, and he then married Eliza Jane Cald- 

A History of Watauga County 295 

well; James, who married Jane Stewart; Elizabeth, who 
married McCaleb Coffey, and Frances, who married Alfonso 

William Columbus Coffey. — He was born near Patterson in 
Caldwell County April 3, 1839; went to Butler, Tenn., in April, 
1859, where he arrived with only three cents in his pocket. He 
went into business there, on the left bank of Roan Creek and a 
little above the present residence of D. J. Farthing, where the 
store washed away in September, 1861. He waded waist-deep 
in water trying to save the stock. In April, 1862, he went into 
the 26th North Carolina regiment, where he remained till 1863, 
when he got a transfer to the 58th North Carolina, Col. J. B. 
Palmer, in which he was elected third lieutenant in April, 1864, 
in which capacity he served till the 58th and 60th regiments were 
consolidated, when he became second lieutenant. He surrendered 
at Greensboro with Johnson's army in April, 1865. In Novem- 
ber, 1865, he came with his brother, Thomas Jefferson Coffey, 
to Boone and opened a store in the J. W. Councill store. In 
June, 1866, he left Boone and opened a branch store of Thos. 
J. Coffey & Bro. at what is now Zionville, near the head of Cove 
Creek, where he carried on business in a store room which is 
now gone, but which stood on Reuben Farthing's land. He re- 
turned to Boone and assisted his brother to build the Coffey 
hotel and store in 1869, and moved into that hotel before it was 
completed, which was not till 1870. He married Carrie L. 
Curtis, daughter of Hezekiah Curtis, of Wilkesboro, in 1866. 
Their children were Edgar S., who married Anna Parks ; Thomas 
Finley, who married, first, Jennie Councill, and, second, Blanche 
Wells, of Manning, S. C. After the death of his first wife, W. 
C. Coffey married Mrs. Ada Penn in July, 1908. 

Thomas Jefferson Coffey was born near Patterson, Caldwell 
County, in December, 1828, and died in June, 1901. He taught 
school at Valle Crucis before the Civil War, but soon went into 
business at what is now Butler, Tenn. He joined the Confed- 
erate army, finally becoming captain of Company E, 58th North 
CaroHna infantry. He married Mollie Greer about 1866. She 
is still living in Statesville. Their children were Elizabeth, who 

296 A History of Watauga County 

married Judge W. B. Councill ; Margaret, who married Stacy 
Rambo, of Mountain City, Tenn., and Stewart, who married, 
first, a Miss Sanborn, and then a Mrs. Roby, and lives at States- 
ville. Before his death he and brother, W. C, entered into an 
agreement that whichever survived the other should carry on 
the firm business as long as he thought fit, and then divide the 
property. Upon the death of Thos. J., in 1901, \V. C. carried on 
the business as before for about two years and until T. J.'s 
youngest child became twenty-one years old. He then divided 
the property into two lots. Lot No. i contained the stock of 
merchandise on hand, the debts due the firm, cash on hand and 
part of the land. In lot No. 2 were the greater part of the land 
and the live stock principally. T. J. Coflfey's heirs were given 
choice of the two lots, and chose lot No. i. Thomas J. Coffey 
had most to do with the building of the turnpike from Blowing 
Rock to Boone. He got the charter through the legislature and 
took the contract to build the road, which contract was given to 
himself and brother, W. C. Coffey. The survey was made by 
S. T. Kelsey, the overseeing was done by Alexander McRae, the 
work was commenced in August, 1893, ^"*^ the road was fin- 
ished in October, 1894. 

Cottrell Family. — Wm. Cottrell, Sr., settled in Caldwell 
County, and was the father of several children, among whom 
was William, Jr., who married Lucy Day. Their children were : 
John, who married a Triplett, and moved to Mississippi, where 
both died, leaving children, two of whom live in that State and 
one in Texas. Thomas and William and several girls were other 
children of William, Jr., and Lucy Day. One of these girls 
married a Minton and settled near Wilkesboro, another married 
Wm. Brown and moved to Georgia, while a third married a 
Coffey and settled on Mulberry, where they died several years 
ago, leaving several children in Caldwell County. William Cot- 
trell married Susan Shearer, settled in Caldwell, where they 
died. James, a brother of William and Thomas, married a Blair 
and settled in Caldwell. Thomas Cottrell married Louisa 
Shearer and settled in Watauga. To them were born ten chil- 
dren, all of whom are dead but four. These are : Louisa and 

A History of Watauga County 297 

Julia, who live in Caldwell ; Susan, who lives with Mr. and Mrs. 
L. N. Perkins near Boone, and C. J. Cottrell, who married 
Melissa Norris. This gentleman is a justice of the peace and is 
connected with the Appalachian Training School. He lost an 
eye at Resacka in 1864. He is a most worthy and highly re- 
spected citizen. 

Councill Family. — The following facts have been taken hap- 
hazard from the family Bible in possession of Mrs. J. S. Wil- 
liams. They will be valuable to all who trace their ancestry 
from this family, the first of whom was Jordan, making three 
Jordans in succession before 1850. Jordan Councill, who lived 
at the Buck Horn Tree place, just east of the town of Boone, 
where Jesse Robbins now lives, was born in 1769, having been 
the son of Jordan Councill. He married Sallie Howard about 
1797, and died December 10, 1839. His son, Jordan Councill, 
was born September 22, ly^g. Sarah Councill was born Sep- 
tember 2^^, 1802. 

The children of Jordan Councill, Jr., who married Sallie 
Bowers, September 3, 1823, were: John C, born August i, 
1824; James W., born December 29, 1826; William Bowers, 
born February 22,, 1829; Elizabeth, born September 29, 1831 ; 
Sarah Louise, born December 7, 1841 ; Martha Adelaide, born 
December 8, 1845 >* George R., born October 12, 1849. 

Daughters of Jordan Councill, Sr., and his wife, Salhe 
Howard: i. Sallie, who married Alfred Martin, of Yadkin 
County; 2. Lottie, who married John Hardin, Sr. ; 3. Eliza- 
beth, who married Willis McGhee ; 4. Nancy, who married Col. 
Euclid Baird; Eliza, who married, first, George Phillips, the 
father of Dr. J. B. Phillips, and, second, Rittenhouse Baird, the 
father of ex-Sheriff William B. Baird, who lived below Valle 
Crucis on the old homestead. George Phillips was the sheriff of 
Ashe County, and on his return from Raleigh, where he had 
gone to settle the taxes collected by him, was drowned in the 
Shallow Ford of the Yadkin. This was long before the Civil 
War and soon after the birth of his son, Dr. J. B. Phillips. 

The children of Dr. W. B. Councill, who married Alice M. 
Bostwick, June 7, 1854, were: Jefferson Bostwick, born Octo- 

298 A History of Watauga Comity 

ber 3, 1855; William Bower, born August 11, 1857; Margaret, 
born February 10, 1861 ; I. Lenoir, born March 25, 1864; Emma 
A., born June 19, 1866; Mary Virginia, born January 12, 1862. 

The children of J. W. Councill, who married M. V. Cocke 
November 29, 1854, were: Mary Alice, born October 17, 1856; 
G. W., born December 31, 1859; J. D., born August 21, 1861 ; 
R. Lenoir, born April 19, 1864; Sallie M., born September 16, 
1866; Bettie Folk, born August 17, 1870; John Hardin, born 
February 25, 1874; Walter Armfield, born May 14, 1878. 

George R. Councill ("Toad") married Anna M. Carter June 
28, 1881 ; S. W. Boyden married Margaret F. Councill Febru- 
ary 14, 1882 ; John S. Williams married Elizabeth F. Councill 
January 9, 1889; Dr. L. C. Reeves married Sallie M. Councill 
April 16, 1890; Richard L. Councill married Cora Bryan Octo- 
ber — , 1889; Geo. N. Folk married Elizabeth A. Councill 
October 16, 1853; J. W. Councill died November 19, 1884; 
Jordan Councill, Jr., died July 24, 1875 ; Sarah L. Councill died 
November 26, 1844; Martha A. died November 3, 1856; Sallie 
B. died April 23, 1877; George R. died July 9, 1891 ; Mary V. 
died November 26, 1894. 

Jordan Councill the First. — He married Sallie Howard, 
daughter of Benjamin Howard, and lived on the right hand 
side of the old road which led from Councill's store to Jeffer- 
son, at what is now called the Buck Horn Tree place and where 
Jesse Robbins in 1914 erected two houses. There is a fine spring 
near by. Councill's house was of logs. He was a farmer and 
a man of means. His children were : i. Jesse, who married Sallie 
Dixon, of Ashe, and lived where Jerry Ray now lives, nearly 
two miles east of Boone and off the road to Three Forks. 2. Jor- 
dan, who married Sallie Bower, sister of George Bower, and 
lived at the old Councill home, opposite Richard M. Greene's 
home in Boone. He was the Father of Boone, and Ransom 
Hayes, who gave as much land as he, was the Step-father of 
Boone. 3. Benjamin, who married, first, Lizzie Mast, daughter 
of Joel Mast, and lived at Vilas, and, second, Tempe Shull, sister 
of Joseph Shull, Sr., and of Phillip Shull. There were four 
children by the first and four by the last marriage. 

A History of Watauga County 299 

Jordan Councill's Grandchildren. — Jesse's children were : 

1. Sallie, who married Jesse Ray and lived on Old Fields Creek; 

2. Nancy, who married Thomas Green and lived at the mouth of 
Meat Camp; 3. Elizabeth, wlio married Albert P. Wilson and 
lived on Cove Creek after the Civil War, when he sold the place 
to Hiram McBride, of Tennessee, and came to Boone, where his 
wife died. He now lives near Three Forks Baptist Church. 

4. Louisa, who married D. B. Ferguson, of Meat Camp, and died 
when he was in the Civil War. Ferguson still lives in Catawba. 

5. John, who died unmarried while in the Confederate army, as 
did also Jordan. Jordan Councill's children were James W., who 
married Mollie Cocke, of Sumter, S. C. These were the parents 
of J. D. Councill, of Boone. Dr. William B. Councill, who mar- 
ried Miss Alice M. Bostwick, of Sumter, S. C. ; George R. C. 
Councill, who married a Miss Carter, of Yadkin Valley ; Eliza- 
beth A., who married Col. George N. Folk at Easter Chapel on 
upper Watauga River, Rev. Henry H. Prout officiating. Benja- 
min Councill's children were, by his first marriage : Jacob M., 
who married Sallie Lewis, daughter of Jacob, who lived at the 
head of Hog Elk and was killed by Stoneman's men, March 28, 
1865, aged thirty-five years. , Their children were : Mary, who 
married George W. Blair; Benjamin J., who married Blanche 
Hagaman, and Mattie, who married John Hardin, of Boone ; 
Joseph C, who married in Texas, where he died ; Sallie, who 
married Eben Smith, son of Jehiel ; Elizabeth, who married 
Holland Hodges, both of whom are living at Hodges Gap, two 
miles west of Boone. By his second marriage Benjamin Coun- 
cill had Jordan, who married Polly Horton ; Benjamin, who 
married, first, a Miss Adams, and, second, a Miss Bradley ;, who married Sallie Horton, and Polly, who married 
James W. Horton, of Cove Creek. 

James W. Councill's children were: i. Alice, who married 
Samuel Lenoir and still lives in Sumter, S. C, though her hus- 
band is now dead; 2. George W. (Bud), who died unmarried 
in Sumter, S. C. ; 3. J. Dudley, who married Emma, daughter 
of Joshua Winkler, and lives in Boone ; 4. Richard L., who 
married Cora Bryan and died in Boone in October, 1895 ; 5. 

300 A History of Watauga County 

Sallie. who married Dr. L. C. Reeves, who died at Blowing 
Rock about 1899. She still lives there with two children. 6. 
Elizabeth, who married John S. \\ illiams and lives near Three 
Forks Baptist Church; 7. John H., who died unmarried; 
8. Walter, who died before reaching manhood. Dr. \Vm. Bowers 
Councill's children were: i. Jefferson B., a physician, who lives 
in Salisbury; 2. Judge W. B., who married Elizabeth Coffey, 
daughter of T. J. Coffey and wife ; 3. Margaret, who married 
Stephen Boyden, of Salisbury. She is dead, leaving four chil- 
dren. 4. Emma, who married James, the son of Henry Taylor, 
of Valle Crucis. He is dead, but she still lives at Hickory and 
Blowing Rock. 5. Isaac Lenoir, who is unmarried and lives at 
Waynesville; 6. Jennie, who was the first wife of Finley Coffey, 
of Manning, S. C. 

Jesse Councill's daughters were: Sarah, who married Jesse 
Ray; Nancy, who married Thomas Greene; Elizabeth, who 
married Albert P. Wilson ; Louisa, who married Burnett D. 
Ferguson. His two sons never married. They were John and 
Jordan, and both died in the Confederate army. Benjamin 
Councill's first wife was a Miss Mast. Their children were: 
Jacob, who married Sarah Lewis, of Hog Elk; Joseph, who 
married a lady in Texas ; Sarah, who married Eben Smith and 
moved to Texas, where both died ; Elizabeth, who married Hol- 
land Hodges and are still living a few miles west of Boone. 
Benjamin Councill's second marriage was to Tempe Shull, an 
aunt of Joseph Shull. Their children were: Jordan, who mar- 
ried Polly Horton and died in Lee's army in Virginia; Benja- 
min, who married a Miss Bradley, daughter of Daniel Bradley, 
of Brushy Fork, where he died, and James P., who married 
Sarah Florton, daughter of Jack Horton, and lived at Vilas; 
sold out to Finley Holsclaw and moved to Limestone, Tenn.. and 
Polly, only daughter, who married James W. Horton and lived 
at the old homestead on Cove Creek. 

Jordan Councill, Jr. — Was born at the Buck Horn Tree 
place, Boone, and married Sallie Bower, a sister of George 
Bower, of Ashe County. His son, James W., married Mary 
Cocke, of Sumter, S. C. ; another son. Dr. \\'illiam Bower 
Councill, married Alice Bostwick, of Sumter, S. C. ; George 

A History of Watauga County 301 

Russeau married Annie Carter, of Caldwell County; Elizabeth, 
who married George N. Folk, noted lawyer, who lived at Boone 
where Dr. J. W. Jones now resides, but moved to Asheville 
shortly before the Civil War, where he entered into a copart- 
nership with one of the Woodfins, but returned to Boone and 
made up a company of cavalry, which was a part of the First 
North Carolina Cavalry. When he was in Boone he made a 
speech to his men from the front of the store which stood on the 
site of the present residence of W. L. Bryan, and where Wal- 
lace, Elias and Rintils were merchandising. J. W. Councill was 
the first lieutenant; J. B. Todd, second lieutenant, and J. C. 
Blair was third lieutenant. J. W. Todd, afterwards the distin- 
guished attorney of Jefferson, was the first sergeant. 

Critcher Family. — Nathaniel R. Critcher was born in Gran- 
ville County, North Carolina, September 6, 1803, and married 
Cynthia A. Clarke, who was born in Orange County, North 
Carolina, August 9, 1804. They, with her mother and David 
and Daniel Clarke and Elisha Holder, moved to what is now 
Watauga in 1840, Nathaniel settling where Abe J. Edmisten now 
lives. Holder on Howard's Creek and the Clark brothers at the 
mouth of Roan Creek, now Butler, Tenn. Nathaniel's children 
were: Guilford A., Sarah J., WilHam J., Nancy C, John C, 
Thomas A., all of whom are dead except Sarah J. Hodges, John 
C. having been killed near Richmond, Va., in the Civil War. 
Guilford A. was born in Orange County, North Carolina, April 
28, 1828, and married Frances R. Satterwhite, daughter of 
Nathan and Lucy, of Granville County, North Carolina, Decem- 
ber 29, 1852. In 1858 they settled where Charles L. Cook now 
lives, and where they both died. Thomas L. Critcher, the oldest 
living son of Guilford A., was born October 20, 1857. He mar- 
ried Nannie J. Wilson, daughter of Isaac, and she died Decem- 
ber 20, 1910. He is a merchant, justice of the peace and civil 
engineer. Fie owns part of 640 acres granted to William Miller 
in May, 1887, and deeded to Nathan Horton May 20, 1898, the 
deed having been witnessed by Shadrach Brown and Hodges 
Councill. It is in Cook's Gap of the Blue Ridge in which 
Thomas, Bethuel and Jonathan Buck, William Miller, Nathan 
Horton, Robert Greene, the Coffeys, Hayes and Shearers have 

302 A History of Watauga County 

been settlers, or through whicli they have passed on their way 
further West, following in the footsteps of the famous Daniel 
Boone. James and Alfred Brown, Henry Blair, Nathan Satter- 
white, Samuel Brown, Adam Cook, have at various times owned 
an interest in this land, which could not be bought now for 
$10,000.00. It is through this gap that the Grandon Railroad 
is to pass on its way to Boone. 

Davis Family. — James Davis was first of this family, and he 
was born in England and emigrated to America. His son, James, 
married Nancy Fullbright. He was born and reared in Lincoln 
County, till Catawba was established, five miles northeast of 
Newton. James the second moved close to Miller's farm on 
Meat Camp in 1844 when William S. Davis was thirteen years 
of age. W. S. married Sarah Blackburn November 30, 1854. 
The object James had in coming was to run the linseed oil mills 
for John Moretz. James Davis had four sons, Isaac and David, 
both of whom died young; Smith, who moved to Texas, and 
James, father of William S. 

H. A. Davis was born in Catawba County July 17, 1840, 
but in December, 1845, moved to Watauga County with his 
parents, James Davis and his wife, who was born Nancy Full- 
bright, their parents having come to North Carolina from Penn- 
sylvania. H. A. Davis was married January 23, 1868, to Mary 
A. Hodges, daughter of W^m. R. Hodges and Nancy Triplett 
Hodges, who were born in W'atauga and Wilkes counties, re- 
spectively. May 17, 1 861, he enlisted as a private in Company D, 
I St North Carolina cavalry, and was captured by the i6th Penn- 
sylvania cavalry June 9, 1863; exchanged June 30, 1863; was 
wounded September 22, 1863, near Jackshop, Va. His wife, 
Mary A., born January i, 1850, died December 5, 1875. James 
Davis, father of H. A., died August 30, 1859. Nancy Fullbright 
Davis, mother of H. A., died March 5, 1895. James Davis' 
parents were James Davis and Delphia ]\Iahaffa. Nancy Full- 
bright Davis' parents were Wm. Fullbright and Nancy Plonk. 
Nancy Triplett Hodges died in May, 1912. Wm. R. Hodges' 
parents were Jesse Hodges, who was murdered in 1864 by 
Thomas Roberts, of Johnson County, Tennessee ; Polly Claw- 
son, died in 1863. 

A History of Watauga County 303 

Dugger Family. — In 1793 or 1794 Benjamin Dugger came 
to Watauga County from Yadkin Elk, where a creek and moun- 
tain still bear his name. He entered land on Brushy Fork, near 
the present Holtsclaw settlement. His children were Selah, 
who married Laus Goodin; Daniel Dugger; Cora Ann, who 
married Samuel Burns ; Susannah, who married John Whit- 
tington ; Mary, who married John Calihan ; David and William 
Dugger. David Dugger bought out the other heirs. The deed 
is dated November i, 181 5, and calls for two tracts on Brushy 
Fork. There were three Dugger brothers who came from Scot- 
land to Yadkin Elk, having settled for a time near Petersburg, 
Va., Benjamin, Daniel and Julius. Ben stopped on Brushy 
Fork, Daniel went to Kentucky and Julius settled in what was 
then Carter County, Tennessee, near Fish Spring, where some of 
his descendants still live. It was from the Julius Dugger family 
that the Dugger forge and the beginnings of Cranberry forge 
started. David married Margaret Ernest and their children are : 
Henry, who married a Green; Polly, who married David 
Howell ; Elizabeth, who married Jehiel Smith, and William, who 
married Unice Munday. William's children were: Henry, who 
never married ; Franklin, who married Martha Presnell ; David, 
who married Mary Munday; Elizabeth, who never married; 
John, killed in Civil War; William Eben., married Nannie Wil- 
kerson ; Margaret and Mary Jane, not married. 

The Eggers Family, — Landrine Eggers came from London 
to the eastern part of this State first and then to Ashe County. 
He was born in 1747 and died March 17, 1833. He was mar- 
ried, first, to a lady whose name has been forgotten, and, second, 
to Joanna Green, whose family lived near Three Forks Church 
and were members of that body. Children of first marriage have 
been forgotten, but those of the second are : Hugh, the date of 
whose birth and the name of whose wife are not now known, 
and one daughter, Lydia, who was born December 14, 1791, and 
married James Swift, who died January 8, 1858, leaving the 
following children: Frankhn, born August 11, 1816; Elias, 
born February 5, 1818; Morgan, born October 23, 1819; James, 
born December 3, 1821 ; Martha, born January i, 1824; Mar- 
garet, born August 26, 1826; Elizabeth, born June 20, 1828; 

304 A History of Watauga County 

Wilburn, born October 7, 1831; Mary, born March 16, 1833; 
Rebecca, born April 15, 1835. Hugh's children were: Lan- 
drine, born September 10, 1805; Malinda, born February 11, 
1802; Washington, born August 21, 1808; Nancy, born April 
15, 1836; Jehiel S., born October 20, 1834; Martha C, born 
September 2y, 1837, and the following, the dates of whose births 
are unknown : Cleveland, Abner and Joel. Landrine the second 
married Ellen McBride, daughter of W'm., of Rowan County, 
born August 5, 1800; died December 5, 1872. The children of 
Landrine the second w^ere: Brazilla, born June 10, 1825, mar- 
ried Sarah Isaacs; Ransom, born January 5, 1827, married 
Rachel Isaacs; Hugh and Sarah, twins, born December 26, 
1828, of whom Hugh married Alva Kilby, and Sarah, John 
Isaacs; Landrine the third, born November 18, 1830; Anna, 
born July 21, 1832, married Franklin Reese; Richard, born 
February i, 1834, married Elizabeth Reese; John, born De- 
cember 2, 1835, married Martha Stout; Ellen, born January 16, 
1839, married Maston Davis. Landrine the third married Sep- 
tember 7, 1854, first, Sarah Ward, daughter of James Ward, of 
Watauga River, who was born November 26, 1834, died July 
6, 1867. The children of the first marriage were: Sarah Ellen, 
born May 17, 1862, married Solomon Grogan. Landrine the 
third's second wife was Mary Potter. They were married March 
8, 1868, she having been born March 15, 1831. Their children 
were: John L., born July 21, 1870, married, first, Alice Greer; 
second, Daisy Adams, and, third, the widow Woodring; Omer 
C, born August 14, 1873, ^^^^ of diphtheria November, 1887; 
Luther D., born December 26, 1876, married Emma Jones, 
daughter of Rev. E. F. Jones, and lives at Post Falls, Idaho; 
Barton R., born August 17, 1878, died of diphtheria November, 
1887; Carroll and Jehiel, twins, born May 30, 1881, died Novem- 
ber 9, 1887, and were buried in same grave. 

Edmisten Family. — Wm. Wallace Dixon Edmisten was born 
on Mulberry Creek, Caldwell County, August 29, 1850. He 
was the son of James Edmisten and Mary Shull, a daughter of 
Phillip Shull, and they were married September 25, 1848. Their 
children were W. W\ D. and Nancy Carolina, the latter of whom 

A History of Watauga County 305 

married Frank Read. James Edmisten's father was William 
and his wife was Nancy Garner. William's father was also 

named William, and his wife was the widow of 

Blair, born Sudderth, a sister of Abraham Sudderth. Her hus- 
band, Blair, was killed at King's Mountain while 

fighting on the side of the British, and William Edmisten mar- 
ried her after the Revolution. She was then a young widow, 
but William had fought at King's Mountain, too, where two of 
his brothers, who were said to have been officers, were killed, 
but he and they had fought on the American side. These 
brothers were from Virginia. 

Elrod Family. — The first of this family came from France 
to Pennsylvania and thence to Davie County, North Carolina. 
From this State they have spread out to Ohio, Tennessee, Ken- 
tucky, Virginia and South Dakota, Henry C. Elrod having been 
governor of the latter State a few years since. Conrad Elrod 
was the father of William, and died near the present Reformed 
Church, on the Blue Ridge. He was buried in a hollowed out 
chestnut log. William married Elizabeth Lowrance, and their 
children were : Chaney, who married Robert Greene, father of 
Judge L. L. Greene ; Malinda, who married Asa Triplett ; Henry, 
who married Sarah Brookshire ; Alexander, who married Polly 
Shearer; Mary, who married Thomas Cook; Ann, who mar- 
ried Lot Greene; Hardin, who married Temperance Bradshaw; 
Rachel, who never married, and John, who married Elizabeth 
Brookshire. Henry Elrod moved to the Watts Farthing place 
when two years old, traveling over a trail, and having the house- 
hold articles carried on pack horses for want of a road. He had 
two children, William and Louisa. William married Chaney 
Brookshire and Louisa married T. M. Cannon. William remem- 
bers that when he was eight years old, on September 27, 1856, 
there was a snow storm in Watauga County. He also remembers 
when a wagon was a rare sight in this section. He remembers 
when the buckhorn which had been nailed on the old oak tree 
on the old Jordan Council place showed through the bark, and 
when it was entirely covered by the bark. He saw this when he 
came to the old Musters before the Civil War. Top buggies 


3o6 A History of Watauga County 

were even rarer than wagons, and James W. Councill had what 
was probably the first in the county in the fifties. Henry Elrod 
was conscripted after he had moved in 1857 to the Flat Top 
Mountain, and taken to Camp \'ance, after which he was trans- 
ferred to Camp Mast, where he was captured. He died in 1885. 
Alex Elrod was captured by Stoneman, but, pretending to have 
rheumatism, was allowed to escape. 

Farthing Family. — Dudley Farthing was born in Virginia, 
April 6, 1749. He was the son of William Farthing and his 
wife, Mary. Dudley Farthing died in Wake County February 
22, 1826. His wife was Annie, daughter of Wm. Watkins and 
Phoebe, his wife. She was born July 4, 1747, in Virginia, and 
died February 13, 1812, in Wake County. Their children were: 
Phcebe, born November 15, 1778, and she married John Link, 
February 3, 1803; Mary, born July 3, 1780, and died March 22, 
1826; William, born August 25, 1782, married Polly W. Hally- 
burton, February 9, 1804; John, born September 26, 1784, mar- 
ried Lucy Goss, first, who died April 9, 1827, and then Polly 
Amos; he died February 29. 1868; Reuben, born September i, 

1787, married ; died August 14, 1834; Eliza, 

born February 22, 1790, and died August 3, 1790. The children 
of the Rev. William \V. Farthing were: Dudley, born Novem- 
ber 29, 1804. married Nancy Mast in 1831 ; he died July 8, 
1895, and she September 22, 1882; Patsy, born December 4, 
1805, married Thomas Shearer, an uncle of Robert Shearer; 
they moved to Kansas between 1850 and 1855 ; Nancy was born 
February 21, 1807, married Joseph Brown and went to Mis- 
souri; Reuben P., born June 28, 1808, married Sallie Brown, 
and died December 20, 1889; John Atkins, born July 21, 1809, 
married, first, Melissa Curtis, and, second, Keziah Farthing; 
William Brown, born December 20. 1810, and married Annie 
Kindle; Edward F., born April 30, 1812, and died May 3, 1812; 
Thomas, born May 9, 1813, married Ermine Hallyburton ; Annie 
Watkins, born September 5, 1814, married Wm. Young Farth- 
ing, father of W. S. Farthing; Harriet, born March 22, 1816, 
married James Brown, and died May 16, 1897; Mary Hervey, 
born February 21, 1818, married Hiram McBride, died May 26, 

A History of Watauga County 307 

1869; Abner Clopton, born October 6, 1819, and married Mary 
Narcissus Farthing; Paul, born April 17, 1821, married Rachel 
Farthing; he died in a Federal prison at Camp Chase in 1865; 
Stephen, born January 3, 1823, married Margaret Adams, and 
died January 25, 1882. Dudley Farthing's wife was Nancy, 
daughter of John Mast and Susan Harman, and she was born 
May 18, 1809. Their children were: William Judson, born 
February 6, 1832, and went to Texas in 1859, where he died 
unmarried September 10, 1865 ; Susan, born July 12, 1833, and 
is yet alive; James Martin, born July 25, 1835, and was killed 
December 13, 1862, in the battle of Fredericksburg, Va. ; Mary 
White, born January 9, 1837, married Newton Moore in i860 
and died May 11, 1914, in Virginia; Thomas Jefferson, born 
August, 13, 1838, never married, died of pneumonia at Lynch- 
burg May 21, 1862; John Young, born May 17, 1840, married 
Polly Farthing; Henry Harrison, born October 7, 1841, mar- 
ried Sarah Catharine Baker November 29, 1872; Martha B., 
born August 24, 1843, died in infancy; Joseph, born August 9, 
1844, died in infancy; Lewis Williams, born November 6, 1845, 
married Nancy McBride, daughter of Hiram ; Sarah Carolina, 
born January 31, 1849, married Warren Greene, first, and then 
Anderson Cable ; Wiley Hill, born March 23, 1850, married 
Rachel Louisa Farthing, sister of W. S. Farthing, and lives near 
Blountville, Tenn. ; Nancy Emeline, born January 6, 1852, and 
never married. John Farthing was a brother of Rev. William 
Watkins Farthing and a son of Dudley the first. He was born 
in Durham, then in Orange County, July 29, 1812, and in the 
fall of 1826 came with his brother, W. W., to Beaver Dams, but 
he lost his wife there and also his brother, W. W. John's first 
wife was Miss Lucy Goss, and he returned to Durham and 
married Polly Amos and came back to Watauga in 1831 and 
settled where Zionville now is, where he owned most of the land. 
The children by his first wife were: William Young, who mar- 
ried Ann W. Farthing; Dudley, who married Sarah Wilson; 
Sherman, who was killed by a tree near Zionville just before 
1840, thus preventing his expected marriage ; Nancy, who mar- 
ried W^m. Ferrall ; Rachel W., who married Paul Farthing, a 

3o8 A History of Watauga County 

son of W'm. F. Farthing; Mary Narcissus, who married Abner 
C. Farthing, a son of Wm. W. Farthing; Keziah, who married 
John A. Farthing, who Hved where W. S. Farthing now hves ; 
Lucy White, who never married ; Anne, who married Caswell 
King in Wake County, was an infant when her mother died in 
Watauga, and was taken back by her father, John Farthing, and 
reared by Keziah Cozart in Wake County. In her old age she 
came again to Watauga, where she died. 

The children by the second marriage were : Reuben, who 
married Ellen Wilson, first, and then a Miss Harman; Elijah, 
who married Amanda Oliver; John, who died when nineteen 
years of age; Sallie, who married John Adams. 

John Farthing's father was Dudley Farthing, who died in 
Wake, his wife having been Annie Watkins, whom he married 
February 2, 1778. The first Dudley Farthing had, beside Wil- 
liam Watkins and John, the following children : Reuben, who 
married a Miss Hargus, his descendants still living in and near 

The Farthings came originally from Wales to Pittsylvania 
County, Virginia, from which they went to Person County, 
North Carolina, where Annie Watkins was reared. The Rev. 
William W'atkins Farthing was a minister and traveled some 
for the old Missionary Society of North Carolina, which ante- 
dated the Baptist State Convention, and he was traveling and 
preaching when he first got acquainted with W'atauga County. 
His sons, Reuben, John A., Abner C. and Stephen J., were 
ministers, the two youngest having been ordained under author- 
ity of Bethel and the two elder under that of Cove Creek 
churches. Rev. J. Harrison Farthing, son of Abner C, is a 
minister, as are also Calvin S., son of Thomas; Robert Milton, 
a son of Calvin S., and he preaches in Tennessee, and Rev. L. 
Whitfield also preaches. 

Dudley Farthing was a son of Rev. W. W. Farthing; mar- 
ried Nancy Mast, a daughter of John Mast, who lived where 
Finley Mast now lives. He had been a member of the Ashe 
County court prior to the establishment of Watauga County, 
having been appointed in 1832 to fill out the term of Abram 


Judge of the Couit of Pleas and Quarter Sessions. 

A History of Watauga County 309 

Vanderpool, and from that time till the Constitution was changed 
in 1868 he was chairman of the Watauga Court of Pleas and 
Quarter Sessions. He presided with great dignity and adminis- 
tered his office with sound judgment and ability. No superior 
court judge who ever came to Watauga County presided over his 
court with more justness, impartiality or legal learning than 
Dudley Farthing. He was elected county commissioner after 
1868 and became chairman of the board. According to the 
recollection of his son, Col. Henry H. Farthing, there was reason 
to suspect that $1,000.00 of the county funds was missing, and 
Judge Farthing declared that at the next meeting that matter 
would be investigated. The court house was burned before that 
meeting and with it all the records except Deed Book F. He 
was born November 4, 1804, and died July 8, 1895. He was 
just twenty-two years old when he moved with his father to 
Watauga County. It is said that when corn was scarce he would 
not sell it for money, saying that a man with money could get 
it anywhere, but a man who had no money could get it only 
where he was known and his needs obvious. He lost little if 
anything by thus crediting his neighbors in distress. Dudley 
Farthing lived where Mrs. Susan Farthing lives now, in a frame 
house built about 1850, three-quarters of a mile southwest from 
Bethel Church. He and his wife are buried there, Stephen 
Farthing having inherited the W. W. Farthing home place and 
objected to additional interments in graveyard above the old 
home place. There is a graveyard which W. S. Farthing and 
others have used for burial of their relatives east from the old 
Farthing graveyard. 

Rev. L. Whitfield Farthing was a son of Reuben Pickett 
and grandson of W. W. Farthing. R. P. Farthing married 
Sarah Brown, a sister of Thomas Brown, below Three Forks 
in 1831. Their children were: Thomas Brown, who was born 
in 1833 and married Celia Greene; William Watkins, who was 
killed at Brandy Station, Va., in the Civil War; James Hervey, 
who was born about 1836 and married Lucretia Farthing, but 
moved West, where they died; L. W., who was born April 18, 
1838, and married Nancy Farthing in October, 1866; Joseph 

310 A History of Watauga County 

Elmore, who was born April i8, 1840, and married Mary Har- 
man ; Mary, born in 1842, but never married; Jesse, born in 
1844, but died when twenty or twenty-one years of age; John 
Watts, who was born February 15, 1848, and married Adeline 
Rivers in 1876. 

Rev. Reuben P. Farthing was the son of Rev. William Wat- 
kins Farthing and his wife, Phcebe. lie was born June 28, 
1808; married Sallie Brown, and died December 20, 1889. He 
was early admitted to the ministry of the Baptist Church and 
preached for nearly all his adult years, literally "without money 
and without price." He was one of the foremost educators of 
his day, and did much for the advancement of the religious and 
educational status of the people of Watauga County. He an- 
swered every call from all who needed his aid and assistance. 
His life was one of devotion to duty. When he died the late 
Major Harvey Bingham paid a tribute to his worth and excel- 
lence of which any man might well have been proud. This was 
published in one of our newspapers and is preserved by the 
family as a sacred memorial of a great and good man, for in it 
was said that, while not a college graduate, Reuben Farthing 
was nevertheless a highly educated and very learned man, hav- 
ing unaided and alone dug out from the classics and from scien- 
tific books a store of knowledge that was not only abundant, but 
practical. A distinguished visitor to his home was struck by his 
erudition, and was surprised to learn that he had acquired it all 
by dint of hard work and unremitting study. 

Franklin Family. — Levi Franklin was the father of Lawson 
A., and resided at what is now Altamont on Linville River when 
that was a part of Watauga County. His sister married Leroy 
McCanless, who is now a resident of Florence, Colorado, and a 
brother of D. Colvard McCanless. Rev. William Colvard 
Franklin, of Altamont, bears part of his name, and is now about 
sixty years of age. 

Gragg Family. — \\'illiam Gragg w-as of Irish descent and set- 
tled, first, in West \^irginia, from which he came with his wife, 
born Elizabeth Pulliam, to John's River, Caldwell County, soon 
after the Revolutionary War, in which he had been a soldier 

A History of Watauga County 31 1 

under Washington, having fought from the first to the last 
battle of the war. Their children were: John, born September 
7, 1781, in Virginia; WilHam, Obediah, Robert, James, Benja- 
min, Susan and Elizabeth. Of these, John married, first, Eliza- 
beth Majors, and, second, Susannah Barrier. The children by 
the first marriage were: Tilmon, John, Tipton, Major, Ehsha, 
Nelson and Hamilton. Those by the second marriage were 
Harvey, Empsey, Alexander and William Waightstill. There 
was one daughter by the first marriage, Nicie, and six by the 
second, Irene, Elvira, Margaret, Eliza and twins, Adeline and 

William married Celia Boone, a grandniece of Daniel; Obe- 
diah married Elizabeth Webb; Robert married Rhoda Hum- 
phrey; James married Nancy Humphrey; Benjamin married 
Nancy Dyer ; Susan married Isaac Green ; Elizabeth married 
Alfred Pritchett. 

Tilmon married, first, Hila Layell, and, second, Jane McNeely ; 
John married a Miss Morris in Georgia; Tipton married Rachel 
Greene; Major married Celia Wilson, first, and Polly Ollis, 
second ; Elisha married Selina Piercey ; Nelson married Violet 
Greene ; Hamilton married, first, a Cobb, then a House, and, 
third, Martha Strickland, and Harvey married Melinda Mc- 
Leard. Empsey married Serena Ford, first, and then Susan 
Barrier; Alexander married Carolina Munday; William W. 
married Martha McGhinnis, first, and, second, a lady in the 
State of Washington. 

Nicie married James Calloway; Irene married Samuel Bar- 
rier ; Elvira married Wiley Holtsclaw ; Adeline married W. W. 
Pressly; Carolina married Madison Gragg; Margaret married 
Archibald Quails ; Eliza died young and unmarried. 

Greene Family. — From "The Greene Family of Watauga," by 
Rev. G. W. Greene, we learn that the first Greene to come to 
America came from Wiltshire, England, to Massachusetts about 
1635. His name was John, but he was a Quaker and soon joined 
Roger Williams in Rhode Island, and from him in the fifth 
generation sprang Gen. Nathaniel Greene, of the Revolution. 
Early in the eighteenth century one branch of this family went 

312 A History of Watauga County 

to New York State and settled near Brooklyn, but soon passed 
on to New Jersey, where many of its members became promi- 
nent. But about the middle of the eighteenth century Jeremiah 
Greene came to North Carolina with the Jersey settlers and 
bought 541 acres of land on the waters of Pee Dee, near Lin- 
wood. This was about 1762. Jeremiah's son, Isaac, and him- 
self remained in the Jersey settlement, but "Stephen Greene, who 
was probably a younger son of Jeremiah Greene, in 1784 settled 
in the Forks of the Yadkin, and has left in Davie County a large 
and honorable progeny." Soon after the Revolution three sons 
and two daughters of Jeremiah Greene left the Jersey Settle- 
ment and moved to what is now Watauga, then a part of Wilkes. 
These brothers were Richard, Jeremiah and John, all then mar- 
ried, as were their sisters, Joanna, to Landrine Eggers, and 
Sarah, to a man named Wilson. Richard, the eldest, settled at 
Blowing Rock and was accompanied by his father-in-law, an old 
man named Sullivan. He brought a tombstone with him and 
died February 27, 1794. His coffin was hewed out of a poplar 
tree when the wood was frozen hard. The stone still stands in 
the graveyard of the German Reformed Church, one mile from 
Blowing Rock. This is the inscription : 

E. E. S 1794. 
It will be noticed that the S is upside down. But, according to 
Mr. Greene's sketch, the inscription is: 

F 27 

If he is right, then F probably stands for February and 27 for 
the day of that month on which he died. 

The brothers, Jeremiah and John, settled in the middle or the 
eastern part of the county, while the sisters, Mr. Greene thinks, 
probably lived nearer the borders of Tennessee, which is true 
of the one who married Landrine Eggers, at least, and possibly 
of the other also, according to the Wilson she married. Richard 
Greene's children were eight in number, the first five of whom 
had twelve each, two others had ten each, while one had to be 
contented with seven. Jeremiah Greene, whose wife was Polly 
Wiseman, an aunt of J. W. Wiseman, of Farmington, had 


Judge of the Superior Court. 

A History of Watauga County 313 

eleven children, his oldest son, Isaac, living to be seventy-nine 
years old. At his death he counted eleven children, 102 grand- 
children and 100 great-grandchildren. Isaac's son, Solomon, 
lived to be quite old, eighty-five, and had twenty-one children, 
160 grandchildren and 160 great-grandchildren, and two or three 
of the fifth generation. This was in 1886, and he lived two or 
three years longer. His eldest sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Norris, 
was then ninety-two years old. John "Moccasin" Greene with 
part of his family moved to Mitchell, then a part of Burke, while 
his brother moved to Rutherford. John "Moccasin" died in 
Madison County in 1852 when more than ninety years old. The 
most noted member of the family was Judge L. L. Greene, of the 
Superior Court, of whom a sketch is given below. 

Judge Leonidas L. Greene. — He was born in Watauga 
County, at Blowing Rock, on the nth day of November, 1845, 
and was elected judge of the Superior Court in 1896 and served 
till his death in 1898. He was a son of Robert Greene and his 
wife, Chaney Elrod. He was a consummate politician and man- 
aged party affairs adroitly. On March i, 1876, he married 
Martha Horton, a daughter of Col. Jack Horton, who survives 
him. Judge Greene's portrait hangs over the judge's desk in 
the county court house in Boone. He left two children, Albina, 
who inarried Frank Mandefield, of Duluth, and Wilhelmetta, 
unmarried. Judge Greene was also United States commissioner. 
He was considered a good lawyer and enjoyed a large practice. 
He was a good neighbor and well liked. 

Greer Family. — Benjamin Greer was a soldier of the Revo- 
lution. His wife was a Miss Wilcox, and their children were: 
John, who married Nancy Owen ; William, who married Hannah 
Cartright and died when 103 years of age; Jesse, who married 
Mary Morris ; Thomas, who married a Ketron ; James, who 
married a Hampton ; David, who married Nancy Hodges ; 
Samuel, who married Sallie Church ; Joshua, who married Jennie 
Church ; Rachel, who married Robert Judd and moved to Ken- 
tucky ; Ann, who married Thomas Holman and went West. 

Benjamin Greer married a second time, after the death of his 
first wife, Mrs. Sallie Atkinson Jones, widow of Thomas Jones, 

314 ^ History of Watauga County 

who died from a wound received in the Revolution. She reared 
children by both husbands. They moved to Green River, Ky., 
where he died in 1810. Samuel Greer has three children living 
here: Elizabeth Hendrix, now ninety-four years of age; Finley 
Greer, ninety-two years of age ; Riley Greer, ninety years old. 

Mary Ray Greer was born September 22, 1813, and died 
March 26, 1906, at the Critcher hotel. Her grave is in the ceme- 
tery at Boone. She was the daughter of William Ray, of Elk 
Creek, above Todd, and the wife of Thomas Greer. Her 
daughter, Jennie, married J. L. Phillips, while Evelyn became 
the wife of George Grubb; JMartha the wife of Julius Elliott, 
of Rowan, and Millie the wife of Thos. J. Coffey. Her son, 
Larkin, was killed in the Civil War. The latter was about to 
marry Sarah Ferguson, of Aleat Camp, when he was at home 
once during the Civil War on furlough, and was on the way to 
the magistrate's to be married when they were met by her sister, 
Martha Ann, who faced them about and prevented the marriage. 
Sarah afterwards married Zachariah Moretz. Martha Ann 
never married. 

The Grider Family. — John Grider married Agnes Flowers in 
1844 and their children were: Adolphus, killed in Civil War; 
Mary, born in 1848 and married George P. Sherrill ; Sarah, who 
married Duke Glenn, and Martha, who married Monroe Harman. 
John's father was John, who married Nancy Gibbs, of Alexan- 
der County, and their children were: William, who married 
Amanda Rector after the death of his first wife; Cameline, who 
married ; Rufus, who married Betsy White ; Wiley, who mar- 
ried Malinda ; Sally, who did not marry, and Betsy, 

who did not marry ; Pinckney, who married Becky Pool. All 
these lived in Alexander County, near Taylorsville. 

Grubb Family. — The first of this family were a Grubb and 
his wife who started from Germany with their children, but the 
parents died at sea. Their sons, George and John, married two 
sisters of the name of Leonard and went to Indiana, while 
Henry, another son, married a Miss Michael, first, and then a 
Miss IMcBride ; Jacob married Susannah Hedrick ; Conrad and 
David were twins, David marrying a Young and Conrad a 

A History of Watauga County 315 

Hedrick; Frederick married a Gordon; Daniel married a 
Thistle, first, and then a Miss Grubb, and Jacob, whose son, 
John, married Martha, a daughter of John Morphew. 

Hagaman Family. — Thomas Hagaman married Sarah Reese, 
and their children were: John, who married Mary Shoun; 
Hamilton, who was killed in the Civil War; M. Granville, who 
married Mary Winkler, a daughter of Joshua; Thomas, who 
married a Miss Blackwelder; Joseph, who married a Crawford; 
Louisa, who married Captain A. J. Critcher; James Roby, who 
married a Crocker of Lincolnton, and Epsey, who married 
Jerome IMoretz. Joseph Hagaman was a brother of Thomas, 
but never married. Thomas was born, according to his tomb- 
stone on Brushy Fork, in 1810, and died about 1876. Isaac 
Hagaman married Joanna Reese, and his son, Hugh, married 
Elizabeth Wilson, daughter of Alexander. Their children were: 
Smith, who married Blanche Sherrill; Millard, who married 
Grace Isaacs ; Emmett, who married Florence Cook ; America, 
who married Wm. Smith ; Ennis, who married Roy Dotson ; 
Alice, who married Ellis Moody, and Nancy, not married. Isaac 
Hagaman was the father of Theron, who married, first, a Greene, 
a sister of Jeremy on Cove Creek, and, second, Mary Dougherty, 
daughter of Elijah and sister of D. B. Dougherty. The children 
by the first marriage were : Rev. Jacob G., who married Helen 
Hayes; Brazilla C, who married Dilly Scott, and W. Jasper, 
who married Amanda Wilson, daughter of Alexander. Chil- 
dren of the second marriage were : Raleigh, who died at about 
twenty years of age, was unmarried ; Isaac Hagaman, Jr., mar- 
ried Hilah Dougherty and moved away long ago, their three 
children, Annie, John and Carey, living near Asheville for awhile 
and then moving to South Carolina. Jacob Hagaman, son of 
Theron, had the following children : George, who married Mar- 
garet Sherrill, and Cora, who married Lee Quails and lives in 
Tennessee. John Hagaman, son of Isaac, had the following 
children : Alexander, who married Anna Farthing ; Daniel, 

who married Mary Harmon ; Hugh, who married ; 

Thomas, who married ; Francis, who married a 

Gambill; also two daughters, names not recalled by informant. 

3i6 A History of Watauga County 

Hardin Family. — Henry Hardin came from England and set- 
tled in Pennsylvania. His sons were : W'ilburn, John and 
Richard. His daughter was named Catharine. 

Wilburn married and lived on Beaver Creek, Ashe County. 
His children were : John, who married a Ray ; Joseph, who 
married ; Martin, who married a Haw- 
thorne ; Marcus, who married ; William, 

wiio married , and Catharine, who mar- 
ried a Burkett, who was killed in the Civil War. 

John, who lived at the old Hardin place east of Boone, mar- 
ried Charlotte, sister of the first Jordan Council!. On a tomb- 
stone in the Boone cemetery is found : "Charlotte Hardin, born 
April i6, 1795, died November i, 1843." Their children were: 
Henry W., born December 29, 1821, died January 11, 1904; 
his wife was Nancy Lucinda Horton, born May 2y, 1824, died 
March 8, 1909; Sarah, who married George Snider; Martha, 
who married John Snider; Elizabeth, who married John Powell, 
and Jordan C, who married Julia Williams. 

Richard married a Ray(?) and settled on Beaver Creek in 
Ashe County. Their children were: Hence, wdio married an 
Oliver ; Frank, who married Rhoda Howell ; George, who mar- 
ried a Ray ; Catharine, who married a Graybeal ; John, who 
married a Goodman, and Ida, who married a Reeves. 

Catharine, who married Thomas Sudderth, settled in Cald- 
well County. Their children were : Wilburn, Tolliver and John. 

Henry C. Hardin's children were: James H., born October 
19, 1847, married Emma Sutherland; John F., born February i, 
1850, married Martha H. Councill ; William H., born February 
13, 1852, married Sarah Wilkler; Jordan C, born May 17, 1854, 
married Nannie Kitzmiller; H. Joseph, born October 24, 1857, 
married Alice McRary ; L. Cornelia, born April 19, 1859, mar- 
ried, first, Wm. Church, and then John Snider; Ida B., who was 
born October 13, 1862, and married Wm. Spainhour. 

Harman Family. — In 1791 CutliflF Harman came from Ran- 
dolph County and bought 522 acres of land on Cove Creek from 
James Gwyn, to whom it had been granted August 6, 1791, ac- 
cording to Maiden C. Harman in Watauga Democrat of April, 

A History of Watauga County 317 

Cutliff married Susan Fouts, and was about ninety years of 
age when he died in 1838, his wife having died several years 
before, and he having married Elizabeth Parker, a widow. He 
had ten children by his first marriage; none by his second. 
Among his children were: Mary, who married Bedent Baird; 
Andrew, who married Sabra Hix; Eli, who married the widow 
Rhoda Dyer (born Dugger) ; Mathias, who married and moved 
to Indiana; Catherine, who married Benjamin Ward, and went 
west; Rebecca, who married Frank Adams and moved to In- 
diana; Rachel, who married Holden Davis; Sarah, who mar- 
ried John Mast; Nancy, who married Thomas Curtis; Rev. 
D. C. Harman was a son of Eli Harman and was born April 17, 
1826, and died December 23, 1904. 

Hartley Family. — Waightstill Hartley came to America from 
Shropshire, England, in 1740, and settled near Frederick, Md. 
His children were: John, who married Elizabeth Becket; 
Mahala, who married John Dinwiddie, and Nancy, who married 
David Tucker. It is said that Elizabeth nursed Thomas Jeffer- 
son. John Hartley had seven children : Nancy, who married 
George Tucker; Elizabeth, who married General Wilson; Ava, 
who did not marry ; Finley, who married Sarah Brooks ; George, 
who married Elizabeth Davis; James, who married Anna Mc- 
Crary; Reuben, who married Jane Fullenwider, John Hartley 
was a weaver and died in Virginia, after which his family came 
to North Carolina in 1783, finally settling in Rowan, while 
others of the connection settled in Caldwell and Burke. George 
had six children: Clinton, Larkin, George, Alfred, Waightstill 
and Mahala. George Hartley, Sr., was a saddle and harness 
maker. He died in 1834, aged seventy-two. Clinton never mar- 
ried. He was a colonel of the militia and sheriff of Burke and 
one of the commissioners who located Lenoir. He was a Whig, 
and died at the age of ninety-five. Larkin never married. He 
was a blacksmith and a great hunter, and died at the age of fifty- 
three. George married Catharine Fincannon, and they had five 
children: Rufus, Jason, John, Polly and Mahala. Rufus mar- 
ried Piety Kirby, and they had four children: Jason married 
Sarah Ann, daughter of Waightstill Hartley ; Polly, daughter of 

2,1 S A History of Watauga County 

John W. Hartley, married W. W. Sherrill, and her son, George 
P. Sherrill, now lives on Beaver Dams, Watauga County. 

Hayes Family. — Ransom Hayes died in March, 1868, aged 
about sixty-three years. He married Sallie Greene, daughter of 
Joseph. Joseph Green had married Elizabeth, daughter of Rob- 
ert Shearer, Sr. Ransom Hayes' children were: i. Joseph, who 
died in 191 1, aged about seventy-five, on Brushy Fork. He 
married Eliza, daughter of Larkin Hodges, of Poplar Grove. 
His son, Joseph, now lives there. 2. Elizabeth, who married 
Thomas Storie, son of Joshua, and died in 1875. 3. Robert, who 
married Rebecca Hately, daughter of William, who lived about 
Watauga Falls postofifice. 4. John, who married Eliza Cook, 
daughter of Rev. John Cook, of Vergil. John died in the army 
at Richmond, Va. His widow is still living. Their one son, 
John Lee, was one of the builders of Blowing Rock. 5. William, 
who married Benjamin Brown's daughter, Clorinda, and lived 
near Todd. William lived near Poplar Grove, but went first to 
Tennessee and then to Oregon, where he died about 1900. 
6. Thomas, who was killed in the second battle of Manassas in 
the 37th North Carolina regiment. He never married. 7. Nancy, 
who married Harvey Dougherty, of Johnson County, Tennes- 
see. He was a brother of D. B. Dougherty. Nancy died in 
Blount County, Tennessee, in May, 1913. 8. Sarah, who mar- 
ried W. L. Bryan December 12, 1865. They moved to Meat 
Camp in 1865 within a mile of Soda Hill, where farming was 
carried on till the fall of 1868, when they returned to Boone. 
9. George, who married, first, Emily, daughter of Riley and 
Violet Hodges, and, second, Louisa Bumgarner, of Howard's 
Creek. They live near Boone. 10. Ransom, who was born in 
1846 and married a lady in Texas. He died in 1910, his wife 
having died several years before. They had two daughters, one 
of whom died young and without having married, and the other, 
Nannie, now Mrs. Yeagel, lives in Dallas, Texas. 11. Richard, 
born about May, 1849, and married Delphia Hayes, a distant 
cousin, of Caldwell County. After having lived in Mitchell 
County, they returned to Caldwell and now reside in the Globe. 

Hodges Family. — Thomas Hodges came from Virginia and 
settled at Hodges Gap, two miles west of Boone, during the 

A History of Watauga County 319 *"ji/^ 

Revolutionary War. J!e was a Tory. His family came with 
him. His son, Gilbert, married Robert Shearer's daughter. 
Robert died about 1845. 

Gilbert Hodges lived where I. W. Gross now lives, about one- 
half mile east of Hodges Gap. His children were: i. Thomas, 
who married Mary Ingraham. 2. Robert, who died in the sum- 
mer of 1914 near Hodges Gap, at the home of George Teague, 
who had married his niece. His wife was Peggy Ingraham. 
3. Holland, who was born July 18, 1827, and still lives near 
the place of his birth. In 1856 he helped Jordan McGhee kill 
432 rattlesnakes on Rich Mountain. 4. Riley, who is still alive 
and lives on the waters of Laurel Fork. He married Violet 
Moody, of Watauga. 5. Elizabeth, who married Edward Claw- 
son, her cousin. 6. Louisa, who married John Greene. He was 
killed in the Civil War. She afterwards married John Dough- 
erty, who still lives, having married Martha Cook after the death 
of his first wife. 7. Larkin, who married Miss Eliza Gragg, 
a daughter of John Gragg, who lived where David F. Baird now 
lives at Valle Crucis. Larkin Hodges lives in Buncombe 

William Hodges lived a quarter of a mile east of the cabin in Jpi 
which Jacob M. Councill was killed by Stoneman's men in ^^'***^TV 
March, 1865. That cabin is still called the Mark Hodges house, /W ' 

as William's son, Mark, built it. It is almost due north from /*^ 
Benjamin Councill's present residence. William was a brother ^ 4^^ ^^ 
of Gilbert Hodges, and married a Miss Mullins, sister of Jesse ♦ ""•"^ 
Mullins, who was a great hunter and lived on the South Fork ^ l^ 

of New River three miles from Boone. His children were: 
I. Larkin, a preacher, who married Miss Polly Moody. 2. 
Adam, who married twice. He lived and died in Knox County, 
Tennessee. 3. William, who married Miss Morris, of New 
River, and lived near Todd. 4. John or Jack, who married 
Fanny Morris, sister of William's wife, and lived near Boone. 

5. Burton, who married Miss Northern and lives in Tennessee. 

6. Jesse, who married and lives in Knox County, Tennessee. 

7. Demarcus, who married a Miss Calloway, daughter of Isom 
Calloway, who lived on Elk above Todd. 8. A daughter, who 

320 A History of Watauga County 

married Solomon Green. 9. Sallie, who married Rev. John 
Cook, son of Michael, Sr. 10. Delphia, wlio married Adam 
Cook, brother of John. 

Jesse Hodges was a brother of William and Gilbert, and 
married Polly Clawson. He lived a mile and a half north of 
Soda Hill, at the head of Little Grassy Crock. His children 
were: Frank, who married Nancy Ingraham ; William, who 
married Nancy Triplett; Elbert, who married Katie Davis; 
Larkin, who died young and unmarried ; Jack, who was killed 
by bushwhackers during the Civil War; Thomas, who died in 
the Confederate army unmarried; Patsy, who married Jesse 
Stanberry ; Cynthia, who married Edmund Blackburn ; Eliza- 
beth, who married Jacob Jones, first, and then Captain William 
Miller, son of Hon. David Miller, and moved to Middle Ten- 
nessee, where they died. Jones, her first husband, was lost in 
the Confederate army; Nancy, who married Thomas Griever, 
of Johnson County, Tennessee. 

Jesse Hodges sold his farm to David Lookabill about 1858 
and moved to Johnson County, Tennessee, where he and his son, 
Jack or John, were killed by renegades in the Civil War. 

HoltzclaMT Family." — James T. Holtzclaw came from Ger- 
many and settled first in Virginia, near what is now Gordons- 
ville, about 1735 or 1740, where John Holtzclaw was born, and 
his brothers, Henry, William, Joseph and Benjamin. John 
Ploltzclaw served in the Revolutionary War under a Captain 
Lewis, after which he settled on Watauga River, near Valle 
Crucis, where he married Catharine Hicks (sometimes spelt 
Hix). Their children were: John Hicks, Henry, Benjamin, 
Marcus and William, Agnes and Nancy. Of these, John mar- 
ried Lurana Dugger and lived on Banner's Elk ; John Hicks 
married Sallie Plartley and lived near Watauga River; Henry 
moved to Albany on the Ohio River below Louisville, Ky. ; 
Joseph moved to Alabama and settled near what is now Bir- 
mingham ; Benjamin married Nancy Hately and settled on 
waters of Watauga River; Marcus married Lena Green and 
settled on Brushy Fork four miles west of Boone; William 

' This was the original spelling, but it came to be spelt Holtsclaw. 

A History of Watauga County 321 

married a Miss Smith and lived near Cranberry Forge; Agnes 
married William Dugger and lived in Johnson County, Tennes- 
see; Nancy married James Morgan and lived in Ashe till the 
death of her husband, when she moved to Tennessee. To John 
Holtzclaw and Lurana was born one son, Rufus, and to Benja- 
min Holtzclaw and Nancy were born Wiley, Rufus, William and 
Sally. To Marcus and Laura were born Pemberton, Crawford 
and Wesley, Catharine, Agnes and Lena, and by Marcus' third 
wife, whose name was Elizabeth Munday, were born Thomas 
C, Lafayette, Eliza, Mary, Laura and Nancy. Pemberton mar- 
ried Catharine Pharr and lived in Haywood County, North 
Carolina; John Wesley married Martha Williams and made his 
home mostly in Watauga County; Thomas C. married Carrie 
Munday, first, and, second, a Miss Cairns, and lives in Transyl- 
vania, N. C. 

Horton Family. — Nathan Horton settled in Rowan, near the 
Jersey Settlement, but afterwards moved to a farm near Hol- 
man's Ford in Wilkes County. Then he came to Cook's Gap 
in the Blue Ridge, the very gap through which Daniel Boone, 
in May, 1769, had passed on his first trip to Kentucky. With 
Horton came also his own wife and William Miller and wife, 
Mary, and their son, David Miller, and Ebenezer Fairchild and 
family. Horton went into a hunter's camp at Cook's Gap, 
Miller into another hunter's camp at Buck's Gap, while Fair- 
child went on to what is now called Howard's Creek. All these 
became members of Three Forks Baptist Church, which had 
been organized in November, 1790. There is a tradition in the 
Horton family to the effect that the camp into which Nathan 
went belonged to Richard Green, and that on one occasion, when 
the fire went out and Mrs. Horton went to a neighbor's several 
miles distant to get some live coals, she found this Green in pos- 
session of this camp, which was their first acquaintance with 
each other. But there are among the Fairchild papers receipts 
from Jonathan Tompkins,' tax collector for 1780, showing that 
he collected taxes in this settlement at that early date. There 
is also a knob of the Blue Ridge, near Deep Gap, which bears his 

* Wm. Temple Coles collected taxes from E. Fairchild in 1769. 

322 A History of Watauga County 

name. There is also a tradition that the Greens were members 
of the Jersey Settlement, and that James Jackson, William 
Miller, the three Bucks, Tompkins and Horton himself were 
members of the Jersey Settlement. They were all members of 
the Three Forks Church between 1790 and 1800, and the proba- 
bility seems that Richard Green told Horton where his camp was 
and invited him to take possession of it and that Buck extended 
the same invitation to Miller with regard to his own camp near 
by. Nathan Horton lost his little daughter, Hannah, at Hagers- 
town, Md., on his way from New Jersey, she having sickened 
and died there. William Horton was an infant in arms when the 
family arrived at Cook's Gap, and he became the grandfather of 
Hon. Horton Bower, afterwards member of Congress, William 
having married Millie Dula and settled at Elkville, Wilkes 
County. James, another of Nathan's sons, married a daughter 
of James Webb and settled where Noah Brooksher now lives on 
South Fork of New River, half a mile below Three Forks 
Church. David Eagles, named for his mother, who was born 
Elizabeth Eagles, married Sallie Dula and settled one mile above 
Elkville. Phineas, another son, married Rebecca Councill, 
daughter of the first Jordan Councill, and settled on the land now 
occupied by J. C. Horton, his house having stood in the bottom 
in front of J. C. Horton's present home, though Phineas after- 
wards built a log house on the ridge, just above the present 
J. C. Horton home. Sarah and John, two of Nathan's children, 
died when children, while Jonathan, another of Nathan's sons, 
married Malinda Hartzog and settled where R. F. Vannoy now 
lives. Elizabeth, daughter of Nathan, married Zephaniah Hor- 
ton, of Yancey County. 

William Horton, of Elkville. had eleven children. 

James Horton's children were: Colonel Jack, who married, 
first, Rebecca Mast, and then ]\Iary Swift; Lucinda, who mar- 
ried Henry W. Hardin and lived where Joseph Hardin now 
lives ; Elvira, who married Mathias Bledsoe near Todd ; Eveline, 
who married Hamilton Ray, of Roan Mountain Station, Tenn. ; 
William, who married a Shull and lived on Cove Creek, after- 
wards removing to Roan Creek, Tenn. ; Polly, who married 
Thomas Ray, of Three Tops, Ashe County. 

Photo, by Vest. 


A History of Watauga County 323 

The children of David Eagles Horton were: Thomas, who 
married Clara Perkins and lived in Burke; David, who married 
Jane Young, of Yancey, and now lives on the Yadkin one mile 
from Elkville ; Adeline, who m.arried C. P. Jones and lives on 
the Yadkin above Elkville; Larkin L., who married Louisa 
Isbell and lived on King's Creek; John and Jane died unmar- 
ried; James, who married Rosa Lynch, of Yadkin County; 
Louisa, who married James M. Isbell, of King's Creek. 

Phineas' children were: William, who married Rebecca Blair 
and settled at the J. C. Horton place ; Nathan, who married 
Juliette Gentry, of Jefiferson, and settled on the opposite side of 
New River from the J. C. Horton place; Jonathan and James 
died in the Civil War. 

Jonathan Horton had no children and died in Boone Novem- 
ber 24, 1895. His widow, Malinda, died April 17, 1911. 

Elizabeth's children were : Nathan, James and David, and 
lived near Burnsville, Yancey County. 

The children of William, son of Phineas Horton, were : James 
Crittenden, who married Mary Elrod, of New River; Jonathan 
Blair, who married Miss Smith, of Elkin ; Julia, who died un- 
married; Wm. Phineas, who married Emma Wyn, of Warren 
County, North Carolina ; Emma, who married Lewis P. Moore, 
of High Point; Addie Elizabeth, who married J. S. Winkler, of 
Boone; Henry Walter, who married Susan Usher, of Charlotte, 
and lives in North Wilkesboro ; Sallie Hill, who died when eight 
years old. 

Col. Jack Horton's children were: James W., who married 
a Miss Councill, and David, who married a Miss Mast, and 
Mattie, who married Judge L. L. Greene. 

Col. Nathsn Horton was born at Chester, N. J., February 25, 
1757, and m.arried Elizabeth Eagles in New York City July 10, 
1783. She was a daughter of John Eagles. Nathan and wife 
removed to North Carolina about 1785. Elizabeth Eagles was 
born in New York City December i, 1766, and Hannah, their 
first child, was born at Chester, N. J., October 15, 1784; William, 
their second child, was born on New River August 15, 1786; 
James was born there February 28, 1789; David Eagles was 

324 A History of Watauga County 

born there May 5, 1792, as was Phineas January 9, 1795; Sarah 
was born September 19, 1794; John was born June 11, 1800; 
EHzabeth, September 15, 1803; Jonathan, February 26, 1806. 
Mahnda, Jonathan's wife, was born May 10, 1820. Col. Nathan 
Horton died on New River July 22, 1824, and his wife died 
there May 19, 1854. Nathan Horton bought in Richmond, V^a., 
in 1803. a negro boy fourteen years of age, and \'inie, a girl, 
eleven years old. Vinie's first child was born in 1806 when Vinie 
was only fourteen years old. This child was named Tempe. 
Among J. C. Horton's heirlooms is a grandfather clock seven 
feet high, with a mahogany case and a face showing the rising 
and setting of the moon, a hand to mark all the seasons and 
several other devices. This was Nathan Horton's property, 
which he hauled all the way from New Jersey to North Carolina 
on his journey down. There is still in the family a shot gun or 
rifle with a bore capable of chambering three buck shot, on top 
of which a bullet the size of the barrel was rammed home en- 
cased in buckskin, thus making a load that was apt to "git 'em, 
both a-goin' and a-comin'." It has a flint-lock, and it was used 
by Nathan in guarding Major Andre when the latter was exe- 
cuted as a spy. Col. Nathan Horton was buried in Three Forks 
churchyard, and on his tombstone is carved the fact that he was 
a soldier of the Revolutionary War. He was several times in the 
legislature, and built the wagon road through Cook's Gap and 
on the Beaver Dams, called Horton's Turnpike. 

Horton Family Genealogy. — In 1876 the Home Circle Pub- 
lishing Company, Philadelphia, Pa., published the "Horton 
Genealogy, or Chronicles of the Descendants of Barnibas Hor- 
ton, of Southold, L. I., 1640." It was compiled by George F. 
Horton, M. D. There is a picture of the old Horton homestead, 
erected by Barnibas Horton, Esq., in 1660, and was still standing 
at Southold, L. I., in June, 1873. Barnabas was probably the 
son of Joseph Horton, of Leicestershire, England, and was born 
in the little hamlet of Mouseley of that shire. He came over 
in the ship "Swallow" in 1633-38 and landed at Hampton, Mass., 
but in 1640 he and his wife and two children were in New 
Haven, Conn., in company with Rev. John Youngs. \Vm. Welles, 

A History of Watauga County 325 

Peter Hollock, John Tuthill, Richard Terry, Thomas- Mapes, 
Mathias Corwin, Robert Ackerly, Jacob Corey, John Conkhn, 
Isaac Arnold and John Budd. There, on the 21st day of Octo- 
ber, 1640, they formed a Congregational Church and sailed for 
the east end of Long Island, now Southold. They had all been 
members of Puritan churches in England. These were the first 
to settle the east end of Long Island. The genealogy of the 
family is then traced down to 1876 and includes the North Caro- 
lina family whose history has been given above. 

Ingram Family. — David Ingram was reared in New England, 
from which section he came to North Carolina before anyone 
now living remembers. He married a Miss Frieze from near 
Winston-Salem. His son, Jacob, was born near Jefferson and 
married Peggy, daughter of John Greene, who then lived half a 
mile from Sand's Postoffice, Watauga County. John Ingram, 
son of Jacob, was born on New River one mile from Sands 
December 24, 1823. John Greene, father of Jacob's wife, was a 
soldier of the Revolutionary War. Besides John, Jacob had a 
son, Richard, who died in Texas during the Civil War unmar- 
ried, and Susan, who married Daniel Miller, of Ashe; Eliza, 
who married Ben. Greer; Mary, who married Thomas Hodges; 
Hannah, who married Isaac Greer; John, who married, first, 
Martha Ray, of Ashe, and, second, Louisa Gragg, widow of 
Edward Hodges; Nancy, who married Franklin Hodges, and 
Peggy, who married Robert Hodges. 

Isaacs Family. — Richard Isaacs was the first of this family 
and came from Ireland about 1790, and his wife was a Miss 
Robbins, of Randolph County, from which place he moved to 
settle in the Cherokee country, but when he got to Morganton 
he heard of Watauga River and especially of Cove Creek, when 
he came through Linville Gap up Elk and Beech Mountain to 
Hiram Hix's ford of Watauga, from which place he struck up 
Cove Creek to the Cove Creek Church, where Wm. Williams' 
family now lives, close to the old graveyard. Their children 
were: James, born 1791, married Rachel Reese; Richard, born 
1793, married Lily Swift; Solomon, born 1795, April ist, and 
married Lily Giles, first, and, after her death, Sarah Eggers, a 

326 A History of Watauga County 

daughter of Hugh Eggers ; Massy and Mary, twins, born in 
1789, of whom Massy married Samuel Swift and Mary a man 
named Massagee, but they left this section and went west before 
Hugh M. Isaacs was born. 

Solomon was married twice. The children by his first wife 
were: Elijah, who married Sally Hartly; Pegg>', who married 
Milton Davis ; William, who married a Norris in Missouri. 
His second wife's children were: Hugh M., born May 13, 1839, 
and married, first, Nancy Thompson, and, second, Leona Pres- 
nell; Martha, born June 17, 1841, and married, first, John 
Wilson, who was killed at Chickamauga, and, second, Sherman 
Swift; Solomon, born June 2, 1845, ^"d Richard, born August 
15, 1847. Hugh M. joined Company I, 58th North Carolina; 
William Miller, captain, and Fred. Toby, adjutant. 

Walter W. Lenoir. — He was born in Caldwell County about 
1823 and died at Shull's IMills, Watauga County, July 26, 1890. 
He graduated with high honors at the North Carolina Uni- 
versity, studied law and was admitted to tlie bar in 1845, and 
married Miss Corneha Christian, of Staunton, Va., in 1856, but 
she died soon afterward. He lost a leg in the Civil War at the 
battle of Ox Hill, September, 1862. He was a descendant of 
Gen. William Lenoir, a lieutenant in Rutherford's expedition 
against the Cherokees in 1776; w^as a captain at King's Mountain 
battle ; was first president of the board of trustees of the Uni- 
versity of North Carolina; was president of the Senate in 
1790-94; was a member of the constitutional conventions of 
1788-89; was chairman of the county court of Wilkes; was 
major-general of militia." 

Lewis Family. — The sons of Richard Lewis the first were: 
Jacob, who married Hannah Waters and lived on Yadkin Elk. 
Their children were: i. Betsy, who married Abraham Younce; 
Allie, who married Charles Hayse ; Nancy, who married Abra- 
ham Lewas ; Sallie, wdio married Jacob Council. 2. Daniel, who 
married Sallie Allen, their children being: James, who went to 
Texas in 1840; David, grandfather of P. C. Younce. By his 
second wife (Betsy Vanderpool) Daniel Lewis had Abraham, 

* Note by Dr. K. P. Battle, of U. N. C, pp. 40-41, No. 6, of Sprunt Hist. 
Monograph series. 

A History of Watauga County 327 

and John, who went to Texas in 1840; Richard, who went to 
Arkansas; Jonathan, who went to Cahfornia in 1849; Daniel, 
who married Martha Hendricks ; Louisa, who married A. 
Younce. By his third wife, Louisa Frankhn, Daniel had Andrew, 
who married Victoria Reese; Elizabeth, who went to Georgia; 
Emeline and Columbus, who also went to Georgia. 3. David 
Lewis married Polly Hendricks, and their children were : Sallie, 
who married Daniel Brown ; Betsy, who married Alfred Sim- 
mons ; Minerva, who married Joseph Bingham. 4. Richard 
Lewis married Phoebe Vanderpool, and their children were: 
Rebecca, who married Thomas Robbins ; Nancy, who did not 
marry; Malinda, who married a Day, and William. Margaret 
Lewis was buried at Cove Creek Church. Daniel Lewis settled 
where Jacob Lewis now lives, one mile from Sherwood on the 
Vanderpool Mill Creek, where the Vanderpools lived and where 
Lewis married a lady of that house. Lewis is said to have come 
to this section prior to 1800. Jonathan Lewis, son of Daniel, left 
Zionville for California in 1848, settled at Fresno, Cal., and be- 
came rich. 

Romulus Z. Linney. — He was born in Rutherford County 
December 26, 1841 ; was educated in the common schools of 
the country, at York's Collegiate Institute, and at Dr. Milieu's 
school at Taylorsville ; he served as a private in the Confederate 
army until the battle of Chancellorsville, where he was severely 
wounded, and was discharged. He then joined a class in Dr. 
Milieu's school at Taylorsville, of which Hon. W. H. Bower 
was a member; studied law with the late Judge Armfield; was 
admitted to practice by the Supreme Court in 1868; was elected 
to the State Senate in 1870, 1872, 1874, and again in 1882; was 
elected to the 54th, 55th and 56th Congresses as a Republican, 
receiving 19,419 votes against 18,006 for Rufus A. Doughton, 
Democrat, and 640 for Wm. M. White, Prohibitionist. He mar- 
ried Dorcas Stephenson in Taylorsville. In 1880 he became 
interested in Watauga so much that he bought property there, 
and in September, 1902, he bought a tract of land he called 
Tater Hill on Rich Mountain, where he built two rock houses. 
He was influential in getting a wagon road built along the top of 

328 A History of Watauga County 

the Rich Mountain range from the gap above Boone to a gap 
just north of Silverstone. He contributed $500 to the Appa- 
lachian Training School. Above the front door of the chief 
building of this college is written in marble the following quota- 
tion from one of his speeches delivered July 4, 1903: "Learn- 
ing, the Handmaid of Loyalty and Liberty. A Vote Governs 
Better than a Crown." He died at Taylorsville, April 15, 1910. 
His mother was a sister of the late Judge John Baxter. 

Col. Edward F. Lovill. — He was born in Surry County Feb- 
ruary 10, 1842, married Miss Josephine Marion, of the same 
county, February 15, 1866, and moved to Boone in 1874. He 
was admitted to the bar in February, 1885, and was commis- 
sioner to the Chippewa Indians from 1893 to 1897. He was 
captain of Company A of the 28th North Carolina Infantry, and 
on the second day of Chancellorsville commanded that regiment 
in the absence of Col. Samuel D. Low. Of this incident Colonel 
Lowe reported: "While absent. General Stuart again com- 
manded the line forward, and my regiment charged through 
the same terrible artillery firing the third time, led by Captain 
(Edward F.) Lovill, of Company A, to the support of our bat- 
teries which I had just got into position on the hill from which 
those of the enemy had been driven." Captain Lovill had com- 
manded the same regiment during the midnight attack of the 
night before. Upon the death of Col. Asbury Speer at Reems 
Station and the resignation of Major Samuel Stowe, Captain 
Lovill was senior officer of the 28th till the surrender at Appo- 
mattox, and commanded the regiment at the battle of Jones' 
farm near Petersburg in the fall of 1864, where he was severely 
wounded. He returned to duty in March, 1865, and was recom- 
mended for promotion to the colonelcy of his regiment at the 
time that James Lineberger was recommended for the lieutenant- 
colonelcy and George McCauley for the majority, but the end 
came before these appointments were published. He was 
wounded in the right arm at Gettysburg. At Fredericksburg 
"Captain Lovill, of Company A, the right company of the regi- 
ment, stood on the railroad track all the time, waving his hat 
and cheering his men. and neither he nor Martin (who had just 


A History of Watauga County 329 

shot down the Federal color bearer) was struck." Soon after 
the battle of Jericho Ford, in September, 1864, Natt Nixon, a 
seventeen-year-old boy of Mitchell's, Surry, was desper- 
ately wounded, and at night Captain Lovill and Private M. H. 
Freeman, a cobbler of Dobson, went to get him, as he had been 
left within the enemy's lines. They called him and he answered, 
saying the Federals were between him and them, but had been 
to him and given him water. Freeman put down his gun and 
accoutrements and shouting in a loud voice, "Natt, I'm coming 
after you. I am coming unarmed, and any man who shoots me 
is a damned coward," started. It was night, but no one fired 
at him, and he brought his stricken comrade back to Captain 
Lovill, but the poor boy died near a farm house to which he had 
been borne before daylight. Colonel Lovill is a director of the 
Oxford Orphanage, having been appointed by Governor Aycock. 
He is chairman of the board of trustees of the Appalachian 
Training School and a lawyer of ability. 

McBride Family. — John McBride came from the north of 
Ireland and settled in New Jersey, from which place he moved to 
Rowan County with the New Jersey settlers. He married Mary 
Baird in Rowan, and their children were: Brazilla, who mar- 
ried Rachel Wilson in Rowan ; Timothy, who went to Missouri, 
where he remained, and William, who married a Miss Swice- 
good in Rowan and died there. One of the daughters married 
Levi Heath; Ellen married Landrine Eggers, while another 
daughter married David Goss, who moved to Missouri. Brazilla 
was in the War of 1812 and named his first son for Andrew 

Brazilla's children were: Andrew Jackson, who married 
Polly Green; Hiram, who married Mary Farthing; Silas, who 
married Emily Green; Brazilla Carroll, who married Catharine 
Brinkley, of West Tennessee; Sarah, who married Harrison 
Johnson ; Ann, who married Squire Green ; Mary Amanda, who 
married John Combs ; Emily, who married Jonathan Green. 

Brazilla's second wife was Elizabeth Eggers, and their chil- 
dren were: Manly, who married Martha Norris; John, who 
married Miss Greer; Rachel, who married George Hilliard; 

330 A History of Watauga County 

Ellen, who married Bruce Harman ; Louisa, who married Jacob 
Younce; Martha, who died unmarried at the age of sixteen; 
Nancy, who married William Church ; Elizabeth, who married 
Richard McGuire. 

From the gravestones in the Cove Creek graveyard the fol- 
lowing was taken : Rev. Brazilla McBride was born September 
27, 1790, and died December 10, 1858; Iliram McBride was 
born August 9, 1818, died July 30, 1880; Mary, wife of Hiram, 
born February 21, 1818, died May 26, 1869; Rachel, wife of 
Brazilla McBride, born February 15, 1797, died August 18, 1839. 

From the A. J. McBride graveyard the following was taken : 
Rev. Andrew J. McBride was born November 27, 1822, and died 
November 12, 1891 ; Silas McBride was born November 18, 
1827, and when he died he was aged seventy-two years, six 
months and twenty days; Elijah Green was born November 4, 
1800, died July 15, 1882. His wife was born October 10, 1803, 
and died January 8, 1879. 

Willis McGhee came to this county early in the nineteenth 
century and resided with Jordan Councill, bringing with him a 
fine stallion and a negro man slave. McGhee married Bettie, 
daughter of Jordan Councill, Sr., and settled in Hodges Gap of 
the Rich Mountain. Their children were: Jordan C, James H. 
and Willis, Jr., Eveline, Carolina, Louisa, Elvira and Mary. 
Jordan C. married Eliza Todd, a daughter of James Todd; 
James H. married Vina Vandyke ; Willis, Jr., married a Miss 
Hall of Wilkes; Eveline married Bart Wood, a brick mason; 
Carolina married Col. J. B. Todd ; Louisa married, first, Nathan 
Hartley, but he died in the Civil War, and then she married J. B. 
Clark. She still lives ; Elvira never married ; Mary married 
Thomas Triplett. Jordan C. was a brick mason, but has been 
in a hospital on account of poor health for many years. 

Mast Family. — Joseph Mast, the first of the name to come to 
Valle Crucis, Watauga County, was born in Randolph County, 
North Carolina, March 25, 1764, and on the 30th of May, 1783, 
married Eve Bowers, who had been born between the Saluda 
and Broad rivers, South Carolina, December 30, 1758. Joseph 
was a son of John, who was brother of the Jacob Mast who 

A History of Watauga County 331 

became bishop of the Amish Mennonite Church in Conestoga, 
Pa., in 1788. They had left their native Switzerland together 
and sailed from Rotterdam in the ship "Brotherhood," which 
reached Philadelphia November 3, 1750. John Mast was born 
in 1740, and shortly after becoming twenty years of age left his 
brother, Jacob, who had married and was living near the site of 
what is now Elverson, Pa. John wandered on foot through 
many lonely forests, but finally settled in Randolph County, 
where Joseph was born. There he married a lady whose given 
name was Barbara. From Joseph and Eve Mast have descended 
many of the most substantial and worthy citizens of Western 
North Carolina, while the Mast family generally are people of 
influence and standing in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nebraska, Iowa, 
Montana, Oregon, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, California, Kan- 
sas, and, in fact, nearly every State in the Union. C. Z. Mast, 
of Elverson, Pa., in 191 1 published a volume of nearly a thou- 
sand pages, all of which are devoted to an excellent record of all 
the Masts in America. John A. Mast was born on Brushy Creek 
September 22, 1829. He married Martha Moore, of John's 
River, December 5, 1850. He died February 6, 1892. His 
paternal grandfather, John Mast, and maternal grandfather, 
Cutlifif Harman, were among the pioneers of this section and 
were Germans, settling on Cove Creek. His wife, Martha Mast, 
was born April 13, 1833. She died February 15, 1905. 

Joseph Harrison Mast. — His father was John Mast and his 
mother, Susan Harman, who are buried at the Taylor burying- 
ground at Valle Crucis. John Mast's father was Joseph, and he 
lived where Finley Mast now lives, while Cutliff Harman lived 
where David Harman now lives. Joseph H. Mast was born 
April 9, 1829, and married Clarissa P. Moore October 12, 1848. 
Her father was Daniel Moore, of the Globe, Caldwell County. 
Their children were : Sophronia, wife of Newton Banner, born 
July 15, 1850; Andrew J., born February 25, 1852; Leona, born 
December 2, 1853; Martha V., born April 20, 1856; John H,, 
born October 10, 1858; Allie J., born May 8, 1861 ; Sarah C, 
born August 19, 1863; Daniel H., born June 26, 1866; Joseph 
C, born May 8, 1869. He settled at his present home at Sugar 

332 A History of Watauga County 

Grove in 1848, and built the dam and grist mill of the present 
Mast mill before the Civil War, bolting the ground wheat by an 
old reel still in existence, though J. C. and J. H. Mast, his sons, 
changed that old mill into the first roller mill in Watauga 
County in 1897, E. F. Bingham building the second half a mile 
above. His children married as follows : Andrew Jackson mar- 
ried Joana King; Leona A. married Robert Mast; Martha V. 
married Thomas Sullivan ; John H. married, first, Eleline, 
daughter of Hiram McBride, and, second, Nancy, daughter of 
Hiram Wilson; Alice J. married Finley Mast; Sarah C. mar- 
ried John Smith; Daniel H. married Ruia Lowrance; Joseph 
C. married, first, Nora Phillips, and, second, Ada Madron, of 
Bristol, Va. Joseph H. Mast, Sr., died September 8, 191 5. 

The brothers and a sister of J. H. Mast, Sr., were: Noah, who 
married Elizabeth Roland; Leson, who married Sally Dugger; 
Eli, who married Callie Dugger; Jack, who married Martha 
Moore, of the Globe, and Finley P., who married Rhoda Smith. 

Miller Family. — According to Clyde C. Miller, of Sands, N. 
C, there is a tradition that, several years before the Revolution- 
ary War, three young men, a Horton, a Miller and Baird, all 
married sisters named Eldridge and moved to the upper Yadkin 
from Pennsylvania. They probably came with the Jersey set- 
tlers. Tradition also gives this Miller the name of William and 
credits him with having fought in the Revolution. His son, 
David, was one of the first settlers in the bounds of what is 
now Watauga County, near Meat Camp Creek. David Miller 
and Levi Murphey or Morphew were constables and called the 
first court in Watauga to order. David had twelve children, 
seven sons and five daughters : Wayne, David, John, William, 
Joseph, Ephriam and Jonathan ; Lydia, who married a Bing- 
ham ; Rebecca, who married Battle Bryan ; Polly, who married 
a Lookabill ; Elizabeth, who married an Allison, and Nancy, who 
married a Lewis. 

Wayne's sons were: W'illiam, James, Daniel, Jonathan and 
Alfred. David, a brother of Wayne, was the father of Cling- 
man, who has been for years in the State of Washington ; 
George, Mrs. L. D. Cole and Mrs. George Moody were also 
children of Wayne. Daniel lived and died on Cove Creek. 

A History of Watauga County 333 

John lived on Meat Camp and was the father of three boys and 
four girls : Jonathan, Calvin, Thomas, Myra, Katharine, Caro- 
lina and Angeline, all the boys having been in the Confederate 
army. Calvin lived at Sutherland and died in the summer of 
1913; J. B. Miller lived on Meat Camp and died December 14, 
1914; Myra married a Greer and moved to Kentucky; Caroline 
married John Norris and moved to Kentucky; Katharine mar- 
ried B. F. Burkett, and Angeline married C. P. Todd. All have 
been dead a number of years. 

William Miller, captain of Company I, 58th North Carolina, 
was the father of Ephriam, Harrison, Silas, John, Wayne, David 
and Levi. 

Joseph married Sally, daughter of Edmund Blackburn, and 
had two sons, Lorenzo Dow, who lives near Zionville, and Frank, 
who lives on Meat Camp. Ephriam also was a soldier in the 
Confederate army, and had two sons, Alexander and David, the 
latter living in Tennessee. Jonathan also served in the Civil 
War and is the only one of these brothers still living. He is in 
good health and lives on Howard's Creek, although ninety-odd 
years of age. He married Rebecca, daughter of Levi Blackburn, 
and is the father of Edmund and Henry and of Carolina, who 
married Ben Tugman; of Neomi, who married Marsh Tugman, 
and of Martha, who married Pat Hodges, all of whom are yet 

Moretz Family. — John Moretz was born in Randolph County, 
North Carolina, about 1788. His first wife was a Miss Moser, 
and to this union were born nine children. John's second wife 
was Catharine Hefner, and from this marriage there were six- 
teen children, eight boys and eight girls, Alfred Jacob Moretz, 
of Deep Gap, having been the eighth child. The first John 
Moretz's father came from Pennsylvania, and he and his wife 
were full-blooded Germans. John Moretz and his second wife 
and family came from Randolph County in September, 1839, and 
there Alfred Jacob was born the following October. John 
bought land and the original mill on Meat Camp from Samuel 
Cooper, who then moved to Meadow Creek. John's eldest son 
first moved west, but returned and lived at Soda Hill, which he 
bought from a Norris. He died September 12, 1868. Alfred 

334 ^ History of Watauga County 

J. married Mary Emeline I.utz, who was born in Burke and 
reared in Caldwell. She was a daughter of Ambrose L. Lutz, 
who had moved from Lincoln to Burke and then to Caldwell, 
near Rutherford College. With John Moretz also came one son 
and two daughters by his first marriage. He reared three daugh- 
ters and two sons by the first wife, and seven girls and seven 
boys by the second lived to be grown, although there were four 
of his daughters who died of diphtheria during the Civil War 
within a few days of each other. Of John's children. Christian, 
now dead, married a Miss Stirwalt; John, Miss Jane Miller; 
William, a Miss Condor; Jonathan, a Miss Norris ; Zachariah 
Taylor married, first, a Miss Bowman and then a Miss Fer- 
guson ; Joseph L. married a Miss Miller, a sister of John 
Moretz's wife; Sallie, who married Jacob Winebarger; Caro- 
lina, who married A. S. Davis ; Mary, who married a Miller, the 
three youngest of John's daughters having died young and before 
marrying. Joseph L. Moretz was tlie father of J. M. Moretz, 
of Boone. 

Morphew Family. — Joseph Morphew married Mary Burke, a 
.sister of the Tory colonel, Benjamin Burke, who was killed at 
the battle of the Shallow Ford. Their children were: Mary, 
who married Ephriam Norris; Naomi, who married Ephriam 
Allison ; James, who married and one of whose children, Mary, 
married Thomas Robbins, Sr., the rest of the children going to 
Butler County, Ohio, before the Civil War, about 1820; Silas 
married Elizabeth England about 1775. The Morphews were 
Quakers and Tories, and Silas was hanged, but a woman held 
him up by the legs till help came and he was cut down and his 
life saved. This happened in Rowan, probably. The children 
of Silas and Elizabeth were: Uriah, bom about 1780 and mar- 
ried a Fairchild ; Obediah, born about 1782 and married a Berry; 
Silas, who married ^Matilda Cayton; John M., who married 
Sarah Blackburn in 1813 ; James, who never married; Aaron, 
who married Nancy Sample ; Rhoda, who married Samuel Todd ; 
Jennie, who married George Wells. Peggy, Kizzy and Sallie 
never married. All left this country long ago, except John 
Morphew, grandfather of Cyrus A. Grubb. 

A History of Watauga County 335 

The Norris Family.— John Norris came to North CaroHna 
from Pennsylvania before the Revolutionary War and was prob- 
ably a loyalist. His son, John, was born in Wilkes County, and 
his wife was Nancy Brown, of the same county. They moved to 
Ashe, now Watauga, and settled on Meat Camp and there their 
son, Ephriam, was born, July 12, 1819. This son was killed 
March 28, 1865, at Boone by Stoneman's men. He had married 
Margaret Greene in 1842. Captain Elijah J. Norris was born 
at the same place as Ephriam September 4, 1843, and married 
]\Iary E. Norris, whose father was first cousin to Ephriam, his 
name having been John. Their children were : Emma B., born 
November 20, 1869, and married W. R. Greene; Jackson 
Ephriam, who was born April 25, 1877, and married, first, Zenna 
Brown in 1904, and, second, Maggy Hardy in 1913; MolHe A., 
born March 30, 1887, not married. Captain E. J. Norris joined 
Col. J. B. Palmer's regiment at Johnson City, Tenn., July 12, 
1862. He was wounded five times, the last time desperately 
through the hips, September 4, 1864. He was in Boone when 
Stoneman passed through in March, 1865, and told his father 
to run when he became sure the men were regular troops and 
not Jim Hartley's crowd, whom the Home Guard expected to 
attack them that day. These were native Union men who claimed 
to be in the service of the Union. The Home Guard had met that 
morning in Boone and elected Jordan Cook captain and himself 
(E. J. Norris) a lieutenant, to keep order and prevent depre- 
dations by marauders. Stoneman got to Boone about 11 a. m. 
and burned the jail that night. In 1910 E. J. Norris was elected 
commander of the Nimrod Triplett Camp U. C. V. No. 1273. 

John Norris, a son of William, Sr., married Rachel Sands, a 
sister of David, and reared a family of seven children : Sallie, 
who never married ; Anna, who married Joseph Hayes ; Lucinda, 
who married George Brown; Susan, who married John H. 
Brown ; Mary, who married E. J. Norris ; Joel S., who married 
Sarah Hopkins ; WilHam D., who married, first, Bartlett Brown's 
daughter, and, second, Miss Parlier. They lived three miles 
east of Boone on the Jefferson road, and used to operate a card- 
ing machine for carding wool into rolls. Joel Norris, son of 

336 A History of Watauga County 

William, Sr., lived near Soda Hill, which he owned and is fa- 
mous and much admired. He married Polly Griffa and reared 
three children: Granville, Millard and Bittie. Bittie married 
Ed. Gragg and moved to Oregon. Joel and wife are both dead, 
while all their children are still iving. 

William Norris, Sr. — He lived on Brushy Fork, near its 
mouth, where it empties into Meat Camp Creek, and married, 
first, a Miss Case and their child married Isaac Greer and moved 
to Kentucky, His second wife was Eunice Shinn, from which 
union were five boys, Samuel, Levi, Joel, Jonathan and David, 
and three girls, Rebecca, Anna and Myra, all of whom married 
and reared families. Samuel married a lady near Ducktown, 
Tenn. ; Levi married Margaret Morphew, daughter of John; 
Joel married a lady of the name of Grifiith ; Jonathan married 
Ailsey Profiitt; David married Matilda Proffitt; Rebecca mar- 
ried Samuel Trivette ; Anna married Michael Cook ; Myra mar- 
ried Jacob Cook. Of the last marriage about eighteen children 
were reared, the eldest daughter marrying John Hartley. He 
was a son of Eli and Delphia Hartley, and was born on the 8th 
day of February, 1835, "The Cold Saturday." 

A. W, Penley, who lived on the southeast side of the Blue 
Ridge, about twelve miles from Boone, on Joe's Fork of Buf- 
falo Creek, was the first county court clerk of Watauga County 
elected by the people. He was a man of great intelligence, and 
a magistrate for many years. He was also postmaster at Penly 
Postoffice several years. He married, first, Rena Triplett, to 
which union were born two boys, Avery and Jasper, and one 
girl, ]\Iary Ann. His second marriage was to Elizabeth Trip- 
lett, to whom there were born Adolphus, Robey and Alice. He 
was a clever man, went through the Civil War and returned 
without a wound. He was also a member of the county court 
for several years, and a great hunter. 

The Perkins Family. — L. N. Perkins, who lives on the Jeffer- 
son Road, two miles from Boone, is a worthy representative of 
this distinguished family. Joseph and Timothy Perkins were the 
first of the name in these mountains, and came from one of the 
New England States, where they had been tax-gatherers just 

A History of Watauga County 337 

prior to the commencement of the Revolutionary War. But 
being loyalists, they were not welcome there after that great 
struggle began. They moved to Old Fields in Ashe County, re- 
taining their allegiance to the British crown all during that 
struggle, Timothy losing his life in a skirmish in Ashe. He left 
several sons and one daughter, Lucy, who married a Young. 
Joseph also left sons and daughters. Granny Skritch, who lived 
with one of her Perkins relatives on Little Wilson, remained 
loyal to King George even when she had reached a great age. 

Presnell Family. — Solomon Presnell was born in Chatham 
County in 1810 and came to Watauga County in 1827. His wife 
was Mary Mundy, who was born in what is now Alexander 
County in 1813. Their children were: Melvin, who died in in- 
fancy ; Carolina, who died when three years old ; Wesley Wayne, 
who was born July 22, 1837, on Cove Creek road at the Vander- 
pool place. He married Susan Adeline Gragg March 17, 1861. 
The next child was Amanda, who married Holden Moody; 
Benjamin, who was killed at Bentonville; Squire Adams, who 
married, first, Catharine Hartley, and, second, Mattie Fox; 
James M., who married Rebecca Greene ; Rufus W., who mar- 
ried Sallie VanDyke ; N. Jerome, who married Caroline Hodges ; 
Mary A., who married David Fox. Solomon's father was 
Nathan Presnell, and his wife was Mary Whitehead. He came 
and settled near Lenoir in 1814. She was probably reared in 
Union or Chatham County. Besides Solomon, their children 
were: William, who married a Miss Watkins, of Alexander 
County; Elijah, who married and had several children, but lived 
in Alexander County. Mary Whitehead had a brother who went 
to Tennessee and settled on Elk Creek. 

Asa Reese, Pioneer. — Valentine Reese came from Germany 
to America about 1750 and married Christina Harman, settling 
at the old Bowers Place, now called Trade, Tenn. Their chil- 
dren were: John, born in 1770 and married Sarah Eggers, 
John dying at age seventy and his wife at age ninety-six. They 
reared ten children: Hiram, born in 1798, married Rhoda 
Smith and settled in Watauga. They had six children, and after 
Rhoda's death Hiram married Martha McCall, six children hav- 


338 A History of Watauga County 

ing blessed this union. A divorce followed, and two years later 
Hiram married his third wife, Jane W'idby, by whom he had one 
child, a daughter. Hiram died July 9, 1872, aged seventy-four 
years. Asa, son of Hiram and Rhoda, was born May 9, 1820, 
and married Catharine Wagner February 27, 1845, settling two 
miles from what is now Mountain City, Tenn. His wife joined 
the Baptist Church in February, 1872, and he in December, 
1876. They had ten children, one of whom, a girl, dying in 
childhood. Asa died November 2j, 1898, and was buried near 
his home and daughter, Rhoda. Asa's children were Jehiel, 
Asa, John, Nelson, Cinderella, Mahetebel. After the death 
of his first wife Hiram Reese moved his family to what was 
known as the old Jim Reese house, below Phillip Greer's on 
Cove Creek, in 1830. In 1832, during a cold spell, a family 
named Hutchinson, with their team, were added to the family 
of fourteen already at the small house, where they remained till 
warm weather, without money and without price. During this 
time Asa and his brother had to sleep on the open porch, with a 
snow coverlet frequently to keep them warm. In copartnership 
M^ith Samuel Reese, of Buncombe, Hiram Reese lost much money 
wagoning to South Carolina, and the sheriff sold him out for 
debt about 1834-35, and the family was broken up. In the fall 
of 1838 Asa, with Alfred Adams (father of T. P. Adams) and 
Sarah Mast, took a trip to Sequachy Valley, Tenn., near Collins 
River, Warren County, Asa's father having consented that the 
boy should keep all he earned after reaching nineteen years of 
age. In the fall of 1840 Asa, with Hiram McBride, Riley Wil- 
son, two of Asa's uncles, a girl named Roland, and two daugh- 
ters of Jacob Reese, went to the Piatt Purchase, Mo., 300 miles 
west of the Mississippi River, where he stopped with his uncle, 
James W^ebb, crossing the Piatt River at New Market. But 
McBride got home-sick and returned. Asa returned to this 
State in the spring of 18/^4. in company with John Ellington and 
Reuben Sutherland, going to his uncle, Bennett Smith's, and his 
cousins, George and Polly Hayes. In the summer of 1844 he 
worked for awhile with the Fairchild ladies on Howard's Creek, 
where he flirted with a girl named Winkler whom these ladies 

A History of Watauga County 339 

had hired to weave for them, much to their disgust. But Asa 
concluded that "old maids are the most jealous, superstitious, 
whining old things that belong to the human family." He de- 
cided not to enlist for the Mexican War, visiting his father in 
Russell County, Virginia, and finding him in poverty, but he 
declared he loved him as much and reverenced him more than if 
he had given him a couple of thousands of dollars, adding that 
children who are aided by their parents often forget them, and 
sometimes their God, as well. While Asa was a small boy he 
and his brother attended Sunday School in a small old log house 
which stood at the mouth of a hollow, just below where the 
widow, Ann Farthing, used to live on Beaver Dams. This must 
have been about 1828, and was undoubtedly the first Sunday 
School of which there is any record known to this writer. Thus, 
to the many other good deeds, the Farthings have the glory of 
having instituted Sunday Schools, now universal, then unknown. 
The house in which Asa was born stood on a branch of Sharpe's 
Creek and was built of logs, with puncheon floor, the chimney of 
which was built of stone inside and of wood outside to the top 
of the mantelpiece, above which it was of sticks and clay. It 
was covered with old-fashioned clap-boards. His father had a 
smoke house for his meat, though many hung their meat in the 
gables of their homes, thus giving all kinds of meat a chance to 
become smoked yellow, includmg hog, beef, bear, venison, coon, 

Col. J. J. T. Reese, eldest son of Asa Reese, was born near 
Mountain City (then Taylorsville), Tenn., June 21, 1849, where 
he was educated, and afterwards taught school at Butler and 
elsewhere. He was in the mercantile business at Butler in co- 
partnership with L. L. Maples, afterwards moving to his farm 
on Beaver Dams, N. C, where he remained three years. He 
married Margaret N. Wagner, daughter of N. T. Wagner, Esq., 
near Shouns, Tenn., April 19, 1880. She was a granddaughter 
of David Wagner, who came from Davie County, North Caro- 
lina, partly cutting his way through the mountains to Roan 
Creek, where he settled and became owner of a thousand acres 
of that fertile land. After his marriage, J. J. T. Reese moved 

340 A History of Watauga County 

permanently to his Beaver Dams farm, where he farmed and 
dealt in live stock for a time, afterwards engaging in the lumher 
and timber business. He has refused all offices except that of 
justice of the peace, preferring a quiet life to politics. Five 
children bless this union, the entire family being members of the 
Baptist Church. 

Rivers Family. — Dr. James Gray Rivers was a son of Samuel 
and Rebecca Rivers, who were X'irginians by birth. Rebecca 
Rivers was born Grey, while Samuel Rivers was a descendant of 
one of three brothers who came to America from England, land- 
ing at Edisto Island, S. C., one of them having been named 
Horace, as is evidenced by his name engraved on a heavy silver 
ladle now in the possession of Rev. Dr. Murray and wife, of 
Spencer, N. C., Mrs. Murray having been a Rivers before her 
marriage. Dr. James Grey Rivers married Miss Lucretia Jane 
Rhea, who was born at Clarksburg, W. Va., near the Ohio 
River. Her father was R. P. Rhea, also born in West Virginia, 
and a graduate of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md. He 
became a teacher of great note, and had the honor of having 
taught Gen. T. J. (Stonewall) Jackson, as will be seen from 
any authentic life of that great Confederate soldier. He was a 
dull student, according to Mr. Rhea. Dr. J. G. Rivers refugeed 
from Carter County, Tennessee, to Watauga County, North 
Carolina, during the Civil War, serving in the Home Guard 
till the capture of Camp Mast in February, 1865. He suffered 
many hardships and lost much property, living as he did on the 
border line between Tennessee and North Carolina. He moved 
to Boone in 1865, where he practiced his profession of medicine 
till his death in 1878. He left four children, all of whom are 
living except one. R. C. Rivers, Miss Nannie Rivers and the 
wife of J. W. Farthing survive. 

Sands Family. — David Sands was born April 4, 1791, and 
died June 30, 1884. His father was Joseph Sands, who was born 
in 1743 and died October 15, 1821. He came from Scotland. 
The Sands family lived about three miles east of Boone, and 
a postoffice of that name still recalls the family name. David 
was a son of Joseph. Of David Dr. Elisha Mitchell has this to 
say in letters to his wife, published by the University of North 

A History of Watauga County 341 

Carolina, 1905 (p. 56) : "Rode from Shearer's down to David 
Sands, Esq., a bachelor with three or four sisters, and his mother 
with him. He showed me some ore from Tennessee which he 
supposed to be antimony, but which proved to be micaceous oxide 
of iron. Walked with him to see a white substance in the creek 
on his land. It was the porcelain clay. Sands rode down with 
me to Esquire Miller's. We passed through a meadow, beauti- 
ful like those of Yankeeland." This was David Miller's. 

Shearer Family. — Robert Shearer the first was a Scotchman 
and came to Ashe before the county was formed from Wilkes. 
He settled near Three Forks Church, to the left of the road and 
at the foot of a hill still called Shearer's Hill. Just when he 
was born or the maiden name of his wife are not known now. 
He lived to a great age and his grave is in the graveyard of 
Three Forks Baptist Church, of which he was a consistent 
member. There were eight children : John Shearer, bom 
August 9, 1792; died January 2, 1858. He married Mary 
Greene, April 27, 181 5. She was born August 15, 1797, and 
died August 30, 1868. Louisa Shearer, born May 7, 1817, 
married Thomas Cottrell and died January 31, 1896. Susannah 
Shearer was born December 10, 1818, married William Cot- 
trell and died December — , 1896. Robert Shearer was born 
July 24, 1823 ; married, first, Myra Coffey, November 26, 1854, 
and, second, Martha Estes, February 19, i860. He died Decem- 
ber 2, 1895. His widow survives. John Shearer was born 
May 5, 1828; died January 11, 1908. William Shearer, born 
June 28, 1830, and moved to the West. Sarah Shearer, born 
March 7, 1843, and moved to the West. Hannah Shearer was 
born May 11, 1838; married Milton Brown, who is dead, but 
she survives and lives on New River. Mary Shearer, born 
May 15, 1843; died April 25, 1844. The daughters of the first 
Robert Shearer were: i. EHzabeth, who married Joseph 
Greene; 2. Sallie,*who married Gilbert Hodges; 3. Polly, who 
married Richard Greene ; 4. Nancy, who married Daniel Greene, 
brother of Richard. Robert Shearer's sons were: Jack, who 
married Mary Greene, sister of David and Richard ; Thomas, 
who married Patsy Farthing, daughter of Rev. William. 

342 A History of Watauga County 

Children of Robert Shearer, the Second. — Milton Shearer 
was born September 4, 1855; married Mary Ann Estes, Sep- 
tember 25, 1884, and lives in Lenoir. Mary Shearer was born 
October 31, 1861 ; married L. N. Perkins, May 18, 1889, and 
lives at the old Shearer homestead, near Boone. Myra Shearer, 
born November 8, 1863; married J. G. Pulliam, July 24, 1888, 
and lives in the West. 

Sherrill Family. — William W. Sherrill was born January 23, 
1828, in Caldwell County, and he married Mary Hartley, who 
was born August 14, 1830, in Caldwell County. William W. 
died January 11, 1903, while his widow still survives. They 
were married in 1849. Their children were: George P., who 
was born December 9, 1850, at Deals Mills, Caldwell County, 
and married Mary Grider, March 28, 1869. Their second son 
was David, who went to Texas, where he died ; Louisa married 
Wade Sherrill ; Jason married Titia Wilson ; Vienna married 
William Edmisten ; Zeb Vance married Free Love Cole ; George 
M. married Rebecca Payne and went first to Cherokee and then 
to Kansas, where he married a second time ; William, who mar- 
ried Mary Hartley ; Thomas, who married, first, Polly Wilson, 
and, second, a Satterwhite, and, third, a Sherrill; Sarah, who 
married William Wilson ; Amanda, who married Miles Bow- 
man. Still another married a White and moved to Cherokee. 
The father of David was William, who was born in 1733 and 
died in 1829. He had at least two children, David and William. 
Tradition says these were English people who came first to New 
York and thence to North Carolina, settling on Catawba River, 
at Sherrill's Ford, below Newton. William was a farmer and 
wagonmaker and a man of all work. 

Shull Family. — From the genealogy of Simon Shull and 
family, taken on Watauga River, Ashe County, North Carolina, 
January 30, 1814, the following is culled: Simon was son of 
Frederick and Charity, born in Lincoln County October 24, 
1767. Mary Sheifler, daughter of Philip and Mary Ormatenfer 
Sheifler, was born May 5, 1772, in Loudoun County, Virginia. 
Simon ShuU's children were Elizabeth, born on John's River, 
March 6, 1791 ; the rest were born on Watauga River; Mary, 

A History of Watauga County 343 

born March 19, 1793; Sarah, born March 2, 1795; PhilHp, 
born February 15, 1797; John, born March 24, 1799; Joseph, 
born April 22, 1801 ; Temperance, born October 16, 1804; EUza- 
beth, born April 10, 1808. Simon Shull married Mary Sheifler 
on Upper Creek of Catawba River, March 25, 1790, VVm. Pen- 
land officiating. Elizabeth Shull died February 15, 1794, two 
years and eleven months old; Joseph died April 7, 1886; Eliza- 
beth died January 2, 1897; Adeline Taylor died April 15, 1894. 
Joseph Shull married Lizzie Mast October 28, 1835; W. F. 
Shull married Mary Brown September 28, 1869; Temperance 
Shull married W. H. Horton March 24, 1861 ; N. S. Shull mar- 
ried Mary Gilmore; P. P. Shull married Cindy Gragg March 

26, 1866; B. C. Shull married Ohie Berry; John T. Shull mar- 
ried Chaney Hayes November 5, 1874; J. M. Shull married 
Sarah Greene January 12, 1882, and after her death he married 
Allie Baird August 30, 1888; John T. Taylor married Addie 
Shull March 28, 1878; Mary married David Mast; Sarah mar- 
ried James Ward; Phillip married Phoebe Ward; Joseph mar- 
ried Lizzie Mast ; Temperance married Ben Councill ; Elizabeth 
married Noah Mast. Joseph Shull's children were: William 
F., born September 18, 1836; Temperance C, born August 7, 
1838; Noah S., born April 15, 1840; Phillip P., born July 20, 
1842; Ben. C, born October 23, 1845; John T., born October 

27, 1853; James M., born May 23, 1859; Mary Adeline, born 
March 28, 1861. 

Phillip Shull's Family. — Phillip married Phoebe Ward and 
their children were: EHzabeth, who married Wm. Cannon; 
N. Canada, who married Elmyra Green; Matilda, who married 
Jesse Gragg; Thomas, who married Polly Spainhour; Polly, 
who married James Edmisten; Rhoda, who died unmarried; 
Sarah, who married Phillip Duvall; Temperance, who married 
A. J. Baird ; William, who married Eugenia Campbell ; Carolina, 
who married Alexander Ward; Simon, who married Martha 
Baird; Joseph Carroll, who married Eliza L Mast; Phoebe 
Sophina, who married Peter Dana. 

Smith Family.— George Smith was the first of this family to 
come to these mountains, arriving about 1780. According to his 

344 ^ History oj Watauga County 

Bible, he died April 30, 1838, aged ninety-one years and fifty 
days. Elizabeth, his wife, died March 8, 1842, aged ninety-two 

years and days. Their children were: Abner, died 

May 20, 1850, aged sixty-nine years. He had two sons, Bennett 
and Jehiel; Bennett died November 15, 1844, aged forty-two 
years, eight months and twenty-two days; Abner. Mehetabel 
was the wife of Abner. She was born Fairchild and died March 
3, 1855, aged eighty-four years, nine months and sixteen days; 
Bennett Smith married Elizabeth Moody December 23, 1824, 
Bennett Smith's children were: Abner, who married Chaney 
Green; Polly, who married George Hayes. Abner's children 
were : Bennett, who married a Kimes ; Polly, who married 
James Rayfield; Elijah, who married Emma Austin; Elizabeth, 
not married ; Sally, who married Pink Henson ; George, who 
married, first, Emma Price, and, second, Mary Bingham; 
Rebecca, who married Julius Isenhour. The daughters of the 
first Abner were: Rhoda, born August 27, 1799; Mary, born 
February 27, 1802 ; Elizabeth, who married Jacob Reese, March 
17, 1825; Susannah, who married Jacob Moody April 28, 1831 ; 
Rebecca, who married Jacob Norris March 27, 1835 ; Mary, 
who married Wm. Roland June 6, 1835. Jehiel was born Sep- 
tember 16, 1806, and died January 10, 1885. He was twice 
married, his first wife having been Rachel Adams and his second 
wife Elizabeth Dugger, whom he married September 15, 1835. 

Jehiel's children were: Ebenezer, born March 3, 1828; Ben- 
nett, born January 29, 1835, and married Jane Green December 
6, 1856; Wiley, born June 27, 1836, never married; Carolina, 
born January 5. 1838, never married; Rhoda, born March 22, 
1839, married Finley P. Mast; Henry, born March 3, 1841, 
never married; William, born September 18, 1842, never mar- 
ried; Mary, born October 9, 1845, married Tillett Combs; 
Martha, born June 15, 1847, and Jehiel, born October 27, 1849. 
Martha married D. J. Lowrance. 

Bennett Smith married Jane Green December 6, 1856, and 
their children were : Carolina, born May 3, 1857, and died 
April 26, 1859; John C. Smith, born January 28, 1861, and 
married Sarah C. Mast January 2, 1881. Abner and Bennett 

A History of Watauga County 345 

Smith settled at Silverstone, Abner having been in the legislature 
in 1 82 1 and 1825, while his great-grandson, Abner \V., was sent 
there in 1914. 

Story Family. — This name is also spelt Storie. The first of 
the family who came to Western North Carolina was Jesse, who 
settled on King's Creek. He came from Pennsylvania and mar- 
ried Frances Bradley. Their children were Joshua, John and 
Eli, all of whom married and reared large families, Eli moving 
with his family to Missouri many years ago. About 181 5 
Joshua and John were living on the old Thomas Lenoir place 
on the Yadkin River, both having married Greens, but about 
1825 they removed with their families to Ashe County, follow- 
ing members of their wives' families, one of whom settled at the 
Wm. Gragg place and the other at Blowing Rock, near the 
present store of Mr. Holtshouser, while a third settled at what 
is now Green Park. The Storys, however, settled at what is 
now known as Bailey's Camp, where Thomas H. Story, son of 
Joshua, was born. The nearest mill to their home at that time 
was what is now known as Winkler's, two miles south of Boone. 
The children of Joshua were : Elvira, William, Thomas, Lucy, 
Channie, Jesse, Amos, Isaac, Rufus, Martha and Noah. John's 
children were: Walter, Bettie, Ann, Jonathan, Rachel, Eliza, 
Sena, Mary and Jesse. William, Noah and Jesse (son of John) 
were in the Federal army in the Civil War, while Walter, Jona- 
than, Rufus, Jesse (son of Joshua) and Amos were conscripted 
into the Southern army. Isaac was in the Home Guard. Some 
of the others tried to enlist in the Federal army, but could not 
get through the lines. The homes of the Storys were open to 
the Federal soldiers and sympathisers, and the women of the 
families often waded the streams to carry food to outlyers, 
Bettie and Lucy once taking a wounded Yankee to Coffey's 
Gap in the night on an old horse, while on another occasion 
they hunted and found the body of a man named Hines, who 
had been killed by the Home Guard, and buried it decently. 
Jesse, son of John, is the only survivor. It is said that the 
Toledo Blade a few years ago stated that the Story family came 
to America on the Mayflower in 1620, but afterwards moved to 

346 A History of Watauga County 

Pennsylvania. This is a very prolific family, the single school 
district of Aho having out of 105 children of school age, twenty- 
nine Storys. Of the present family, Mr. G. L. Story has been 
active in promoting good roads in Watauga County. 

Swift Family, — Samuel Swift came from Germany and set- 
tled where Joseph Johnson now owns on Cove Creek. His chil- 
dren were: Samuel, who married ; Hila, 

who married Berryman Fletcher; Rhoda, who married James 
Lewis; Polly, who married Jack Horton, sheriff; Sarah, who 
married William Proffitt; Emily, who married Bartlett Milliard; 
Massy, who married Calvin Moody, and Nancy, who married 
Hugh Harman; Thomas, who married a Greene; Elias, who 
married an Adams, a daughter of Squire Adams. 

Thomas' children were: Richard, born in 1845 ^^d died in 
the Civil War; Enoch, born in 1847 and married Martha Mc- 
Bride; Clarissa, born in 1849 ^^^ married J. C. Davis; George, 
born in 185 1 and married Jane McBride. Enoch is the father of 
Wiley, the distinguished friend of factory children. Samuel 
Swift deeded the land for the Cove Creek Baptist Church. 

Tatum Family. — Elijah Tatum was born April 16, 1816, and 
married a cousin, S. Goodin Tatum, November 21, 1852, near 
Old Fields, in Ashe. She was a daughter of Joseph Tatum and 
wife, Sarah Pearson. Joseph was reared in Ashe, but Miss 
Pearson came from Burke. Elijah's father was George and was 
reared in Ashe and was a brother of Joseph. Their home was 
what is now Riverside. George married Delphia Jennings, of 
Old Fields. The father of George and Joseph was James and a 
soldier of the Revolutionary War. James' wife was a Miss Shep- 
pard, of Ashe. James was born in Rowan County, from which 
he came to Ashe before the Revolutionary War when he was 
about fourteen years old. His father had come to America from 
England. Elijah had nine children. Only two of his boys lived 
to be grown — George and John. George married a daughter of 
Jacob Walters, of Burke, and John married Zora C. Tugman 
about 1880. Her father was Thomas Tugman and his wife was 
Anzanette Davis, daughter of W. S. Davis. Elijah's children 
were: James, who married Julia, and Senter, who married 

A History of Watauga County 347 

Evelyn Tatum, sisters, and daughters of Joseph Tatum. George 
Tatum had two brothers, Joseph and Buckner, the latter having 
married a Miss Sheriff of Ashe. John Lee Tatum is a son of 
Elisha, and has an old sword which tradition says was used by 
James Tatum in the Revolutionary War. James is buried in 
Ashe County, near Riverside, the new railroad station. James 
and Senter, sons of Elijah, moved to Newtonia, Mo., where 
James died about 1907. Buckner moved to Georgia about 1845. 
Tester Family. — Samuel Tester came from Scotland and set- 
tled at the mouth of Cove Creek before 1840. His wife was a 
Miss Foster. Their children were : Robin and Ransom, Jennie, 
who married Hiram Hix; Ellen, who died young, and another 
who married a man in Tennessee. Robin married first a daugh- 
ter of David Hix and their children were Finley, Harman and 
EHzabeth. Robin's second wife was Katie Ward, daughter of 
Duke, and their children were Robin, Duke, James and Samuel; 
Sarah, who married Councill Harman, and another daughter 
who married Waightstill Davis; Celie, who married a Panther, 
and still another who married Link Pressly. Ransom married 
Fannie Hix, daughter of Harman, and their children were 
Harman, Samuel, Ellen and Polly. 

Thomas Family. — William Thomas was the first of the name 
and was born in Salem, N. C, and married Sarah Sutherland, 
of Ashe County. Their children were Alfred, Margaret, Sarah, 
Joseph, Steven and William. By a second marriage to Mary 
Greer, there were the following children: William K., Thomas, 
Wiley and Elizabeth. Alfred was born in 1823 and married 
Malinda Wilson; Joseph was born in 1825 and married Sarah 
Wilson; Stephen was born in 1837 and married Lidia Porter; 
Sarah was born in 1828 and married Alexander Osborn; Mar- 
garet was born in 1821 and married Reuben Potter; William, 
born in 1834, married a Miss Potter; Alexander, born January 
26, 1830, at Sutherland, and married Elmira M. Ward in 1853. 
Alex, ran away from his uncle, Joseph, when the former was 
about eighteen years of age, going to Missouri, where he re- 
mained about eighteen months, and then crossed the plains to 
California in 1849. He returned via the Panama route in 1853. 

348 A History of Watauga County 

He married Elmira M. Ward in 1853 or 1854 and settled at the 
old Samuel Baker farm on lower Watauga River, where Samuel 
Baker had lived till about 1909. (Ashe County Deed Book D, 
pp. 207, 210.) He died December 13, 1909, and was buried at 
St. John's Church. 

Col. Joe B, Todd. — He was born September 2, 1822, and died 
December 11, 1903. From the old Todd family Bible, printed 
in Edinborough by Mark and Charles Kerr, MDCCXCI, it is 
learned that James Todd was born July 31, 1757, and Margaret 
Erwin, his wife, October 14, 1759. These were married March 
II, 1784; and that John Sharp Todd, father of James, was 
born December 11, 1724, and his wife, Nancy, was born June 7, 
1739- James Todd died November 17, 18 14. He was a soldier 
of the Revolution, and Mrs. Lizzie McGhee, of Boone, has the 
old powder-horn he used in that war. 

Col. Joe B. Todd's first wife was Caroline McGhee, a daugh- 
ter of the first Jordan Councill, and wife of William McGhee, 
who was bom December 5, 1830, and died September i, 1873. 
Two of their children are buried in the cemetery at Boone : 
Joe C. Todd, born November 8, 1855, and died November i, 
1858, and Maggie E., born July 7, 1853, and died February 12, 
1858. James Polk Todd and Mary, wife of F. P. Moore, and 
William G. Todd, three of his children, survive him. 

Colonel Todd's second wife was Mrs. Eliza Edmisten, widow 
of Harrison Edmisten and a daughter of Mr. Dancey, of Wilkes 

Colonel Todd was a non-commissioned officer in the Mexican 
War, having first volunteered in Boone, but, there being delay in 
calling out the volunteers from Ashe County, he went to Cabar- 
rass County, joined a company there and went to Mexico with 
them, participating in several battles. He received a pension till 
the Civil War, and it was restored long after the close of that' 
struggle. He was colonel of the 98th North Carolina militia. 

He was a candidate for clerk of the Superior Court in August, 
1852, but was defeated by George M. Bingham, who, however, 
resigned, owing to an impediment in his speech, and a young 
lawyer named Clewell was appointed in his place. Upon 

A History of Watauga County 349 

Clewell's removal from Watauga, Col. Joe B. Todd was ap- 
pointed by the court, and he was sent for in the night, his resi- 
dence then being at Dugger, now Penly Postoffice, east of the 
Blue Ridge. He was first lieutenant in Company D of the ist 
North Carolina cavalry in the Civil War, but resigned on ac- 
count of heart disease and returned home. He re-entered the 
service soon, however, joining the 37th North Carolina Infantry. 
After the close of the war, he was elected clerk of the Superior 
Court and served till the arrival of Judge J. L. Henry, when he 
was removed because he could not take the iron-clad oath. He 
was elected to the legislature in 1872, and then in 1882 to the 
office of clerk of the Superior Court, which office he held for 
twelve years after the close of the Civil War. With his ten 
years' service before the Civil War, this makes the longest service 
of anyone in this office in Watauga County. Colonel Todd was 
highly esteemed by all. He was a fine sportsman, delighting in 
hunting and fishing. 

Trivett Family. — The great-great-grandfather of Larkin M. 
Trivett lived in Pennsylvania before the Revolutionary War, in 
which he was a soldier and during which he was killed in battle. 
His widow with two sons moved to Surry County, North Caro- 
lina, where one of these sons married and reared a large family 
of six or seven boys, two of whom settled in what is now 
Watauga County. One of these was named John, who settled 
on the south side of the Blue Ridge on Stony Fork, near the 
Wilkes line. He married Sallie Elrod, daughter of Adam Elrod, 
and reared one son and two daughters. The son was named 
Elijah, and he married Irena Carleton, daughter of Wyatt Carle- 
ton and his wife, Nancy Livingston. Elijah was the father of 
thirteen children, ten of whom are still living. One of the 
daughters of John Trivett, of Stony Fork, married Larkin 
Greene, son of Solomon, and they reared a large family of boys 
and girls. The other daughter of John Trivett married David 
Adams, son of Allen Adams, and his wife, Maggie Greene 
(familiarly known as Aunt Peggy Adams), and they reared a 
large family. John Trivett, of Stony Fork, had a brother whose 
name was Samuel, and he settled in the western part of Watauga 

350 A History of Watauga County 

County near the Tennes&ee line on a creek known as Poga. He 
married Rebecca Norris, daughter of W'ilham Norris, and to 
them were born nine children, four boys and five girls. Larkin 
M. Trivett, the author of this sketch, is a civil engineer and a 
man of ability. 

Tugman Family. — Micajah Tugman was born about 1820 
and married Nancy Greer in 1843. They had six children, five 
boys and one girl, all of whom lived to be grown, except one 
boy, who did not survive his fourteenth year. James AI. died at 
Richmond in August, 1862, in the Confederate service, un- 
married; Benjamin married Carolina Miller and died in Janu- 
ary, 1900; A\'illiam L., who died at fourteen; Thomas J., who 
married Anzonette Davis, was born on Riddle's Fork March 5, 
185 1 ; Mary married L. Frank Ragan and died August 31, 1910; 
Marshall E., who married Neomi Miller and is still living. 
Micajah Tugman's father was William and his mother Mary 
Hawkins, both of Mecklenburg County, while William's father 

was James and his mother Elizabeth , both of whom 

came from England to America. Micajah Tugman had a brother, 
James, who married Lemedy Hendrix, and two sisters, Nancy 
and Jennie. Nancy married Ben. Brown, father of Rev. Asa 
Brown and Jennie, w'ho married Wilburn Groman. Of these, 
James lived in Wilkes, Jennie in Caldwell and Nancy in Watauga. 

Van Dyke Family. — A widow Van Dyke came from Penn- 
sylvania to Catawba County with her parents and her one child, 
a son, named William, where, after rearing him to manhood, she 
died. This son moved to Watauga in 1846, after marrying 
Sarah Herman, of Catawba County, and settled where George 
L. Van Dyke, his son, now lives, one mile from Three Forks 
Church. William's children were: Demarcus, born in Catawba 
about 1834; Emanuel, born about 1837; Luvina, born about 
1840, and George L., born January 17, 1843. George L. mar- 
ried Mildred Morris April 4, 1867. He was a sergeant in 
Company I, 58th North Carolina Regiment, having enlisted in 
November, 1862, remaining in the service till the close of the 
war. His children are : Ada Cornelia ; Alice Delona, who mar- 
ried John C. Brown ; William Thomas, who married Nevada 

A History of Watauga County 351 

Elrod, and Clara Ella, who married Leonard Cook. For fine 
housekeeping, this family is rivaled only by those of John K. 
Perry and J. J. T. Reese, of Beaver Dams. 

Vannoy Family. — Jesse Vannoy married Elizabeth Fair- 
child. Their children were : Ann, who married, first, Adam 
Greene, and, second, Reuben Isaacs ; John M., who married 
Martha Byers ; Melvin, who married Amanda Eggers ; Matilda, 
who married George Younce; Clarinda, who married Jacob 
Norris; Elizabeth, who married Jonas Winebarger. 

Ward Family. — Among the first to settle on lower Watauga 
at what is now called Watauga Falls Postoffice (though the 
actual falls are just across the border in Tennessee), was Ben- 
jamin Ward, who had seven sons ; Duke, Daniel, Benjamin, 
Nicodemus, McCaleb, Jesse and James. He also had three 
daughters, one of whom was named Celia. Benjamin Ward, Sr., 
was a most enterprising and worthy man, and his widow lived 
to be 105 years of age, while their son, Dan, lived to be no. 
Duke married Sabra, widow of Andrew Harmon, and moved 
to Illinois. Ben., Jr., went to Cumberland Gap, and his son, 
Duke, came back and married Lucy Tester, while Amos, son of 
Duke, Sr., came back from Illinois and married Sally, sister of 
Lucy Tester. They had two sons, L. D. and John, the latter 
having been killed before Richmond in 1863. 

Watson Family. — David Watson was a soldier of the Revo- 
lutionary War, and on a retreat escaped because his horse jumped 
a ditch which his pursuer's nag could not get over. David prob- 
ably came from Scotland, but it is certain that he married a Miss 
Hamby and settled in Wake County, where twelve children were 
born, moving afterwards to the old Davis Place, near Holman's 
Ford. Their children were : Elizabeth, James, Gillie, Thomas, 
Bedie, John, Elihu, Mary, Sarah, David, Willis and Daniel. 
Of these Elihu married Celie Sherrill, of Burke, she having been 
born in June and he in August, 1803. Their children were: 
Mary, George, Nancy, Melinda, Susannah, Ann, Lucy, John, who 
died in the Civil War; Smith, Sarah, Elizabeth and Catharine. 
Of these George W. Watson was born in 1823 and married 
Keziah Morphew, who was born March 10, 183 1, June 7, 1849. 

352 A History of Watauga County 

Their children were: Isaac S., John, Sarah and Cehe. Isaac S. 
was born October 4, 1850, and married Mary C. Proffitt April 20, 
1873. twelve children having been born to them. 

Welch Family. — William Welch, of Ireland, married Eliza- 
beth Roper about 1823, and of this marriage W^m. P. W^elch, of 
Deep Gap, was born, October 22, 1837, at High Point, Guilford 
County, N. C. \Vm, P. Welch moved to Deep Gap in 1863 
and married Margaret Bradley about that time. They have 
eight children. Solomon Greene had lived where W. P. settled, 
and his house had long been a famous stand or stopping place 
for travelers and stock drovers from Tennessee to Kentucky. 
But he sold out to his son-in-law, Larkin Greene, and W. P. 
"Welch bought him out and has remained ever since. The coun- 
try was all in woods when Welch came, and with the exception 
of the Murphy old place at the foot of the mountain, where 
W^ilson Bros, have a store and house now, and the old David 
Greene place, Welch's home was the only house in that section. 

Wilson Family. — Charles \\'ilson came to Xorth Carolina 
from Pennsylvania about the time of the Revolutionary War. 
His wife is said to have been a sister of Gen. Nathaniel Greene, 
of Rhode Island. Charles was in General Greene's army and 
was killed at Guilford. Hiram W'ilson married a Miss Smith 
and they settled on Cove Creek about 181 5. Their children 
were : John, who married Mary Mast ; Lucretia, who married 
Isaac W^ilson, a distant kinsman ; Sarah, who married Dudley 
Farthing ; Isaac, who married Miss Caroline Greer ; Ellen, who 
married Reuben Farthing; Albert P., who was born April 14, 
1826, and married Elizabeth Councill, a daughter of Jesse; 
Clarissa, who married George Younce ; Hiram, who married 
Alex. Baird, and Wm. Carroll, who married a Miss Adams, a 
daughter of Alfred Adams. Hiram, Isaac and Carroll were 
killed in the Civil War, and Albert P. was wounded twice, John 
having died just prior to the Civil War. 

Another Wilson Family, — A. J. Wilson was the head of this 
family, and it is said that he "came over in the Mayflozver." 
Isaac W^ilson, a son of A. J. W^ilson, is said to have been killed 
at Lexington, N. C, in the Revolutionary W^ar. His children 

A History of Watauga County 353 

were: Boyd, Isaac, John and Hiram. Boyd went to Middle 
Tennessee; Isaac settled at Sutherland and was killed by a tree 
falling on him; John married and lived on Sawyer's Creek, as 
did Hiram, who lived lower down that creek. Hiram's children 
were : John, Crissy, Sarah, Albert, Clarissa, Hiram and Carroll. 
John's children were: Betsy, Hannah and Susan, William, Al- 
exander and John. This family of Wilsons came about 1817, 
when John Wilson, who was born in 1815, was two years old. 

Lemuel, John and Hiram Wilson came from Rowan and 
Lemuel settled at Sutherland and John and Hiram near John 
Mast's present home. 

Lemuel Wilson lived near the Tennessee line and near the 
dividing line between Watauga and Ashe. His children were: 
Andrew, who is yet living in that neighborhood, and Alexander, 
who was in the Civil War. Lemuel had two daughters, one of 
whom married Alfred and the other Joseph Thomas, sons of 
William Thomas, of that section. Rev. Leonard C. Wilson, of 
Beaver Dams, is a son of Lemuel Wilson and grandson of 
^Lemuel Wilson. William Thomas was a school teacher on 
Sharp's Creek, just below T. P. Adam's present home. He had 
a number of rules, among which was one that no scholar should 
nickname another scholar, but this rule did not apply to the 
pedagogue himself. He nicknamed T. P. Adams when he was 
six years old because he said he reminded him of pictures of 
President John Tyler. This nickname clung till T. P. was 

Isaac Wilson, son of Hiram, known as Little Isaac, was 
"bushwhacked" during the Civil War and killed. His son. Rev. 
W. A. Wilson, a missionary of the M. E. Church, South, has 
been stationed at Huoshima, Japan, a number of years. 

George Wilson, of Fork Ridge, was the father of Lucky Joe 
Wilson, but not related to the other Wilson families. 

Jacob Winebarger married Sallie, daughter of John Moretz; 
lived on Meat Camp Creek and reared a good sized family. He 
was a good carpenter and millright and owned a good grist and 
sawmill. He came from Lincoln County, was a good citizen, 
and was about sixty years old when he died about 1895. John, 


354 ^ History of Watauga County 

Hiram, Levi and Abel Winebarger also came from Lincoln and 
settled on Meat Camp and New River about 1850, where their 
descendants still reside. These were carpenters and farmers and 
excellent citizens. 

Joshua Winkler was born in Wilkes County and in 1856 
bought the farm two miles south of Boone on which his son, 
George, now lives. He married Carolina Pearson, and they 
reared ten children, five boys and five girls. He kept a grist and 
saw mill on what is now known as Winkler's Creek, the same 
stream that was formerly called Flannery's Fork. He intro- 
duced the first burrs into his mill for grinding wheat. He was a 
good farmer and stock raiser and a most estimable citizen. His 
death was caused by a hurt received from a cow, followed by 

Woodring Family. — Lincoln also gave Watauga another good 
citizen of German blood in the person of John Woodring, who 
settled on Meat Camp. He and his sons were farmers and hard 
workers, and accumulated much wealth. The boys were Daniel, 
Joseph, Alfred, Lawson, Rufus, Noah and Marcus. All have 
died but Marcus, who yet lives on Riddle's Fork. His one 
daughter was named Kate, and she married Ephriam Miller, but 
died in childbirth. 

Yountz Family. — According to Phillip C. Yountz or Younce, 
of Mabel. N. C, Phillip was the first of the name to come to 
America, he having emigrated from Holland about 17CXD. He 
settled in New York. It is said he had one noted son, John, 
born in 1748, a blacksmith, who shod horses for Washington's 
army during the Revolutionary War, was twice captured by the 
British, and twice rescued. After the war he moved to German- 
town, near Winston, N. C, coming thence to what is now Wa- 
tauga, at the head of the New River. He married Rhoda Foutz 
and died while crossing Elk Ridge on a very cold day when he 
was about icxd years old. Their children were: Andrew, who 
moved to Macon County ; Phillip and John, who settled in 
Miami County, Ohio ; David and Elijah remaining in Ashe, while 
Solomon came to what is now Watauga. Solomon was born 
August 19, 1798, and married Sallie RoUen near Jefferson. She 

A History of Watauga County 355 

was born in 1802. Their children were : John, bom December 
15, 1818, married Hannah Lowrance, and to them were born 
twelve children; Abraham, born December 10, 1820, married 
Betsy Lewis, four children. After the death of his first wife, 
Solomon married Louisa Lewis, whose children were: Char- 
lotte, born August 2, 1823, married Franklin Greer, seven chil- 
dren; Phillip, bom October 3, 1825, married Margaret Musgrave, 
six children; Pollie, born March 11, 1828, married David Roten, 
ten children; George, born March 19, 1830, married Clarissa 
Wilson, eight children; Barbary, born August 19, 1834, married 
Isaiah Greer, five children; Sabra, born July 26, 1836, married 
Hugh Reese, eight children; Hannah, born July 10, 1838, mar- 
ried Henry Grogan, five children; William, bom August i, 
1840, died when a small boy ; Rhoda, bom August 6, 1842, mar- 
ried Elijah Grogan, five children; Nancy, born November 18, 
1845, married Rev. E. F. Jones, seven children. This family is 
very musical, pious and independent in thought. 


Sketches of prominent families and of individuals are alphabetically 
arranged from page 279 onward to the end, and are not included in 
this index. 


Absentee landlords, — KiUing of the cattle of 203, 204 

Adams, Col. T. P. Active in school work 252, 253 

Agriculture, — Facts about 138 

— First instruction in 254 

Aldridge, — Sketch of 187 to 190 

Altitudes of various mountains and places 138 

of mountains still doubtful 258 

Ancestry of our mountain people 3 to 5 

Character of our 74, 97 

Appalachian Training School, — Some facts about 252 

Apples. Facts about orchards 211 

Argonauts. Forty-niners from Watauga 131 

Arthur, J. P., — Poem by x 

Asbury, Bishop Francis. Extracts from his journal 103 to 106 

Asher, Charles, — Killing of 64 

Avery County, — Establishment and lines of 125 

Baird, Bedent E., — Anecdotes of 196 to 198 

Baird, Delilah. Elopes with Holtsclaw 191 

Lives in camp, etc 192 

Her ridiculous romance with Dyer 192, 193 

Banks, — Facts about 140 

Banner's Elk, — Some account of 227 to 231 

Battle on the Beech, — Some account of I74 

Beaver Dams, — Some account of 239 to 242 

Boone's Trail through 241, 242 

Beech Creek, — Some account of 242 

Belle of Broadway. Mrs. Horton's experience in the wilds 207,208 

Big Glades. Battle fought there in Revolutionary War 70 

Blalock, "Keith." His part in Civil War 160, 161 

Refused to shoot Wm. Cofifey 166 

Attack on Lott Greene's home 167, 168 

His threat against Boyd 184 

Kills Boyd 185 

Blowing Rock. Described by Miss Morley 214 to 216 

Its advantages and attractions 216 to 220 

Boone, Daniel. No descendants from in Watauga 29 

His relatives in Watauga 29, 30 

His creed 30 

Marking trail of 32 

Monument on his cabin site 33 

Colonel Bryan finds his trail 34 

Cumberland Gap pedestal 35 

His trail in other States 35 


358 INDEX 


Boone, Daniel. National monument to, advocated 36 

Trail had been lost 37 

Was a hunter, not a farmer 38 

The Boone Tree inscription discussed 40,41,42 

First trip across mountains 41 

At Fort Prince George 41, 42 

Trail through Beaver Dams 241 , 242 

Gave James Brown description of lands 290 

Boone, Jesse and Jonathan. Members of Three Forks Church.. 30 

Get into trouble with church 31, 32 

Boone, Town of. Incorporation and attractions 142 

Miss Morley's visit to 143 to 146 

Map of old town 146 

First residents of 147 

First builders of 147 to 150 

Hotels of 150 

First merchants of 151 to 154 

Post bellum town 154 to 156 

Population of 157 

Boundary Lines. State and county given 117 to 121, 123, 124 

Braswell, Wm. Jonas. Soldier of Revolution; grave, etc 65,66 

Bright, Samuel, — Former home and lands of 53i 54 

Pilferings of his wife 55 

Took oath of allegiance 55 

His spring on the Yellow 56 

His "trace" or trail 56, 59 

Brown, James. Entered land described by Boone 290 

Brown, Thomas. Killed by tree 289 

Brushy Fork, — Some account of 221, 222 

Buckwheat of Watauga won prizes at Columbian Exposition 139 

Cabbages, — Facts about I39 

Caldwell and Watauga Turnpike, — Facts about 269,270 

Calloway Sisters. Sad lives of Fanny and Betsy 186 to 192 

Carmichael, Lee. Defended Davis 205 

Cattle. Killing of those of absentee landlords 203, 204 

Fine cattle introduced by Ives 254 

Lived on lin limbs in spring 225 

Character of mountain people 3 to 5, 74 

Cheese Factories, — Facts about I39. 214 

Chestnuts. Grafting French and Italian shoots on native stock.. 210,239 

Chimneys, The. Described 209 

Churches. Three Forks Baptist 71 to 79 

Character of people of early churches 97 

Pioneer Baptists 98 

Various churches of Baptist faith 100 to 103 

Excerpts from Asbury's j ournal 103 to 105 

Methodist churches 105 to lii 

Primitive Baptists m 

Presbyterian 112 

Lutherans 1^2 

Episcopalians 85, 1 13 

Civil War Period,— Volunteers in I59, 160 

Danger from Tennessee 162 

INDEX 359 


Civil War Period. Longstreet's withdrawal 163 

Kirk's Camp Vance raid 164 

Various activities of Unionists 167 

Michiganders escape 169 

Killing of Levi Guy 169 to 171 

Killing of Thomas Stout 171 

Amazons "arrest" a Johnny Reb 172 

Camp Mast and Beech Mountain battle 173 to 177 

Stoneman's Raid 177 to 180 

Home Guard 180 

Robbing Mrs. Horton 180 

Post bellum troubles 182 to 185 

Fort Hamby, attack and capture of 183 to 184 

Blalock kills Blair 184,185 

Clawson, Mrs. Peggy, — Stories of 198 

Cleveland, Col. Ben. Not descended from Cromwell 60 

His capture and rescue 60, 61 

Executed Riddle and others; his grave... 63 

Clingman's Dome. Name of undisputed 258 

Clingman, Hon. Thomas L. Greatest school master 256 

Statesman, soldier, scientist 257 

Refused controversy with the dead 257 

Mount Mitchell controversy 257 to 262 

Mined on Beech Creek 257, 267 

Coffey, Austin, — Murder of 166 

Coffey Brothers. Four in Civil War troubles 161 

Coffey Brothers. Merchants of Boone 156 

Their enterprises 156, 157 

Coffey, William,— Killing of 165 

Cone, Moses H., — Sketch of 220 

Active in school work 254 

Confederate Soldiers, — Facts about 135 

Cook's Gap. Most lovely section of county 207 

Facts about 207 

Councill, Jordan, Jr. His influence in forming Watauga County 114,115 

Counterfeiters, — Facts about 157 

Courts, — First terms of 129 

Court Houses, — Facts about 126, 127 

Cousins, John and Ellington, — Facts about 149, 150 

Cove Creek, — Some account of 210 

Cranberry Iron Mine, — Facts about 264 to 267 

Davis, William. Revolutionary soldier; grave, etc 67 

His wife's courage 68 

Davis, W. S. "Hollered School Butter" 204, 205 

Dotson, Elijah. Long-distance quarrel 200 

Dougherty, D. D. and B. B. Active in school work 254 

Active in railroad work 254 

Dutch Creek Falls, — Facts about 209 

Easter Chapel, — Establishment and ruin of 82 

Elkland. Railroad name for Todd 227 

Elk Creek Falls described 209 

Elk Cross Roads, — Some account of 226, 227 

360 INDEX 


Elk Knob Copper Mine, — Facts about 268 

English, Mrs. Jemimah. Preserved traditions 56 

Episcopal Church. Activities in Watauga 85, 86 

Fairchild, Ebenezer. His diary 89 to 93 

Appointed "Insigne" 93 

Left old documents 94 

Old church letter concerning 95 

His daughters 95, 96 

Not allowed to "spark" hired girl 339 

Farthing, Dudley. Judge of County Court 308, 309 

Farthing Family. One of preachers and good works 99 

Established first Sunday School 339 

Farthing, Paul and Reuben. Their troubles in Civil War 170 

Paul's home attacked 170 

Predicted death if surrendered.... 176 

Farthing, Rev. Reuben P., — Sketch of 310 

Fish, — Laws for protection of 128 

Supplying streams with trout Note 5, p. 229 

Flowers, — Some account of our wild 210, 211 

Mrs. W. W. Stringfellow and Mr. Savage cultivate... 211 

Forests, — Facts about 139 

Forts, — Location of early 17 

Fort Hamby, — Attack on and capture of 183, 184 

Gaines. Joseph C, — Facts about 154 

Gano, Rev. John. Preached at Jersey Settlement 89 

His journey there and back 89 to 93 

Ginseng, — Facts about 190, 221, 222 

Grandfather Mountain described by Miss Morley 234 to 239 

Grandmother Mountain visited by Miss Morley 239 

Grant family referred to 56 

Greer, Benjamin. Helped rescue Cleveland 61 

Gave and received "hints" 61, 62 

Helped kill Ferguson 62 

Guy, Levi, — Killing of 169, 170 

Hammermen. Names of some still remembered 267 

Harrison, Rev. Joseph, — Sketch of 100 

Henderson, Col. Richard. Relations with Boone considered 42 to 52 

His daughter married Judge McCay.. 127 

Hessian, The Big and Little. Name accounted for Note 7, p. 240 

Hix, Hiram. His ferrJ^ bridge, and cross-cut saw 202, 203 

Horton, Mrs. Jonathan, — Robbing of 180, 181 

Horton, Mrs. Nathan. Belle of Broadway in wilderness 207,208 

Horton, Nathan. Helped guard Andre; his gun and clock "0,324 

Hospitality of pioneers exemplified by Asa Reese 338 

Howard, Benjamin. First boarder in Boone 64 

His knob and rock house 64 

Indians resembled Hebrews 12, 13 

First settlers of Watauga IS 

Kept treaty with settlers 16 

INDEX 361 

Indians. Incursions by 17, 18 

Relics of preserved by Messrs. Savage and Farthing. Note 2, p. 16 

Ives, Bishop L. S. Established school and brotherhood 78 to 81 

Sketch of life 79, 80 

Jackson, James. Came from Jersey Settlement 207, 332 

Gave land for meeting house 207 

Jails, — Facts about 127 

Jersey Settlement. Little known about 87, 88 

Rev. Gano's connection with 89 

"Jug Hill." Why so called 204, 205 

King's Mountain Men. Route through Watauga 59 

Incidents on the way S8, 59 

Kirk's Camp Vance Raid, — Some account of 164, 165 

Stationed at Boone in 1865 178 

Land Warrants for military services 118, 119 

Lin Trees, — Facts about 15, 210, 225 

Linville Country, — Some account of 224, 225 

Linville Falls. Why so named 15, 19, 20 

Linville Family, — Facts about ^ 20 

Lookabill School House, — Facts about 204, 249 

Lovill, Col. E. F. Active in school and railroad work 254 

Sketch of 328 

Lusk, Samuel, — Sketch of 255 

McCanless, "Cobb." Account of his defalcation and flight 194-5 

Killed by Wild Bill 196 

Maple Trees, — Sugar and syrup made from 190 

Mast, Mr. and Mrs. William, — Poisoning of 200, 201 

Meat Camp, — Some account of 231, 232 

Mexican War, — Soldiers of 137 

Miller, Hon. David, — Facts about 207,208,117,120,332,291 

Mines and Mining, — Some account of 263 to 267 

Mitchell, Dr. Elisha. Visited Watauga in 1828 115, 116 

Controversy as to Mount Mitchell 257 to 262 

Moody, Edward. His gravestone. Revolutionary soldier 65 

His widow's fine character 83 

Moonshining. An inheritance ? 9, 10 

Moore, M. V. Wrote "Rhymes of Southern Rivers" 13 

Former merchant in Boone 13 

Mountains. Altitudes of given 138 

Altitudes of still doubtful 258 

Rich, Long Hope, The Bald, Black, Riddle's Knob 203 

Mount Mitchell Controversy, — Some new facts regarding 257,252 

Mullins, Jesse. Lost and recovered slaves 201, 202 

Musterfield Murder. Triplett killed by Marshall 206 

Marshall spent night at Ailsey Councill's. 

Note 10, p. 206 

Newspapers, — Some account of 157 




Officers of Watauga County 132 to 134 

Oil and Gas, — Boring for, etc 267 

Ollis Family, — Sketch of 225, 226 

Ollis, Col. W. H. Furnished valuable information 58 

Order of the Holy Cross, — Brotherhood of established 78 to 82 

Palmer, Col. John B. In command of Western North Carolina.. 165 

Home burned by Kirk 165 

Facts about his residence in Mitchell 225 

Pennell, Joshua. Manumitted slaves 201 

Pioneers of mountains in Revolution 6 

Character of 3 to 5 

Not poor whites of the South 7 

McKamie Wiseman's views of 8 

Descendants of have ceased to co-operate 9 

Poga, — Some account of 242 

Population, — Facts about 136, 157 

Potatoes flourish in Watauga 139 

Powder Mill. Run by Oaks; bounty for making 59 

Presnell, Col. W. W. Recollections of "Old Masters" 256 

Gave information about Confederates.... 139 

Prout, Rev. Henry H. Facts about connection with Valle Crucis 82, 83 

^ Put trout in Linville River Note S, p. 229 

Scholarly man 248 

Railroads, — Some account of efforts to secure 273 to 278 

Randall, W. G. Eminent artist in oils 217 

Records of Ashe County ; acts to restore lost 127, 128 

Revolutionary Soldiers, — Facts about 65 to 70 

Rich Mountain, — Some account of 232, 233 

Riddle's Knob. Where Cleveland was rescued 61 

Riddle, Captain Wm. Captured Cleveland 60, 61, 62 

Death of 63 

Roads. Great Pennsylvania described 3 

Some account of first through Watauga 268 to 273 

Rollins, Major W. W. Built fort at Blowing Rock 178 

Root Crops. All kinds flourish in Watauga I39 

Savage, Rev. W. R.,— Sketch of 217 

Cultivates flowers 211 

Has Indian relics Note 2, p. 16 

Scenery in Watauga County referred to 209, 210, 217 

School Butter, — Penalty for "hollerin' " 204, 205 

School House Loan Fund, — Establishment of 255 

School lands donated by W. A. Lenoir 254 

School Teachers, — Ancient and modern 243 to 258 

Seal. Old one described 54. 225 

Shelving Rock. Where King's Mountain men camped 56 to 58 

Inscription on 58 

Sheep, — Laws for protection of 128 

Shull's Mills,— Some account of 223, 224 

Silverstone, — Facts about 210 

Has fine school house 253 

INDEX 363 


Skiles, Rev. Wm. West. Connection with Valle Crucis 83, 84 

Sketch of 86 

Spangenberg, Bishop. Visited Watauga 21, 22 

Description of Three Forks 22 to 28 

Speer, James, — "Sale" and disappearance of 201 

Stair Gap. Proper name for Star Gap. Note 4, p. 104 241 

Stock. All kinds flourish in Watauga 131, 138, 139 

Stoneman's Raid, — Some account of 177 to 180 

Stopping Places. Some of the earliest ones 272 

Stout, Thomas, — Tragic death of 171 

Sugar Grove, — Some account of 214 

Walnut Grove Institute 253 

Has first cheese factory 139, 214 

Sunday Schools established first in Watauga 339 

"Tater Hill," — Some account of 233 

Three Forks, — Spangenberg's description of 22 to 28 

Three Forks Baptist Church. Facts from minutes 711077- 

Todd. New name for Elk Cross Roads 227 

Tories, — Some facts about 53, 56 

Execution of several 63 

Two "Tory Knobs" 69 

Tufts, Rev. Edgar. His good works at Banner Elk 112, 230 

"Twisting Temple." Why so called • 250 

Valle Crucis. Order of Holy Cross established there 78 to 81 

Some account of 212, 213 

Mission School 254 

Fine public school 254 

Walnut Grove Institute, — Facts about 253 

Walks, The, — Described 209 

Washington County, Tenn., embraced part of Watauga County. 

Watauga County. Indians never lived here in memory of whites 15 

First white settlers of 18 

First visited by Spangenberg 22 to 28 

Once part of Watauga Settlement 16, 57, 64, 223 

Formation of 1 14 to 1 17 

Boundary lines of 117 to 123 

Changes in lines of 124, 126 

Avery County cut off 125 

Line changed at Todd 126 

Jails and court houses 126, 127 

Ashe County records 127 

Lost records restored 128 

People of 130 

Officers and representatives of 132 to 134 

Finances of 134 

Sent soldiers to Civil War 135 

Agriculture and other facts 138 to 141 

Population of 136 

Mexican War soldiers 137 

Taxation of 138 

Altitudes of 138 




Watauga Falls, — Facts about 2og 

Watauga Settlement. Leased and bought Indian lands 15, 16 

Once embraced what is now Watauga 

County 10^57. 64, 223 

Weather, — Facts about 138 

Whiskey Rebellion of Pennsylvania suppressed 10,11 

White, Joseph. .A^sher killed by his men Note 4, p. 64 

Wilson, Isaac, — Murder of 170 

Wilson, "Lucky Joe," — Stories of 199, 200 

Wiseman, McKamie. Views of first settlers 8 

Death of 8 

Wiseman, William, — Sketch of 55 

Tried and convicted Mrs. Bright 55 

Wolf's Den, — Cleveland rescued from 62 

Knife found there by Micajah Tugman 61 

Words. Derivation of some Indian words 14, IS 

t . 

Yarber, Moses. Soldier of War of 1812 68 

Yarber, Jemimah and Catharine, — Facts about 69 

Yellow Mountain. King's Mountain men did not camp there.... 60 

Yonahlossee Road, — Miss Morley's description of 237